Tag Archives: erotic writing workshop

Fall workshop schedule at Writing Ourselves Whole

graffiti of a butterfly hovering a branch that contains two nests of heartsFall is upon us, and many folks are in the back-to-school mode. Maybe you’re ready to pull out those composition books and let your words flow. Maybe you’re finished with summer’s travels and are ready to settle back into a relationship with your words. Maybe you’re ready to find community support for your stories. Whatever your reasons, join us in a group or workshop this fall, and write yourself whole:

Write Whole-Survivors Write. Open to all survivors of trauma
8 Monday evenings beginning October 14, 2013.
Fee: $350
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt.
Gather with other trauma survivors and write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing around such subjects as body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more.

Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: Open to all women
8 Tuesday evenings beginning October 15, 2013.
Fee: $350
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt.
Safe space in which to explore our gorgeously complicated erotic selves! Find community around the complexity of desire — and transform your relationship with your creativity and your sexuality! — as you try your hand at explicit erotic writing.

Online writing groups
6-week summer sessions begin October 13, 2013
Final group offered at introductory fee of $100-150.
If you are not comfortable joining an in-person group, we offer online groups as well. This summer, our Write Whole: Survivors Write online is open to all queer/LGBTQ survivors of trauma; Reclaiming Our Erotic Story online is open to all women. No special software required — just a computer, internet connection, and desire to write in supportive community.

Writing the Flood: A monthly writing workshop open to all
Meets the third Saturday of every month
Limited to 12. Fee is $50 (with a sliding scale)
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Write in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories that have been too long stuck inside
Next Flood Write meets Saturday, September 21 (waiting list available).
Mark your calendars now for the Fall Flood Writes: Oct 19, Nov 16, Dec 21.

Dive Deep: An advanced manuscript/project workgroup
Next series begins begins January 2014
Fee: $200/month (multiple-month commitment)
Limited to 6 members per group; contact me to be added to the waiting list for the first DD of 2014.
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Designed for those working on (or committing to) a larger project, such as a novel or memoir. Divers meet three times per month for writing, project check-in/accountability, feedback, coaching and peer support.

Create the space this fall for your good words. All workshops facilitated by Jen Cross. Email me with any questions, or visit our contact page to register. I look forward to writing with you!

Fall 2011 workshop schedule!

graffiti of a pink-purple pencil standing up next to a doorwayHello writers & writers-to-be!

We’ve got a few workshops coming up this month and next around Writing Ourselves Whole, and I’d love to write with you!

  • September 17: Writing the Flood
  • September 28: Erotic Reading Circle
  • Beginning October 3: Write Whole: Survivors Write: 8 Monday evenings, 6-8:30. Open to all women who are survivors of sexual trauma
    Registration is open — Please sign up early, and avoid that late-registration fee!
  • October 15: LitQuake’s LitCrawl! I get to participate in Carol Queen’s Good Vibrations reading again this year, during Phase 2 of the LitCrawl (7:15-8:15)
  • November 12: Reclaiming our Erotic Story (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to writers of all genders and all sexual orientations!
  • November 13: Write Whole: Survivors Write (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to survivors of all genders

Read on for more information about each of these events— and visit our Sign Up page to register!

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Writing the Flood

Every third Saturday, 1-4:30pm
(unless otherwise noted)

September’s group meets on 9/17


Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long.  This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $50 (with a sliding scale) Limited to 12. Register or email me with questions: jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.

Upcoming dates:

  • Saturday, September 17
  • Saturday, October 15
  • Saturday, November 19
  • (we break for December — no Writing the Flood this month)

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Write Whole : Our SF-based 8-week workshop

Write Whole-Survivors Write –  Beginning Monday, October 3

Meets 8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm.

This workshop is open to all women survivors of sexual trauma.

Gather with other women survivors of sexual trauma in this workshop, and write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, and deal with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more. You’ll be encouraged to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words!

8-week workshop fees: The fee for an 8-week session is $350. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) The regular registration fee will be in effect through September 15. The late registration fee is $385; last day to register is 9/30. Please register early!

