Date: August 10 Time: noon to 3 p.m. Location: Changing Hands, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix Cost: Free
About this Event
Come together with creative writing community organizers in Phoenix, AZ for the second meeting of the #PhxLitServ on Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Changing Hands Phoenix (300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85013).
Where the first meeting brought everyone together to meet each other, share goals, and collaboratively determine what the #PhxLitServ should be, the second meeting will focus on setting up structure, identifying initiatives, and organizing committees.
Please note: this meeting is not open to the public. You must have an access code to register for the meeting. Members will receive access codes, agendas, and more information about the meeting via email. You must be a member in order to attend.
#PhxLitServ is open to any individual organizing a recurring event, teaching a class, or providing some other kind of creative writing program, product, service or space with a six month history of actively serving the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. All genres and forms are welcome. Membership is free.
“As a rule, think plain, unadorned, gravitas. No cleavage, thigh-high boots, or microminis. No animal prints and certainly no cowboy fringe.”
— Nina Garcia’s Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion, “What to Wear to a Funeral”
Between January 1, 2016 and mid-February 2018, five people I loved died: my best friend, two aunts, my grandmother, and my father. I started writing “How to Keep a Dead Woman Alive” shortly after the last two deaths, when I was unable to stop myself from dreaming about dead women. It was always the women. Women watching me while I slept, women waiting for me to catch up.
I never questioned the dreams or what was happening on the page. Writing about dead women seemed to be the natural result of not taking off work, not talking about my grief, and not stopping the day-to-day “grind” of grading essays, folding laundry, and hosting birthday parties for a house full of five-year olds.
“How to Keep a Dead Woman Alive” was/is part of a longer work-in-progress. The individual sections, though, were born from the blend of influences that seeped into my brain during each of those mind-numbing, grief-filled days.
In no particular order: Sylvia Plath, Selena, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie, Lincoln in the Bardo, what to wear to a funeral, how long it takes to grieve, Ouija boards, Bloody Mary, Twin Peaks, Linkin Park, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, The Cranberries, cremation, novel after novel after TV show after movie with a dead woman in the middle of the plot. The question of what happens to your best stories and your worst secrets if you’re the only one left alive to remember?
In his essay, “On Becoming an American Writer,” Alexander Chee says, “Speak to your dead. Write for your dead. Tell them a story. What are you doing with this life? Let them hold you accountable.”
Is that what I was trying to do as I wrote in the aftermath of my grief? Did I intend to speak to my dead? On some level, yes. Each time I dream about my friend, always her more than the others, I wake up wondering what she wants me to do now. What stories does she want me to write? What secrets am I allowed to share?
I wrote “How to Keep a Dead Woman Alive” with her in mind, her at age 35 and age 28 and age 22 and age 12. I saw her passing me a note in 8thgrade English and escorting me to junior prom and holding back my hair when we lived together years later. I saw her holding my son. I saw us shopping and sharing and stealing each other’s clothes. How intimate it all seems now, in retrospect, that I don’t have anyone who wants to borrow my favorite dress.
The dress, I think, was always part of the story, even before I started writing. As I packed my funeral dress for my friend’s memorial service, I might have thought about the perfect symbolism of a black dress and how I would one day write about my loss. I had a feeling more funerals were coming (though I didn’t know how many or how quickly), and if I had thought about writing through my grief, I would have also known how central a dress would be to that narrative.
Otherwise, I don’t remember writing a single word.
One of the benefits of writing at 5 a.m. is that no one cares what I’m wearing. Inside-out T-shirts tops and ratty robes are my uniform. It doesn’t matter if I’m blurry, stumbling, and unable to form complete thoughts yet. There’s coffee, and a cat to keep me company. There’s a (hopefully) charged laptop. The sky is just the right kind of dark.
This is how I write, with my subconscious still buzzing from half-baked dreams, and a complete lack of censorship. The internal editor is still asleep and the lack of perfection, the full-on embrace of imperfection, becomes the fuel for my creative process. A quiet house at 5 a.m. is pure luxury. Better than Burberry trench coats and Missoni knits and Frye harness boots, and whatever else Nina Garcia says I am supposed to own and enjoy.
After I wrote “How to Keep a Dead Woman Alive,” my Twitter friend, Steve Bargdill, told me about keening. Keening is a death wail, a public lament that has now grown out of fashion, giving women a voice for their grief. Sometimes professional mourners were hired to grieve publically at funerals. I am simplifying, of course, but the blend of beauty and tragedy struck a nerve. Yes, I thought. That is what it feels like to ache and not have the words, or to not need the words, to express it.
This is not to suggest that writing “How to Keep a Dead Woman Alive” was a healing experience. Not at all. I like how T Kira Madden addresses the issue of writing and healing in her essay “Against Catharsis: Writing is Not Therapy.” She writes, “But to render the art, to render the experience, does not, in my practice, involve ‘bleeding into the typewriter.’ It does not entail a writer spilling or spewing the memory onto a blank page, nailing it down, healing.” I don’t disagree.
