This summer, NYWC leaders Yvonne Garrett and Mary Ellen Sanger completed and published a collection of their poems, Icarus Cannonballed: Lessons in Cave Diving in the Bahamas. These friends and writers have been writing a poem-a-day together for over two years, and they aren’t stopping any time soon. I spoke with them about the book, and what it’s like to write a poem every single day.
Yvonne’s introduction to your book explains that this collection of poetry was born of a poem-a-day project, inspired by the Poem-a-Day Challenge of National Poetry Month. How did you decide to keep writing beyond the month of April? Was it a conscious decision, or did it just happen?
YG: It was a conscious decision of course, but also I think we both realized that we need this daily “event” in our lives.
MES: There was really no reason to stop! We were having so much fun with it!
Those writers looking for inspiration, whether political, poetic, environmental or social, would find it in the pages of The Sun magazine. Each month there is an interview with someone who is challenging societal beliefs through positive examples. A blend of poetry, essays, memoir and short fiction with a subtle theme woven throughout allow the reader to explore meaningful topics in a reflective way. The dog-eared page brings back a voice, usually from a famous writer who has passed on. The last page of quotes is motivating and covers a single idea from multiple perspectives. Photographic essays are spread throughout and delicately support the writing. My favorite aspect is the “readers write” section, which invites its readers to submit authentic stories on a single theme. These topics, varying from “the internet” “shoes” or “rites of passage”, again allow the diversity of experiences to be illuminated, and are useful for writing prompts, for yourself or for groups. I encourage everyone to let a little Sun in their lives as we draw toward the end of summer.
Last Saturday at the Prison Martyrs’ Monument in Fort Greene Park, moms, dads, grandmas, great aunts, picnickers, lovebirds, strangers, and friends gathered to hear stories by the young writers of the NY Writers Coalition summer workshops, and from acclaimed writers Tayari Jones, Earl Lovelace, and Jessica Hagedorn.
Laurie Cumbo, the founder and executive director of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, kicked off the day’s festivities. After a brief celebration of clear, sunny skies, NYWC’s youngest writers took the stage. New York natives aged seven to ten regaled audience members with sometimes humorous, always thoughtful stories about ice cream and sharks and invisibility cloaks.
J.D. Salinger has been attributed to saying, “It takes me at least an hour to warm up when I sit down to work. Just taking off my own disguises takes an hour or more.” Which I take to mean that before Salinger really started to write each day he had to first shed all the various sides of himself, all his personalities, all the voices that constitute himself. And once he was rid of himself, or out of his own way, then he could begin to write from fictional voices that he couldn’t influence. (more…)
Today’s post was written by Kristin Iversen and was initially published by The L Magazine. We loved this piece, and we thought you might too, so we reached out to the L‘s editors for permission to share it with Narrator readers. They said yes! You can follow Kristin Iversen here on Twitter, and check out The L Magazine at this link.
Today, the Daily News exposed what is perhaps Brooklyn’s worst kept secret; this is a borough divided. Which is a fact that we would like to think most people were pretty cognizant of already. After all, this is a borough where the summer has brought story after story of children getting shot in the playgrounds of Brownsville alongside articles featuring the news that the most expensive place to live in all of New York City is not the Upper East Side or Tribeca, but DUMBO. Four miles makes a world of difference in Brooklyn.