Week 3, Day 1: ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort

Egos are fragile. The words we speak and the actions we take impact how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive the world. Sometimes the impact is negligible. Sometimes not.

Today, I convinced one of our creative writing/digital storytelling interns to perform one of her original songs. I had heard her quietly singing off stage behind the black curtains in our temporary home at The Lightbox at The Goldman Warehouse. She’s shy, not shy. She has that kind of voice that fights against her nature to be quiet.

Before her performance, we spoke about our projects and the progress that we’ve made. Progress sometimes means limiting ourselves. Cutting out what we can’t do down to what we can. Time is a creative force that pushes the the  megaphone in our face. Or not. We just have to decide if we’re going to speak or remain silent.

Today, the interns of the creative writing/digital storytelling cohort are finishing their individual projects–a new blog, a series of new blog entries, the first draft of a new novel, a collection of short stories, an audio book, a short documentary film, a performative book of dance poetry.

We won’t finish everything, which is fine. The unfinished will give them something to nag at them when I’m gone–a quiet force in the back of their minds reminding them there’s something left to finish.

Week 1, Day 3: ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort

It’s the end of week 1, day 3, of the ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort. It’s been a tough week and it’s hard for me to write about it because I don’t feel equipped to speak, at least not in a meaningful and helpful way. I just want to shout.

When the ArtWorks program began, I wanted my interns to think about crisis and how we can/should respond to it.

Day 1 we read “In Praises of Latin Night at the Queer Club” by Justin Torres. In Torres’ moving response to the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, he wrote, “The only imperative is to be transformed, transfigured in the disco light. To lighten, loosen, see yourself reflected in the beauty of others. You didn’t come here to be a martyr, you came to live, papi. To live, mamacita. To live, hijos. To live, mariposas.”

Since the program began, terrorists have attacked and killed hundreds of people at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, an upscale restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh and a shopping center in Bagdad, where 232 people lost their lives. A half an hour ago, 32 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Balad, Iraq.

Since the program began, 2 black men killed by white cops. Cops acquitted of killing black men. The latest in a seemingly endless stream of black men killed by white cops. Last night, a sniper (or snipers) killed 5 cops from an elevated parking lot in Dallas during a peaceful protest and march against against police violence.

I try to lighten, to loosen, but there’s none of that. Not today. Not in America. Not in the world.

This morning I read a poem written by one of my student interns.

“My disability has been one long ride,” he wrote. “I’ve had it since birth and it still affects me today. I started in a wheelchair, I still remember being five years old, my little siblings fighting over which one of them was going to push me in the chair. I still remember feeling like the biggest kid at circle time in kindergarten because the chair would take up so much space…” (Read the full poem here.)

When I look at the faces of my student interns, I see the faces of those murdered at the nightclub, in Bagdad, in Baton Rouge. In the faces of black men killed by white cops. I see their possible future faces reflected back at me on my  wall. The imperative American culture is death. Mariposas transformed and transfigured, martyred, live on Facebook.

I want my interns to take up so much space. To feel like the biggest kids in the circle. To protect them from the violence that encircles them. From the violence that will come, is coming, for them.

 

MANCC Artist/Writer Convening road trip 

Tomorrow we head to Tallahassee, FL (on a creative road tip of sorts) for the MANCC Artist/Writer Convening at FSU where writers and choreographers will convene to explore the generative possibilities of working together. This, I   like. I’m excited. I’ve never participated in a think-tank or had the luxury to spend two days talking about writing and dance. I’m not a dancer, but I like to photograph movement. It does something to me when I capture a body move between here and there. I’m a little sad because Bullet is recovering from knee surgery, but he’ll be fine. When I return home, I’ll teach him how to dance.