• WRITER’S HESITATION or I’m not “blocked,” I’m lazy

    Date: 2015.05.01 | Category: Assignments, The Art of Writing, This & That | Response: 2

    Often it’s been said that there is no such thing as writer’s block.  I tend to agree.  However, personally, I have “writer’s hesitation.”  [I know, the period inside the quotation looks weird, but I’ve been told by experts that’s the way it is.] I hesitate for various reasons, but most recently, if I want to be truthful, because I am lazy (not all the time, and not about everything).

    I want to write a poem.  It’s been awhile since I wrote a poem.  Specifically, maybe a year or five or eight.  I don’t count years or poems, it’s just that I’ve been writing prose.  But the poem I want to write is someplace outside of myself.

    The poem is gurgling, wants to be set free; but, I won’t release it.  Freeing it would take time and effort.  What is beneath the surface?  Something so big I can’t even name it.  Something larger than myself.  And that’s the point.  I’m 68 years old.  For the past thirty something years I’ve been writing about me (at least recently I’ve managed to write about me in terms of not only intersectionality, but also in connection to local and national historical events), but I want to move beyond myself, discover more than my own humanity.

    The enormity of knowing what to write about has me cowering in a corner (okay, on the couch watching Netflix).  It takes effort to focus. It takes relationships.  It takes community.  It takes the opposite of lazy.

    Solution:  I am going to take a class.  A writing class.  My boss is teaching the class.  Some of my students may be in the class.  I will be intimidated, maybe, initially; but, I will knock “lazy” on her butt and wave goodbye to “hesitation.” I will write a poem, or two, maybe even three.

    I may be the only 68 year old writer in the class, no denying it; but, I’ve always believed in life-long learning-I’ve just been too “lazy” to practice it.

    Sherry Lee

    May 1, 2015

     

    Share your comments regarding “writer’s hesitation.”

     

  • LOVE IMAGINED: synopsis read at two Book Award Events

    Date: 2015.04.01 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED, This & That | Response: 0

    MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS

    THE LOFT LITERARY CENTER MARCH 20, 2015

    HOSMER LIBRARY MARCH 23, 2015 (36th and 4th Avenue

    by Richard Green School, previously Central High School)

    (Aunt Lucille Wilson Shivers lived on 39th and 4th Avenue.

    Her husband, Spencer Shiver, owned the barber shop on the corner of 38th and 4th Avenue.)

    Doll Buggy

    Once upon a very long time ago there was a princess, Quan Lee, born 1948. Her kingdom was a house on a hill with a white picket fence in South Scandinavian Minneapolis.

    She was Cinderella awaiting her prince. She loved her shoes. She sang to them. Hugged them.

    Maybe she knew that beauty was bound in binding a young girl’s feet; that somehow history had whispered to her it’s always about finding the prince, no matter how painful the journey, no matter how many pairs of shoes it would take.

    Has anyone seen Cinderella’s other shoe?

    Is there a lover in the audience?

    I grew up in South Scandinavian Minneapolis, the Miles Standish neighborhood. Beginning in the 1900s mostly Norwegians and Swedes settled there.

    However, my father is Chinese, my mother is Negro;

    I grew up passing for white.

    My friend Carolyn challenged me on the use of South Scandinavian Minneapolis.   Carolyn was right. She too grew up in South Minneapolis!   She went to Central High School. My cousin Butch went to Central High School. Carolyn had a crush on my cousin. My friend Carolyn, my cousin Butch, my aunt Marion-Black folk- lived in South Minneapolis with other Black folk, unlike me who lived east of whatever line divided us (the line might have been Chicago Avenue or 4th Avenue, or Portland Avenue).

    However, my mother’s relatives could only visit us at night,

    when it was dark and the neighbors couldn’t see them.

    Another frog and another frog. I could only imagine love because…do you remember the saying love sees no color? Well I bought those t-shirts, lots of them, until one day I realized the saying is a sham. Love does see color! If you don’t see me and understand and respect the color that I am, well then, you can’t possibly love me. I am not the white woman, the invisible woman, the exotic woman, the domestic you might need me to be—that my mother needed me to be to protect me and keep me safe.

    I didn’t know about the lack of civil rights: Jim Crow,

    the Klu Klux Klan, race riots in Minneapolis.

    I knew chow mein, white rice, and maj jong.

    I have four siblings.

    Between us there have been 14 divorces.

    Well, what do you know? I have the other shoe. It’s been hidden in my closet for 67 years. I am the prince I was searching for. I am the love imagined. The last therapist I needed to see explained to me that of course I didn’t have any self-esteem, any self-love! How could I love the person I was told wasn’t good enough to be visible—the Black/Chinese girl that had to pretend she was white

    Over the past thirty seven years I have written myself into existence with the help of communities and writers and friends. The Asian American Renaissance. David Mura. Marlina Gonzalez. Elsa Battica. Sun Yung Shin. Ed Bok Lee. Rose Chu. Sase the Write Place: Carolyn Holbrook and Carolyn Holbrook and Carolyn Holbrook. The Loft Literary Center: Bao Phi. Sherrie Fernandez-Williams. AND: Lori Young-Williams. Sandee Newbauer. Barb Bergeron.   Eden Torres. My cousin Jay, his daughter Terri and his wife Shirlee. And the list goes on and on.

    Of course, culturally, I was raised white: I grew up in a Scandinavian neighborhood, went to a white church, went to a white school/I had only white friends. I am learning to embrace being white too.

    With much appreciation, thanks to the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library!

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE photo by Charissa Uemura

LOVE IMAGINED

CHINESE BLACKBIRD

HOW TO WRITE A SUICIDE NOTE

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