The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD is celebrating it’s 40th birthday on Saturday December 17 from noon-5pm. I’ll be reading several of my poems as part of the Reading that will begin at 3:30 in the theater. If you’re in the DC area, please join us, should be a terrific afternoon.
Archive for Lucinda
It is a most difficult task to make sense of violence, particularly when it often seems unceasing. There have been numerous horrific acts of murder recently, and in trying to write about them, it feels important to see these events not only as individual incidents but to also make the connections between them, both in why they happen and how we process them. The following is a poem I wrote in response to the bloody and heartbreaking first week in July, 2016.
The Killing Fields Of Home
On July 4th,
when I was trying to make sense
of the bombings in Medina and Baghdad
on the very same day that the not so United States of America
was ritually celebrating what we call independence,
with colorful bombs bursting in air,
it seemed really important to remember that
the children who saw real bombs were shouting not with glee
but with fear before bleeding to death,
so I wrote haikus about that,
little poems like the children who died–
one for Medina,
Bombs bursting in air,
bodies explode, people die–
and one for Baghdad,
Car bomb in Baghdad,
the twenty five kids who died
did not like fireworks
and I thought I had done my duty as a poet,
but then I read that dozens of people were shot
in Chicago over the holiday weekend
for who knows what reasons and they were bleeding too
and we haven’t even caught our breath since Orlando
and it occurred to me that maybe I needed to write a longer poem,
then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile
were gunned down by the police
because the color of their skin was a crime
and Melissa Harris-Perry wrote about how that feels
as a suicide note that I can’t stop reading
on the heels of the Chilcot Inquiry that minces no words
blaming Tony Blair for lying to his country about the Iraq war
while in this country we turn endless battle into
an anthem and Bush and Cheney just smirk
as a veteran of war, taught to kill in defense of our country,
shoots at the police in Dallas and more blood is spilt
and they send in a robot to take him out
which prompts Donald Trump to want a photo op with the NYPD
and I’m wondering if a sonnet is adequate
when my morning paper tells me that there have been
ten gang killings in ten months in the county where I live
and they have a column too about the child
of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend
and someone says we should all remember that
sometimes the police help and he tells a story
about a police officer who helped a lady repair her mailbox
and that was mighty nice of her, and I mean that sincerely,
but I’m thinking that sounds like a bandaid story
when we need a tourniquet because
a GOP Congressman says there are a lot more steps to be taken
before they will vote on gun control legislation
and I’m wondering how many steps there could really be
from his office to the floor to take a vote and when are we going to
quit playing six degrees of separation and take action
and in the time I have been writing this,
more people have been killed,
and I cannot type fast enough to keep up,
or even pause long enough
to pretty up this poem that cannot find its end.
–Lucinda Marshall, © 2016
Writer’s block is often due to issues that have nothing to do with our writing. At a half day workshop in June, Kim Thompson and I will introduce you to some ways to free space for your words to flow, using meditation, breathing and gentle movement techniques combined with writing exercises that help us move past what is blocking the flow of words.
Moving Beyond Writer’s Block with Breath, Meditation, and Movement at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD: June 5, 2:00-5:00 pm. Fee: $50. Taught with movement teacher Kim Thompson.
Can’t think of the next line? Sometimes it is more than our minds that are blocked. This workshop will introduce meditation, breathing and gentle movement techniques that you can utilize to get un-stuck and free space for your best writing. We will look at techniques that address stress, mind clutter, posture, how energy (and ideas!) move through our bodies, ways to unscramble our thoughts, and more. Please bring paper and pen and wear comfortable (suitable for gentle movement) clothing.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to co-facilitate a Creative Writing For Teens workshop at The 2016 Gaithersburg (MD) Book Festival on May 21 from 4:00-5:30 at the Writer’s Center Tent:
Using participatory writing prompts, teen writers will have an opportunity to experience and learn more about how workshopping techniques can assist them in their creative writing. They will have a chance to share their work and get feedback as time allows. They will receive information about MWA’s teen writing clubs which are offered without cost at libraries throughout the state as well as other resources to further their writing.
The workshop is free and open to all teens and a great chance to find out more about the ongoing Maryland Writers’ Association’s teen writing clubs and the experience of being a writer.
Deeply grateful for this quote from the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center (although I’m not quite sure where they got the birthdate, but close enough :-).
For more than ten years now, I have devoted the overwhelming majority of my work as a writer and activist to shining a light on the many heinous guises of misogyny, especially on the impact violence has on women’s lives, and also on efforts to stop that violence and to empower women. Now and again I have also tackled other topics, including environmental issues such as global warming and climate change because as we confront environmental disaster after environmental disaster at a rapidly snowballing speed, the need to address these issues as an integral part of my work feels urgently compelling, yet words more often than not painfully fail me.
What precisely can one say about ocean acidification, leaking methane from the thawing Arctic, seas that are rising faster than expected, the loss of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, (and those are just stories that have crossed my digital desk in the last week alone)? And how precisely can one say what should be said about these overwhelming climactic disasters in a way that accurately portrays the proper measures of terror, and the tears that should be streaming down our faces as we see the result of our misguided dominion while offering hope or perhaps vision? On most days, I neither know or begin to feel adequate to that task.
