Tag Archives: Writers Grotto

Full circle: The New Face of Travel (9/22)!

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I was thrilled when curator-about-town Lisa Gray (my former Mills student and TA) asked me to host a themed reading for 14 Black Poppies/The Bloom Series. I chose the rich topic, BAD TRIPS, and decided to continue the personal touch by inviting Elaine Lee (one of the first people to publish me) and four folks I’ve taught or mentored through VONA Summer Workshops for Writers of Color, the San Francisco Writers Grotto and LitQuake.

The result is BAD TRIPS:  What do a global health epidemiologist, Bedouin-Finnish musician, immigrant rights activist, and host of a Black travel show have in common? From Navigating Tanzania’s Gay Underground to Crossing the Border on an Acid-trip. From Bottoming out at Burning Man to Flying off to Fight Ebola: It’s good stories come from BAD TRIPS! 3 writers + 1 poet + 1 storyteller + 1 singer/songwriter. Music by Hassan el-Tayyab of American Nomad.

Come see THE NEW FACE OF TRAVEL: Tuesday 22 September 7-9PM, Laurel Bookstore, 1423 Broadway, Oakland. Suggested $5 donation.

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/// ELAINE LEE is a globetrotter and travel journalist. The editor of Go Girl: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure, she has visited 56 countries and made two solo trips around the world. Her ground zero home is in Berkeley, and her cyberhome is www.ugogurl.com. Most recently she taped an episode of Bay Area Check, Please!

/// KARINA MUÑIZ is a Prose Fellow/MFA Candidate in the Community Engagement Program at Mills College, and the Political Director at Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a grassroots organization of Latina immigrants. An alumna of Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation/VONA, she holds Masters degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies from UCLA.

/// TOM PYUN is a travel addict who works as a nonprofit consultant to support his habit. A queer Korean-American man, he lived and worked in Tanzania for two years where homosexuality was criminalized with 30 years imprisonment. He is a 2015 Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation/VONA Fellow and has been published in Reed Magazine.

/// SRIRAM SHAMASUNDER started writing creatively as an undergraduate in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People class at UC Berkeley. He is a doctor/poet who works at UCSF and runs the HEAL Initiative (@healinitiative), a program focused on building health workforce capacity internationally and in the Navajo Nation. He writes to keep his balance and bear witness.

/// HASSAN EL-TAYYAB is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, educator, and cultural activist residing in San Francisco. His critically-acclaimed Americana act, American Nomad, performs regularly at festivals and venues up and down the West Coast and beyond. His memoir is forthcoming this fall from Poetic Matrix.

/// FAITH ADIELE, HOST is author of a travel memoir; subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home; and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World. She teaches at California College of the Arts, The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and Voices/VONA, where she’s established the nation’s first workshop for travel writers of color.

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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.

2 Weeks to Register for Writing Workshop

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Do your friends always say you should write about your life? Do you have family stories or travel journals you’d like to tackle? Does your writing project need a shot in the arm? My generative exercises are a low-pressure way to keep that New Year’s resolution to make more time for your writing. Only 2 more weeks to register for Your Personal Odyssey: Explore & Tell Your Story, a 6-week workshop at the San Francisco Writers Grotto.