Note from Intern Anita Ballesteros: This week in our guest blog post, Diane O’Neill writes about her personal experience as a descendant of Irish immigrants, and her views on the social and political climate surrounding immigrants in America today. America is built on many nations, and her piece speaks to the current perceptions and the… Read more »
Note from Intern Anita Ballesteros: In Jane Shiau’s guest blog post this week, she shares her personal humorous and uplifting account of finding a sense of belonging in America through Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon. This short piece resonates with the challenge of feeling welcome in today’s multicultural environment. A WRITER FINDS HOPE IN OLYMPIC… Read more »
Last week, a young woman, 20 years old, a classmate of my son’s from kindergarten through graduation, was murdered. In the sleepy bedroom community that we live in, such news is always shocking. There is a bubble of safety, or the illusion of it, that surrounds us here. She was killed — no, not killed, violently slaughtered – by her boyfriend, in a wealthy, predominantly white suburb close to Boston.
I run poetry workshops for students with developmental disabilities. Every week I meet with thirty-six students to work on the writing of original poetry. By and large, creative work and arts education is met with skepticism in neurodiverse education. It can be cute to do the occasional, holiday art project, but researchers can’t track data from it, school districts can’t quantify the results of it, and, as a result, schools can’t fund it.
Managing Editor’s Note: Today we feature poet, essayist, and social justice activist Robbie Gamble. Robbie considers the purpose and function of poetry in the context of this year’s solar eclipse and political upheaval, writing that poetry can help us “explore the emotional nuances we are experiencing at the edge of all the chaos.”
First, read an introduction by our new intern, Anita Ballesteros. Anita comes to Solstice Magazine from Lesley University’s MFA program, where she studies fiction writing. As you’ll see, Anita has led a fascinating life full of travel, diverse experiences, education, and motherhood. Welcome Anita!
In recognition of Martin Luther King Day, we are sharing two pieces that reflect on our current socio-political landscape. Read Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges’ essay “American Without Prefix” and Solstice Magazine’s Nonfiction Editor Richard Hoffman’s poem STATE OF THE UNION.
Today, in our continuing series on social justice issues, we feature two pieces that deal with protest and how it is talked about within a society. In “Focus,” Chetan Tiwari writes about Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games, and how our discussions about this veer away from the topic of police brutality to patriotism and other “weapons of mass distraction.” In “A Cautionary Tale,” Sandell Morse shares her experience visiting Catalan during the National Strike, held to protest police brutality, Finding that civility prevails in the discussions she heard about this charged topic, Morse worries that the United States, with its current less-than-civilized approach to political discourse, may become “a cautionary tale” for the Catalonians
The first two guest posts in our series addressing social justice. In the first, Jennifer Minotti confronts fellow parents after one of their children uses a racial slur against her daughter. In the second, Vanessa Lewis challenges the idea that to “take a knee” during the anthem at a football game is unpatriotic.
Elisabeth Schmeidel (1945-2012) was born in Austria. Her father Herrmann von Schmeidel, a conductor in Salzburg, and her mother, Eleonora von Arbesser Rastburg, named her after the writer Bettina von Arnim, but she was baptized Elisabeth, absent any saint named Bettina.
I adored the process of having my first baby. I was so thankful to be pregnant, I loved labor, and I loved giving birth. It was overwhelmingly empowering and powerful and transformative. I would give birth every day for a month if it meant I didn’t have to live with a newborn again.
“As African Americans, when we play, we play hard,” says Johnnie Davis, Director of Serenity House, a program that provides services for women who have been raped or molested, and experience homelessness, and/or mental health or emotional issues, tells me inside Serenity House’s ocean-colored walls.
I took a class to learn how to meditate. It didn’t go well. At least I didn’t keep falling asleep, like one guy did. I was always thinking about food. (This kind of stuff seems to have that effect on me — I took a yoga class some years ago, and all I could think about was: Is this over soon so I can go have a beer? And I don’t even really drink beer.)
