Hello! I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, currently studying for my masters in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I believe in friendship, love and joy and I hope you'll find my work engaging both on a literary level and a life level. Words can change minds and each one I write is an opportunity to do just that. Please let me know what you think--I am, after all, writing to you! This is definitely a two way conversation: inspire others as you're inspired and we'll all grow together.
Yolanda proceeded to go through a list of women slaves for whom some information existed. Some if them were even leaders in slave rebellions. When she finished we had counted 22 women. Yolanda pointed out she has told three of their stories in her short story collection, Negras. “Who will tell their stories?” She asked. “These women want to talk.” I wonder if I can tell one of them? I plan to connect with Yolanda when I get home, go over her list again and see what comes out for me. Such a weighty challenge–can I carry it with the same passion and grace she has? Or will it turn out to be a crusade that doesn’t capture my spirit because it is not my own?
Yolanda began our talk with two questions and a writing exercise. The first question: Do you know the meaning of your name? “If you do,” she said, “it means you want to know about the world and you’re starting with the world around you–your origins. Everything you write comes from the origin of who you are.” The second question: Do you know the names of your father, mother, grandparents, great-grandparents and what they mean? “Look at that history,” she said. “If you don’t know it, a significant part of your poetry/writing will be missing.” She then invited us each to write a four-line poem about our names.
When I came to Puerto Rico I expected to be influenced by the colors, food, and tropical feel of this island. I didn’t realize I would find such a passion for writing. And it’s not the “Oh, I love to write” I’m talking about. Authors such as Yolanda and Hector from yesterday have a deep appreciation for the gravity of writing, for how meaningful it is to produce the written word. They remind me of the Edwidge Dandicat book I read last year, Create Dangerously. How would our writing change if we chose to create with the passion of these Puerto Rican writers?
Workshop means more tidbits from Mary Ruefle! Here they are:
“Any poem is a configuration of a linguistic energy cycle. Energy is created and it is released. That’s what makes the act of reading a poem satisfying.”
“There’s a huge difference between what the poem is trying to say and what the author is trying to say. The author’s job is to listen to the poem”
“Let’s look at the houses we have built out of words on the page.”
Thank you Mary!
Tomorrow we leave Old San Juan to spend the week in the El Yunque rainforest. We may not have an internet connection there but if not, no worries. I’ll keep good notes and fill you in on our return.