Kerry Temple, editor of ND Magazine, and his staff do a terrific job covering not only the University but tackling the bigger issues around the globe. Check it out.
One of my essays, "A Salty Sweet Nothing," was published in Notre Dame Magazine online yesterday. In the essay, I reveal how after 25 years of being married to Jim Zarzana, I finally gave him what he really wanted all along.
Kerry Temple, editor of ND Magazine, and his staff do a terrific job covering not only the University but tackling the bigger issues around the globe. Check it out.
Dana Yost, an award-winning journalist and an SMSU graduate, has just published a new book, A Higher Level: Southwest State Women's Tennis 1979-1992, "a classic college sports story,"
according to Dr. Jon Wefald, former SMSU president from 1977-82 who went on to serve as president of Kansas State University for 23 years.
In 1989-90, when my family moved to Marshall, Minn., I served as the assistant coach of the team under Dr. Hugh Curtler, SMSU philosophy professor and director of the Honors Program, who won NAIA Coach of the Year in 1990. The women tennis players were from Minnesota as well as all around the world. Having played on the fledgling women's tennis team at the University of Notre Dame during 1974, my freshman year, I appreciated the chance to once again experience the thrill of college level competition, this time from the sidelines helping to coach these outstanding women athletes. If you like tennis and you like a good story about a team winning against all the odds, this is a book you'll want to pick up.
Dana will be in Marshall to sign his new book on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Center, 109 N. Third Street, and from 6-10 p.m. at the SMSU Men's Basketball game on campus.
Here's a blog post about the book on the Argus Leader website by Jill Callison:
Here's an article about the book on the website of the United States Tennis Association:
And here's a guest blog by Dana Yost about his book on Holly Michael's Writing Straight website:
A Higher Level can be purchased online through www.ellispress.com or www.amazon.com and at select local retailers. An e-book version is also available for the Kindle e-reader.
Reading with Sherry Quan Lee, Anya Achtenberg, and Christine Stark, Sunday, May 20, Minneapolis
Three award-winning writers with connections to North Minneapolis will read from their work this Sunday, May 20, 3:00 p.m., at Homewood Studios, 2400 Plymouth Ave. North, Minneapolis.
Sherry Quan Lee, Anya Achtenberg and Christine Stark all are writers who view writing as an act of social consequence. For more information about each of them, click on their names to reach their web sites.
This past January Christine Stark read at Southwest Minnesota State University from her new novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation. My freshmen composition students and creative writing students who attended her reading were riveted by her writing as were all of us in the audience. Published by Modern History Press, Christine's novel was recently named as one of the finalists for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Lesbian Debut fiction, and the award ceremony will be held this June in New York.
* * *
The end of my spring semester at SMSU was particularly busy, so I'm happy to be back posting on Fly-over Country now that my time has opened up more. It's good to connect with you and other writers and readers. I've posted two more of my published poems in the Poem Gallery, "Hawks on Guard" and "Bill Holm Joins Us at the Nail Salon." I hope you enjoy them.
I'll be getting back to a more regular schedule of posting on my blog several times a week between my summer writing projects, reading, prepping for fall classes and travels.
* * *
Today on The Writer's Almanac there were two quotes by Adrienne Rich, one of my favorite poets, whose birthday is today, May 16. I liked them so much I've added them to my email signature and share them with you here:
Adrienne Rich said, "You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it."
And "Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone."
NO IDEAS BUT IN THINGS: A New Blog by David Allan Evans, South Dakota Poet Laureate
David Allan Evans, the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, has started a blog, "No Ideas but in Things: Notes on Poetry" (http://sdstatepoetrysociety.blogspot.com/) that I encourage you to visit.
His poem, "Neighbors," was the first one to appear in the popular newspaper column/website, American Life in Poetry, initiated by former National Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. Evans has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Award. His poem "Pole Vaulter," will be used in the London Olympics 2012 display of sports and inspirational quotes in "Winning Words."
