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I just got CJ Hauser’s book, The From-Aways, and I already love it!

I just got CJ Hauser's book, The From-Aways, and I already love it!

It’s my badass, literary summer beach-read and it’s so good! The first line: “I have two lobsters in my bathtub and I’m not sure I can kill them.” And it just gets better. To celebrate, I’m wearing mermaid green sparkly Stila eye-shadow and my floppy sun hat from the CWW Yoga & Writing Retreat’s trip to the Clignancourt Flea Market in Paris (which makes me think of ‘Klingon Court,’ a court for Klingons, every time). Y’all gotta read this book. Click on the pic to purchase via Amazon

Here’s this summer’s retreat link– apply by June 15th! https://cww.submittable.com/submit/26081

Cure for writer’s block: The Southeast Review Writer’s Regimen (starts June 1st!)

The hardest thing about writing is keeping going– I get all my self-doubt and feelings in a tangle and suddenly I’m paralyzed. If this doesn’t happen to you, then you either have defeated your ego or your ego is so huge and dense that nothing can penetrate it. Or another reason. Whatever the root of your writer’s block, it helps to have prompts. (It also helps to do another activity, like yoga, to get you going). The Southeast Review does this fantastic thing called 30-Day Writer’s Regimen and the next cycle starts June 1st. Here’s a description from the website–

Sign up for The Southeast Review Writing Regimen and you will get the following:

 

  • daily writing prompts, applicable for any genre, emailed directly to you for 30 DAYS! Use these to write a poem a day for 30 days, to create 30 short-short stories, or to give flesh to stories, personal essays, novels, and memoirs
  • daily reading-writing exercise, where we inspire you with a short passage from the books we’re reading and get you started writing something of your own
  • Riff Word of the Day, a Podcast of the Day from an editor, writer, or poet, and a Quote of the Day from a famous writer on writing
  • Flashback Bonus Craft Talks, where, as a little something extra, we repeat an earlier regimen’s craft talks from more writing heavyweights
  • weekly messages from established poets and writers—including tips and warnings on both the craft and the business of writing
  • FREE copy of a current or classic back issue of The Southeast Review, featuring interviews, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction that will knock your socks off!
  • a chance to have your work published on our site.
  • access to our online literary companion—www.southeastreview.org—for interviews with up-and-coming and established poets, fiction writers, and memoirists, podcasts of readings from the Warehouse Reading Series, including such writers as Ann Patchett, Jennifer Knox, Matthew Zapruder, Barry Hannah, . . . as well as essays on the reading life of writers, book picks, web picks, and much more . . .

All of this for just $15.00. That’s a mere 50 cents per day! Join us for a month and walk away with a new body of work! 

It’s pretty sweet– I use the regimens to teach, I buy regimens as gifts for writer friends, and I use them myself. If you can’t swing a retreat, it’s a good way to make your own retreat at home. Think about it, but not for too long because June is upon us! http://southeastreview.org/30-day-writers-regimen/

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Support Scholarships for CWW Yoga & Writing Retreat in Picardy, France (Kickstarter!)

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

2013-07-25 09.23.10 Cambridge Writer’s Workshop is excited to announce that we are returning to Château de Verderonne from August 7-20, 2014. This trip is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and we’ve launched a Kickstarter Campaign to make the trip as accessible and memorable as possible for our participants.  From now until July 3rd, you can help back the trip and help us reach our goal of $5,000. The breakdown of this is simple: $3,000 to help fund scholarships for students and people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds; $1,000 for in-country transportation fees including van rentals, train tickets, and hiring drivers for cultural trips; and $1,000 for instructor fees and overhead charges.

If you decide to contribute to the Kickstarter, CWW has lined up some great incentives for backers. The minimum donation is $1, and the more that’s donated, the better the rewards. $25 gets the backer yearly…

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Today, Roma celebrate the Goddess-Saint Kali Sara

St. Sarah, Kali Sara, Sara Kali, Sara-la-Kali, Sati-Sara, The Black Madonna, The Black Mother… many names for one Goddess-Saint sacred to Roma all over the world. Today is her festival– she is the Goddess of Fate, good fortune, fertility, and protection– and Roma honor her in pilgrimage, by worshiping her statue, through dance and community… so many ways, so many incarnations of the goddess who accompanied the Roma all the way from India.

Take a look at these articles below for more information about the Goddess-Saint, Romanipen/Romani religion/spirituality, and her celebration. Be sure to click the links for the whole articles.

