Writing

Hope for 2022

By Sarah L. Blum, Nurse and Vietnam Veteran

Content Warning: mentions of violence, mental health, suicide

The poem by Amanda Gorman, New Day’s Lyric, ends with a focus on coming together. I believe that is the key. There is so much hatred and violence which drives us apart from one another. In times of great pain whether from the pandemic, the insurrection, personal health issues, wartime memories, family stress, divorce, etc. we need connection and support. I know there are some young people right now suffering with depression and anxiety and their vision for themselves is bleak, so they focus on ending their lives. What if they had connections they could count on with people who care about them and can help them see beyond their pain? What if they had support available to themselves regularly, people who could hear them and hear their pain without judgement? What if we as a nation of people, all different kinds of people could come together and support each other rather than judge each other, unite rather than divide us from each other.

How do we save the best of our democracy together? I remember after the attacks in 2001, that we did come together in our collective response to being attacked from outside. Why is it we cannot join together in the same way after being attacked by our own? Think back to how our nation split apart over slavery. There was a member of Congress who literally attacked and beat up another member with a cane because the attacker wanted to keep his slaves and the victim wanted to free the slaves. That level of violence and viciousness is what we are dealing with today. It is all around us and growing in intensity.

Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, and many other spiritual leaders have shown us the way to peace and how to stand in love in the face of all that. It takes commitment and courage to stand up and be brutally beaten to show our love for peace no matter what! The people I know who can do that are veterans. They are and have been showing the way for decades. We who have been through the worst on behalf of our country and have and are healing and growing from it may be the ones who lead the way to bringing all of us together. The only way we can restore peace and our democracy is through love and nonviolence. I say let us be the leaders for that and walk together forward to a new way of living and being in our society. Let us show that we are a multiracial community and society respecting each other, hearing each other and supporting each other and our shared values.

Poetry · Writing

The Color of Freedom

“The Color of Freedom” by Michael J. O’Connell
A Soldier’s Perspective on the American Revolution

Over us did break the April sun, warmth penetrating the depths of our cold, miserable existence.

Months have seemed to drift, no rush by like the great Father Time tossing sand into the gale.

The ache in me is still, having rationed our morning meal of biscuits, and, for a fortunate few, dried legumes.

My coat, in disrepair for lack of thread,
my boots, endless miles have they tread
until neither mind nor body could comprehend.

Wasn’t it just last year, or before
when I felt this same shining orb upon my back while nesting the precious harvest
into the warm Spring earth?

Time has erased these as well, as the keeper of all things has seen that it is only forward, where the sands still cling to the
fragile glass that my mortality lay.

No matter, I keep my mind at ease.
For it is more than I, or the thousands with me, for whom I lay down my existence.

And if I grow weak for the cause, or slip it from my mind
as the lead surrounds me.

I turn towards that rising sun, and over its brightest hue, least I ever forget, shines the Red, the White, and the Blue.

Copyright 2022 Michael J. O’Connell

From the artist: “I wrote this original poem upon learning that my wife has ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary war. Having been a soldier, I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings on the sacrifices that they made to give us our own nation and homeland.”

Michael O’Connell is a Path with Art Ambassador and Veteran Participant Artist

Cultures

Indigenous Writers

Since the beginning of the year, Path with Art staff have a tradition of sharing the work of Native American artists at the start of our weekly staff meeting. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, I wanted to begin sharing out some of these incredible artists that we’ve been learning about and admiring. Let’s start off with some writers, authors, and poets!

Deborah A. Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area in California. Her mixed-genre book Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (Heyday 2013), received the 2015 PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, a Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Association, and was short-listed for the William Saroyan Literary Award. She is also the author of four poetry collections: Indian CartographyThe Zen of La LloronaRaised by Humans, and the forthcoming Altar for Broken Things. She is coeditor of Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature. Deborah lives in Lexington, Virginia with her wife Margo and a variety of rescue dogs. She is the Thomas H. Broadus, Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where she teaches literature of the margins and creative writing. Visit her blog, BAD NDNS.

Buy Bad Indians from an Indigenous-owned bookstore or borrow it from the Seattle Public Library!

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability.

Buy Braiding Sweetgrass from an indigenous-owned bookstore or borrow it from the Seattle Public Library!

Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has published multiple award-winning short stories and five novels, including two in The Sixth WorldSeries, Star Wars: Resistance RebornRace to the Sun for the Rick Riordan imprint, and her latest novel, the epic fantasy Black Sun. She has also written for Marvel Comics and for television, and had projects optioned by Amazon Studios, Netflix, and Paramount TV. Find her Fiction & Non-Fiction HERE. She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pup. She drinks a lot of black coffee. Find more at https://rebeccaroanhorse.com/ and on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex.

