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Feminism and Me

My Awesome Former Student and Journalism Major, Sydney Maynard, Interviews Me About Feminism

Bed Stuy Fence Art

Bed Stuy Fence Art

I’ve come to notice that a lot of people have different definitions of feminism. What is yours?

I’ve never had a particularly complicated definition. I want women and anyone who identifies as a woman to have access to the same rights as men. I want equal pay for equal work, affordable and safe medical care (including all reproductive freedoms), parental leave for all parents, and state-funded childcare options. Oops, I suppose I’m getting into some of my platforms already! A big part of feminism for me is also making women’s voices and stories central to conversations about the issues that matter to them. Too often, we miss those stories or ignore them in favor of data or policy or legislation that doesn’t’ make any sense. Lately, like in the last two months, I’m really into J. Jack Halberstam’s definition of feminism in Gaga Feminism. He (and I’m using this pronoun because J. Jack says his/her pronoun use is fluid and changes daily) writes, “this feminism looks into the shadows of history for its heroes and finds them loudly refusing the categories that have been assigned to them: these feminists…undo the category rather than rounding it out, they dress it up and down, take it apart like a car engine and then rebuild it so it’s louder and faster. This feminism is about improvisation, customization, and innovation” (xiv). Watch Halberstam here if you’d like to know more.

When and why did the feminist movement become important to you?

My mother and her best friend are feminists and I grew up listening in on their conversations about feminism. They helped start the local NOW (National Organization for Women) chapter in my small, upstate New York town in the 70s. They also marched on Washington to try to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which I still to this day, can’t believe didn’t pass. Such a cool piece of legislation! I remember watching my mom and Sylvia drive away in Sylvia’s Winnebago to march in Washington, while my brother and I waved from the curb with my dad. My mother also spent 25 years of her life working at our local Boys and Girls Club. For most of that time, she was the executive director, and one of the only women in the country to serve as an executive director of a Boys Club and I watched and learned as she worked daily to make improvements in the lives of children and women in particular. Little things like affordable swimming lessons, access to books and tutors, basketball camp for girls, and free hot lunches and breakfasts. I saw how much of a difference these little things make in the lives of kids who come from poor and working class families or who are neglected and abused. I also listened to her stories of discrimination in a national organization that then was almost entirely male run. So I had that early education from watching and listening to my mom. At an early age, I thought feminism was cool! In college, I joined the campus women’s center and participated in marches like Take Back the Night, which I now see as an early incarnation of the Slut Walks. I also took a lot of women’s studies courses and had my mind blown by writers like Gloria Andalzúa, Angela Davis, bell hooks, and Irena Klepfisz (to name just a few).

Have you read any articles recently that you thought portrayed women’s rights in a particularly positive or negative light? What is the most compelling piece on feminism that you have read?

Oh, so many! I’m only going to write about the positive ones though! I’m really into Men Explain Things to Meby Rebecca Solnit, Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and Gaga Feminism by J. Jack Halberstam. I also really like The Essential Feminist Reader edited by Estelle B. Freedman. It’s a good primer on feminist texts for anyone who wants to know more about the evolution of feminist ideas globally from the first to the third wave. I saw a panel this week about race in America right now, after these depressing non-indictment decisions in Ferguson and in Staten Island, called The Fire This Time, and Brittany Cooper was on it and she’s phenomenal. She’s a favorite feminist right now because she’s so honest and smart and she’s open about her anger. Everyone is so afraid of anger right now, and I frankly, think we’re not angry enough. She blogs pretty regularly at the Crunk Feminist Collective. I also love my good friend, poet and activist, Dawn Lundy Martin’s latest essay in The New Yorker about how she became politicized. Finally, I need to give a shout-out to Ileana Jiménez for her on-going amazing work with young feminists. Yay! Feminist Teacher!

Have you noticed a significant difference in the ratio of men to women reporters?

Hmmm…I try to stay away from mainstream news outlets, so I can’t really say. I listen to NPR, which has a fair amount of female journalists, and I read a lot of alternative news sources online. I tend to read more women than men, but in terms of data I cannot say what’s happening in journalism when it comes to representation and women. But it does concern me that how hard it is for journalists and writers to be paid well for their work and how often news outlets expect writers to work for free or for very little. I suspect that this is worse for women (because issues around pay usually are), but I have only anecdotal evidence to back that up.

