Tag Archives: women writing

Finding Your Poetic Voice

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IMG_4312.PNGPlease join us for our Spring Series as we help you Find Your Poetic Voice here at Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville.

In this series, we’ll explore how poetry and poetic techniques can enrich your writing, infusing it with new ideas and themes…whether you write actual poems or just get more poetic in your daily writing practice. We’ll look at a selection of rich, juicy poems and see how they might inspire our creative process.

Our guest poet (from afar) will be Alexa Mergen, poet, journalist, teacher, and yoga practitioner. You’ll have a chance to meet her when she visits Jacksonville April 21-23, all the way from Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. She will consult with us on our curriculum.

The Spring Series meets weekly on Wednesday nights for 12 weeks, from January 25 through April 12, 2017.

WHEN: starting January 25, 2016, 6:30-9 p.m., through April 12.
WHERE: Riverside (1610 Osceola Street, 32204)
CLASS SIZE: Limited to 10 spaces.
FEE: $300 for the series (non-refundable unless cancelled two weeks before class); deposit of $75, balance due by first class.
REGISTER:  You can register right here!  Spaces are limited.

Curious but want a closer look first?  Please attend our Sampler on January 18 at 6 p.m. It’s a great way to find out what we’re all about!  Just register right here.  We’d love to have you.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to join in. Come by and learn more about the amazing process used by thousands of women across the country to express their authentic selves through writing and community-building. We’ll use prompts, poetry and prose to practice many different writing techniques.

“A circle of women may be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, Dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love great. You will be changed. The very fabric of your Being will be altered by this. If you allow it. Please, allow it.” — Unknown

Join Us for Our Public ReadAround!

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img_3075It’s stories women need. Stories give us hope, a little guidance,
and a lot of bravery.
Sue Monk Kidd

Public ReadAround

Please join us as we broaden our circle to include our women friends, colleagues, and family  members. Once each semester, class members of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville,  believing that “writing is not a performance, but a generosity” invite you to hear what we’ve been writing. Come enjoy an afternoon of delectable stories, poems, music, and refreshments.

What: Public ReadAround
When: Sunday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m.
Where: Unity Plaza Community Room, 220 Riverside Avenue
Register: Register here

“Story creates an atmosphere in which truth becomes discernible as pattern.
When truth is told through the imaginative patterns of stories and poems,
we have a chance to be caught up and rewoven
into truth’s own designs.”
—Parker Palmer

Next Sampler Class

What: Finding Your Poetic Voice
When: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Unity Plaza Community Room, 220 Riverside Avenue
Register: Register here

Come spend a Wednesday evening in the company of interesting women in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. All are welcome. No writing experience necessary.

Read our Latest Newsletter

You can find out more about what we’re doing right here!

Writing + Everything = Good

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IMG_5870We’ve had so much fun this spring celebrating this beautiful time of year with writing combined with most everything else (collage, poetry, hiking) to create powerful experiences for women (and a few men) writers.

Just happened: Our annual Write + Hike, which included a potluck to make this a Write + Hike + Eat at Down to Earth Farm on the westside of Jacksonville.  Eighteen writers gathered on this beautiful organic farm run by Brian Lapinski, where we were treated to a farm tour including turkeys, chickens, pigs, and of course, rows upon rows of beautiful organic vegetables and flowers.

After a fascinating tour, we gathered in the woods for a special circle to learn techniques for writing in nature and on our summer travels, using all our senses.  We began with an edible flower (nasturtium), a Tibetan bell, and a painted rock, and conjured up memories from showering with free-roaming pigs to eating a first oyster.  We finished up with a delicious potluck and were recharged to go out into the world again.  Here’s a short video and a few pictures just to show how delightful it all was.  Thanks to everyone who attended and to Brian for hosting.

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New Writing Season Begins!

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“What you seek is seeking you.”
— Rumi

NEW YEAR’S POEM
i am running into a new year

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even forty-six but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

                       —Lucille Clifton

WRITING PROMPT: I am running into a new year and…

Just a few spots left for Spring Classes!

We All Have A Dream
What’s your writing dream? Perhaps our Spring Series will help you realize it. We still have a few spots left for the series starting Wednesday, January 20! And Art + Soul starts Jan. 30!

“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories-of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”
― Natalie Goldberg,
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Register here.

