Monday Mailings: 15 June 2020

Since I’ve been writing postcards to elected officials, I thought I’d share them with those who might be interested in sending out similar messages to their elected officials: https://www.tdwalker.net/postcards/

The templates on this pages are .doc files, and you can update them with your information and the information of your elected officials.  You can send them as is or update the text as you’d like.

I’m putting the postcards up on my personal website, but linking them here because a.) these cover many of the issues I’ve wanted to blog about but haven’t,  b.) they’re probably of interest to readers here, and c.) I wanted to put these out here to make things quick and easy for those who want to write to elected officials about these topics.  Some of the language is specific to Texas (see my “oh, hey, you like business!  the HEROES Act is good for business!  so go vote for it!” to my senators), but for the most part, these can be generalized for audiences across the US.

Instructions for printing and postage are on the page as well.  The /postcards page isn’t linked through my website menu, so if you go to the front page, you won’t find it there.  (Also, there’s an annoying popup on my front page asking if you’d like to join my email list in exchange for a near-future political feminist science fiction novelette, so don’t go through there if, like me, you don’t like pop-ups.  (Seriously, if you want the novelette, and you’re a reader here, just email me.))

If you have any suggestion for future postcards, please let me know.

A Few Podcasts of Interest for Overwhelmed Creators

Greetings after a long absence.  There are a number of reasons for my time away from the blog, though it’s mostly that I don’t have much time to write, and I have been dedicating what little time I do have to fiction and poems that explore the sorts of issues I had been blogging about here.

Even though I think I’m better at getting into the complexities of social issues through fiction and poetry than I do through blogging, I haven’t felt much like writing anything of late.  And I know I’m not alone in that.

So, how do we get back to the necessary creative work we do?

I’m still struggling with that.  One shift I did notice lately is that I didn’t want to listen to writing podcast episodes, which I usually do the day they’re published.  Why not?  Because I felt guilty listening to writing podcasts when I should be paying attention to news.  Because writing–especially writing science fiction and poetry–feels less vital than doing whatever it is I should be doing right now, even if I’m already doing it.

That said, writing podcasts give me a sense of the larger writing community, outside my local community which, of course, I’m not socializing with for the foreseeable future.  Listen to just one podcast, I told myself.  See what happens.  And it helped.  The writing is slow, and I’m easily distracted, but I’m writing.

In case this helps anyone else in the same situation, here are a few episodes I recommend:

  • In episode #486 of I Should Be Writing, host Mur Lafferty reminds us that we need to adjust to life as it is now, rather than pressuring ourselves to use “free time” to write what we feel we should be writing right now.   (Though the podcast is for “wannabe fiction writers,” I’ve found Lafferty’s advice just as useful after the publication of my first book as I did when I had just come back to writing.)
  • The title of episode #203 of the #amwriting podcast says it all: #HowToWorkAnyway.  Practical advice on how to get the writing done when so much is changing around us all.
  • More practical advice from host Rachael Herron in episode #174 of How Do You Write?
  • And even more from Rachael Herron and her co-host J. Thorn on their podcast The Writer’s Well.  In episode #168, they ask each other “Do You Pray?”  Their answers are “no” and “not really,” but they have an interesting conversation around the topic.

So, these are the podcasts that have eased me back into writing.

How about you?  Are you finding it difficult to create now?  Have you found anything that helps?

 

Interviews, Book Signing, and Talk Notes

Well, folks, it’s been a while.  And when you have limited time and energy, you have to drop some things.  Which meant I haven’t blogged here in months.  That said, this fall is looking more generous as far as blogging time goes, so I hope to be back at it regularly in September.

The Wait is Over for Small Waiting Objects

In the meantime, my book launched.  Here’s a description of Small Waiting Objects, my debut poetry collection:
Cover of Small Waiting Objects by T.D. Walker

In the near future, kitchen appliances question, console, and bewilder their owners. Extraterrestrials leave behind sub-dermal implants and complicated daughters. A second moon settles into orbit around Earth, a moon which challenges those beneath it to see it, to name it, to explore it. And crew members aboard starships turn to fine and pulp art as consolation. The lyric poems in Small Waiting Objects reach back to feminist utopias and onward toward possible futures in which we find ourselves resisting the technologies—and their human implications—that we most desire.

For more information, check out my website. The book is available from IndieBoundAmazon, and Barnes & Noble. Or for a signed copy, drop by Half Price Books in Dallas on Sunday, July 7th.  I’ll post more events as they’re scheduled.

Speculative Poet Q&As

I’ve been interviewing science fiction and fantasy poets in a new venue, Luna Station QuarterlyI’ll link to the interviews as they are posted.  Here’s June’s post, an interview with Jessica Rae Bergamino about her book, UNMANNED.  In this collection, Bergamino gives voice to the two Voyager spacecraft in poems that challenge how we see the universe and how we see ourselves.

Creativity Talk

In November, I gave a talk at the Fellowship of Freethought gathering on the need for skepticism in creative practice.  No video on this to share, but I’ll post my notes on this soon.

This fall, I plan on writing more on how my worldview affects my creative endeavors (along with more Texas politics), and if I can wrangle some interviews with secular humanist creative folks, I’ll post those here.

