Tag Archives: creative writing

Africa + Southeast Asia + Serendipity = Tonight’s Bay Area Generations Reading + Chapbook

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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!

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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!

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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.

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More Faith-based Initiatives – with friends!

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Wednesday March 18 – Reading/Interview

Along with longtime gal pal (and one of my first publishers!) Elaine Lee, author of Go Girl: The Black Women’s Book of Travel & Adventure, I’ll be reading for Our Voices, Our Stories: A Literary Reading Series Featuring Women of Color. I will then be interviewed on my e-book, The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems, by former student, gal pal and Our Voices founder Lisa Gray. 7:00-9:00PM, Mercury Café (behold its cuteness below), 201 Octavia St, San Francisco. Free and open to the public.

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Thursday March 19 – Film Screenings/Discussion

Seattle-based gal pal, activist and award-winning filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro and I will be screening and discussing our documentary films in a special program called Documenting the Diaspora: A Tanzanian-Korean-American & An Afro-Viking Go Home. 6:30-9:00PM, Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco. The event is part of Third Thursdays, which means that both the (fabulous, newly-renovated) museum and films are free!

Earlier in the day, we’ll be co-presenting Filming Your Story: A Tanzanian-Korean Activist & Afro-Viking Writer Go Home at my workplace (FilmingYourStory flyer), 12:00-3:00 PM, California College of the Arts, Building B3, 5212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618.

Friday March 20 – Film Screenings/Discussion

The next morning we’ll be screening the films for Mixed Roots: Mixed-Race Women Explore Their African Roots (Mixed Roots FLYER) in discussion with gal pal, writing partner and English Department Co-chair Jackie Graves. 10:00AM-12:00PM, Laney College, Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center, 900 Fallon Street, Oakland. The event, part of Women’s HERstory Month, is free and open to the public.

An afternoon event at Mills College TBA.

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The Films

A LOT LIKE YOU (55 min and 82 min versions) During her first trip to Tanzania, Tanzanian-Korean-American Eliaichi Kimaro’s conversations with her aunts and uncles of the Chagga tribe address education, politics, social structure, tradition, history, marriage and rape. It is through the subject of sexual assault that Kimaro connects with her aunts and later with her parents, as together they unearth painful conversations to find some shared space to heal.

MY JOURNEY HOME (35 min) Born to and raised by a Nordic-American mother in the rural Pacific Northwest, Nigerian-Nordic-American Faith Adiele travels to Nigeria to meet her father and siblings for the first time. This film provides a layered, artful view of the intersections of multiracial identity formation, African decolonization, and Civil Right Era America.

Both films will be available for purchase at all events.

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Empowering Those Who Empower Others

Rushed through the detritus of last night’s Nigerian party to make my Skype consult with a new writing client who’s doing amazing work in West Africa. “You get it!” she cried, and I was equally inspired. It’s such a joy helping folks telling important stories find their structure and voice!

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Only 9 days left to register for  Your Personal Odyssey: Explore & Tell Your Story with Faith Adiele (1/28-3/11)!

Another opportunity to Get the Faith this summer

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So applications for VONA: Summer Workshops for Writers of Color have closed as of yesterday, but this week is the informal deadline for Berkeley’s new 6-week Summer Creative Writing Program!

I’ll be teaching with some of my oldest pals: Sam Chang (who read countless early drafts of Meeting Faith), my PBS co-star Andrew Lam, grad school buddy Shane Book, and Oaklander sister Camille Dungy.

VONA Post Its

And I’m very excited to get to know the talented Justin Torres, whom I saw read from We the Animals at Writers With Drinks just seconds before he became huge. And director T Geronimo Johnson, who was just nominated for a PEN Faulkner!

The (paid) program is open to everyone and has everything: Morning workshops, master classes, readings, panels, portfolio prep, novel sessions – you name it! Check out the brochure. Applications due ASAP.