EON: My thoughts and some words

Embodying Our Nature is in full swing at Gone Wired Cafe! While we’re on break, I’m taking a moment to pass on some items I mentioned during our opening talking circle. There are a few excerpts with references to the pieces and authors, as well as a media source. Enjoy!

* Trailer for the documentary “Two Spirits” – http://twospirits.org

* Excerpts from “Women on Trains” Audre Lorde (The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance):

Women on trains
have a life
that is exactly livable
the precision of days flashing past
and the shape of each season
relentlessly carved in the land.
Between new lumber and the maples
I rehear your question
the woman who breaks the woman
who is broken.

* Excerpts from “For the Trees” Chrystos (Fire Power)

I am
part of the plundering & raping
accustomed to warm fires in winter all day
fresh vegetables in January, someone else to bring water
I am the very person who breaks
my heart open with sap

The trouble with writing is that you end up
being cut by the truth
Sorrow turns to laughter at the self
who would claim innocence

The buzz saw eats the edge
of my ears as I write
close enough to kill

* Excerpts from “Map of the Americas” Qwo-Li Driskill (Walking with Ghosts):

I wish when we touch
we could transcend history in
double helixes of dark and light
on wings we build ourselves

When your hands travel
across my hemispheres
know these lands
have been invaded before
and though I may quiver
from your touch
there is still a war

Honor this

I walk out of genocide to touch you

* Excerpts from “Speaking In Tongues: A Letter To Third World Women Writers” Gloria E. Anzaldua (This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color):

Who gave us permission to perform the act of writing? Why does writing seem so unnatural for me? I’ll do anything to postpone it — empty the trash, answer the telephone. The voice recurs in me: Who am I, a poor Chicanita from the sticks, to think I could write? How dare I even consider becoming a writer as I stooped over the tomato fields bending, bending under the hot sun, hands broadened and calloused, not fit to hold the quill, numbed into an animal stupor by the head.

How dare we get out of our colored faces. How dare we reveal the human flesh underneath and bleed red blood like the white folks. It takes tremendous energy and courage not to acquiesce, not to capitulate to a definition of feminism that still renders most of us invisible.

“The Illusion of a Clean Cup”

[Since the invitation is out there to post something connected to this year’s theme, I’ve chosen to post something I wrote a couple years ago, actually, but that for me comes closest to what it means to live an “embodied” life. — Dawn Comer]

The illusion of a clean cup.  That’s what we all want, isn’t it?  What we pay for?  The illusion that the cup we are using has been used by us alone, that ours is a solitary experience, that before we received our cup and after we return it, no lips have or ever will touch it but ours.  It’s not true, of course.  We know it is not true.  We know even if we don’t admit it to ourselves that we are just one of many to use this cup, just one of many in this coffee shop universe where people come and go, sip small sips, leave, sometimes returning, sometimes not.  Read more…

EON Registration

Registration is simple for Embodying Our Nature. Here is the link to the schedule including workshops. To complete registration, please provide a response to herstories.project @gmail.com for one of these three options:

A) Participation for both days, Feb. 17 and 18

B) Participation for one day – please indicate which: Feb. 17 or Feb. 18

C) Participation for a workshop – please indicate which:
__ Feb. 17, 1:45 to 2:45pm – Julia Brown & Dawn Comer – ”Circles of Motion”: Letting Go, Journeying Honestly
__ Feb. 17, 3:15 to 4:15pm Barb Barton ~ Wild Foods: For Body and Soul
__ Feb. 18, 11:00am – 12:00pm – Jan de la Torre ~ Writing with Your Senses in Mind

Since the program is being held at a food service venue, outside food and drink are not permitted. In the case of health needs with diet, please include a request with registration regarding the matter of concern. This information is needed in order to communicate with the venue owner. Thanks for your cooperation on this point in support of Gone Wired Cafe, as we are using the space for free.

