Monday, February 11, 2013

After Shocks Poet Stellasue Lee
Conducting Workshop in Michigan Feb. 16

An Intimate Writer’s Workshop with Pulitzer Prize nominee Stellasue Lee and Cheri L.R. Taylor.

Saturday, February 16, 2013, 9:00am - 7:30pm

Royal Oak, Michigan (Location details will be sent upon registration). This workshop is sponsored by Blushing Sky Writing Services. You may register at Blushing Sky Workshop Registration

Schedule for the workshop:

9 A.M. Breakfast, Introductions

10 A.M. Stellasue Lee: Speaking in Tongues, a crash course in how to create individual and distinct personalities on the page by giving each voice its own energy. Both the male and female muses have decisive character traits. Find out how easy it is to make them shine in their own spotlight.

11:45 A.M. Cheri L. R. Taylor: Icons and Images; In this workshop, you will explore common images and their (often cliche’d meanings). You’ll never see these symbols the same way again.

1:15 P.M. Lunch and Book Signing

2:30 P.M. Stellasue Lee: Pathway to the Unconscious, a process by which you can pass through the doorway to your unconscious mind and bring to light what you really think. We are after all, our own actors, stage-manages, directors, and ticket-takers in life. We can change the plot anytime we wish by looking at what matters.

4:15 PM Cheri L. R. Taylor: Indulging the Senses: In this workshop you will explore one of the senses in a journey of descriptive fascination.

6 P.M. Wine & Cheese, Reading Circle.

Stellasue Lee's work is published in numerous literary journals. Two of her books have been entrants for the Pulitzer Prize, Firecracker Red, a powerful collection of poems set squarely in the earth, and Crossing The Double Yellow Line, a journey of sharp turns and hair-pin curves. Her work has appeared in three more volumes, After I Fall, a collection of four Los Angeles poets, Over To You, an exchange of poems with David Widup, and 13 Los Angeles Poets, the ONTHEBUS Poets Series Number One. (Bombshelter Press.) Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. from Honolulu University. Now Editor Emeritus at RATTLE, a literary journal, she works privately with students all over the US. Stellasue was born in the year of the dragon.

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A Poem by Stellasue Lee

While Setting the Table

Daydreams are a form of reality, someone told me once, a separate
dimension where fiction and fact blend like eggs and sugar beaten

into a sunny concoction, grainy in substance with sticky qualities.
Maybe it was my daughter, as she whipped heavy cream by hand,

or rolled a lemon pepper pasta she hand-crafted and cut into wide
strips, then served so happily with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I breathe in this scene, call family to the table where we all can sit
gladly, waiting for the door from her kitchen to open, and wearing

my red-checked apron, she will appear offering her latest creation.
I won’t tell anyone this is only a dream. I don’t even want to think

about the accident. From her kitchen, some sweet melody I can’t
recognize, will float around the dining room—so different from

the rhythmic beat, beat, beat of one lone drummer as we entered
a garden where we gathered to scatter her ashes among vibrant roses.

Interview With Stellasue Lee

How did you come to write “While Setting the Table”?

It was around Thanksgiving. I had been thinking about a previous Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house, how much she loved to cook, how much pride she took in growing her own herbs and vegetable. Everything was from scratch. And how beautifully it had been presented. I didn’t know I was going to write about her death, or that experience in her home, or how beautiful her auburn hair looked with just a puff of flour at her left temple. Oh, but that’s for another poem, isn’t it.

I always start the way I teach my students, “show up to a blank piece of paper with nothing on your mind and start where you are, describe what you see until you come to a line that takes you outside of the room.” I had been reading an article on String Theory… the book was just to the right of my chair, and so, seeing that book, it made me think where I had heard about String Theory before, and someone told me that daydreams are a form of reality… someone I believed and trusted, and I thought it must have been my daughter.

How did writing this poem affect your recovery?

Every poem I write is a clue into who I am. I’m a mystery, maybe most of all to myself. I’m an introvert, so it’s really difficult for me to articulate what’s going on in my head. The thoughts just keep rolling around in there until I’m able to capture them in a physical form, and in this case, it’s most often in the form of a poem. It’s always a surprise. I write something and say, “Now, where did that come from?” And the things that just pop out… sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are just wrong. That’s when I think I must have heard that from my mother.

Can you tell us something about your process of writing that helped this poem come to life?

For me, it’s about being present. It’s important to make time in my daily schedule to show up to the page. Writers write. I’m not saying it’s easy, but necessary, and it’s so essential to be open, not to think “Oh, this is a good subject for a poem,” or “I need to write about…,” Discipline, process, whatever you wish to call it, is key. Master cellist Pablo Casals told an interviewer why, at age 90, he still practiced every day, "Because I think I'm getting better." Had I not made the time, showed up to the page, and started where I was, this poem would never exist.

Who are your favorite poets or poets new to you whom you'd recommend to others?

I think Raymond Carver is underrated. I was fortunate enough to have picked up a copy of Ultra Marine. I read it cover to cover, every poem, simply fascinated with his ability to be present. I couldn’t wait to get his next book Where Water Comes Together With Other Water. During the reading of that book, Carver died. 1989, his last book came out, A New Path To The Waterfall. I was lucky enough to read those three books in order, and saw what I thought was the growth of a writer. Since, his collected works have been released, All of Us, but in the early three volumes, I fell in love with this writer and his work showed me what it means to be present, live in the NOW, write, and to be unafraid.

With my students, I read their work (some of my students have been in their 90’s,) and marvel at such brilliant ability. I started a small publishing company to help them get their work out. Maybe I’m more judgmental than a larger publishing company would be, but these writers measure up. Jennie Linthorst has studied with me off and on for ten years. I just did a book for her called Autism Disrupted… a mother’s journey of hope in poetry. She’s doing readings around the country and is teaching workshops in healing poetry. Bob Buchanan will soon have a book out titled Beyond the Wall, what a wonderful writer! Most of my students go on to publish in literary journals. They are doing such wonderful work.

Of course, there are the well known. I like to pretend that if I got stranded on a desert island, there are 10 books I would need to survive: Ray Caver’s All of Us, Gerald Stern’s This Time, David Lee’s My Town, Philip Levine’s oh, anything by Levine, just anything at all, Stephen Dobyns, Velocities, James Dickey’s Poems, 1957-1967, Maxine Kumin’s Still To Mow, Yusef Komunyakaa,’s Neon Vernacular…. And, and I’d cheat too, somehow take more then ten, Szymborska, C.K. Williams, O’Hare, Neruda….. the list goes on and on. People who walk into my home, they always have a sharp intake of breath when they see my bookcase. It’s 10 ft. tall, and 15 ft. wide.

What are you working on now?

I did my last chapbook in 1996, Morning Comes With Its Bandages Of Light. I don’t remember how I came up with that title, but it’s a good one, I think. I have been encouraged by many people to put a body of work together from my father poems. I spent months agonizing over it. I finally got about 22 poems together. I’m working on a chapbook, 26 copies, numbered A through Z, plus 4 artist proofs. They are going to be printed on handmade paper, silkscreen cover and hand sewn. The title is Our Father, which since I have a brother, a simply marvelous brother, I thought that fitting. One of the two poems in Our Father was accepted for After Shocks. He returned from WWII with PTSD, and was riddled with survivors’ guilt. Imagine! A very young and artistic boy…I keep thinking of something he told me, “You live your heaven and hell right her on earth Kid. Better pay attention to the details.” So, to better pay attention to the details, I became a poet.

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