It kind of seems like the feminist movement is a “trend” right now and even celebrities are being asked whether they consider themselves feminists. Do you think its growing popularity is turning the movement into a bandwagon situation? Should the public be informed, or even care, whether or not their favorite celebrities are feminists?

I love trends! And why shouldn’t feminism be trending?! It’s about time it got some mainstream attention. I don’t mind knowing if a celebrity is a feminist or not, especially if it helps some little girl somewhere see that the word feminist isn’t a bad one. It still shocks me how negative the connotations are around this word—the idea that feminists are not fun or sexual or smart or interested in the lives of men is so strange to me because almost every feminist I know is all of those things and then some. But we will get in your face and make trouble if something is going down that’s not fair to women so I suppose that’s where all of the negativity comes from—oh, and the mainstream media which has portrayed feminists as a bunch of crazy, hairy bra-burners who want to destroy all men. I also think young feminists are doing incredible work and activism around issues of rape and consent as well as issues of gender and sexuality, so I want to give them credit here for helping to change the conversation of late. To read more about some of these campus activists, click here.

I am currently reading Bad Feminist because Zoi (Sydney’s friend and also my former student, Zoi Rosado) recommended it and she told me that you read it. What are your thoughts on it? Did you have a favorite section? Was there anything you disagreed with?

I loved the whole thing. I read it in one night after my daughter went to sleep. I’d been eyeing it in bookstores for months. I don’t know what took me so long. I’m particularly partial to her writing about books and movies, but there wasn’t a chapter that I didn’t find smart and honest. Read the whole thing!

Some Aphorisms

Insomia.  Up at 4:30.  Happy only that I get work done at this hour.  But it’s something.  I haven’t posted on the blog in so long, and soon I’m going to overhaul the website and perhaps remove the blog since most of my day-to-day thoughts of late make their way into the essays I’m publishing and onto Facebook and Twitter.

My students are writing aphorisms for today’s class and we’ve been talking about how some of the best writers on Twitter are aphoristic.  Masha Tupitsyn for one, but many comedians, and of course the celebrities who are accidentally aphoristic.  I teach aphorisms because they are basically claims (counter-intuitive, surprising, objective, in need of evidence, imagistic, and conceptual) and so a huge part of essay writing.  Plus, it’s fun to play with a sentence-size form.

Here are some of mine:

It takes to two to tango, but I’d rather mosh.

The best revenge is sleeping well.

My insomnia is like a dog with a bone.  Drop it, I say, but she won’t.

Never send an email at 4 am.

Vision is most blurred in the middle of the night.

Icy streets turn us into toddlers.

Reading and Trying to Read

201406-omag-books-wonderland-949x1356Love-Dog-Henry-James-Quote

Short, impressionistic thoughts on the ten or so books I’ve either read or am trying to read this summer.  No particular order here.  I don’t rank.  :)

Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo.  Favorite book all summer.  45 year-old-indie former indie darling Anna Brundage attempts a come-back tour.  Will it work?  D’Erasmo creates a totally believable adult woman artist with a day job teaching! who fucks, rocks hard, and loves deeply.  My review for Pank is coming soon.

All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior.  Here, watch the Ted talk.  Now, go buy the book.  It’s about the difference between happiness and joy and the unrealistic goals American middle-class birthday parents have set for themselves.  It made me cry several times and it got me through a particularly challenging six-year-old birthday party weekend.

How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I’m trying to learn how to meditate this summer, or perhaps I should say, “I’m cultivating a meditation practice.”  It’s very hard, slow, and I only do it like once a week for five minutes or so, but this book is a simple and small (I love a pocket book) foray into what it’s like to sit.  That’s all, just sitting.

The Middle Passage by James Hollis.  My friend and blogger, Yukie Ohta (of the Soho Memory Project) told me about this over dinner way back in June.  Hollis is a psychoanalyst who wants to reconsider the whole notion of a “mid-life crisis.”  He argues (I think, cuz I’m only about ten pages in) that the middle of life is a passage and not a crisis–a time where we can release ourselves from the roles our parents envisioned for us and truly become ourselves.  Lots of poetry references too, which I like.

Ursula or University by Stephanie Young.  A lyric, essay poem about Occupy Oakland.  Intriguing to far.  What does middle-class activism look like?