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The Erotic Reading Circle

Every fourth Wednesday at the Center for Sex and Culture

9/28, 7:30-9:30pm

suggested donation: $5+

Since 2006, we’ve been meeting on the fourth Wednesday of the month to share and celebrate the breadth of erotic artistry in the Bay Area!


The next Erotic Reading Circle meets on September 28, 7:30-9:30 at the Center for Sex and Culture,
1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (cross streets 9th and 10th). $5+ donation requested (no one turned away); donations support the Center for Sex and Culture. This month’s circle will be a collaborative effort with the Sex Worker’s Arts Festival events at the CSC!

Bring whatever you’re working on, or whatever you’d like to be working on.

Come join readers and share your erotic writing! Bring something to read or just be part of the appreciative circle of listeners. This is a great place to try out new work (ask for comments if you like), or get more comfortable reading for other people. Longtime writers will bring their latest… newly inspired writers, bring that vignette you scrawled on BART while daydreaming on your way to work. Carol Queen and Jen Cross host/facilitate this space dedicated to erotic writers and readers.

See you at the Circle!

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Reclaiming the Erotic Story
The Liberatory Potential of Writing Desire

November 12, 2011 – with Sacramento Sutterwriters

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities? Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.

When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self.

In this workshop, we’ll take try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.

The cost for this workshop is $100.  A $25 deposit would secure your place with the balance due on the day of the class (there will be a substantial discount for participants who attend this workshop and Write Whole on Sunday the 13th.)

If you are interested in attending, please give John Crandall a call at 916-708-9708 or an email at johnalbertcrandall@yahoo.com

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Write Whole – Survivors Write
For Survivors Of Sexual Trauma
November 13th, 2011 – with Sacramento Sutterwriters

Many of us who are survivors of sexual trauma feel fragmented or disjointed and have come to believe we must always live our lives this way.

In this Write Whole group, we are offered the opportunity to learn that we can live and feel whole in our experiences and desires – that we can create new art through writing, and transforming our pains and fears into power and love.


It bears repeating: Transforming our language is one way we transform our lives. Altering and expanding our language has the effect of changing who we know ourselves to be.

In this Write Whole workshop, you’ll write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, engaging with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more.

Though we come together as survivors, we are never required to write any particular version of “our abuse story.” In this space, you have the opportunity to write as you feel called to write, no matter what the subject.

Although the setting is a supportive one, this workshop is different from a “support group,” as the focus of the workshop itself is on each person’s writing. We create beauty out of the sometimes extraordinarily difficult stuff of our lives.

The cost for this workshop is $100. A $25 deposit would secure your place with the balance due on the day of the class (there will be a substantial discount for participants who attend this workshop and Reclaiming The Erotic Story on Saturday the 12th.)


If you are interested in attending, please give John Crandall a call at 916-708-9708 or an email at johnalbertcrandall@yahoo.com

Phase 2 (7:15-8:15 pm)

Write Whole and Declaring Our Erotic – 8 week workshops begin mid-June!

I’ve got the summer 8-week workshop schedule up, finally —

~Write Whole: Survivors Write
8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, beginning 6/13
Open to all women survivors of sexual trauma
(Workshop held in downtown San Francisco)

o In the *Write Whole: Survivors Write* workshop, you’ll gather with other survivors of sexual trauma to create new art and new beauty out of life’s difficult and complicated realities. Learn to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words! Remember: we’re open to ALL women, and ‘survivor’ is self-defined!

~Declaring Our Erotic: Reclaiming our sexuality
8 Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, beginning 6/16
Open to all LGBT/Queer/SGL folks
(Workshop held in downtown San Francisco)

o We each need safe space in which to be our whole erotic selves. In the Declaring Our Erotic: Reclaiming our sexuality workshop, you’ll try your hand at some explicit erotic writing, and, in so doing, will get more comfortable exploring and talking about sexual desires, explore the varied and complex aspects of sexuality and desire, receive strong and focused feedback about your new writing!

Join us! The early bird rate ends soon!

Pre-registration is required. The fee for an 8-week session is $350. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) There is a reduced-rate early bird fee of $315 if you register by May 20. The regular registration fee will be in effect through June 5. The late registration fee is $385 (this will be in effect June 5-June 12; June 12 is the last day to register). Please register early! A $75 deposit will confirm your space in the workshop.

