My Literary Club

I just read an article from Booksparks, a comparison of literary salons and book clubs. I must say that the article simplifies the role of each type of assembly. After reading this funny piece and in response to Booksparks question (“Check out our fun and silly infographic comparing literary salons and book clubs. Which novel group do you belong to?”), I have to change my definition of my own book club and now call it a “literary club.” Mine is a literary club because of its combination of a literary salon and a book club. How so?

How does my club differ from the typical book club and a literary salon?

According to Booksparks, literary salons are a selective gathering of likeminded intellectual individuals discussing the topic of literature. Book clubs, on the other hand, are a collection of people who found enough time in their busy schedules to talk about a book they half-read.

My Literary Club: What I used to call my book club has now evolved into a literary club. (I do not like the connotation of a salon with reference to academic matters.) There are 232 of us, a selective gathering of likeminded intellectual individuals who found enough time in their busy schedules to discuss about a book they finished.

If a member does not finish the book by the next face-to-face gathering, he or she is encouraged to excuse self from that month’s discussion and try again with the next book. We do not “half-read” a book, nor should anyone do or admit to doing such a thing.

How do we select books?

In planning ahead, the organizer solicits book suggestions from members on interesting and unique books that will cover months of reading. We respond with choices of what we would like to read. She sends out the titles of books that we gave, and we vote. The winning books are targeted for each month, so that we know months ahead what we are reading and can secure our books any way we wish.

Also, the organizer can suggest a number of books that she thinks are of literary significance and offer those. We share our opinions, and if we agree with her, those books/novels enter our reading list and are marked for an applicable month.

Who is invited to my club?

All book lovers are invited: scholars, academics, professors, pretty, single people, rich, retired folk, people with a spare hour, parents, college students, hopeless romantics, daydreamers, and bookworms. I find myself in as many as 10 of the categories here, but as Booksparks puts it, “Can we all agree that the best part of any reading group is the book?” Yes, we can! 

For how long do we meet?

The meeting is set for an inflexible two-hour duration. We begin promptly with food ordering, find a seat, and begin with introductions and networking while the chef prepares our food. The restaurants we go to are also mindful of our two-hour meeting time. Therefore, they get our food ready within minutes.

Where is my literary club held?

We do not meet “online or in a neighbor’s toy-littered living room.” We meet in swanky eateries around town. For the first few minutes after we arrive, we greet each other, order our food, and we make small talks as we get to know each other. This is also a chance to network, and I have met some interesting people from all “works of life,” and colleagues: college professors and other teachers. We eat first and discuss the book after the tables are cleared.

What do we wear?

No member has shown up yet in clean yoga pants. We dress up for the event, not necessarily in designer cocktail attires, but we dress the part.

What food and drinks do we eat and drink?

As I indicated above, we gather in swanky eateries that do not serve alcohol so that we can focus on discussions and contribute intelligently without the inebriating effects of alcohol. Each person orders what he/she wants or none at all. With my high food allergy history, I stick with fresh fruits, fresh vegetables/salad, and water.

What do we discuss/do?

On a day with good attendance, we usually close off almost the entire restaurant. We do not discuss “kids, spouse, politics, upcoming events,” and any other personal and distracting matters. For the two hours of our gathering, we focus on the books in clicks of five to ten people since we try to confirm with the restaurant set up. We tried in the past to combine all the long tables, but it proved difficult to hear everyone, so we now stick with discussions in groups.

On book exchange days, we bring free books to give away to others and pick up books we would love to read. If someone picks up a book you brought, you can give a 30-second review on it. Because of my love of reading, I always take several books in a bag and bring home several books to devour.

After the major focus, which is the book, and if people form closer bonds, they stay behind and discuss kids, spouses, politics, and other upcoming events. I have done this with different people over the years since joining the literary club.

Thanks to Bookspark, I now view my book club (I mean, my literary club), in a different and in a more appreciative light. The image below was provided by Bookspark.

book-club-infographic

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Frances Ohanenye On the Inprint Writers Workshop Website

It has been a very busy* month and year, and we are not even half way through the year.

http://inprinthouston.org/for-writers/writers-workshops/ Inprint_Writers_Workshop_FrancesOhanenye.jpg

I am on the “cover” of the Inprint Houston Writers’ Workshop website, the much coveted Inprint Writers’ Workshop.

How fast do the workshops fill up? The site opens at 12 (noon) sharp and offers several workshops.

