On Hope

I just read (or reread) Maria Popova’s gorgeous treatment of Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark on brainpickings.org. Both are such brilliant writers. I love the way they resist simplification of a subject, which is a hard boundary to set.

You might find the essay brings you some comfort, reflection, or inspiration. (And Solnit’s book, which I’m now adding to my to-reread list, right after Women Who Run with the Wolves.) If you aren’t already in love with Brain Pickings, may you have time amid the chaos of now to fall head over heels with it.

For example, this reminder of Popova’s particularly resonated with me:

“With great care, Solnit — whose mind remains the sharpest instrument of nuance I’ve encountered — maps the uneven terrain of our grounds for hope:

It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.”

Nuance could surely be one of our greatest weapons in the fight for hope, as fear relies on a reductive, myopic narrative just as much as pollyanna-ish delusion does.

I also savored this gift of a double quotation:

“Invoking James Baldwin’s famous proclamation that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” Solnit writes:

It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”

Yes. Every bit of yes. So when we say that we hope to provide you with some comfort, some inspiration, some prompts to support your creative response to this actual pandemic, even yes a moment of hope or inner peace, please know that what we mean is we hope we can bolster your resolve to keep going, to hang in for five more minutes any way you can, beloved, and maybe to make something that someday people will see and say, “Yes. It was like that for me too.”

We hope you’ll have time to read the essay. But whether you do or not, consider taking a minute or more to respond to the question, what does hope mean to you? Use whatever creative form speaks to you at this moment – writing, art, photography, meditation, yoga, cooking, singing, dancing… The list goes on.

Be well, beloveds. 💜🌱

Writing in the Time of Coronavirus

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Photo taken on the fourth night of our quarantine, March 17, 2020, when the weather felt in sync with our inner landscape. (c) Ann Hagerty Davenport

In this time of coronavirus, life has been turned upside down for virtually everyone on Earth. Now is a time when we need our writing and art, when our instinct to create is tantamount and in tandem with to our instincts to survive and thrive. Worth noting: this is different from the capitalist-induced worry, “Oh shit, I’m stuck at home for two weeks and if I don’t write that book and reorganize my entire house while homeschooling my children I will be a total failure.” Darlings, tear up that script and throw it in the trash-heap right now. Write a poem about what bullshit that is, and how and why we do this to ourselves so often, and let the false construct go. The more compassion we can give ourselves and each other, the better we’ll all be able to weather this storm. And the more we can turn to our art as a pressure release valve, instead of coming to it from a sense of pressure, the more it will nourish us.

In that spirit, we are thrilled to partner with our beloved friends at Fierce Womxn Writing in response to the pandemic. We’re now accepting submissions for an Anthology of Pandemic Creativity. We’re still taking submissions to Terra Preta Review, as well, and are curating an amazing next issue to share with you all.

We’ll also be using our blog more often to post prompts, comfort, and inspiration, in case you need some. We’ll be sharing things we find inspiring or helpful, as well as posting our own thoughts. You can also follow us on Instagram where we’ll be sharing a lot of content too. In the spirit of terra preta, now is the time to dig deep, reconnect to the richness of our own soul’s earth. We will make art that speaks to the breaking-down and supports the building anew, as our own ways of making peace with this totally surreal transition to a new reality. We hope you will too. And we hope you’ll share it with us. In years to come, this anthology will speak to the realities and surrealities of this time in ways that only great writing and art can. The world needs your voice, our voices. Speak your truths (since truth is never a monolith, it’s messy and multifaceted). Make your art. Release your pressure valve. We’re here to support you through this. We feel like our mission as a literary journal speaks to this time directly, even though we never anticipated this happening…

Quick update – good news & bad news

Whenever someone says, “I’ve got good news and bad news,” which do you ask to hear first?

Me, I always want the bad news first – I guess so the conversation will end on a happier note.

So the bad news is that we’ve had to make the difficult decision to skip our planned September issue. We don’t want to put out a rushed or poorly-presented edition, you know? And we have some fantastic works on deck for publication, so the next issue – which will launch on Dec. 21st – is going to be SO FREAKING AMAZING I CAN HARDLY STAND IT.

And that’s not even the good news! The good news is that with the funds raised from submissions and donations in support of our first issue in June, we were able to pay our contributors to that issue AND make a donation to Soul Fire Farm, a fantastic non-profit that we’re proud to support. So if you kicked in a Tip Jar submission of your work before June 21st, or donated in appreciation of our awesome first issue, please know that those funds are making a real difference in the world, and THANK YOU.

rrrrgh….