No previous writing experience necessary. Unless otherwise noted, workshops held in San Francisco in an accessible space near BART and MUNI lines.

I’m looking forward to writing with you!

Upcoming workshops, SEAF & more!

sticker graffiti -- a woman squated down, in stockings, bra and wig, holding a frame around herself

found this image right after tour and thought, "Yup -- that's some femme energy right there."

Good morning, all!

Whew, the pollen has got me this year — are your allergies blowing up? I can’t remember the last time I had such a strong reaction, and yet all I can do when I pass by the new flowers, the electric new green leaves, the eucalyptus trees in full yellow polleny bloom, is to stick my face right in and grin.  I’m trying some homeopathic remedies before I go get the Claratin — bought some local honey, which will introduce my immune system to the local pollens in a gentler way, and let my body begin to build up a familiarity (which I rather thought it already had, but I think I was wrong!); we’ll see how that helps!

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We’ve got a few workshops coming up this month and next around Writing Ourselves Whole, and I’d love to write with you!

  • Saturday, May 14: Writing the Flood
  • Sat, May 28: Reclaiming our Erotic Story: the Liberatory Potential of Writing Desire
  • May 20-22: Seattle Erotic Art Festival
  • ETA: June 13-July 24: Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: The Liberating Power of Writing Desire – an online course!
  • Summer 2011 8-week writing workshops update!

Read on for more information about each of these events— and visit our Sign Up page to register!

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Writing the Flood

May 14, 2011*, 1-4:30pm

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long.  This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $50 (with a sliding scale). Limited to 12. Register or email me with questions: jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.

Summer 2011 dates:

  • Saturday, May 14
  • Saturday, June 18
  • Saturday, July 16

*We’re meeting this month on the second instead of the third Saturday because on May 21 I’ll be in Seattle at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, presenting my writing and hopefully leading a workshop in that gorgeous wet city!

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Reclaiming our Erotic Story: the Liberatory Potential of  Writing Desire

May 28, 2011, 10:00AM-5:00PM

(breakfast provided from 9:30-10)

Sutterwriters Sacramento

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities?

Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.

I’ve led erotic writing workshops since 2002, and what I’ve found is that writing our desire, in a safe community of engaged and encouraging peer writers, can allow us the space to challenge the negative messages we’ve internalized about sexuality and about our core desires and even our very being. When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self.

In this workshop, we’ll try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.

The cost for this workshop is $100.  A $25 deposit would secure your place, with the balance due on the day of the class.

To register, contact

John Crandall
Crandall Writers
P.O. Box 22612
Sacramento, California 95822
916-708-9708

john@fireartsofsacramento.com

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Seattle Erotic Art Festival

May 20-22, Seattle, WA

“The Seattle Erotic Art Festival supports a vibrant creative community, promotes freedom of expression, and fosters sex-positive culture through public celebration of the arts.”

Come join me in Seattle for this amazing celebration of erotic art! There will be performance, film, readings, workshops and, of course, afterparties — this event is put on by the Center for Sex Positive Culture, which we got to check out a couple of years ago during the Body Heat West Coast tour. I can’t wait to go back! I get to participate in the Literary Arts part of the Festival:

This year’s Literary Art Exhibition will feature 26 poems, 12 short stories, and readings by many of Seattle’s hottest erotic spoken word artists, all presented in a lush and intimate boudoir setting. New this year: selected poets will write pieces inspired by the visual art, then conduct a daily “Poet’s Favorite” walking tour. Learn more at: http://seattle-erotic.org/2011/04/28/literary-highlights/.

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Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: The Liberating Power of Writing Desire

An online course, offered by the Transformative Language Arts Network. Open to all!

June 13-July 24

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities? In this workshop, we’ll write together, and consider how empowering a more expansive relationship with sexual identity and desire affects our social change/organizing work in the world.

$189 Transformative Language Arts Network members; $210 for non-members

Visit the link above to register or with questions! I look forward to writing with you!

