Friday, February 27, 2009

Maira Kalman is as in love with Lincoln as I am. Click here and keep scrolling down to see her wonderful tribute to Abe in images and words. Now I'm fantasizing about her doing the cover for My Life with the Lincolns!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's been a while since I've logged in to blogger...There's so much I've been wanting to blog about, too--I wanted to say happy birthday to Abe, wanted to share with you the valentine I wrote to Obama for CODEPINK, wanted to tell you about my experiences seeing Bruce Sterling and Junot Diaz and Col. Ann Wright speak (all inspiring in very different ways). But mostly what I've wanted to share is a sense of renewal.

Last weekend, the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies (nee the Johnston Center for Individualized Learning, nee Johnston College) at the University of Redlands celebrated it's 40th anniversary, and hosted a big reunion (in this case, called a "renewal") to mark the occasion. Johnston is a progressive, innovative, alternative living/learning community where students create their own B.A. programs (mine was "Poetry and Movement: Arts of Expression, Meditation and Healing"). The weekend was full of reconnection through food and seminars and dancing and storytelling and ritual and just plain hanging out (you can check out the schedule here); so wonderful to see old friends, to hear about the amazing things that people have been up to (creating intentional communities and schools in Hawaii, doing humanitarian work around the world, raising beautiful children, creating jobs that let them live out their passions).

For me, the weekend most importantly offered a real sense of integration. The last year has been such a year of change for me that I've almost felt as if I had entered a different universe than the one I had inhabited before. At the reunion/renewal, I felt my past and present come together into one big whole; I felt my writer self, my dancer self, my activist self, my student self, my teacher self, my friend self, my entire self settle into itself more fully than I can recall. A joyous and healing time.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Take a look at this great article from The Nation, Stimulus: One Perfect for the Imagination, and be sure to sign the linked petition asking Congress to allocate 1% of the stimulus package for the arts.

Newsweek recently featured a wonderful piece about Obama and the importance of the arts, Will Act for Food, that opens with a shout out to Walt Whitman:
Since election day, pundits have exhausted themselves trying to locate every last reason for Barack Obama's win. But the fine-tooth combing has missed something—or, rather, someone: Walt Whitman. Nobody has pointed out that Obama shares his victory with the generations of writers and musicians and painters in the fervently democratic tradition that descends from our national poet.


Since Ralph Waldo Emerson issued his call for homegrown American creativity 130 years ago, and Whitman answered him with the all-embracing poems that helped shape the psyche of our polyglot young democracy, the arts have offered the various tribes of this country some of our best chances to know ourselves and one another, and to see the pleasures and pain of our interactions more clearly: think of what we've learned from Huck and Jim, "Invisible Man," Alvin Ailey's dances, "Angels in America," the blues. Better yet, try to imagine how we'd relate to one another without them.
I am hopeful that Obama will find a way to support the arts during his time in office, but we may need to remind him to do so. Please sign the petition today.
Rebecca Traister has written a cool article for Salon--The Great Girl Gross Out, with the subtitle "Female writers are getting more graphic than ever about the messy realities of their bodies. Is it too much information or enlightened honesty?" I know I fall into the latter camp, myself--I love the fact that women are being more honest about living inside our female bodies (it's why I wrote Fruitflesh, after all!) When we take what is normally hidden and unspoken and bring it to light, we remove the shame that surrounds it. We can begin to share our experiences more fully and openly. We can begin to realize we're not alone. The body is how we live in the world--by telling its stories, we honor the whole of our existence.

I am grateful that more and more women are feeling free to write about periods and sex and other bodily experiences that had been shrouded in secrecy for so long--these things are part of us and should not be excluded from our storytelling. I am especially grateful for women writers such as Anne Sexton and Sharon Olds who paved the way for women to write freely and boldly about our bodies today (Sharon Olds was instrumental for me, personally--her work truly gave me permission to be more honest in my own writing).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter if you have a chance to read the article!