Lyrics & Dirges at Pegasus Bookstore Downtown Berkeley on Wednesday 1/16/19

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My first reading of 2019 in one of my favorite series, Lyrics & Dirges, hosted and co-founded by Supreme Poetess Sharon Coleman. (Co-founder Mk Chavez is stirring up magic elsewhere this week.)

Lyrics&Dirges
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
7:30 pm
Pegasus Books Downtown
2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, California 94704
(510) 649-1320
Pegasus Books Downtown Berkeley

The Writers who will read:

Joyce E. Young
Sara Mumolo
Joseph Lease
Kimi Sugioka
Mia Ruiz

You won’t want to miss us – words, snacks, and books for sale. My poetry book “How it Happens”  will be available for your purchasing pleasure. Or, you can purchase it here

And did I mention there’s a bookstore cat who loves poetry and books? Well then, of course you must come!

 

The Octopus Literary Salon Wednesday 10/3/18

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I am on a roll with readings of late. And that’s a good thing because I really enjoy lit events – being featured, reading with other writers and being in the audience.

This week, I’ll be reading at:

Pandemonium Press Presents

Hot! New! Books!

Wednesday October 3, 2018 at 7:00 pm

The Octopus Literary Salon

2101 Webster Street

Oakland, CA

I’ll be featured with Mary Mackey, Kelly Landmine and Cassandra Dallett

I’d love to see you there!

There will be an open mic.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase as the venue is a café. Yum.

Authors, Readers and Books

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The People’s Republic of Berkeley, my current home, is such a hodge-podge and mix-mash of people. I went to the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend and mingled in that hodge-podge and mix mash of people. And I heard authors of different genres, backgrounds, ages, geographical locations talk about their work and about writing in the context of a theme for each session. The sessions I attended were:

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz author of “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment” interviewed by T. J. Stiles – history and statistics on gun culture in America that were not entirely surprising, but still…damn. Here’s one: 1/3 of U. S. households have guns, yet there are 300 million guns owned privately in the country, so most of these households contain multiple guns as the U. S. population is about 300 million. Today a gun owner owns “an average of eight guns” according to Dunbar-Ortiz. This number is up from 112 million in the early 1970’s. Whaaat?

Robert Reich and guests in a panel discussion titled: “Income Inequality: A World Gone Mad, Mean and Immoral.” I won’t report back on that one as many are familiar with Reich’s videos do an excellent job of illustrating the not-normal that exists with the American almighty dollar(s).

Melissa de la Cruz, author of YA fantasy, History and Modern Life (also a former writer of the social lives of celebrity elite in New York for major magazines –glossies) interviewed by Jessica Lee. The woman is a highly imaginative, focused and prolific writer with a great sense of humor. Her output of books is stunning and she is still quite young. I loved it that she began writing one of her series of books because she missed New York. So, she created and wrote books about young society vampires. Isn’t that what you would do? Hmmm….I’m originally from Brooklyn, maybe I ought to think about an angle….(smile) Here is a link to Melissa’s web page: http://melissa-delacruz.com/ Her latest YA novel, a sequel titled “Love and War” continues the story of the love between Eliza and Alexander Hamilton.

Lidia Yuknavitch “On Fearlessness, Truth, and Misfits” was interviewed by Daphne Gottlieb. I loved Lidia’s discussion of connecting with her audience without a need to provide graphic descriptions of violent behavior and instances of sexual connections between characters. She goes for the emotional connection. I understood what she was talking about and I also know how difficult that is to do. I’m looking forward to doing more reading of her work. So far, I’ve only read essays, so I have a lot to choose from with her speculative fiction “The Book of Joan,” memoir “The Chronology of Water,” and novels “The Small Backs of Children” and “Dora: A Headcase.” Her most recent book is “The Misfit’s Manifesto.” I’m most interested in speculative fiction these days, so “The Book of Joan” it will most likely be.

