Reading ‘Trash’ – Why I love Banned Books Week

September 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

We’ve all done it. Put a juicy or salacious book inside of another book’s jacket. Read a book with its spine on the table so as not to reveal its scandalous or embarrassing cover. Or maybe when we were 12, we hid under a sheet with a flashlight and read… and read.

But this week I want to celebrate pulling down the proverbial sheet from works, not from those that are just racy or of the humbling self-help ilk, but those that at some point in history you might have found yourself in real trouble for reading. Those works that governments, school officials and libraries have banned.

I stole this image from 'Insatiable Booksluts'- Check out their brilliant caption there

I am so passionate about the right of individuals to speak and write and read whatever it is that pleases them, I am actually making a pilgrimage up to the home of my heart, San Francisco, this weekend to sit (sin?) in City Lights Books for a few hours, to attend a reading of banned works at the San Francisco Public Library, and to attend the Beat Museum’s event in solidarity with 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

I love thinking about why works were banned, and what it says about us. What are we as a society so afraid of? What is so powerful about the words we ban?

Well, the cat is out of the bag. I was supposed to be alone this weekend exploring these events so that in between I might find some time to write. But nevermind. The spirit of freedom of speech and free creativity, freedom of expression is what ultimately matters! Let’s pass around our banned books in the name of solidarity and community and let solitude be damned.

If you come hang out with me you just might find me HOWLing at Moloch in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.


Witches, Without Broomsticks

September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

What comes to mind when we think of witches?

Stores in the U.S. are already filled with Halloween costumes for little girls– lots of pointy black shoes and hats, striped tights and broomsticks.

But I have been thinking about the word “witch” and all it has meant in history.  My new article for Writing from the Margins at Her Circle Ezine, “What Became of the Five ‘Witches’ of Croatia,” was published today, and you can read it here.

Five brave female journalists and writers were labeled “witches” in the Croatian mainstream media in the 1990s because they spoke out against the nationalist state; they had the courage to write as individuals and not just Croatian citizens; and they had the audacity to read and publish widely in foreign media.

I was curious about what became of the ‘Five Witches’ and was not surprised to see that they continue to refuse to be silenced… I hope you gain inspiration from these women, as I did.

I’ll also post the article under my “articles” section of this site shortly.

Mexico Lindo

August 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

So often, my heart breaks for Mexico. I keep a keen eye out for news from there… one of my homes, a home of my heart, if not my physical home at the moment.

Today I read three stories concerning Mexico. One, from the New York Times, detailing a soccer game that was suspended due to gunfire. My heart sank as I read this. I thought of the final scene in the film, Traffic, where kids are playing baseball at night with lights. The message from that very well done Soderberg scene was that investing in infrastructure and in communities will help to stem the flow of drug violence and the power and lure of drug cartels.

The drug cartels are killing with impunity, more so than any time in history. That we know. But now, it seems that nothing is sacred. Not parks, not soccer games, not journalists, not foreigners, not children.

It is a dream, especially with the faltering economy here in the U.S., to think that this country could place a greater interest in Mexico at this time. Still, the second news story I read seemed to lend a bit more hope for a better relationship. Today, here in San Diego, people on both sides of the border are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Friendship Park on the U.S.-Mexico border, where then First Lady Pat Nixon reached her hand through the fence to greet residents of the other side.

Today there was “a cross-border salsa lesson, a bi-national music jam session, and testimonies from families who have used the park as a meeting place.” After 9/11 a triple layer border fence destroyed Friendship Park, but there are plans in the works to bring back this cross-border meeting space, without compromising security.

Serendipitously, I was researching writers to feature in Writing from the Margins for Her Circle Ezine, and I came across this speech by Meredith Tax about Mexican writer and feminist activist Lydia Cacho. Ms. Cacho was awarded the Ginetta Sagan prize by Amnesty International USA. Her struggle against censorship led to a change in Mexico’s federal law, decriminalizing defamation. Ms. Tax paints a very vivid picture of the ways the U.S. and Mexico are economically and politically entwined. Then, she closes her speech with a quote from Ms. Cacho, which captures my thoughts about Mexico today perfectly:

“It is impossible not to ask why, with these assembly plants that produce millions of dollars for owners of companies with foreign names, there is no investment in public works, there are no parks or gardens, or schools, only barren places, ready for sowing of garbage and death, surrounding the transnational buildings. Who cares about Juárez City? The abandonment of the streets reflects the abandonment of its people, the myopia of its governments, the death of its women and children, the solitude of the forgotten border.”

The solitude of the forgotten border. Her quote is found poetry. As much as I am passionate about free speech, removing barriers to the world’s receiving of the written voices of women and girls, I am also passionate that the U.S.-Mexico border and its pressing issues not be forgotten. All of these issues come together in Ms. Cacho’s story, and I am inspired. I want to know more, I want to do more.

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