Date: June 16, 2022
A dear friend of mine, the very talented writer and poet, Laura Lee Bond, was selected as a Finalist in the 16th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards Contest for her book The Love Around Us! I am so excited for her and hope you have a chance to check it out! Also make sure to get her latest trilogy: Mysteriously, vol.1, Watercolor-Rendered Words, vol. 2 (both on sale now), and stay tuned for her forthcoming book, Leave Us in the Now, vol. 3.
Tonight, Third Thursday, (June 16), is opening for the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) exhibition IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts. The event will include the Artist Awards, from 6p to 7:30p, at the Museum (1911 Pacific Ave). Check out this annual event and all that the museum has to offer!
Also in the news, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) and Peter Boag, Ph.D., received an Award of Excellence for the original exhibition, Crossing Boundaries: Portraits of a Transgender West. The Award of Excellence is part of the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation of state and local history.
Creative Colloquy’s Open Mic and Literary Reading is again being held in person! This month’s event is on Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m. Come enjoy some grub and a tasty libation and listen to writers narrate their tales. Festivities will be taking place at Dusty's Hideaway. Featured Readers Include: David Rempe, Cameron Combs, Nadine Nabass, Christina Vega & Lydia K. Valentine.
“How to Get Unstuck: Tactics to Get You Writing, Even When You Don’t Want To”, presented by Olivia Couture, is happening tonight, June 16, at 6pm! Part of Creative Colloquy’s “The Writer’s Workshop Series”, the event is supported by Tacoma Creates.
Write253 held an amazing literary event on Saturday, June 11 in South Park. Poetry Picnic featured readings, open mics, printing projects, poetry games, and Creative Colloquy’s Book Bike. A gathering of like minds, it was a great afternoon for basking in the local poetic energy of our community.
Be on the lookout for GatherINK, hosted at Write253’s Line Break Press, (1910 Jefferson Ave.). I had the opportunity to attend June’s event, "Cascadia Flag Day Hootenanny", where my daughter & I got to meet the team, learn how they operated the various presses, and make our own posters and flags. The next GatherINK, in partnership with Springtide Press, is called "Dog Days, Dog Tales", and is scheduled for July 21. Don't miss it!
Also check out the Line Break Press Monthly Postcard Subscription. Get a sweet new LBP postcard in the mail every month and support the organization for only $6/mo. + tax.
Blue Cactus Press has a lot going on this month:
Throughout the month of June, Blue Cactus Press is crowdfunding one of their new titles: Confessions of a Modern-Day Kumiho by Alissa Tu. A love letter to and from herself, this experimental memoir delves into Tu’s exploration of modern dating and casual relationships, told through the pens of Tu’s alter ego—the embodied, mythical, nine-tailed fox known as a Kumiho.
Join Blue Cactus Press and William F. Collins at the official book launch for Respect the Struggle: Understanding the Cadence to Life’s Challenges happening at Parable Bookstore on June 18th, at 11am.
And don’t miss BCP’s Book Production 101, a half-day, in-person workshop facilitated by Christina Vega, on June 25. I highly recommend this workshop and can’t say enough about how helpful it was in getting my planning started around the publication of my work.
Tacoma Creates is a partner in many of the activities going on in the next few weeks, including Tacoma Pride Festival By Rainbow Center on July 9th. The event will be on July 9th in downtown Tacoma, at Pacific Ave and 9th. The day, starting at 12p and going until 6pm, will include a mainstage with entertainment, a makers market, and much more! Pride is a free and all-ages event!
Also happening this month, Live It OutLoud All Ages Jam Night By Ted Brown Music Outreach is on June 21st. Sign up to sing or play any instrument either solo or with a professional backup band! Show starts at 6:30. All ages welcome. Come listen and perform.
I return constantly to the topic of artistic inspiration, thinking about what keeps me (and others) moving forward in the creative efforts and various associated enterprises which fill our lives.
Though the effect of a muse can be strong, it isn’t always easy to identify the exact source of inspiration - especially when it tends to come in fits-and-spurts. I am sure I am not alone in wishing I could increase my creative energy and be able to more regularly produce work; how cool would it be to be able to identify and harness the power of the muse!
In exploring these thoughts within the framework of my own artistic output I have identified several markers that have left their imprint on my work. These clues to the muse have given me deeper insight into potential sources of future inspiration. Maybe I can’t harness it, but I hope by understanding it better I will be able to set the stage for it to happen more frequently.