EON – Featured Guests and Organizers

We are pleased to feature many talented and soulful people at Embodying Our Nature 2012

Co-organizer Melissa Dey Hasbrook is a writer based in Lansing, Michigan. She began The HerStories Project in 2010 to celebrate stories about women, and in 2011 expands its scope to celebrate gender expression. Her poetry is significantly inspired by her homeland in the Great Lakes and North America, ancestral legacies, and the personal-political of everyday life. She is an alumnus of Michigan State University with studies in linguistics, community literacies, and pedagogy. Melissa’s community-based work focuses on creating spaces to explore word art and healing. Drawing upon past teaching experiences in literacy programs, college classrooms, and tutoring offices, she strives to celebrate the lives of everyone participating in her events.


Co-organizer Dawn Comer received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Notre Dame. She currently teaches part-time at Defiance College and is writing two books: Raised in a Corn Palace: Stories from the National Association of Tourist Attraction Survivors, and Fella With an Umbrella: Discovering Joy on the Autism Spectrum. The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML) has awarded her with The Paul Somers Prize for Creative Prose for the story “Raised in a Corn Palace” (2008) and the memoir “Fella with an Umbrella: Finding Joy on the Autism Spectrum” (2009).


Despite having recently completed her formal education, Julia Brown has experienced much in her career as artist and teacher.  Much of her inspiration is taken from those she has had the privilege to teach.  As an art educator, Julia Brown endeavors to encourage her students to develop a positive and informed sense of self through creative expression.  Her award winning artwork is deeply rooted in the natural world but also in the ethereal.

Barb Barton:  “As far back as I can remember I have been hunting for wild foods and playing the guitar.  I was raised in a family that couldn’t wait for the first signs of spring, because that was when the morels and leeks would be appearing, and when sassafras root was harvested. And I remember the times of neighborhood sing alongs after a long day of mushroom hunting.  Since those early days, I have continued to seek out those tasty offerings of the woods and sing songs of the Earth.  Where the Wild Foods Grow is a natural offshoot of my lifetime love of all things wild.”


Poet-activist Jan de la Torre just moved back to the Lansing area from Kalamazoo, where they were the lead organizer of Pulse, an LGBT people of color arts group at Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative. Last April, Jan also opened for Cheryl Clarke, Willie Perdomo, and Stacyann Chin at an Arcus Center for Social Justice event.


Christine Wilson teaches English at Wright State University-Lake Campus and writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She’s been a yoga practitioner for over ten years.  Christine is especially interested in using yoga to create a mind body connection that fosters creativity and healing.


Allegra W. Smith is a third-year undergraduate student at Michigan State University, studying Professional Writing: Editing and Publishing as well as Gender Studies. She works with both the MSU LBGT Resource Center and Wesley Foundation campus ministry in order to promote awareness of sexuality and gender concerns, as well as advocate for inclusion in both the Methodist Church and beyond.


Guest Mary Catherine Harper (Feb. 18, 19) is a professor at Defiance College in Ohio. Her poetry has been published in The New England Review, WomenWriters.net, The Bozeman Er, and Masque. She also has published articles on women’s science fiction in Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and FemSpec. She has completed a cross-media epistolary novel Letters to Christian Duval, which is set in Ohio and Iraq. Her interests in language arts, cultural studies, poetics, and social justice issues have taken her to Cambodia to work on a language arts and ethnography project, so she is currently writing poetry about her experiences in Cambodia.

Guest Jerri Courtney (Feb. 18, 19) – nee Geromina Catherine Ferrara – was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in that politically charged city and its nearby suburbs. She earned a B. A. in Social Work from Defiance College (Ohio) with special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies in Humanities and a Master of Liberal Studies Degree at the University of Toledo. Since 1991, Jerri has served as Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Defiance, teaching interdisciplinary courses. In addition to travel and photography, Jerri enjoys writing, studies in religion and spirituality, art, music, ,theater, and experimenting with new technologies. She is a member of SSML; advises Defiance College Stand, a chapter of the national student-led anti-genocide group; and also volunteers with Truth Academy, a reading and writing group for young girls.

EON Schedule and Workshop Descriptions

Updated February 6, 2012. ~MDH

ALL Embodying Our Nature events will be held at Gone Wired Cafe, 2021 East Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Michigan (with the exception of Christine Wilson’s Saturday morning yoga session which is already full and therefore closed).  Events are FREE and open to the public, though advance notification of attendance will be helpful to organizers and presenters.  We do ask that you support Gone Wired’s generous hosting of EON  by purchasing food and/or drink at the cafe and that you refrain from bringing in outside food.

