reading and writing the poetry and stories of our people and places

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No News Has Been Good News

I haven't written a blog entry in almost three months, but I have been writing and rewriting and editing and re-editing which is writing, right? I thought about posting a poem here and there, now and then. I saw friends posting their weekly blog entries and felt my usual shame for not posting more.

I have asked myself: Why have a blog if I don’t post more often or more regularly? Answer (one of them): I don’t want to post just to post. I’ve told myself, Use the post as a way of practicing your art. Another answer: What do I have to say? Who cares? Why bother? What does it matter?

My friend and mentor said she asks students: Why do you write? This is similar to a question Margaret Randall has on Albuquerque Local Poets Guild blog: What makes you write?

I have many answers, but the easiest, shortest, quickest one is: Because I want us to remember. I want my family and community to remember us as we were. Because the people in power won’t. We must. For ourselves and our kids the future. And the past. We must remember those who came before us. We must try to understand what they lived through and how so we can do one better. Not to look down on them but so we can learn. Though we can’t live by studying lessons. We need to live actively and make our own mistakes. We need some understanding of the past to help us through the present to make the future what we want and not just survive what’s been given to us.

I’ve been harsh with myself about my writing. You need to be more disciplined. You need to make it more of a priority. You need to be more serious. I’ve laid down the law: You will post every week. I rebelled so I got lenient: You will post every two weeks. You must post at least once a month. Okay?

I could stand to be harsher with myself, but I know I need to remember to be gentle too. I need to forgive myself when I fall short of my goals. When I set my goals too low. When I ignore my goals. When I lie and say I have no goals. Without forgiveness I’ll be lost.

Practice. Over and over. Living, writing, breathing, saying please and thank you, saying no to injustice, saying yes to joy. While I have not posted many entries this summer, I have written 500 (at least) words almost every day—yes Saturday and Sunday too—this summer. I’m glad I haven’t posted many of those thousands of words, but I’m glad I wrote them. I’m glad I took the time. I’m thankful I had the words and time.

I am still feeling my way around this form. I am still finding my way as a writer. I want to explore more of these ideas in this blog. I don’t have all the answers about writing as I sometimes think I do or, more often, think I should, but I look forward to sharing more about my writing process.

This summer, I've been working on my manuscript, Salvation on 24th Street. This collection of poetry and prose is based on growing up in my family in San Francisco’s Mission District from the 1960s to the 1980s. Momotombo Press plans to publish the work this fall. The hard work isn't done, but I'm very excited to think it will finally be available for folks to read very soon.

On Saturday, August 20th from 6 to 8 pm, I will share the stage with some local poets, including Andrea Serrano, Mary Oishi, Jessica Helen Lopez, and Hakim Bellamy at The Projects. It’s a fundraiser for the Albuquerque Cultural Conference the following week.

I’m very excited that my UNM class, (W)riting Home: Place and Ritual in Creative Writing and Literature, begins next Thursday, August 25, 2011. We’ll meet 5:30 – 8:00 pm. Lisa Gill of Albuquerque Local Poets Guild posted a great write-up on the blog.

After sending the last major revision of my manuscript to my editor, Maria Melendez, and publisher, Francisco Aragón, I took a week off and left city, state, and country. While I was relaxing without cell phone or laptop, I read recently released A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness. I’m thrilled that (W)riting Home will end our first class early so we can hear and see Cherríe Moraga and Celia Herrera Rodriguez discuss their work. Moraga weaves ideas about writing, family, women of color feminist activism, art, queerness, transnational solidarity, and progressive politics with a daily living practice of integrity in this collection of essays. Herrera’s series of images ground Moraga’s text in indigenismo. Herrera’s images complement Moraga’s work while captivating the viewer to remember and imagine former and future times and worlds.

This month on the 29th, I will return to teaching my regular CNM classes. I’d like to post about my CNM classes. One minute the classes feel like other worlds then the next they feel like I’m back in my home world.

A community group has asked me to teach a class this fall. We’re still working that out. I hope to release details as soon as possible.

Next spring, I am scheduled to teach a 6-week creative writing class at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. I’m calling it “Fact, Fiction, and Funk” and expect fierce writing to emerge from it. I’ll post details soon.