Always the eager student…

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The Authors

Always the eager student, I secured my seat in the front row – 6 seats into the right. Notebook ready, pen poised, Thrity Umrigar’s book Honor offered up proudly in my lap.

Then it dawned on me – – nobody else was proudly peacocking the authors’ books.

Shit Kristina – this isn’t a book signing.

What are you doing?!?!

I’ve apparently even failed at being a fan girl!

And now I just dropped all my things on the floor – TWICE.

After finally composing myself long enough to hold said belongings on my lap, I listened captivated as Thirty Umrigar, Paula McClain, and moderator Anne Marie (wish I knew her last name) spoke on the craft of writing, their processes, and why the work matters – one reason ‘the work’ matters is the ability story has to heal.

As Thrity says, “Healing comes through catharsis – telling the truth of who you are.” Paula continued, “it’s layered – that’s how we tell the truth after all – a layer at a time; otherwise, we wouldn’t believe it.”

God, how profound is that.

Sit with that a minute.

Consider all the trauma of learning our truths and the truths of others all at once. I mean it would be entirely TOO MUCH right?!? The weight of that knowing.

These women were wise, funny, and felt so very familiar. Their conversation felt relaxed, and natural, and inviting – I mean I was practically ready to pull up a chair next to them, stick my hand in a chip bag, and tell them to pass the french onion dip.

That’s a gift – the ability to make a whole crowd feel like an audience of one, to feel like a friend.

While I was familiar with Thrity’s work as stated above, I was not familiar with Paula’s. All it took was her sharing one line of her poetry, “It was August for years. It was August” to have me racing up to the book fair after the session to purchase one of her books.

The Event & The Backstory

While I liked Honor, I LOVED Thrity’s The Space Between Us (so much so that I’ve asked a few friends to introduce me to Thrity and even tried – unsuccessfully – to invite myself to a book club I heard she would be at). So when I saw that she was going to be at the Literary Cle Inkubator event, I knew I had to go.

Somehow I had never heard about this event and knew virtually nothing about Literary CLE, but thanks to my friends Jen Jones Donatelli and Jing Lauengco who quickly caught me up to speed, I’m glad that has now all changed.

Here’s what it is and what I’ve learned:

The CLE Inkubator is a free event for writers and readers hosted by Literary CLE and held annually. It consists of panel discussions, workshops, a book fair featuring the work of the featured speakers, and a keynote address. This year the conference was part of CLE book week which also included the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, Book Discussions, and the Great Lakes African American Writers Conference.

Let’s just say this whole week will be penciled in my calender evermore 🙂

Post-Script: I gifted both authors a copy of the Soulscape Poetry Deck I co-created with illustrator Janie Walland (just got new inventory if you want your own deck!) and when I handed Thrity hers, she said, and I quote, “Ill cherish this my whole life.” And moderator Anne Marie told me I had a great listening audience member face.

Fan girl achievement properly restored lol.

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Hey! I’m Kristina - with a K.


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