Happy. New. Year. (The more we say it, the more it's true?)
As challenging times continue for many/all(?) of us, I'm finding it even more important to reflect on wins, losses, missed opportunities and new connections. There are a lot more highlights than I expected from 2021 -- maybe if you look back, you'll find the same? I hope so. Here are some from my end:
I did make progress on my 2021/2022 goals, but I notice my goals for the next two years do look similar to last year's (and the year before). As Andrew Simonet encourages, I'm trying to think more in terms of decades now, rather than years or days, so that's okay. Progress is progress. These are big goals for me. These days still aren't usual. I'm grateful to be healthy, have work, have a home to live in, be able to afford groceries, rent, bills and small luxuries, and be *relatively* mentally stable.
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
As I've found it challenging to make bold steps in these days of continued uncertainty, finding myself occasionally paralyzed by the unknowns aided by past trauma festering in my ribs, I want to make this a year of more bravery, more stepping forward into what I know I need, letting go of what no longer serves me, more courageous joy, more openhearted rejuvenation, more grounding reflection. May 2022 be my year of claiming space for what I know I need.
Thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts about my 500-word artist statement in process. Below is the 250-word version. They'll both live in the "About" section of my website shortly. Feel free to again share observations, what feels like the strongest pieces of language, how it makes you see/invites you into my work and questions, if you like. Regardless, thanks for taking an early glimpse.
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I study the distance between us, seeking connection across differences.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible. I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I cook our rawest parts together in hot lava stew.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the brutality of reality. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the shadows inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too.
Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything.
Hello! I'm working on updating my artist statement. Below is a draft of the full 500-word version (that I can cut down as needed for various applications, but would live on this website along with a 250-word version). If you want, feel free to share your first impressions, using the following questions as guideposts:
What is the strongest language -- words/phrases that linger with you?
After reading the statement, is it clear what kind of art I make?
Is it clear why I do it? Why (I hope) it matters in the world? And how I do it?
Does it make you want to see my work?
If you already know my work (a bit or a lot), does it sound like what I make, or more aspirational, something I'm reaching for but doesn't quite fit yet?
Thank you for reading and any help you'd like to give! Observations and questions are welcome, prescriptions less so. No troll remarks needed, either :)
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I examine the gaps dividing genres, people, perspectives and my own disjointed fragments. Studying the distance between us, I seek connection across differences. I write what terrifies me, juxtaposing the rough and the funny, the silken and sharp, the gorgeous and grotesque to catch a glimpse at what it means to exist on this planet.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible for me. Swimming through memories I can't believe happened, I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
Sensory details spark mirror neurons that unite nervous systems. In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. As I exorcise my past, my peripheral vision widens. Disparate pathways coalesce. Through searching research, conversations, surveys and letters shared with me, I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I pour together collected stories, observations and devised collaborations in hot lava stew, cooking our rawest parts together. Cathartic release brings breath.
My play see in the dark: a new myth churns a recurring nightmare from my adolescence with our fears of the other and climate disaster. In a future Juneau, Alaska when all the glaciers have melted, the ice fields have vanished and nothing is recognizable, an isolated community of mutant outsiders must decide what to do with a newcomer: the young girl with a great power that threatens to destroy their village and everyone in it. This play collides environmental collapse, collectivism, poetry, a genocidal shadow beast, radical love and the value of compassion over suspicion.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty flooding with waterfalls, oceans and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the heartbreaking brutality of reality. It's hard being alive today. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the things inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too. I want us to take stock of our hidden monstrosities. Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything. What if we held unconditional friendliness toward all citizens of the multiverse, ourselves included? I want to hold out a hand and sit with you through your struggle.
Together we can get through this thing called life.
dig the garden
push into heat
tick tick tick at keys
one idea, another
rake past garbage
writing is composting
churning one thought, another
spidery grasses, tough weeds
sew hope, prune sentences, enrich soil
all the waiting
daily in the dirt
vigils on chair, by seedlings
fight critics, aphids, slugs
sometimes the sun
sometimes a frost
and everything wastes
50 pages pumped
but the harvest
after mind numbing stuck
to make something of this land
is it even fertile?
the chance of leaves, blooms, a whole tomato
a feast, a draft
a completed work
something to dream on
to return for
tick tick tick
What a year. What a beginning to 2021...I hope you're safe, healthy and pressing on with all the sanity you can muster. All my best to you and yours right now.
With all the losses and challenges, I'm fortunate that I can look back on some highlights from 2020. Amidst everything, good things happened. Here are a few from my end.
I was about to list some of my losses, but looking back, most of these were related to travel, lost work and household income (aided by grants received), exciting projects put off and important personal events pushed back (like a wedding). I'm extremely fortunate to be healthy, that my family and partner are well and safe, to have a job and a home. I didn't lose close friends or family this year to illness (though it came close) or the violence that came to so many across this country and globe. I'm incredibly privileged, lucky and grateful.
Because most of my 2020/2021 goals were made less possible in COVID times, with hopeful optimism (and perhaps naïve delusion) I'm bringing a couple of them back for 2021 and 2022:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
I'm falling in love with my process again, the less I try to fill every minute.
I time travel when I read the past.
I see into my then skin, compare it with now.
I learn about where my brain was and where it is.
I've learned that the practice of writing takes time. A long time.
That having patience and cultivating love
for the act of writing is the thing that leads to authentic depth
and realization of voice that can't be forced.
I've learned there is deep value in waiting.
There is no one way to tell a story, to structure a play.
