My penultimate essay for the Kenyon Review blog continues the theme I’ve been exploring of late—what we hold onto, what we keep. In this mini-essay I explore postcards and epistolary friendships with writers Holly Wren Spaulding, Wendy Call, and Michael Martone. I’ve never lived near any of them and our friendships grew in part out of writing to each other. I have a lot more to say about postcards, and can imagine expanding this mini essay into something larger.
Though I didn’t write about the above image for the KR blog, Kundiman, an organization for Asian American poets and writers, has a postcard exchange for its fellows every April. The Bruce Lee postcard is one I picked up at the Kundiman table at AWP. Actually, I picked up several and have sent some to friends, one to my brother, and kept one for myself to remind me of this about writing and life. The importance of being fearless. I see the postcard I gave to my brother when I visit; he’s kept it pinned to a bulletin board in his office (he’s a Bruce Lee fan).
Postcards also make great writing prompts—I used this in the creative writing workshop I taught this week for teens (I read my essay at the instructor reading, too).
From my Kenyon Review essay:
A postcard arises from a quiet place, before picking up the pen—I think it’s about attention and intention, though there can be something breezy or even rushed, offhand about a postcard….Postcards are incomplete, imperfect, and often say something about one’s travel or daily life—they free us from the sense of having to write something extraordinary or profound. They are a first and only draft. For me, as a writer, that’s such a relief.…Read more here.
At my Diwali party in 2001 in Amherst, MA. Both Monica and I lived in Massachusetts for many years and went to graduate school there.
Two months ago, my dear friend Monica Gebell and I read together at Writers & Books, the local literary center in Rochester where I teach. We grew up together, have known each other since middle school, and have both been writing for a long time. Time goes by so quickly and already much has happened between then and now—so I’m especially grateful Monica wrote something about our reading. Read more here…
Stone sculpture on the beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Thinking about impermanence, beauty, and change this summer.
My reading, on August 21, 2014, dedicated to my friend and MFA grad school classmate, James Foley (1973-2014). The event took place at Roc Brewing Company as part of Writers & Books’ Get Lit Crawl (Rochester, NY). Your writing and life touched so many people, Jim. We will always remember you with the love and spirit you embodied. There is only love.
Get Lit Pub Crawl Photo Credit : Ivan Ramos
I loved offering a creative writing reading and workshop this week at School of the Arts with my old friend (and beloved SOTA alum), poet Willa Carroll. School of the Arts (or SOTA) is a fantastic magnet school in the city of Rochester. Although I first encountered Willa through her poetry when we were both ourselves high school students a million years ago (at neighboring schools) and we later lived in NYC (where Willa still lives), this was, unbelievably, our first time hearing each other read. She is a fierce and funny poet, with a command of language and sensitivity to the possibilities in words that I very much admire. Thank you to Friends of School of the Arts for supporting our visit and to Eileen Scardino and Marcy Gamzon for making it happen and hosting our visit.
NYC-based poet and performer Willa Carroll, leading a writing exercise after our reading on June 12, 2014.
This week was also the last day of school at the independent school where I teach; I think I am going to need to sleep for a week, as the kids say. I attended my first Harley graduation yesterday, just hours after our master class. What a hectic year it’s been and how grateful I am to have had opportunities to read and or write creatively with students at the University of Rochester, the College of Staten Island, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Harley School, Writers & Books, School of the Arts, and Pittsford Sutherland High School. Rochester rises to the top of the pile of places to live as a writer and serious reader.
Willa took this picture of me at the podium during our Master Class at SOTA on June 12, 2014.