Catch These Voices and Visions

Register now! VoiceCatcher, Toastmasters and the Oregon Writers Colony have teamed up to offer a workshop at Stumptown on how to polish your public reading skills. Many of the other conference offerings have no charge for admission. Stop by VoiceCatchers’ table while you are there! Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in NE Portland, Oregon. This is the Oregon Writers Colony’s second Stumptown.

   * * * 

Jackie Shannon-Hollis

Jackie Shannon-Hollis

Plonk is a new Wednesday night reading series at Corkscrew Wine Bar, 1655 SE Bybee, Portland, Oregon. VoiceCatcher editor Michelle Fredette organizes the series. The events are 7:00 p.m. Free admission and open to the public. The line-ups of readers in the coming months include some from VoiceCatcher:

Sept. 2  Nikki Schulak and Jackie Shannon-Hollis
Oct. 7  Joanna Rose with writers of the Pinewood Table
Dec. 2  Liz Prato

   * * * 

Barbara E. Berger

Barbara E. Berger

Polish your skills as a presenter and public reader through the Toastmasters program. Unique among Toastmasters clubs, the Vancouver Thrill of the Quill club caters to writers. VoiceCatcher Barbara E. Berger invites you to come to a meeting, and consider forming a satellite club with her in Portland (contact her). Thrill of the Quill meets the first Saturday of each month (check their website calendar for exceptions, such as the 2015 Labor Day weekend). All are welcome to attend; no admission charge.

Thrill of the Quill Toastmasters Club
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, 9:30–11:00 a.m. (new date)
Courtyard Village
4555 NE 66th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98661
360-606-9306

*  *  *

Meghana Mysore

Meghana Mysore

A Story’s Landscape: Writing Nature Poetry. Join Meghana Mysore, a VoiceCatcher Young Voices author and intern, and one of Portland’s youth poet ambassadors. Write about the bird’s infinite song, the whistle of the trees, the quiet murmur of the breeze. Learn about writing creatively and seeking inspiration from the world surrounding you. Follow in the footsteps of nature poet Front and find, among the trees, the road less traveled. Find a release through words and write in a supportive environment. All levels of experience are welcome.

Each Wednesday from Sept. 16–Oct. 21, 2015, 3:15–4:15 p.m.
Lake Oswego Adult Community Center for address, fees and registration.

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Flyer Pulse Sept 10Pulse: A VoiceCatcher Benefit. Join VoiceCatcher editor and contributor Claudia Savage of “Thick in the Throat, Honey” (formerly THrum) for a sensual night of storytelling, poetry and music. Featuring stories by VoiceCatchers Jennifer Foreman and Tanya Jarvik.

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
The Waypost
3120 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227
$5-$15 suggested donation. This event is a fundraiser for VoiceCatcher.

* * *

Claudia F. Savage

Claudia F. Savage

VoiceCatcher Claudia F. Savage presents several poetry workshops through The Attic Institute, in SE Portland, this summer and September-October. One-day workshops and ongoing, weekly ones.

 *  *  *

VoiceCatcher reading! Come mingle and listen to contributors to VoiceCatcher. Readers include Susan Fleming, Suzy Harris, Kristen Roedell, and Young Voice Danrong Wang.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Java Lounge New location!
760 NW Dale Ave. (NW Cornell near Murray Blvd)
Portland, OR 97229

*  *  *

VoiceCatcher Lyssa Tall Anolik presents Nourish Your Creative Spirit: A Collage and Writing Workshop. Explore what nourishes and sustains you. All are welcome: no art or writing experience necessary. Six Tuesday evenings (every-other week) starting Sept. 29, 2015, 7:00–9:00 p.m. at the Watershed at Hillsdale. Cost $100, sliding scale available. To register: email Lyssa at lyssa@flashdog.com or call 503-313-5707.

*  *  *

Susan DeFreitas

Susan DeFreitas

Join author, editor and VoiceCatcher contributor Susan DeFrietas for a two-hour workshop on mining powerful dream images for your own fiction. Advance registration required. Details and registration here. Limit: 20 participants

Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Attic, South Library
4243 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97215
$35 fee. This event is a fundraiser for VoiceCatcher

*  *  *

Sarah Fagan

Sarah Fagan

Join VoiceCatcher art editor and painter/book-artist Sarah Fagan for a two-hour introduction to the art of journal/book making. Advance registration required for this workshop. $20 fee. Proceeds benefit VoiceCatcher. Limit: 12 partcipants. (Details and registration here)

Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
TaborSpace
5441 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97215

*  *  *

Click here for the updated calendar of readings and other events from VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions.