Today’s panel was the most powerful session for me and seemed to touch the rest of the audience in the same way. Authors Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (A Kind of Freedom), Rodrigo Hasbún (Affections) and Madeleine Thien (Do not Say We Have Nothing )  were moderated by reviewer Mal Warwick in a panel titled: “Resist: Unlocking the Political Power of the Novel.” The authors’ answers to Mal’s questions were surprising, nuanced, thoughtful and interesting. By the way, Thien’s Tumblr for her novel is fantastic: http://donotsaywehavenothing.tumblr.com/

Margaret, Rodrigo and Maddie’s answers went deep and made me think about a lot of things personal/political as well as the inherent truth that the personal and the political are radically intertwined and that some of us are more aware of this than others. And at the same time, I think that in America many more have become aware of this truth or this living something. I still don’t know what to call it because it isn’t a thing, I don’t really think the word “fact” captures the reality, but it just is and there really isn’t a separation involved unless one is in extreme denial. And some are.

Added to the festival, I listened to an On Being podcast with Buddhist monk and writer Angel Kyodo Williams with host Krista Tippett yesterday, which I found riveting. Williams talked about being optimistic (herself) because all it would take would be a mass of people to do the inner work that would change individual and collective consciousness and shift inner and thus our outer reality. Here’s a link to the webpage for the podcast series: https://onbeing.org/

After taking all of these discussions in, I began to think about what makes something meaningful. I think that what is meaningful does not bloom and flower and grow with analysis. It just is. What is meaningful just is. And dissection, analysis and all of that stuff aren’t really necessary and is just a mental exercise designed to distract me and Lord knows whom else. And too much of it kills the spirit.

There is so much that is meaningful just because it is. Meaningful like call and response, like singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Anybody Turn Me Around” as loud as I can in the car as I drive to work, James Brown singing “Get on the Good Foot,” that moment when Aretha threw her fur coat off her shoulders while singing Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors for Carole King, The Stylistics singing “Betcha By Golly Wow,” and Sam Cooke singing “A Change is Gonna Come.” And hip shakin’ and singin’ along to (y)our own rhythms with no interference.

Not sure what brought this on, but I think it was listening to writers talk bout the work of writing, the work of living. The work is inextricably connected and all part of the one to many of us who write.

How can I separate myself from my writing, from the act of writing? I can’t, writing is part of my life, part of me and has been for a very long time. I am glad that so many younger writers are as invested in writing as I and those of my generation have been. I’m glad that they feel the urgency to give their voices wings. The work continues, the voices rise, the circle opens and new voices enter the choir. Good. Deep gratitude for this cycle that continues.

 

The Break up

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You have a favorite television show, a show you’ve been watching religiously for almost two seasons. But lately something has changed and it doesn’t seem to be a change for the better. So you begin to question the events and the characters against reality, and it becomes difficult for you to suspend disbelief.
All of the frenzied action and jump cuts don’t mean that the writers have improved the narrative. It does mean that there is a frantic grasping for your attention in progress. All of this activity can be compared to frantic break-up prevention tactics that arise even though it’s been clear to both parties for months that the relationship really isn’t in good shape and may not last much longer. More plot twists don’t necessarily make the narrative stronger in this situation, either.

When you tune in this evening, you begin to feel dizzy. You can’t keep up. What is happening with these people? Why is Wanda all of a sudden at the airport waiting for a plane to Sioux Falls? Who goes to Sioux Falls, anyway? What happened to James? Why isn’t he with her? He was in a car accident on the way to the airport? His ex, Jeanine, is one of the EMT’s whose ambulance, with suspicious synchronicity arrives at the scene of the accident? What?

You begin to dislike Wanda for going to Sioux Falls and of course James for not being with her. You don’t find their erratic behavior compelling. And those other characters aren’t looking like they’re doing such a great job of being foils to Wanda and James, either.

You wonder why Jeanine is wearing a nearly sheer low cut blouse instead of her EMT uniform and why her hemline seems so high. After all, she has just jumped out of an ambulance and sprung into action. Why is she wearing a skirt, anyway? She’s an EMT and who cares if the skirt is dark blue and the blouse compliments her skin tone. Something is very wrong with this picture.

