Yesterday, July 25th, 2017 women writers from Los Angeles and the Inland Empire gathered at Art Share L.A. to read poems and prose at the un :: fade :: able reading to commemorate the life of Sandra Bland.
The scent of burning sage settled into our skin and wrapped itself around the chairs that were arranged in an open circle. Even if you didn't know the person you were sitting next to - you felt like you did. The reason for us being in the same room was a kindred common ground of remembering the life of Sandra Bland.
It was explained that last year's program was one of mourning the loss of Sandra Bland. This year's gathering would be to celebrate the memory of who she is to us. Before each person shared their work we recited the mantra: "My name is, _______, and I am a Poet/ a Writers / a Musician (pick one), who speaks for and with Sandra Bland. Tonight, I dedicate my work to her unfadeable memory. SayHerName, and restore her life."
By the end of the evening it was as though there was a divine connection with everyone in the room. Sandra Bland, and Fanny Lou Hamer, and tias and abuelitas and sisters and daughters and mothers from generations filled our tongues with healing and love. And my mother - July 25th was the one year anniversary of her homegoing and this was the best possible way I could honor her life, in the company of sisters honoring life.
The event was curated by F. Douglas Brown and hosted by Brittany Williams. Musical preludes provide by Loyola MPC Club. There will be more events. Check out the website if you think you might be interested.
Submitting is a loaded word. When my friend said, "I want you to go to Women Who Submit," I thought it was a women's group for people who need to be more assertive. The double entendre of submission can be a dreadful thing, whether it is being submissive in a relationship or sending your work to an editor. There are so many variables, but being here I feel like I am on solid ground and the task does not feel daunting.
It almost feels like a tea party. We greet each other cordially and pull out laptops. The tea we sip is the information of possible publishers for our work, and the clicking of keyboards is the friendly chatter of encouragement. There it is. The lady across from me raises her hands and proudly says "I submitted." We applaud, and the facilitator is literally ringing the bell of success. The celebration is in the submission. We are doing that living in the moment thing rather than getting wound up in what someone else might think of us.
Being in the presence of other women who are submitting takes away the lonely ruminations of "what ifs" and "should I". There is no pressure, no competition, just encouragement from being around and seeing others do the same thing you want to do. Even though I didn't submit this time, I organized poems and felt like I accomplished something by just coming out and being a part of the process in the company of women writers. I am looking forward to submitting soon.
Welcome to my observations on the craft of writing, venues and writing community experiences.