Buy Black Sun from an Indigenous-owned bookstore or borrow it from the Seattle Public Library!

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her second term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. The author of nine books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. She is Exec­u­tive Edi­tor of the anthol­o­gy When the Light of the World was Sub­dued, Our Songs Came Through — A Nor­ton Anthol­o­gy of Native Nations Poet­ry and the editor of Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Photo by Matika Wilbur

Read some poems by Joy Harjo via Poetry Foundation or borrow a book from the Seattle Public Library!

Stay tuned for more Indigenous Artist highlights!

Short Story · Writing

Yard Car

by James Thiele

I was walking through my neighborhood on a fine spring day and what I saw through a gap in some bushes made me stop in my tracks. Sitting in the yard was the unmistakable boxy shape of a classic Land Rover, star of many National Geographic TV specials from my youth. But instead of trekking through the Sahara or African jungle it was now parked on the grass in a residential neighborhood of Seattle. It was still covered in colored leaves from the previous fall. It had become something else I remembered from my younger days — a yard car.

As a teenager growing up in a farming region of Indiana, it seemed that every house in the countryside had a car sitting on blocks in the front yard. Not to pick on Indiana though — people from rural areas all across America talk about this. “Yard car” is a generic term for any non-working vehicle sitting in the yard. This includes pickup trucks, tractors, RVs and other more unusual specimens. Once in Washington state I saw a lifeboat from a World War 2 cargo ship in someone’s yard. It was pretty big and rather far from the ocean so it wasn’t there by accident.

No car starts out wanting to be yard car. Every car comes out of the factory shiny and new with a possibly bright future ahead of it. But one day the future yard car won’t start. If another working vehicle is available this one gets left home. Assuming it can’t be fixed quickly and affordably it will be pushed off of the driveway and onto the yard. For awhile the owners will glance at it and mutter “I really ought to get around to fixing that.” But as time passes it inevitably starts getting stripped for parts. Somebody needs a new battery or radio or whatever and the one in the car in the yard will fit. Eventually the tires get removed the car goes up on blocks.

The Land Rover was not the only yard car in my neighborhood. A Ford Mustang from the 1960s was surrounded by weeds which had grown to half the height of the tires. The Mustang’s body looked good and made me wonder why it was sitting in the overgrown grass.

Both the Land Rover and Mustang were out of their respective yards before I moved out of the neighborhood. I’m sure the Mustang sooner or later will make it into the hands of a car enthusiast who will buff it up and show it off on weekends. The Land Rover probably won’t make it back to the Sahara (if it was ever there) but may regain some self esteem four wheeling through the Pacific Northwest backcountry.

But the true yard cars, sitting on blocks in rural front yards, aren’t going anywhere soon. Maybe someday it will get sold for parts or the owner may simply get tired of looking at it and pay to have it hauled away.


I got the idea for this in a writing class at Sound Mental Health (Hi LT).  I wrote it in a Path With Artwriting class (Hi Scott) and recited it at a PWA Showcase (Hi Nikki). It was later published in a small local literary journal.

In The News

Art and September 11th

Artists, critics, and architects are discussing how culture responded and continues to respond to 9/11.

ARTnews has a story of how an immigrant from Korea uses intricate abstract works as a response. There is a write-up in the Village Voice on how the Tribute in Light memorial came to be. The architect of the transportation hub at Ground Zero tells Architectural Digest about how he conceived the design and how the city has changed. A piece in The New York Times looks at how art and artists struggle to contend with the horrors of that day. And, finally, a writer with the Art Newspaper spoke with artists about their memories of the event and how they responded.

“I wouldn’t say that the attacks had a big effect on my thinking so much as the amorphous and ambiguous war on terror and the authorization of military force giving the president unlimited power to wage war.”

Opportunities

Hemingway and the Art of Dialogue

FREE VIA HUGO HOUSE

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Hemingway and the Art of Dialogue

Along with his awards and persona, Hemingway is also famous for his literary style, particularly his approach to dialogue. Complementing the PBS Hemingway documentary by Ken Burns and the corresponding KCTS 9 virtual event Hemingway: Misogynistic or Misunderstood? this course will examine the characteristics of Hemingway’s dialogue in stories like “Hills Like White Elephants” and beyond. In addition, we’ll explore a few techniques and methodologies for strengthening the dialogue in our own works as well.