Our Communities, Ourselves
Sunday, December 11, 2011
When I decided to do this, I wanted to bring the same course I have taught at the university level to the homeless population. I wanted to see if there would be interest in various forms of literature (poetry, plays, novels, short stories, and essays). Most of all I wanted to see if there was interest in writing and creative expression at a shelter.
What I found has been pretty incredible. I’ve been touched by every student’s willingness to learn and their sheer reverence for the texts I’ve brought into our classroom.
From Jack Kerouac to Jack Gilbert, from Shakespeare’s plays to Lincoln’s speeches, we covered wide swaths of history. Someone performed Langston Hughes poems aloud. We read Noir, sections of war novels, and old essays from The New Yorker. One student even participated in National Novel Writing Month.
What strikes me the most is that people of all ages were drawn to this chance to create. From 4-year-olds to the near-elderly, the class drew interest from every demographic in the shelter. Some were ready to use flash drives to save their work, while others did not yet have an email address and preferred to write by hand.
There were moments of whimsy -- some nights we picked a word of the day; once it was “somersault,” one night it was “retorted.” We ate candy and we laughed.
As the government fumbles to fix all of the nation’s current challenges (not the least of which is homelessness itself), and in a time when we are never wanting for more daily stories that make us question what the First Amendment means, it has been effervescent to see the spirit of the creative arts live in people who are struggling to get on their feet again. It’s been fantastic to watch them express themselves, write about their lives and the lives of others around them.
Creative expression can help us make sense of current events. In the course of the class, I’ve talked with the students about their thoughts on the Occupy movement, American anxiety, and the economy. We’ve talked about housing. We’ve talked about jobs.
They’ve written about their experiences living in a homeless shelter, they’ve written dark metaphors for life, they wrote about clowns, fairies, dragons, and rappers. They dug into their imaginations to make others laugh, think twice, and most of all feel something.
Thank you to the committed and brave students who blossomed from mostly shy, inward strangers to writerly comrades who were excited to share their work and give feedback to their classmates.
As our “semester” comes to close, I want to thank each person for putting themselves out there and entrusting me with their writing. It’s been an honor to teach the class and to learn from you.
Photo: This is an up-close shot I took of one of the student's essays called "Be the Clown." My favorite sentence is underlined.
How Jellyfish Make Love
Friday, September 23, 2011
Fun fact? Jellyfish don't touch when they procreate.
I love jellyfish and when I learned this factoid, this is the story that came to mind...
How Jellyfish Make Love
by Lori Kozlowski
It was 1986 when I met you. We both lived on Decatur Avenue in a tank that had enough room for you, me, and all our fake plastic accoutrement.
I was 30 years old—really old for a jellyfish. Some people thought I’d die sooner. But I knew better. I was waiting for you.
They added you to the tank on a Thursday when all the businessmen came in for long lunches. I saw White Hat lift you up and plop you down that day. The first time I saw you, I thought: she’s beautiful.
Your arms were so long and lovely. You floated in a way that I did not. With a grace that I aspired to, but I was always more of a hard-edged guy. My movements could almost be shark- like. Very unlike a jellyfish. But it was my one trait I was sort of proud of.
But you—you were billowy and see-through. I loved your color—a clear pink that blended into a purple red on the tips of your lower body. I wanted to touch you.
Recently, I found the Big Confession I made to you before we were really truly together. Here’s how it went:
I know we’ve been flirting for a while and been out a couple of times. But let me just get some thoughts out in the open. I’m not one for games, so here goes nothing.
Read more »
"More The Road than The Jetsons"
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Calling it "more 'The Road' than 'The Jetsons'" (which it is), Casino Online pulls out various bits of the book and explores both the book's references to the Atomic Age and darker places beyond.
Read the full review here.
Image: 'Dead Neon' book cover up close. Credit: Kimberly Glyder, book designer.
Note: Glyder also created a series of book cover art options that could have been the final book jackets of Dead Neon. She thinks the publisher picked the best option (I think so, too). But I find all of her art quite lovely. All the alternates still capture Vegas, the desert, and desolation. Check them all out here.
"Dead Neon" hits bookstores
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Book Trailer for 'Dead Neon'
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Maybe a fuzzy flashing screen, bright letters spelling out last nuclear warnings, and some creative heavy metal?
That's exactly what you'll get here:
Video credit: Jarret Keene. Book trailer for post-apocalyptic Las Vegas sci-fi story anthology. Published by University of Nevada Press. Edited by Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene. Featuring 14 never-before published short fictions by Vegas (or Vegas-fluent) writers. Music by the band of the same name, Dead Neon.
"Dead Neon: Tales of Near-Future Las Vegas" is available in stores on October 1.
You can also pre-order the book from the publisher: University of Nevada Press Forthcoming Titles
Dead Neon: New science-fiction story collection
Sunday, May 16, 2010
My latest short story comes out this fall.
I've written about that before, but now you can check out the book cover, and the publisher's site.
"Dead Neon: Tales of Near-Future Las Vegas" is being published by University of Nevada Press. Editors Jarret Keene and Todd James Pierce, no doubt, did a fabulous job curating this collection. (Originally, the book name was "Doom Town," but "Dead Neon" is that much more apocalyptic.)
My story "Nuclear Wasted Love Song" appears alongside many other sci-fi, end-of-the-world tales, penned by many other authors that I admire. I'm excited to read all of the stories together and hope you are, too.
You can pre-order the book here: University of Nevada Press Forthcoming Titles
Book cover courtesy of University of Nevada Press
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Panels: L.A.'s past and future
Monday, April 19, 2010
Both panels are on Saturday.
Here's the schedule:
Saturday, April 24
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Times Pavilion
Q&A with Denise Hamilton, a Noir queen
I can't wait for this chat. Denise is the editor of Los Angeles Noir and Los Angeles Noir 2. Both books are part of the Akashic Books Noir series - a series that I also wrote for. It will be a fun chat about Noir, L.A.'s history, and crime fiction today.
Saturday, April 24
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Times Pavilion
The L.A. Times' Favorite Literary Apps
This panel is about the future of reading. My colleagues Mark Milian, Michelle Maltais, and I will talk about what apps we use to read news, books, and other stuff. We'll also discuss apps in general and give a preview of the new, shiny L.A. Times iPhone app.
Other links that will help you navigate the Festival of Books:
Full schedule of the Los Angeles Times Pavilion
Festival of Books General Info
Hope to see you there!
Photo (top): One of my bookshelves. I took this photo with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. Photo (second): Digital and mobile reading panel. Credit: Tony Pierce / Los Angeles Times.
October 2007 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 August 2008 November 2008 December 2008 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 January 2010 April 2010 May 2010 August 2010 October 2010 March 2011 September 2011 December 2011
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]