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante.  Oh boy, so intense.  Read 20 pages at 1 am a couple of nights ago and couldn’t sleep.  A mother of two.  Her husband leaves her for a younger woman.  She’s consumed with jealousy and rage.  Has to figure out how to live on her own.  I like it, but I also find myself longing for new narratives about the ends of marriages.  I’m getting a little bored with the whole woman is left by a cheating husband story, though I know it happens all of the time.  I want to read more books about cheating wives!  Or marriages that just kind of die slowly.  I know, I know, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but something new.  Any recs?

Love Dog by Masha Tupitsyn.  It sits on my nightstand.  I read it like a tonic.  Dip in and out.  All the time.  Helps me think about love and attachment and the movies and music.  Hoping to have her at Studio Dynaco this fall.

Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks.  Bought this because I love bell hooks (mostly Teaching to Transgress, Black Looks, and Art on My Mind) and Love Dog reminded me of this book.  I got a little distracted by the history of women’s feminism (the 70s and 80s which I know well), but it’s good to revisit those struggles and to read about hooks’ belief in female desire, love, and eros.

The New issue of Fence.  Haven’t read it yet.  I will this week.  Excited for new poems by Evie Shockley, Jennifer Kronovet, and Andrew Durbin.

Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner.  I am always reading the first one hundred pages of this book.  It’s like my Swann’s Way.  It’s not Kushner’s fault.  She’s a genius.  I want to write a book about Cuba too and I get jealous of her, so I put it down and then I start over.

Rebel Girls by Jessica K. Taft.  My favorite sociologist.  Gonna teach this in Youth in Revolt:  Case Studies in Global Activism this fall.  She studies five different groups of teenage girl activists in North and South America.  So smart.  So what I want Girls Studies to be!

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti.  Second attempt.  Also, not her fault.  Might be too young for me.  I might be distracted.  But I love the fragments, the whole “Sheila” as both character and artist, the passing of every day life, friends, walking around, just regular happenings, not major plot-devices and antics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour!

Cheap Trick at Landshark StadiumimgresWoah!  Apparently, I’m on a blog tour!  I’ve always dreamed about being part of one of these, and now thanks to my good friend and fellow poet, Nicole Callahan, I am!  Special thanks to Iris Jamahl Dunkle for hosting the tour, and to Zoe Ryder White, who is next up.

So maybe you’re old fashioned like me and when you hear the word tour, you think of a hedonistic, multi-city journey on a tour bus with a bunch of unruly musicians, desperate groupies, and a lotta drugs.  If that’s the case, the above pictures are for you!

For those of you who already know how the whole blog tour thing works, I’ll just add that it’s a cosmic, interspace journey across the exciting landscapes of the interwebs into the minds of writers, artists, and their blogs.  Yay!  Who says we can’t have as much fun as a rock band in 1990!??&$#

So everyone on the tour answers the following questions:

What am I working on?

Well, I write in a couple of genres; poetry, essays, and fiction.  I just finished my first novel, Live at Roseland, which is about a young woman who thinks she can change her life by running away in a band.  It’s set mostly in 1990 at the height of the indie music scene and is an artist’s tale–a story about leaving a small town and moving to New York city, and trying to figure out how to be an adult.  Much of the book is set on the road and on tour with the band, which explains my obsession with tours, groupies, and debauched musicians.  I’ve also been working on a revisions for a new poetry manuscript, My Pretty, which is among other things an investigation of mythological hags and witches, motherhood, divorce, and aging.  Lastly, I’m starting a new reading series at a bar I love in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Dynaco, with fellow poet and bartender, Ryan Folan.  It’s called Studio Dynaco and will feature in-progress work in all genres.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmmm…this is a tough one.  My joke sometimes about my work in all genres is that I’m too experimental for the mainstream and too mainstream for the experimental.  I do think my work has a kind of in-between quality that can make it hard to pin down or classify.  I often write about uncomfortable subjects (girlhood, aging, hags, drugs, hard living) in a pretty straightforward, albeit, lyrical way.  Not sure if this makes me different from most of my favorite writers, but I don’t think my work is particularly comfortable or pretty.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m interested in all things subterranean.  I like underworlds, small town weirdos, painters, punks, queer kids, and adults who hold onto a particular scene or style for too long.  I love musicians and poets, parents who don’t know how to do everything, corporate resisters, and anyone on the margins or who makes a mess from the middle.  So, I guess I write to get underneath the surface, to chronicle underworlds, and to figure out what I think about a given subject or time period or feeling.

