In her eulogy for James Baldwin, Toni Morrison wrote the words I needed to hear after learning of her death: "You knew, didn't you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn't you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No. This is jubilee."
A preview of The Lab Online
Greetings from the first day back to the office after a series of travels. This last academic year at The Lab has been so exciting, but before I get started with the re-cap, the Fall 2019 Cycle of The Lab starts 9/10/19 and has six seats left. It's open for registration.
This past year I have been bad about newsletters. Why? I finished recording the videos for fifteen step-by-step sessions of The Lab Online (see above for a sneak peek and stay tuned for how/when you can sign-up), and got to teach the first iteration of The Lab abroad, in Mallorca, Spain, as a guest teacher for Alice LaPlante’s Tramuntana Writers’ Group (see below, the view from the writing-table). (Also stay tuned for an announcement of a late-spring early-summer week-long workshop in Mallorca in 2020!)
Several former Labbers have published books (see below, click for links). They have applied to residencies and MFA programs. Some have gotten lucky. Others have gained practice in collecting the “noes” that lead, eventually, to the “yesses.” Labbers have started and are finishing BA & MFA programs in Creative Writing.
We’ve reunited with our old pal Fourteen Hills and staged a public reading at Manny’s (see below. Most photo credits: Craig Hamlin); and we’ve shown up for 2.5 hours on six Tuesday nights to immerse ourselves in our writing, engaging with experiments inspired by artists and writers (and former-boxers and actors and musicians): Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Bentt, Tommy Orange, Tony Kushner, Mary Gaitskill, Danez Smith, George Saunders, Ellen Bass, Renee Zulema Summerfield, Laura Dern and Mike White, Janine Antoni and Nancy Stohlman, Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein.
The Lab also partnered with PBS and Z Space to host a screening and discussion of a documentary called Considering Matthew Shepard (see photos, below). The film follows the creative process that led Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare, a Grammy-winning choral ensemble, to tell Matthew Shepard’s story using the structure of a passion-play, which, in Christian music, tells the story of the last period of Jesus’s life, ending in his crucifixion.
As many of you know, Matthew Shepard was targeted for being gay. Two young men picked him up in a bar, and then tied him to a fence and beat him, leaving him to die alone.
At The Lab, we attempt to find solutions for the problem inherent in the question: how does the artist (or artistic person) develop methods that will enable her or him or them to bring an idea or impulse to fruition? Especially if the story and/or how we want to tell it seems impossible.
The Lab’s Instagram and Facebook Pages (links below) provide many more videos and photos, along with details of the books, the events, even the experiments we do at The Lab. Often I offer followers the writing prompts we use to warm-up in our sessions at The Lab. So if you’re not already hooked up there, consider it.
And finally, again: the next cycle starts 9/10/19. This summer’s gig in Mallorca got me to Europe, which provided all sorts of stimulus and introduced me to so many new artists (or new projects of artists I follow), I’m already having trouble deciding which artists will inspire the six new sessions. Looking forward to seeing you: online or in person. Hope your last days of summer are safe and blessed.