My thanks to poet Philip Dacey, professor emeritus of Southwest Minnesota State University, for passing on the news of Evans' new blog.
There will be a book release party for Christine Stark (Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation) and Olga Trujillo (Sum of My Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder) at The Loft Literary Center, 1101 Washington Ave South, Minneapolis this Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m.
I love living in fly-over country most of the time, but sometimes I wish we didn't live a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities. I'd like to attend Christine's and Olga's book release party at The Loft. So if you live in or near the Cities, go in my place.
And if you live in or near Marshall, please plan to join us at Southwest Minnesota State University on Monday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., CH 201, for Christine's reading from her new novel, Nickels. I met Christine in graduate school at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where we became friends. From the start, she inspired me as a writer. Now as I read her novel, told in a series of prose poems, I'm enthralled by the characters she's created, by the tale Little Miss So and So is telling, and by the heartbreaking and vivid world that has pulled me in. If you can't attend the reading, I encourage you to read the book and share it with others.
Here's an article below reprinted from SMSU Today. I hope you'll be able to join us for Christine's reading on the 23rd, which is being hosted by SMSU's Creative Writing Program and the New Horizons Crisis Center. It is free and open to the public. And if you're not able to attend, I urge you to read this beautiful, heartbreaking, triumphant novel (see below) and share it widely.
* * *
Writer Christine Stark will read from her debut novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23 in Charter Hall 201.
Stark wears many hats. Besides being an award-winning writer and visual artist, she is also a public speaker and advocate for the sexually abused. Her fiction, poetry and nonfiction have been published in a variety of periodicals and anthologies, including the University of Pennsylvania Law Review; Poetry Motel; Feminist Studies; Birthed from Scorched Hearts; The Progressive Woman’s Magazine; Hawk and Handsaw; Journal of Creative Sustainability; Narratives of Modern Slavery; Woman and Earth: An Almanac in Russian and English; and many others.
She is a coauthor of the groundbreaking research entitled “Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” She is also a coauthor (with Rebecca Whisnant) of Not for Sale, an international anthology about sexual violence.
Stark has won numerous awards for her writing, including a Pushcart nomination, a McKnight Award and a Loft Mentor Series in creative nonfiction. She has also won a McKnight Award for her visual art. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner and teaches writing at Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities.
Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation follows a biracial girl named Little Miss So and So from age 4 into adulthood. Told in a series of prose poems, Nickels’ lyrical and inventive language conveys the dissociation states born of a world formed by persistent and brutal incest and homophobia. The dissociative states enable the child’s survival and, ultimately, the adult’s healing. The content is both heartbreaking and triumphant. For further information, call 507-537-7251.
* * *
Yesterday an article by Kathleen Barry, professor emerita of Penn State University, entitled "Sexual Politics at Penn State--An Inside Look" published on The Women's Media Center website, referred to Christine's novel Nickels:
"To break through the mainstream media’s problematic language and get a sense of the depth of harm the victim experiences in sexual abuse, I suggest reading Christine Stark’s new novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation. The author, also a poet and visual artist, manages to bring the experience of sexual abuse into a present moment reality through the first-person narrative of Little Miss So and So, from age five to twenty-five, from surviving her father’s sexual abuse at various ages to a world of support created by feminists and lesbians.
"Since feminism broke open this best kept secret decades ago, we have been heartbroken and angered by the testimony and memoirs of women who as children fell victim to a father, stepfather, grandfather or uncle. The effects could be so severe that memory might not contain it—until some experience in adulthood provides the trigger and floods of anguish take over. So the story, Nickels, is not new. But Christine Stark has chosen a style and genre—a stream of consciousness novel—that keeps Little Miss So and So in the present tense.