How does your writing process work?

It depends on the genre.  For poems I tend to write about my daily experiences, though I try to put them in conversation with what I’m reading or images I see around me.  For many of the poems in My Pretty, I became interested in some of the witches and hags in fairy tales and how they related to certain uncomfortable moments in my own experiences of mothering.  For novels, I work scene by scene, not knowing too much in advance about where I’m headed plot-wise until about half-way into the project.  For essays and blog posts, I write to figure out a text or an event in my life.  I have a blog/essay piece coming out in Brainchild magazine later this month about nit picking and co-parenting, which was very much my attempt to deal with the lice infestation in my daughter’s kindergarten class and the huge industry around lice removal these days.

Capybaras, a Playlist, and New York

capybaraHere are some capybaras kissing to get you through the day.  I think it’s gonna be 40 degrees instead of 28, so there’s that.

Also, I made a playlist!  It loosely chronicles some of the passions and obsessions in my new novel, Live at Roseland, which is mostly set in 1990.

I’m late to this book, Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, edited by Sari Botton, but I’m into it.  Mainly because it makes me want to write a response essay about why I stubbornly?, stupidly?, intentionally? stay.  I started that essay and bored even myself, and then John Devore’s “New York Doesn’t Love You” came along and blew the whole conversation about why folks leave or stay in New York up.  Enjoy!

Lastly, here are some fun facts about New York city.  Wouldn’t it be cool if I could send this little blog post to you in a pneumatic tube?  Or what if we all had to move on the same day?!  And remember, there are bodies everywhere!

Skiffs, Sheet Shaking, and Tarot

Skiff and River

The holidays over, so I guess that means I can’t eat candy for breakfast anymore.  Sigh.

I’ve got a bunch of events in January and February…they’re listed on the events page of this site and I hope you’ll come to one or all.  I’ll read new sad poetry, old Stalker stuff, even newer, dirty, nostalgic, indie rock n’ roll fiction, and a sestina!!

My dear friend, fellow poet mom, and partner-in-crime, Caitlin McDonnell, had a tarot card-induced vision last week and has started this exciting new performance piece/installation/incantation called Shaking Sheets.  I think you should check it out!  It strikes me as a particularly good way to start the New Year.  Shake out a sheet!  Shake out shame!  I made one of these little movies in a blizzard and it felt good (opened up my shoulders and my heart)!

Speaking of tarot cards and the new year, another dear friend and fellow poet mom, Hoa Nguyen, is offering a series of virtual and in-person tarot reading workshops in the next month.  Here’s the link to her site and the Facebook events page if you’d like to sign up.  She’s practically giving away these workshops!  And you could learn about the tarot deck!  Hoa gave me an on-line, over-the-phone-reading last fall that opened my eyes in some significant ways.  Tower energy anyone!??

Oh, and finally here’s a new poem:

 

The Skiff

 

My heart is a skiff,

pirated in swells. 

You sail it.

You race it.

You win.

 

I rig up a tattered sail,

and send out an S.O.S. 

All is lost. 

All is lost.

 

I see through squall.

I’m an icy gambit.

 

I dream big in the wolf’s lair.

The shape of it is airport hanger.

The heat of it is hair dryer.

I stumble towards a nursery school.

There are kids outside of it—singing and shouting.

Their high voices are honey, Calypso, sirens, all of it.

I step onto the frozen river that moats their yard.

It splinters, groans, and opens up.

 

Underneath the ice is more ice.

Underneath the boat is more boat.

Underneath the heart is more heart.

 

Frances Ha and Middles

Screen Shot

Sorry blog, I’ve been ignoring you for a while.  But I do miss you and I’m back!

So, like a lot of people, I’m a little obsessed with the new movie, Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach.  I like that it’s about a love affair between two twenty-something best friends, Frances and Sophie–it’s so rare to see a movie with smart women at the center.  I like too that it’s about becoming an adult, finding your way through New York city real estate, and figuring out if you can and should make art.  When Great Gerwig runs/dances/skips/turns through the streets of Manhattan to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” my heart runs/dances/skips/turns too!  I recognize this exuberance, the kind of dancing joy that finding one’s place in New York (even if only for a minute or a month) can induce.  But mostly, I think I’m obsessed with Frances Ha because it feels to me more like a movie about the middle of things, of getting stuck and moving forward and of finding one’s way in the world alone.  At one point Frances and Sophie decide that in the future they’ll  be like middle age women who re-discover themselves after a divorce.  Sophie deadpans, “My mom did that.”

