Text from my newsletter:
I think that we creatives, educators, and citizens are called upon to be brave: to hold space for one another in the fullness of our human expressions and identities; to challenge and question when the world would want us numb and docile; and to collaborate with others while building communities of strength, resistance, and hope.
Just yesterday, I was in Austin, Texas, doing a reading with Torch Literary Arts, an organization that highlights and seeks to support the work of African American women and girls. Amanda Johnston, its founder, first had invited me to participate in an interview. In it, we talked about science fiction as preparation for a possible future; how a zombie movie could be seen as a metaphor for the dulling of our minds and the consumption and destruction of creativity and innovation in favor of mindlessness; how we must protect our inner lives, our minds, our voices, our futures.
It makes sense, given this push, why I am so focused on creating opportunities for dialogue. In just a few days, Cleave: Bay Area Women Writers, will celebrate its first book release. It’s a partnership with The Liminal Center, with proceeds going to the center, which supports the work of women writers. 9 writers on Friday, August 11, from 7-9pm will be reading their work at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland and then participating in speed dating-style craft talks with audience members. It’s going to be a fun night highlighting the voices of women writers. You can buy a copy here!
I also started a class recently, called #LiveToWrite, with The Speakeasy Project of The Blueshift Journal, including guest lectures from writers and editors like Arisa White, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, A.J. Alana Ka’imi Bryce, and Sarah Rafael García. It’s a class focused on the practice of living as a writer: from writing bios, crafting artist statements, finding and applying to grants, crafting a social media strategy, and more … because part of our work as writers is getting our work out there and creating spaces for others to do the same. I myself am constantly thinking about my writing craft, my work as an educator (particularly emphasizing the voices of POC, women, and LGBTQ writers). I have even been blogging about that journey, among other issues like academia and fertility, as part of Vanessa Mártir’s #52essays2017 challenge. Over 700 people are now taking part, writing an essay a week for the entire week.
As a partner in the Artists for Sustained and United Resistance initiative, I’m also curating a workshop series in the Mission Cultural District of San Francisco at Adobe Books and Alley Cat Books. Saturday, August 19, Sharon Coleman, Maya Chinchilla, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and I will be offering workshops at the representative bookstores from 2-4pm. A portion of the proceeds will go to supporting the Indigenous Environmental Network, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and Showing Up for Racial Justice. Tickets are only $5!
Finally, as part of my work as a teacher educator and now as director of the Single Subject credential program at Saint Mary’s College of California, I’m also working with my program colleagues to establish an even more culturally enriched, insightful, and transformative program that will prepare future urban educators. We have a few job openings that would be perfect for current secondary educators to take on. The positions close very soon, so apply now!
- Humanizing Education Methods: Subject Matter Experts
- Social and Psychological Foundations of Secondary Education
For those of you who identify as women of color and writers, look out for an upcoming retreat in March 2018. I’ll be planning a retreat for WOC to engage in readings at the beginning (Los Angeles) and end (Seattle) of the Coastal Starlight train route with structured retreat prompts, workshops, and readings on the long train ride. Just another way of building with other writers and actively engaging in the creation work in destructive times. This is part of what it means to be a citizen: to build, to co-create, to dream, to act collectively.
What do you think action beyond hashtags might be? What does being an artist and a citizen mean to you? How can we collaborate with one another? I’m curious what your thoughts are. Connect with me on Twitter @rainaleon or @profesoraleon or Instagram @rainaleon.
We have work to do together!
Check out more reflections at my blog and poems from the book and others at my site. Keep writing! If you identify as a LatinX writer or artist, consider submitting your work to The Acentos Review. The new issue comes out on August 15!