Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Haunting Joy

This is a memoir piece by a student in response to a prompt asking about joy. This student, Donna Stapf, went with a strong memory that popped up in response to the prompt, as soon as her pen hit the paper. It just poured out.

As always, this is rough draft, not edited. Enjoy the pure energy of this piece. In particular I love her contemplations about the haunting quality of joy. Asking about the difference between highs - joy - celebration - happiness. In particular, I appreciated (as a former theater person) her analogy for a relationship: paralleling it to the acts of a play.

Donna Stapf 
I see myself as a sophomore at UW in Bascom Hall, 2nd floor, outside the door to one of the theater department offices.  Door closed--dark inside--hall empty--the list is posted on the door: “Juno and the Paycock” by Sean O’Casey  Cast List:  Juno…..Donna Stapf.  Heat and tingling rushes through my body.  My stomach is doing somersaults with joyful nausea.  All is silent ‘cept my heart banging beats.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wilderness of Sexuality and Poetry

This is a lovely memoir piece, in rough draft form, written by one of my students. She wrote it in response to a weekly prompt, which was "Wilderness" - to be interpreted any way your mind wanted. Kathy, the author, didn't know it was going to come out this way - at all! The surprise makes for juicy, invigorating memoir writing.

This line is so powerful: "Two secret, or rather undiscovered parts of myself - pulled to the surface by this magnetic force."
The poet and lesbian part both being seen as wild, as undiscovered parts, simultaneously emerging, inter-dependent.Both have what she calls in the last line:
the courage required in any wilderness...a synthesis of all the feelings and forces named above. Courage to step into this other place knowing it’s unlikely I’d be able to completely return.
This is powerful rough draft, and full of many places for her to discover/open up themes/enrich.

Thanks to Kathy for her courage to share in class and now online!
It was a very hot summer night sitting on cushions in Kirby’s living room trying to stay alert while listening to the mini-life stories of the dozen or so women who surprisingly all wanted to join our group. The group was a conscious raising group and we needed new blood, new members, but not twelve of them.

She was one of the last to talk and suddenly I was awake without effort. I felt pulled without any idea why. A very intense pull. Her story, interesting but not exceptional, her looks intense but not beautiful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mother Memory and Spiral Cycles

Cracked Spiral, Albuquerque NM 2009
When does the crack appear between my mother and myself? Is it when I am born, taken from her womb, and she sees I am female, and wonders if she will have to compete with me, like she does with my father’s mother, for his attention? Is it when, after giving birth, she doesn’t lose the weight, stays fat, resents me for the gains and losses she’s made? Is it when Dad has to work more, to support another child, a third one, when he is fired from Lawrence University because he doesn’t have the PhD he lied about getting to her and everyone, and has to work for a tech college instead?
            Is it when I leave the carrots behind the National Geographics, rotting? Is it when I fake a fever to stay home and she catches me in the act? This is not a game of blame, figuring out if it was my fault. Because it was our fault, and a fault that began long before either of us existed. A crack deep in the earth between daughters and mothers, started the generation before me, between mom and her mom, and probably the generation before that, on the plains of North Dakota, out of boredom, out of necessity, the split between young and old. When I get close to my dad’s mom, that seems all the more betrayal. Then it is just the two of us.