Tag Archives: Artist-in-Residence

My Mother’s Funeral, A Review by Robert Kostuck

Adriana Paramo, Writing for Peace AdviserMY MOTHER’S FUNERAL

by Adriana Páramo

CavanKerry Press, 2013, 258 pp., $21.00, ISBN 1-933880-39-2

A Review, by Robert Kostuck

In My Mother’s Funeral, Adriana Páramo slips between her mother Carmen’s life before children, her own childhood memories, and the present—wake, funeral, cremation. Woven into these personal experiences is an omnipresent Columbia: the open spaces of Mariquita, the squalid poverty of Medellín and Bogotá, rival drug gangs, politics, Catholicism, the Communist Party revisited.

Objectivity is difficult to achieve in a book-length essay; Ms. Páramo, however, succeeds admirably—she gently and firmly pieces together the tapestry of the mother and daughter relationship; readers will find common themes presented in even-handed and sometimes startling prose. Her writing is educational without being didactic; emotional without being sentimental.

Politics in Colombia were harsh in the 1950s. Her rarely-seen father, ‘Mr. B’, a cachiporro (liberal), seduces the innocent Carmen, and after the wedding rushes her away from her home—a few hours ahead of the godos (conservatives). First night together is spent in a whorehouse; for the remainder of the marriage Mr. B comes and goes as he pleases, impregnating Carmen and then vanishing for months or years at a time. At one point her sister Dalila acquires a partially-decomposed adult male human skeleton—courtesy of a ‘snatcher’, recommended by the nuns—and together sister and mother boil and clean the bones. Assembled, Dalila receives her coveted A+ in anatomy and the unnamed skeleton literally hangs around the house, a possible replacement for the missing Mr. B.

The baby of the family, Adriana curls up with her mother in the kitchen or in bed, listening to the stories of the world filtered through a tabletop radio: sports, agony aunties, soap operas, tangos, boleros; Carmen singing along with the radio, Adriana, watching her mother “morph into a woman”.

“Tal vez mañana puedas comprender / Que siempre fui sincera / Tal vez por alguien llegues a saber / Que todavia te quiero. Maybe later you might understand / That I was always sincere / Perhaps someone will help you see / That I still love you.”

Childhood for Adriana, is a combination of head-long curiosity and goofy naiveté. Carmen, and to a lesser extent, her sisters, guide and guard the young Adriana. Memory is selective; what Adriana shows us is how this mother shapes her daughters: strict, efficient, economical—she maintains a poor but tidy home and life for her children. Lessons by word or example are rarely repeated; they become the very fibers of her daughter’s body and personality. Toward the end of the memoir, Adriana writes,

“Our financial situation started to improve when we moved to Medellín, and Dalila, Amanda, and Ligia got secretarial jobs that required them to wear nylons, high heels, and modest suits. Eventually they began going back to school at night, but they never stopped working, never stopped rescuing Mom and their two younger sisters from the constant panic of uncertainty. I owe everything I am to the women in my family—to my sisters and Mom. Nobody else.”

This is the heart of the memoir: what a daughter learns from her mother: how to be a girl, how to become a woman; and when that mother begins to fade from autumn into winter, how to become her mother. When Carmen, beset by Alzheimer’s, visits Adriana the wife and mother at her new home in Alaska, she relates a story about her pregnancy with Adriana so at odds with the life lessons she’d imparted over the years that her daughter feels an urge to “. . . jump into the lake and sink slowly into its frigid waters.” The fantastic and heartbreaking revelation adds another thin, sharp layer to this complex mother and daughter relationship.

Returning to Colombia in torn jeans and a gypsy blouse, Adriana arrives at the wake, faces somber and seemingly more mature sisters and a brother. Funerals are holidays for the dead, a time when far-flung family reunite and wonder aloud what went right and what went wrong. Her sisters and brother are emotional but methodical—Adriana feels like the only one with an incomparable loss—the woman who as a child promised her mother that she would always remain her little girl. A few days stretches into a painful eternity, and when the siblings return home to divide Carmen’s possessions, Adriana is nostalgic, then practical:

“I imagine landing in Miami, trying to make it through customs with a fern, a plastic chair, a flyswatter, a river stone, and a broom, and I have to laugh at my childishness. I discard my mental list. Instead I take a pair of earrings that belonged to my grandmother, (. . .) a photo of the six women—my four sisters, Mom, and me—that my brother took the day I left Colombia; the locket with a photo of my daughter that Mom wore around her neck like an amulet. I also seize the printout of Mom’s last EKG, taken two days ago.

“(. . .) I don’t know this yet but in six years I will look at this EKG and realize that the ink is fading away and with it the only existing traces of Mom’s heartbeat. I’ll have it tattooed around my left bicep, much to my family’s dismay, so that her heartbeat and mine will always be together.”

My Mother’s Funeral is the literal translation of that EKG tattoo, spanning decades, continents, and lives; a heartbeat that remains long after we scan the final page and move on into the days to come.