"Her reality is not segmented into sentences or paragraphs; its monologue is born in experience and expressed in a voice authentic to her heroine at various ages. Nothing could bring her reality—the abuse, the doctors, the courts, her escape, breakdown and recovery—closer to our consciousness. The author knows something about survival, about putting one foot in front of the other to move through a situation we are never meant to experience. Little Miss So and So’s present moments yield immediately to new present moments that the reader cannot escape; yet the pace is fast enough to relieve us of the need to “get through it.”
"This book and its empathetic engagement will be a treasure to anyone working with victims of sexual abuse. And if we want to truly understand the failure in the Penn State scandal, we will look closely to its victims."
* * *
I hope to see you on Jan. 23rd for what I know will be a phenomenal evening.
Happy Birthday, Thich Nhat Hanh
Too often in my life when I'm doing some daily activity--folding laundry, washing dishes--I'm not really there, I'm not present. But as the saying goes, "You must be present to win." Happiness and joy can only be found in the present moment, not by living in the past or projecting myself into some hazy future.
Today is the birthday of poet, peace and human rights activist, and Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, whose writing has helped me to be more fully present for the miracle of daily life. For my birthday this year, a friend gave me a copy of Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living. Now as I fold the clean laundry I say the verses or gathas from this book to be more mindful, more fully aware of my loved ones who bless my life, who will wear these socks and t-shirts.
I became more familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh when I read The Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston after hearing her read at the John R. Milton Conference at the University of South Dakota-Vermillion in 2009. She has worked extensively with war veterans in writing workshops and has traveled with them to Thich's Plum Village in France. An amazing book, which I highly recommend.
Do you have a favorite book by Thich Nhat Hanh that you would recommend?
Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein
According toThe Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor, today is the birthday of poet Shel Silverstein who was one of our daughter Elaine's favorite poets when she was a child and one of my favorite children's poets as well. We bought all his books and read them frequently. Some favorites: "The Bear in There," "Sara Sylvia Cynthia Stout," and "My Beard Grows to my Toes."
Silverstein's book Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of the best-selling volumes of poetry ever written. If you're looking for gifts for young readers, pick up some of Silverstein's books. Not only do the poems make for fun, out-of-the box reading, Shel's drawings make readers of all ages smile.
Who are some of your favorite children's poets?
Do you have stories about your life that you want to tell, but you're not sure how to get started?
This weekend I attended an inspiring memoir workshop in Ortonville, Minnesota taught by Maureen Murdock. Murdock is the author of the bestselling book, The Heroine's Journey, Woman's Quest for Wholeness. She has also written Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory, Spinning Inward, and Fathers' Daughters: Breaking the Ties that Bind.
The workshop was hosted by the Big Stone Arts Council in an effort to expand high quality art experiences in rural areas. The powerful stories people wrote and shared throughout the weekend moved all of us to laughter as well as tears. At the end of the workshop, Maureen asked us to complete the sentence, "I write because...". The answers were beautiful and as varied as the wide range of our life experiences.
Maureen will be offering a tele-workshop on "Making Meaning from Myth and Memoir" on Tuesday evenings on Oct. 4 through Nov. 1. I encourage you to sign up and attend this workshop from the comfort of your home. Maureen is a wise, compassionate, brilliant teacher. If you have stories to tell, Maureen's books and her workshops may be just what you've been seeking.
Every summer the Southwest School of Dance in Marshall, Minnesota holds a week-long dance camp at Southwest Minnesota State University. Zac Hammer, one of our daughter's friends, took lessons at the dance school in town for five years, 10 to 15 years old, went on to study dance at Southern Methodist University, and now dances professionally in New York. Last winter he danced in the renowned Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, and he'll do so again this year. For the past four summers he's returned to Marshall to teach at the dance camp. At the end of the week, the dancers present a showcase of dances, and the dance teachers each perform as well, always a treat, a bit of NYC right here in fly-over country. Tonight Zac performed a modern dance duo with one of the other teachers. The artistry and intensity were beyond amazing, one of those "out-of-Marshall" experiences.
