Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Purpose of Literature

In his introduction to the new anthology, Vital Signs: Essential AIDS Fiction (a very good collection, BTW), Dale Peck drops this line:

"It's important to remember that literature doesn't facilitate understanding but rather empathy, which is a very different proposition; and for some people the mere fact of a book's existence can effect extraordinary personal change."

I remember a lot of English teachers telling us that we read to learn and understand about other people and cultures, but Peck's assertion above seems to be more to the point.

Any thoughts?

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Catching Up; Under a Blameless Moon by Anne McCrady, Bits and Pieces

OOF! Happy New Year, I guess, since I haven't posted since last year. Let me give you a little rundown of how 2008 has started.

That writing marathon I wrote about? Well, two days, before the event, I came down with the flu. Fevers, shakes, aches, all of those symptoms. Knocked me down low. There was no way I could have done the marathon. In my fevered panic, I wondered if I could contact everyone to let them know the event was canceled. Then I remembered that writer, performer, humorist, and Fieldwork colleague Margo Toombs had signed up for the marathon. She's the adventuresome type and I figured she would have the enthusiasm and energy I was hoping to promote with this marathon. So I typed at her, she typed back, I typed an outline of what I had planned, and the marathon went on! About 20 people gathered at the Montrose library and from what I can tell, a good time was had by all. Perhaps best of all, two trashcan bags full of canned foods were collected for the Braes Interfaith Ministries food pantry! Just goes to show that you can throw a successful event without showing up!

Many thanks to Margo and her "can do" attitude. It's good to have colleagues.

Since I last wrote, I was contacted by Becky Haigler, one of the authors in Able to..., and asked if I would come to Shreveport to run a marathon there. I hesitated and said, I could send the outline and she could run it, but she and her co-conspirators said they would like a guest from outside Shreveport, which would make for more participation. So, I thought, okay, it's a nice drive up to Shreveport. And then we typed at each other some more and decided that since I was driving 5 hours north, I could do another workshop, and so a session of my Creative Crosstraining workshop was scheduled as well.

I'll let someone else give the report on that day. Go to:

for a report with pictures.

Otherwise, January felt a little lost to the flu. Even though I made the Shreveport trip, I was still low on energy and a tickle in my throat would give me coughing fits for most of the month. I seem to be back on track (or as on track as I get) and moving forward. It seems like a million things are going on but I won't put it all in this one blog entry. I do want to tell you about one thing more in detail . . .

Under a Blameless Moon by Anne McCrady

Part of my trip to Shreveport included a stop on the way back at the East Texas home of Anne McCrady, poet, storyteller, exceptional human being. I had known she'd won a poetry chapbook competition, but had not yet seen it. Let me tell you about it.

Under a Blameless Moon by Anne McCrady broke my heart several times before I was halfway through it. These are poems that look at the violence and injustice of the world with a direct but compassionate stare. Indictments are few as Anne doesn't look to blame but looks at the human lives in the midst of violence, looks at the sad, crushing results of war and terror and helps the reader ask the "why?" or the "how?" and the "how long?" questions. Perhaps most importantly, Anne looks at the rubble she sees on the TV and the comfort of her pine woods home and wonders what role she plays in world events, helps the reader ask "what now?" and "how can I?" questions. The world needs these poems.

Order yourself a signed copy of this book via Anne's website. Tell her neoNuma sent you:

You can also read sample poems from the book on her page. (I had to read "Just War" to my adult Sunday school class. I've been thinking along similar lines the last year and Anne beat me to expressing this thought while at the same time inspiring me to find my own voice on the subject . . . )

Bits and Pieces

Okay, that's enough for this blog. Otherwise, I'll just say I continue to write book reviews for OutSmart Magazine (with some other opportunities coming up---stay tuned!) and I've begun writing a little bit for Whosoever webzine again , where I used to publish a lot but took a few years vacation. Fieldwork starts up February 19 and I'm facilitating again---Houston artists, come join us for 10 weeks of creating new work!

Next time, I'll make a couple of new neoNuma announcements. Hopefully, it'll before the month is out . . .


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