Reading in Seattle

I will be reading with several other writers at a fun event at Facéré Jewelry Art Gallery in Seattle on late afternoon of October 8. It's the opening of the Signs of Life exhibit, a combined literary journal and contemporary jewelry art exhibition, that also includes short talks by the jewelry artists. I was invited to contribute a piece of writing in response to an absolutely stunning gold choker handcrafted by Mary Lee Hu.

Chris Abani

I had the good fortune last night to hear Chris Abani read as part of the Richard Hugo House Literary Series. He wove together scenes from his childhood in Nigeria and London with his reasons for writing--to witness, to share the pain of what it means to be human. I cannot begin to capture what he said, but I hope he publishes what he read so that I can slowly absorb his meaning and keep learning from it. Until then, here's an excerpt from a piece he wrote for Witness Literary Magazine:

To be human requires no action. What is required, though, is harder: the non-judgmental (and I don’t mean non-discerning) daily accounting of our lives and narratives to ourselves. It is owning all the power and privilege we have wielded that day, as well as its true cost. Perhaps this is what makes my work hard, and human—a difficulty I disguise in beautiful language like any good lover knows to do. One of my earliest spiritual advisers told me that to be human is to accept that there will never be world peace, but to live life as though it is possible. This is the core of my aesthetic: belief in a deeper humanness that is beyond race, class, gender, and power, even as I know that it is not possible. And yet I strive for it in every way, even when I fail. In the end, we may never know. Perhaps it is enough, as Emmanuel said, to know that it will always be hard. May we cry, but may we never die of heartbreak.

Sallie Tisdale

I just finished reading a last-century travel essay on Japanese trains by Sallie Tisdale, which inspired me to look up her web page, where I found this statement by her that I really like:

I only write nonfiction, the art form named for what it is not. Mostly I write from the first person, and sometimes you could call it memoir and sometimes the personal essay, though I don’t find a clear line between these forms. I used to think that the most crucial question for one who labors in this particular field is whether or not the work is true. Then I thought that perhaps a better question is whether the work is fair. I’ve come to believe that nothing is entirely true and little is fair. Everything I write is sinful, full of lies, especially the big one, the one you go to hell for: pretending not to be a fool.