What We’re Reading Now…

Recently we asked our staff, board and founder what they are currently reading, and why. We thought you might enjoy getting a glimpse of our latest literary delights, listed below.

Share with us what YOU have been reading, and we might just feature you and your favorite book(s) in an upcoming newsletter, or as part of a Network book club! We would love to hear from you!

Kimberly Lee – TLA Network board member:
The Happy Writing Book by Elise Valmorbida.
Contains 100 bite-sized, spirited essays on writing inspiration and craft, for both aspiring and established authors who want to infuse energy into their work—and their lives.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré.
A Nigerian teen, married off by family for her dowry, is determined to change her destiny and find her voice by achieving the education her late mother dreamed of.

Finding Me by Viola Davis.
An honest, revealing memoir that chronicles the rise of the Oscar award-winning actress from a disadvantaged childhood to international acclaim, and the emotional demons she slayed on the way.

Katia Hage, TLA Network board member:
La fin est mon commencement: Un père raconte à son fils le grand voyage de la vie, by Terzano Terziani.
A book about an Italian journalist’s journey and his observations through his many voyages to Maoist China, Vietnam, Cambodia before communism, India and more. A fascinating new perspective about world events lived through in those countries. 

Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
The book reminds me of the many faces of the divine feminine and the power of healing through storytelling in returning the bones to their own people. 

Jen Minotti – TLA Network board member:
All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson.
Super important, beautiful, honest memoir by a Black, queer voice for the YA population. I loved this book before it was banned from libraries and schools in 15 states, but now I am making sure to read all of the books on these banned-book-lists as my personal form of protest.

All about Love: New Visions by bell hooks.
After bell hooks’ passing earlier this past Winter, I revisited her work. Although written over 20 years ago, this book is as relevant today as it was two decades ago, maybe even more so. My yellow highlighter practically dried out from all of the use it got while reading this book! And I now use the word “love” as a verb, as bell hooks instructed us to do!

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain.
Hot off of the presses, I couldn’t wait to read this book by the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a bedside favorite in my house! It’s as great as her previous book, combining research with personal narrative and is perfect for anyone going through a transition (basically all of us!).

Renu Thomas, TLA Network board member:
The Girl with the Suitcase, by Angela Hart
Angela Hart has fostered many children over the years. This is a true story about the joys, doubts and challenges in raising Grace who has had a difficult upbringing before coming to Angela’s home. It offers a fresh look at parenting and the nature vs nurture debate. Inspiring.

Hanne Weedon, TLA managing director:
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken.
I’ve been reading this incredible book with my 14-year-old daughter over the course of the past year – a few pages every week, and we are slowly turning our time, focus, and attention to how we navigate the climate crisis as a family. Each section is engaging and accessible, addressing the 100 most substantive solutions to reversing global warming, all based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.

For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health, by Al Vernacchio.
This is a fantastic, illuminating, funny read by a thoughtful, youth-empowering sex educator who really knows his stuff. An incredible resource for anyone who is parenting/close to/working with teens, this book helps bridge the gap between what we thought we knew and what we actually need to know to help our young people navigate this complex and rapidly-shifting issue in their lives.

Palmares, by Gayl Jones.
A 2022 Pulitzer finalist, this incredible epic novel is at once a love story, a fugitive slave’s odyssey, and an investigation into the meaning of freedom. Set in 17th-century colonial Brazil, the novel is that perfect combination of mythology, history, and magical realism – plus, Jones’ mastery of language and voice are a delight. This is the perfect read you will not want to put down.

Gabe Seplow, TLA Network intern:
The Sentence is Death, by Anthony Horowitz.
A fascinating murder mystery that has you on the edge of your seat, wanting more answers the further you get into the novel.

Slaughterhouse-Five: Or the Children’s Crusade, a Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut.
An easy, summer read that includes comedy, drama, action, and heart-wrenching imagery from WWII.

Kelly DuMar, TLA Network board member:
The Rainbow, by D.H. Lawrence.
Exquisite prose in this classic novel by a master about three generations of a British family who live in the east Midlands of England spanning 1840’s-1905, focusing on love, coming of age, marriage, family. Lawrence’s descriptions of nature are gorgeous and precise.

