I wanted to share this chapter from one of my favorite writing books, Views From the Loft: A Portable Writer’s Workshop (edited by Daniel Slager) from The Loft Literary Center. There’s a chapter called “Negotiating the Boundaries Between Catharsis and Literature” by Cheri Register. It got me to thinking about my writing, working on the memoir, over and over, doubting what I’m doing and my reasons for it and why I’m writing it and what’s the point and all that jazz. Writing about abuse and mental illness, yet making it literary–how damn tricky. I’ve realized this is going to be a much bigger project than I’d already fathomed. Yeah, way bigger. I really need to think it through more. What I’m thinking is how NOT to write it ABOUT mental illness and incest and abuse but focus on something bigger and more universal, and making the other issues just issues, adding to the theme or acting as motifs. ?? Any thoughts, fellow writers? Here are some citations from the chapter:
“..think hard on what makes an account of personal suffering worth reading? Why write about suffering in the first place?…A writer who expects to transform catharsis into literature has to involve the reader in a negotiation of boundaries. If work merely invites the reader to witness the catharsis, it may come across as a tedious display of the writer’s endurance. …”There is no virtue in enduring hardship.” Continue reading
I’ve come across some pretty cool opportunities for getting published with a chance to win some cash. Unfortunately, they all have entry fees but if you’re a writer you must be rolling around in the money, haha. But, nonetheless, they’re good ones. I’ve taken some from my Poets and Writers Magazine. Here you go:
*SOUTH LOOP REVIEW: CNF + Art
Essays and memoir, Lyric and experimental forms, nonlinear narratives…No longer than 15 pages. Looking for fresh voices and new takes on presentation and form. No previously published work. Reading thru Sept 1–Jan 11th; submit electronically to TELL IT SLANT
visit here for guidelines and such
2,500—10,000 words; cash prizes to the theme “How Creativity Has Changed My Life”; $20 entry fee; Oct 1–March 13
Guidelines here at Catharsis Journal
Online journal of the University of Virginia, exams themes of health, illness, and healing. Poems, personal essays
“I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head/ they crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed/dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone/playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home/there’s a burning in my pride, a nervous bleeding in my brain/an ounce of peace is all I want for you/will you never call again…” –Blue October “Hate Me”
When we let ourselves feel fear, the discontent, the difficulties we have always avoided, our heart softens…allow ourselves to be touched by the pain of life…The knowledge that we can do this and survive helps us to awaken the greatness of our heart. With greatness of heart, we can sustain a presence in the midst of life’s suffering…We can open to the world–its ten thousands joys and ten thousand sorrows. ***With wise understanding we ALLOW OURSELVES TO CONTAIN ALL THINGS, BOTH DARK AND LIGHT, AND WE COME TO SENSE OF PEACE…THE PEACE WE FIND IN THE HEART THAT HAS REJECTED NOTHING, THAT TOUCHES ALL THINGS WITH COMPASSION.
–from A PATH WITH HEART
“In any event, as regards the correlation between mind and body, we may note…that the poet will naturally tend to write about that which most deeply engrosses him–and nothing more deeply engrosses a man than his burdens, including those of a physical nature, such as disease. We win by capitalizing on our debts, by turning our liabilities into assets, by using our burdens as a basis of insight.” –Kenneth Burke
HENRY MILLER Continue reading
“…who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together… Continue reading
A picture of my favorite used bookshop in the next town over on Lake Superior, this is only one aisle of four
I’m excited to tell you all I will be doing an interview with poet Virginia Chase Sutton soon. She’s a dear friend of mine (we met years ago over at She Writes) and we’re going to be doing a book together (I’m co-editing) on poetry and mental illness. Her mentor is Mark Doty (love him!!) and her book What Brings You to Del Amo won the 2007 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. Her poems have also won the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf Writer’s conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She’s appeared in Ploughshares, The Paris Review, The Antioch Review, Quarterly West, Bellevue Literary Review, RATTLE and more. Stay tuned!
Check out her poem MANIC
Hey all, I’d like you all to check out the first part of a series of interviews I’m doing with artist/self-taught sculptor/and survivor of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis over at Chicks Dig Scars here: Interview on The Untitled.
Here Mike begins talking about what the sculptures are about, why, and the agony and wonders of being so severely disabled at times. Please follow him, he’s new to the blogosphere and he deserves to be heard (and he’s hilarious). Chicks Dig Scars