So I was loud, and (kinda) wrong about the Toni Morrison Google Hangout – there was more, but it was for Googlers only. My home KB sent me the link to the longer, more meaty Q&A with Toni Morrison. Check out all 60 minutes of it (and Torrance Boone) after the jump:
If you have some time today, check out Toni Morrison’s live Google Hangout. This is cool because she’s an old-school writer using new tech to reach her audiences. Learn more here.
Peep this video about the importance of reading and writing software languages. It still counts, right? Language is language is language, whether you are writing in English or in Python. And Chris Bosh’s cameo endeared him to me, despite his Boshiness. You can learn to code easily (and free) at CodeAcademy.
Chimamda Adichie’s popular TED Talk. A booster shot for writers who wondered what power stories have.
If you are a writer in the market for some timeless wisdom, I’d suggest Mark Harman’s translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to A Young Poet.” I came to this book at a book swap and it was exactly what I needed to help me sort out some issues creatively. It’s a slim volume, but so full of insight on what it means to pursue an artistic life. It actually took me an astonishingly long time to finish because I found myself wanting to pore over and savor each of the letters.
This book is a collection of letters to a young writer, who wrote Rilke seeking out advice from a seasoned professional. What is revealed in these letters is how much stays the same in creative communities from generation to generation – even after all this time, it’s still hard to commit to the work if you are scared; sometimes life gets in the way; and sometimes you need advice from the big boys and experience before it can be figured out. In addition to writing advice there are nuggets about life in general, which Rilke offered freely.
Harman’s translation is supple – it reads poetically, even though it is a group of prose letters. And the auxiliary information (introduction, etc.) added enough context about Rilke’s life and work to really make the letters shine. If you’re a poet and you know it, or just an artist looking for a boost, pick this book up.
You can cop it at Amazon.
DOPEREADS: Tell me about what you do.
STACIA BROWN: I’m a writer, a college writing instructor, and most recently, the founder of an online initiative called Beyond Baby Mamas. It’s a supportive community for single mothers and fathers of color, as well as for adults who were raised by single parents of color.
DR: What attracts you to the work you are doing?
STACIA: I became a single mother in 2010, and even though I know a lot of unmarried women raising children, I rarely got to spend any significant time with them, picking their brains and gleaning their wisdom. I figured I wasn’t alone in that. So I decided to start a Facebook group for other single mothers of color late last year. In the months since Beyond Baby Mamas’ inception, we’ve gained members from across the U.S. and in Canada — and I think what continues to attract me to this work is how greatly it’s needed and how much the mothers appreciate having a safe, encouraging space to discuss themselves, their children, and their challenges.
DR: What do you want to accomplish through your work?
STACIA: Aside from creating a network for single moms, I also want our initiative to actively confront some of the stereotypes and stigma that are often associated with single parenthood — particularly as it relates to black women. Eventually I’d also like to transition the group to a non-profit organization, so that we can affect greater change and offer more material resources to community members.
DR: Why is storytelling an element in your work?
STACIA: So many single parents of color feel silenced. In the past four years especially, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing press on single black women and black children raised in single-parent households. The personal stories that are often featured along with whatever new statistics are being reported don’t necessarily reflect a broad enough cross-section of black family experiences. Storytelling helps us understand how varied single mothers’ experiences can be. There’s no unilateral way that black women become single parents and by giving them the opportunity to write their personal narratives for our website, they feel like they’ve reclaimed the individuality these media reports steal.
DR: How long did it take you to realize what you wanted to do? What did you do before you figured it all out?
STACIA: Beyond Baby Mamas started in September of last year. I hadn’t really paid much attention to organizations tailored to minority single mothers before becoming one. But I’ve always believed in the telling of one’s personal story. I’ve been a writer since childhood, and as a community college professor, I’ve worked with students who are also young parents for close to six years. Regardless of their experiences, they always feel a strong need to either talk or write them through, so the work BBM does has been playing out in my classrooms for a while now.
DR: What’s your creative process like?
STACIA: With my personal fiction or nonfiction writing, I usually start with one line (it isn’t necessarily the first line or the last, but it almost always makes its way into a final draft of writing). Then I build logically around whatever that line is. For the BeyondBabyMamas daily blog, I research news related to single parenting and listen to parents
DR: Who is the most interesting person you have met through storytelling?
STACIA: Too tough to call. I’ve met some amazing people in the short months since we’ve gotten going. Gloria Malone of Teen Mom NYC is dynamic and a real inspiration. Damali Robertson has a gorgeous spirit and a clear, insightful writing and conversation style. Vik VarWoo is self-assured, assertive, and confident. Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi has such strong faith and has overcome a great deal. Really, everyone I’ve had the pleasure of talking to or editing for publication has told me something about herself (or himself) that has encouraged me to broaden my ideas about parenting.
Tell me the craziest/wildest thing you’ve experienced in your line of work.
STACIA: A few of my writing inspirations have either joined our FB group, retweeted a link to our site, or contacted me personally. Among them? jessica Care moore and dream hampton, both of whose work I read voraciously as a teen. That’s been pretty wild.