Tag Archives: central virgina

A Good Cry by Nikki Giovanni

Poet, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni’s fiery, humorous, and reflective voice has long inspired artists, educated readers, and informed our national consciousness. Her newest poetry collection, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter (October 24), is deeply personal and has been described as her most intimate collection. With selections like Surveillance, she recalls the violence that permeated her early years. She pays tribute to her grandparents in Baby West, and examines the history of the objects we treasure in Heritage. A Good Cry observes and celebrates the depth of emotions that accompany the trials and triumphs we face in life.

Giovanni believes that it is important that we learn to cry and laugh. In a time when there are so many things to distract us from feeling anything right at our fingertips, we often lose the opportunity to learn from what we feel and move forward together.

“Americans don’t cry,” she explains. “Your mother will die and someone will say, ‘It will be all right.’ But it won’t be. Man or woman, black or white, you are sad and your heart got broken. You should be able to cry. We have to allow ourselves to face that pain and embrace it. Embrace the people whom we love and the people with whom we feel we can share. You get tired of people saying, ‘I’m really strong, so it doesn’t matter.’ All of our emotions matter.”

Writing about circumstances involving other people can be a tricky situation. In Surveillance, Giovanni’s mother expresses her wish for what goes on in their house to stay in their house. Finding the courage to write about that part of her life in such an open and honest way was not easy.

“I could not have written that line fifty years ago. Mommy was more interested in how she and our family were viewed. I frankly don’t care. I know I should do better, but I don’t care what people are thinking about me,” she says.

“It’s important to me that my grandmother would be proud of me if she came down from heaven,” she adds. “If mommy came down from heaven, she would say, ‘You’re exposing some of us, but it’s all right because I love you.’ It’s not important how people look at us,” she adds.

Ultimately, caring what people think about your work as a writer or artist can limit your impact. Of course, the longer you practice your art, the more chances your work has to show contradictions. For Giovanni, this is an indication of growth.

To her students, she often says, “If you’re going to be a writer or a painter, there is always going to be some contradiction in your work. If you’re always doing the same thing, you haven’t learned anything. You’re going to learn something, and you have to be willing to embrace that fact.”

A lot of meaningful work is done when you give yourself over to the joy of sharing and thinking with other people. Over the span of thirty years, Giovanni’s career has been a living testament to that idea. She wants to do good work in all of her roles, and sees that as her responsibility. The result is a unique collection that pays tribute to those who have held a special place in her life, and the reality of her own experiences—both good and bad.

“If you’re not writing, you don’t know something,” she states. “You need to go study. I’m not a novelist or a playwright. I don’t write every day, but I do read every day. I take notes sometimes. I recently pulled over to the side of the road, put my blinkers on, and wrote a poem because I could see the rhythm of a wonderful jazz piece I was listening to. I don’t put pressure on myself, but I do consider what I have learned and how I will share it.”

A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter will be available for purchase on October 24. For more information on where to purchase Giovanni’s work, visit www.nikki-giovanni.com.

 

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

The Magic of Getting Lost

As a senior in college, I find the question “what are your plans for after graduation?” completely agonizing. Although a little hectic with senior seminar, work, trying to decode my math homework, and trying to make it to the gym at least once this week, my day is going along just fine. Then, someone dares to ask about what I plan to do with my life after college. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know exactly what you want to do. If you’re like me, and most other college students, you have absolutely no idea.

So, naturally, I email my advisor immediately to make an appointment on how my life is going nowhere because I can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. As usual, he calms me down and tells me that I’m exactly where I need to be and that it’s completely natural for a college student to have absolutely no idea where they want to take their diploma. As he always says, “Look at me, I came in as a music major and now I’m an English Professor.” However, this time I came to my advisor’s office for my monthly freak out, he had something else to give me; The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman.

As someone who is very organized, a master of To Do Lists, and needs to have a plan for almost everything in her life, this book was perfect for me. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost is a coming-of-age memoir about the amazing journey Friedman embarks on when she, a college grad, surprises herself and everyone around her by purchasing a ticket to Ireland. Never having been to Ireland, the good girl who had always done what she was supposed to now finds herself in a strange new country, making friends with a free-spirited Australian who loves nothing more than a good adventure. While abroad, Rachel travels from Ireland, to Australia, and to South America where she discovers her love for travel; all the while finding her true self.