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Summer 2011 8-week workshop schedules are almost ready (this includes Write Whole: Survivors Write and Declaring Our Erotic (open to all queer survivors of sexual trauma)). I’m sorry for the delay on these — during my hiatus from these workshops, I’ve been learning to listen closer to my body, so that I could figure out a schedule that will work best alongside the self-care work that I’ve also begun. This is new learning! We will begin in early June, and I’ll be contacting all previous writers and folks who’re on the waiting lists with the schedule before I announce it publicly.

5/28 in Sacto: Reclaiming our Erotic Story!

We had so much fun at this workshop back in January, we’re doing it again! Contact John Crandall (info at the end of the post) to register or for more info! -xox, Jen

Reclaiming our Erotic Story:

the Liberatory Potential of  Writing Desire

May 28, 2011, 10:00AM-5:00PM

Sutterwriters Sacramento

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities?

Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.

I’ve led erotic writing workshops since 2002, and what I’ve found is that writing our desire, in a safe community of engaged and encouraging peer writers, can allow us the space to challenge the negative messages we’ve internalized about sexuality and about our core desires and even our very being. When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self.

In this workshop, we’ll try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.

The cost for this workshop is $100.  A $25 deposit would secure your place, with the balance due on the day of the class.

To register, contact

John Crandall
Crandall Writers
P.O. Box 22612
Sacramento, California 95822
916-708-9708

john@fireartsofsacramento.com

what’s coming up — and no regrets

It’s a quiet quiet morning here at this new place — the seabreeze has calmed, quieted, and even the trees are still.

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Here’s what’s coming up!

Tomorrow, March 10, I’m going to be facilitating a sexy-letter-writing mini workshop at Femina Potens during their Strap Ons and Smut event. Just $15, and you get to write and then learn some strap-on skills with kinky educator & bondage rigger Rain DeGrey! Get your tickets now!

Then, Writing the Flood is on March 19 — if you’ve got some words that have been pushing at you, if you can feel them rumbling around inside your hands, behind your fingers, then it might be time! Come join us and let your writing flow.

And next month: The Body Heat: Queer Femme Porn Tour hits the road again! This time we’re going to be blazing through the Southeast: Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham — I can’t wait to meet you. Please help us get our kitty going (which gets us to you and makes sure we’re fed)!

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Today I’ve got candles on either side of my computer, I’ve got tea that calms and wakes, I’ve got an hour before I have to be at my bus stop.

I am thinking about self-forgiveness, how it’s an ongoing process, how, in fact, maybe it’s an everyday thing, maybe it’s a practice.

What if you forgave yourself everything? Or even one small part? What would your hands feel like after? Your shoulders? Your knees?

Relatedly: I read this poem yesterday: Antilamentation, by Dorianne Laux — Write first, if you’d like, about the above questions. And then let this be your next prompt:

Antilamentation

by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Thank you thank you thank you.

understand what poems and lusts live under their tongues

crabapples dripping after a night's rainGood morning! Today’s Wednesday, which is technically a Declaring our Erotic day, I think.

Why do erotic writing workshops matter? Why does it matter whether or not you’re in your body? Why does it matter whether or not you’re in your honest self, your heat and desire?

Today, honestly, I want to write something sexy — I’m in that still-heart-beating aftermath of the conference,where what got sparked was a desire to know everyone, to get into their bones, to understand what poems and lusts live under their tongues. (That can happen at the Power of Words, like at other conferences, maybe: I’m just warning you now.)

I spent some time, afterward, writing about the erotics of learning, of growth. I know lots has been written about this space: the erotic space between and connecting teacher and student, and I don’t (necessarily) mean sexualized space, I mean a place of openness and sharing, of longing for more knowledge, longing for new integration, the fear that fills us when we don’t know if we’re ready to stretch enough to take in this new thing that we’ve just met.

(I don’t know if I’m awake enough to do justice to this right now.)