The Romani Goddess-Saint Sara Kali

The Romani Goddess-Saint Sara Kali

 

“Until recently it was widely believed that this worship of Kali Sara, the Romani Black Madonna or Goddess was unique to Les Saintes Maries de La Mer. My own recent research among Romani refugees from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and in countries of the Balkans has uncovered the little-known fact that other Black Virgins are worshipped by Roma in central/eastern Europe and that Roma from these countries perform similar rituals. These rituals include laying flowers at the feet of the statue, adorning the statue with clothing of the sick hoping for cures, placing requests to the statue, and lighting candles to the female divinity. To the Roma, Kali Sara is the Protectress who will cure sickness, bring good luck and fertility and grant success in business ventures.
The Romani ceremony at Les Saintes Maries, as elsewhere, consists of carrying the statue on a platform strewn with flowers (4) into the closest body of water such as a sea, lake, flowing river or even a large pond of clear water. The platform is then lowered to touch the water while the crowd throws flowers into the water. Indian scholars such as Dr. Weer Rishi (5) and others who have witnessed this Romani ceremony, as well as Western observers who are familiar with Hindu religious customs have identified this ceremony with the Durga Poojaof India. In Romani, Kali Sara means Black Sara and in India, the Goddess Kali is known as Kali/Durga/Sara. Like the Hindus, the Roma practice shaktism, the worship of Goddesses. In other words, the Roma who attend the pilgrimage to Les Saintes Maries in France and in other related ceremonies elsewhere honouring black female divinities, are in fact continuing to worship Kali/Durga/Sara their original Goddess in India.

According to the Durgasaptashati (seven hundred verses in the worship of Goddess Durga and her various forms), chapter 5, verse 12, which mentions Sara, contains the following: “Salute to Durga, Durgapara, (Deliver of all difficulties), Sara, (Embodiment of everything par-excellent), Cause of everything, Krishna and Dhurma (Evaporated form in smoke).” Other references in this ancient Hindu scripture also confirm that Sara is one and the same with the Indian goddess Durga who is also another aspect of Kali, the consort of Shiva.” —“THE ROMANI GODDESS KALI SARA” by RONALD LEE

The Indian Goddess Kali

The Indian Goddess Kali

 

Some Romani groups in Europe today appear to maintain elements of Shaktism or goddess-worship; the Rajputs worshipped the warrior-goddess Parvati, another name for the female deity Sati-Sara, who is Saint Sarah, the Romani Goddess of Fate. That she forms part of the yearly pilgrimage to La Camargue at Stes. Maries de la Mer in the south of France is of particular significance; here she is carried into the sea just as she is carried into the waters of the Ganges each December in India. Both Sati-Sara and St. Sarah wear a crown, both are also called Kali, and both have shining faces painted black.  Sati-Sara is a consort of the god Ðiva, and is known by many other names, Bhadrakali, Uma, Durga and Syamaamong them.” —

“ROMANI (‘GYPSY’) RELIGION” by Ian Hancock

Sara, toi la sainte patronne des voyageurs et gitans du monde entier,
tu as vécu en ce lieu des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Tu es venue d’un lointain pays au-delà des mers.
J’aime venir te retrouver ici, te dire tout ce que j’ai dans le Cœur,
te confier mes peines et mes joies.
Je te prie pour tous les membres de ma famille et tous mes amis.
Sara, veille sur moi!

(Sara, patron saint of travelers and gypsies the world over, you who lived in this region of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You came from a far-away country from across the seas. I love to come and find you here, to tell you all that I have in my heart and in you confide my sorrows and joys. I pray to you for everyone in my family and all my friends. Sara, come to me!) —Saint Sara-la-Kali: A Sister to Kali Maa

Saint Sarah

Saint Sarah

“Gypsy” Jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie talks to Quail Bell Magazine

 

 

 

 

I want my audience to feel that they are constantly traveling with their ears.” —Tatiana Eva-Marie

Read the interview “Tatiana Eva-Marie on the harmonious fusion of Romani ‘Gypsy’ music” in Quail Bell Magazine and find out what she has to say about Romani music and representation, how her multicultural heritage shapes her art, growing up in theatres and concert halls all over Europe, the Music Explorer competition/documentary (click the heart to vote for her!), and her life in the Avalon Jazz Band in New York City. You can also listen to some beautiful songs from the competition. Opre Roma!

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/interview-jazz-singer-tatiana-eva-marie

 

 

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Tatiana Eva-Marie singing with the Avalon Jazz Band

The From-Aways: a novel by CJ Hauser debuts on May 20th– get your copy!

CJ Hauser‘s debut novel is already glittering with advance praise— this is a book of substance and small town New England intrigue (no light, fluffy ‘beach-read’), so as you can imagine, I’m on tenterhooks waiting for my copy to arrive. I happen to know the lovely and brilliant CJ and know that she’s a damn marvelous writer (and winner of McSweeny’s Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award) so I feel confident in saying that her book should be at the top of your summer reading list. If you’re in New York or New England, this month, catch her on her book tour!

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Some advance praise

“CJ Hauser’s debut novel, The From-Aways, is as charming, salty and fresh as its setting in small-town Maine. Through her spunky heroines, Leah and Quinn, who have both come to Maine to find roots, Hauser tells an affecting story about lobsters, loyalty and love.”

— Elliott Holt

author of You Are One of Them

∞ 

The From-Aways is populated by twenty-somethings running from and in search of family, by people passionately in pursuit of home. CJ Hauser has written a wise, lovely, luminous novel about love and work and leaving New York.  It will make you want to get out your lobster pot and set forth for the coast of Maine.”

–Joshua Henkin

author of The World Without You

∞ 

“In The From-Aways CJ Hauser introduces us to Menamon, Maine, a town of wisecracking fisherman, activist waitresses, and secret fathers, with such deftness we immediately know and care for it like locals. At its heart, The From-Aways is the story of a hesitant friendship between Quinn, a Bernstein looking for her Woodward, and Leah, a newcomer to Menamon and her marriage to one of its prodigal sons.  These compelling, unlikely women rub the sorry states of their lives together to ignite a breathless chain of events that whips clean through to an explosive conclusion that resonated with me for days.  I loved spending time in Menamon, and was sorry when I had to go.”

— Marie-Helene Bertino

author of Safe As Houses and 2 AM at The Cat’s Pajamas

 Go here for more praise and a glowing review from Kirkus Reviews: http://cjhauser.squarespace.com/praise-for-the-from-aways/

You can find The From-Aways on Amazon or on in any good bookstore. Check your local bookstores– small and local pairs best with this novel. 

 

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Image Source: lobsterlandtheblog.blogspot.com. This lobster says “BUY IT! READ IT! DO IT!”

The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

If you’re an artist or writer and you’re feeling a little tapped out, check out this Quail Bell Magazine essay/interview “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop” about the benefits of practicing yoga alongside your writing practice and the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, FranceAlthough the CWW has marked the retreat application deadline as May 15th, admissions are rolling until filled and there are still a few spaces. Apply A.S.A.P.

 

Elissa doing yoga in front of the Château de Verderonne, Image source: Quail Bell Magazine

Elissa doing yoga in front of the Château de Verderonne, Image source: Quail Bell Magazine

Some quotes from “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing“–

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller Series, argues that ritual is the key to creating art. In From Where You Dream: the process of writing fiction, he explains that you must prepare for writing by entering a trance and focusing on the breath in a quiet space, much like the centering meditation of a yoga class. Once you’re there and centered, you must stay present with sensation and allow yourself to create directly and organically from that “dream space.” Like in yoga, you set an intention to stay open to all experience and at the same time, remain unattached to ideas, hence the popular mantra, “I am not my mind.” Butler writes that the best art comes from this “moment to moment sensual experience,” and “non-art” is full of summarized or intellectualized reported experience. 

Those “moment to moment sensory experience[s]” are much more nuanced than you’d think—all the available senses are involved. In my Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, I learned that the body holds memories, a phenomenon addressed in the study of somatics, a branch of psychology that examines the mind-body connection. In certain poses, you may feel spontaneously happy, sad, angry, frightened, blissful—you may be flooded with memories, sensations, and epiphanies. You may weep or laugh without knowing why (or knowing all too well why). Stay with present if you can: breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow (or BRFWA). Your body is releasing trapped energy, memories, and emotions—parts of your past that you have been carrying unconsciously, perhaps as tension, shortness of breath, pain, or anxiety. What does the experience feel like, smell like, look like, sound like, and taste like? The information you need to have a cathartic experience is the same information you need to create one on the page. Butler argues that in order to make art, we have to dive into the unconscious mind, confront whatever pain dwells there, and use that intense awareness to write from the “white hot center.” This is just another way to access the unconscious.

 

The renovated stables

The renovated stables

Jessica: What are some of your favorite yoga poses, breathing exercises, and/or meditations for stimulating (or sustaining) creativity?

Elissa: To increase creativity and flow, hip-openers like Pigeon pose and Lizard pose (Uttan Pristhasana) are my favorite. When you release tension in your hips, you also release the emotions that come bubbling up. The hips and pelvis are related to the Svadisthana chakra and the water element which governs the area of creation and creativity. These postures help clear writer’s block by encouraging creative energy to flow without over-efforting.

Also, Nadi Shodana pranayama (also called alternate nostril breathing) is a wonderful breathing technique to begin or complete your practice and is appropriate for anyone. It stimulates a daydream-like state, where our senses draw in (called pratyahara) and we can disengage from the external world. It helps us develop the focus and concentration needed in meditation. I think any meditation that works for you is excellent. Meditation is the key to open the mind to inspired creative thought. It brings you back to yourself, to moments of truth, without mind chatter, self-criticism and self-consciousness.

 

I'm enjoying yoga with Elissa

I’m enjoying yoga with Elissa

Jessica: How does community support your yoga practice and/or artistic practice? 

Norma: The image of the solitary writer is deeply rooted in the romanticized myth of the lone, genius writer. In truth, most great writers were part of communities comprised of other writers, intellectuals, and artists that inspired each other. Many great literary movements and unforgettable manifestos came out of the collaboration of such communities of writers….In addition to encouragement, support, and critical feedback, I think one of the most powerful things a community can offer a writer is accountability. If you know that people are counting on you, then you are more likely to follow through. Whether your goals are short term or long term, a community can hold you to your word. 

Of course, the same principles apply to a community supporting one’s yoga practice.

For the rest of the essay/interview: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/essay-the-symbiotic-magic-of-yoga-and-writing

Click here for more details

Applications rolling till filled

If you want to read more about the importance of cultivating a community, check out Rita and Norma’s interview with VIDA & HERKIND “Community as Catharsis: A Conversation with Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai”