I have never considered myself an activist. Many years ago, I made the decision to stop engaging with mainstream news media because it was too stressful. If I read the newspaper, I'd spend the rest of the day in a tailspin, knowing I couldn't effect enough change to help much of anybody experiencing the horrors I'd just sat with for less than a thousand words. It hurt to think that I could simply walk away from an article if it was too troubling, whereas the people living it had no choice but to stay where they were and keep fighting for themselves.
This is the particular shade of my privilege: I get to walk away from the news. I don't have family in war zones; I am not a direct victim of institutionalized racism. The violence and fear I experience in everyday life is tied to my gender, and while I do suffer in many ways on that front, it could be so much worse. I am lucky to be who I am, to have the resources and support network that I do.
And the question keeps coming up: how can I contribute anything meaningful to this conversation? As someone who speaks as part of my living, and who facilitates others finding voice for their stories, I want to know what to say about of the things that horrify me about the world we live in. But I am speechless. All I can do is keep offering what little I have to give--in this case, a space to imagine different worlds.
Being a writing teacher is not the most influential position in the world, but it does give me the space to ask my students to think critically about the world they move through. The more critical you are of your world, the more clear it will become what kind of world you want to live in. Ask questions, and answer them, and suddenly a space takes shape where you can store your hopes and dreams for something better. So much truth can come through the experimental space of fiction. The more clearly we define the world we wish existed, the closer we are to having the tools to implement them.
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I'm teaching my regular intro to creative writing class again this session at BCAE, and also will be test-driving a brand new course I designed for them on Poetry & Performance. Each class meets once a week for six weeks, starting mid-September.
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And finally, I have poems in a few new places: a suite of five poems at Nailed Magazine, and a snapshot of one of my oldest friendships at Banango Street. September and October promise a tidal wave of my poems in good homes and Pelican will be out in November, another outrageous success I still can't quite wrap my head around.