There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century, by Fiona Hill.
Really smart and thoughtful memoir of a brilliant British woman who rose to a powerful government position in the US from her working class, disadvantaged roots in County Durham, England as the coal industry failed. She does a superb job of exploring the role of privilege in the US and British educational systems. She stood up to Trump by testifying against him at his first impeachment from her role of serving in the Trump administration. Courageous and honest and authentic––and funny.

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, by Rebecca Solnit.
A literary feminist memoir in a powerful voice of poetic prose about the impact of the threat of sexual violence toward women in our culture.

Liz Burke, TLA Network board member:
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong.
Ocean Vuong’s novel is one of the most beautiful I have ever read. It’s a coming of age story and an intimate letter to his mother written by a poet whose language stings as forcefully as it soars.

Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, by Pema Chödrön.
Pema Chödrön shares necessary wisdom, guidance and practices to navigate and bring more compassion to our difficult world and all its inhabitants. She offers me hope as I face life’s challenges.

Postcolonial Love Poem, by Natalie Diaz.
There have only been a handful of poets whose work, upon reading it, causes me to gasp in awe at the beauty. This is one of them. I feel Diaz’s work in my bones.

Jade Eby, Manager, TLA Network Classes:
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland. I’m a huge fan of family drama stories… especially where there are hidden secrets just waiting to be exposed. I love that the backdrop of this novel is Australian land and culture.

I Heard You Scream by Emerald O’Brien — My favorite summer reads are fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thrillers. And I Heard You Scream fits the bill! This is a binge-able read with satisfying twists and turns. 

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, TLA Network founder:
Embroideries by Marjane Satari
I fell in love with this graphic novel about the inner lives of Iranian women, written and drawn by the author of the astonishing Persepolis, a historical and deeply personal memoir in what Satari calls comic-book style.

frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss
Here is an astonishing collection of poetry that’s a combination of fierce memoir, experimental language, and pure poetry, and hey, it’s by a TLAer at heart, and she just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry!

The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
I’m re-listening to this novel by the unparalleled Erdrich about a powerful legacy, haunting questions of identity and home, and brave forays into real love in many forms. 

Beth Turner, TLA Network board member:
The Diné Reader/An Anthology of Navajo Literature, edited by Esther G. Belin et al.
Powerful testimony to keeping culture, faith, family, land connections alive via the written, spoken or danced word. This is a peaceful and powerful read, a rarity for me to experience both within so many different poems and essays. I found the works to be awakening and stirring – there is no shame or blame, but facts and truth.

Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think, by Dave Gray.
This book is about the power of thresholds. Liminal space sits between you and me when we meet, when teams meet, when people groups gather – it is a rich land. I think this space as one filled with low-hanging, ripe fruit. Anyone can reach up and pick the idea, solution, opportunity, revelation, wisdom and share. I look to cultivate this sort of atmosphere in classes, retreats and within small groups. It is an activating read. I am pondering what action may be required/explored personally and communally.

How Pictures Heal – Expressive Writing from Personal Photos, with Kelly DuMar

WOMAN WHO WEARS HER MOON HEART FULL ©Kelly DuMar

. . . A long time we were separate,
O Earth,
but now you have returned to me.

~ Elaine Equi

We all take, save, and inherit photographs of the people, places, and things that bring meaning, mystery, hope, and connection into our lives. In my upcoming 6-week writing webinar for the Transformative Language Arts Network, we will write from personal photos as a means of restoring meaning, purpose, hope, and resilience during and after loss. Particularly, throughout this time of the pandemic, unexpected losses, without meaningful closure, have mounted for many people. TLA practitioners and writers at all levels of experience will imaginatively encounter personal photos sparked by questions that generate remarkable and uplifting writing experiences.

If you’ve ever kept a diary or journal, it’s likely you know what expressive writing is–– and how this spontaneous writing about your feelings serves your emotional well-being in a variety of ways. Expressive writing is a way to get in touch with the “ideal listener” or the “silver lining voice” within all of us. The imagined listener who lets us express our feelings, hurts, dilemmas and joys, without judgment––or editing. And, because we write what we need to express without controls of grammar, form or outcome, we transform feelings, gain insights, and reduce our stress and anxiety. When we practice expressive writing in a supportive workshop, we also gain powerful feelings of connection with others, and the recognition that we are not alone. In fact, our stories and experiences can help others heal and grow.

