It’s hard to believe we are at the end of August. As the Grateful Dead would say, “what a long strange trip it’s been.” While we are grateful for the yellow blooms of the Black-eyed Susans and coreopsis in our backyards, the long summer twilights that stretch into darkness, and the walks though the meandering trails and paths around our two cities, we also are aware, at all times, of COVID-19 and its deadly effects on our region.
We are both teachers, and, like most teachers, we spend much of the school year dreaming of summer; it is our time to unwind, to travel, to spend time with family and friends. But this summer has been decidedly different: there has been no travel, limited contact with those we love, and little chance to relax. We suspect the same is true for many of you.
When we think about all the ways our lives have changed, it becomes easy to feel disconnected and disempowered. But there are moments that push back at these feelings, and many of these moments take place through our Community Writing Center. When we sit on a Zoom call, hearing to a poet read his work, watching the other faces on the call listening carefully with attention and purpose; when we talk with a writer about her novel-in-progress, seeing her face light up when she sees a possibility for further revision to strengthen her work; when we talk with other people in our community co-creating poetry readings, college scholarship workshops, postcard-writing campaigns – this is when we feel connected and empowered. It is the reason we are grateful to you, our writers who make up the Community Writing Center. In these various settings, we get the opportunity to hear your stories, and through your stories, we hear you.
The activist adrienne maree brown says, "I suspect this is what many of you are up to, practicing futures together, practicing justice together, living into new stories. It is our right and responsibility to create a new world." She is right. Thanks for being a part of our present—and our future.
As writers, we also want to share our current reads with you. Swarm Theory by Christine Rice is a collection of interrelated short stories set in Michigan and is a wonderful example of carefully crafted short fiction. And old but good book on writing is Annie LaMott’s Bird by Bird, which breaks down the writing life (and life in general) in brief, practical lessons. And a favorite poetry collection is Louise Gluck’s The Wild Iria, a great exercise in voice. As always, we’re interested in what you’re reading too; particularly books that you think our other writers might enjoy, so please send us your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll pass them along.
Thanks for reading. We wish you the very best over the next few weeks, and we hope to see you soon in a workshop, Zoom meeting, or even out in the world. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, and keep writing.
Helen and Chris