What did you see in James in the first place and why did you think he was so fine? What did Wanda see in him? And when you think about it, they really don’t look that good together. You begin to question what you saw in them as a couple.

You wonder what you saw in this show in the first place and think you may have been wasting too many of your evenings watching it. After all, you could have been reading a book, watching that film you’d been meaning to see, the one that your friends keep telling you is so good; or writing your own damn screenplay.

Hell, you can write better than these drama-addicted writers who expect you to be addicted to drama too. After all, you really do hate to waste your time and these writers and their writing have begun to waste your time. So you turn off the television, open your notebook, grab your pen, and write.

Pandemonium Press Reading Series – 1st Wednesdays

I’ll be reading poetry and some fiction with several excellent writers this week, as we kick off a new reading series at a beautiful loft space in Oakland that has great vibes.

PANDEMONIUM PRESS READING SERIES

1ST WEDNESDAYS AT SPICE MONKEY
1628 WEBSTER ST, OAKLAND, CA

AUGUST 6: HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI REMEMBRANCE
7-9 pm

featured poets:

Sharon Coleman
Rafael Jesús González
Kirk Lumpkin
Joyce E. Young

Curator: Leila Rae

An open mic precedes and follows feature readers.
Signup now for open mic: pandemoniumpress@gmail.com

Admission Free

Come early or stay late for food/drink at Spice Monkey
(Webster at 17th; just 2 1/2 blocks from the 19th St. BART station)

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The food, drink and staff at Spice Monkey are wonderful, so you’re in for an all around treat!

http://www.spicemonkeyrestaurant.com/

Lyrics & Dirges Tonight at Pegasus Books Downtown

I’ll be reading with a stellar lineup of writers this evening at Lyrics & Dirges hosted by the lovely and gracious Sharon Coleman.

I’m first up, so get there early or you’ll miss me.

Here we are, in reading order:

Joyce E. Young
Monica Zarazua
Joshua McKinney
Katayoun Zandvakili
Rusty Morrison

We’d love to have you in the audience!

Here’s the link:

http://www.pegasusbookstore.com/event/lyrics-dirges-2

Hope to see you there…

Beast Crawl 2014

 

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Had a great time reading at Beast Crawl 2014 last night. The Beast Crawl Collective rocks!

Writers Tony Press, Robert Pesich, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, and yours truly took the stage and held the audience rapt with our wordsmithing at Spice Monkey. We worked it, to say the least. I had an absolute blast.

Ah…what a night!

For the breakdown and locations of the entire festival, follow this link:

http://beastcrawl.weebly.com/

Confessions #2

Joe at 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months has written another humorous and honest post about writing characters with emotional authenticity (my paraphrase). Thanks Joe, for your reflection and for motivating me in developing my own characters!

5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months

Joe’s Post # 51

After the post about writing sex scenes, I realized that I may have another problem. A bigger one. (Stop giggling!)

Maybe the challenge with writing sizzling sex scenes is connecting to the actual EMOTION of the scene. 

Oh, boy. Emotions… that’s ah, feelings, right? I think so. 

It’s not that I don’t feel things. If I cut my finger, it hurts and that’s a feeling, isn’t it? If it’s cold, I feel cold. See… feelings. I have them.

Manga_emotions-ENOk, I know there’s more. I certainly feel more. Guilt. Sorrow. Happiness. Anger. Hate. Love. Usually I have all those emotions on a drive into town. Or after a good taco. But I know if there’s one thing I need to work on when writing, it’s living inside the emotional being that is my character. 

Oddly enough, it seems that we don’t live our real lives by…

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Make them suffer

Suffer Our Pleasures
Suffer Our Pleasures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I love this post by Joe Cummings on 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months about creating obstacles for your characters.

 

Make them suffer.

 

And I can’t wait to read the next post by one of these writers. They get right to the point and they do it with clear, precise and humor-filled writing.

 

Thanks guys!