Within 10 – 15 minutes, all the workshops are full, and each full-scale, eighth-week, workshop costs a little under $300. Aspiring writers, K-12 teachers, other college graduates, post-graduate students seeking admission into demanding post-graduate programs, college professors, and all others vie for a spot in these most challenging but rewarding programs.

Let me say, I was very fortunate to secure a seat. Like Robert Frost said, “And that has made all the difference” (Frost 9).

*Frances Ohanenye is also featured at these links:

*https://literarynomad11.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/i-am-on-the-university-of-houston-website/

*https://literarynomad11.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/frances-ohanenye-attends-the-reception-for-winning-imagination-grant/

https://www.facebook.com/KatyISDEducationFoundation

Work cited:

Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Mountain Interval. New York: Holt and Company, 1920. Print.

Under the Cover of Cowardice

Mrs. B. Carter

Mrs. B. Carter

The recent incident of a fan degrading Beyoncé by slapping her buttocks has brought this unsavory topic into the open again. According to Yahoo.com, Mrs. Carter was performing in Copenhagen, Denmark, when a man slapped her derriere.The

 

New Zealand Herald reported that the famed singer chastised the reprobate with “I will have you escorted out right now, all right?” My situation was similar but different in a frustrating way.

My daughter and I used to go to Disney World every December (to avoid the spring break and summer exodus to Florida). Unwilling to deal with the hassle of securing a hotel room, I bought a time-share property. On one of those trips, we had just exchanged pleasantries with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I turned to walk away. The pervert hiding under the Mickey Mouse cowardice slapped my buttocks.

Like Beyoncé, my initial reaction was disbelief that someone had the audacity to touch my body. Turning around instinctively and ready to deal the lascivious idiot a consequence, my trauma worsened when the Mickey Mouse debaucher began prancing with glee and laughing loudly. Myriad emotions chased themselves on my face.

Parents and children watched. I felt helpless to give in to my instinct of doling him what he deserved. My daughter watched petrified that I would deck Mickey Mouse, that (she told me later)  she would be known as the child whose mother beat up Mickey Mouse.

The anger that blazed in my eyes and my taut body that bucked threateningly at the leech seemed to increase his depraved joy. My inability to take any course of action elevated my anger. I sold the time share. That was the last time I took my daughter to Disney World.

Regardless of the word used to describe this criminal act, (“Eve teasing” in India), touching someone without invitation is offensive and invasive, what I call body trespassing. Like all trespassing crimes, the offended has the right to take suitable actions to protect body and self-worth.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “It is unlawful to harass a person because of (that person’s) gender through unwelcome sexual advances… and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature…”

Perverts steal innocence and damage joy fast. No one can understand the gamut of emotions running through a person’s mind when another human violates the sanctity of his or her body.

The last of those emotions is regret. I should have sued Disney World for employing a miscreant, a deviant who not only violated my person but who violated children’s innocence and their belief in the sanctity of the (perceived) marriage institution of Mr. Mickey and Mrs. Minnie Mouse.

I should have sued Disney World. Beyoncé could sue the harasser, but he might be a penniless buffoon. Also, the legal demand on her time would steal the joy of spending valuable time with Jay-Z and Blue Ivy. Why bother with a riff-raff? 

Five Steps of the New Writing Process

After years of using the Writing Process to teach students how to organize their writing for maximum effect, the time has come for me to rejuvenate my own look at the Writing Process. Therefore, what unfolds is an adherence to the old but with a fresh look for those who already have a firm grip of the traditional Writing Process. Also, this New Writing Process is elevated for college students and other adults.

STEP ONE: PREWRITING–Brainstorm and gather all utensils and ideas ready for your writing pleasure.



STEP 2: DRAFTING–Immerse yourself in your writing until you feel that you have exhausted all ideas.


STEP 3: REVISING–Incorporate colorful/figurative language for contrast no matter how subtle.


STEP 4: PROOFREADING–Try to see your writing from different perspectives (points of view) and adjust accordingly.

STEP 5: PUBLISHING–Celebrate your writing by leaving a lasting impression in the minds of your readers.

Is Atlanta Literary?

Providing Serenity

In search of a new writing group, I stumble upon unintentional access to the Chattahoochee River, an access that costs me nothing. Ordinarily, access to a body of water carries a stiff price.