Lately, my writing and my mourning are mashed together so brutally, I couldn’t ever call the creative process therapeutic. Instead, it feels like I am crafting a eulogy that no one has asked me to write. Over and over, it feels like standing in front of my family and friends, pretending like I have all the right words instead of one long, imperfect wail.
The Story You Need To Tell: Embracing Your Creative Voice
Author Sandra Marinella (The Story You Need to Tell) leads a workshop on writing and exploring the power of your personal stories to heal, grow, and transform your life.
Your story matters. Ignite your passion for finding and writing down your stories in ways that will reveal your unique voice and unleash your personal creativity. This four-session workshop will share prompts to guide you to the stories you want to tell, explore writing that will show you how to develop your voice, and experiment with creative strategies to enhance your writing. This workshop will engage writers of all levels and provide opportunities to share your writing in a positive environment. Enrollment will be limited.
Cost: $80 for four sessions, 10am-12pm Mondays, June 3, 10, 17, and 24
ABOUT THE HOST A local, award-winning writing teacher and author SANDRA MARINELLA, MA, MEd, has taught thousands of students and fellow educators and presented hundreds of workshops to veterans, teachers, writers, and cancer patients about the power of our personal stories to heal, grow, and transform our lives. Sandra founded the Story You Need to Tell Project which provides workshops on the power of transformational story telling and personal writing. Profits from her book support cancer research and provide educational scholarships as well as writing workshops for those in need. She lives in Chandler, Arizona. Discover more at www.storyyoutell.com.
Location: Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Join us in congratulating former SR social media editor Colleen Stinchcombe! Since her work on Issue 11, Colleen has graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and has worked as an editor for SheKnows Media, an international content marketer for Rover.com, and a freelance writer and editor. Some of her many publications can be found in Outside, GQ, REI Co-op Journal, SELF, Shape, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Brit+Co, SheKnows, Asparagus, and Green Living AZ.
Read one of her latest articles, “7 Thru-Hikers on Coping with Post-Trail Depression,” in Outside here.
Congratulations on your many accomplishments, Colleen!
Today we are thrilled to share news of past contributor Jenn Givhan. Jenn’s debut novel, Trinity Sight, is available for preorder from Blackstone Publishing, and will be published October 1, 2019. The novel, inspired by indigenous oral-history traditions, takes a new spin on dystopian fiction. Jenn’s characters are confronted with dueling concepts of science, faith, modern identity and ancestral tradition as they attempt to understand how the world fell apart.
Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing for our second-annual ASU Undergraduate Writers Showcase, Thursday, November 15, 2018 at the Piper Writers House (450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.!
While encouraged, RSVPs are purely for the purposes of monitoring attendance, gauging interest, and communicating information about parking, directions, and other aspects of the event. This event is open to the public and free.
A final line-up of readers will be announced November 1st.
The high school classroom is standard issue. I’ve grown up in this mill town, but it’s really dying now. None of the students around me in this creative writing class have aspirations to become a writer. They want to go to college and get a job that they won’t get laid off from. My teacher Mr. Moore tells me: it doesn’t matter where you go to school. Anywhere you go, you’ll find great professors to work with. He says, yes, I think you have what it takes to become a writer.
I’m in a standard issue professor’s office for my mid-semester conference in fiction 101. It’s probably the first workshop I’ve ever taken in my life. The professor looks up at me, squints, and says: The problem with you is that at some point in your life someone told you you were creative.
I’m 23 years old and about to get into my boyfriend’s puke green Chevy. It’s parked in my parents’ driveway. We’ve stopped to visit them as we head west after I’ve graduated from the University of New Hampshire. We’ll travel across the country for months without any real destination, although we end up in San Francisco for 4 years. My parents don’t understand what in the hell I’m doing, although they wouldn’t say it that way. My dad tells me: always make sure you’re making enough money per month so that one week goes to rent, one goes to utilities and bills, one goes to savings, and one is for spending money. I follow this advice for years and in many ways it’s how I am able to write and work and live and be happy in many different places.
My friend Pam on many different occasions: If you’re not having fun, leave.
I’ve just met my roommate Mallory Tarses at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and by dinner time everyone thinks we’ve been friends forever. I write flash fiction, have been writing it for many years. Everyone tells me I need to write a novel. Everyone. Mallory says, or why not just get really, really good at writing flash fiction?
At that same conference Tim O’Brien says: Don’t forget to look around while you’re in there writing the story, take the time to look around.
My friend Jonah Winter: Knock it off.
I’m four years out of graduate school and living in Pittsburgh with a real job working in museum education. It’s 40+ hours a week and stressful. I feel lost so I email my mentor Marly Swick (See #1) and tell her I’m ungrounded and out of touch with any kind of national writing community. She says, “Why don’t you apply to some writing residencies? I think it’s time for you to do that.”
I’m at Atlantic Center for the Arts studying with Jim Crace and a great group of fiction writers. Armadillos rustle through the grasses below the boardwalks. Jim Crace says: “Slow down. Look at each sentence. Craft each sentence. Vary the length. Think about word choice. Avoid repeated words. Use active verbs. You already do this instinctually, now I want you to do it deliberately.”