*  *  *

Click here for the contact form to let us know of other offerings you or other VoiceCatcher members are making in the community!

Leave the Dishes: Making Art While Raising Children

You Are Not Alone: Resources for Cultivating the Mother-Artist Life
by Claudia F. Savage

Although I have seven nieces and nephews, I was still completely unprepared for the way motherhood affected my artistic life. Resources about raising children hardly ever address problems that mother-writers and artists contend with daily: how do you access that necessary state where creativity lives? And, then, if you find that place, how can you create when you are interrupted a hundred times a day? Over the past two years, a small selection of books have provided me with solace and advice as I have struggled to keep creating while caretaking.

Temple by Kristen Case (writer and mother of one) is a glorious book of poems in which the author searches for the writer in the mother, the mother in the family, and her place the world, as in the poem, “Lactoexodus”: “For a time, my body made milk, and I wrote no poems./ For a time, I made milk, and my body wrote no poems.” (page 2)

Grave of Light by Alice Notley (an early poetry collection by the Ruth Lilly Prize winner mother of two) gets me with its alternating child-inspired dialogue and ramblings of the mother-poet, as in the poem, “January.” “I didn’t lose any weight today/ I had clean hair but I drove/ Ted nuts and spanked Anselm on/ the arm and wouldn’t converse/ with him about the letter C…” (page 50)

The Pedestrians by Rachel Zucker (writer and mother of three) is a series of frantic, sometimes whiny, pleas for a moment alone with her mind, as in this fragment from “mindful”: “a snowstorm so no school I cried & said/ Mayor Bloomberg should be scalded with hot/ cocoa when someone said Yay for snow! I’m/ cutting it too close Erin if a blizzard makes me/ cry…” (page 83)

Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy (writer and mother of two) is a fantastic, sometimes scathing dialogue between what we imagine a mother’s life to be and what it actually is, such as in the poem, “Liquid Flesh”: “Mother. Baby./ Chicken and egg. It’s so obnoxious/ of me: I was an egg/ who had an egg/ and now I’m chicken,/ as usual scooping up/ both possibilities,/ or what I used to call/ possibilities.” (page 25)

The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood edited by Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman is a series of interview-essays about different mother-poets and their styles of dealing with motherhood and artistic creation. The poets chosen to be interviewed are phenomenal, from Carol Muske-Duke and Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge to Maxine Kumin and C.D. Wright. As C.D. Wright said, “When my husband and I met other couples with a baby, we joined heads and bored into their glowing faces to ask in abrupt, strained unison if ‘it’ slept. And if ‘it’ did, we shunned those people.” (page 195)

Strong Hearts, Inspired Minds: 21 Artists Who Are Mothers Tell Their Stories by Anne Mavor (visual artist and mother of one). In her introduction, Anne says, “The biggest shock was that I … couldn’t stay up late anymore and my artist friends dropped away …. Rowan was and is, of course, beautiful and smart and funny and amazing … but he cannot satisfy my artistic urge.” (introduction)

Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else by Carmen Gimenez Smith (writer and mother of two). Smith’s book deals with her own issues as a writer and mother, as well as her relationship with her dying mother. Echoing the fragmentary style of Carole Maso’s Ava, it is a deeply reaffirming work about the changing landscape of the artist’s life and how we define mother within it.

Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson (anthropologist, writer, and mother of one). One of my favorite books about life as a creative act. Some aspects of it will feel antiquated to younger feminists but it is still good to be reminded where we come from and the paths forged for us. Five women from diverse backgrounds and experiences in various professions, including writers and artists, focus on the way they still create when their energies are divided. Affirming gems such as: “Life is an improvisatory art … in which commitments are continually refocused and redefined.” (page 3)

May some of these allow you to hear your own story echoed, be renewed, and keep on.

