On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, Catapult students, contributors, instructors, and other members of our community met for our second-ever write-in event, Don’t Write Alone. In the wake of the presidential election, we wanted to create a space where our community could come together to share the stories we have turned to for comfort, inspiration, and solidarity, and spend an evening writing our own stories as well. As Toni Morrison writes, in an essay read by Catapult instructor Michele Filgate last night, “Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.” Below is a list of the readings shared at Don’t Write Alone; we hope they fuel your own artmaking as they did for us last night.
You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.
Why do you feel okay saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, be propelled forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind.
As usual you drive straight through the moment with the expected backing off of what was previously said. It is not only that confrontation is headache producing; it is also that you have a destination that doesn’t include acting like this moment isn’t inhabitable, hasn’t happened before, and the before isn’t part of the now as the night darkens and the time shortens between where we are and where we are going.
Nobody Is Ever Missing
The New York Review of Books
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New
When I see this way I analyze and pry. I hurl over logs and roll away stones; I study the bank a square foot at a time, probing and tilting my head. Some days when a mist covers the mountains, when the muskrats won’t show and the microscope’s mirror shatters, I want to climb up the blank blue dome as a man would storm the inside of a circus tent, wildly, dangling, and, with a steel knife, claw a rent in the top to peep out, even at the risk of a fall.
When I see this way I sway, transfixed and emptied. The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut. When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer.
Following the readings, everyone in the room took Morrison’s advice and got to work on writing projects of their own.