WILD POETS: A Postcard from 30 Poems in 30 Days (with a writing prompt!)

BOOM! The sound of almost 30 poets dropping almost 30 poems EACH in 30 days. It makes an audible crack. It makes a sound. It sounds like windows opening, walls breaking, music-making, more space, creation.  There are suddenly more poems in the world.

For 30 days, poetry went flying around our inboxes. We read poets and other writers: Chen Chen, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Wren Hanks, Claudia Rankine, Rita Dove, bell hooks, and on and on and on!

Thank you so much all who participated, it was such a magnificent group. Here are some pictures from our reading.

We will be doing a genre-queer version of this workshop (open to poets, fiction writers, playwrights, anyone) in September, meanwhile, thank you so much for joining us. If you couldn’t join us, we missed you. Here’s one of our Poetry Missions:

“Fingernails // through hair is the cause of electricity which is disorienting. I am / teaching myself to contour signifying shadow and maybe dishonesty. A closet is a place to hide the mess of room, however / having sex in the dark is a thing I’ve only done with men, / signifying plenty. I lied to you before: // when my hair is longer it will mean there is more of me.”

~Sally J. Johnson, “to begin a poem with you”, from Emerge: 2016 Lambda Fellows Anthology

MISSION: Exploration

Explore a time when you taught yourself something. This might be a tangible thing. This might be a musical thing. This might be a bicycle thing. This might be a math thing. This might be a sex thing. This might be cutting your own bangs. This might be learning to lie. This might be public speaking. This might be snapping your fingers or curling your tongue or whistling. This might be recognizing anger or love or hate.

Consider: How long did it take you to learn it?
Consider: Something that you tried and tried and tried to learn, but couldn’t.
Consider: Something very small, but something that you use in your everyday life.

 

Want & Wonder: Two 1-Day Intensives!

Writers!
One-day intensives are back, and we have two coming up, one in San Francisco and one in Oakland, two chance to dig deep, delve into craft, meet new writers, and emerge with pages and pages of new writing. Both of these workshops are suitable for writers with an existing project or writers who want to generate new ideas.

The Escapery Presents: 

WANT & WONDER
DESIRE in SF on April 29th, 2-6pm
JOURNEY MIYAZAKI in Oakland on May 13th, 2-6pm
Details Below

DESIRE: WRITING THE ESSENTIAL SENSUAL DRIVE
Desire is the difference between wanting something and wanting something so badly your entire body vibrates with need. Desire is one of the essential questions in writing: What does your character want? What is your character willing to do to get it? Desire drives action.
In this one-day workshop, we will explore the nature and language of desire, objects of desire, consequences of desire. We will explore how to create a sense of desire fully grounded in the senses and the body that leaves your reader aching for your characters to get what they want.
Methods may or may not include: writing exercises, drawing, guided meditation, reading, sensory experiments, and body movement.

JOURNEY: MIYAZAKI:
A one-day journey into the world of Hayao Miyazaki, the reknown Japanese artist and film maker. This workshop is for writers who are also Miyazaki fans, and who have watched and loved his films. We will be exploring his films as a way to understand how Miyazaki crafts unique and compelling journeys for his characters, how he builds in emotional heart and high stakes.

PRICE FOR EACH: $60
PRICE FOR BOTH: $100

As always, The Escapery is committed to providing a space for artists. Discounts and scholarships and payment plans available, just ask

To register, just email us at TheEscapery@gmail.com, we hope we get to write with you!

 

Join us in April for NaPoWriMo!

poetry tattoo

If you are reading this right now, you are a novelist or poet or playwright or essayist or spoken word artist or short story writer or flash fiction writer or science fiction writer or graphic novelist, or or or…

If you are reading this right now…THANK YOU!

This April, we are embarking on a new Escapery adventure to celebrate National Poetry Writing Month! 30 Poems in 30 days–A Virtual Adventure, led by Carson Beker and myself. Click on the link to be directed to our Facebook Event, or contact us, and sign up! It’s that easy!

How it works:

_Cost: $30 (via PayPal, cash, or check)
_ Between 10pm and midnight starting on March 31st, you receive a daily MISSION in email form with a poem or excerpt from a poem that astounded us or a text about poetry that inspired us + a prompt + a deadline. You have until MIDNIGHT the following day to send back a poem. You can choose whether you want to share with the group (maximum accountability) or share with just us, your hosts.
_ Repeat 30 times.
_ On Sunday April 30th, we will gather to read and celebrate our work.

You might be saying to yourself, But what if I’m not a poet?  What if I’ve never written a poem before in my life?

