The Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club, which I co-facilitate, begins its 3rd year this week. We’ve done so many great projects in the first 2 years, and we have many more planned for this year! Thanks to Laura Sarantis for this great new flyer:
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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.
Gabby Howenstein said the group met her goals “to expand my horizons in my writing, get good feedback, and hopefully make a few new friends.” In addition, she “had the opportunity to hear and read the wonderful writing of some of our other members.”
Yamini Manikoth heard about the club from Gabby, and “thought it would be interesting to see what it was like. And I think it’s one of my favorite things now, because so many people come in and talk about things of mutual interest. … So as someone who enjoys writing, hearing feedback from other people who think the same as you is one of the best feelings in the world.
I am very excited to be offering a workshop for teen poets at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD this fall.
Here is the info about the workshop:
Days: 4 Saturdays
Time: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM
Young authors (ages 12-16) will learn to use workshopping techniques to fine tune, revise, edit, and present poetry. Participants will have a chance to share their work, respond to writing prompts, get feedback, and learn about publishing options. In the last session we will hold a poetry reading to share work with family and friends. Please bring a laptop, tablet, or paper notebook. If you are already writing poetry, please bring something you’ve written to the first session. No meeting October 31.
You can sign up for the workshop here.
I’m very pleased to have my poem, “Kaddish Season” in the Summer, 2015 edition of Poetica Magazine.
Many thanks to Nortina Simmons for publishing my poem, Articulation of a Dreamtime in Sediments Literary Arts Journal’s Newbies issue. You can read the poem here, page 38 (although of course I encourage you to read all the other fine work in this issue as well!).
Want to read one of my poems? Here is your opportunity. My poem, Unicorn was published in Stepping Stones Magazine this fall. It begins,
You were the unicorn
in the waves
but I didn’t know that
until just yesterday,
You can read the poem in it’s entirety here.
In other writing news, this fall I organized a one day writing retreat for women writers at the Fox Haven Learning Center in Jefferson, MD. The leaves were turning and it was a great opportunity for all of us to get away from it all and ignite our writing passions. You know things have gone well when the primary feedback is when can we come back and can we stay longer!
I was also thrilled to be a featured reader at the Zed’s Cafe (Silver Spring, MD) monthly poetry night in December. Many thanks to Ginger Ingalls for inviting me to be part of the reading.
And starting in January, poet Alison Palmer and I will be co-facilitating a teen writing club at the Gaithersburg, MD library as part of a program run by the Maryland Writers’ Association through the Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries.
Happy 2015, now back to writing!
The holiday season–that time of year when we get so busy buying, wrapping, cooking and caring that we completely forget to take care of ourselves. A few years ago, during the height of all that, I reached a breaking moment and locked myself in the bathroom, did a few breathing exercises, said a few Hail Mary’s (considering that I’m of Jewish descent, that tells you volumes).
I didn’t have a smart phone then, but I grabbed a pen out of my purse, and was about to write something down until I realized that I didn’t have any paper and writing on toilet paper with a ball point pen is a thankless endeavor. So I rolled up the long sleeve top I was wearing and wrote the following on my arm:
Just for this moment
I am not your:
Just for this moment,
I am only me.
–poem by Lucinda Marshall
Feel free to write it on your arm, save it on your phone, recite it to yourself as needed, and give yourself the gift of personal space this holiday season.