Creative Arts and Healing
Dear friends and welcome guests --- My last entry had me anticipating Spring, and preparing to plant vegetables, and I was still wearing jeans and flannel shirts. No more! Now we are in the midst of grueling summer temperatures (in the high nineties with lots of humidity); my garden is sagging, the tomatoes almost gone, the basil hanging on, a few banana peppers and ikebana eggplants doing their best, and I'm about to head west to California for a two week adventure.

My brother Ron lives in Berkeley, and I haven't seen him since our dad died six years ago.
Tom and I will be staying in a pleasant hotel above a coffee house on the main drag near
the Berkeley campus (think restaurants, exotic boutiques, flower stalls, bakeries, cheese shops, etc), before we head north along the Pacific Ocean (long winding scenic coastal route) to Mendocino, a quaint (now upscale) artist/hippie town, next door to the state forest where we will be attending a Dances of Peace week-long camp. We will be sleeping in an old stone cabin built by the WPA in the 30's -- no heat, no electricity -- and did I mention it can get real COLD among the redwood trees? We're schlepping sleeping bags in a duffle on the plane, sweatshirts, chamois shirts, and other layers. When you've lived in Florida climes for 25 years, I believe the blood thins, and the cold is even colder (to the bone), so I am prepared for all eventualities.

The good news is that the archive I worked on for over a year -- compiling manuscripts into chapbooks under the Singing Bird Press label -- at the WEB DuBois Library at UMass/ Amherst, is up on the web now, and can be accessed at:

(Copy this link into your server. Once you have arrived and read the intro, click on Finding Aid to get to the collection itself. ) It is truly a relief and a joy to know that my writings will be safe, and eventually accessible to anyone around the world who has an internet connection, or who visits the archive (to actually hold my books in their hands). At this point i have not yet released the material to be retrievable electronically, but will muse a while longer on how I want this to be handled.

Which leads me to my next work: Prison Wisdom. I have returned to the women's prison in Tallahassee, after a year's hiatus as I worked on my archive. My current class just ended with the publication of a magical literary review (Imaginations Uncovered is the title). The creative writings of these women are stunning, poignant, articulate, sad, humorous, uplifting, and
courageous, and are a reminder that we are all working toward liberation, freeing ourselves not just from barbwire and the sameness of kkaki uniforms, but from all the constrictions of civilization and our own fears, obsessions, and doubts. Together, in this prison classroom, we have created a forcefield of positive energy, fueling our creativity and our self-regard, and the magazine reveals this alchemy. Much of what we have created will be channeled into my Prison Wisdom book -- prose and poetry (particularly Haiku), fact and fancy, the full gambit of the human condition, flowing through the power of the pen, and the muse that guides us.

This fall, I will be returning to the prison to start another class (new women), but also will offer a graduate class, for the individuals who are still in prison who have taken Lifestories
with me, and can now continue to deepen their writing practice. At the same time, I will be gathering the component parts to weave into an inspired and inspiring manuscript. My intention is to have Prison Wisdom available in every prison library, every public library, in criminal justice and literature classes, and any other organization or institution that could benefit from its powerful message: we are all mirrors to one another, part of the interdependent web of humanity,and we each have a voice of value to share. How potent and redeeming is that!

May summer bring you many excursions to lakes, mountains, rivers, oceans, prairies,
forests; may you enjoy sunrises and sunsets, starry nights, moonbeams illuminating
the landscape, sunshine and rain, train rides, bicycle rides, time to dance, praise,
hug, inhale the scent of flowers, of strong coffee or delicate cups of fragrant tea. May
you treasure the moments of connection with your fellow humans, and animals, and
great towering trees; may you read a bounty of books, and write your own stories, and poems, and share them, around a campfire, with a glass of wine, on screened porches, in hammocks, at the dinner table. Life is a gift and a mystery, always inviting us to discover and embrace the infinite dimensionality of our world.

Pausing is so wise
delighting in the richness
of what is here now



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