Bibliography:

Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Life (Grove Press: New York, 2001)

Edited by Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (Wesleyan University Press: Middletown, CT, 2003)

Gimenez Smith, Carmen. Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else (University of Arizona Press: Tucson, AZ , 2010)

Mavor, Anne. Strong Hearts, Inspired Minds: 21 Artists Who Are Mothers Tell Their Stories (Rowanberry Books: 1996)

Notley, Alice. Grave of Light (Wesleyan University Press: Middletown, Connecticut, 2006)

Shaughnessy, Brenda. Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press: Seattle, WA, 2012)

Zucker, Rachel. The Pedestrians (Wave Books: Seattle, WA 2014)

*  *  *

VoiceCatcher deeply thanks Claudia F. Savage for contributing this meaningful, well-researched and well-written series on how to develop an artist-writer practice while raising children. We look forward to future collaborations with Claudia!
                                                                             –The Editors

*  *  *

Claudia F. SavageClaudia F. Savage has been a chef for people recovering from illness, a book editor, and a teacher of poetry to young women in Appalachia, ranchers in Colorado, and urbanites in Portland. Her first book, The Limited Visibility of Bees, was named a finalist for the New Issues Press Poetry Prize. Her poetry and interview credits include CutBank, Nimrod, The Denver Quarterly, VoiceCatcher, Iron Horse, The Buddhist Poetry Review, and Bookslut. Her published chapbook is called The Last One Eaten: A Maligned Vegetable’s History. Savage is a member of the poetry/music duo, THrum, whose album came forth in spring 2015. This article is the final in her series for VoiceCatcher, Leave the Dishes: Making Art While Raising Children.

Catch These Voices and Visions

Jennifer Dorner
Jennifer Dorner

Tomorrow, Aug. 25, Vault Voices  –  a new reading series started by VoiceCatcher Jennifer Dorner  – continues. This night’s reading features Hedgebrook writing retreat alumnae, PDXX Collective members and VoiceCatchers, including Jackie Shannon-Hollis, Nancy Flynn, Judith Pulman, Tammy Robacker and Tiah Lindner Raphael.

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
O’Connors
 (in the vault)
Multnomah Village neighborhood
7850 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland, OR 97219

*  *  *

Sign up before Sept. 1 for special rates for workshops at the annual Stumptown Lit conference: Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in NE Portland, Oregon. This is the Oregon Writers Colony’s second Stumptown.

VoiceCatcher, Toastmasters and the Oregon Writers Colony have teamed up to offer a workshop at Stumptown on how to polish your public reading skills. Many of the other conference offerings have no charge for admission. Stop by VoiceCatchers’ table while you are there!

   * * * 

Plonk is a new Wednesday night reading series at Corkscrew Wine Bar, 1655 SE Bybee, Portland, Oregon. VoiceCatcher editor Michelle Fredette organizes the series. The events are 7:00 p.m. Free admission and open to the public. The line-ups of readers in the coming months include some from VoiceCatcher:

Sept. 2  Nikki Schulak and Jackie Shannon-Hollis
Oct. 7  Joanna Rose with writers of the Pinewood Table
Dec. 2  Liz Prato

   * * * 

Barbara  E. Berger

Barbara E. Berger

Polish your skills as a presenter and public reader through the Toastmasters program. Unique among Toastmasters clubs, the Vancouver Thrill of the Quill club caters to writers. VoiceCatcher Barbara E. Berger invites you to come to a meeting, and consider forming a satellite club with her in Portland (contact her). Thrill of the Quill meets the first Saturday of each month (check their website calendar for exceptions). All are welcome to attend; no admission charge.

Thrill of the Quill Toastmasters Club
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, 9:30–11:00 a.m.
Courtyard Village
4555 NE 66th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98661
360-606-9306

*  *  *

Flyer Pulse Sept 10Pulse: A VoiceCatcher Benefit. Join VoiceCatcher editor and contributor Claudia Savage of “Thick in the Throat, Honey” (formerly THrum) for a sensual night of storytelling, poetry and music. Featuring stories by VoiceCatchers Jennifer Foreman and Tanya Jarvik.

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
The Waypost
3120 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227
$5-$15 suggested donation. This event is a fundraiser for VoiceCatcher.

* * *

Claudia F. Savage

Claudia F. Savage

VoiceCatcher Claudia F. Savage presents several poetry workshops through The Attic Institute, in SE Portland, this summer and September-October. One-day workshops and ongoing, weekly ones.