My response to you is: I am primarily a flash fiction and short story writer who LOVES poetry writing experiments to help me generate lyrical prose. I LOVE writing experiments that give me fabulous first-sentences for a new short story, or experiments that help give me a new angle to explore in an existing story. And, I LOVE LOVE LOVE poetry writing experiments because I’ve found that these small bursts of poetic prose can turn into FABULOUS material for dialogue in my stories and plays!!! Reading poetry and using poetry experiments have strengthened and emboldened my dialogue writing.

How?

Because both poetic prose and written dialogue are often spare, tight, fragmented, and oftentimes utilize unique word pairings and syntax.

So, please join us for NaPoWriMo for a super fun month of writing experimentation!

In the beautiful words of Carson Beker: The goal is RAW SPONTANEOUS CREATION

As teachers, writers, artists…we try never to use the 10-letter word “p*rf*ct*on” when it comes to RAW SPONTANEOUS CREATION. We try to use words like: “experimental”, “community”, “supportive”, “uninhibited”, “YESSSSS”, “uh-oh”, “awesome”, “courageous”…

So….sign up today, and join us for NaPoWriMo in April!!!

 

The First Sentence – Truth, Failure, Critique, and the most dangerous experiment.

Today I (Carson) had the chance to sit with a writer I admire so greatly in order to talk about her novel.

I had been postponing this meeting for weeks. Because I was scared. Because I was invited to be a reader for this novel-in-progress and I had nothing better to say than thank you, this saved my life a few times. I wanted to bring in everything I’ve spent 10 years learning about narrative strategy, point of view, patterns, form, image, and, well, everything, and instead all I could say, in addition to thank you, was, “well, this is True.” Helpful? Nah. Not at all. But it reminded me of something. I don’t know exactly what.

Today, I read Glen Weldon’s review of Love is Love NPR, in which Weldon, a critic, attempts to respond to an anthology of comic/ graphic artists responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. It’s the best thing I read all week:

I went in equipped, as always, with the Three Questions every critic keeps scrawled across their frontal lobe: What does this project set out to do? Does it accomplish that task? Is that task worth doing?

And like me this morning, this conclusion:

Ten pages in, I realized how very much, for this particular project, those questions were completely beside the point….

It’s too big, of course. Too unfair, too shattering. They can’t succeed. They won’t succeed.

But so what?

It’s the attempt to do something — to create, to make change, to comfort each other — that matters. It’s all we ever have, in the wake of tragedy. It’s all we can do.

We can’t succeed. We won’t succeed. If we’re lucky, we’ll someday write something true enough that critique fails.

Those are the dangerous, innovative, strange, sometimes messy, sometimes over-the-top, some might say too-earnest, some might say unkempt, wild, undisciplined books that don’t always win critical acclaim and that don’t do well in workshops. But those are the books that tend to save lives (even if only our own).*

*Not to say my friend’s book was unkempt. It wasn’t. But it wasn’t tame either.

I hope I get to write something that true someday.

Meanwhile, here’s a piece of danger I’m too scared to try:

Write something true.

And here’s an excerpt from one of the books we will be reading in our novel workshop. And by the way, we’re almost full, so come on in. We’re not tame in here.

“The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest. Each of us had a first sentence, and most of us found the strength to say it out loud to someone who deserved to hear it. What we hoped, and what we found, was that the second sentence of the truth is always easier than the first, and the third sentence is even easier than that. Suddenly you are speaking the truth in paragraphs, in pages. The fear, the nervousness, is still there, but it is joined by a new confidence. All along, you’ve used the first sentence as a lock. But now you find that it’s the key.” – David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing

burning-book

 

Keep on Loving; Keep on Fighting ~ Or: Do We Need Someone To Remind Us Where Books Come From?

The Brilliant Celeste Chan, who seems to always use Facebook to lift and cheer and empower, recently posted this image:

heart-muscle-fist

Which linked me back to a song that has gotten me through some dark times: Ramshackle Glory’s Song of the same title, with these lyrics:

Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist
Keep on loving, keep on fighting.

I am buying [pagan solstice presents] for friends and family and chosen family, and I am not ashamed that this year, they are mostly books. This year, I’m done with wall calendars, moisturizer, and pajamas. Pajamas are nice and all – pajamas might save your bits from frostbite – but a book might actually save a life.

Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. 

These past weeks, whenever I’ve felt that incredible sadness and defeat and despair, I’ve turned to books. Not the newspaper. Books. Not therapy. Books. Not exercise. Books. I’m not saying that reading is a substitute for political action (but see the first chapters of Zizek’s Violence). I’m saying that consistently, a book is what’s gotten me from crying-shrimp-pose-in-bed to human-able-to-do-things like put my body at a protest or call my reps or teach or scoop the cat litter or be in community. And not even the books I bring on the bus because I want people to think I’m smart. And not even books everyone would file under the categories of currently “necessary” or “visionary” or “life changing.” I’m talking about picture books, fiction, love stories, fantasy, lesbian vampires. Ask me about how much I love Meg & Mog.

meg_and_mog_cover

I read these books with love, but in secret. I read them like a drowning person clings to a life-raft, but in the dark because by now, I should know how to swim, or at least how to operate boating machinery. I read them in the closet, the bathroom, and under the covers. Just one more chapter. Just one more page. Oh but just the first paragraph of the next chapter, oh just one more.

Keep on loving. Keep on…?

And I feel this disconnect when I sit to write. Maybe you do too. This disconnect says that what I am writing can’t possibly be relevant. That there is no time to make things. That there is no time to write a novel, or at least no time to write even one sentence that does not reflect the sadness and weight and possibility of this moment.

It’s almost as if I need a Disney special to remind me/us where books  – these books that save us – come from.

Where do books come from? 

  1. The stork brings them;
  2. The big rock candy mountain.
  3. People write them.

It’s almost as if loving and fighting were different acts completely, as if they canceled each other out, as if one precluded the other. It’s as if the book you are trying so hard to both write and not write (because that’s how it feels to write sometimes) was not destined to save someone’s life just as much as the Meg & Mog book you are so desperately clutching is trying to save yours. And by you, I mean me.

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. … Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” – Edwige Danticat, Create Dangerously

So this week, a reminder that we are also the creators of the things that are saving our lives.

If you need a place to come write, we got some for you. Write Your (****)Ing Novel BOOTCAMP is starting January 10th. Writing drop ins are happening Sundays and Mondays, check our calendar. There’s more on the horizon, keep in touch.

Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. Inhale. Exhale. Read. Write. Love. Be Loved.

Writing Experiment: Words Like Holiday Lights, Tiny and Bright.

 

This week, in celebration of tiny little things, of little joys, of words that mean a lot, a writing experiment. This week’s writing experiment is inspired by Nancy Au – who taught me to play with words – Kathryn Kruse, who last week made us write and write just by saying one word and then GO! and Teju Cole’s tweeted Small Fates.

christmas-light-images-ifltsf5j

Pick up a text. Any text will do.

Pick a sentence. Reduce it by at least half.
Pick a paragraph. Reduce it to a sentence.
Pick a story or a newspaper article. Reduce it to a ten word story.

 

What words blink at you? Which ones shine? What happens when you tangle the sentences like Christmas lights?

Want a place to write? We got some.

Next Thursday Write-In in SF with Celeste Chan in early January! Check in here!
Next Sunday Write-in in Oakland is on Sunday January 29th! Check in here!
Next Sunday Write-In in San Francisco is on January 8th!

And coming up soon…

WRITE YOUR (****)ING NOVEL – A bootcamp for 8 Writers.
burning-book
8 Writers.
10 Weeks.
5 Novels to read.
10 pages per week.
Good luck.

Blinded By The Light

This week, also, in mourning. We mourn the loss of artists, light-beings, and everyone associated in any way with the beauty that was Ghost Ship. We deplore the forces that make these spaces harder and smaller each year. We celebrate the spirit of space-creators.

Here is a list that other people have compiled of resources, places to donate, places to get support, events, love. Thank you, those of you who have worked so hard on this.

This week, in sadness that it has come to this, but we have expanded our matching list. If you donate to a cause supporting Ghost Ship and loved ones, we will deduct that donation from any workshop you take here. (Other causes, #NoDAPL/ Standing Rock Legal and Aftermath Funds; ACLU; Planned Parenthood…). Ask us. The list is long because the need is long now. But also because the response of love is strong.

This week, and other Thursdays, also, in celebration of art spaces, small or big, conceptual or brick-and-mortar. Necessary. The great NECESSARY VITAL CELESTE CHAN is holding Writing Rainbow – a QT/POC writing space at Liminal, another beautiful space for art. She will also be holding Thursday write-ins at Cafe La Boheme. It’s always a good idea to check the calendar and contact us, but here are the upcoming dates:

December 15th!
January 19th!
January 26th!
February 2nd!
February 9th!
February 23rd!

This Sunday, the great Kathryn Kruse is leading Delight, a class on reclaiming Joy. And do we need that. Do we ever need that? There are still 1-2 spots left. If you want to join, just get in touch.

This week, also, in gratitude for  Golden Gate Express and Jacquie Haudek, who featured us this week in an article! – I leave you with Nancy Au’s words, as true now as ever.

“Being isolated is not great for art. The world is so much bigger and so much more complex and terrifying” but your mutual support, through more spaces, “you lift everyone up and then everyone comes up with you.”

Thank you for you. Thank you for the spaces you create. Thank you for reaching out in the hard light of fear and threat and destruction to make space and connection and delight.

Thank you for being part of our writing adventure.