Maybe I’m projecting.  But these moments, for obvious reasons, are dear to me right now.  I love that Frances gets her own apartment and sets up her desk in it.  Baumbach has always been good at the chaos of re-inventing oneself or of finding one’s way in an urban landscape with a severed, “middle-aged” psyche (watch Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale).  It’s Sophie we worry about–she’s going to marry Patches, a well-meaning banker guy, and has given up her publishing job.  She spends the second half of the movie drunk, belligerent, and sad.  But Frances, who chooses to go it alone, who is repeatedly, jokingly called “undateable” by one of her pining, dickhead roommates, is gonna make it.  I dunno, the movie gives me blind, stupid hope, and everyone needs that, especially in New York, in the midst of a divorce. Right?

The Clock, the Caravan, and Some Soup Cans

We scored a free museum pass from Malka’s school, so I went to MOMA twice last week.  (Check it, I can get into ANY MUSEUM for free this year with a guest, so you need to go to some of this shit with me!)

I spent 2:10 to 3:10 with Christian Marclay’s “Clock.”  When I walked in Mathew Broderick was passing out a test in Election.  I saw Agent Cooper spread out the fragments of Laura Palmer’s diary and Christian Bale’s woeful, lovely face while he waits for the train in the remake of 310 to Yuma.  John Travolta waiting for a bomb to detonate.  Robert Di Nero on a war ship.  Nicholas Cage, hungover in the afternoon and hanging up on Sam Rockwell in Leaving Las Vegas.  A woman writing in a notebook, “Time is eliminated.”  And lots of scenes I didn’t recognize.  I can’t hope to explain the pleasure of watching “The Clock.”  There were two five-year-old boys in front of me, who kept asking their exasperated mothers, “What time is it?”  Finally, one of the moms said, “Look at the screen.”  Something about this exchange made the rest of us laugh.  It’s hard to learn how to tell time, and then once we know how to do it, it’s inscribed everywhere or at least in our movies and stories.  The room was big and dark, there were about 40 big couches.  You sit with strangers, you wait for the next clip, and you watch.  There’s a lot of collective anticipation, giggling, gasps of recogition, and pockets of spacing out.  More than anything, I love the way “The Clock” helps you understand that narrative and story are always about the minutes and the movement of your own ticking, beating heart bomb.

I went back on the last day of “The Clock,” but it was 3:45 and the line was 100 people deep and the installation was closing at 5:30.  The guard told me to give up, but I couldn’t accept it.  I waited in line for a half hour before wandering off into the rest of the museum.  I saw Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow’s uncanny wax lips, breasts, and phallus pieces.  I couldn’t quite take her work, but I had that queasy feeling that made me think I’ll have to go back.  I watched Eiko and Koma slowly crawl their bandaged, plastered bodies out of the trailer in The Caravan Project.  The installation reminded me of caves, beehives, and mummies–their movements in and out of the open trailer are hypnotic and a little scary.  Eventually, Eiko made it out of the side of the trailer (a kind of slow-mo stumble tumble), and the woman next to me said to her friend, “Eh, there she goes.  She’s out.”

Up on the fifth floor, I stumbled upon Warhol’s soup cans, which I have always loved.  I like to check in on them so that I can see if I have a new favorite.  (more…)

What To Do When There’s Light

So we live in a residence hall at NYU, and I suppose there is a lot to say about THAT (but I’ll save that for a whole other blog post).  For now (as a placeholder I guess) I will say that yes, every night I am the oldest person falling asleep in the building.  The oldest, yep, that’s me, and with the exception of Matt we’re talking about a lot of years.  I am a lady, so I won’t say how many.  Also, I don’t like to embarrass our residents.  Anyway, one of the best things about living in a residence hall and being a Faculty Fellow is that you have a whole bunch of able-bodied, excited, and fun young people around who are eager to work on projects that you dream up.