Photographs fill boxes in our attics and cover our walls. We store them on our computers and cell phones and share them instantly on social media. We’re taking and sharing more pictures than ever before. Why? Because our photos show what we care about and hope to preserve, what moves and delights us. Our photos capture the people, places and memories that bring beauty and meaning into our lives. Writing from personal photos brings insight, healing, and zest into your life––whether you consider yourself a “writer” or not.

One young man wrote from a photo of himself and his brother as a child posing in the arms of their mother. As soon as he began writing, he wondered who had taken the photo. Ah. He realized it was the last photo his father had taken before leaving the family. His expressive writing led to this awakening: I was able to not only write something I’m proud of, but to process and communicate emotional difficulties I hadn’t been able to find words for in years.

Photo-inspired expressive writing revives our spirit. Long-dormant parts of our lives, places we’ve traveled to, people we’ve loved and lost come alive on the page. As the psychologist James Hillman brilliantly said, the gift of an image is that it provides a place to watch your soul. Expressive writing leads to re-discovering a zest for living. Deep conversations are sparked by showing, writing and sharing who, and what, we love. And, because listeners are truly interested, we feel a renewed enthusiasm, energy and sense of connection. As the author Martin Prechtel writes:

Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.

AUNT MARION , from the private collection of Kelly DuMar

My own photo-inspired creative writing was sparked by this picture. I was a twenty-two-year-old college student when the aunt I’d looked up to and adored since childhood needed me by her side. Caring for Marion as she died took me out of my comfort zone––and changed my life. So, when I saw my young, adventuresome aunt in my mother’s scrapbook, I asked her if I could keep it. This photo of Marion, captured in this archetypal pose of the archer, like the goddess Diana, stretching her bow, aiming her arrow, captivated me. My expressive writing helped me unpack all the truth, beauty and healing it held.

What I love most about photo-inspired writing is that it engages us with the profound beauty of our ordinary lives. We discover what I call The Secret Reveal––a revelation––something we have been unable to express that leads us to a new way of knowing ourselves or others and changes our response to the community and the world.

About the Webinar Format
This 6-week class is hosted on the online teaching platform, Wet Ink, and on Zoom. The Wet Ink platform allows you to log in on you own time to post your writing from the prompts and get to know others through their writing by adding your comments. The day before class begins, you’ll receive an invitation to join Wet Ink. There are no browser requirements, and Wet Ink is mobile-friendly. Additionally, you will have three LIVE webinars on Zoom to discuss your writing and interact in real time with other participants (scheduled during the first week according to best availability of participants).

Who Should Take This Class
This course will serve writers and TLA practitioners at all levels of experience, as well as anyone interested in personal and artistic development. Counseling professionals and para-professionals will find dynamic creative outlets for personal and professional development. Writers and artists with an interest in exploring the healing aspects of personal photos may also be quite interested.

About Kelly DuMar
Kelly is a poet, playwright, workshop facilitator, and certified psychodramatist from the Boston area who has been leading creative writing workshops for decades. She’s author of three poetry chapbooks, and her fourth is upcoming from Lily Press, 2023. A producer of high-quality literary and transformative arts programming, Kelly currently serves on the Board of the Transformative Language Arts Network, and produces the Open Mic Writer Series for the Journal of Expressive Writing. Her past board leaderships include the International Women’s Writing Guild, and Playwright’s Platform, Boston. She blogs her nature photos and creative writing from the Charles River (where she lives) daily, for the past six years, at #NewThisDay.

Your invitation to the journey of purposeful memoir! By Jennifer Browdy, PhD

Looking for some winter nourishment? How about giving yourself the gift of a weekend memoir writing retreat—from the comfort of your own home! 

This weekend, from Friday, January 14 to Sunday, January 16, I’ll be offering an intensive series of five writing workshops, carefully designed to stimulate your creative imagination and open up a safe, convivial space for reflection and inquiry. Hosted by the TLA Network, The Quest of Purposeful Memoir: Exploring the Past, Creating the Future, is open for registration now through Friday.

We’ll start by saluting the positive in your life experience, before dipping a pen into the inky waters of the more challenging moments, which we’ll transmute through what I call the magic of alchemical writing. 

