Six Thousand?

This article about author Danielle Steele and her shoe collection will either inspire you...or make you stab yourself with a pen.

Thunder in Her Voice by Lita Hooper

I was really excited about this: the release of Lita Hooper's book of poems about the abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Thunder in Her Voice (Aquarius Press) builds upon the narrative of Truth by imagining interior moments of her life. The poet Kwame Dawes says, "Hooper's genius lies in her capacity for empathy and her ability to write a poetic line of such simplicity and grace that it turns even the most harrowing facts into beautiful laments of pain and hope."

If you are unfamiliar with Lita's work, take a look at her poem "Love Worn" which was chosen by poet laureate Ted Kooser as a feature poem on American Life in Poetry and has been widely published.

Seen on the Train

I'm back on the light rail to work after taking a little break during the cold months. Saw people reading books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Stephenie Meyer. Am I the only one bothered by seeing grown women reading the Twilight series?

What I'm Writing

I'm slowly finishing a collection of stories which will be the first manuscript that I've completed and will send out seeking publication. Over the past few months, I've been hunched over my computer for long hours and I can feel it in my back and shoulders. When I'm done with this manuscript, I dream of running every day or doing an activity that involves getting up and moving instead of sitting and typing.

I'm also writing and researching things about my family. My grandmother's 100th birthday is coming up and we're having a big celebration for her in Atlanta in October. I'm trying to find ways to write about her life and incorporate all the historic events that she's witnessed in her time. And a while back, I gave my uncle and aunt a list of questions to answer about their lives. They're the last siblings still living from my mom's family. I will see them on Easter Sunday and want to follow up with that. I don't know what I'm doing yet, I'm just looking for a good narrative.

Some Politics

UCLA and Columbia Law School Professor Kimberle Crenshaw will be at Arizona State University on April 8 to present a lecture on race relations titled "Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective." She appears as part of ASU's Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations. Read more about the event here.

I've long admired Crenshaw who works on issues of race and gender equality. She is a founder of the African American Policy Forum a think tank whose purpose is to advance social inclusion by bridging "the gap between scholarly research and public discourse related to inequality, discrimination and injustice." The AAPF created this brilliant visual argument about the need for affirmative action.

Crenshaw's lecture is so timely. Now that we've begun the process of health care reform, let's reform our educational system to make it more equitable.

Speaking of health care reform, Salon has an interesting article about the role that Nancy Pelosi played in getting this legislation passed in the House.

And finally, I came across a review of this book and think I will pick it up. It's Women of Color and Feminism by Maythee Rojas. It's on Seal Press.

R.I.P.: Ai

The poet Ai, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, passed away over the weekend. Ai was a writer who took risks in her work and is probably best known for her dramatic monologues of dark characters to whom she gave voice in her writing. I considered not returning Ai's Vice to the library once I'd read it - I loved it that much. Tayari Jones posts a moving remembrance of Ai who was a mentor to her.

Really? A Woman Is Just Now Winning an Oscar for Best Director in the History of the Academy Awards???

It seems incredible that it took 82 years before a woman won the Oscar for best director of a film. Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow for breaking down barriers and for making a wonderful film, The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Picture during the ceremony.

Congratulations to Mo'Nique for winning best supporting actress in a film for her role as the abusive mother in Precious. Based on the clips of her performance that I've seen, the Oscar was well deserved.

I know there are a lot of Avatar fans and foes, people who have seen the film five times and were rooting for it, and people who called those fans "avatards" and were gleeful when it didn't win Best Picture. I didn't have strong feelings about the film either way. For me it was about the visual experience more than the story or the film's representations about race. Avatar was visually stunning and an okay story. And let's be real, I don't expect anyone who has not walked in my shoes to represent the world as I see it.

Let's hope Bigelow's win signals an opportunity for more women to tell stories from our perspectives.

**Also: The LA Times reports that Geoffrey Fletcher's win for his adaptation of "Push" into the screenplay Precious makes him "the first African-American to win a writing award." Fletcher gave a heartfelt and somewhat stunned acceptance speech.

Poetry Out Loud

If you are in Phoenix, it's First Friday which means there's the artwalk and lots of arts-based activities and readings going on.

But today and only today there is also the Poetry Out Loud state finals. It's taking place at the Burton-Barr Library and is open to the public. The semifinals (24 students from across the state will compete) happens from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. The 8 chosen finalists will compete from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The winner goes to the national competition in April to compete for a $20,000 scholarship. Come support Arizona kids as they compete to represent our state! Come support young people and poetry!