This is a rather sweet Grotto – VONA – CCA tale. This evening my friend, Burmese poet Maw Shein Win, is guest curating the Bay Area Generations reading, which pairs 2 “intergenerational” writers together. When I joined the famed San Francisco Writers Grotto, I was excited to see a Burmese name on the membership list and resolved to hunt her down. Imagine my surprise to discover that her mother was the first Burmese bhikkhuni, and her surprise to discover that I had been Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun!
Meanwhile, I had also met my friend Audrey Esquivel in a workshop for mixed-race Buddhists of color at the East Bay Meditation Center and discovered that we share a rather unique combination of cultural influences. Get this – she’s African American and Anglo Burmese, and her blog is called Chutney & Chitlins. I learned that she too was writing a memoir about her international family set within the tumultuous context of global history, and as soon as I heard her parents’ amazing story, I resolved to do everything I could to make sure it was told.
Audrey took her first ever writing creative class with me – my Your Personal Odyssey: Explore & Tell Your Story with Faith Adiele at The Grotto. I later arranged for her to meet my friend, award-winning writer Canyon Sam who’s writing about Burma, and Maw, who in turn introduced her to the Bay Area Burmese writing community. Last summer, I encouraged Audrey to apply to the VONA/Voices: Summer Workshop for Writers of Color, where I’ve taught for the past 7 years, and she was able to study with a Stacyann Chinn, a Black Asian immigrant woman memoirist.
Since then Audrey and I have become part of a writing group comprised of mixed-race Buddhist women of color (only in the Bay Area, my friends say!), and she was just accepted to study with me in the MFA Program in Writing at California College of the Arts! So how fitting that tonight Audrey and I will be reading together at Bay Area Generations, curated by Maw! Get this – the suggested donation gets you a chapbook of the evening’s readings, including 2 stories about our black dads!
Monday, April 20, 7:00 PM Doors Open, 7:30 Reading Starts
Bay Area Generations Reading in the beautiful library of the Berkeley City Club (see photos), 2315 Durant Avenue. Maw Shein Win is the guest curator for the evening and our fabulous readers include: Faith Adiele + Audrey Esquivel, Erica Goss + Amanda Williamsen, Ivan Arguelles + D.S. Black, Alexandra Kostoulas + Yvonne Campbell, Lynne Knight + Heather Bourbeau, Jon Sindell + Kristina Ten and Jack and Adelle Foley + Amos White. Organized by Charles Kruger and Sandra Wassilie.