Robert Kostuck, Writing For Peace Guest WriterRobert Kostuck graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Masters in Education. His published work appears in the Kenyon Review, Concho River Review, Zone 3, Tiferet: Literature, Art, and the Creative Spirit, Silk Road, and others.

Writing for Peace News

Onward Into 2014!

Last year brought growth and many exciting firsts for Writing For Peace. Here’s a brief overview of 2013:

In 2013 our Advisers continued to demonstrate a commitment to peace and the power of writing through their work, their inspirational blog posts, brilliant ideas such as Mary Carroll-Hackett’s educational Facebook page for young writers, MCH-What’s Going On? and Pilar Rodriguez Aranda’s efforts to reach Spanish speaking young writers by translating our 2014 contest guidelines. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Sam Hamill‘s new and revised translated collection of Chinese poetry, Crossing the Yellow River is being published by Tiger’s Bark Press. His Selected Poems (not yet titled) will be published by Lost Horse Press in September 2014.
  • Lorraine Currelley was selected as an Artist-in-Residence for the 2014 Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) and as a new member of the Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers. Her Poets Network & Exchange will publish their first poetry anthology in 2014.
  • Veronica Golos is working on a new book, Root Work: The Lost Writings of John Brown and Mary Day Brown. “Of course John Brown was a great abolitionist and so was his wife, Mary and she also had 13 children. I have Ghost Code poems and Runaway poems also in the book. This is a way to make history live again, to get inside it so to speak.”
  • Richard Krawiec supports a community of writers and activists through education and his ever expanding Jacar Press.
  •  Maija Rhee Devine spoke with young people in South Korea and the United States about her award-winning books, The Voices of Heaven and Long Walks on Short Days, her experiences as a young girl during the Korean War, and her work with Korean Comfort Women.
  • Dr. Margaret Flowers continues her peace and healthcare activism. She currently serves as Secretary of Health on the Green Shadow Cabinet. Her recent article, Major Social Transformation Is a Lot Closer Than You May Realize — How Do We Finish the Job?, is also co-written with Kevin Zeese, and published on AlterNet.
  • Adriana Paramo‘s new memoir, My Mother’s Funeral, explores the volatile relationship with her mother, and their love that defies cultural forces, Bogotá street violence, and Medellin drug lords.

This is just a sampling of the wonderful work all our advisers do. Please watch our blog for their posts, follow their work, and support the poets and authors whose writings and activism encourage a more thoughtful and peaceful world.

In 2014, we look forward to hearing from Board Member Andrea W. Doray, who recently returned from Nepal, and to continued growth – including the occasional review on our blog! On this first day of the New Year, we welcome guest writer, Robert Kostuck, who reviews Adriana Paramo’s memoir, My Mother’s Funeral.

Happy New Year, Writers for Peace! And thank you for your ongoing support!

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark, by Paula Dawn Lietz

In order to write for peace, we must first be able to recognize it. Look for peace in the nooks and crannies of your day – in a child’s innocent chatter, a stranger’s smile, the red leaves rustling beneath a maple. We’re celebrating the peace of an autumn day with Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz.

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark, Image and words by Pd Lietz

Upon Cave Walls and Birch Bark

sultry days of summer dim
cool her last tarnished hurrah
as daring strokes of autumn
begin to thread shades of splendour

a regal composition of colours
textures, and astounding knowledge
unequaled is this labor of darwinism
a sense of security, in autumns safe keeping
we trust as we travel through
the dark bite of winter

recognition of this survival mode
an honour many take for granted
endless pathways behind us
setting the pace for those yet birthed
we acclimatize to the environment
the adapting so remarkable its history
marked upon cave walls and birch bark

Poem and Photograph by Pd Lietz ©

About Pd Lietz, Artist-in-Residence

Pd Lietz, Writing for Peace Artist-in-ResidencePd Lietz is a widely published writer, photographer and artist who lives in rural Manitoba Canada. Ms. Lietz was awarded first prize in the United Kingdom Frost Photography International Competition 2011. Her writing, art, and photography have appeared in many publications, and she was responsible for the cover art of many of these. You can view works by Pd Lietz at http://www.pdlietzphotography.com/.

Learn more about Pd Lietz here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

DoveTales On Your Kindle!

Manuel A. López, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013 Contributor

Manuel A. López

Our beautiful DoveTales journal is now available in Ebook format and available for purchase on Amazon.com. In addition to all three stories from our first Young Writers Contest winners and the work of prominent advisers and outstanding contributors printed in our first hard copy edition, you’ll also find a new poem. Our EBook includes “Occupied Series” by Manuel A. López. Purchase your EBook here.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Support Writing for Peace by purchasing a hard copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. Deadline for submissions is November 30th. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Circle Jerk, by Paula Dawn Lietz