 *  *  *

VoiceCatcher reading! Come mingle and listen to contributors to VoiceCatcher. Readers include Susan Fleming, Suzy Harris, Kristen Roedell, and Young Voice Danrong Wang.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Java Lounge New location!
760 NW Dale Ave. (NW Cornell near Murray Blvd)
Portland, OR 97229

*  *  *

Sarah Fagan

Sarah Fagan

Join VoiceCatcher art editor and painter/book-artist Sarah Fagan for a two-hour introduction to the art of journal/book making. Advance registration required for this workshop. $20 fee. Proceeds benefit VoiceCatcher. Limit: 12 partcipants. (Details and registration here)

Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
TaborSpace
5441 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97215

*  *  *

Click here for the updated calendar of readings and other events from VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions.

*  *  *

Click here for the contact form to let us know of other offerings you or other VoiceCatcher members are making in the community!

Workshop: Journal-Making with Artist Sarah Fagan

JournalSamples-Web600Join VoiceCatcher art editor and painter/book-artist Sarah Fagan for a two-hour introduction to the art of journal/book making.

Monday, Oct. 12, 2015
6:00-8:00 p.m.
TaborSpace
5441 SE Belmont Street
Portland, OR 97215

JournalMaterials-Web600In this two-hour workshop, attendees will learn to bind three blank-book structures by hand. We will start with the western pamphlet structure, move to the eastern side-sewn approach, and end with a miniature hardcover accordion book. Learn tricks of the trade and have time to embellish your books, as well. Whether taken home and filled, or given as gifts, these books are perfect for notes, poetry jottings or imagery. No bookmaking experience necessary. All materials provided.

Cost: $20.00 All funds go to support VoiceCatcher’s mission of connecting, inspiring and empowering women writers and artists in the greater Portland, Or. and Vancouver, Wa. area.
Limit: 12 participants
Must register in advance 
(Online registration here)

About Your InstructorSarahTeachingWorkshop-Web600

Sarah Fagan holds a degree in Fine Arts from Stonehill College and a certificate in Book Arts from the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her work is represented in Portland by Blackfish Gallery, and she has been Voice Catcher’s art editor for two years. More at www.SarahFagan.com


Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit – Limitless Possibilities

Tools to Combat Your Fear
by Kari Pederson

Ever since I disclosed my fear of sharks last month, they seem to be everywhere. Recently, live footage of a shark attack was captured during a surfing competition, and I was watching the event as the skirmish unfolded. I sincerely apologize to everyone in the gym who was startled by my high-pitched screams. Other shark encounters have also made the news, and every incident seems to reach my ears. I think the sharks may be mocking me.

The good news is I am not a helpless victim waiting for Jaws to ruin my next trip to the beach. I can use tools to combat my fear and keep my emotions from limiting the life I want:

1. Get Your Head in the Game
Like it or not, certain universal truths exist regarding fear. Accepting these truths can put you in the mindset to move forward and avoid a lot of frustration. Here are my versions of two of my favorites from fear guru Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

  • The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to do the thing that frightens you.
  • Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from feeling helpless.

For more information on universal fear truths, check out the book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

2. What Is the Worst Outcome?
The tool I find most helpful is to imagine the worst possible outcome from a situation and how I would handle it if it happened. For example, the most negative result from exhibiting my paintings would be my art show getting a bad review. If it does get a bad review, I will take the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist. Many well-respected artists have had unfavorable scrutiny. Most fears trace back to the real worry of not being able to handle a negative circumstance. You build trust in yourself each time you make it through a fearful event or disappointment. As you trust yourself to handle whatever comes, fear levels significantly diminish.

3. Widen Your Comfort Zone
Face the thing that frightens you as often as you can. Take baby steps if necessary, but consistently take steps towards doing what frightens you. If you fear rejection from a publisher, identify three publications that might be interested in your work. Then identify pieces that might be ready for submission. Work your way through each necessary action until you achieve your goal. You can also keep a success journal to celebrate each courageous risk.

4. Become a Pollyanna
Hard science now backs up what top performance athletes have known for years. Using positive self-talk and visualizing positive outcomes increase the probability of success. Spoiler Alert: Next month we will explore the science of happiness in much more detail.

Still not convinced? Try this simple muscle testing exercise with a friend. Stand up and hold your arm out to the side. Think of something that makes you feel happy or powerful. Invite your friend to try and push your arm down and record the level of resistance. Then repeat the same experiment while you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself. The results speak for themselves.

5. Reward yourself
Do something nice for yourself after EACH time you do something that frightens you or widens your comfort zone. Your brain will start to associate taking risks with pleasure and this makes it easier to take the next risk. Just remember, safety first.