In the meantime, is your creativity affected by your secular viewpoint?  If so, how?  And are there writers you’d like to suggest for interviews on Freethinking Ahead?

 

Talk in Dallas on Sunday November 18th: The Creative Skeptic

I’ll be giving a talk at the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas gathering this month:

The Creative Skeptic: Or, How to Live the Magic, Embrace the Mystery, and Invoke the Muses When You Don’t Believe in Supernatural Forces

Are you an artist and a freethinker? A crafter and skeptic? A coder and a humanist? A social organizer and an atheist? A fan of movies and a fan of rationality?

Do you want to explore both your ability to create and your ability to question with like-minded folks?

Then join us for a workshop on creativity for freethinkers. We’ll discuss ways in which we can use advice for creative types that is too often couched in spiritual terms. And we’ll play lively social games designed to help you tap into your creativity, without resorting to calling on a Muse.

Don’t consider yourself creative? Don’t worry! We’ll address ways in which consumers of creative products–movies, TV, games, books, and so on–can also consider themselves creative and thus apply what we talk about in the gathering.

So come explore the mysteries of creativity with us. It’ll be magical….

Fellowship of Freethought Dallas gatherings are held at the Walnut Hill Recreation Center (10011 Midway Road, Dallas, TX) and begin at 11am.

Fellowship of Freethought Dallas Gathering: Treat or Trick? Is an Afterlife Possible?

If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and you want to start your Halloween celebration a bit early, check out the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas gathering on October 21st.  From the meetup event listing:

Treat or Trick? Is an Afterlife Possible?

In this fun, Halloween-themed talk, Professor Fisher will use some creepy Halloween stories and B-grade movies to explore some of the weird and wild ways that theologians and philosophers have tried to make sense of the possibility of an afterlife.

Justin C. Fisher is a Philosophy professor at Southern Methodist University

11:00 am – Coffee and mingling
11:30 am – Program Begins
12:30 pm – Potluck

The gathering will be held at the Walnut Hill Recreation Center, 10011 Midway Road, Dallas, TX.

A Response from Senator Cornyn Regarding Kavanaugh Vote

Just before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on whether to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court to the full Senate, I called and emailed the offices of both Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn to voice my concerns about said vote.  I sent postcards to their local offices as well, for good measure.  They’re both on the committee, and they’re both–ostensibly–my senators, as I’m a resident of Texas.

I say “ostensibly” because Cornyn’s response demonstrates that he doesn’t represent the interests of the citizens of his state.  He represents the interests of his party.  Here is a portion of his response, with emphasis added by this blogger:

I believe we should take allegations of misconduct very seriously, which is why I support the thorough investigations being undertaken by the Judiciary Committee and the FBI. Based on his record of integrity as a father, husband, and public servant, I am confident this investigation will demonstrate that Judge Kavanaugh did not engage in any misconduct. As a result, on September 28, 2018, I voted to advance Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the Judiciary Committee with the understanding that it will be considered by the full Senate following the conclusion of FBI’s supplemental background investigation.

I look forward to continuing Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process and believe that he will serve with honor on the Supreme Court. I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join together to ensure that this process treats every individual involved with respect, fairness, and decency. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Cornyn both supports the investigation, and yet he also looks forward to participating his Kavanaugh’s confirmation?  So, even before the FBI completes its investigation, Cornyn is sure that the results will show that Kavanaugh committed no acts of sexual misconduct?  Am I to take this as an indication that regardless of those findings, he will vote for Kavanaugh?  And why highlight Trump, whose recent behavior shows his unwillingness to treat “every individual involved with respect, fairness, and decency“?

Cornyn purports to represent Texas in the Senate.  In reality, he represents the worst of white male privilege in this state.

Monday Miscellany: 24 September 2018

A few links of interest from around the web:

A Quick State of the Blog Update: Politics, Book News, and a Poem

It’s been a while since my last post, and I wanted to let you all know that I’m still here, but I’ve had a number of (mostly good) things keeping me from blogging much lately.  When you have maybe an hour of free time on any given day, and you’re trying to squeeze in calling senators, writing postcards to elected officials, attending postcard parties and other election-related activities, all while trying to keep up with writing poetry and fiction, you drop some things.

And this blog, unfortunately, has been the thing I’ve dropped from my to do list most often of late.

So, what have I been up to?  Writing, manuscript prep, and marketing.  Which means I’ve been working on a second collection of poems while submitting poems, a novella, and multiple short stories to publishers on top of all that goes into heading toward the publication of my debut collection of poems, which will be out next summer.  (Want to know more?  I have a mailing list!)  Also, I have a science fiction poem out at Strange Horizons today.  It’s about alien implants.  So there’s that.

I’m also working on separating out my more personal, writing-related posts from the sort of posts I had envisioned for Freethinking Ahead.  In the next month or so, I’ll be blogging here about some responsibilities of secular humanists who create any sort of art or craft, though most of my examples will be from poetry or fiction.  I’ll be giving a talk at the November Fellowship of Freethought Gathering on this topic, and my posts will work up to that presentation.

