Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
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Wading into the Stream

For me, writing is about trying to leap between the particularities of a very small moment—like lifting the knocker on a door while standing on a grand porch—and the larger forces of nature and time. I write to try to unravel the threads of story that have brought this moment into being. When it is going well, writing feels as if I am opening up to things that are flowing through my bloodstream, my brain cells, my spinal cord, or wherever else the creative impulse might be found. These are streams of stories, or snippets of conversation, or brief glimpses of scenes that already exist, as if they have already been written. I try to follow these threads without worrying about what they mean or where they will go.

In “Letters to Genevieve,” I hoped to document an essential moment of my childhood, the experience of discovering the life of an artist. Taking dance from Genevieve Jones, I was both literally stepping into the role of an artist while also witnessing in my teacher a person for whom life and art were indistinguishable. I tried using an experimental style, weaving both the first and second person into the story. I hoped to be both a storyteller—letting her subject and readers know what I was thinking—as well as to describe my own experience as closely as possible. When I started down this path, it seemed a bit odd. But when I came up with the idea of the story containing letters, the piece came together. The past and present exist together in the object of a letter, and so I found that helpful. The idea that this story begins with movement, with motion, and not with words—that this form of art exists almost outside of language—made it especially delightful to try to write about.  

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