From early childhood (which could be described as both unique and slightly unsettled), my creativity sprung from a need to communicate my feelings to others when conventional forms of expression were stifled by circumstance. Being exposed at a young age to the work of various authors, poets, and artists, I finally discovered a language I could use to express myself.
I trace my natural awkwardness, my hesitancy to truly open up to others, as what pushed me to start writing both prose and poetry at a young age. I found great pleasure in letting others read my work and I was better able to form connections with them in that forum.
Another early inspiration came from the miracle of having complete control over what happened within the fictional world I created. As a child (always at the mercy of others), writing conferred me with amazing powers; I loved picking up a pencil and tracing the outlines of my vivid imagination on the page without anyone telling me what I should write.
Fast forward to 2013 when I began writing my memoir, B. Coming Burl. In this endeavor I was inspired solely by my wish to let my daughter know who I was when she grew up. Eventually, through the long process, I became inspired by the act of learning more about myself than I had ever imagined possible. Each story that I told, when aligned chronologically and fact-checked (through family albums, internet research of official records, and oral conversations) revealed gaps and new strings of puzzles to be solved. The mental images that I had carried with me my entire life, my identity, had proved to only be partially true, and I was inspired to clarify my life and identity to myself. This opened up for me a new way to think about my writing and about my purpose as a writer.
Inspired by that experience, I compiled my first book of poetry, Corrected Poems, which included my artwork. Writing poetry was, from the earliest age, inspired by my self-awareness and my innate desire to reveal my feelings to others. It was a bold act, holding up my fears, faults, and fallacies in front of my peers, but I found I enjoyed it so much that I ignored the perceived social stigma it might have caused me among kids at school.
My first novel, currently a work-in-progress entitled Entrance to Hell, was initially inspired by a bone-chilling vision I had when I was sitting on my porch one morning thinking about what I was going to write about next. In the misty fog I saw, in the hedge across the street, a hole which I imagined was a portal to an evil world below our feet. Eventually this novel was further inspired by my own search for metaphysical meaning, a search for truth (which has proved to be ever elusive) and for a theology I could fully embrace.
Work on the novel continues to inspire me in ways I would have never imagined before. I was surprised to realize that writing this story has helped me to explore my troubled relationship with authority figures. Though I tested the boundaries of the topic in my adolescent years, I never fully resolved my feelings, and now my main character is also struggling with it. This work makes me think about the ways we cross over and back between the different worlds we live in, and who actually holds authority in these various realms.
I returned to poetry late last year as I entered a transitional state in my mental health journey. Like many people these days, the pandemic and societal strife took a toll on my mental health. Through mindful meditation and long meditative walks I realized that I needed to accept feelings which I had long suppressed. I was distraught, distracted, disillusioned, distant, and depressed. In the darkest depths of sobriety I decided to write.
I was surprised to find a spark of creativity, a muse, who lifted me out of my doldrums. Up until that point I had been tripping so far off the path, infatuated and immersed in my insecurities, that when I found my way again it was a watershed moment; the creative energy flowed for several heart-racing months. The result of this outpouring of self-expression was In a Past Life, published in April of 2022.
After finishing writing that second book of poetry, and before it launched, my mom passed away. Through the pain and grief of loss I began to write her an ode, a song of her life. Thus began my latest work, Wild Rose. The book is to be a collection of themed poems inspired by the beauty of life manifested through the art she created for us when she was alive.
Poetry for me is a relief valve. In transitional periods of my life I have been pushed forward by a deep something, a drive, a desire, a newly-minted yet ancient, unsettled, and unquenchable passion. These feelings manifest themselves through my poetry.
I am currently inspired by my ambition to become what I have always aspired to be. At the beginning of 2022 I made a vow that this was the year that I would emerge, that I would transition to become an artist, writer, poet. I vowed to recognize the creative energy which was inside me and to stop trying to find ways to keep my mind otherwise occupied. I needed to strip back the clutter and do the three things that would make a difference. I needed to:
1) Commit to writing
2) Connect with fellow creatives
3) Create more work
These three intentions have helped me on my path toward finding inspiration. Through these intentions I have removed excuses for not writing and have allowed myself an out when confronted with conflicting priorities.
One last source of strength for me is my devotion to living in profound sobriety. Yesterday, June 15, marked my ten years not being drunk. I have never felt better.
So whatever your muse, whether it is your feelings toward self, feeling towards someone else, or a particular inner drive unique to you, keep working towards your goals and don’t let anything, or anyone, sideline you!
Happy Pride Month, Happy Father’s Day, and Happy Juneteenth!