The bigger the doctor, bigger the bill

(say oops upside your head say oops upside your head)


So I have returned from the Dwelling in the Woods/Givens Black Writers Retreat a changed woman, least be said, a changed writer. “What do you know, what is your experience, how will you use it in your work?”. I know that it was fun and full of hard work, that I am ready to produce. I know that other writers surprised me. I know that I surprised myself. I know that Ishmael Reed will be reading this and expecting to hear what I really think. No, I mean REALLY think.

My experience was of profound affirmation. My experience was of new found friendship. My experience was of new, stronger sense of Selfhood and Womanhood and Blackhood.

How can I not use all of this in my work. I will not bore you with the details.

((Pay attention now))

The first day was spent in “Getting to know you mode” and the walls were up for some who wanted specific time for writing. Some people apparently have all the community they can handle. Some people don’t know what they have. To sit around the circle and to see all of the writers from various age demographics and native geographic locales all corrugated into a singular depiction of the “evolving Black artist” was an incredible experience. You could feel that we were on the precipice of something for the weekend and I can only hope that my fellow artists found the weekend to be as inspiring and climactic as I did.

Laurie Carlos invited us to change the language of our creativity. I have. I will. I am. I want.

Many changing and personal moments were had in her workshop. There was a beginning of a trust between our cohort as well as a trust with ourselves and our personal compass and direction.

(Say oops upside your head say oops upside your head)

Ishmael Reed asked us what we were reading presently. I recognized, as we went around the circle, a group of writers as varied as their interests. I felt deeply unread, being one of the youngest there. I also felt Reed’s assertions of ” Good Book, Bad Book” to be a little pedantic, but I have reminded myself, the man is 71, he knows a thing or two and if I’ve read it, he’s probably read it. . I will agree with him, Just Above my Head, might not be Baldwin at his best, but it is still pretty damn good, and better than riff-raff I’ve suffered through in my day.

Jericho Brown’s Please is a strong work. To put it lightly. The strength is palpable in the words. It is a tough, aggressive read. This being said, I really enjoyed it, and have lauded his work in this blog repeatedly *(follow that paper trail). I felt combative with the text and I am reading it again in a more available place.

((Say oops upside your head say oops upside your head))

I was allowed private time/ one-on-one mentor sessions with both Laurie Carlos and Ishmael Reed. Laurie and I discussed possible direction for future work and my necessity to continue to move forward and accept this glorious burden of art and craft and word. I’ll bring my hammer. It will not be easy. The community will find me.  I found in my conversation with her that I am the constant explanation of my perspective is a means of deflection. I was indicted by my  mentor as an poser in vulnerability and shyness to guise my strengths. Survival mechanisms I call them.  And I love them, every one.


To be Frank, or Lisa, my apology is the means by which I explain my perspective which I inherently deem invaluable. What this weekend taught me is that I need to CLAIM my perspective. I don’t get another one. Until I start speaking with the voice I was given from the throat I was given, how is anyone going to hear me?

(Say oops upside your head, say oops upside your head)

Our Open Mic session was an impressive show of our now talents and has me completely energized to think of where some of our work may take us. Specifically, the unexplored. I have completed a few poems– including my kill poetry poem- since I have returned. I also look to start experimenting with different genres (including some cross genre writing). I cannot wait.

Dear Ishmael, I hope we meet again. There is a careful way about you, though people might not believe it. Thank you. And consider my back turned, at least for a while on the White Avant-Garde.The experiment has happened.

I have so much else to read, anyhow.

(One final thing)

I have had a few conversations with a non-literature freak who has started to wear on my nerves. The Givens Black Writer’s cohort/workshop is a selective, Afro-centric writer’s community. It is inherent that there would be  a focus on the concerns of our Local and Global community. It is about a safe space for risks and a commitment to craft and each other. Maybe you’re just mad because it is not a safe place for you or it is a space where you are not invited. After our conversation on Monday I’d like you to know that I don’t actually need you on my proverbial “team”.

Claim that.

((just because you don’t believe that I wanna dance
don’t mean that I don’t want to))

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  1. Mahogany

     /  November 19, 2009

    ha! awesome.

  2. Lisa,What are you writing these days? Ishmael

    • Lisa Brimmer

       /  January 28, 2010

      I’m working on a performance piece right now and some poems always! Its very good to hear from you. I’ll try to send you something soon.


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