Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Place for Writers

For a long time I had things to say.

I had written others words for so long. Like a lot of people around here I was somewhat listless in my 30's. I was over-educated and not making very much use of my degrees. Of what use is someone who wrote her senior thesis on Kant? I was working part time in a library and as an admin assistant and notary.

But I've done many things, read many books and traveled to many places. Those experiences kept coming in words.

The words came on the ferry, or standing in line for a slice of pizza.
Mountains of desolation, the special kind that is not wilderness but a great heap of rock and soil that is returning to the benevolent senility of wilderness because the people of the mountain are gone.
The sentences crowded out his sentences when it was dark and all he could talk about was his job.
Twilight in Arles has a cast of sapphire, the really deep kind that appears as a light, some inverse of brightness that lives and carves memory. The stars are punctuation.
The paragraphs ran out, like coffee after the initial rush of the spill—soaking every paper, making emotions and thoughts.
I will never escape the smell of wild fennel and the river. Cold, fresh water has a mineral smell, that remains there beneath Coppertone and hops. The cold, fresh water ran deep near Ancil Hoffman Park.
But there was no place for me to write. I will skip over the years of loneliness for that place. I’ve written about it before and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t found a place to write. One night my friend Shannon took me to a poetry reading at a place I’d heard of called Richard Hugo House. That was the first time I had heard Elizabeth. It was wonderful and thoroughly uncomfortable. Uncomfortable? It was hard to discover this powerful stranger had been inhabiting my mind-and-being for years it seemed because how else could she have written those words?

I remember buying her chapbook on the table and sheepishly getting her to sign it. After enduring my fumbled words about what I was doing there, she simply wrote out “you can do this too, Ada, -may your writing thrive.”

And I came back. Alix suggested I talk to Chris about volunteering at my first Write-O-Rama. Kate figured out it should have been tapioca flour and a villanelle. When I see a Yankees cap in town I hope it’s Brian because I want to ask him something. John let me borrow a book by Li Bai. Peter finally got that novel out of me. Michael was running the lights on the first time I read out loud in the cabaret. Claire and Kristen loaned me a $20 after I forgot my purse at the Palace after ERH. And Tree, Laura, Rebecca, Jeremy… I am leaving someone out because there are so many people in there.

The old Roman mnemonic trick of a memory palace has returned to the consciousness of the 21st Century. It also answers a crucial problem for those who mourn the passing of the old Hugo House building. Remember your Murakami: like the End of the World, Hugo House is always going to be there.

Because place is not some physical sensation—an architectural memory of space, planes, textures and cold draughts.

It is the people who make imagination possible—who make a place.

June 25th is Write-O-Rama from 1:00-6:00. It’s a half day of mini-worshops where you can get a taste of what’s being taught and by whom. And you will meet other writers! Consider upping your  ticket to a membership and start writing. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s a great way to see the new temporary home of Hugo House at 1021 Columbia St.Seattle, WA 98104

For more about Write-O-Rama, visit the page and get your ticket today.

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