Archive for the ‘The Art of Writing’ Category

  • HOW I DEFY A SINGLE STORY AND ADD TO THE SWELL OF STORIES THAT DEFY STEREOTYPES

    Date: 2018.09.08 | Category: How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    HOW I DEFY A SINGLE STORY AND ADD

    TO THE SWELL OF STORIES THAT DEFY STEREOTYPES

    -IN THE MIX-

    How much simmering does it take for you to write a poem, a story, a blog post, or even a tweet or a response to a FB post?  How much anxiety?  How much shame?

    Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, 2009, “The Danger of a single story,” states:  “The consequence of a single story is this: it robs people of dignity.  It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

    As a MFA student in a Creative Writing program, I often felt suffocated and angry because I felt there was only a single story being perpetuated: of what you needed to learn to be a writer, what you needed to write to be a writer, who you needed to be to be a writer, and who you needed to embrace (not contentiously disagree with).

    “The consequence of a single story is this: it robs people of dignity.”  The story when I attended graduate school was not inclusive.  It didn’t include my story.  It offered shame.  I was told “they didn’t teach me how to write.”  Perhaps not, but I wrote, and I graduated with a 4.0.  Yet, I experienced that my story was a thorn in the single story.

    As writers, we all have our particular story(ies).  In How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, LHP, 2017, we can read 24 particular stories.  These stories defy a single story; they embrace difference and for some of us, similarity.

    My story as a writer is that I don’t write every day, I may not write in a month or even a year.  I don’t write to be a writer.  I didn’t go to graduate school to be a writer; I went to prove to myself I was smart enough to earn a graduate degree.  What I write has more to do with finding myself, understanding myself/my mixed identity-and when I write is when I write, period.  And I didn’t go to graduate school to become a teacher.  I became a teacher because someone gave me an opportunity to be one and I accepted because I needed the paycheck.  I wasn’t a particularly good teacher, just like I’m not a particularly good writer-but I persisted: 1) because I needed the money, and 2) because, apparently, I was born to tell the truth, whether it served me well or not. But persistence doesn’t define pace, and for me, persistence, didn’t mean I was or am prolific.

    I am not one story.  My story is not a true story unless it envelops race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability, etc.  My story wanders in and out of time and situations.  Currently my story is a story of aging.  It’s one of contemplation, of consideration.  I have written a few poems; poems that I didn’t write because I had to which is always the reason I have written in the past-out of urgency.  And I am writing a picture book, a gift to my grandson (and his parents) who is nonverbal and was diagnosed with autism at an early age.  I am imagining, by observing, what he might have to say to grandmas, to parents, and to caretakers.  I don’t have to write this book, I want to.

    My story is many stories; it could never be just one story.  And my many stories are just a drop in the swell of other writers’ stories.   I pray for dignity, not shame, for all of us who write whether every day, or whenever; who are published or not-who want to be or couldn’t care less; who are expert grammarians, or like me not so much; and who have not only the heart and determination, but the words and a way to articulate them to engage purposefully in social media-again, I’m not so skilled or articulate-or brave.  It’s all okay.

    Adichie says “stories matter.” I’d like to add, your story as a writer matters.  I remember being told a writer should take risks, not be a copy-cat, that to be unique is what really counts.  There might be some truth in that, depending on what your goals as a writer are/or are not, but maybe it’s not about taking risks, but just embracing who you are.

    I think I’ve written this story before.  Sometimes I have to remind myself.

     

    What is your story as a writer?  Feel free to share in comments.

     

    Sherry Quan Lee, September 8, 2018

  • How Dare We! Write FREE DESK COPIES

    Date: 2017.05.21 | Category: How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    WRITING INSTRUCTORS PLEASE NOTE:

     
    “If you are teaching a high school or undergrad or graduate Creative Writing course in 2017-2018, we are accepting requests for desk copies of “How Dare We! Write: a multicultural discourse.”

    Please email info@ModernHistoryPress.com from your faculty email address to request a copy and include the following:

     
    1. The course number, name and institution where you teach
    2. Your complete shipping address and whether you would like printed or eBook edition

     
    We can only guarantee that the first 50 instructors who reply will get a desk copy. You are encouraged to share
    this information with interested colleagues.

    (Review: https://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/…/on-how-dare-we-write-…/)

  • De-Canon: a visibility project

    Date: 2017.05.07 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: links, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    https://www.de-canon.com/blog/2017/5/5/writers-of-color-discussing-craft-an-invisible-archive

     

  • First Drafts, Broken Rules

    Date: 2017.03.19 | Category: Assignments, Imagining Love, Poetry, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    First Drafts, Broken Rules

    Someone said, and many have repeated it-where the rumor started, I don’t know-that a writer shouldn’t send first drafts out for the public eye.  But, I am a writer who makes up her own rules, does her own thing, ‘cause someone said, and many have repeated, a writer needs to take risks or she will just sound like the choir (although I do like the music of choirs, but the point is sometimes I need to sing alone).

    On another note, a writer I truly respect told me I revise the energy, the spirit, the meaning out of my poetry when I revise.  It’s true, revising for me is like shopping.  Once my cart is full, I throw out some things, others I put back and exchange them for another.  Sometimes I do this again and again.  This basket of strawberries.  No, this one, the similes are endless.  These tomatoes on the vine.  No, these are are full of contradiction.  Chocolate marshmallow fudge ice cream.  No, vanilla, subtle.  This bread.  Yes, give me all the nuts, the flax, the wheat-concrete images. Yet, sometimes I just say, be gone, be gone.