Circle Jerk, by Pd Lietz

Circle Jerk

by Paula Dawn Lietz

I had no reason to not believe
but when I questioned your integrity
you bore me down slamming pieces
of me like raw meat on the barbs of the fence
creating a collage of sorts of what I mistakenly
thought we were
peers you called us in this collaboration
when and where did this mirage take
on a physical presence

you called me the trash of yesterdays sins
I could not tell who screamed, was it you
or I, the rush of denial too strong in my ears
cruelly and oh so well you taunted me on
by a blindsided squall that took any sense
of my ability to reason let alone my will to breathe
you said I had no right to call my art….art
you said I was only good for circle jerk
on a barbwire fence

my ignorance was ashamed when I had to
ask what you meant by that, an image
I fear I will not forget

my eyes rolled to the back of my head
I felt frozen in time, betrayed I stayed hiding
within myself begging for a seizure
it was not to be I was to remember everything
being left in limbo, neither here nor there
but in dark place where all things grow
the strength of your cRAzy barbs slicing
sadistic jagged lines upon my mind
changing the energy within me
the tetanus coursing through my veins
nothing compared to the poison you fed me

 

Circle Jerk was previously published in The Schwibly.

 

Pd Lietz, Writing for Peace Artist-in-ResidenceAbout Paula Dawn Lietz, Artist-in-Residence

Paula Dawn Lietz is a widely published writer, photographer and artist who lives in rural Manitoba Canada. Ms. Lietz was awarded first prize in the United Kingdom Frost Photography International Competition 2011. Her writing, art, and photography have appeared in many publications, and she was responsible for the cover art of many of these. Learn more about Paula Dawn Lietz here.

 

Writing for Peace News:

In Our Blog~

This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction. Links to previous posts on these topics can be found below:

Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec

What Happens When We Lose Our Innocence? by Andrea W. Doray

Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee

Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec

A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner

A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner

Exit Wound, by Melissa Hassard

 

Young Writers Contest

Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from 21 different countries! Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2013. Congratulations to every young writer who participated!  The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts

The  “Occupied” 2013 issue of DoveTales has gone to press! The release date is slated for March 30th, but you will begin seeing some exciting changes on the website before then. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support!

Equity for Women Writers

Writing for Peace encourages all young people to write and to believe their writing can make a difference, but is that equally true for boys and girls? Sadly, the latest VIDA Count indicates that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the literary world. Please help us reverse this trend by reading works written be women and promoting your favorite women authors. Ask your children who they are reading in school, supplement their reading list with books by women authors, and talk to their teachers, librarians, and principals about adding women authors to their curriculum. Take note of the authors reviewed in your local papers and advocate for women authors. Head to your library or book store with a list of the twelve amazing women on our Advisory Panel. And please make a statement in support of women writers here. Thank you!

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Writing for Peace Welcomes Paula Dawn Lietz, Artist-in-Residence

Pd Lietz, Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence

Pd Lietz, Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence

“I know not the words to express the deep honour I felt when asked to accept the position of Artist-in-Residence, joining the like-minded writers and artists in the folds of Writing for Peace. There’s an old English proverb that says, ‘When war begins, then hell opens.’  From a personal aspect I know this to be true, and there need not be a man-made hell.”

~Paula Dawn Lietz

As our first Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz is responsible for the cover art of DoveTales, adapted in the beautiful new headers of our website and Facebook page, as well as the bookmarks that will go out to young writers and their schools all over the world. Additionally, her art, photography and poetry can be found throughout the pages of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, “Occupied” 2013, as well as the 2014 “Contrast” edition of DoveTales.

Whether with words, camera, or canvas, Lietz’s work reflects a broad spectrum of awareness that can be stark and cutting, or  warm and expansive. Her work reveals a love of nature, of light and shadows, unique angles and perspectives. She pushes through artistic boundaries, demonstrating a multi-media approach to voice, point-of-view and empathy.

Lietz, Mother, what was war

About Paula Dawn Lietz

Paula Dawn Lietz is a widely published writer, photographer and artist who lives in rural Manitoba Canada. Ms. Lietz was awarded first prize in the United Kingdom Frost Photography International Competition 2011. Her writing, art, and photography have appeared in many publications, and she was responsible for the cover art of many of these.

Learn more about Paula Dawn Lietz here.

Writing for Peace News:

In Our Blog~

This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction.

Coming soon: Writing for Peace Adviser Vicki Lindner shares her powerful essay about being assaulted at gunpoint in Egypt, and the kindness that led to her recovery in an Egyptian hospital. Lindner’s essay will appear in two parts on Monday (3/18) and Wednesday (3/21).

Young Writers Contest

Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from 21 different countries! Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2013. Congratulations to every young writer who participated!  The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts

The  “Occupied” 2013 issue of DoveTales has gone to press! The release date is slated for March 30th, but you will begin seeing some exciting changes on the website before then. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support!

Equity for Women Writers

Writing for Peace encourages all young people to write and to believe their writing can make a difference, but is that equally true for boys and girls? Sadly, the latest VIDA Count indicates that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the literary world. Please help us reverse this trend by reading works written be women and promoting your favorite women authors. Ask your children who they are reading in school, supplement their reading list with books by women authors, and talk to their teachers, librarians, and principals about adding women authors to their curriculum. Take note of the authors reviewed in your local papers and advocate for women authors. Head to your library or book store with a list of the twelve amazing women on our Advisory Panel. And please make a statement in support of women writers here. Thank you!

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.