Jessica Reidy & Rosebud Ben-Oni reading for Poor Mouth Poetry 11/11

An Beal Bocht

An Beal Bocht

I’m so excited to be reading alongside Rosebud Ben-Oni for Poor Mouth Poetry at An Beal Bocht in the Bronx, and you can read with us! There’s an open mic sign-up after our reading, first-come, first-serve. So whether you want to kick-back and listen to some poems, or get up on stage yourself, we would really love to see you there. The event starts at 8 PM on Wednesday November 11th.

Bios~

Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a graduate of the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater in NYC. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013) and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, Puerto del Sol, among others. She blogs at The Kenyon Review. Find her Facebook, Twitter and at 7TrainLove.org

Jessica Reidy worked on her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and holds a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review, and other journals. She’s Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats, Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, and works as an adjunct professor and a freelance editor and writer. She also teaches yoga and works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. Visit her online atwww.jessicareidy.com.

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What is Literary Activism? A chorus of voices answers in The Poetry Foundation

Activism-quote-by-Alice-WalkerAmy King, WNBA Award Winner, member of VIDA Executive Committee, and Women’s National Book Award winner, has now asked us all “What is Literary Activism?” and then answered it for the Poetry Foundation, but the coolest thing in the world about Amy is that she takes all of her actions seriously. Her angle is that literary activism is about inclusivity and visibility. So what does she do? She asks a diverse array of writers to answer the question along with her. I am so honored to be among them talking about the necessity of Romani literary activism, because as far as I’m concerned, the very act of writing is activism  for Roma. So read Amy, and read Samiya Bashir, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Ana Božičević, Emily Brandt, Ken Chen, Melissa Febos, Suzi F. Garcia, Eunsong Kim, Jason Koo, Lynn Melnick, Shane McCrae, Laura Mullen, Héctor Ramírez, Metta Sáma, Melissa Studdard, and Arisa White!

Write your activism, baby! Opre Roma!

fist

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”

I #VIDACount!

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Hey all you supporters of women in the literary arts, here’s a project. Make yourself a homemade “I Count” sign, get someone to take a picture of you holding it up (or take it yourself like I did and NEVER NEED ANYONE) and post it to your blog, your Facebook page, my Facebook page, VIDA’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VIDAlit, your Twitter account, VIDA’s Twitter account @vida_lit…. We want to let everyone know the Vida Count is coming soon. Don’t forget to put#VIDACount on it!

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Check out http://www.vidaweb.org/ for more information.  

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