It’s summer and The 18 Somethings Project is back! I’m stoked to be running the fourth edition July 1-18. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the amazing Janet Frishberg and I conceived of and implemented this project, in honor of our June birthdays. Since June 2013, we’ve had more than 160 unique participants in 6 countries. We’ve seen a lot of brilliance come out of this project–new friendships, collaborations, writing group formations, and people continuing to exchange 10-minute writes on their own.
In case you missed it, The 18 Somethings project is an 18-day writing adventure to activate your creativity. Participants write for 10 minutes a day on a prompt, exchange their writing with an awesome partner we assign, and share/receive only positive feedback. A few things are new this time around, including image-based prompts (in addition to words/sentences) and a fancy new website.
Sign up by 11:11pm PST on June 22. Receive your partner by June 26. Start writing July 1. Let the magic happen for the next 18+ days. For more info on the process, FAQs, and to sign up, head to 18somethingsproject.com.
The images above are from the thought-provoking week I just spent at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. I was one of 20 folks participating in Tent: Encounters with Jewish Culture, a creative writing workshop. The week was full of workshops, seminars, conversations about Jewishness and literature, field trips to places like Big Wheel Press and the rare book room at Smith College–and I’m still digesting it all. I was inspired by the stunning scenery of the northeast, by the newness of these places, by the ridiculously smart people I encountered, and the small bits of quiet time to walk, read, and write.
Hope to be writing with you this July! Please reach out if you have any questions about The 18 Somethings Project: July Edition.
Even though these photos below don’t look like summer, the time is here. In the next few months, I’m heading far and wide on some grand adventures. I’m honored to have already participated in Asylum Arts’ International Jewish Artist Retreat in Garrison, NY, a four-day gathering of 80 artists from around the world, working in a variety of disciplines.
In a few weeks, I’ll be a part of the 20-person gathering called Tent: Creative Writing 2015, a week-long seminar for writers and readers, hosted by the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. In early August, I’ll head to a different kind of tent–a 12×12 canvas one located somewhere in the Central Cascades of Oregon, where I’m taking part in Signal Fire’s Outpost Residency. I may even bring my typewriter! A day later, I fly down to New Mexico for the A Room Of Her Own Retreat (which was actually what sparked this summer of writing-focused experiences).
The photos below are from a jaunt to Bishop, California, where I was visiting a friend who’s hiking the PCT. I had never been to Yosemite, and Tioga Pass was miraculously open both times, despite big winter storms in the area. Many good spots to pull over and admire the mountains made the drive a little longer than usual.
Lastly, I’m stoked to have my poem, “I’ve Knelt In A Lot Of Places” alongside some stellar prose, poetry, and art in Yale’s Letters journal (PDF download).
I’m honored to be one of the participating artists at Asylum Arts’ International Jewish Artist Retreat, which is right around the corner on May 3. There are 80 other artists from all over the world, working in a lot of different genres and media. I’m heading to New York for a few days of seeing old friends, rambling around neighborhoods I’ve never been to, and checking out the Zine Library at Barnard, among other things…and then taking the train to the Garrison Institute, a former Capuchin monastery overlooking the Hudson River (where the retreat will be held).
Just a little light reading for the start of spring: a few pages away from finishing Bad Feminist / saw Claudia Rankine read at Berkeley a few weeks ago and am savoring Citizen / read Long Quiet Highway in two days while back on the East coast, because Natalie Goldberg’s books are meditations in themselves / will read I Love a Broad Margin to My Life before heading to the AROHO retreat in August because Maxine Hong Kingston will be the keynote / I’m woefully underread on Kabbalah so there’s that / and some poetry to round it all out.
Some things I’ve been reading and obsessing over since mid-December that maybe you want to check out. (* indicates my dear friend Janet either recommended or lent me the book…I call it the Janet-Frishberg-curriculum-for-becoming-a-better-writer-and-human.)
Object of Beauty, Steve Martin (made me see the “art world” differently)
Bound, Antonya Nelson (after I read this mind-blowing piece on revision she wrote, I had to read her fiction)
Bluets, Maggie Nelson* (from Wave Books, so good it makes me want to write little prose pieces that I can compile into a slim obsessive volume)
Truth and Beauty*, Ann Patchett (about her friendship with Lucy Grealy)
Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy (Lucy’s memoir)
My Heart is an Idiot, Davy (hysterically funny essays)
Female Trouble: Stories, Antonya Nelson (compelling and character-driven)
Women, Chloe Caldwell* (a similar size to Bluets and a similar wonderfully transparent, up-front voice)
Bad Feminist*, Roxane Gay (I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know)
Rome, Dorothea Lasky (her new books of poems with a polar bear on the cover!)
Monogamy Songs, Gregory Sherl (heartbreakingly sad; I’ve been reading it as I wait for the bike shuttle in downtown San Francisco to head back to the East Bay, and there’s something about the smell of the Bay and the dimming evening light that goes perfectly with these poems)
Lucky Us, Amy Bloom (Amy is one of my favorite fiction writers–I’ve re-read her other books multiple times, and am so glad she has something new out)
I’m really honored to be a part of Rivet’s third issue! My poem, “Found Letter, Collaged Back Together,” is alongside poems from four other awesome ladies. There’s also some rad fiction. Rivet, from Red Bridge Press, calls themselves “the journal of writing that risks” and I’ve definitely found that to be true in reading the work they publish.
My poem went through many iterations, first started out as a response to Melissa Chandler’s piece, “Considering They Lived,” over at Quiet Lightning; then there was a written-backwards version of that, an abandoned version, and a few others in between until it finally became a found letter poem, with some references to San Francisco.
In other news, after reading this amazing piece on LongReads, an interview with Berkeley-based author Julia Scheeres, I found her book at the library the next day: A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown. The interview with Scheeres describes why we need to stop saying “drink the Kool-Aid,” which is offensive to Jones’ victims. The book is wonderfully crafted, suspenseful, empathic, and well-researched–a must-read about an important and misunderstood tragedy.
I’m thrilled to be in the inaugural issue of Profane, a beautiful journal out of Mankato, Minnesota by the indefatigable Jacob Little and Patrick Chambers. They made this lovely print journal and put out an audio version as well, which includes the writers reading their work and discussing their creative process. You can purchase the print/audio version here or listen to the issue on Bandcamp. My poem is called “Instructions for Flirting,” inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Eliza at a 100-beers-of-solitude party (a spoof on the book and there were actually more than 100 types of beer).
And a little late to a different kind of party party, but if you haven’t read Robert Hass’ collection of essays What Light Can Do, you are seriously missing out, as I was for the past few years. It’s easy to read, hard to put down, full of intricate examinations of poetry, translation, art, spirituality, and more.