Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on Good Writing

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on Good Writing

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sandra Cisneros: On Writing, Mothers, and Death

 Sandra Cisneros, the author of the classic The House on Mango Street who now lives in Mexico, believes she has an ideal slogan for her new land."Mexico - it's a good place to die," Cisneros says with a laugh.

"There, the dead co-exist with the living every day. The past and the present come together and mix," she explained.

Raised in Chicago as a Mexican-American celebrating the language and the ways of her native land to the south, Cisneros says that she has come to believe that death is "letting go".  However, much is left for those who survive, she quickly adds.

"When a parent dies, suddenly you have a spirit ally that is with you always," she said. "I know that sounds new age-y, but it is our miseducation that has caused us to rename it superstition."

Cisneros was present in the room when her mother died. "There was a moving, a shimmering around the room. I had a feeling that was tender and sweet, not like my mother at all," she said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

"I became a writer because my mother was an unhappy mother," Cisneros said. Her mother was "an artistic soul" who was constantly going to cultural centers and events, she explained. "I used to think it was for our sake, but I realize now it was for her," the author, who was one of 7 children, said.

One of those cultural centers was the library. "To me the library was a wonderful house ... a house of ideas ... a house of silence," Cisneros said.

As a writer, Cisneros said she writes "whatever comes. I write this, I write that. The only reason I finish anything is because somebody in New York gives me a deadline. I began writing when I was most lonely in middle school. I wasn't the pretty girl ... I wasn't the smart girl ... I was the new girl with the bad haircut because my mother was always cutting my bangs crooked."

Cisneros indicated that she has no intention to stop writing. "Each book gets me closer to the path I am supposed to be walking," she said.

Sandra Cisneros' Ofrenda for Her Mother
 @The Museum of American History in DC

This Day of the Dead altar departs from the traditional public Mexican altar by featuring my mother’s personal space – her garden and bedroom – and personal objects as part of an homage remembering her as a dynamic creative being in her own right. Gathering the items here, some from my grandmother and great-grandmother, helped me look deeply and see my mother as a woman with her own life apart from her family and children. In the end, it served, as art often does, to transform grief to celebration. Thanks to my mother’s deep hunger to become an artist, she opened the path for me. This altar is my gracias to her.
Sandra Cisneros

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How Come My But Isn't as Good as Kim Kardashian's Butt

By Dave Price 
I was really excited about 10 minutes ago. I had just posted my first LinkedIn-only entry and I was sure fame and fortune were headed my way. All I had to do was sit back and wait.

But within 5 minutes my elation plummeted. Suddenly my spirit was lower than Congress' latest favorable ratings.
Even my new good southern friend Willie Bill Williams was in better shape than I was. And Willie Bill, or Good Ol' W.B., as he likes to be called, had just been named the Mississippi man most likely to marry his rather-wide 1st cousin and then have the bank immediately foreclose on his remortgaged 1973 doublewide.
So what was causing my distress? I had checked the status of my post. Only 2 (that's 2 as in 1,000,000 minus 999,998) people had viewed it.  Nobody had liked it and not one person had commented on it.
I might have been able to accept that since it had only been online for less than 10 minutes. 
But then I saw the post immediately below mine. It was entitled "Treasury Feels the Hamilton Heat". The author was some financial analyst I had never heard of. And here were his stats - 3,964 views, 22 likes, and 3 comments. 
I know myself and there is only one way to restore my self-esteem (or self of steam as one of my former students put in when he said: "Mr. Price, you are really hurting my self of steam") stolen by that financial analyst.
You must read my post. And then you must tell all your friends and family to read my post. And they must tell all their family and friends to read my post until my post doesn't just do well, it breaks the internet. Now I'm pretty tech savvy but I'm not real sure why you would want to break the internet, but apparently it involves things like Kim Kardashion's butt and is a good thing for writers to do.
(Note to self here: Don't forget to link to Kim Kardashian so you can draw more people to your post. Also change the picture of you with Pope Francis above to Kim K.) 
Right now, I'm just nicely asking for your help. But I can't promise my nicety will remain if the response isn't immediately overwhelmingly. 
For example, do you remember I mentioned my good southern friend Willie Bill (W.B) Williams earlier is this post? If you do, please continue reading. If not, return to paragraph 2, reread it, and then come back here to the next sentence.
I'm positive Willie Bill will marry his cousin, Matilda Mae. And I'm fairly certain that the bank will foreclose on his doublewide trailer since he is 7 months behind in his payments and just spent all the money he had on Matilda Mae's ring and a romantic dinner for 2 (although in Matilda Mae's case, it's more like dinner for 6) to celebrate the occasion. 
If all that does happen, I know Willie Bill and his bride will want to move in with me. But since I have no fame and, more importantly, no fortune, that can't happen.
Since by not reading my 1st post, I believe you are somewhat responsible for that condition, I will have no recourse but to send Willie Bill and Matilda Mae to live with you. And in a matter of days, your beautiful home's appearance will be changed into that of the trashiest trailer in Rump Hump or Duck Spit, Mississippi.
Now while Willie Bill and Matilda Mae are nice people and always mean well, you don't want them living with you.
Of course, there's an easy way to avoid that. Just read my initial post. And then tell all your friends and family to do the same until it goes viral. So what are you waiting for? Find that post and start reading.