Beloveds, our free submissions are once again on hiatus on Submittable. We are sorry for this. It’s fucking frustrating.

We are looking at other ways to manage our submissions so we can just offer free submissions throughout the year without them getting yanked away from us every damn month.

In the meantime, if you are eager to submit now now now, Tip Jar submissions are open for $5. If you don’t mind waiting until June 1st, free submissions will reopen that day.

 

equinox

This morning I planted a shit-ton (official) of pepper and tomato seeds. In this part of Colorado, we only have about five months for the growing season, and that’s pushing it – so if you want to pull a tomato off the vine and eat it standing there in your garden, you’ve gotta start your seeds indoors (or else buy astonishingly expensive starts from a garden shop).

Every few years we go crazy with the gardening supplies, which feels better in the in-between years when we can excavate whatever didn’t get used yet and plant a bunch of stuff without having to spend a ton of money (in that particular year, anyway). This year I got a block of organic compressed starting material – maybe coconut coir, something like that? – for all of $3 from ye olde big box home supply store, sawed it in half, added a bunch of water, and happily squished my fingers through the damp soil. Usually we buy those little compressed discs with a hole in the middle, but this was way cheaper and way more squishy fun. We already have an absurd amount of seeds (bless the basement fridge, for she carries many many seeds in her belly) and even had some starting trays left over from last year’s garden ambitions, which failed miserably.

I love that spring fills me with such amnesiac enthusiasm that I can start all these seeds with total joy in my heart. I love that this season gives me the chance to forget and forgive myself for all the seedlings I inadvertently killed last year. (And the year before that, and the year before that, and… ok, a little guilt still lingers.) I love that I retain just enough memory to learn lessons from the failures (and seedling deaths) of years past, lessons that will – I so dearly hope – allow me to stand in the hot sun this summer, slurping juicy tomatoes with abandon.

Forgetfulness is a privilege. Land to grow crops is a privilege. Money to buy gear for starting seeds is a privilege. Time to plant seeds is a privilege. So many people would love to have these things and do not, cannot, are denied access by the systems we live in.

Even as I revel in this springtime joy, I feel a need to stay mindful of the oppressive systems that are working in my favor to give me this space, this time, this means. How do I bring justice to this moment?

It’s not a question I can answer immediately, though a few thoughts come to mind. Sharing the harvest with folx who can’t have a garden. Giving some of our extra seeds to the local seed library. Making a donation to a Black-owned farming & food advocacy collective such as Soul Fire Farm. I discovered this badass nonprofit through their Reparations Map a year (maybe two years?) ago. Their work is a joy to behold & to support. I think I’ve just officially decided that they’ll be the first recipient of TPR’s donation program – we’ll be giving 15% of proceeds from each issue to a social justice-oriented nonprofit, and Soul Fire was already high on the list. All right, so we have a plan!

And we open for submissions in… an hour and a quarter. Not gonna lie, this is even more exciting than planting tomato seeds. And that, my loves, is not something I say lightly.

leaping

It’s strange to think we first started this journey in March 2013. I think I’ve lived about three different lifetimes in the past six years. But here we are again, FOR REAL THIS TIME. I sat down to lightly update a page this morning and five hours – and a wholesale website overhaul – flew by.

Interesting to consider that I surrender to the impulse to tend this dream in early spring. Terra preta, indeed. The kitchen midden in my soul yielding to irresistible, tenacious seedlings of dreams. This journal insists on coming into being. Who am I to say otherwise?

We officially open for submissions tomorrow, March 20th (spring equinox! We’re astrological like that), at noon MDT. It would bring us tremendous joy to spend time with your work. Click the Submit link on the right or up top to learn more.

Thanks, love, & may your own dreams be irresistibly sprouting ~

bliss

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open doors to you. I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
– Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers

IMAG0266Why did I start an online literary journal? To follow my bliss, to engage more deeply in the community of writers, to give other writers a chance to follow their bliss and publish their work.

I found it interesting that soon after I started putting Terra Preta Review together, the Joseph Campbell Facebook page (which I highly recommend for anyone, not just fellow Sarah Lawrence alums) posted a couple of fantastic quotes from JC on following your bliss. Let’s not call it coincidence. Let’s just say it’s synchronicity.

“We are having experiences all the time which may on occasion render some sense of this, a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what it is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth …

The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call ‘following your bliss.'”
– Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers

charcoal & bones

…Seems like a more fitting title than “nuts & bolts” which is essentially what I’ve been doing recently. We now have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, our Submittable site, email addresses, and the bare bones of a website.

I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

Let the adventure begin.