6. Perfection is an illusion
Practice makes progress, not perfection. If anyone figures out how to make perfect pills, can I please be your business partner? We are often harder on ourselves than others. Please be patient as you continue to make progress in facing your fears. And remember, any action you take to address your fears counts as progress.

7. Take Time Out
Facing your fears can create a lot of nasty physical and psychological symptoms and feel downright unpleasant. If you need to take a break, do it. Take a walk. Call a friend. Meditate or take a nap. Go back to fighting your fear when you feel ready.

8. Get Help When Fear Really Gets in Your Way
Sometimes fears can start to negatively affect relationships, your career, or daily activities. Please reach out to a counselor, doctor or certified coach if fear has a consistent negative impact on your life.  Many helpful resources are available if you need extra support.

Combatting your fears takes practice and effort. So prepare yourself to enjoy the journey, just as you would need to do when learning how to take fabulous photographs or write beautiful calligraphy. More self-confidence is the huge prize for doing the work. And you might even get the chance to have a few laughs along the way. I definitely chuckle now every time I enter the gym.

Kari Pederson Age 6

Kari Pederson
Age 6

Kari Pederson, MSW, LCSW, is a writer, clinical social worker and wellness coach who has worked with children and adults for over 25 years. An avid student of positive psychology, she loves helping people live their best lives. Kari is a new writer to VoiceCatcher’s community website and thrilled to be part of its mission. This is the fifth installment in her series, Healthy Spirit – Limitless Possibilities.

 

Catch These Voices and Visions

Nancy Flynn

Nancy Flynn

The Mountain Writers Series presents a book launch celebration and poetry reading featuring VoiceCatcher Nancy Flynn.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Vie de Bohème
SE 7th & Clay on Portland’s Distillery Row
1530 SE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
Suggested donation $5

*  *  *

Jennifer Dorner

Jennifer Dorner

Vault Voices, a new reading series started by VoiceCatcher Jennifer Dorner, continues this month. The August reading features Hedgebrook writing retreat alumnae and VoiceCatchers, including Jackie Shannon-Hollis, Nancy Flynn, Judith Pulman, Tammy Robacker and Tiah Lindner Raphael.

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
O’Connors
 (in the vault)
Multnomah Village neighborhood
7850 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland, OR 97219

*  *  *

Jennifer Foreman

Jennifer Foreman

Pulse: A VoiceCatcher Benefit. Join VoiceCatcher editor and contributor Claudia Savage of “Thick in the Throat, Honey” (formerly THrum) for a sensual night of storytelling, poetry and music. Featuring stories by VoiceCatchers Jennifer Foreman and Tanya Jarvik.

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
The Waypost
3120 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227
$5-$15 suggested donation. This event is a fundraiser for VoiceCatcher.

   * * * 

Barbara  E. Berger

Barbara E. Berger

Polish your skills as a presenter and public reader through the Toastmasters program. Unique among Toastmasters clubs, the Vancouver Thrill of the Quill club caters to writers. VoiceCatcher Barbara E. Berger invites you to come to a meeting, and consider forming a satellite club with her in Portland (contact her). Thrill of the Quill meets the first Saturday of each month (check their website calendar for exceptions). All are welcome to attend; no admission charge.

Thrill of the Quill Toastmasters Club
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, 9:30–11:00 a.m.
Courtyard Village
4555 NE 66th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98661
360-606-9306

*  *  *

Sign up before Sept. 1 for special rates for workshops at the annual Stumptown Lit conference: Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in NE Portland, Oregon. This is the Oregon Writers Colony’s second Stumptown.

VoiceCatcher, Toastmasters and the Oregon Writers Colony have teamed up to offer a workshop at Stumptown on how to polish your public reading skills. Many of the other conference offerings have no charge for admission. Stop by VoiceCatchers’ table while you are there!

* * *

Claudia F. Savage

Claudia F. Savage

VoiceCatcher Claudia F. Savage presents several poetry workshops through The Attic Institute, in SE Portland, this summer and September-October. One-day workshops and ongoing, weekly ones.

