Meet me at the podium
Today, the writers at Harwood Place held their annual reading showcase. Spending time with this group always inspires creative thought and conversation.
I WRITE. In journals. On screen. In countless notebooks. I WRITE to-do lists. Plans of action. I record the date and the day of the week and where I am. Some days the page is filled with notes on nothing. Still ….
I WRITE for some of the same reasons Margaret Atwood writes:1 To set down the past before it is forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten. To produce order out of chaos. To say a new word. To cope with my depression. To bear witness…
TO BEAR WITNESS speaks to why the Harwood Place Writers and I meet once a month.
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Harwood Place is a retirement living center in town. It’s been several years since the we have held the annual reading event. A small pandemic got in the way, cut us off and kept us apart for months on end. Kept us hidden behind masks when we did return to routine. Kept us suspicious of anyone with a slight cough or sneeze or clearing of the throat. (We were never so suspicious before!) The fact that we are still here is a testament of miracles.
I’ve been spending time with this group for a while now. The first time I met with them, in the summer of 2012, I was very green and very uncertain as to how I might teach men and women of a different generation – of several generations apart. But I quickly learned that there is no great divide when it comes to writing or to telling our stories.
Stories bear witness to our experiences and in turn, no matter the age, they pave the way to connection and community. I’ve seen it happen so many times: when one person shares a story they have written, and the group sets off on a discussion of similarities and reminiscing and (more often than not) laughter. That connection and community and laughter! is the reason I return again and again.
Today’s event was a celebration of all their stories and poems they have written over the past year. Reading their stories aloud reminds them — and all of us who listen — that their stories matter.
The Harwood Place Writers of 2023. Bottom row (left to right): Jean, Toni, Carolou, Mary, Ruth. Top row (left to right): Warren, Milton, Carole, me.
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