We’ll quest into the past in search of the gold of life lessons inherited and learned that can serve us well in the present, and help us move with grace and intention into the future that is ours to create with each new dawn. 

The journey will unfold over three days—an introductory session on Friday from 12 – 1:30, followed by two sessions on Saturday and two on Sunday, from 12 – 1:30 and 2 – 3:30 pm. There will be some optional homework on Friday and Saturday, in case you are inspired to keep the quest going between sessions. 

To illustrate what can happen when you purposefully explore your past with the intention of creating a thriving future, I made a couple of photo collages I want to share with you. 

When I was writing my memoir, What I Forgot…And Why I Remembered, I went looking for positive moments from my childhood, trying to remember what it was that most brought me alive as a child. 

Childhood Memories, by Jennifer Browdy

The first collage of childhood photos shows me loving the woods, the beach, my family, and my pets—all of which I still love now, decades later. What’s missing is a childhood love that apparently never got photographed—my love of horses and riding, something I had totally given up as I moved on into adulthood.

It was only after doing the writerly quests that culminated in my memoir that I remembered how much joy horseback riding had given me as a child, and went looking to bring that exhilaration back into my life, decades later. 

Et voilà! The second collage shows the happy results of that quest. 

Riding Memories, by Jennifer Browdy

My point in sharing this is to emphasize how the inner work we do through purposeful memoir can lead to all kinds of transformative changes in our present and future. It’s a contemplative journey that is valuable even if you don’t seek to complete and publish a full memoir.

You will come away from the weekend with a pile of new writing, along with many new questions and new avenues of inquiry to explore as this long winter continues.

I hope you’ll try it with me and see for yourself.  I look forward to greeting you in the circle on Friday! 

Jennifer Browdy is a professor of comparative literature, writing and media arts at Bard College/Simon’s Rock in western Massachusetts, where she has taught for more than 25 years, with a focus on women’s personal narratives from around the world, and communications strategies for social and environmental justice. She is also a professor in the online Open Society University Network, administered by Bard College with partner institutions around the world. 

Jennifer’s environmental memoir, What I Forgot …And Why I Remembered, was a finalist for the 2018 International Book Awards. Her writer’s guide, The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir, won a 2017 Nautilus Silver Award. Her latest book, Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future, features her photographs of beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada, where she is a longtime summer resident. She has also created the Purposeful Memoir card deck of provocative photographs paired with evocative catalysts for writing.

Jennifer provides coaching and manuscript review for authors in fiction and nonfiction, and offers memoir workshops online and in person. Current online workshop series include Birth Your Truest Story, and Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future. 

Find out more at JenniferBrowdy.com.

Your Life is Your Life, by Renu Sarah Thomas

Each week in the TLAN course, Changing the World with Words, I  looked forward to the prompts and resources that took me on unexpected paths of self- discovery. My writing was almost always an outpouring from the depths of my heart, often as a poem and I did not focus on the craft. The more mature writing of others was invigorating but also intimidating and I hesitated to share my work which paled in comparison, and the way I used rhyme. 

A deep dive into the reading resources led me to viewing an interview with Pádraig Ó Tuama who says that poetry and rhyme offer a boundary that can help to contain our thoughts. This simple insight shifted something within me, in understanding my current style of writing and unashamedly accepting my creative process without comparison. So,  albeit with mild trepidation, here’s a poem of mine:

Inspired by the poem ‘The Laughing Heart’  by Charles Bukowski, one of the creative prompts on the course.

Your life is Your Life

Your life is your life.
It may not seem so now
Your life is your life,
It’s ok to ask how.

Your life is your life
Even when you feel caged in
Your life is your life
Scratch a way, use even a pin

Your life is your life
It ebbs and it flows. 
Your life is your life
In the midst of the blows

Your life is your life
Take the wheel in your hands
Your life is your life
Fly and decide where to land

Your life is your life
Be the change you want to see
Your life is your life
It always was, blessed be

Renu Thomas is a BAAT registered Art Psychotherapist, educator and workshop facilitator. Born in India, she has spent her growing years with her parents in England, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia and has lived in Dubai (UAE) for most of her adult life. She has a Masters in Textiles and Clothing from India and a Masters in Art Psychotherapy from Edinburgh, Scotland . She has extensive experience working with adults and children of varied ethnicities and having witnessed their stories, has a growing interest in the field of displacement and trauma. She is a self-taught artist and although she finds ceramics and acrylic painting centering and enjoyable, it is through writing that she has found liberation and empowerment. She passionately encourages others to pursue some form of creative expression, embrace their authentic selves and live on purpose. 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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Embracing the Unexpected, Welcoming a Change of Plan (pt 2), by Kimberly Lee

I’ve seen how a disruption in plans can lead to beautiful, unplanned results.

