My instructor this week is Willie Perdomo. I've mentioned him but his name is worth repeating. I'm telling you he is Chango. I remember thinking how unsure I was about ending up in his class. Then I met Ruth Forman and those who are in her class this week and thought - these are not my people. Then I met Willie and, shit, me quede pegada. He took me with his intensity and the energy within his body just waiting to come out. This is where my poetry lies.
Because of the smaller class size, we've been able to enjoy extra attention both during class and within one-on-ones. Willie threw my mind around again today during our second one-on-one, when he asked me if I wondered whether the writing workshops I'd taken recently weren't stopping my voice from really coming in. I tripped because I haven't taken a workshop in years. Who can afford them? And they come so infrequently (to Texas), don't really hold my interest or conflict with work/home scheduling.
I realized it must be the writing group's influence. Willie asked me straight up if I thought the writing group was really holding my best interests. I tripped up because it seemed like an accusation. I realized I couldn't take it like that when we had never, as a group, formally talked about what we wanted to create for ourselves, what role the group would have within our larger career of writing & performing. We spoke informally of creating a manuscript, assuming the typical: publication, improving poems that are already good, etc. But I wanted to hear life goals. I wanted to be able to say what incredible things I want to achieve. This is so much more than just publishing. These larger goals would better define where I'll publish, how I'll write, what I hope the other writers would look to solidify within my writing. This is not to say this can't still be done. Right now, however, I'm feeling a little bruised and don't really feel like sharing, you know?
Willie's comments empowered me. I remember a few months ago when I grew a little frustrated with the writing group. I don't remember the details but recalled that I didn't want to become a writer who wrote 5 pieces because they were due once a month to the group, versus writing all the time and giving the top 5 once a month. I wondered if I needed time alone in my writing. Just freely writing without crazy editing of super new pieces. No, it didn't help I couldn't find support in my household at the time, my lover not wanting to watch Little Lion so I could meet without distraction, or not having writing time in general to be prepared for our meetings. Despite all this, I kept on. I believed in the potential of the group. When Willie reminded me my voice needs to be the strongest thing, an entity that should not be compromised, he wondered if the writing group might not be helping with my now verbalized desire to add muscle to my voice.
When the writers attending this week's session met for the first time on Sunday night here at VONA, they asked each of us what our goal was - I said "expansive voice". I wanted to make my voice echo beyond the space it's currently living in. My voice has become comfortable. No voice should be that comfortable, especially not in a country where Time Magazine gives in to the Tarnished House.