I made a recording in 1999 called "Dreamtable". The title song was inspired by an evening with friends during which most of the women at the gathering eventually found themselves at a large oval farm table recounting their dreams. The lyric, which at the time was a fairly concrete recitation of my own personal dream images, included this refrain: "I can tell a story/I often aim to please/And I will tell about the things that bring me to my knees/ round and round the circle/ we try to understand/our dreams are on the table and in one another's hands/".
Five years after this song was recorded, I got some important training from another woman, Mary Pierce Brosmer, who'd years before, followed a dream she'd had to create the founding school of Women Writing for (a) Change in Cincinnati, Ohio. I put up flyers around Bloomington and invited women into a circle to bring forth story in an intentional way. Six and a half years after that, today, lots of women have participated in WWfaC Circles in Bloomington. They've shared their stories, their truths, their poems, their fiction and yes, their songs, and many of those women are finding that they are making art out of their lives. For some, what were once dreams (about publishing, about standing up to read in front of audiences) are coming true. And for some, none of that matters. They simply relish a seat at the dream table. They've written their ways to wellness and greater clarity and find other areas of their lives enriched by having a connection to a women's community that aspires to the most grounded aspects of the conscious feminine.
I write this post on the eve of our 38th public Read Around*. I write on the heels, just the other day, of having witnessed one woman in our community stand up in front of 60 people gathered to celebrate her, and read, in a decidedly unwavering voice, from her forthcoming poetry chapbook. The next day, 14 young women in our Young Women Writing for (a) Change program, ages 11-13, stood up to read in front of a packed audience of friends and parents. They spoke with poise and fierceness in poetic and sometimes plain words about what they see when they look in the mirror and beyond it these days; the unsparing truths of girls becoming women.
I write in amazement and gratitude for what has come forth out of a rich community of telling, trying, and being tried in only the ways community challenges us. I write in reverence to my own dreamlife and what it helped bring forward in me and through me. I write in reverence to the creator of and legacy of this unique work and it's particular "way", and for what is carried forward by so many now across several generations of writers in our circles.
Natalie Goldberg says that through writing we all put down our individual roots and if we are courageous and persistent enough those tendrils will reach the deep underlying reservoir of spirit we all share. Courage and persistence. Courage. Persistence. Connections. Plant life transforms, the metaphor shifts--we are swimming toward the reservoir. Following our words and our dreams on fins, wings, and sturdy feet.
BLR for the Poplar Grove Muse
* Spring Read Around is Wednesday, April 13, 7:00 PM Quaker Meeting House of Bloomington near the corner of Smith Road and Moore's Pike on the East Side of town. This is a women's event. Men, please join us at the end of May as WWfaC is Featured in the HeartRock Poetry Series May 27th. 7pm.