In the backdrop of the establishment, I spy a body of water and realize that I am so blessed to live in a major metropolitan area that tucks the Chattahoochee into its waist, circular and all. As it goes about its business, I see people latching on for numerous reasons.

Fortunately, this end of the river boasts no crashing waves or unpredictable agitations to cause an unnecessary distraction. These sedate and subdued motions could have enervated my brain into introspection. Rather, I choose to allow it to energize my hand into literary scribbling of the most profound kind.

Sitting on the Chattahoochee

As I sit here on the bank, I realize that Atlanta can hold its own among cities calling themselves literary luminaries. I am truly blessed to live in a major metropolis boasting of an A-list of citadels of learning, a city that has been attracting intellects since Booker T. Washington, even if only to elevate the art of public speaking.

I am fortunate to live here where, when a shout for writing goes out, people take up pens (used loosely here) to answer with immediacy. I am discovering the depth of Atlanta’s literateness. I belong to several face-to-face literary groups, a good selection easily organized by like-minded individuals who could charge membership fees (like some of the online ones) but who do not. Their sole “ulterior” motive is to help each other grow in literation.

Sitting here today, I feel very well in my elements on this bank whose serene flow circles Atlanta’s waist and germinates creativity in me with gentleness. I realize that even though our patio doors do not open directly onto the Atlantic (although our distant neighbor, Savannah does), Atlanta has literary blessings in abundance: print media, online media, the film industry staking a firm claim, and printers and publishing outlets to give authors’ creations wings.

Atlanta not being a one-sector industry or a one-crop economy gives hope to writers and artists. It is not a mining town, a camera/photo city, a silicon-born city, one-university dominion, nor is it controlled by brewery, quarry, seafood, farming, or seaport. We certainly have access to all these varieties.

Even the railroad that gave it birth does not claim domination any more. Atlanta is truly blessed, and because I am like Atlanta in many ways, so am I. 

KMWP Wraps It Up with Fanfare: I Am So Grown!

All Good Things Must End

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:57am

Is this phrase the coinage of a realist or the clamoring doomsday chant of a party pooper? Regardless, and sadly, our workshop ends. It ends without my desire. It ends according to schedule. It ends because there is a calendar that dictates the order of things, the end of things, and the finality to life and events.

It is unbelievable how much growth is possible in three short weeks. My mind expanded, my appreciation ballooned, my writing jumped up and touched the sky, and my empathy broke like a dam and spilled over.

I have made many new friends. This is really the coming together of the most profound think tanks, so gifted, so profound in insights, and so grateful to be handed the hand we were given, and what an endowing hand. I am transformed for ever and for good.

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Missing Something Before You Miss It

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 26, 2012 at 9:32am

The thought of missing something puts us in a very pensive, regretful, and avoidance mode and mood. We start dreading that reality and wishing we could stop it from coming to an end. Such is the feeling rampant among many KMWP fellows this week as we wind down. We voiced different aspects of our day we would miss.

Most of us agreed that we would miss our morning report. More than anything, it revealed to us the ingenuity in each fellow as we dug deep into our originality to produce a report worthy of keeping sleepy heads awake and alive enough to bring forth laughter.

We will miss (and that is the phrase that resonates frequently: “We will miss…”) our writing time that forces us to put down thoughts worthy of publication. According to Dr. Rob Montgomery, our gifted and fearless leader, a talented writer without the discipline to write every day will not be as successful as a disciplined writer with little or no talent. The latter will make a lot of money because time is money and showing up dutifully to work guarantees a paycheck.

If I take nothing away today, it will be that I need to adjust the lens through which I see this writing thing. I have loved showing up to work daily as a reader. I just have to make myself show up daily as a writer. My perception has been clouded by many misperceptions and misconceptions. I will write daily. I will write daily. I will write daily...

40 views           Add new comment                 1 comment: Posted by Patricia Valley

June 26, 2012 at 3:35pm

It’s validating to know I am not alone.  But missing something makes us appreciate it more too.  We have a funny expression in my family that is meant the be endearing.  How can I miss you if you won’t go away?  🙂

Exiting with a Mountain-High Bang!

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 25, 2012 at 10:04am

Today marks the last week of our KMWP summer fellowship journey. I fight the feeling of sadness that threatens to envelope me. I can’t help but want this session to last the entire summer. Alas, it won’t or can’t grant my wish.

