Monday, January 2, 2012

Janus: Transitions

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions. He appears as a two-faced god, one head looking back the other forward. His month, January, signifies transitions—gates, doorways, endings, and time. During the final week of every year, I like to take time to look back at the events and all the new friendships I've made. Here are some of the high points.

We ushered in 2011 at Camp Sherman, celebrating with friends at their cabin on the Metolius River. We enjoyed sitting around the fire reading and playing games, hiking in the snow, eating home-made meals and, especially, playing with their puppy Cooper.

John, Maggie, Cooper

On January 7, I was invited to speak at the Tomodachi-kai, a group devoted to nurturing friendship and cross-cultural understanding between Japanese and American women and their families. In the beautiful setting of the Nichiren Buddhist Temple, we wrote our first haiku of the year and then enjoyed special New Year's dishes.  http//

Maggie with members of Tomodachi-kai

In March, I joined our Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen, Penelope Scambly Schott, and Carlos Reyes teaching a full day of poetry workshops sponsored by the Manzanita Writers. This Poetry Fest drew writers from all over the state and we all had a creative and convivial day. On March 26, I joined several poets at the Multnomah Library in downtown Portland where I read my short story "Father's Overcoat" published in VoiceCatcher 5. VoiceCatcher is a non-profit collective that nurtures women authors and artists in the Portland/Vancouver area. The women who volunteer their expertise, time, and energy to publish this journal are extraordinary! 

Readers for VoiceCatcher 5

Maggie Chula and Ce Rosenow
On May 6, I drove with my friend Penelope Scambly Schott to the Poets Concord held at the Hallmark Inn on the Oregon coast in Newport. We both gave workshops. Hers was "Writing Crazy: Poetry Beyond the Predictable World" and I gave a workshop with Ce Rosenow (President of the Haiku Society of America) entitled "Haibun: The Harmony of Poetry & Prose." Many participants were new to the haibun form and eagerly embraced the challenge of combining prose and haiku.

The Lane Literary Guild sponsors the active and venerable Windfall Reading Series held at the Eugene Public Library. On May 17, they invited me to read with Kenneth Helphand in an event titled "Beauty: The Ultimate Strength." Professor Helphand teaches architecture at the University of Oregon. His book "Defiant Gardens" documents a selection of gardens built by prisoners of war, especially those in World War II ghettos under the Nazis. For my portion of the program, I read poems from my new book "What Remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps," accompanied by a slide show of corresponding quilts by Cathy Erickson. One of the poems, "Afterimage," is written in the voice of a Japanese American man who builds a sand and stone garden at the Minidoka camp in Idaho to beautify his surroundings in the barren desert. Visit "Featured Book" on my website to read more.  

Windfall Reading: "Beauty: The Ultimate Strength"

(To be continued......)

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