Since our residence hall, Goddard, was one of the few buildings in all of lower Manhattan to have power during Hurricane Sandy (thanks NYU generator!), we had a lot of time and light in which to brood on the effects of climate silence and our own very lucky position.  Lower Manhattan was a strange place that week.  Many of us wandered around the empty streets and tried to scheme our way into Brooklyn or midtown for food and wine.  My friend Zach Michaels’ wrote a nice little essay about it, if you’re curious. Anyway, by the end of the week we were all stir-crazy, and ready to do something.  Our friend and chef, Scott Bridi, the man behind Brooklyn Cured started to cook for folks out in Red Hook.  I heard from poet friends on Facebook who were driving supplies to the Rockaways and Staten Island with their last bit of gas.  And then it seemed like it was our turn.  Our residents went down with us to the Lower East Side to work with the Center Against Anti-Asian Violence to distribute water, food, and batteries to the elderly who couldn’t get down the stairs in their building.  In the week after, our residents and our neighbors in other residence halls donated seven giant boxes of supplies to take to one of the Occupy Sandy drop-off sites.  And this last weekend, a big group of Goddardites went with Matt to the Rockaways to help clean up.  Anyway, I share this because we’ve done a little and there is still so much work to be do and a lot more need for volunteers and donations (see links throughout).  Also, I’m proud of our residents and I promised I would blog about them.

Here’s what Matt had to say about the day in the Rockaways, “We didn’t know what to expect, but Bridget O’Connor, our Residence Hall Resource Manager, who lives in Rockaway and whose home had been hit hard by the storm, led us to where she knew we’d be useful.  She dropped us off at the makeshift headquarters of Team Rubicon, which is dispatching crews of volunteers to individual homeowners who have requested help.  Our group–16 Goddard residents and myself, plus a couple that joined us–spent the day at the home of a man who had already moved out his family and precious possessions.  He asked us to remove everything in the house, including all his family’s furniture and things, but also floors, tile, baseboards, sheetrock–everything that had been destroyed by the flooding.  We took everything to the street, where construction equipment scooped it up and brought it in endless loads to the enormous dumpster at the end of the block (which would itself later be carted to the enormous pile of debris near Jacob Riis Park).  In 4 or 5 hours, we were able to empty the house and do some demolition, though we could only make a dent in the waterlogged basement and the piles of ruined items that filled it.  Our team was amazing–they worked like crazy and barely took a break for granola bars and water.  They kept their spirits up despite the heaviness of the situation.  How many other houses in the area need a whole crew to do a whole day’s work?  It’s a big mess, and a big job that may take a long time to get done.”

And for those of you looking to donate or volunteer, here are the links again to places we’ve worked with who are doing amazing things:

Occupy Sandy

Team Rubicon

YA for New Jersey (this is new and a cool way for book lovers to help out in New Jersey)

 

Going Too Far Together

So how do you get a hundred twelve and thirteen year-old girls to write together on a Friday afternoon at 1:30?  Well, you start by going to The Hewitt School, which already has in place a writing-based curriculum and a commitment to hosting writers of all kinds (thank you amazing Hewitt English teachers! and thank you to my friend and colleague, Maureen Burgess Chalfen, who is the Dean of Teaching and Learning in Humanities and the Chair of English Department at Hewitt and has worked so hard to bring writing-to-learn strategies from Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking to her school!).

And then, I guess, you try to ask them a question they can’t resist answering.  More on that in a second.

First, I want to say that I had a great time on Friday talking with Hewitt students about The Stalker Chronicles.  I shared some stalker-related images, I read two different scenes from the book, we wrote together and shared some of that writing, and we had a lively Q and A.  Hewitt students are excited, informed, and so supportive of one another!  I was impressed by how hard they worked and also how much fun we had together.  But it’s true, my favorite part of my two-hour visit was well, the writing.

SPOILER ALERT!  After I read a scene from The Stalker Chronicles–the one in which my protagonist Cammie Bliss goes through her crush’s garbage–I asked students to “tell the story of a time when you or a character went too far.”  We freewrote (trying not to censor and or do much editing) for about ten minutes and then we each bracketed off a sentence or two to share with the larger group.  Check out the pictures above of students sitting on the floor of the gym and using their chairs as writing desks!

The students wrote great pieces (both fictional and autobiographical) about girls who are curious, who want to take leaps, and who follow boys, friends, and teachers because they have questions they can’t get answered.  They wrote about girls who are brave, who are freaked out, and who’s bodies move through spaces and landscapes that don’t always fit.

Thanks for writing with me Hewitt!