Anyway, there’s a thing that happens where we all fall in love with each other, we may fall in lust, we’re in a place of connection, newness, joy, stretching, reaching, wanting: it’s a liminal space, ok, but also something concrete. There’s something that can happen at a retreat, a conference like this one, where we’re all in our own worlds all the rest of the time, each of us building something new, and then we come together and see and feel that we are not alone: how good it feels to be seen and heard and groked. It’s an erotic experience, can we be honest about that, can we acknowledge how good learning feels, how good it feels when we finally open when we finally stretch our boundaries, when we let something else in? A welcoming, a penetrating, a welcoming, a transgression, a commingling of what, just before, was divergent. Of course we all feel like making out — sex is the clear we way we americans have/know of channeling the erotic. (And an awfully good way it is!)  A dance would be nice, too, like with some good house music. And a black light (sigh). (Hey Council! Next year, maybe, let’s have an informal dance, after the closing circle!  We’ll all be exhausted, I know: someone could plug their ipod into the sound system, let stream out some Jill Scott, some good old Chicago house, some remixed Verve standards, we could just be there all night, letting our bodies tell each other the rest of the story, the stuff that no one has found words for yet. Someone, Naila, she talked about and practices the language of dance: let’s go there.)

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I want to tell you more about the erotic writing workshop that we did at this year’s Power of Words, but that will have to wait for another morning. People talked about how liberating it felt to bring the erotic, bring sex, out from under the bed and into the light; they talked about setting and holding boundaries; the talked about the mixed joy and sadness of doing this writing at the conference when they can’t engage with sexuality in their daily work. It was a super joyful session. I wish you could have been there.

Here’s one of the writes I did during that workshop: I had us do this prompt again, the one where we write a letter to the editor, extolling our virtues as lovers. I love this exercise — it brings out a powerful, strong writing voice, a voice that is clear and honest and, too, bigger than life. It’s fun to play with that voice, see where it takes our writing.

Dear Sir: She doesn’t tell you about my fist, does she? I mean the soft long handed way I could fit myself inside her when she said more could never be filled, when — how can I explain this — when what we had was only our two bodies in a twin-frame bed the bedroom of the apartment she shared with several others, and we filled the spaces between her roommates’ silences and the tread between the cars outside on Mass Ave with her urgent cries and shouting.

Girls learn good things to do with their hands and I know them all, not just the caressing but the careening, how fucking feels different when it’s just you I mean her, so full beneath me, her legs far flung, my shoulder burning but its worth every ache to feel the tight clutch of her hard wet all the way around my hand, and you reading this letter, I want you to imagine the jubilation of being as full as possible, retreating into, then away from, an unspeakable kind of hungry, letting someone put their hand all the way into the night of your morning and pull out the joy that you need.

Be easy with you today, ok? and please keep drinking water, if it’s so hot again where you are. I’m always happy to read your writing: thank you again for the work that you do in the world.

there was glitter, poetry, rage and song

white spray-painted heart on red background, painted on Mass Ave sidewalk in BostonGood morning!  I’m back from my travels, and, as you can see, I didn’t manage to get any blogging done while I was out in New England — there was just too much happening! Now I want to tell you about everything that happened, which would require less of a blog and more of a book.

(Wow: it’s nice to be back here with you, though! I missed this space/time with you –)

What’s true is that I got to spend five days doing transformative language arts (TLA): thinking/talking/wondering about it, being with other folks who think/talk/wonder about it, visioning its possible futures, considering the next year of the Transformative Language Arts Network (of which I am the new membership coordinator — expect to hear a lot more about TLAN around these parts), all the while also practicing TLA.

This year’s Power of Words conference was, again, a gathering of phenomenal artists and cultural workers, social change workers and medical folks, spiritual folks, and healers of many flavors and practices.  The Power of Words was another opportunity to continue to engage with and expand what “transformative language arts” looks like and means: writing workshops, intentional conversation, theater practices, storytelling, spoken word, folk music, blues, choir, community mobilizing to help someone in trouble, using TLA to change our relationship with our health, writing about sex, video creation, Body Eloquence, poetry (period), ‘crazy’ as a story, so so so much more.

This is a space, the Power of Words conference, that’s working hard every year to walk its talk: doing TLA (yes, and other work!) to create this space where folks gather and think about TLA. I’m grateful for those doing the work behind the scenes, the folks I get to work with on the TLAN council: thank you thank you.