Pam Painter: Start with a list. A list is never intimidating.
I’m running the Gist Street Reading Series in Pittsburgh. The writer John Dalton gets up to read from his debut novel Heaven Lake. He finishes and immediately sells out of books. Later he tells me: Summarize the novel in your introduction and then read a strong section that doesn’t logically follow from the summary. People buy books because they want to find out how the two connect.
There’s a big round table and 21 of us sit around it. The Creative Capital retreat is like a boot camp in professionalism for artists. They tell us: Always introduce yourself using your first and last name. They tell us: Have a 1-year plan and a 5-year plan. They tell us: If you’re not being rejected, you’re not working hard enough.
Location: Valley Bar, 130 N Central Ave, Bsmt, Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Inspired by 17th Century French Salons – intimate gatherings where people would come together to exchange literary and philosophical ideas under the roof of an educated host – Four Chambers Press will be hosting a night of literary conversation, community – and of course, drinking – with Phoenix Poet Laureate and ASU Lecturer of English Rosemarie Dombrowski, PhD.
This month’s topic: Masculinity
How are men constructed in literature? What does a male perspective look like? How have representations of masculinity changed?
Meet us in The Reading Room inside The Rose Room at Valley Bar (Basement, 130 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004). Valley Bar is located on Monroe St down the alley between Central and 1st Ave. Parking is available in several public garages around the area and at meters down First Ave. Valley Bar is also a two-minute walk from the light rail via the Central Ave and Van Buren stop. We also recommend a bicycle.
As space is limited, we recommend arriving early to secure your seat.
Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions for future topics. Hope to see you there!
Every second Sunday from 4:30 to 7 pm
at Songbird Coffee and Teahouse
812 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Because what’s a writing community without structured opportunities for feedback?
We are open to individuals of all backgrounds and experiences working in any genre, style, or form of creative writing—poems, short stories, flash fiction, experimental work, personal essays, op-eds, articles, blogs, memoir, etc—at any stage of the writing process. If you are bringing work, please bring 5 – 6 hard copies to share with the group. If you are bringing prose, we respectfully ask you to bring under 3000 words. Please note that you do not have to bring work. Parking is available for free in a small parking lot behind the coffeeshop and metered down 3rd St and throughout surrounding neighborhoods. Songbird is also a five-minute walk from the light rail via the Central Ave and Roosevelt stop. We also recommend a bicycle. Feel free to coordinate car-pooling on our Facebook page as well. Writing group is a safe, structured, and supportive space for people to come together, get to know each other, and exchange compassionate, constructive, and thoughtful feedback on each others work–helping each other to grow and progress as creative writers, connecting as human beings, and building community. For more information please e-mail email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
Nogales, AZ has once again returned to the state’s artistic spotlight. On the weekend of Feb 13th, its Hilltop Gallery was announced as a finalist in the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards. These awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the office of the Governor. They are based on the significance of the nominee’s achievements and contributions, the range of individuals and groups served by these contributions, and the degree of dedication that the nominee has to the arts. Since 1981, upwards of 200 awards have been presented to various artists and other individuals, cultural groups and organizations, and businesses.
The Hilltop Gallery is one of three finalists in the Arts in Education (Organization or School) category. These and other honorees were announced at a reception on Feb 6th, and on March 22nd in Phoenix, at the 37th annual Governor’s Arts Awards dinner and celebration, the winners will be announced.
The Hilltop Gallery, founded in 1968, is the region’s only permanent art collection. Its exhibits and education galleries focus on the variety of cultures from both the U.S and Mexico. The Gallery often collaborates on events with other local institutions and centers, such as the Consulate of Mexico. It also organizes art classes for the community, in addition to special corporate art shows for local business sponsors from June to August. One of its upcoming exhibits (March 5), is titled Faith Posey & friends- International Day of the Woman (mixed). If you are interested in becoming a Gallery Member, call 520-287-5515 for more information.
At this same March 22nd event, Alberto Alvaro Rios, also from Nogales, will be presented with the 2018 Shelley Award. This award, in honor of former Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Shelley Cohn, is presented to an individual who, through innovative effort to create or support beneficial public policy, has advanced the arts in Arizona. Past award winners include Terry Goddard, past Phoenix mayor; Shirley Estes, builder of the Ventana Canyon Resort and community leader; and Katie Dusenberry, previous board chair of the Arizona Theater Company.
Rios is Arizona’s first poet laureate, and artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. He received his BFA in 1974 and his MFA in creative writing in 1979, both from the University of Arizona. His many volumes of poetry include A Small Story About the Sky (Copper Canyon Press, 2015), The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), and The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Some of his other works include Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir (University of New Mexico Press, 1999), The Curtain of Trees: Stories (University of New Mexico Press, 1999), and The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart (Blue Moon and Conference Press, 1984), which won the Western States Book Award. His work has made appearances in more than ninety major national and international literary anthologies, like the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.
Rios also contributed to Issue 6 of Superstition Review where several of his poems and an interview are available to read.