 *  *  *

VoiceCatcher reading! Come mingle and listen to contributors to VoiceCatcher. Readers include Susan Fleming, Suzy Harris, Kristen Roedell, and Young Voice Danrong Wang.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Java Lounge New location!
760 NW Dale Ave. (NW Cornell near Murray Blvd)
Portland, OR 97229

*  *  *

Sarah Fagan

Sarah Fagan

Join VoiceCatcher art editor and painter/book-artist Sarah Fagan for a two-hour introduction to the art of journal/book making. Advance registration required for this workshop. $20 fee. Proceeds benefit VoiceCatcher. Limit: 12 partcipants. (Details and registration here)

Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
TaborSpace
5441 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97215

*  *  *

Click here for the updated calendar of readings and other events from VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions.

*  *  *

Click here for the contact form to let us know of other offerings you or other VoiceCatcher members are making in the community!

Join Us Tomorrow, Friday, July 31, 2015

July 31 flyer

Click here for the flyer for this event, for your sharing and posting. The event is open to all with no admission charge.

Thank you, Ford Food and Drink, for hosting this event.

Learn more about our readers here.

About Our Readers: July 31, 2015 VoiceCatcher Event

Hear these contributors to VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions, Friday, July 31, 2015, Ford Food and Drink, 2505 SE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97202, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Meet and mingle with others in the VoiceCatcher community. The reading is open to all.

Sarah Bokich

Sarah Bokich

Sarah Bokich is a poet and project manager who enjoys living, working and writing in Portland, Oregon.

Susan DeFreitas

Susan DeFreitas

Susan DeFreitas is a writer, editor and spoken word artist. Her fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in The Utne Reader, The Nervous Breakdown, Southwestern American Literature, Fourth River, Weber – The Contemporary West, and Bayou Magazine, among other publications. In 2014 her work was a finalist for the Best of the Net award. She is the author of the fiction chapbook Pyrophitic (ELJ Publications, 2014) and holds an MFA from Pacific University. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she serves as a collaborative editor with Indigo Editing & Publications and a reader for Tin House Magazine.

Stella Jeng Guillory

Stella Jeng Guillory

Stella Jeng Guillory lives in Washougal, Washington. Her poetry has appeared in Bamboo Ridge: The Hawaii Writers’ Quarterly; La’ila’I; Sister Stew: Fiction and Poetry by Women; VoiceCatcher, the Winter Issue, 2013; Just Now, 20 New Portland Poets; and America the National Catholic Weekly, Dec 2. 2013 and March 2, 2015.

Marilyn Johnston

Marilyn Johnston

Marilyn Johnston is an Oregon writer and filmmaker. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Calyx, Gold Man Review, Natural Bridge, and War, Literature and the Arts. She is a recipient of a fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts and was selected as a Fishtrap Fellow. Her collection of poems about a family’s healing from war, Red Dust Rising, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Kate Pippenger

Kate Pippenger

Kate Pippenger is a junior at the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland. She loves travel, soccer, photography and science. She tends to write in short bursts which make no sense but are strangely effective.

Joanna Rose

Joanna Rose

Joanna Rose has published stories, essays, poems, reviews and a novel called Little Miss Strange (Algonquin), as well as other pieces that do not fall into any of those categories. Her work appeared most recently in Cream City Review, CloudBank and Oregon Humanities, and in the anthology The Night, and the Rain, and the River (Forest Avenue Press). With her teaching partner Stevan Allred, she is co-host of the Pinewood Table critique group. She has dogs, and would usually rather be at the beach. She sometimes hangs out at www.joannarose.xyz.

Cindy St. Onge

Cindy St. Onge

Cindy St. Onge’s poems have appeared in Gravel, Apeiron Review, Right Hand Pointing, Cryopoetry, and other print and online journals. Her poems have been shortlisted for numerous awards, and nominated for inclusion in both the Pushcart and Best of the Net anthologies. Her fifth and sixth chapbooks, Move Your Lips When You Read and Road to Damascus were released by Grizelda Press, December 2014.

 

July 31 flyerClick here for the flyer for this event, for your own sharing and posting.

VoiceCatcher thanks Ford Food and Drink for hosting this event.

An Embarrassment of Riches: Inspiration from Folk Tales, Mythology and Dreams

Writing Your Own Folk Tale
by Jennifer Kemnitz

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could write half a dozen tales just spinning off the chicken hut passage in last month’s article. First, though, let’s look at general motifs to understand the structure of these tales and how they tick. Padraic Colum, a 20th-century Irish folklorist, says in his introduction to The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, pp. ix-x, that special patterning in folk and fairy tales makes them recognizable.