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The fall workshops begin next week! (Can it possibly be that next week is October?) Write Whole (our Monday night workshop open to women survivors of sexual trauma) is full, and Declaring Our Erotic (our Thursday night erotic/sexuality writing workshop, this time open to queer survivors of sexual trauma) does still have a few spaces–if you’ve been on the fence about signing up, please send a note! I’d love to answer any questions you have about the workshops… (Bayview Writers has no one signed up yet — if you want to do the Wednesday morning writing-ourselves-from-our-dreams-into-our-day workshop up here in the North Bay, please let me know soon: otherwise we’ll postpone until January 2011.)

Oh: and October’s Writing the Flood is on 10/16 — come write with us!  It’s a great chance to test out the way we write together, if you’ve been thinking about joining one of the multi-week workshops but been nervous or curious about the process.

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I want to tell you about this past week:

  • the exquisite tenderness of spending time with deep, true friends (the people who have known most of my me’s, and who love me nonetheless);
  • the power of driving around VT and NH in the fall, that transition time that used to be the time of returning to safety from the terror of being home; the turning of the trees’ tides, that shift from thick layered summer green to brash splashes of red, yellow and harvest gold, orange, all amid still the full green push of pine and the deciduous that had yet to turn–leaves fell all around us even as we moved through a heat wave on the Goddard campus;
  • a full day of conversation with people consciously and conscientiously engaging transformative language arts in their daily lives about what TLA means and could mean in the future;
  • my first ever board retreat, with the Transformative Language Arts Network Council (talking funds, growth and sustainability, who we are and who we want to be);
  • the deepening of connections with folks I get to see every year at the Power of Words conference, and the opening of new resonances with folks I just met but carry with me now into this daily life, folks I certainly hope to get to meet again next year —

and I carry, too, a sleep-deprived several days with someone who, how do I want to say this, someone who wasn’t exactly present in the same reality I am — that’s not exactly right, she was present in this reality plus another, or more. It was my first experience of someone outside the bounds of sleep, slipping and reveling into communication with someone or someones not visible to me, hearing things I can’t hear. I’m carrying her words, how I got to see her straddling this fence, this slim line or particular consciousness that we all agree to and call ‘reality,’ how I got to be with her, and also became aware that perhaps I wasn’t with her as far as she was concerned: that manifesting and presence-ing of our always-multiple realities. There’s more that I want to say about this part, but right now it’s this, to her: please rest easy. please be well in your heart.

Please know I remember you said daughter, you said god’s creation, and we got to look into each others eyes.

There was glitter and there were songs that moved me over and over into that breaking wet space of tears, there was the phenomenal gathering of women in our Blue talking circle, there was the sharing of poetry and practice, there was deep laughter. There were more people I wanted to have true, thick conversation with than I got to. There was the absolutely amazing group of folks at the erotic writing workshop, where we considered and then dove into the liberatory possibility of engagement with erotic story and writing: there were our powerful powerful (and, yes, hot!) writings. There’s how much I still want to thank you all.

I come back full of song and words, prompts and poems, connections in real life that will carry over, for this year, into the electronic realm, and that sense that there are so many people out there who know/grok what I mean when I say I do “transformative language arts,” and, too, that there’s so much space beneath that umbrella term for the social-changing work so many of us do in the world with story, with song, with words. I bet you fit here, too, if you’re wondering about that.

Prompts to come later this week – thanks for being there, for the breadth of your work in the world, and for your good words.

not of the carnal kind, but of the cardiac

graffiti -- sacred heart: stylized heart, wrapped up and burning...

(check out more of Marshall Astor's photography by clicking on the photo!)

Good morning! It’s a Monday — how’d that get here so fast? I’ve got decaf espresso on the stovetop (and yes still the magnet on my fridge, bought long long  before I stopped drinking caffeinated coffee, that says, “Decaf Espresso? What’s the Point?”). Mmm — espresso w/ cardamom and lemon zest, and a bit of sugar.

In a couple hours, I’ll be heading out to the airport, getting on a plane, flying East, for the Power of Words conference. First I get a day in Boston, with the Lady Miz M & her Lady, and then an early morning drive up through NH and VT to a day-long conversation about what Transformative Language Arts is and could be. Then, on Thurs, the Transformative Language Arts Network Council has its annual meeting. Then the Power of Words conference starts Friday — I get to talk about the liberatory power of our erotic story. I get to introduce Kim Rosen‘s keynote, and then, too, I get to facilitate a panel discussion about the ways that transformative language arts work can be social change work.

