The Outrageous Guarantee
Sep14

The Outrageous Guarantee

  In The Q, the question was posed, “What am I free to do for myself and others because I don’t have to wait?” I thought a lot this summer about this question and what I don’t need permission to do, what I don’t need to wait for, as a creative woman. After returning from a summer writing conference, I decided to host a gathering of women in Austin, a small gathering. The idea started with this question from The Q and with another AROHO woman sharing an interest in attending the Texas Book Festival the last weekend of October. Then one or two other women mentioned interest in the same event, and I thought, “Why not make it a thing?” So, it’s a thing. I have, give or take, 14 women – some local and some from out of town – showing up in Austin the last weekend in October to read work, attend the festival, and, hopefully, build more community for each other. Kristi Crutchfield Cox will lead women through an art project, and ire’ne lara silva will be reading for us one morning. I’m excited to be hosting this gathering, and I must give a shout out to my next door neighbor. Among many things, she’s a painter and designer with an incredible yard that houses a large gazebo cloaked in red fabric, yes a red tent. I asked if she would be willing to let us meet there and if she might be willing to host a few writers. It was a big ask, but she generously said yes! It’s a small step, this gathering. The women who attend will make it what it is, as always happens when we come together, whether virtually or face-to-face. I’ll leave you with a photo from photographer Katrina Simpson that reminds me of the richness of possibility in not only where we come from but who we connect with in our creative communities. I also hope ire’ne lara silva’s words, from a keynote address on writing and community she recently gave in Dallas, will inspire and give you permission to do that thing you want to do, that thing you don’t need to wait for. Stay tuned the last weekend in October. We’ll be tweeting using #womenmakewaves! From me to...

Read More
Something Rising Beneath Me
Aug24

Something Rising Beneath Me

“And in me too the wave rises. It swells; it arches its back. I am aware once more of a new desire, something rising beneath me.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves   In response to Breena Clarke’s recent Waves on making space for ourselves and others and our ongoing invitation for shared dialogue, creative women around the world are submitting their words through The Q and participating in #womenmakewaves. While Nora Jane Child posed a poignant question on Twitter, Samantha Schinder and Sacha Rosel responded to questions in The Q about our deepest needs, creative selves, and our space within the world with powerful poems. We welcome you to read them in full below. We are aware once more, something is rising.       “My Deepest Need” Samantha Schinder   An immersion of words Trickling flow of conjugations stampeding down my limbs Onto paper like steam From the sauna of inner release. I cannot unstick myself Until the words are sweated out. Do they make a merry mess? Sometimes more so than others. But the process is still the same. The ritual of relieving The pent-up letters Dribbling down the pen Until a break, A breath of refreshment, of outside, As the words melt into place Or else evaporate into otherness. “Flowerseeker” Sacha Rosel   Writing is first waiting: here comes the qi emerging from the sky condensing into words blooming beyond my eye. Then it’s green sea of possibilities unchained, singing from my hands and bones, flooding the page. Flower neverending. “Women against the World” Samantha Schinder   Hammering constantly from all sides. Help                      You are not good enough.                 Help Us                            You are not pretty enough.                        us Fight.                                   You are not enough.                            Conquer Enough. How Do we Combat an onslaught Ragin’ at us from all sides? The defense           against a     Hammer                 is a shield  But is not                  a shield      Such                   a blunt       Ignorant               unwieldy      Object?                    Not  ...

Read More
Make Space for Ourselves
Aug14

Make Space for Ourselves

Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. I’ve always liked this idea and I think some of the best things in my life have unfolded in just this way. In response to the dialogue in The Q, I’ve pondered the question of how my creative identity gives me confidence to branch out and build space for others in my life and how serendipity and confidence have led me to co-found The Hobart Festival of Women Writers. The creation of what has come to be known as The Hobart Festival of Women Writers, a three-day event held annually in the small Western Catskills town of Hobart, New York since 2013 on the first weekend following Labor Day, unfolded from ideas that took root at the AROHO Retreats at Ghost Ranch. Namely, that it is vital to make a space for the celebration of women authors and that we’d have to make that space for ourselves. The opportunity to support the work of women writers in a meaningful i.e. useful way is one of the things I enjoy most about working on The Hobart Festival of Women Writers with my sister, Cheryl Clarke and her spouse Barbara Balliet and the others in our core group of volunteers in Hobart. And I’ve come to realize that, in addition to providing an opportunity to read and teach, archiving the writers’ work with slideshows, videos and blogs is an important part of supporting a platform dedicated to promoting women writers. We’re pleased to know that we’ve influenced others as well. Take a moment to browse through the books offered by our participating writers. As the Hobart Festival of Women Writers continues its growth and development, we imagine ways to make space for ourselves and move beyond boundaries. Won’t you come and join us? Yours in Sisterly Serendipity,...