Not being one to suffer writer’s block or despairing inertia quietly, I have floundered about trying to find inspiration and strength, a grounded path towards coherent expression. I have buried myself in the words of Terry Tempest Williams and tackled a lengthy biography of Rachel Carson. I cheer Sandra Steingraber’s call to action about fracking and Bill McKibben’s relentless tar sands pushback and the solar-powered Thanksgiving in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
And mostly I have walked away from the computer and staggered out into the natural world, needing to take in huge gulps of (I hesitate to say fresh) air. I have sat beside the Atlantic Ocean and watched the tides roll in and out, seagulls standing watch at the water’s edge. I’ve walked along the Potomac, visited pueblos and mountains and craters in the Arizona desert and high country. And some days, I simply walk the streets of my suburban neighborhood.
The community in which I live is perhaps the embodiment of a sub-urban design train wreck–houses crammed in every available space, open spaces in the wrong places, dysfunctional streets where people live isolated lives. But even in this embodiment of Malvina Reynolds’ little boxes on the hillside “all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same”, I have looked up at the trees, and found wonder and love and grounded strength in these branches of heart filling beauty.
And where words come sometimes only haltingly, I have taken to letting my camera portray the extraordinary that we all too often fail to see, let alone honor in the ordinary of our days.
The words will continue, we must talk about what has been, what is and what will be. But we must also see the tree branches above, and feel the breezes from the sea, the hot desert sun and the path below our feet.
If you’re just tuning in, there are two occupation movements happening in Washington, DC. Occupy DC, which has been going on for over a week, is based at McPherson Square and Stop The Machine/October2011, which has been going on since last Thursday is based at Freedom Plaza. But for love or money, as I pointed out yesterday and earlier today, the media still can’t figure out which is which. Once again tonight, both the Washington Post and ABC7News were tangling it up in their Twitter feeds. So in the interest of clarity, I am providing this handy dandy map:
Got it? And while we’re pointing to Lamestream Media Fail, Yahoo posted a headline today referring to the pepper-spraying of protesters as a riot. Really? Sorry, no didn’t happen. Minor altercation and right wing agitator yes, pepper spraying cops causing museum to be shut down yes. Riot, no, despite the efforts of the agitator and that kind of ‘journalism’ is part of the problem.
Here are some screenshots of Mainstream Media #TwitterFail:
There has been no shortage of media confusion in DC this week regarding the OccupyDC and October2011 Stop The Machine actions. I got into a conversation yesterday with a reporter from a local television station who was interviewing people at OccupyDC, she seemed to genuinely want to understand the difference. I pointed out that it seemed like very few members of the Mainstream Media had bothered to check the websites for the two groups which would clarify quite a lot.
Isn’t this sort of like the opposite of the Tea Party, she wondered. I pointed out that these movements represented people who were out of work, had lost their homes, had no health insurance, and wanted an end to militarism without end and the number of people impacted by those issues is a lot larger than the number of people who identify with the Tea Party.
But the most idiotic media confusion in DC this week has been who was where. It wasn’t so complicated–OccupyDC at McPherson Square, Stop The Machine at Freedom Plaza. Yet in Sunday morning’s Washington Post, with OccupyDC at McPherson for over a week and Stop The Machine in place since Thursday, the caption writer for this photo still got it wrong.
And the headline–hello? It isn’t the same as the one used online, but, “The common man”? Really? Which century is this? They also apparently didn’t look at the photo which rather clearly shows the common woman.
With this kind of media, no wonder many people are confused about what is happening in the streets.
The best way to understand the movement that is taking root everywhere is to go find out for yourself. Yes, there is an Occupy near you.
Several people have said to me, oh it is just a bunch of kids. No, it is not. And it’s not just a bunch of hippie peaceniks either. It ranges from toddlers who are there with their parents (there was a little area with toys and crayons at OccupyDC yesterday) to elders with plenty of folks in between. I talked for a bit with a young man in an army uniform. It was very courageous for him to be there. He had been to Iraq once and was due to ship out again soon, but he said he wasn’t planning to re-deploy, what he had experienced on his first tour had made him realize that militarism was deeply flawed. He looked sad and wise beyond his years.
And do not underestimate the numbers, it isn’t just a hundred here and a thousand there, it is far, far larger than that.
This isn’t about one issue, it is about the American people connecting all the issues and finally saying enough. There are those who have criticized what is going on for not having a clear statement of purpose or intent. What they miss is that people everywhere have decided to take back the commons, and that is intention enough.
There is more to say, much more, the time I have spent on the street this last week has been transformative. I have re-connected with old friends, made new ones and for the first time in a long time felt genuine hope. Don’t be afraid, come out and join us.
Addenda: The amount of inaccurate reporting involving Occupy DC and Stop the Machine is becoming epic. Today the Washington Post reports that OccupyDC may stay in Freedom Plaza past the time time they have a permit. Sorry, wrong group. Yahoo News is now calling the pepper-spraying of protesters at the Air and Space Museum on Saturday a riot and ABCNews7 tweeted this morning that at least one person planned to stay past the permit time in Freedom Plaza although the article they linked to actually says a number of people plan to stay. And that is just today. The amount of media stupid when it comes to reporting what has transpired over the last week plus in DC is to the point where it is hard to see it as anything but deliberate.
This Sunday evening, September 18, I’ll be interviewed on A World Of Progress Radio in a segment devoted to health care issues. I’ll be talking about my experience trying to transfer an individual health insurance policy from one state to another and how the problems faced by individual policy holders with pre-existing conditions are not currently being addressed adequately by health care reform. This issue hits women particularly hard since they are less likely to be covered by an employer’s policy.
Other guests on the show include health insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter, Vanessa Beck of Healthcare Now and Mad As Hell Doctors.
The show will air at 7pm EDT. I’ll be interviewed beginning at 7:45.
To read more about my experience regarding this issue, please see my blog Pre-Existing Pundit.