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I will work to post at least once or twice from New England — it would have been smart to set up a few automatic posts (huh? like Jianda’s been tellin’ me. *sigh*), but I haven’t done that yet.

When I get back, we’ll have one more week before the Write Whole and Declaring Our Erotic: Reclaiming our Sexuality workshops start. We’re about half-registered for DOE, and almost full for WW. Please do let me know if you’d like to join us, and please pass the word about the workshops if you know someone who you think might be interested! Most folks who come new to the workshops heard about them from someone they know…(thanks for that!)

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Oh: I did it! I went swimming! (I wrote, a week and a half ago, that I’d go swimming once last week. Then I got sick and though I probably wouldn’t do that after all. but by the end of the week I felt a lot better, and woke up on Saturday with an urge to move through water. I headed up to the Terra Linda public pool, here in San Rafael, for the adult swim. remember when the Adult Swim was the super-boring time at the pool, cause all the kids had to get out and let the adults just go back and forth across the pool, in straight lines, like that was something fun? well, that was us. And it was fun, after all. This was the last weekend that Terra Linda’s going to be open this year, so now I gotta check out the Marin Y.

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I have a write I want to share with you, from this past weekend’s Writing the Flood. We did the exercise where you start writing with a phrase (In this case, it was “In the palm of your hand…”), and then after a minute, I through out a random word that you have to, right away, put into whatever it is you’re writing. I do that for the next four minutes: every minute, I say a new word, and you bring that word into your writing. Then, after the five minutes are completed, you pause a moment, and keep on writing for another 10-15 minutes, following your writing wherever it seems to want you to go. (You can do this yourself by writing the words on 3×5 cards, turning the cards over, and every minute, looking at one of the cards and using that word right away.)

It can take us to writing we’d never imagine doing, this prompt, sometimes something surreal and very different for us. Here’s what I wrote in response:

In the palm of your hand, I put the bald story of my heart, in all its plastic anguish, in all its grief, in all its weight. In the palm of your hand, teeth dig in and around the flesh, angry and swollen (the teeth or the heart?), gnawy and hopeful and hard. In the palm of your hand, I put heart’s background, prescient and timely, orange and dangerous, cactus-spined with sadness and also with wanting. Sob out all yesterday’s angries, sob out the places blue and pushy, the places still ratcheting like pulses inside your mouth. Blue out all the angries. Write what hurts, first.

This waving, this hardying, this shore, this hesitation — this is what I’m talking about. How the palm of your hand is this conductor, holding forth the light, asking for more from my heart than just grief,l asking for the weight history to bleed out–

In the palm of your hand I put the hot weight of my heart and let you fold your slim fingers around its heft, cradle it like it’s something worth tendering to, push maybe now and again against its tough meat. And it’s your job, now, this carrying, the way you have to do the work of your day while still holding on to my heart, soothing its crusts and anguishes even while you go about, one-handed, making your oatmeal for breakfast, or texting, one-thumbed, the clients who need to hear from you.

And what about how your heart is in my palm, the way we bloody ourselves for love, the way I settle myself into your gush not of the carnal kind, but of the cardiac — how I soak in what you’d come to believe no one would ever even want to see.

What am I trying to get into here? The tenacious stuff of the heart, how I let you take it in your mouth when you need both your hands for other tasks, how you set it down sometimes, how sometimes you forget where you left it., How its easy to say, sometimes love is like this — you, scrambling, searching, asking like you do, not about your glasses this time but, Babe, do you know where I left your heart? and I think, Look in your hands. There it is.

Not a magic trick. Hard labor, thick salty trust, aches of arguments and resolutions, how we, brown-skinned transbutch and paler skinned femmedyke, were never supposed to know the contours, the inner workings, the mechanics of one another’s heart beats, how much is established to keep us from listening, from holding your hand to your ear in the night and listening to the doubling up of a blood swell, your pulse the backdrop to my own, there in your hands. There in the palm of your hand.

Thanks for the gentleness you’re going to show yourself today, and for the ways you’re gentle with others as well, even in your fierce honesty. It’s a kindness, that honesty, and a generosity, too. Thanks for your writing, always.