The NWPNH Invitational Summer Writing Institute ended exactly two weeks ago. In the days that I’ve been back in Oakland, several people have asked, “How was Vermont?” I remind them, sometimes more than once, that I was in New Hampshire. Why did they think that I was away in Vermont? I’ve never had people ask me how Nevada was when I’ve told them I’ve been in California.
“How was your writing retreat?” I’ve also been asked. Again I’ve had to correct them. Though I did make an effort to make my accommodations feel like Hedgebrook, a writing residency I did back in 2008. Just like in my cottage, I placed my writing desk in front of a window overlooking pine trees. To make the desktop extra long, I placed my dresser right next to it. See my pictures below. The left is Hedgebrook in March of 2008. The right is Plymouth, NH in July of 2014.
Week 4 at the National Writing Project in New Hampshire Invitational Summer Writing Institute has come to a close, and even though we have one more week, we are starting to think about endings. In writing group we have turned in our third and final piece of writing. Our first piece had to be a personal narrative, our second piece was open, meaning we could write about anything in any genre we wanted, and our third piece was teacher lore. This year the participants in my writing group didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about teacher lore. What is teacher lore? Why would we want to write teacher lore? To put it simply, teacher lore is a story about and by teachers. I actually found a great prezi on what teacher lore is here. We write about our experience in the classroom to stand against the common narratives about education. Tim Gillespie explains this well in Stories and the Teaching Life. (more…)
This morning was special. I took my time getting out of bed. Moving slowly after waking helps me remember my dreams. That is the beauty of a weekend morning without having to rush somewhere. One of the many I recalled today had to do with the NWPNH Invitational Summer Writing Institute. To me, dreaming about where I am is one of the signs of full immersion, like when I am in a foreign country and I awake realizing I was dreaming in the local language. (more…)
One of the highlights of week 2 of the National Writing Project in New Hampshire Invitational Summer Writing Institute was hearing Jennifer De Leon read an excerpt of her Introduction to the anthology Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education. I realized during this visit that it’s not just about having writers come and read to us from their publication that matters. A synergy happens from hearing their work read aloud, from the questions asked by the participants, and then from receiving writing prompts from the author.
Last year, when I wrote Bringing the Institute Home, I thought that I could substitute the Visiting Authors sessions by going to readings and book signings in the Bay Area. But I was missing an essential part of the equation—the writing prompt given after the reading and the question and answer period. Also, after we all write together, participants have the opportunity to share what they produced with the prompt. (more…)
I’m in Plymouth again. This is my fifth summer at the National Writing Project in New Hampshire Invitational Summer Writing Institute. We are already in our second week. Time slips away quickly, but it is easy to feel like a month has passed in the span of a week because the work is so intense. In fact, I should be revising the next piece of writing that is due on Monday, but I didn’t want to let any more time go by without recording some of the wonderful things that have been happening. Here are some of week 1 highlights: (more…)
As I promised in February, I am writing to announce our first reading in the San Francisco Bay area for Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education. We will have four local contributors read excerpts from the anthology. I hope you can make it out. To entice readers I’ve posted a short segment of my essay here. For the event I will read a different section, so come join us. Here are the details to attend: (more…)
A few days ago I opened my door and found Volume 6 of Consequence Magazine on the front stoop. Although I was late, as I so often am, I stopped rushing, picked up the package, and turned back inside. After ripping open the envelope, I took my time to admire the issue. The glossy front cover features striking artwork by Khadim Ali. In the non-fiction section of the table of contents I found my name. “To My Brother in Kabul” appears on page 238. It has taken three years for this work to reach an audience.
My nephews turned six years old this month. When I called to wish them a happy birthday two weeks ago, they took turns on the phone and told me how they were celebrating this special occasion. They went to a steakhouse and ate macaroni and cheese. They also got to ride the rodeo bull. After they finished talking to me they would play kickball on the front lawn with their mother. It’s still hard to believe they can engage in a conversation with me, that they are in kindergarten, that they love to sing in the children’s choir at church and dance to the music on my sister’s exercise video while she works out. Six years ago they were content in a tight swaddle with a warm bottle of soy formula.
Their birthday reminds me how long I’ve been working on the anthology, which is currently entitled, Daring to Write: Contemporary Narratives by Dominican Women.
It’s a new year. Well, it’s February, I know. And it is only now that I am on this blog to share some news. I began 2014 with little expectations, but maybe that isn’t it. Maybe it’s that I haven’t yet recovered from 2013; some of my challenges from last year still linger. The good news has helped me move forward though.
First, I found out that Drunken Boat 18 is now available (click here). This is the new online literary home of my essay ”See Me,” which I wrote at the 2010 Summer Writing Institute. It appears in the LIBROTRAFICANTE section.
Second, Wise Latina: Writers on Higher Education edited by Jennifer De Leon, appeared on my doorstep about three weeks ago. I read the entire book in less than a week. It’s an honor to have my piece, “To My Younger Self” included in a collection of so many thought-provoking essays. The anthology’s official release date is March 1, 2014, but you can put your order it now. We are already scheduling readings across the country. Boston area contributors will join Jennifer and I on July 1, 2014 to participate in the Visiting Authors Series at the National Writing Project in New Hampshire’s Invitational Summer Institute. Once I know more about Bay area readings, I will post announcements.
I should be in the Dominican Republic this weekend, but logistically I couldn’t make the journey back. Instead I am here in Oakland, California participating in the Border of Lights Virtual Vigil. Via the internet I can be a part of the commemoration of the Haitian Massacre and you can too. I’ve been collaborating with the Border of Lights group since last year when I attended the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Haitian Massacre where thousands of Haitians and their Dominican-born descendants were murdered. From October 4-6 2012 at the border towns of Dajabón and Ouanaminthe we held a ceremonial service and a candlelight vigil. In addition, we coordinated art installations, as well as the clean-up of a park and the banks of the Masscare River. This year, with tensions building between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, it is even more important to get a global community involved. Here is how: