Saturday, December 24, 2005

Writers Who Give Us Voice in Dark Times

Shauna Singh Baldwin is an acclaimed author, a former radio announcer, and one of the first women to take on the sport of polo in India.

A Giller nominee for her work based on the story of Noor Inayat Khan (code name Madeleine), a British secret service agent - The Tiger Claw.

Her web site
hosts a wealth of articles, books and even recipes from Shauna's delightful, mosaic - her life.

Here is a brief excerpt from an article entitled:

Writers in a Time of Terrorism
Speech delivered in Toronto
to The Writers’ Union of Canada, at its AGM.
May 2005.

I’m told writers have a unique role, in that we “speak truth to power.”

To that I say:

Some of us do, and some of us become bards for those who pay our bills or have the authority to help us get ahead. At Bleu-Met-Bleu in Montreal this year, Vladimir Tasic a writer who came here from the former Yugoslavia reminded me,

“yes many of us speak truth to power, but power doesn’t listen.”

If you ever have such thoughts, whisper this secret mantra: the world would be a far worse place if I stopped writing.

It’s often said that better writing comes out of oppression. But though I do want to write better, I would really prefer to work on it privately. There’s enough fear of penury associated with writing that we don’t crave more.

Worldwide, fascists – whom some call patriots – and fundamentalists whom some call conservatives, are at war. They are laying seige to our compassion for those not of our tribe, the very compassion that expresses our common humanity. The Handmaid's Tale solution – personal escape into the mountains – is no option. Film and TV cannot help us enter other minds. Only writers can offer a simulation of other points of view, and the sound of someone else’s voice in our heads. We must engage more, not less. I predict writers will be at the forefront of the battle for compassion – it just goes with the territory.

Shauna Singh Baldwin

"This phenomenal poet, writer, and essayist was born on February 18, 1924 in Harlem and died of cancer of on November 17, 1992. "

Audre Lourde "Your silence will not protect you."

Throughout her entire life Lourde was crusader for change and activist for both black and gay rights. In 1974 Lourde was nominated for a National Book Award for her third volume of poetry "Land Where Other People Live".
In 1980 after having a mastectomy Lourde was inspired to bring her fight with cancer to the masses when she wrote "The Cancer Journal" (1980) which documented her battle and treatment as both an African-American and a lesbian. Lourde gained critical acclaimed for her intimate portrayal of such a serious medical condition and her book became one of the most sought after books on cancer.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, cantadora (keeper of the stories), artist in residence to the State of Colorado, and mother to thousands of unmothered souls throughout the world, is the essence of inspiration.

Dr. Este's most recent articles are posted at the site referenced above, which also handles her bookings.

Here is an excerpt from the article "An Assignment For You "

TODAY’S ASSIGNMENT, A Prescription From Dr. E.

I assign you to be a beautiful, good, kind, awakened, soulful person, a true work of art as we say, ser humano, a true human being. In a world filled with so much darkness, such a soul shines like gold; can be seen from a far distance; is dramatically different.

Want to help? Show your deepest most divine self to the world. There is nothing more rare, more strange, more needed. Why would you wait? Not worthy? Oh piffle. Not ready? Okay, so when? Next lifetime? Don't be silly with me about this. Inferiority complex? Okay, let me put it this way to you: you're not good enough to think you're not good enough. And you can quote me to yourself whenever you have need... Dr. E. said so.

Have you forgotten that you made promises to your Beloved before you ever came to earth? The time to fulfill these is truly now. You want to cease feeling helpless, and you want to help the aching world? Serve someone and something. Everyone on earth serves someone and something. This means being your truest self now, fulfilling the promises you made to heaven long ago.

Anything you do from the soulful self will help lighten the burdens of the world. Anything. You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity can cause to be set in motion. Be outrageous in forgiving. Be dramatic in reconciling. Mistakes? Back up and make them as right as you can, then move on. Be off the charts in kindness. In whatever you are called to, strive to be devoted to it in all aspects large and small. Fall short? Try again. Mastery is made in increments, not in leaps. Be brave, be fierce, be visionary. Mend the parts of the world that are "within your reach." To strive to live this way is the most dramatic gift you can ever give to the world.

Consider yourselves assigned.
No lack of love, tu abuelita, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.


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