Posted by: birdmaddgirl | 10 July 2013

at the intersection of inspiring and creepifying

here i am – in the intimidating new land of dueling master’s programs. my first residency week for my MFA in creative writing was exciting and inspiring and lots of other very nice words. every day feels like a writergasmic festival of ideas. too many ideas. lack of material is never really an issue for me; knowing what to do with it and when, now there’s another matter.

last wednesday, i slammed on the brakes mid-day because i encountered a photo i couldn’t ignore. since discovering the boston public library’s flickr archives, i’ve been tooling around on flickr in general looking for more historical material. there: a photo from philadelphia, 1926, an advertisement for the then-popular US eugenics movement. the blood rushed out of my head, chased by a poem. a solid enough first draft.

it was clear to me that this is the sort of thing that one builds a series around. more research. more thinking. what kind of series? lots of paths. i twiddled around online a bit more on friday but without a clear direction. but yesterday i became aware of a story coming out of the center for investigative reporting on sterilization at two california prisons – sterilizations that took place between 2006 and 2010 affecting 148 women. it’s just a bit eerie and creepy, such an intersection of then and now. this is no longer digging into archives (like this amazing one); this is the intersection of history and journalism. and it leaves an incredible amount of space for artists to explore.

so i don’t really know yet what i’m writing about. but i have a wealth of ideas, and i’m working on figuring out what sources are vetted and trustworthy ones. i believe strongly in making poetry that doesn’t draw away from difficult and ugly truths. i believe in the opportunities of art to reflect  our collective inhumanities and to move us to empathy.


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