 

Support our ‘Beloved Community’

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1794571_405495376278257_7756953264744044148_nDo join us! It’s our twice-annual Public ReadAround, in which the women writers from this past semester choose one piece to read out loud to the larger community.  Friends, family, and all other interested folks are cordially invited to join us as we hear the women raise their voices and tell their stories, in the brand new community room at Unity Plaza!  The ReadAround will run from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.  Register here (on Meetup) or here (on EventBrite).

A Silent Auction will support our Scholarship Fund to sponsor a seat in our regular circles or our outreach programs.  Currently we are offering writing circles to female inmates at the Community Transition Center, among other programs.  Here’s a small sample of what they are writing about:

When Have You Loved Wide Open?

When I had my two sons, A. and D., is when I learned to truly love wide open. Holding them in my arms after they were born has been the two proudest moments in my life. I grabbed onto them and never wanted to let go. They are the most precious things in my life. No matter where life may take them, I will always be proud of them and love them. Children are a blessing from God. I love them unconditionally and nothing could change that. If we only get to love wide open once in our life, we should feel blessed to have had that chance. It takes a lot for me to trust and to love someone, but with my boys it came naturally. It’s a love like I’ve never known before. A love that comes so easily. A love that is so pure and true. I couldn’t ask for a better gift than a child’s love: The way they look up at you and smile, or their little hands being held up in the air for you to pick them up and hold them, or a simple “Mommy, I love you.” I remember rocking my boys to sleep until they were 4 years old. I never wanted to put them to bed. I wanted to hold them all night. They may be 19 and 21 now, but they are still my babies. And I’ll never let go. They are my reasons for living and what keeps me going. I thank God for them every day. They are my two most precious gifts in life.

—T.F.,  based on a prompt from Marge Piercy’s poem, “To Have Without Holding”

We’ll hear more stories like these, plus we’ll be able to peek at the Collage Books assembled by participants in our Art + Soul Series. All semester, we’ve been writing to the theme of “Cultivating our Inner Garden,” and the resulting words and artwork have been both beautiful and inspiring.

Do join us to support these writers and perhaps to consider how you might want to become part of what Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as our “beloved community.”

To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch ; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

— Marge Piercy

Circling Up at Women Writing for (a) Change: New Classes, Fall Fun

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Hello, Women Writers and Friends!
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Happy Labor Day!  With school back in session and fall right around the corner, we’re planning exciting things here at Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville!
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New Classes this Fall

draft_lens17279251module145724101photo_1294526004shape-collage-onlineFirst of all, I’m SO excited that, due to the great response we’ve had to our Spring and Fall Series, I’m adding two new classes this fall:  “Writing with Art + Soul,” and “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape.” These classes are based on classes currently running at the Cincinnati School, so I know they will be wildly successful.

Here’s the scoop.  “Writing with Art + Soul,” is a 6-class series combining collage plus writing (inspired by the SoulCollage® process). Or, just want to “drop in” sometime?  You can sign up for the fast-paced, one-hour  drop-in “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape” classes. You’ll get your writing whipped into shape in no time! Classes are on alternate Fridays over lunch. Check out our Meetup site for all the details and to register.

In the meantime, we just had our Fall Sampler last week, with a full class of 13 wonderful women writers.  See the photos here:  FB.  We had a great session.  And, we’ll be cranking up with our Fall Series: The Heroines Journey, starting September 10.  (We’re full now, but, you can sign up for the waiting list.)

Circle Up to Celebrate Women!

10612784_544092995719915_7456304977966831478_nWe’ve been out and about, celebrating women’s voices.  In fact, seven of us Women Writers attended The Circle at the Alhambra on Monday, August 25.  This special presentation, brought to Jacksonville as a benefit for Generation W, focuses on how a group of women circled up to support each other.  That’s right up our alley!  It was great.  See the photos on FB here.
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We were also well-represented at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville’s 19th Annual Celebration Gala on August 22, with five Women Writers attending to support the important work of the Center: Improving the lives of women here in Jacksonville.  Check new photos on FB. Michelle Deluca, Meg Rohal, Jody Kamens, Cheryl Anthony and myself were there.
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Outreach Efforts: The Circle is Spreading! 

Women Renewed
We’re excited to be back at the Women’s Center this fall to facilitate more writing circles through the Women Renewed program, serving formerly incarcerated women who are trying to find employment on the outside.  A shout-out goes to Phenessa Harris, Gillian Ticehurst, Carrie Fuentes and Kenyatta for supporting these circles at the Women’s Center.  They are doing good work!
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Policy Center for Girls
We’re also pleased we’ll be conducting a circle for the Girls Council of the Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center for Girls in September.  The Girls Council members, selected from photo-4various agencies around the city, will participate in a writing circle as well as learn how Conscious Feminine Leadership principles can apply to their work together.  The Girl’s Council is a leadership group empowering girls here in Jacksonville.
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Incarcerated Women
Last week I also met with Nancy Laughter at the Community Transition Center (for the downtown jail) to see how our writing circles and other women’s support groups I’m connected to may be able to enhance programs they are currently offering inside.  I am hopeful I can bring new resources to that community.
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Business Communicators
On the business side, I met recently with Cynthia Weiss in the Public Relations office at The Mayo Clinic, and we discussed workshop opportunities for the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, including a class called “Writing as a Tool of Conscious Leadership” (working title).  I love it!  I plan to start working on that curriculum ASAP!
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Women’s Services Coalition
On August 26, I attended “Trapped in the Triangle” at the WJCT Community Room. This event was sponsored by the Women’s Services Coalition of Northeast Florida, (promo story starts at 27:30) and focuses on how addiction, mental health and abuse manifests in our community of women.  I’m fired up after hearing these presentations!  BTW, one of the panelists was Cheryl Anthony, a member of our writing community.
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Join the Circle!

WeCanDoItPoster1OK.  I must stop now.
Hope I see you at the Fall Series or one of the new classes this fall.
You can register here now:  “Writing with Art + Soul,” and “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape”
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As I said to my daughter the other night — right before she started her new classes as a sophomore at FSU: “It’s a new page, new chapter.”
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I’m looking forward to experiencing it with you, here in the growing community of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville.

She preached good posture

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‘Heard last night’ at the Women’s Center

Woman Renewed collage project

Women Renewed collage project

I’ve held several circles at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville so far this summer for the Women Renewed program participants.  These are formerly incarcerated women who are finding hope and new life through this program, which gives them coping skills and  employment opportunities.

One thing I’ve learned from this work is, for women to stay out of jail, they need three things: a job, support, and their GED.  The Women’s Center helps them with all three. Thank you, to those of you who have contributed to the fund that allows me to do this work with them, which I hope is giving them additional skills of self-awareness to help them make this transition.

Our theme for this series is, The Heroine’s Journey, based on the book by the same name. It’s about our spiritual journey as we move away from our mothers and away from our feminine self, experience pain and suffering as a result, and then come back Home again.

I’m struck, when I hold the circle, by how quickly they “get it.”  That they notice, and appreciate, the sacredness of the circle, and quickly settle into it.

Below are two found poems they agreed I could publish.

The first is to the prompt, “What do I want to keep that my mother (or grandmother) passed on to me?”

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She Preached Good Posture

She preached good posture.
I can’t let her go.

She sewed my cheerleading outfit.
I can’t let her go.

Being complete is to be whole.
I can’t let her go.

I am needed. I have a job to do.
I can’t let her go.

The love my mother had.
I can’t let her go.

The long suffering my mother endured.
I can’t let her go.

The ability to know when to be a woman.
I can’t let her go.

She had a very kind heart.
I can’t let her go.

I lost the mom I once knew.
I can’t let her go.

I was fortunate to have a second mother.
I can’t let her go.

I can’t separate myself from my mother. I’m her baby.
I can’t let her go.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, May 27, 2014

Last week, we read the Poem, She Let Go, by Rev Rose Safire.  Read the full poem here. Then we wrote to the prompt, “What do I want to let go of?”

Here’s what I heard:

New Page, New Journey

New page, new journey.
No, no, no, not a new chapter, a new book of life.

Can’t stop, won’t stop.
You can feel that breeze again.

I can see the moon and the stars at night.
I have let that day go.

I’m surprised I have the patience for this.
I won’t give up for anything.

I’m not in this room right now.
The anxiety of the feeling that I may be violated.

I know that God has me.
Trouble is so easy to get into, and so difficult to get out of.

Letting go is not an easy thing to do.
Sometimes you gotta lose to win again.

You gotta take a leap of faith;
Listen to your inner self.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, June 2, 2014