Read More
We Assemble and Rise
Aug10

We Assemble and Rise

“The wave has tumbled me over, head over heels, scattering my possessions, leaving me to collect, to assemble, to head together, to summon my forces, rise and confront ….”   – Virginia Woolf, The Waves In response to our invitation for shared dialogue, creative women around the world are participating in #womenmakewaves. We are aware that Twitter is one venue of engagement among many, so we are grateful for your presence on this particular thread to comment, respond, and share women’s voices. This invitation will remain ongoing and inclusive. We are honor to share some recent posts here with you. Wave upon wave, we assemble and rise....

Read More
A Part of You and You and You
Jul13

A Part of You and You and You

We all draw different words from each other and are a part of each other. We are honored to share an excerpt of “Mother” by Carolyn Gall. We invite you to read her full work below. In the spirit of Carolyn’s call, we want to take a special opportunity to invite you to become a part of a shared dialogue. Comment, forward, or creatively respond to women’s words and art shared here in digital Waves on AROHO’s public dialogue thread via Twitter. Be sure to tag @aroomofherown and to make yourself seen by us and the community by using the hashtag campaign: #womenmakewaves Aligned with our shared purpose, we ask that responses “encourage and celebrate dialogue and art which springs from a source of resolute awareness.” Wave upon wave, we lift each other. Your presence is everything. “Mother” by Carolyn Gall   I’m from Eden, Adam and Eve Do not be deceived I’m from Mesopotamia I’m from Academia The deep forests decay From the ocean and cay When the planet was new And creatures were few. I came to partake of the splendor To become part of life as it grew I’ve been here forever Some call me mother, some Earth, I’m a part of you and you and...

Read More
We Beat Our Breasts and Hum
Jun29

We Beat Our Breasts and Hum

“We must pull ourselves up out of the chairs. We must find our coats. We must go.”  – Virginia Woolf, The Waves In the purl of news, we bring our hearts and minds to bear witness upon the events in our world, past and present, our own and others. Whether at home or on the borders, we recognize distinct experiences and our voices respond in letters and art, going in the direction we are pulled, whether by grief, love, or other human impetus. Women have submitted resonant work in The Q, and we are honored to share these compelling excerpts of “Beating Their Breasts” by Eva Lipton-Ormand and “The Humming” by Noel Canin. We invite you to read their full works below.       “Beating Their Breasts” by Eva Lipton-Ormand   Closer to the sternal notch but in proximity of the xiphoid process, sits the thymus. They say it is only active through childhood and then shrinks in puberty. It is where T-cells are produced; it is an endocrine gland; it aids immunity. It does not aid the immunity to mental/emotional pain, but since time immemorial, women have wailed and beaten their breasts, unconsciously bolstering themselves from despair and disease by expressing their grief and activating their immune systems. Ginny, stop, goddamnit, I can’t watch this another minute. My mother grabs my fist, tries to pry open the fingers. She starts with the index finger but by the time she has reached the pinkie, all the fingers are clenched once more. Like a mallet, the hand rhythmically descends on my sternum. Pain is physical. Pain is emotional. Pain is mental. Pain hurts. It sears, burns, grinds, punctures, stings, penetrates, wrenches; its jagged pieces of glass rhythmically stab deeper into the heart. Ginny, let me get you a cold washcloth for your eyes. They’re all puffy. Do you want something to drink? When’s the last time you ate? Ginny, Ginny look at me. I know this is hard but you have to take care of yourself now. My girlfriend Doro means well. She’s replaced my mother on the chair next to mine and is touching my arm, my shoulder, leaning in to me, trying to catch my gaze. I don’t know exactly when she showed up here. I don’t know who told her to come. Actually, I called her. I don’t know what time it is. I only feel this gaping hole inside. Earlier, at 11 a.m. my cell phone rang. Mrs. Virginia DeAngelo? Ms. Ms. DeAngelo? You’re Darien’s motha? God, I hate that nasal drawl. Yes. Ms. DeAngelo, this is officer Pete Graziano. We need you to come here...

Read More
Mend the Part of the World Within Our Reach
Jun15

Mend the Part of the World Within Our Reach

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” – Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés Para la traducción al español desplácese hacia abajo. In The Q, a question was posed for me, What am I free to do for myself and others because I don’t have to wait? I understand reciprocity is sometimes misconstrued as scorekeeping, but instead it is better understood as energetic resonance. What most resonates with energy you can meet? What lifts your energy? What clears a path two or more can walk together? I met Tiffany Papageorge in Colorado in 2014 at a retreat with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Four years later, she reached out and shared her obstacle: bringing her book to a language she did not speak and connecting with a community that often asked if her book was available in Spanish. Her obstacle resonated with my desire to do Spanish work with my husband and bring a bilingual book launch to The Bronx Book Fair. My husband and I helped her translate and launch her book on children and loss, My Yellow Balloon, in Spanish as Mi Globo Amarillo. This collaboration unleashed countless events, book sales, and TV interviews. Her act of sharing obstacles with me and my act of clearing a new path took on an energy and life of its own. At The Bronx Book Fair, I offered what I had learned as a creative woman as both a writer and teacher to the writers in my workshop. I asked them to plan their projects in full sight of obstacles because they are invitations to new possibilities. Share your obstacles in The Q. Join an artist or two and invite your obstacles for tea and biscuits or cafe con leche y pan tostado. Slowly we accept the invitation to see a new path for ourselves and for others where once there was only a wall. From me to you, de mi para ti, Melissa Coss Aquino   “Arregla la Parte de Nuestro Mundo a Nuestro Alcance” En The Q, se planteó una pregunta para mí: ¿Qué puedo hacer libremente por mí y por los demás, sin tener que esperar? Entiendo que la reciprocidad a veces se malinterpreta como intercambio de resultados, pero en realidad se entendería mejor como resonancia energética. ¿Qué más resuena con la energía que puedes palpar? ¿Qué levanta tu energía? ¿Cuándo se despeja un camino, dos o más pueden caminar juntos? Conocí a Tiffany Papageorge en Colorado en 2014 en un retiro con la Dra. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Nos...

Read More
Through Our Mothers
May31

Through Our Mothers

“We think back through our mothers if we are women.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929) On the heels of Mother’s Day, we want to honor all creative women, recognizing our stories are born from women before us, nurtured among us, and inherited by those who come after us. Amidst what we can do and hope to do for each other, we remember our collective need for validation remains largely nominal. Together, to that end, we seek first and foremost to end the isolation of women and embody what we can achieve together as mothers to ourselves and to each other, receiving and widely sharing each other, till no woman remains...

Read More
And in me too the wave rises
May07

And in me too the wave rises

“And in me too the wave rises.”—Virginia Woolf, The Waves Excerpts from our earliest digital Waves. To receive our bi-monthly Waves publication, share your email address with us.  

Read More
“making art is like blindly seeing…”
Apr26

“making art is like blindly seeing…”

“…the shape of what you don’t yet know.” —Teresita Fernandez

Read More
“sacrifice nothing to seemliness”
Apr10

“sacrifice nothing to seemliness”

All is rather rapt, simple, quick, effective—except for my blundering on at The Waves…Still I am not satisfied. I think there is something lacking. I sacrifice nothing to seemliness. I press to my centre. I don’t care if it all is scratched out. And there is something there. I incline now to try violent shots…shouldering my way ruthlessly—and then, if nothing comes of it—anyhow I have examined the possibilities.   —Rodmell—Boxing Day, 1930, A Writer’s Diary...

Read More
“my courage always rises”
Dec16

“my courage always rises”

  There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me. —Jane...

