Monday, November 03, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #64



I've talked about Lawson Fusao Inada here a number of times. He has been Oregon's Poet Laureate and an America Book Award winner but that isn't my main motive for continuing to bring him up. He was my creative writing professor in the late eighties when I attended Southern Oregon College in Ashland Oregon. (Southern Oregon University today.) I am bringing it up again today because I've got a DVD of him reading his poems and talking about his childhood in the American internment camps checked out of the library. Not the one above but What It Means To Be Free.

Lawson Inada was the one who woke me up to the power and potential of my own unique viewpoint and pointed toward the way to develop my own voice. We studied and practiced both poetry and fiction in his class. Before doing the poetry section with him I had never considered poetry to be part of my path as a writer. I wrote for his class the first poem that I continued to like as time passed. I see Soul Mirror as one of the first true things I made out of my own heart and knowledge. It still speaks to me in startling ways to this day.

I took his contemporary literature class as well which introduced me to the power voices and stories of women and non-WASP writers. These stories opened the world up to me and probably helped prepare me in ways I can only guess at when the moment of my break with my childhood religion came in the early 90s. I cannot overstate the influence this amazing man has had on my development as an artist and a thinker in my own right. I first learned from him two of the techniques for tapping into inspiration (aka the right side of the brain or non-linear thought) which I continue to use: listening to music and gazing at art. Once we had learned how that felt, he taught us how to gaze at the world around us and see it fresh.

He gave me personally the assignment to describe something I saw on my daily forty-five minute bus ride to school every day. I described a woman I saw on the bus who appeared to be talking to herself or possibly performing on a stage only she was aware of--a woman with red hair down to her waist and a face that looked like a shelled walnut. That woman walked onto the stage of my first Faye story as Estelle Star in 'Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities.' Which story I also began as an exercise for his class. The story that grew to become my Fruits of the Spirit story world with a cast of dozens.

Because I'm busy with the kickoff of NaNoWriMo and at least partially because we lost power last night for five hours between 10:15 PM and 3:30AM, pretty much the entirety of my usual work session, I didn't get a new poem written for today so I'll just leave the link to my Poem Portal in which I try to keep links to all my poems posted in Joystory. It needs to be updated some. More recent poems missing from the portal can be found through the Poems by Joy Renee Lable below this post.

Oh, and I can point to the poem at the top of my sidebar under Obama's picture. That's one of my Haiku. And with that, I will take the opportunity to encourage all my American reader's to VOTE tomorrow. Whoever you favor, VOTE. It is the most solemn duty of every American. VOTE.

Since Rhian has been too busy to keep Monday Poetry Train running lately, Gautami Tripathy has taken on that task until Rhian can return. Find more passengers here.

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