In one group I led, just four people were able to attend a session intended for twelve. Instead of canceling, I plowed ahead. It turned out that the four participants knew each other in a “six degrees of separation” type of way, and this led to a heartfelt time of deep and open sharing which unexpectedly became an ongoing, private group that I facilitate.

Another time, I attended a zoom workshop in which the facilitator’s screen froze and she eventually disappeared, leaving us staring at each other blankly, wondering what to do next. We were engaged in a scholarly discussion of archetypes in film and literature, and the glitch in technology led someone to bring up the fool, a figure who often appears in situations when things need to be shaken up. The facilitator returned, we all laughed about how the fool was at work, and she proceeded with a more energetic, interactive conversation.

I gave more thought to the topic of planning as a student in “The Art of Facilitation,” a TLAN course I took this summer. A prompt about allowing for the unexpected in workshops led me to write this:

After William Stafford

You reading this, be ready.
Things may not always go as planned.
And you’re a planner
As evidenced by your ever-increasing stack of 
Daily planners
Weekly planners
Monthly planners
Next-year planners

Your
To-do lists
Color-coded post-it notes
Snippets of goals and visions
Written hastily on random scraps of paper towel and restaurant napkins
Stuffed in the side pockets of your purse
Then carefully transferred into these books of burden.

But things don’t always go as planned
Sometime plans have a mind of their own
Breaking away, breaking apart
Becoming something gloriously unplanned 
And unrooted 
A refusal to be reduced to a pre-made plan
The sparks inside bursting into the open
Revealing a shimmer that defies even the best-laid plans
And births worlds of wonder.

I send gratitude to the Universe for the insight that came from working on this poem and the wisdom it offered. My acute self-awareness tells me I’ll probably never stop planning, though —some level of preparation is crucial to my confidence and peace of mind, especially when facilitating workshops. I couldn’t change it anyway; it’s set deeply in the swirls and twirls of my DNA. But I’ve realized that allowing for fluidity in the execution of a workshop can result in moving, meaningful moments benefiting both participants and myself. From now on, my agendas will be less rigid, my schedules less imposing, my timetables less absolute—and more “highly flexible, suggested.”

(Editor’s note: Part 1 of this piece can be found here.)

Kimberly Lee practiced law for some years, then turned her attention to motherhood, creative pursuits, and community work. She is a SoulCollage® and Amherst Writers & Artists facilitator and an editor and contributor at Literary Mama. Her work has appeared in Fresh Ink, Words and Whispers, Toyon, The Ekphrastic Review, Minerva Rising, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. Connect with Kimberly at http://kimberlylee.me

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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Embracing the Unexpected, Welcoming a Change of Plan (pt 1), by Kimberly Lee

My pre-workshop checklist is dense and lengthy. With the level of detail, one might wonder if I mistakenly think I’m creating the manifest for a space shuttle launch. I even write it that way, with a full-scale countdown.

10 — Ensure all devices are charged to 100% capacity. Panic if they aren’t.

9 — Increase lighting in room and on all devices to their highest, squint-inducing value.

8 — Cue up power point and ensure smooth movement through the slides, but remember to speak in an off-the-cuff manner during the presentation. Reading slides prompts participants’ eyes to glaze over.

And so on. I print out a clear-cut agenda, timed to the minute, important points highlighted. I jot out a list of the participants on a separate sheet with columns, to keep track of who is present and who has shared their work. A must-have is a schematic that helps me decide how long to allow for sharing and in what format—large group, breakout rooms, the chat box—depending on the number of participants and their mood. I keep a blank notepad for notes and comments to make in support of a piece of writing, and another blank one for any writing that I may do in response to a prompt. I also have an extra activity or two in mind in case an empty block of time looms.

