Hold It All

Category: Gatherings

In Medias Res/2

Dianne and Hedy

This Is What I Can Do

When it comes to righteous indignation
Reshma makes Arundhati Roy seem timid

At a public reading of The Book of Mev
I made sure she went last and read aloud the last chapter

To mark the occasion of her medical school graduation
I gave her the original of Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

If I see her once every couple of years for a few hours
I consider it a very good year

For the last eighteen months she’s been working
One hundred-hour weeks

I can’t imagine one week
Of working 0ne hundred hours

My agitated mind
Generates scenarios of doom

But the Stoics advised long ago
Know what you can and can’t control

So I can buy three sheets of Harvey Milk stamps
Send her reminders of her wowzownow

Read the rest of this entry »


My Psychic Powers Acknowledged in This Morning’s Email


“How is it that you always know
What I need to hear
Even when we are 950 miles apart?”

When I Listen and Re-listen to Your Messages
by Reshma

I listened to your voicemail at 3:21 am today
Or is it tomorrow?

I’m lost, but it doesn’t matter
Because I always have your voice messages to reorient me

Working the night shift
14 hours Read the rest of this entry »


Make Lists Not War

Dear Cami,

One index of a profitable reading experience may very well be in the marginalia we make.

For instance, I read Ed Sanders’ collection of poetry Let’s Not Keep Fighting the Trojan Wareight years ago. I went through and collected my inked scribbles in the margins in a list:

I read for topics, for intriguing titles, for examples, for my own Emersonian rejected thoughts, such as …

“My political causes are hopeless”
Val’s life

We’re all gonna die
My brilliant non-career

13 years in a theology department
I could do better on Kerouac than he did in “A Visit to Jack’s Memorial Park”

Come up with an entire book of Lists
Work on being a performance artist qua teacher

A poem on Jean-Paul Sartre and…
Scan pages from old notebooks all sizes

Catch myself thinking as recorded in taping down bones transcripts, notebook jabbers, and more
The Book of Mev as therapy Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth on Sunday 22 November: The Practice of “Disponibilidade”

I first learned this Portuguese word when Mev Puleo was working on translating her interviews with radical Brazilian Christians in the early 90s. A one-word English synonym she gave me was “availability.”  In her book  The Struggle Is One that was published in 1994, Mev defined the word this way:  “a disposition of openness in which one is accessible, available and willing to be inconvenienced by the needs or requests of another person or event.” 

Around the same time I was doing academic work on U.S. foreign policy, and wrote a letter with questions to Noam Chomsky, renowned MIT  linguist and political dissident.  Within a couple of weeks, he responded in a typed, single-spaced letter of five pages.  I later read an interview he did with David Barsamian, and learned that Chomsky typically spent twenty hours a week writing letters throughout the 1980s and 90s.

During this evening we will share reflections on the people in our lives who have embodied disponibilidade.

Join us
Sunday 22 November
We will begin sharing at 7:00 p.m. Central Time
Via Zoom
Email Markjchmiel@gmail.com for URL




Share the Wealth with Rachel Sacks: Celebrating a Long Life

Rachel will celebrate the life of her Grandma Marcia, who died of Covid-19 in April, sharing stories from her grandma’s life as well as her own writing from the past seven months since her death. Rachel explores explores what it means for a good life to end by a pandemic, and what it looks like to mourn in this time.

Join us
Sunday 15 November
7:00 pm Central Time
Via Zoom
Email Markjchmiel@gmail.com for URL


Andrew, on the left, with Benny

Share the Wealth with Andrew Wimmer:
Julian Assange in Conversation with John Pilger

“You have to start with the truth. The truth is the only way we can get anywhere. Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.”
–Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks


In the last several years, my friend Andrew Wimmer has paid close attention to the work of Wikileaks and the subsequent arrest of Bradley Manning as well as the threats against Julian Assange.

We invite you to join us this Sunday 13 January to view a recent interview with Julian Assange by veteran journalist John Pilger at Andrew’s home (4542 Gibson Avenue, 63110). Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m., and the interview begins at 6.40, with discussion to follow.

Please bring a friend!


Some background: Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Danielle Mackey: A Life in Journalism

In true journalist style, this share will (hopefully) be dominated by your questions. We are living in a time in which the existence of truth — and the legitimacy of professions that trade in unearthing it — is questioned from many angles, some more useful than others. The practice of journalism involves navigating that daily minefield, which can become a background soundtrack in the journalist’s mind, while still plowing ahead with the painstaking work of nailing down single facts. My practice falls within the rubrics of investigative and longform (narrative) journalism, largely about Central America and its relationship(s) with the U.S. I would be happy to talk about anything that is interesting about the backstage work of investigative and/or literary journalism, like fact-checking, reporting for narrative detail, ethical dilemmas, race and class and identity in journalism, risks and threats, layers of truth, etc — the list goes on and on. I could also share about current realities in Central America; I’ve covered a variety of topics and if you’re looking for more information about any one in particular, wonderful. You bring your questions and comments; I’ll bring answers and a listening ear.

A little about me: I’m a former SLU student of Mark’s and very much a fan of horizontal wisdom-sharing spaces like Share the Wealth. In my twelve years in El Salvador I’ve worked as a freelance journalist, teacher and professor, and NGO employee. But I’m one of those who could also be defined as my cat’s human.

Join us!
Sunday 8 November
Danielle begins sharing at 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Via Zoom
Email Markjchmiel@gmail.com for URL

A Public Reflection on Tonight and on Hope’s Beautiful Daughters (as Shared on Social Media) by Rachel Sacks

For six months I’ve gotten to read and learn and grow with a real sweet group of folks. Mark Chmiel is such a generous teacher, and the communities he builds, so loving and expansive.

An observer might ask, you read what during a pandemic? Like, nbd, just a book club rife with tales of human rights abuses to cushion your pandemic/election season combo and its fascist undertones, right?

Maybe it’s something in the Catholic social justice tea, but you’d never guess how much more often we talked of love than of evil.

Maybe it’s something in the radioactive earth Svetlana walked, the jungles Arundhati delved deep into, the trees Wangari planted, or the war diaries Iris found—you’d never guess how much more uplifting it is to read of faith in humanity, etched into action: depicted in a photograph mirrored against its negative of inhumane potential. How much more hopeful it is to share these stories, than to hear a loved one doubt the impact of a union, or a vote, or a phone bank.

From stories of the most painful grips of humanity, together we drew out the love that insistently buoyed their storytellers, Hope’s Beautiful Daughters. Like the one safe stripe from radiated ore. Like prayer from a trench. Like water from stone. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Mark Chmiel: Dear Love of Hedy

With Hedy and Chrissy, Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, December 2003


In this share, I plan on talking about one of the major threads of my recent “book” (published at my blog and on Facebook) Dear Love of Comrades, which I described to Rachel Sacks last fall as a “tribute to friendship.”

I’ll focus on the youth, political activism, and last years of Hedy’ Epstein’s long life. As I’ve done with events pertaining to The Book of Mev and Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, we will take turns doing readings and sharing what pops into our consciousness as a result.

Join us
Sunday 20 September
7:00 p.m. CST.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL

Dianne Lee and Hedy Epstein

Share the Wealth with Magan Wiles: Decolonizing Tango

Three days after the video of George Floyd’s murder went viral, I saw a video on Facebook of my friend Jay standing at a busy intersection in LA, holding up a sign that said “where are all the White people protesting George Floyd?” And I thought, well shit. I showed the video to my partner; we sat in silence for awhile, and then he asked me what we were going to do about it.

That question eventually led me down a road that unraveled my notions about – well everything – including something that I thought I knew very well: tango. In this Share The Wealth, I’ll discuss my discovery of a hidden shameful racial history of tango, and how that history has led to a contemporary dance scene which is complicit in white supremacy culture. It was right under my damn nose the whole time and I had no idea! What about you? How do we identify where white supremacy culture shows up in our lives? What does it look like to decolonize the spaces & activities we love?

Magan (she/hers) is an actress, tango dancer, and small business owner whose passions all dovetail in a passion for facilitating humans connecting with each other. She attended Saint Louis University as a theater undergrad in 2004, and began her professional acting career in St. Louis after graduation. After completing an MFA in acting at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2012, she moved to New York City where she was miserable for 2 years. There she started Hustle Creative, a boutique bookkeeping and business management firm for creative entrepreneurs, and also began to casually date tango. She didn’t really fall in love until she moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and began taking classes with Oxygen Tango. A year later, she assumed management of the school from its beloved founders, and has been running the school since with her partner Dave.

Join us!
Sunday 13  September
Magan begins sharing at 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Via Zoom
Email Markjchmiel@gmail.com for URL