Friday, Feb. 17 
12:00pm – Meet and greet. Registration.
12:30 – 1:30pm – Opening Talking Circle – theme
1:30 – 1:45pm – Self-directed time: writing, break
1:45 – 2:45pm – Julia Brown and Dawn Comer – “Circles of Motion”:  Letting Go, Journeying Honestly
2:45 – 3:15pm – Self-directed time: writing, break
3:15 – 4:15pm Barb Barton ~ Wild Foods: For Body and Soul
4:15 – 4:30pm Break
4:30 – 5:00pm Writing prompt and exchange (brief responses to the program so far)

Saturday, Feb. 18
[9:00 – 10:00 – CLOSED yoga session with Christine Wilson
–Participants will be notified separately about location]
9:00am – 10:30am – Self-directed writing at Gone Wired Cafe
10:30 – 11:00am – Writing prompt and exchange (regrouping)
11:00am – 12:00pm – Jan de la Torre ~ Writing with Your Senses in Mind
12:00 – 1:15pm –  Self-directed writing, lunch
1:15 – 2:15pm – Closing Talking Circle – theme
2:15pm – 3:00pm – Prep for Reading by Participants (set-up, revision, practice with one another)
3:00 – 4:00pm – Reading by Participants – open to the public

Workshop Descriptions

Julia Brown and Dawn Comer – “Circles of Motion”: Letting Go, Journeying Honestly

In “Eagle Poem,” Joy Harjo speaks of “circles of motion” both beyond and also within our selves, a fluid unity that resonates with this year’s theme.  Drawing from selected poems, Katherine Dunn’s Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists, and Julia’s and Dawn’s experiences as a visual artist and a writer, this workshop will explore possibilities for creating with an openness to the journey rather than an emphasis on the end product. Conversational in tone and hands-on in approach, Julia and Dawn desire a balance of engaged community dialogue and personal creative space, an interweaving of circles of motion within a workshop setting.

Barb Barton – Wild Foods:  For Body and Soul
Wild foods foraging and harvesting have been a traditional practice in all cultures across the globe, both providing sustenance and community bonding.  Barb Barton will share her knowledge of Great Lakes wild foods and traditional harvesting practices, and the impacts that their decline has had on community.

[CLOSED] Christine Wilson – Saturday morning yoga session
Yoga is sometimes defined as a “coming together.” As such, it represents a time when the relationship between the mind and body emerges more clearly because as we move into our bodies, we see how all of the workings of our minds manifest in our muscles and tissues, and vice versa. This gentle class will focus asanas (poses) that create openness so that we have the space to explore ourselves, our bodies, and our writing. Yoga helps us learn to let go of our egos and attachment to particular outcomes, which are two things essential to writing. There will be a period of guided meditation at the end.

Jan de la Torre – Writing With Your Senses in Mind
This workshop will explore how participants can incorporate the five main senses in their writing. Prompts will be given by the presenter as the students take a short walk around the workshop location. The participants will be asked to remember the sensations they felt during the walk. The remembrances will be used to compose a group written literary piece.

EON – Recommended Texts and Their Recommenders

Rather than selecting a single text around which to focus discussion (as we did in 2011 with Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts”), for Embodying Our Nature we are inviting participants to share texts (poetry, prose, music, art) that speak to them about the theme.  Our hope is to promote and encourage conversation both during and beyond the event, including the HerStories blog and Facebook.  Already there is no shortage of texts, and we would encourage everybody to be active in reading, responding to, and thinking about this year’s theme, engaging in conversation at whatever level you feel comfortable.

Read more…

Embodying Our Nature – An Exploration of This Year’s Theme

Embodying Our Nature explores relationships between gender expression, nature(s), and bodies. To better understand this theme, we must first begin with descriptions of theme as pointers for our general direction, nuggets of understanding to springboard further exploration:

Read more…

HerStories in 2012!

The HerStories Project presents two programs in early 2012! Click the image for the full-sized flyer.

