Travels & Rambles

Let’s Work Together This Summer


I am teaching a class at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts this summer. The class, Tales From The Kidscape, is all about writing believable stories about young people. It’s not a course about writing YA fiction, rather we are writing coming-of-age stories. Think Baby of The Family, that great ZZ Packer story “Brownies”, Michael Cunningham’s “White Angel”, Angela’s Ashes, Leaving Atlanta (smile), and that great book YOU’VE been working on. I hope that you will consider signing up.
And if you can’t join us, please help me spread the word. Here is a really nice flyer that you can print out and put on bulletin boards, post on your facebook page or you can forward to your friends. (And you know what friend I am talking about. The one who has been secretly working on a story, but won’t take the leap. Tell her to hop in!)

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Clothes For The Fabulous Writer

I know this is a literary blog, but I am going to veer off topic just a little bit, but not too far. The topic is fashion. At the AWP conference this year, several people asked me about my outfits. I’ll admit that I was feeling pretty flouncy, and giving the wardrobe a little extra umph. Well, pretty much all my outfits were made my Cozbi Cabrera, a local (Brooklyn) designer whom I love love love. And you know how I am when I am crazy about something– think The Brand New Heavies, red velvet cake and my Slanket— I can’t shut up about it.

My good friend Nichelle Gainer, who blogs at 55 Secret Street, went along with me to COZBI. While we were there, she made a great video of Cozbi talking about her shop and of me gushing, gushing, gushing while being fitted for my spring looks.

Ladies, if you are in the NY area, you should swing by Cozbi’s shop. You will love all Cozbi’s special attention and her clothes which she will cut-to-fit. Seriously, once you have worn cut-to-fit, you will never want off-the-rack-again. I know we have all had the experience of feeling like you are wearing clothes designed for some other woman. Well, when you wear clothes from COZBI, you know they are really yours.

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Beautiful Things Are Happening

Congratulations, Jamey!

Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

to people who read this blog!!

  • Jamey Hatley is celebrating her first literary publication. Her story, “Dream Season,” will be published in Oxford American!
  • Andria Nacina Cole is busy going over the proofs for her story slated to appear in (omg)Ploughshares!
  • Allison Joseph’s sixth poetry collecton, My Father’s Kites, has been accepted for publication by Steel Toe Books.
  • Dwayne Betts recevied an Honorable Mention from the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Competition.
  • Shelley Ettinger in enjoying a double-header with her story: “John and Yoko and Rowena and Me” in Cream City Review and “The Typist’s Widow” is in Stone Canoe.
    Got good news? I want to know about it!

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    Coming to Central Georgia

    Just a heads up.
    On Wednesday March 4, I am giving two readings in central Georgia at Macon State College:

  • 11am: in the Arts Complex Theater on the Macon campus
  • 7pm: in Walker Auditorium in the Academic Services Building on the Warner Robins Campus.
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    All Aboard!

    Well, I made it to D.C. I took the Amtrak from Newark Penn Station where I ran into an old friend, which I am taking as a really good omen for the festivities to come. The Amtrak was PACKED and everyone was in good cheer, at first. After an hour or so in, the train was stopped. Apparently we were on the rails behind the Obama train. When they stopped in Delaware to pick up Biden, we were stranded on the tracks. Then, the train went so slowly that I wanted to get out and jog ahead. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. TaRessa said, “It’s historical.” I said, “It’s hysterical.” I think this is going to be one of the themes of the weekend. When is there just too much performative drama associated with the event? I’ll let you know.
    Anyway, we finally we arrived in DC. The energy in the city is sort of like spring break week. Lots of excited, giggly people with suitcases. I am glad to have traveled on Saturday when everyone was still in a good mood. Also, I think the Amtrak crowd is more likely to be made up of Obama supporters. At the airport, another friend said he overheard two McCainiacs. (I guess they are the last ones.) Anyway, he said he heard them say, “It’s crazy in DC this weekend. You would think they were handing out free gas and reparations.” (I *wish*. The little jaunt is expensive!)
    I opted to stay a little outside of town in Bethesda. My hotel is pretty good but not good enough to justify the price tag, but I am not even going to worry about it. Tomorrow is the American Scholars Ball. I am mad that I let my friend convince me to leave the stilettos at home. Her reasoning, “We don’t know what to expect. What is there is no where to sit? What is we have to walk a couple of blocks to get to the Four Seasons? If you can’t walk, no one has any fun. And you are wearing a LONG DRESS! No one is going to see your feet!”
    If you look at the time stamp on this post, you’ll see it’s about 6:30am. I am waiting for the shoe stores to open….

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    A Beautiful Community of Writers


    Today, was an excellent day in the FEMRITE residential writing conference. We rolled up our sleeves and got down to business. The day is structured so that we meet from 8am to about 10am—when we break for tea, and then back to work again until lunch at one. Afterwards, we get together again and work until 3pm tea and then plow on until 5pm. It took a while to get used to stopping for tea—which means hot chocolate and cookies, but it doesn’t take long to be accustomed to luxury.
    The bulk of today was spent with my advanced class, who are in the picture. We workshopped a really interesting story about a girl returning to school after escaping abduction by rebels. The conversation went on so long, we almost missed our tea. As we sipped on our cocoa (made with hot milk, not water. Hot WHOLE milk.) we also discussed Dorreen Baingana, with whom I am obsessed. The conversation was lively and I think we all learned a lot from each other.
    Tonight, there is a dinner with the folks from the US Embassy. It will be cool to meet them after so much emailing. Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the conference. There is a part of me that’s a little disappointed that I haven’t been able to do much sight-seeing. But at the end of the day, it’s the people that make a place and I have made such wonderful new friends.

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    What? No Refrigerator Magnets?

    I am writing this post from the lovely Protea Hotel in Kampala. I was so tired when I got in, that I didn’t even notice how posh everything is. I woke up this morning and thought I was in the W.
    One thing I was looking forward to in Uganda was meeting the other TAYARIs out there. Afterall, the name is Kiswahili and this is east Africa. I imagined myself, at last, being a person with a common name. I saw myself buying TAYARI coffee mugs, key chains,and refrigerator magnets. It would feel like being a JENNIFER.
    I was so disappointed when my wonderful hosts gently explained that TAYARI is not exactly used as a name here. It’s more like an abstract now meaning “preparedness” or “ready.” Not exactly coffee mug copy. I was so crushed that one of my hosts offered kindly, “we can always look.”
    More later…

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    On My Way Out

    Just a quick goodbye as I head out for my trip to Uganda. I wanted to leave you with a nice collection of links to tide you over until I got back, but I am just too swamped. Pls forgive.
    I’ll be in Uganda just about a week giving a workshop to the women of FEMRITE, a woman’s writers organization. The schedule is INTENSE. I’ll be in class about five hours a day, but I am really looking forward to it. (My hotel looks pretty swanky, but I won’t be spending much time in it!) I believe I will have internet, although I am not bringing my laptop. I’ll take photos and will happily post. No twitter this time, tweeting on my phone from Ghana cost me about $300!
    On January 15th, at the National Theatre in Kampala, I’ll give a lecture for MLK Day which is going to be about the “gentrification” of his memory and how we, as writers, must preserve the truth as we experience it. I’ll also give a reading from my own work. Then, I’ll come on home and take a nap, then head out to DC.
    I am not sure if tickets are available for the Dreams From My Father Inaugural Ball, but if they are, you should totally go. I’m going to be presenting awards to two of my favorite folks: Johnetta B. Cole and Natasha Trethewey. Also in the line-up: Pearl Cleage.
    So, I am hoping to check in before I get home, if not, I’ll see you here on the 17th when I make my pit stop in Jersey to grab my ball gown.
    xo, Tayari

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    Happy Holidays

    On my way home for the holidays. I’m taking a little blogging break. I’ll be back on the 26th. Try and remember to grab those teenage pics if you are venturing to your parents’ house. And even if you don’t, have a great holiday. Here’s a snapshot of me on Christmas, 1975. Of my resolutions for 09 is to get that little-girl-joy back into my life.

    Happy Christmas, 1975

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    The Year in Pictures

    click to enlarge
    The Year in Review

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