All of this springs from my belief that extensive, exhaustive planning is the key to a successful workshop. It’s my security blanket, my spare tire, my five extra outfits for a weekend trip. “Be prepared”—the Scout’s motto from way back. They must know what they’re talking about, right?

The planning trait emerged early in me. As teachers in the local school district, my parents each received a complimentary appointment book each year. These spiral-bound books, with their black, pebbled, vinyl covers and gold block letters, inevitably found a home on our kitchen counter, unused. My parents had their own ways of organizing lesson plans and scheduling parent meetings; all I had to do was ask and the datebooks would be mine. As a third grader, this arrangement worked for me. I dutifully recorded my important engagements—ballet lessons, piano recitals, salon appointments, an upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe—in the cursive I’d recently learned. Cue the beginning of my life as a “planner.”

By high school, I’d adopted a 6 x 9-inch steno notepad with lined, pale green paper to keep track of homework assignments. Later I moved on to the binder planners, called “systems,” blanketing them with stickers (“messy bun, getting things done!,” “you got this!”) and neon pink highlighter. On some days, every hour would be taken with some appointment or task, every blank space filled with extra things to do.

My tendency to over-plan has continued over the years, including packed trip itineraries that have left my family exhausted at times, in need of a vacation after the vacation. We recently hosted a retreat for extended family. Leading up to their arrival, I sent a comprehensive agenda for the week. After a complaint disguised as a polite inquiry from my cousin, I re-labeled it, calling it “a highly flexible, suggested itinerary.”

I was starting to get it—even if a ton of fun is in store, plans that don’t allow for spontaneity can feel confining, restricted…

(Editor’s note: Look for Part 2 of Kimberly’s piece next week.)

Kimberly Lee practiced law for some years, then turned her attention to motherhood, creative pursuits, and community work. She is a SoulCollage® and Amherst Writers & Artists facilitator and an editor and contributor at Literary Mama. Her work has appeared in Fresh Ink, Words and Whispers, Toyon, The Ekphrastic Review, Minerva Rising, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. Connect with Kimberly at http://kimberlylee.me

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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Meet the Keynote: Kathleen Adams

The TLA Network is pleased to include Kathleen Adams, founder of the Therapeutic Writing Institute and the Center for Journal Therapy, as one of three keynotes at the upcoming TLA Network’s 2022 Power of Words Conference. The conference also features keynotes poet and writer Camille Dungy, and noted Irish Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama

The conference will be online October 13-16 next fall, and the super early bird registration fee (20% off the regular price) is available now through December 31, 2021

Kathleen (Kay) Adams is one of the most prominent and established voices in the field of therapeutic writing. She is an author, psychotherapist, registered poetry/journal therapist (PTR) and master mentor/supervisor (MM/S) whose gift and life mission is sharing the power of writing with all who desire self-directed change. Kay is the author/editor of 12 books on the power of writing, including the best-selling Journal to the Self.

In 1985, at the beginning of her graduate training, Kay taught her first journal workshop. Three years later, at graduation, she founded the Center for Journal Therapy. It has grown into an international training and consulting company offering workshops, on-line classes, certification training, retreats, intensives and individual consultations on the use of writing in therapy, health and wellness, coaching, and spiritual direction. She has worked as a journal therapist in private practice, in-patient, and intensive out-patient psychiatric programs. Kay is adjunct faculty in the Professional and Creative Writing Master’s program at University College at the University of Denver, where she teaches Writing & Healing.

Kay holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Colorado State University (1972) and a Master’s degree in psychology and counseling from Boulder Graduate School (1988). She has been a licensed professional counselor (LPC #770) in Colorado since 1994.

Registration is now open for the 2022 Power of Words conference, which will be held online from October 13-16, 2022. On sale now through December 31, save 20% off the 2022 conference fee!

Meet the Keynote: Camille Dungy

The poet and writer Camille Dungy (USA), New York, New York, May 30, 2019. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

“Earthly and visionary.” –Yusef Komunyakaa

The TLA Network is pleased to include poet and writer, Camille T. Dungy, as one of three keynotes at the upcoming TLA Network’s 2022 Power of Words Conference. The conference keynotes also include noted Irish Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, and Kathleen Adams, founder of the Therapeutic Writing Institute and the Center for Journal Therapy. The conference will be online October 13-16 next fall, and the super early bird registration fee (20% off the regular price) is available now through December 31, 2021.

