Tag Archives: Writing Our Way Home

A Group Journey Out of Homelessness: A Book Review

I was born with the desire to know what it’s like to live more than one life. If you’re a reader, you understand what I mean. That’s why we read. For the time it takes to read a novel or memoir, we can get inside someone else and look through his or her eyes at the world around us. Better yet, we can hear that writer or character’s heartbeat.

When I choose a book I tend to choose a memoir or fiction that is closely tied to one protagonist. But I just finished a book that is a compilation of memoirs by a group of writers.

These writers are bound together by a writing class and a commonality: they have all experienced being homeless. Writing Our Way Home is subtitled “A group journey out of homelessness.” Edited by southern writer and blogger Ellen Morris Prewitt, whose touch is so light her name is not on the cover or title page, this book weaves together the stories of fifteen writers and organizes them thematically.

I began reading slowly because I wanted to isolate and listen to individual voices in the group and not confuse them with each other. I needn’t have worried. Very early on, I began to “hear” who was “speaking” within the first sentence or two of each brief entry. I listened to Leroy Scott’s straightforward prose, Cynthia Crawford’s engrossing storytelling, Tommy Payne’s brilliant and varied writing style, Latasha Jackson’s pattern of detailed imagery (sipping peach wine in the bath, the lost doll collection), and other unique voices. As Tommy himself says, “It is easy to tell a book written by James Michener from a book written by Ian Fleming. An Ernest Hemingway novel from a play written by Shakespeare.” And so it is with these writers.

Most importantly, I learned what these fifteen people had to say about their own lives and about the condition of being without a home.

The book developed from a writing class that Ellen teaches in Memphis. The class and the Door of Hope organization that runs the class seem to be based in Christian teachings, although I don’t find much about religion on their website other than that they offer contemplative prayer classes, as well as creative writing.

If you have ever—even once–looked at a homeless person and forgot that he or she has a whole history of living, relations, emotions, and past belongings, as well as current needs, hop over to Amazon and pick up a copy of this book! If you want to find out if you should give a handout to someone who asks, you will find eleven answers.

Now that I’ve read Writing our Way Home and had time to let it settle into my bones, I feel it’s permanently changed me. A big thanks to Roderick Baldwin, Donna Connie, Cynthia Crawford, Jacqueline Crowder, Veyshon Hall, Tamara Hendrix, William L. Hogan, Jr., Latasha Jackson, Anthony Johnston, Robbin K., Rhonda Lay, Jockluss Thomas Payne, Leroy Scott, WJS, and Master Major Joshua Williams for inviting me into your lives.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Book Review, Books, Essay, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Summer Reading

Marie from 1WriteWay and I are finishing up our Flash Essay course. We’ll be posting about it before too long. I’ve had a very full work and personal (not fun stuff) schedule this summer, so adding that course was a bit much, but it did get me writing again. That’s always a good thing, even if just for my mental outlook.

I’m enjoying having Nakana part of the household but because of travel and a non-recorded leukemia test on Nakana I’ve had to wait to introduce her to the other cats.  I’m sure they wonder who that is behind the closed door! Tiger is especially curious and waits in the hall for me when I’m with Nakana.

I’m reading two books right now. One is Writing Our Way Home, a collection of writings by people who have been homeless, edited by WordPress blogger and Southern writer Ellen Morris Prewitt. I’m going slow and savoring.

41EaKva8i8L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The other book I’m reading is one suggested for class: The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction:

FlashNonFiction_200Because I am way too overtired this summer, I am falling asleep the minute I sit or lie down, so reading books where I can read in digestible chunks is wonderful. These are both well worth putting on your list.

As I move into the August hubbub and end of summer doldrums (brief pause to hurriedly look up “doldrums”–yup, that fits–“a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression,” but I think I also meant dog days, which are the hottest days and a period of sluggishness), I might post less regularly. I try to usually post Mondays and Thursdays, although sometimes I add in an extra or switch a Thursday for Wednesday or Friday. But I don’t plan on sticking to any particular schedule in August. Then I’ll re-start my regular schedule in September. I’ll be checking on your blogs as I get online!

If you are still thinking of picking up a copy of Doll God, it’s also a book that can be read in small chunks–a poem a day, for instance.

castle-promotional-cover

About summer in Arizona, Doll God has this to say:

the heat hints at its future
when all will be blue blue blue.

Blue sky over everything. Only here in Phoenix is blue not a cool color, but a FLAME HOT color!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Book Review, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Reading, Writing