Phil Dacey, poet and SMSU professor emeritus of English, who now lives in Manhattan, loves the art of dance and loves to write about it. While Jim and I were at a writing conference in NYC, we introduced Phil to Zac. Later Phil interviewed Zac and wrote the poem below (published in The Raintown Review, Dec. 2008), which he gave me permission to post here. He captures Zac's spirit and energy, and the form he chose makes the poem move like modern dance, creates great music. Enjoy!
I recently found a quote by Voltaire that encourages us to read and to dance, two of my favorite things: "Let us read and let us dance, two delights that will never do any harm to the world."
“A peanut butter bagel,” he orders. “Breakfast
for a dancer. Protein.” We’re midtown, 8th Avenue,
near where he’ll rehearse at noon. But first
his dancing’s all in words for this interview:
“I can eat like a pig, and drink like a fish--
water, that is; by the gallon jug in the studio.”
Outside the cafe window, the morning rush
does its own dance, a classic of color, noise, and flow.
“Ballet, modern, post-mod--I like it all.
But I’m at home with modern, how it gets down
on the ground, so much so even a crawl
can be part of it. That feels more human
“to me than ballet, which favors the vertical,
transcending the earth. But modern’s bare feet bring
us close to the source, the mother. Sole on soil.
My god is gravity; let it do its thing.
“Still, I remember my first ballet shoes.
I bought them at K-Mart in Marshall, Minnesota.
I thought they were beautiful. And they were. But I was
no aspirant to the world of Anna Pavlova--
“to my sister’s, yes. One day she’d come home from class
and shown off her developee. One leg held straight out
at right angles to the other, arms raised. The stress
made her tremble; I trembled in awe at the sight.
“I want to do that, I told my parents, who
weren’t surprised, given the shows--song and dance--
I mounted for them in their bedroom all through
childhood (I was now ten). My first audience!”
Pause for coffee, bagel, and fond thoughts.
Then a turn: “The smokers in dance are what I don’t like.
Whole corps de cigarettes, trashed lungs. I don’t get it.
The smell of sweat sure beats the smell of smoke.
“And there are the jobs one takes to make ends meet.
For many summers, I performed at Mary Kay
conventions. Once I was hired to impersonate
a dancing bottle of champagne--Veuve Clicquot!
“But the pleasures make the struggles all worthwhile.
You wouldn’t believe the endorphin rush. It’s addictive.
And to pursue the same line of work as Angel
Corella...Well, it’s not a bad way to live.
“Corella’s great because he combines the virile
and the tender, the muscular and the lightest of
touches. As to the dead, Nijinsky rules:
his Rite of Spring pissed everybody off.
“I’d love to dance it someday. To throw myself
percussively to the floor as the music pounds.
To hulk and make the most of the body’s heft.
Beauty’s not what’s pretty but what offends.”
That’s Whitman, too, I say. “Yes, he wore his hat
indoors or out, right? If I could dance in the role
of Walt, I’d portray him as both athletic and sweet.
Hey, a poetic version of Angel Corella!
“In fact, I’ve long believed the arts should serve
each other. What fun, and more, to blur the line
between arts! If I had two lives to live,
I’d live one as an art historian.”
A book about dance? “What influenced me most
was Zen in the Art of Archery. It taught
me to see that the dancer at his or her best
is all at once archer, arrow, bow, and target.”
The clock’s hands are doing their usual soft-shoe.
“Dancing with the David Parsons Company
has made going to work--what I’ve got to do
now--a pleasure. My one-year anniversary
with them is coming up soon. I’m riding a wave.”
Goodbyes, and then the wave and he are gone
down 8th Avenue--a stage where every move
he makes is spotlit by a midday sun.
I love to play with words. To capture moments on the page. To explore the physical and spiritual geography of what I call "fly-over country." I write from imagination, observation and my own experience of wandering in fly-over country--the literal, physical spaces of my life on the Minnesota prairie and the inner territory of the soul.