Thursday, March 29, 2007

Author Visit

We were privileged with a visit from two writers, Nukila Amal from Indonesia , and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa . Nukila Amal has had her 2005 short story collection, Laluba, named Best Literary Work of the Year by Tempo magazine, and her novel Cala Ibi (2003) shortlisted for the Khatulistiwa Literary Award. Gabeba Boderoon is the author of The Dream in the Next Body (Kwela/Snailpress, 2005), The Museum of Ordinary Life (DaimlerChrysler, 2005), and A Hundred Silences (Kwela/Snailpress, 2006). In 2005 she received the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry and held the Guest Writer Fellowship at the Nordic Africa Institute, the second person after Ama Ata Aidoo to receive this honor. Her poetry appears in the anthologies Worldscapes (Oxford University Press, 2005), Ten Hallam Poets (Mews Press, 2005), Voices from All Over (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Birds in Words (Umuzi/Random House, 2006). Her poetry has been published in journals in South Africa , the United States and Britain , and in translation in Karavan ( Stockholm ) and Adamar ( Madrid ). Her fiction appears in Chimurenga magazine and Twist, a short story anthology (Oshun, 2006). Gabeba is also a scholar, and has written for the media. In 2006 she was a guest at Poetry International in Rotterdam . Their visit was organized by the Winternachten in The Hague in coordination with Aruba ’s National Library. Since 1995 Winternachten dedicates itself to keeping up a writers and poet's network in The Netherlands and the historically related countries Indonesia , Surinam , Aruba and the Dutch Antilles and South-Africa. Annually Winternachten organizes a festival in The Hague , with writers, music and film from these countries. Secondly, Winternachten is responsible for the organization of editions of the Winternachten festival in the related countries.

The above came from -

Ms. Amal began her presentation with an excerpt of one of her essays about the prevalence and blatancy of advertisements in Indonesia . Ms. Baderoon read some of her poems, which ranged from learning to throw a Frisbee to love. The rest of the session was for question and answers. Both authors spoke of how they got started as writers. For Ms. Amal, she recognized that her job in the hospitality industry was not fulfilling her, so she took a risk and quit her job to begin writing. After several months of “goofing around” and writing, some of her work found its way to a literary journal. The editor requested more work from her and eventually her first novel was published from this. For Ms. Baderoon, writing poetry came later in her life. She had intended to become a doctor like her mother, but fell in love with literature because of an inspirational teacher in high school. After university, she became a teacher, but continued to seek other experiences. One workshop introduced her to writing poetry. As she passed her poetry around to writer friends, they passed them on to publishers, which eventually sought her out for a full anthology. However, both writers stated that at this time, writing is not sustaining them as a profession, so Ms. Amal does translating work and Ms. Boderoon teaches at university.

The strongest advice, for new writers is to write. Ms. Boderoon writes every morning, whether it is 2 minutes or 20 minutes. Her feeling is that a writer has to work both from inspiration and from scheduled writing. Conversely, Ms. Amal mostly writes when the motivation hits, which may not be for months, or in marathon writing sessions. Both authors agreed that a good writer most begin to know their own patterns and muses and use whatever works best as every writer is an individual.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Silence Has Ended

As of tomorrow, I am finished with National Board Certification, at least until I look up my scores in December. It has been a long, tedious process, but as many before me have said, one of the best professional development activities I've been involved in. I've made some great connections and learning through the Yahoo Groups listserv. Although I haven't been very active on the MiddleTalk listserv, it still was quite supportive throughout. I also had a colleague read through my entries, and according to her, she learned a lot from just reading it. I am a little disappointed because if I had completed this process in the States, I might have had more face-to-face support and been able to be part of a cohort group. I like being able to discuss my practice with other teachers and see what they do in their classrooms. On the listserv, people talked about trying to get together to talk over their entries and having packaging “parties.” That would have been fun. However, I have had an incredibly supportive and understanding husband, who has helped me throughout this process. Especially the last few weeks, when writing has consumed my every waking moment outside of school. He even celebrated with me last night, when I finished packaging. The pitiful thing is, he's really the only one that really saw what it took to do this. Well, anyone who has been through the process would also, but I don't personally know any!

It has been a tough process, not because of the work involved, but because of life. This all forced me to do my writing much later than I has planned. When I bought a how-to book about certification, I had planned to use the time line it suggested. I started video taping in October and November, but then got very sick and didn't do any more because I was really off my game. Then when I was going to sit and analyze and write, I had to suddenly travel to the States for family reasons. When I returned, I had a week and a half, before traveling again to find a new job. So, the month of March has been consumed in completing the work. As I viewed my small group video, I realized I did it wrong and had to redo it. Then, when packaging Entry 4, I realized I wrote it completely wrong. But, better to see these things when I had enough time to fix it, rather than after. As much as I don't want to go back and look at it all, I need to continue collecting work and video taping as I will not know if I have passed until December. That will be too late to start over.

Well, hopefully I will have more time now to continue blogging. I've missed having this forum to discuss my ideas. With all the writing, I have had many days of lethologica – forgetting the one word that I really want to finish the sentence. If the adage that men use about half the words that women use, my husband has a lot of catching up to do, because I have seriously overused my quota. This process has made me appreciate the work that professional writers do – and I only had to write about 60 pages.