Last night I started a writing class through AwefulGoodWriters called “then somebody named the sky” with the following description:
In this workshop we’ll explore the magic of naming, what is gained and what is lost when the unsayable becomes the said. You can expect example poems and discussions, some short readings on craft, and etymology and linguistic theory-inspired thought experiments and writing prompts, all designed to inspire you to explore the landscape of all that lives named and unnamed in you.
We read from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s essay, The Grammar of Animacy, now included in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass which a sweet friend recommended to me last year. In the excerpt, we’re challenged to think of nouns as verbs. The following is an excerpt from my morning’s reflection after taking a walk and reading a Sabrina Orah Mark’s column in the Paris Review with the teaser “I’m mourning something nameless that has vanished into thin air.”
When starting the class, Sam asked us all to introduce ourselves: our name, our access needs, our pronouns, where we are at with our writing and what we want from this class. I took some quick notes as I eagerly wanted to focus on and listen to the other students. I grew nervous on the spot, frozen as if I’d never talked in front of a group before, regressed to anxiety over being seen. How do I want to be seen? Who am I? What am I doing here? Is my curiosity not enough? Could I not share that I’m exhausted, still, and struggling with my identity at 41, yearning to put a name not only to who I am, what I do, why I do, why I matter? That it’s time for me to focus on myself and I’m the only one who can grant myself permission, forgive myself for ever thinking I didn’t matter. That I’m suddenly struck with urgency and craving to be water (I’m already water), connected to a body larger than myself, yet myself has only the boundaries I’ve set. From what I can visually see, I exist in the frame of a body bound mostly by skin with the exception of my eyes and a hole running from my mouth to my anus which, as I think on it, is also bound by “skin”. From what I can feel, I exist further beyond the physical, sometimes reaching to my mom, to the moon, a fraction of space beyond my skin. I exist in a multiverse, in multiple timelines, in the ever-changing, never static “now” and moments that have passed and have yet to pass. I exist with my ancestors. I will bear no children, yet I exist in others, in memories, photographs.
To Jewel is to shine as a reading lamp, carefully placed for intimate illusion, sometimes seen from the night through a window framed by plants and fractal shadows. To Jewel is to yearn for more wattage, only to burn out when lighting a stage, to remember that individual lighters (and now, cell phone lamps) collectively can light a crowd. To create greater / global change by creating safe, challenging, comforting spaces for individuals to discover their contradictory yet not invalidating truths, to illuminate all our truths.