The act of writing daily helps me know how to move my hand
through a story, an idea, a play or a thought
much more than if I wait between projects.
I've learned I have something to say.
I am an adventure.
I work hard.
I can miss things, skip things and the world carries on.
I can fail in big and small ways, that's how I learn.
For me, writing is not about seeking expertise but discovery, opening, humanity.
Vulnerability is the gateway to connection.
Everyone has a creative voice to unlock.
Listening is a difficult art that requires great patience
and ability to resist interrupting, speaking, offering advice.
I've learned that I love to use giant weather-based catastrophes in my work,
often representing some big world or personal event.
I've learned that the personal is political.
That my tendency to assume factors about people and situations
is a habit that I must continue to break.
That as a white person I have extreme advantage that is unfair,
but I can use that agency to open up space for the targeted.
I've learned that we can make something beautiful together through art,
and that I love collaborations even though they are difficult.
I've learned that writing is hard and I will always do it.
I can work in a way that I guide the process and the process guides me.
My work helps me stay grounded.
Writing teaches me how to live, how to listen, how to be.
I take time with it. There is no rush.
My work goes against values I dispute --
commercialism, capitalism, unchecked patriotism.
It challenges me.
I can continue all my life and there will always be more to learn.
There isn't a wrong but I will never get it exactly right.
Not about right and wrong.
Writing teaches me what I think.
Shows me what I know.
Brings out memories that don't surface otherwise.
My work gets braver and more specific.
Is beginning to reach more globally, into dangerous territory.
Is starting to connect with audiences and collaborators in authentic ways.
Becoming more about--
That knocked me off guard. That unsettled me. That spoke to me directly.
My work doesn't define me but is a primal factor in who I am.
Me as writer, as playwright, as artist, ingrained into my DNA.
I no longer have to prove --
hey look at me
I write I'm a writer not just prop master or stage hand or sick person,
not that there's anything wrong with that.
But this ink is the air I breathe.
Getting more confident with my experiments, more courageous and bold.
Coming into my true voice that resonates with the young writer me,
what I tried to be/make/sound like.
I still feel very young. Like I know nothing.
But I know something.
And I learn more every day.
Art shows me the world I want to see, reveals how I want to live.
The process of making art teaches me to live better.
Putting creations into the world helps me express
what's going on inside me, in my life, what I observe in this world, my beliefs
when I find it impossible to do so face to face.
By sharing the work I make, I can make myself vulnerable
in a way that opens me up to connect with others through empathy,
and them to each other.
When I see art that inspires me, I am reminded of our condition,
our world, the irrevocable sense of beauty and truth in each moment.
That still apply today...
March 23, 2016
Panic does not accelerate productivity.
Slowing down helps me see with more attention and sustained focus.
There is great creative power in waiting and in doing nothing.
Wandering opens up as many ideas as spaciousness.
Taking a long time on a project can help me go big with it.
I can still pump out material, generate new work and experiment
with several improvised pieces a day.
The process is becoming about the long haul.
How I sustain, how I balance out the creative, the professional, the personal.
We handle grief in innumerable ways.
The ways I handle grief over time changes.
Opening up, taking down walls and allowing for vulnerability
makes way for connection.
It's uncomfortable to be vulnerable.
The discomfort zone is where learning happens, where magic happens.
I can only sit for so long without upsetting my body and brain
for the rest of the day.
I need to move and find new positions for myself
in order to engage holistic learning, teaching and making.
I am a total maniac.
I know how to make massive quantity, how to write a lot and create a ton,
and that is an exquisite practice to have under my belt,
but now my challenge is learning to do less
and in that way do better.
I have a mountain of experience under me
and when I don't recognize that,
I stand tiptoe on top of that peak,
unbalanced, about to fall to bottom.
I am privileged in many ways. Marginalized in a few.
I can walk into a room recognizing the areas
in which I am privileged
and use those to help lift up
the marginalized in the room.
Instead of listening for contention or to interrupt,
listen for understanding.
Pay attention to a room --
Does someone need to step forward?
Does someone need to step back?
Reflection is as important as planning and acting.
When questions drive the work,
the work creates more questions.
We can explore deeper to make those questions better all the time.
At the roots of everyone's work are a few core questions.
Finding out what drives us means asking
what enrages, inspires, makes us curious, brings us joy, makes us laugh
and then tapping into those answers.
Generating material is only the first part --
then comes reworking, redrafting, feedback, queering, showing, rewiring...
All the parts that play with the work take the longest.
That final 5 percent it takes to finish a work really does take 95 percent of the time.
A play that taps into shared perversity is more compelling
than one that investigates psychological motivations.
Asking where am I? each moment
can bring deeper awareness and presence
and is an easy way to slip back into a conscious mind frame
when the spinning option steals my breath.
Finding ONE thing, one focus at every given moment
leads to greater groundedness in the work.
I know what I'm doing.
I'm on the path to creating a lifelong process that works well for me.
Great art has roots and reach.
At first I thought I wouldn't share these this year, but now before we get too far into 2020, here are some of my highlights from 2019. It's good to look back.
Here are my three big goals for 2020 and 2021:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
2020 is my year of finding presence, rather than worrying over the future or running reels of the past through my brain. That's my intention, anyway...we'll see how it goes :)
Process notes on a work in progress. This page serves to invite you into the way I work, with intermittent posts to show you the hows and whys on the whats I make, as well as prompts and ideas I bring to certain workshops. There will also be some raw, rough content found in notebooks written years ago, previously posted on: