when you want so much for those who gather close to tell their stories

Sunday, November 19, 2017

We have returned from Sea Change, our memoir writing workshop by the sea. And oh what a sea change it was—for us all.

Each time I leave a workshop I leave stunned and grateful for the honesty of those who have come—for their willingness to reach, then reach again. We experienced transformations this past week of a nearly unearthly kind. Writers who found their stories. Writers who found their words. Reporters who became poets. Entertainers who struck at our hearts. Badassery latticed up with tenderness...and then some.

I barely sleep during these intense days. I am, by the end, on the edge of myself, the edge of each story, the edge of each truth. Where there once was blood there runs only an urgent hope that those who have joined us write big, write more, live whole.

Like a gymnast, I bend in all directions—I stretch, I fold. Sometimes, off that balance beam, I fall. I try one more trick, take one more leap, jump, turn, catch my toe, miss. That's me, the Beth Kephart I don't even really know until I'm the only Beth Kephart I am.

At the close of this session, the writers offered me a gift—their words turned toward me. These words below are from Louise, who has joined us now three times. Louise, who has found both her story and her words. I share them because they are for all of us—all of us who teach, all of us who hope, all of us who dare to want so much for the people we (we have no choice) do love.

We are given such glorious reasons to love. These women. Oh. These women.

Blank pages, open hearts, ready minds
We come to this place, to you
A safe harbor for our souls
Unsure, yet anxious to explore
We are transfixed, transformed
Torn down and built up 
Love is at the core. 

Juncture 21, our memoir newsletter, is now out and can be accessed here. Among other things we're featuring the poets Dan Simpson and Ona Gritz, who have written extraordinarily thoughtful words about the work they do alone and together. Dan and Ona's work provided touchstones for two of our writers this past week in Cape May. We returned to their words again and again.


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