Just like the lightning that struck my house over the weekend and created a very loud bang as it fried several electronics, we are going out with a definite and resounding thump as I hear the activities lined up for our last days.

I love to see my name in print. We are publishing an anthology, presenting a skit or some similar act, having lunch at a restaurant, having lunch at a former KMWP fellow’s house, having lunch catered on the last day, receiving our KMWP T-shirts, presenting our demos, meeting in our reading groups, meeting in our writing groups to finalize our skit, and so many other activities. If these all do not make a mountain-high of a bang, I don’t know what does.

Wednesday is my demo. As the last demo presenter, you can imagine my position. I am the last person to demo! Do you feel my stress? I want to go out with a bang as well, louder than the one the lightning made in my house. I have learned to make a grand exit (and entrance). I hope I won’t disappoint myself this time.

Third Week Is International!

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 22, 2012 at 9:40am

Born overseas, I gravitate to all things of a worldly nature. I have always been a child of the world first before identifying with my country, Nigeria. This week has been of immense interest. We have savored foods from France, Germany, Brazil, and Costa Rica. We have immersed ourselves deep in culture and have grown in leaps and bounds for our open-mindedness.

Our perspectives enlarge and reflect our acquisition and appreciation of the different.  I cannot convey with sufficient eloquence and conviction my gratitude for being allowed to take part in the National Writing Project. I have met colleagues who fill my intellect with food for thought and meditation.

This is the third week, and we show no signs of staleness or tiredness. We still perceive everything in new light and still anticipate our event-filled days with a child’s rightful impatience. I don’t want to look at the end of the tunnel. I am busy enjoying all the landscapes, unique explorations, and captivating events that pile my minutes and hours.

I am ecstatic to be here.

Half of My Fun Is Still Ahead (KMWP)

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:31am

We arrive at this juncture in the workshop, and I can either bemoan the past days or look forward to the remaining days, the equivalent of the glass being half full or half empty. I choose the glass being half full because I have so much to look forward to. Even if KMWP wraps up today, I still have so much for which to look forward, especially our reunion in October.

With the glass half full, I am looking forward to my own Demo (demonstration) of a lesson that I will teach when school resumes. The initial cloud of anxiety has cleared, and I am pumped up. I have observed several amazing demos from every teacher in here, past and present fellows, ideas I intend to use, ideas to propel my teaching forward exponentially. (I know, another “-ly” word just crept in.)

With the glass half full, I am looking forward to my writing group’s presentation, which we have not decided what we will showcase. I cannot wait to get there, to arrive at next week. Excitement fills me at the numerous events we have waiting.

I look forward to each day as it unfolds with uncertainty because no two have been identical and no two days will. I am growing, still.

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry, Wherefore Art Thou, Poetry?

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:39am

I am re-learning poetry, rediscovering its makeup, its characteristics, its facial features, grooming, and wherewithal. I write poetry, but I don’t write the regular poetry for the regular person. I write poetry filled with elevated vocabulary. There are those who write with simple vocabulary. There are those who write with mid-range words. I write with “big” words that may cause one of two people a headache. I apologize in advance.

How can I be true to me if I change who I am? I use “big” words naturally. They just come to me. I don’t know what that means for the general poetry public: that my poems will never be read? That people will get turned off by my poems because they do not want to crack open a dictionary in order to grow?

What do we tell our students, our children, ourselves? We say, “If you are reading a book, and you know all the words, that book is below your reading level.”

That makes my point. I want people to grow intellectually when they read my poem. I want them to acquire new words. I want them to read, re-read, and re-read my poems until the poem make sense, until those “big” words get cracked through any skills the reader has: context clues, word association, and so on.

So I write and will keep writing poetry in that hope that I will not compromise me in order to be and sound like all other poets out there. In order to stay true to me, I cannot be the other poets out there. Does that mean that no one will buy my poetry books when I publish them eventually? I guess so, and I am comfortable with that.

Not to say that I am Missy Elliot, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, or any other artist out there who dared to be different. I feel in my bones that I must be true to me and let the world accept my poems as they are. I am hoping that there are those who will. Get a taste at http://paperisnotsilent.blogspot.com. Thank you for visiting.

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1 comment: Posted by Fatima Abdulkazem, June 21, 2012 at 10:09am

I loved your poetry… It’s fancy…it’s tasty!

I also loved it because it teased my brain…and knocked on closed doors of knowledge to open!

i am just discovering an emerging poet in me…Your poems are inspiring

Thanks!