    Some say a writer must write every day, early in the morning in fact.  Early for me is 10 a.m., and by then I am already running late.  I write when I’m sitting in a class and the demand is to write following the guidelines of a particular writing exercise.  Surprisingly, I’ve gotten some good poems this way.  But, I don’t often sit in writing classes.  My norm is, when self-pity fills my lungs, when anxiety and fear punch my stomach, when country songs and chic flicks don’t soothe my troubled soul, I reach for my 3 x 5 or my 4 x6 index cards, my leaking roller ball pen, and I write.  I number the front, the back.  The stack rises. The purge releases words I don’t know.  There’s a rhythm too it.  A longing.  A stunning revelation.

    It’s been months, years, sometimes only weeks.  Yesterday’s sorrows became yesterday’s poems.  I read them over and over mouthing each sound, whispering, repeating, louder now, faster now.  Until, I’m inside out, exhausted.

    Awake now, today now, I risk giving these poems to anyone that wants them, anyone that might need them, anyone that wants to rip them apart and theorize them.  This is a selfish gift.  A gift nonetheless.  Someday I may want to return, to revise, to revision-to edit, and I’ll know where they are, and that they served me well.  And maybe you will not notice the blemishes, but the possibility.  And maybe your next poem might be about your great-grandmother or begin with “If truth be told” and maybe you will give it to the world pleased with its inception, free with its release.

    ©Sherry Quan Lee, March 19, 2017

     

    IF I TOLD YOU THE TRUTH

    If truth be told my friend is a born again Christian, my son is a redneck.

    If truth be told, loneliness is my demon and always has been.

    My sister does not talk to me my mood swings cause her stress; she’s

    done it before, stopped loving me when I loved a woman,

    and the woman, my mother, well my sister stopped talking to her, too.

    If truth be told, according to Mother, I am white, white, white, but I’m not

    and neither is she.

    If truth be told I’m not a writer, my advisor was right they didn’t teach

    me and somehow I knew it was my fault.

    If truth be told I don’t want to go to church, or book stores or plays where

    I know I either have to listen or perform;

    or comedy clubs.

    If truth be told I want to see my three-year-old granddaughter.  My nine year old grandsons.

    If truth be told the gig is up-shopping, gambling, even eating and though the smoke has

    already cleared I don’t need therapy or an excuse to hide my feelings.

    my heart is an old open book full of clichés, chocolate truffle smears, and tears.

    If truth be told I have been cloistered-it’s not my calling but my situation.

    If truth be told my car isn’t safe, my house isn’t breathing, I could in a wink of an eye be homeless.

    If truth be told I don’t want to fly I don’t want to wander; I haven’t missed anything in 70 years.

    If truth be told I’ve fallen before, but this time the fracture wasn’t worth mending.

    If truth be told I want to sing it is done, get over it, I am over it.

    If truth be told there is nothing beyond survival, I have nothing to give you, the world

    is wound too tight we can only untie knots, try not to slip on the laces.

    If I told you the truth I always wanted to be the clown the stand-up comedian the one no one

    would guess wasn’t me.

    If I told you the truth I wouldn’t tell you the truth but ease into your life.

    If truth be told being of a certain age is not what someone else says it is, not what you expect,

    and everyday is a question mark.

    To tell the truth today I looked out my window.  Satisfied.  Rocking. Back and

    forth, catonic-like, rocking.

    If I told you the truth the youth have the words, the works, the camaraderie, the meet and greets,

    the relationships.  Solidarity. Each other’s backs.

    If I told you the truth I’m not a bridge, never pretended to be one.   Every breath, every step difficult.

    If truth be told it’s too late for me to be anything, but

    righteous.  And, alone.  And, lonely.

    The truth is I’m tired.  It’s late.  I have [no] regrets.

    The truth is I don’t want to recycle.  Spin it anyway you want, but I won’t step outside

    my skin. The stretch is all mine.  Was mine.

    If truth be told the world sees no one, story becomes someone else’s theory, and you

    and I don’t meet online, or in a bar, in the future or the past.

    The truth is tomorrow, I might leave my house, walk to the mailbox, but today in this moment

    I’m in my pj’s, eating popcorn, watching Netflix.

     

    ©Sherry Quan Lee

    March 18, 2017

     

    Saint Patrick’s Day 2017 (1948-    )

     

    Dear red hair son of the Irish plantation owner do you know how complicated you’ve made my life?  You, so absent in your southern ways.  A prickle in history not so long gone, nameless, yet, ever present in my naming.  Did your father teach you not to fear consequences, did he tell you my great-grandmother was yours for the taking because he owned her.  Or did he say, hands off, son, she’s mine?  Money can’t buy everything, it certainly can’t buy complacency.  But, yes, Ms. Greer kept your house clean and the both of you, sons of southern hospitality, well fed.  And you, in return, paid her in lust, in rape, in pregnanc(ies).  Sure there were the rumors, you loved her, my great-great grandmother, her glistening, black skin and textured thick hair; strong legs, warm hands; but, it wasn’t a love story.  But grandmother was born anyways.  Beautiful, free, and independent.  It was her own doing she traveled North, married a man with his own black white history and the babies kept coming.  Mother denies she is born black, but if black was a lie, she would have nothing to lie about and I, her daughter, would have no truths to tell, secrets to uncover.  So many secrets that have filled books and heartache and joy- sometimes joy- knowing there once was a plantation and a red hair boy, but if she had only known she really needed only this, this one poem, this one little splash of green, a bit of humor, and a blind eye, if she only knew she didn’t have to give up her life to know who she is, if she had known.

     

    Sherry Quan Lee

    ©March 18, 2017

     

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

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HOW DARE WE! WRITE

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