September 25, 2020
If you’re anything like us, you can’t believe that we’ve already reached the end of September. Although the sun is still shining, there is a slight chill in the morning air, and the oak leaves are just beginning to turn brown outside our windows. Today, we are acutely aware that, in the words of George R.R. Martin, “winter is coming.”
We have no doubt that this will be a fall to remember: the pandemic is still part of our personal and professional lives, the presidential election looms on the horizon, and many of us are still struggling to respond to the racial inequities that have been exposed in our communities. There is a lot going on in our corner of the world. And that’s probably why writing matters.
A friend of ours once said, “I know that my writing doesn’t change anything; it just changes me.” We think she is right. Every time we put our fingers to the keyboard or a pen to a piece of paper, we are attempting to reclaim a version of the world that is true to ourselves. A résumé, a poem, a paper about The Great Gatsby, or a memoir about our childhood—all of these are attempts to understand and interpret a part of our lives. And this is hard work. But at the Community Writing Center, we believe it doesn’t have to be done alone. Often people envision writing as a solitary activity, but it really is a collaborative one. Even when we write by ourselves, we write to an imagined audience, a reader who listens carefully to the words we put on the page. And when we’re able to share these words with another person—through a reading, a workshop, a writing consultation—we are able to share our version of our truth with another person. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
We are excited to be able to offer opportunities in the next few months for you to write with us. We’ve got a great “Write Your Future President” postcard campaign going on (you can fill out an electronic postcard to be shared with the next U.S. President on Inauguration Day here). We have our Poet’s Group, which continues to meet and share works-in-progress, and there is an upcoming workshop on writing political letters in October and one on writing memoir in November. And, as always, we have writing consultants that are happy to talk with you about any writing project via email or Zoom. You can sign up for any of these workshops or writing consultations on our website.
And because writing and reading are interconnected in a variety of ways, we wanted to share some of our favorite reads with you this month. A fiction book that reads like a memoir (and reads well!) is Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, a new release. A great book on writing is Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, which contains short chapters of various writing tips. And an old but favorite poetry collection is Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you’ve been reading—we’d love to hear from you!
Finally, we want to use this space to feature writers in the community. Donny Winter teaches writing at Delta College, and he’s released his first poetry collection, Carbon Footprint. A summary of the collection from Amazon reads, “In his first full-length collection, Donny Winter takes readers on a journey through his experiences as a gay man living in rural Michigan. His confessional poems, framed in both experimental free verse and tanka styles, use multiple nature-themed metaphors to create commentaries about LGBTQ+ healing and mental health, while also weaving a pro-environmental narrative acknowledging our planet’s trauma. Together, our bodies hold history much as our planet does, and Carbon Footprint acts as a written fossilized record mapping a way toward healing through unearthing our own histories.” You can find more information and order a copy here.
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