Read More
the reach of a poem
Dec10

the reach of a poem

“In Chinese time, it’s circular – it’s not even circular, it can go backwards! It can go backwards, it can go forward. It goes all over the place, it looks more like an infinity sign, like that. So there is a myth that poets have that my reader will come a thousand years from now. . . . Poem can also reach reader born 1,000 years before the poem. . . . An act of love I do this morning saves a life on a far future battlefield. And the surprising love I feel that saves my life comes from a person whose soul, somehow corresponding with my soul, was doing me a good deed 1,000 years ago.” —Maxine Hong Kingston, AROHO 2015 Waves...

Read More
a season of conscious waiting
Dec09

a season of conscious waiting

  “The absolutely wrong thing to attempt when we’ve lost focus is to rush about struggling to pack it all back together again. Rushing is not the thing to do…Sitting and rocking is the thing to do. Patience, peace, and rocking renew ideas. Just holding the idea and the patience to rock it are what some women might call a luxury. Wild Woman says it is a necessity.”   Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from Women Who Run With The Wolves No matter what holy days each of us celebrates, or not, I imagine that most of us share the experience of the scattering of our attentions as the wheel of the year turns. Days as we design them are dismantled, routines rearrange themselves and there seems to be not a thing in this world we can do to stop it. “You’re always trying to outwit ambush,” a best-beloved friend once said to me, “and it can’t be done.” We can’t get to our rooms, our desks, our pages. We are not wrong to care about our own pages the way we do. We need them. I don’t mean to say “we” out of turn, but I imagine that our need to do our work is one of the ways in which we are most like-minded. Myself, I started scheming back in July about how to outwit the holidays and keep my regular writing work week. Of course it hasn’t worked. Of course it’s easy to get all fretted up about that. As another friend told me, “The holidays are bigger. They always win.” But one of the most sane things I learned to do while I had my Gift of Freedom years, was to wait. Conscious waiting is the opposite of getting all fretted up, but it is not the opposite of work—it is a natural and inevitable part of it. It is part of the cycle of the work, which like everything else shapes itself according to the laws of nature. Cycles of increase and decrease, of forward motion and pause, of holding on and letting go—all these come to us and our work, whether we see them in terms of cycle or not. But how much easier they are to embrace and to let go when we know that the wheel brings it all back around. Those same cycles come to us in our solitary work on the page, and in our community work. As the new year comes in, AROHO is humming in the cocoon, re-imagining and re-shaping itself toward the goal of ever-widening the conversation and amplifying the voices of creative women. We are doing it,...

Read More
“One of the few things I know about writing”
Nov04

“One of the few things I know about writing”

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” —Annie Dillard, The Writing...

Read More
“i had no model”
Nov03

“i had no model”

“…come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.” Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me”...

Read More
“no woman has ever written enough”
Jun15

“no woman has ever written enough”

“No black woman writer in this culture can write ‘too much.’ Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’… No woman has ever written enough.” –bell...

Read More
“keep the channel open”
Jun15

“keep the channel open”

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Martha...

Read More
explore “places rough to reach”
Jun07

explore “places rough to reach”

“Here is some sun. Some. Now off into the places rough to reach. Though dry, though drowsy, all unwillingly a-wobble, into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo. Your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done.” —Gwendolyn Brooks, “To the...

Read More
embrace what is daunting
May27

embrace what is daunting

“I still remember the shudder when I sensed a knowing as pure as fact—that I might only truly become my fullest self if I explored and stayed open to moving through daunting terrain…I wanted to explore in writing what I was beginning to sense about life—that discoveries, innovations, and creative endeavors often, perhaps even only, come from uncommon ground. In hindsight, I realize that I was focused on improbable rises because I was beginning to live with the gift of what it means to be underestimated…A division line positions creativity, innovation and discoveries as a separate, even elite, category of human endeavor: chosen, lived out by a few. Yet our stories challenge this separation. If we each have the capacity to convert the excruciating into an advantage, it is because this creative process is crucial for pathmaking of all kinds…Partial ideas do exist—resilience, reinvention, and grit—but there’s no one word to describe the passing yet vital, constant truth that just when it looks like winter, it is spring.” Sarah Lewis, The Rise Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for...

Read More