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017); Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011) winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize; Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010) winner of the American book award in 2010; and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006).

Her debut collection of personal essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. The Kirkus Review noted of this lyrical memoir, “Each essay flows smoothly into the next, and they are all interlinked with themes of race, fear, joy, and love, bringing readers eye to eye with the experiences of being a black female poet, lecturer, mother, and woman. Forthright, entertaining, often potent essays that successfully intertwine personal history and historical context regarding black and white in America.”

Dungy is the editor of the anthology Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets. About the anthology, a Booklist starred review notes, “Just as nature is too often defined as wilderness when, in fact, nature is everywhere we are, our nature poetry is too often defined by Anglo-American perspectives, even though poets of all backgrounds write about the living world. Dungy enlarges our understanding of the nexus between nature and culture, and introduces a ‘new way of thinking about nature writing and writing by black Americans.’” Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole. Dungy serves as the poetry editor for Orion magazine.

Dungy is also the editor of several other anthologies, including From the Fishouse (Persea, 2009) and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Dungy is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Diane Middlebrook Residency Fellowship of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and other organizations. She was the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American PoetryThe 100 Best African American Poems, nearly thirty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals.

Dungy is currently University Distinguished Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Registration is now open for the 2022 Power of Words conference, which features Camille Dungy as keynote. The conference will be held online from October 13-16, 2022, and is on sale now through December 31 – save 20% off the 2022 conference fee!

Meet the Keynote: Pádraig Ó Tuama

“Putting to work poetry and gospel, side by side with story and Celtic spirituality, Ó Tuama explores ideas of shelter along life’s journey, opening up gentle ways of living well in a troubled world. The reader can’t help but be drawn in, slip-sliding into the harbor of the author’s soulful words.” —Chicago Tribune

“Probably the best public speaker I know.” —William Crawley, BBC

The TLA Network is pleased to include noted Irish Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama as one of three keynotes at the upcoming TLA Network’s 2022 Power of Words Conference. The conference also features keynotes poet and writer Camille Dungy, and Kathleen Adams, founder of the Therapeutic Writing Institute and the Center for Journal Therapy. The conference will be online October 13-16 next fall, and the super early bird registration fee (20% off the regular price) is available now through December 31, 2021

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a theologian, conflict resolution mediator, and the author of four volumes of poetry, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), In the Shelter (2015), Sorry for your Troubles (2013), and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), which was longlisted for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize.

For Ó Tuama, religion, conflict, power, and poetry all circle around language, that original sacrament. Working fluently on the page and in public, Ó Tuama is a compelling poet, teacher, and group worker, and a profoundly engaging public speaker. He has worked with groups to explore story, conflict, their relationship with religion and argument, and violence. Using poetry, group discussion and lectures, his work is marked both by lyricism and pragmatism, and includes a practice of evoking stories and participation from attendees at his always-popular lectures, retreats, and events.

Ó Tuama has been a featured guest on On Being with Krista Tippett twice, and is a regular broadcaster on radio on topics such as Poetry, Religion in the public square, Loneliness, Conflict and Faith, LGBT inclusion, the dangers of so-called Reparative Therapy, and the value of the Arts in public life. In 2011, with Paul Doran, Pádraig co-founded the storytelling event Tenx9 where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives. From 2014-2019, Pádraig led the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. Currently, Pádraig guides the weekly podcast Poetry Unbound through NPR’s On Being, which dives and immerses the listener into one poem every week

His poetry collection Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community draws on the spiritual practices of Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community Corrymela—of which Ó Tuama was a leader from 2014-2019. Described by Canterbury’s Poetry Laureate Patience Agbabi as “compassionate, contemporary and formally innovative,” this prayer book was structured over 31 days, offering a daily Bible reading with accompanying prayer. His book In the Shelter interweaves everyday stories with narrative theology, gospel reflections with mindfulness and Celtic spirituality with poetry, ultimately revealing the transformational power of welcome. Network Magazine praised it as being remindful of Augustine’s Confessions and Newman’s Apologia: “It comes from the heart, it recognizes the hurts and the triumphs, and it encourages us to say ‘hello’ to new things.” Sorry for Your Troubles, arose out of a decade of O’Tuama’s experiences hearing stories of people who have lived through personal and political conflict in Nothern Ireland, the Middle East, and other places of conflict. One poem, ‘Shaking hands’ was written when Padraig witnessed the historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth II and Martin McGuinness, who has since used the poem publicly. His first book Readings from the Books of Exile interweaves parable, poetry, art, activism and philosophy into an original and striking expression of faith.

