". . . there was one story I could not make fit into a poem, an essay or a short story—the story of my mother’s life. I attended the University of Florida and received an MFA in fiction writing, then real life distracted me. But still I wanted to write my mother’s story. Finally, after a divorce and the death of my brother, I decided life was too short to wait any longer. I quit my job and bought myself some time to write a very fictional account of my mother’s voice . . . "
The result is The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, and in this video Rhonda talks about her debut novel.
Aimee Anderson - writer, teacher, and performance artist - is bringing along her creative writing students for an evening of fiction to support SAW. Come to the courtyard behind the Co-op and Creative Media Center, right where Wild Iris Bookstore will soon reopen, and support some of Gainesville's emerging writers.
Once again, we are so lucky to live in Gainesville. On Thursday, April 11th at 7:30 at the downtown library Sidney Wade will read from her new (the sixth, I think) collection - Straits and Narrows. Many of the wild spaces that I love are in Sydney's poems. In fact, she and I met as our kayaks came up alongside each other on Orange Lake. So come to the library and hear a poet published in places like The New Yorker and the Paris Review read to us of our own prairies and rivers and birds.
Glenda Bailey-Mershon is the founder of Janes' Stories Press Foundation and one of the editors of Bridges and Border (the anthology that we're all coming together to celebrate on Sunday April 14th at 2pm at Volta Coffee.) She's a poet, fiction writer, and an advocate for the rights of her Romani people. I don't think we'll get to hear her read at the event, so here's an excerpt from her short story "Space Walk."
At night, Reina played among the stars.
She rose from her pillow, gliding up and up, one arm outstretched, as the Earth spun into a small ball below. Inevitably, she bumped into a speeding comet, pulled herself up and perched on it, as on a black velvet throne, surveying the planets rolling away like glass marbles into the field of space. When she tired of the views passing before her, she skipped onto other heavenly objects — asteroids, moons big and small, unidentified bits of space junk of unknown origin — until she sighted the phenomena she most loved: giant, spinning galaxies, great milky spills of stars across the horizon-less void.
Her days unfurled in stark contrast to her nights. She awoke in her bed to rise and dress in stained shirts and shorts, took the bus to where she crawled on her knees across someone else’s kitchen floor, sodden cloth in hand, crunchy cereal and cracker crumbs prickling her fleshy limbs. Under her absentminded gaze, load after load of soiled clothes turned spotless.
Then she ran home for her nightly adventures. For slow leaps through universes rushing like amusement park rides, one into another. In some of those universes she was a child again. Her father blew dandelion fluff with great gusts of his stubbly cheeks, as Reina leapt to catch it. In others, she was someone she had not yet been: a woman with an explorer’s audacious smile, diving through blazing wormholes, stardust billowing around her like sheets on a line.
So many Reinas, so many ways to travel.
Excerpted from Space Walk by Glenda Bailey-Mershon
Katherine Riegal will be one of us batch of contributors to the new Janes' Stories Press Foundation anthology who will be reading at Volta Coffee on Sunday, April 14th at 2pm. Katie is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, and one of the founding editors of the kick-ass literary journal Sweet. Her newest collection of poetry is called What the Mouth Was Made For (best title ever). She was Illinois farm raised, but now teaches really lucky students at USF in Tampa. Here she is.
On Sunday, April 14th at 2pm a batch of us contributors to the newest Janes' Stories anthology will be reading at Volta Coffee. Let's focus for now on Pat Spears. Damn, she's a fine, fine fiction writer. Pat writes about people on the outside with a grit and heart that comes from being a sixth generation resident of the Florida Panhandle. They talk about "voice" a lot in writing. Whatever that is, Pat has it and hers evokes the geography of pine flats and relentless heat. Do not miss this chance to hear it.
This week Charles and Brandi hosted, with such generosity, an evening of poems, music, meanderings, and prose. It was way fun. All were welcomed. There was not a moment of the aggression, even meanness that can plague an open mic. Feminist Open Mic at Wild Iris happens the last Tuesday of each month. Try it out.
Kana Handel, Liz Nesbit, Ted Lincoln, Peter Senesac, Steve Howell, J. Lasley Designs and Aesthetic Print and Design are all on the tour. Walk, bike, drive, or cruise along in your wheelchair from studio to studio where beside art and the artist there are snacks and blues guitar and chocolates promised. And we'll all finish up at Vine Bread and Pasta and/or Stachel's Pizza. Yum.
P. S. Painting above by Kana.
Lola Haskin's latest collection of poetry, The Grace to Leave, "pays close attention to the natural world and the human heart." We'll get to listen to her read and discuss these poems at the downtown library on Thursday, November 29th at 7pm.
"The long bones of sandhill cranes
know their next pond. Not us.
When something is too beautiful,
we do not have the grace to leave."
The poet Joy Harjo's memoir, Crazy Brave, is just out and thanks to Friends of the Library, her book tour is swinging through Gainesville. On Saturday, August 4th she'll be at the downtown library at 3 p.m. See you there.
Here's an excerpt from Crazy Brave:
"It is this way for everyone. We enter into a family story, and then other stories based on tribal clans, on tribal towns and nations, lands, countries, planetary systems, and universes. Yet, we each have our own individual soul story to tend."
Amy Hempel, D.A. Powell, Laura Kasischke, David Berman, and Kevin Young are all reading, presenting craft talks, and mingling at receptions here in Gainesville this weekend beginning tomorrow, Thursday. Here's the full schedule for the Florida Writers' Festival.
For sure, I'll show up on Friday night to hear Amy Hempel and D.A. Powell. The readings begin at 8pm at the Ustler Hall Atrium near the University of Florida stadium.
Well, me along with Karen McElmurray, Georgia Banks-Martin, Shobha Sharma, Kimmy Van Kooten, and Anne Martin Fletcher. Even if you haven't been able to make it to that day's Women Writing Retreat, come to this final, free, and open to the public event at Anastasia Books (81 King St). Seven pm.
I'm either reading fiction about a hot-flashing lesbian in relationship trouble or an essay about rolling in the mud of Payne's Prairie. But then there's that short, short piece about morphine and my mother. I promise, I'll have it figured out by Saturday night.
See these bluecurls. I bought one plant for $2 at a Native Plant Sale years ago. Each winter, I shake the seeds into my skirt and wander around flipping them over the ground. And right now, there are hundreds of bluecurls blooming in my yard.
So, and some of you can probably mouth this rant along with me, stop it, just stop it, with the drug and water-addicted yards. Gainesvillians - use the Native Plant Sale on Saturday, October 8th at Morningside Nature Center (8:30am-12:30pm) as an opportunity to buy and learn.
The poets Aliesa Zoecklein, Feral Wilcox, Corky Culver, and Samara Golabuk (collectively known as The Scribe Tribe) are some of the natural treasures of Gainesville which makes them a perfect fit for the Florida Museum of Natural History. On Sunday, October 2nd at 1:30pm, they'll weave spoken and sung poetry with instrumental music in celebration of Wild Music: Sounds and Song Life, an exhibit at the museum.
Aliesa's poems have been accepted into the journals Cream City Review, Cimarron Review, and Pleiades, where's there's a link to one of her poems available. Corky's collection The Natural Law of Water has a prominent place on my bookshelf, and in addition to her lyrical poetry, I've heard that Samara has quite the singing voice. Top this all off with Feral's genius as a wordsmith and musician and we're pretty much guaranteed one of those transportive, can't-hardly-believe-we-got-to-be-there afternoons.
So, Sunday, October 2nd, 1:30pm, at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The admission is free. I'm so looking forward to this.