The Arts in Public/Action in Concert with Others

Over a month ago, a group of writers, San Diego Writing Women, hosted a public reading of our works at a local salon. The event reminded me of the European salons of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, particularly in Paris, where artists and other intellectuals gathered to discuss the events of the day, as well as literary and philosophical matters. Ours, like many of those, was hosted by women. But in our salon,  women's writing  was also the focus of attention.

We met at a venue in Normal Heights, San Diego called Hairdrezzers on Fire, the space generously donated for the night by its owner, Sonny Zizzo (who coincidentally is also my "stylist"). We provided wine, cheese and other snacks. But the centerpiece of the night's event was two series of readings by nine women writers who live and work in San Diego.

Caitlin Rother, well-known author of "true crime" stories, kicked off the readings, with an excerpt from her latest work, Dead Reckoning. Then, each of the remaining members of the group followed with five minute readings from their oeuvre. Kathi Diamant, Georgeanne Irvine, Jennifer Coburn, Divina Infusino, Sharon Vanderlip, Judith Liu, and Laurel Corona. Laurel introduced my book with some very kind words, and then it was my turn to read to the group.

The rest of the evening was taken up discussing writing with various folks who came by to chat at the tables where we had set up our books. I had some wonderful conversations with women interested in the art and craft of writing.

But what, for me, was perhaps most exciting was a conversation with a friend who told me that Eveoke, a local dance theatre company whose mission is to "cultivate compassionate social action through arts education and evocative performance," was creating a new dance piece, Refuge, and wanted to involve me and my writing in the creative process.

Refuge is a work-in-progress by two local choreographers, Becky Hurt and Myriam Lucas, that aims to "tackle issues of gender, sexuality, cycles of violence, and personal power through hip hop dance and spoken word." I am thrilled to be working with this exciting company to make a difference in the lives of those in San Diego and beyond who have been affected by the "cycle of violence."  Working with Eveoke is an outgrowth of my lifelong commitment to social action that aims to improve our lives and achieve real equality for all. And it reflects my experience and belief in the role of the arts to provoke the public's conscience to take action on the burning issues with which we all grapple.

The arts are essential to the fabric and quality of our public life. Please continue to support public funding of the arts. Now, off to watch a rehearsal and discuss our emerging collaboration....