One patterning feature is the use of chiming words to highlight passages. This might be actual rhyme, such as in “If you ride straight ahead, it is into the marriage bed.” Or, the rhyme pattern might be looser, such as vowel or consonant rhyme (termed assonance and consonance in poetry). Repetition may also appear, such as the hero’s incantation beginning, “Little hut, little hut.” This device increases suspense, as in “Little Red-Cap” on p.142 of Grimm’s. The heroine remarks to the wolf in disguise, “Oh! Grandmother … what big ears you have!” Then the phrase is repeated with the body part changed, focusing on eyes, hands, and finally the mouth, when he eats her.

A second feature is the tangible thing at the center of the story. These tales usually give special importance to a useful, familiar article, such as a hairbrush or a mirror. This grounds the story in reality and pulls in its listeners and readers; it also enchants the everyday world after the story. Will using a mirror ever feel quite the same after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”?

The third feature is a combination of the first two: items that correspond with each other, perhaps through echo or chime. Examples of correspondences are the mirror and glass coffin in “Snow White,” the spindle and thorns in “Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose,” and the tall tower and long hair in “Rapunzel.” Having these elements mirror and talk to each other gives an internal coherence to the world of the tale, no matter how different it may feel from our everyday reality. Using items of symbolic value to the tale is also key.

Writing a folk tale puts you in a special frame of mind; you are approximating dream space or mythological time-space. Focus on the meaning behind the action rather than on how things actually happen in our world. Think of how your dreams work, how abrupt and illogical the scene changes can seem, how the dream story feels to you, the effects in the psyche.

The folk style can give rise to interesting authorial voices, voices full of crackle and charm. This vitality can arrest the readers and catch them up in the narrative. I have felt freed by experimenting with these voices, myself. Simply donning a magisterial, omniscient voice or a winking, comical one leads to interesting outcomes in narrative.

I have written a few fairy or folk tales, and an even greater number of hybrid tales edging into surreal or uncanny territory. A larger dose of realism mixed in with folky elements might yield magical realism and other possibilities. Some of my poetry also carries these elements and influences. A poem might start with a kernel from a dream and then become more realistic. Or, it might begin as realistically descriptive, then flip over suddenly into another dimension. You can achieve various effects this way.

Here are starting points and exercises to integrate fairy tale motifs into your own work:

  • Find an incident or experience in your or someone else’s life and start spinning a folk story around it. Just start playing and see what happens.
  • Pick a plant, an animal, and a human with passions and a problem. You probably have the beginning of a tale right there if you inject some dream logic in the telling.
  • With a particular person or character in mind, what kind of magical tale might that person find him or herself in? For instance, I am writing a fairy tale starring my grandmother as a child. She was unknown to me in many ways; she was not forthcoming about herself and her feelings, much less her dreams. I want to know more, but she has passed on. Now I am writing her into an interesting imaginal space of my own, based on her time period and place of origin. While the character will probably end up with few similarities with my actual grandmother, she is a starting point and an impetus to write.
  • Another jumping-off point might be a public figure you are fascinated with or even tired of hearing about in the media. Mine the National Enquirer for ideas. Names can always be changed once the tale is spun!
  • Or, pick a familiar, practical object you would like to explore by infusing it with fairy tale associations. Make the story hinge on this object, maybe making it useful to one of the characters at a crucial point. I once read a funny Lithuanian folk tale about a bread roll and its adventures in the world. Really! So it could be anything. Wouldn’t it be exciting to read a modern folk tale that incorporated a smart phone? Or a lawnmower?  How about a can opener? And how fascinating to imagine what these objects might symbolize.

Finally, what are your favorite stories – written, oral, or from television and cinema? Write down the bones, figure out why they work, and transform them with the symbolism of dream. After all, many fairy and folk tales in the Western canon originated in India. As they spread out, over centuries, they changed according to people’s local tastes and the times. Let’s keep that ball rolling!

 

Jennifer KemnitzJennifer Kemnitz is an herbalist-poet who lives and writes in Portland. She is a great defender of plant life, and can be roused at any moment to an impassioned discussion of its innate intelligence. Jennifer has been published previously in VoiceCatcher and anthologized by Poetry on the Lake and The Poetry Box. Her work is forthcoming from We’Moon and the Kerf.  This article is the third and final in her enchanting series, “An Embarrassment of Riches,” special to VoiceCatcher.