As a grassroots endeavor, HerStories relies on word of mouth and helping hands to spread news about programming. Thanks for any assistance to pass on the flyer! Also, volunteers are most welcome for a variety of tasks; just email herstories.project @ gmail.com with interest or questions.

These free programs are being held at Gone Wired Cafe (2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing). Thanks to owner Colleen Davis for her open-door policy to community events!

Registration is encouraged for both events due to limited seating. Email herstories.project @ gmail.com or contact the listed phone number for the corresponding program.


The first program is a reading by visiting author Marycela on Friday, January 27, at 7:00pm with seating at 6:30pm. Her novel El Libro de Marcia is a fantastical story about a woman who escapes to the sea to write, and is inspired by Marycela’s experience as a domestic-violence survivor. The book now is available at Everybody Reads Bookstore (2019 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing) and online. Here is an interview (PDF file) from May 2011 with the author. Also visit her website in Spanish or its translation in English. The bilingual program is supported by the Capital Area Response Effort (CARE), End Violent Encounter (EVE) Inc., and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. Resources about domestic-violence services will be available. Register by email herstories.project @ gmail.com or phone Caroline from C.A.R.E. at (517) 420-6888.


This writing program is running for its second year with a new theme that explores relationships between gender expression, nature(s), and bodies. Also the program welcomes all writers — new to seasoned, across genres and genders. Under development are workshops, talking circles, self-directed writing, and a reading by participants — so stay tuned! Partners include the LBGT Resource Center of MSU and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. Sessions may be attended in part or in whole, and run Friday, Feb. 17, from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, and Saturday, Feb. 18, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Register by email herstories.project @ gmail.com or phone the Women’s Center at (517) 372-9163. Due to the food-service venue, outside drink or food are not allowed. For requests regarding dietary needs, please inquire upon registration.

2011 Call-to-Action & Calendar for 16 Days

 This call-to-action and calendar highlights some events in Greater Lansing that resonate with the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and its theme this year that intersects militarism with violence against women. There are limited copies available for local use, so please contact me if you would like some for distribution.


Tonight is Bridges Open Mic!

The program starts at 7:00pm at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St., East Lansing, Michigan! The cover is only $3, which goes to (SCENE), a gallery and performance space funded by the City of East Lansing. The venue is a valuable resource for Greater Lansing. Thanks, Director Tim Lane, for making the space available to grassroots programs!

There’s good news, Michigan State University students, faculty, and staff: the first 50 guests hailing from Spartan country with an ID gain free admission! This offer is made possible by a generous donation from the MSU LBGT Resource Center, an event partner. Thanks, LBGTRC, for the donation!

More thanks to Shari Murgittroyd, Program Coordinator of the MSU Sexual Assault Program, another Bridges partner. She connected co-emcee Jeffrey Franckowiak (read more below) and I, which strengthened the program in many ways. Also the office printed our beautiful posters and flyers!

Bridges features lesbian poet Bobbi Byrd, who’s traveling from her home in Osseo, Michigan, for the event. Thanks again, Peace Education Center, for providing her gas funds! And Bobbi’s in good company with these stellar guests and contributors:

Co-emcee Jeffrey Franckowiak, a community organizer and advocate whose work creates safe and supportive space for the LBGTQ community of Greater Lansing, especially for trans gender identified persons.

Poet-activist Jan de la Torre, who just moved back to the area from Kalamazoo, where they were the lead organizer of Pulse, an LGBT people of color arts group at Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative. Last April, Jan also opened for Cheryl Clarke, Willie Perdomo, and Stacyann Chin at an Arcus Center for Social Justice event.

Drew Prosch-Jensen, who lives in Flowerville, Michigan, believes everything in life is an art-form, and that there aren’t any boundaries between life and art.

Max D, a transmasculine youth poet, hails from the eastern reaches of Greater Lansing.  As a local queer kid, he is excited to step up to the mic.

A representative from the 2012 MSU Vagina Monologues, who delivers “They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy… Or So They Tried.”

Lauren Spencer, Program Coordinator of the MSU LBGT Resource Center, reading “It Doesn’t Get Better” by MC Lane.

Lee Sayles, a Lansing-based wordsmith whose performances include the Women in the Arts Festival and the collective Two Butches and a Broad.

See you soon!