taabe: Tipsy sylph with a cat on her shoulder (Default)
[personal profile] taabe
Thank you!

I've already written you to shake hands and turn sommersaults and say how glad I am that we're in this together, hundreds of us trekking into the corners of stories. Now that assignments have gone out, let me say it again. Thank you for setting off into worlds I also like to walk in.

About the story, write what moves you, and let the people taste and see and get muddy and know who and where they are. This time of year, for me, is about fire on cold nights, coming in tired and sweating after a long trip to see family, rubbing down your donkey before you go in to dinner... about risk and raw weather and stripped-down talk. It can have magic in it.

I hope my requests will give you ground to stand on and ideas to play with. Let me tell you a litte more about each one, if only for the fun of it.



Why Islamic Spain? This is a time when ideas met across Europe and Africa. Influences (political and religious) grew united enough, and covered space enough, to translate and create and preserve bodies of learning. Sometimes these systems met and integrated; sometimes they tried to cut each other off. I'm excited about the liberal places, the places where different peoples and languages and poetry and music and astrolabes met. If Spain is not your place, feel free to take me to another; as long as it is a living, growing place, I'll be glad to meet it.


The Bible is a complex place, and I find most powerful often when people open it out rather than closing it in, when they don't feel bound by it. I just found out who Deborah is, and I am fascinated: the female principle of the word, she who speaks, a woman who commands. The woman in the Song of Songs also has command of words. She gets to narrate her own story. She describes herself too. Who are these women, black and comely and standing tall at the door, listing to dawn birds?

The OT has a surprising number of women who influence and control stories, and they offer a lot of room for expanding. Mark Twain saw Eve (in his "Diaries of Adam and Eve") as endlessly curious, fearless and talkative person, a just-born adult woman with a child's natural scientific thirst and a woman's loneliness. Deborah and the singer of the Songs seem even more to have a say in their own stories.


I read Susan Cooper at the holidays because she combines myth - the shivering, elated foundation tales - with living people. And she tells us how many more myths and people there are. We know that the circle of the Old Ones is a real circle, worldwide. I don't know the name of the tall man who dances out of the Carnival procession in Kingston, Jamaica, wearing a god's head. I'd love to know who the Old Ones are in Jamaica, or India, or New Zealand or Uganda, or any place you choose.


As I said at first, I'm interested in places where people meet — and in the people whose side I've heard least often. In the 1800s, you could find people, faiths and languages from all across the world in this country. I framed the idea one way in my request; feel free to frame it another. A direct voice may be even better - the point of view of a Yiddish seltzermonger or playwright, a Chinese family or a Lebanese boy on shipboard, a blues musician or a freed slave or a Cherokee farmer leaving the mountains, or a Cherokee politician.

I know this category is labelled political. To become a story, a political act has to become personal. A committee in an office authorized the Trail of tears - but Guwisguwi walked it and knew how it felt.

Be well!
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taabe: Tipsy sylph with a cat on her shoulder (Default)
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