Two days after Srinivas Kuchibhotlas was shot dead at a bar in Kansas, his wife Sunayana Dumala spoke at a press conference about her concern for staying on in America. “I often asked my husband,” she revealed, her voice breaking, “are we doing the right thing (by) staying.” Sunayana’s fears hint at the awkward moral burden immigrants from the Indian subcontinent place upon themselves.
Sorting through files in my parent’s office after they’d moved into assisted living, I found an old newspaper clipping–an editorial Mom had written. I paused at her bio: activist, teacher, homemaker. The description evoked a woman with defined lines, neat and contained.
I was sitting with my husband outside an ice cream shop on the east side of Cincinnati, watching our son caper around a park with his buddies from Shakespeare Camp, when my husband observed, “I don’t feel white here.”
My husband is white. Half white. He is also half Chinese.
Meditation creates the space, writing fills the void. I’m called to both.
For twenty years, my daily sitting meditation practice has nourished me. It’s essential, like oxygen keeping me sane and, hopefully, kinder and more compassionate.
A book of poetry, more than a book in any other genre, has the unique power to switch from topic to topic, spanning continents and eons if the writer wishes, to capture a wide array of experiences. Skin Music, by Dennis Hinrichsen, does this well.
How to chart the landscape of desire? A pencil is a good start, a draft, a poem. But soon you’ll be dipping a pen in blood, your own blood, and the blood of your ancestors and your enemies. You’ll have crossed the border and entered the landscape. You’ll need something stronger than poems. You will need to make spells.
The year my mother died, I claimed a desk for myself in the family room. I placed my notebook and the books that were my touchstones at the time on the desk. I bought a beautiful fountain pen from pennies saved, ink made from roses.
Reviewer—Joyce Peseroff ASK ANYONE by Ruth Lepson, Pressed Wafer, 2016, 68pp., $12.50 Managing Editor’s Note: Some reviews of poetry collections are not only insightful, but a pleasure to read. Reviewing poetry is a challenging task, given the art form’s sometimes slippery use of language and the subjective quality of interpretation. Peseroff manages it beautifully.… Read more »
he powerful grassroots movement, #BlackLivesMatter, is sometimes countered with the slogan “all lives matter.” Well, of course they do. That’s the point of #BlackLivesMatter—to demand we acknowledge the importance of lives, Black lives, too often treated as if they mattered not at all, with tragic results.
Canadian author Kelly Oxford’s tweet from the evening of October 7 was brave. Her call to women, “tweet me your first assaults,” was significant. It was the right tweet at the right time. By the next evening, Oxford was receiving up to fifty responses per minute. Millions of stories have since been shared at #notokay, and many of these tweets represent the first time someone has shared her story. Many note that, like me, they kept quiet for so long because of shame. It took me fourteen years.
Wendy Mnookin’s fifth collection, Dinner with Emerson, is organized according to the four seasons. It begins with spring and runs through the year, followed by a fifth section, “Another Spring,” that features poems in a season that stretch beyond “Winter.” There is a sense of the ongoing about these poems, that life marches on, that we learn to turn the page, and that despite whatever we are slogging through, there will be another season.
You know a writer with mental illness, even if you don’t realize it or know that person by name. Maybe the writer is a friend, or someone in your critique group, or someone you met at a writer’s convention. Maybe it’s someone you are working with on a publication.
This past May, I drove Professor Gwendolyn Rosemond home after she attended one of the bi-annual artist retreats I co-direct with my husband—we traveled along scenic route 127, from Gloucester at the tip of Cape Ann in Massachusetts, to Salem which is further South, at the Northshore’s midpoint. We drove for about forty five minutes and in that span we solved both the adjunct problem and the diversity problem at universities. Well, we solved a key portion of these problems. “Grow your own!” Gwen said. And, she was absolutely right.