Today I head out to the Tomales Bay Writing Workshops, head out for a five-day writing workshop with Dorothy Allison and deep writing community in a place that I love, and it’s thanks, completely, to you.
A few months ago, I applied for a fellowship to this workshop, and then didn’t receive it. I had told myself, initially, well, if I don’t get the fellowship, then fine, I just won’t go. But I got the letter informing me that I’d been placed in Dorothy Allison’s workshop and they hoped I could join them just the same, even though they had given the fellowships to other folks. Something in me said, the writer part said, we have to go anyway. I couldn’t afford it, not without help. We had sudden bills that were coming due, family business that needed dealing with, low enrollment in workshops — still: we have to go anyway, the part in me said. Just ask for help.
Last week I had the great pleasure to attend the Healing Art of Writing Conference/Workshop, offered at Dominican University here in San Rafael and organized/led by Dr. David Watts, a poet and UCSF GI doc. What can I tell you about this event? When I first saw the information about the conference (shared by Dr. Aronson at USCF, who runs the Medical Humanities listserv there), it felt like the absolute right place to be — a writing conference, about writing and healing and writing as healing? And Jane Hirshfield, Dr. Rachel Remen, John Fox, Terese Svoboda, Robert Hass and other amazing poets/writers/thinkers will be presenting? And it’s at Dominican, just two miles from my new home? Yes, please! However, the conference fee (which, at $700, is completely reasonable for an event of this length and caliber) was out of my budget, and so I thought maybe I’d be able to catch the evening talks or save up for next year’s offering.
And then Cindy Perlis, who leads the Art for Recovery program at Mt Zion (where I lead Healing Through Writing workshops with folks living with life-threatening/life-altering illness), asked if I wanted to go. She’d been offered a spot, but couldn’t take it herself. And so it was that on Sunday evening, after a weekend of queer-lib-madness (given that it was the end of Pride week in San Francisco), I found myself on the second floor of Guzman Hall on the Dominican campus, listening to a roomful of healers, poets, novelists, new writers, long-term writers, those living with illness or life-altering physical experiences, nurses, therapists, and doctors introduce themselves to one another. I felt wholly out of my element and terrified (and not a little bit awe-struck). I learned that night that the folks who had signed up for the Prose workshop (as I had) would be expected to share a 10-15 page chunk of their writing with their workshop groups. This was new information for me, and I had to scurry that night to get together the material I wanted to share with my group.
What else can I tell you? The Dominican campus is tree-and-deer filled, a peacefully-riotous green. Often during the week I was reminded of being at Goddard, from the reminders to be in one’s own process to the old wood frame buildings, there was something familiar about this place and these healing-focused folks gathered to attend to their own stories, their own writing.
A day of body mindfulness, gentle movement and writing for queer, genderqueer
and trans survivors of sexual trauma
Facilitated by Alex Cafarelli and Jen Cross
10am-4pm, Nov 21, 2009
At The Space, 4148 Mac Arthur Blvd., Oakland
(The Space is wheelchair accessible)
No previous experience necessary! Pre-registration required. Fee: $50-100,
sliding scale (Please check in with us if funds are an issue—payment plans are
always possible, and we may be able to work out trades or other arrangements
as well!) Please write to email@example.com to register.