Over at my website, I’ll be blogging about writing, writing groups as procrastination, research as procrastination, procrastination as research, and the like.  The first post is, of course, about procrastination: “Listening in the Distance: Or, Research and the Radio.”  (Okay, I know, I said I have limited time, and I’m listening to the radio.  That said, my listening-to-the-radio time is also time when I’m not quite energetic enough to string together decent sentences….)

And side note: the Q&A series with speculative poets is currently on hiatus, but it will be back soon.  I’ll post more about this shortly.

Lastly, thank you.  If you’ve just started reading my posts or if you’ve been reading them for a while, thank you.  And if you’re up for sharing your thoughts on the subject, I’d be happy to hear more about what you’re interested in from Freethinking Ahead.

Speculative Poets in Conversation: Holly Lyn Walrath

The Speculative Poets in Conversation Series features interviews with writers of science fiction and fantasy poetry about how their work addresses social justice issues. For the fourth post in the series, I spoke with poet Holly Lyn Walrath about her 2018 chapbook Glimmerglass Girl, published by Finishing Line Press.

Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of words and images, Glimmerglass Girl, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. She is a freelance editor and host of The Weird Circular, an e-newsletter for writers containing submission calls and writing prompts. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath or at www.hlwalrath.com.

Freethinking Ahead: In the introduction to Glimmerglass Girl, you note that the collection “is a fantastical account of womanhood [….] that draws upon my personal experience.” Readers encounter in the poems the mundane details of a present-day life, which are punctuated by references to other-worldly places and beings, such as in “Espejitos,” “Self-Portrait through an iPhone,” “I am Going to Find the Unicorn,” and others. Do you see womanhood as a sort of balancing the otherness of the fantastic with the ordinary of the mundane world?
Cover of Glimmerglass Girl

Holly Lyn Walrath: I’m very interested in the speculative writing of contemporary women authors, which in my opinion re-evaluates how women approach our bodies. Historically, the woman-as-fantastic tradition in fairy tales and fiction has been written by men. We’ve only just begun to challenge the so-called ideals of what it means to be a woman. The fantastic is one way to do this—to embrace the othering of women’s bodies and make it our own language.

FTA: Many of the poems in this collection have references to or are evocative of Texas, such as “I Want to be a Grackle, I Want to Caw,” “Blue Cadillac,” and “Premise of the Heart.” How does this sense of place affect your creative process? And since Texas can be a complicated place for women, given its politics and culture, how do you see place as a part of your aim to depict womanhood?

HLW: I was born in Texas and have lived here for most of my life. The beauty of Texas and its conglomeration of cultures are definitely a part of me. I currently live in southeast Houston near all the oil and gas refineries, so those landscapes get into my work unconsciously. As much as I acknowledge that I’m a southern girl who loves country music and fried chicken, I also struggle with the politics of Texas. The lack of access to healthcare and alarming rate of maternal mortality rates reinforce this idea of women’s bodies being othered. There’s still a lot of shame in this state about womanhood, gender, and mothering. I grew up Baptist and I see the harm that can come from the church in regards to women’s identities. But there’s a lot of strength in southern women. “Blue Cadillac,” is an homage to my grandmother, who wore white gloves to church and was as outspoken as a matriarch can get. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing about this place I call home, because Texas is a complex, beautiful, gritty, difficult, and kaleidoscopic state.

FTA: In “I Swallowed the Moon,” personal details show the moon as an object readily consumed by the speaker of the poem as a medium for her imagination, then later as something “haunting” and outside the known. When the speaker at last consumes the moon whole, she has “doomed the world.”

I read this poem first in a literal, speculative mode–a woman dooms the world by consuming this symbol of feminism when using it as a medium for creation no longer satisfies her appetite–and on rereading as a metaphorical exploration of the dangers of consuming myths and their implications. How do you approach myths and fairy tales, especially the “unfulfilled fairytales” of “Behind the Glass,” as both source material to be consumed and to be wary of?

Holly Lyn WalrathHLW: For me, fairy tales began with Disney. I grew up in the generation that knew the golden age of Disney as not just something to be consumed but as a kind of religion. We lived, breathed, and ate (in the form of kid’s cereal and snacks) Disney. However, as much as I love them, those stories are being reexamined today for their implications. Women were taught to be princesses, not queens—damsels in distress, not heroes. But when we grow up, we realize those stories set false expectations. I’m in love with the new Disney stories like Moana, Rogue One, A Wrinkle in Time, Brave, and The Incredibles because they give girls new options. We’re redefining what a fairy tale means and where women stand in the narrative.

FTA: Can you recommend a couple speculative poetry collections that share the same themes as yours? And are there Texas poets you’d like to recommend to the readers of Freethinking Ahead?

HLW: I love the work of another Finishing Line Press poet and Houstonian, Saba Syed Razvi. Check out her 2017 book, Heliophobia, nominated for an Elgin award. Other poets who inspire my work are Rose Lemberg (Marginalia to Stone Bird, Aqueduct Press, 2016) and Kayla Bashe (Glitter Blood, 2017).

Monday Miscellany: 25 June 2018

Monday Miscellany, “Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday already” Edition: