Hold It All


Category: Writing to Wake up

White Gods by Zenique Gardner

Zenique was in the summer Writing Rejuvenation class, and she contributed to our rejuvenation in several ways.  She gave me permission to share the following.


I was in Africa for less than a week when I encountered their Jesus: made up of carved marble or sculpted plaster painted peach with darker tresses that graced his robed shoulders.  If he weren’t statuesque, he was seated at a table with his attendants, bread and wine and enclosed within a frame and hanging on a wall in a cathedral vestibule.  His hands were always open and reaching out—the invitation, I suppose.  There were always Bibles readily available too—in English, Luganda, Kinyarwanda, French, and Lusoga—sometimes more accessible than fresh meats or vegetables, rice or beans for a meager meal.   The Holy Book, usually emblazoned with a foreign version of the title in gold on the front of the black cardboard-like cover.  The cover—black like the sun-kissed African peoples, black like their sins—this cover was the singular thing from the imported religion that resembled them. 

Day three in Rwanda.

The intern was in the middle of a discussion about cultural encounters when she asked Marianne to share her story.  Already quite popular, Marianne, a pretty blonde that was somewhere between surfer and Barbie, had a big laugh and a larger than life American way about her.  I was sitting in the back of the room nibbling at a new fruit that I discovered— a mix between a tomato and a passion fruit with a sweet-tart flavor once bitten into—when the golden girl started talking in her high-pitched voice. Read the rest of this entry »


Writing to Wake Up


Natalie Goldberg: I also place on the altar a photo of Allen Ginsberg in a yellow wood frame, sitting in a white shirt, cross-legged, his face captured in an uncanny smile. He is our muse of raw honesty for the week. An essay of his written in 1974 is titled “Polishing the Mind” and connects the study of the mind with poetry. When I read it, I knew I had found my wiring path. I wanted to document and structure a practice for others to follow, a way through writing to wake up. I consider Allen Ginsberg the grandfather of the writing practice lineage.


Allen Ginsberg: The only things we “know” are what we think in the moments we give ourselves away, “tip our mitt.” 233 Read the rest of this entry »

Walking Together without Fear: Reading and Writing with Alice Walker

Author of many books, most famously The Color Purple, Alice Walker is one of the most renowned  writers who came of age during the 1960s in this country. Now in her early seventies, she continues to produce creative work and interfere with injustice as a global citizen in people’s movements.

In this summer course we will read and write responses to  many of Walker’s recent poems (as well as to our own experiences) and discuss her short essays on her activist life.

We’ll meet from 6:30 to 8:15 on Thursdays  July 9, 16, 23, 30, August 6, 13, 20, and 27. We are fortunate to gather at Jerry and Marty King’s home (third floor 830 DeMun Avenue, Clayton 63105).

Read the rest of this entry »


Working on my obsession
In the kitchen on Spring Avenue
Alongside Sarah Bollinger and Lindsay Sihilling
All of us fingering our laptops with brio
–Go for broke!

Writing Aspirations for the Next Few (Many?) Months (Years?)

To encourage Ann in her possibly imminent publishing pursuits

To begin in earnest sequel to Dear Layla—I just bought three black Moleskines, first objective, fill them with daydreams of what’s going on with Carla Nguyen

To show up wherever Fatima’s going to be

To send Brittany postcards when she’s at the beach

To begin a serene decade-length project called, The Teachings Are Infinite Read the rest of this entry »

364 Other Days

People think they are making a big contribution by voting
But don’t forget—a year has 364 other days:

To come together face to face
To get to know each other

To name the problems that afflict us and others
To share stories of struggle and shining Read the rest of this entry »


Extraordinary buzz of life and brilliance at tonight’s Writing to Wake Up! Thanks to Josh Aranda, Libby Dunn, Tony Albrecht, Lindsey Weston, Jenn Reyes Lay, Cami Kasmerchak, Justin Lorenz, Emily Camp, Ann Heyse, Brittany Accardi, Lindsay Sihilling, Nebu Kolenchery,  Laura Aranda, Priya Sirohi, Kelley Schwartz, and Fatima Rhodes.

From Wendy Lee in NYC

“Writing meditation – possibly one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned. Thanks, Dr. C!”

Wendy Lee notebook

Writing To Wake Up Course

Writing to Wake Up: A Course in Creativity and Community

Think about it: Even with all our technologies and modes of communication, who has enough time?  And yet, we need time, as community activist Grace Lee Boggs has said, to “grow our souls”: Time to think, to explore, to share, to listen. We need time to be in touch with ourselves, our world.

In this ten-week course, we will take that time and learn how to use writing as a practice to wake up to our lives.  We will practice solitude, as writing is an individual journey. And we will practice solidarity, as writing can be a bridge to others. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing at the CWE BC

Our Writing to Wake Up class is meeting next Thursday 19 April  to hold our weekly session at the Saint Louis Bread Company at 4561 Forest Park Avenue in the Central West End. We go from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.   For any friends and former students who fondly remember Natalie Goldberg’s Writing down the Bones and who kept an old-fashioned notebook, feel free to join us for being, breathing, sharing, writing, and smiling.

Namaste forever,   Mark


CWE Bread Co