Building a BRAND with SWAG

I found an intriguing article written exactly one year ago today. To mark the anniversary of Elise L. Connors’ article, I need to examine my writing style by engaging in an introspective search of my own branding. As an aspiring author, I am constantly writing with passion. Writing is an obsession, an ambition, an aspiration, and is the essence of my being and my survival.

As such, I have been writing without worrying about branding or doing it with swag. I am borrowing these words, brand and swag, from Connors in the context that she used them in her article. I confess that I never paid attention to brand and swag in terms of writing.

It is now time to excogitate. Assuming that I do have that BRAND and that I built it with SWAG, what would the package look like exactly? I presume that after I have built my brand, I would like to maintain it for the duration of my “new-found” career. Branding oneself is a long-term goal and process and relies on audience perception. I do not know if I have an audience yet, considering that my Kickstarter project did not start; pun intended shamelessly.

I will now attempt to examine the acronym Connors created in order to gauge my progress in the branding-with-swag endeavor. She states that “Success as an author depends not only on writing a quality book (which is VERY important) but also how you are able to connect with your audience.”

As Connor’s defines it, brand is more than my name. It is my identity. It is how the general or reading public views me. BRAND stands for:

B oldness (You have to be able to say things others are afraid to.)

R elevance (Are you talking about the things your audience wants to hear about?)

A nd

N otable (Are you saying things that are “newsworthy”?)

D edication (Are you dedicated to yourself and your audience?)”

What is SWAG? This isn’t the swag that normally comes to mind. This is SWAG:

S ophisticated (Are you offering high-quality content? Big tip: proofreading is important.)

W orthy (Are you doing anything to deserve the notoriety you’re seeking?)

A nd

G rateful (Are you appreciative for your audience?)”

Taking the first word and dissecting it, I would say that I definitely am bold. I do not flinch from situations, and I say it like it is, which tends to contradict with the expectations of people. I try to make my postings relevant, always looking at the grand picture, always seeing how my postings will benefit people, and trying to find out what readers want. It is difficult to please every preference, but my aim is to try.

I will help Elise L. Connors a little by changing the word, “And, to Accessible. In acknowledgement of that substitution, I make my postings accessible by linking my blogs and other literary efforts to social media and other viable avenues.  

If you visit my Yahoo! Voices postings, you will discover articles about people who are making strides in their different fields. In that sense, these are notable people and notable topics, newsworthy people and newsworthy topics.

The final component of BRAND is dedication. I am a loyal, committed, and dye-in-the-wool kind of person. I thrived in education for decades, have stayed in the same volunteer capacities for decades, and I am unswerving in my devotion to my writing and my love of it, which has lasted almost four decades. It is that love of writing that gripped me at an early age, caused me to obtain two degrees in it, and I am poised to obtain a third one.

For the next acronym, SWAG, I want to believe that by virtue of having a Master of Arts degree in journalism and by being an editor, a freelancer, a book reviewer, and a copy writer–among other attributes, that my content is sophisticated in quality.

Anything we put out in cyberspace or publish brings with it the positive and the negative. The question is, “Are you doing anything to deserve the notoriety you’re seeking?” Notoriety carries both a negative connotation and a negative denotation. I want to see my glass as half full and take the good that exposure brings to me. I hope that I am worthy of fame and should deserve it when it arrives by dint of my hardwork.

Again, I am going to substitute the word, “And,” with another adjective that begins with “A.” That word is “Adventurous.” Am I allowing myself the courage to explore my creativity and take it as far as audacity will allow? Although several colleagues have recognized creativity in my intellectual products, I hope to grow in my ability to drizzle morsels of words with different tasty confetti that will entice all to partake in and savor the cornucopia of literary offerings that I craft.

The last word on the list is grateful(ness). I want to believe that I am appreciative of my audience. As I check my readership, I find it increasing daily, weekly, and cumulatively. I am eternally grateful to all who have stopped by and all who will visit. Please leave a mark of your presence by putting down comments so that I can express my gratitude formally.

I want to thank Elise L. Connors for providing the foundation for today’s posting, and I hope to Pay It Forward by returning the same type of favor to several people. As my friend and critic, Cynthia Adams, said, “Frances Ohanenye is a writer with a finger on the pulse of creativity.” I could not have said it better myself. Thank you, Cynthia, for always being my sounding board.