(Still image of Aimee holding bangka from 2018 poem/music video "Water & Walls," viewable here.)
"may the tide / that is entering even now / the lip of our understanding / carry you out / beyond the face of fear" - Lucille Clifton, from "blessing the boats"
I write to you around our 2-month mark of being on shelter-in-place. What a strange dimension we have been in! As I wrote in my last letter, just before the pandemic was proclaimed, I had returned to writing these newsletters with baby, who, during the quarantine period has made big strides into toddlerhood while I navigate working as a single parent now without daycare (click here if you missed the article about our story). Many of you, I am sure, have had to traverse family + work life in unsustainable ways during these times -- many have lost jobs, worry about rent, food, future incomes and the many-headed monster of uncertainty. I feel for you and we are all in this storm, though navigating the waters in different boats. I truly hope you are being well to yourselves, knowing that while we will emerge differently, we will emerge.
We have all had to pull upon our ability to adapt and be resilient. In this way, I am blessed for the challenges, the upturns and upside-downs I've faced because I know I am capable of finding the tools to survive and protect my son. I honor how you are each surviving and finding your ways. I urge you to think about what tools you have had to lean on during the hardest times, and how they help you now. Motherhood, creativity and teaching have all given me ways to move through the path.
I am thinking about how we gather, and how we heal, how we grow in empathy as we weather the storm. I am sharing with you at the end of this letter a new/rough poem that expresses this, "we gather here/heal."
In sum from last time: What a time! In March, just before the shelter-in-place, the poets and musicians (Living Earth Show, Kronos Quartet) of ECHOES gathered at the ODC Theater in San Francisco to perform two nights to a reduced crowd and the first hints of social distancing - before we knew what was to come. Theaters had just begun to cancel; we went out singing, just as the lights went out. I can't express how memorable it was, and grateful to have had that experience. And then... all went dark (and online). Last month, I jumped in to participate in a 48-hour creative and performance process for "Writer Boogie," part of Amplify! Bay Area Women's Theater Festival -- a humor-filled re-created meeting among women (played by us, the playwrights). It felt great to both pen and embody characters who felt so familiar and to do Zoom-theater for the first time. Also, my Poetry for Social Justice class online went up and just closed its pilot run, a process that offered catharsis for students and me alike.
Coming Up: Though appearances are more limited, this letter announces two things, one tomorrow/ Friday (5/22) evening, and the other June 3. I hope to "see" you there. And, if your resources allow, consider if you may want to contact me for one-on-one or group workshops, manuscript or performance coaching, editing and more, at email@example.com. In this uncertain future, many of us will rely on new ways of supporting one another's work in the arts.
Until next time - thank you for reading and being with me! - Aimee
The Impossible Summit: Celebrating the Impossible
About the IMPOSSIBLE SUMMIT,
a FREE online convergence:
- Over 50+ Visionaries, Activists, & Change Agents.
- KeyNotes, Workshops, Discussions, Wellness Activities, Sharing and Healing Circles And More…
- Together We Can: Articulate a core set of emergent ideas around Love, responsibility, and contribution that can inform a new world-centered activism / Weave more support both within and between change agent communities and the world at large / Create new models of living, working, learning and social engagement
Online Class starts June 3! INTRO TO POETRY
Do you want to try writing poetry? Do you need to refresh your understanding of the fundamentals of the genre? “Introduction to Poetry” will teach you a slew of essential poetry techniques all from the comfort of your own desk--at any time that’s convenient for you! This class will focus on a different craft topic and/ or poetic form each week-long session, and will familiarize students with contemporary, as well as canonized, poets. Specifically, you’ll receive:
- A weekly craft talk focusing on an aspect of writing poetry
- A weekly exercise to sharpen your skills
- Group workshopping of poetry written by you and your classmates
- Individualized critique of your poetry by the instructor
- Discussion of published poems and craft essays by authors such as Joy Harjo, Danez Smith, Suheir Hammad, Luis Rodriguez, Carolyn Forche, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton and Ocean Vuong
And a drafty, new poem for the now (please contact me if you wish to use or distribute):
we gather here/heal
--Aimee Suzara, 5/21/20
we gather here
from our zoom rectangles
from our living rooms
from our pajamas
and glasses of solo wine
from our unmade beds
and our messy hair
from our children's night wakings
and our children's homework
from our separation anxiety
from our chocolate indulgences
from our last toilet paper roll
from our last rent check
from our unemployment
and our delayed stimulus checks
we gather, heal
from our instagram
from our recipes
from our grocery deliveries
and our rationed veggies
from our homemade masks
from our pandemic stock-ups
from our pandemic shortages
and our scarcity complexes
from our delivery workers
from our frontline nurses
from our lack of PPEs
and our too-soon returns
from our scarcity
from our plenty
we gather, here
each time, wonder where here is
each time, wonder when we get to there.
(Photo by Aimee Suzara)