His poems have been published at Poetry Ireland Review, Academy of American Poets, Post Road, Cream City Review, Holden Village Voice, Proximity Magazine, On Being, Gutter, America, and Seminary Ridge Review.

Pádraig Ó Tuama holds a BA Div validated by the Pontifical College of Maynooth, an MTh from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently engaged in a PhD in Theology through Creative Practice at the University of Glasgow exploring poetry, Irishness and religion.

Registration is now open for the 2022 Power of Words conference, which will be held online from October 13-16, 2022.
On sale now through December 31, save 20% off the 2022 conference fee!
 

New Scholarship Fund Supports Access to Conferences and Classes.

The Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Fund was established in the fall of 2021 to honor the founder of the transformative language arts and the TLA Network. The Fund provides Power of Words Conference and TLA Network classes support for both BIPOC people and people who are living with serious illness and/or disabilities.

The following remarks by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg were made at the TLA Network’s online Power of Words Conference, on October 30, 2021.

I am so honored by this fund in my name, which will provide scholarships for people of color, people living with serious illness, and people with disabilities.

Why these communities, all of whom are negatively impacted in our problematic world:

As a survivor of both a very common cancer and a very rare cancer, and as someone who’s had the joy and education of facilitating writing workshops for 18 years for people living with serious illness – patients, survivors, caregivers, and community members, I know first-hand how essential is to to have supported spaces for big writing and witnessing.

I’ve also been involved with disabilities rights and communities through my husband’s work for 30 years as an occupational therapist and activist working with people living with disabilities.

Both people living with serious illness and disabilities, which sometimes go hand-in-hand, are so often limited in accessing workshops and conferences like what TLAN offers, and not just by a lack of wheelchair ramps. The isolation and pain, overwhelm and fear we face in such situations can make us feel so alone with our pain, dread, anxiety, difference. 

We are missing such important voices at the table, ones that have so much to teach us about resilience in real-time, what it means to age and change, and how to grapple more directly with being humans who are mortal. Scholarships can help us bring life-giving creativity and community into people’s homes through their laptops. 

Black, brown Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and other marginalized people of color have too often and so extensively, to the detriment of all of us, been silenced or had their voices abused. My more personal connection is that I live in the home of Haskell Indian Nations University and the ghosts land burial ground where so many children died when it was a boarding school. I’ve also witnessed many people’s stories through teaching at Haskell and facilitating workshops for many years with Indigenous women.

When we started the POW conference, we began with a commitment to continually work on undoing racism and inviting many more voices to the table, or even forgetting the old table and making a new one. From our first conference, we had scholarships for POC, a determination to bring in keynoters from unrepresented communities, and outreach to communities of color. Most arts-based organizations like ours are primarily white and although we’ve come a long way, we have so so so long to go. 

Removing financial barriers where and when needed is part of this work, and it also helps foster new leadership and a more attuned vision to how TLA can bring voices previously ignored or debased into our civic conversations. 

In 2014, we were able to bring close to a dozen people living with serious illness and disabilities to the POW conference to share their stories and truths. A year later, we brought 15 young people of color, all in the foster care system, to the conference. How wonderful it would be to have scholarship funds available for people who want to attend Angie Ebba’s superb upcoming TLAN class, “Not Enough Spoons: Writing About Disabilities and Chronic Illness” and to next year, have even more black and brown faces, people undergoing heavy cancer treatment or navigating disabilities in an ableist world at this conference.

Please consider giving what you can give to make our offerings more accessible to others. Please help create this new table where we can all come and speak our lives and visions.

Contribute to the Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Fund here.

All funds will be processed through the TLA Network’s fiscal sponsor, The Foundation for Delaware County. When contributing via FDC, make sure to note your donation is made “in honor of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.”