Not only was this book warmhearted, hilarious, and honest, but it offered an amazing insight into what it’s like to travel abroad. This book is a fantastic read and highly recommended for anyone who feels like taking a trip and getting lost for a little bit. Even though my advisor had assured me many times before that it’s perfectly fine to be a little lost right now, I never truly accepted that until I read Rachel Friedman’s memoir. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost taught me that it’s okay to be unsure of yourself sometimes. It’s okay to be lost. Rachel shows us that in momentarily escaping some of life’s hardest decisions and living for the moment, getting lost allows us to find ourselves.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

 

What We’re Reading

Stories from the Holocaust by Nancy Wright Beasley

Nancy Wright Beasley Photo Credit: Jay Paul

Izzy’s Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust is about the “miraculous journey that finally led Edna Ipson and her family from the heel of the Nazis to ‘the other side of hell.’” The Little Lion is the story of Laibale Gillman, a teenager living in Lithuania who showed courage beyond his years by devising a plan that helped several of his family members escape Kovno Ghetto, where they were forced by Nazi troops. Nancy Wright Beasley, author of both books, sat down with us to discuss what led her to these stories and why it is important to tell them for generations to come.

Why do you think this time period is covered now more than ever, and why is that important?
Firsthand history is quickly diminishing. Most Holocaust survivors are quite elderly, even if they were children or just born at the end of the Holocaust, they are now in their 70s. The firsthand accounts, memoirs, and gripping stories are so important because [the Holocaust] had horrendous consequences and always will. We will not live long enough, I don’t think, to outlive the consequences. Think of what was taken from our world. How many great writers, physicians, inventors, and scientists? I think we owe it to them to tell their stories.

What led you to these specific stories out of so many from the Holocaust?
I’ve always said that Izzy’s Fire chose me. The decision was made for me to write about the Holocaust in Richmond at the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery. Every November, they have a Kristallnacht ceremony to remember the “Night of Broken Glass.” I went to the ceremony one year, and I heard a beautiful service that November day. At the end, the survivors walk to the microphone and say the names of family members that did not survive. Alan Zimm was the last one. I counted on my fingers as he said the names, and I ran out of fingers before he ran out of names. I went up to him afterwards and I told him he had changed my life. I had to write about the Holocaust.

How did The Little Lion come about after writing Izzy’s Fire?
The Little Lion is a character in Izzy’s Fire. I could not tell his story at the same time, because it would have deviated from the story I was trying to tell in Izzy’s Fire. I went to my friend, Neil November, and he asked what I had in mind next. A friend of mine told me I needed to go to Hollins University. I went to see Neil, and he thought I should enroll and financed it. He had no idea what I was going to write and neither did I. I thought it would be a children’s storybook, and what it became was a young adult novel based on Laibale Gillman.

The Little Lion was adapted for the stage by Irene Ziegler, and the world premier was held January 30 through March 5, 2016 at Swift Creek Mill Theatre in South Chesterfield, Virginia. A stage reading will take place at Mill Mountain Theatre on Friday, September 8 at 7pm, and Saturday, September 9 at 8pm. Beasley will be available following both performances to sign books. She will also be speaking at the South County Library in Roanoke on Saturday, September 2 at 2pm, and will be selling signed copies of her book afterwards.

If you are interested in learning more about Beasley’s career, including her trips to Lithuania and the descendants and survivors behind her stories, purchasing her books, or subscribing to her newsletter, visit www.nancywrightbeasley.com.

WIN Kitchen Paper from Potentially Chic!

paper24 Days of Prizes: DAY SIXTEEN!

Win a roll of Kitchen Paper from Potentially Chic for your next holiday party! Each roll is 50 feet long, allowing you to use exactly what you need AND save some for another event.

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win! Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the December issue for more information on all of the fantastic prizes you can win this month!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. An issue that impacts millions of people around the world, most domestic violence incidents are never reported. It’s time to change that.

The Aspire News App is a way for victims to speak out. The app is sponsored by the Robin McGraw Foundation and offers several features to help those dealing with domestic violence.

Aspire is a free application that disguises itself as a source for top news stories, sports and entertainment updates. By clicking on the ‘HELP’ feature, users can take advantage of the safety applications. The app is designed to appear like any other smart phone app, allowing it to be downloaded and used in secret.

One of the features of the app is a system where you are able to create pre-written text or voice messages to be sent to designated numbers (911 or other contacts in your phone). The app’s “go button” starts recording to capture the details of the domestic violence encounter, so you have proof of the attack.

aspireThe app is not designed to be a replacement for emergency services; you should always call 911 in situations where you feel like you may be at risk.

Aspire News app has had more than 127,000 downloads and has been recognized as one of the most beneficial apps in 2014 to fight the end to domestic violence.

You can download the app for free in the ITunes store and at www.whengeorgiasmiled.org

 

Written by Kristi Hall