This blog post was written by by Laura Rose Cardona, first year mentee in the Writing & Mentoring Program, about the March 5 Poetry Workshop with poet Grace Dunham. Grace is an actor, activist, poet, and writer. They appeared in the independent film “Tiny Furniture”, which was written and directed by their older sister, filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham.
I always knew I was a sentimental individual. Often, I would find my emotions becoming swept up in the day-to-day stimuli that life provided. With emotions such as sorrow precipitating during rainy days, joy shining through the brighter, and anger carving its way out in underground scenes like a crowded New York City subway station, I knew all these feelings were buried within in me simultaneously. However, it wasn’t until my experience with Girls Write Now’s craft talk speaker, Grace Dunham, that I realized how close to the surface these emotions actually were.
There were a number of things that drew me to Grace Dunham, but perhaps the most substantial was our similar background. First of all, both of us were outspoken LGBT activists who didn’t always feel accepted by our environment. Further, we both utilized writing as a coping mechanism to promote social justice. Last but not least, we both had a rocking sense of fashion. Hey, men’s casual is the new women’s chic; get with it, America. Aside from the humor, it wasn’t until the craft talk activity that I discovered yet another similarity between Grace and me, the freshness of our emotions.
The activity was simple. Divide your thoughts into two columns, things that make you happy, and things that upset you. In the few minutes allotted to fill out these columns, I instantly noticed that when I wrote an example down, my passions for it were invigorated, as if I was living that scene again. I could feel the corners of my mouth curving upward at notes such as ‘night walks on the beach’, and ‘the smell of fresh morning dew’. On the verse, I felt my brows creasing when marginalizing things such as ‘crowded subways’ and ‘people interrupting me.’
Upon sharing our experiences, I found that it wasn’t just myself who was reacting to our notes, but my peers described similar feelings as well. This made me realize the sheer power of human sentiments. Emotions aren’t simply anchored to a specific place or event, they bloom there, and the pollinated seeds cling to you, eager to sprout again. I used this newfound information to enhance the quality of my poetry by infusing it with the raw emotions that I knew where still so very present. Additionally, not only are my own personal writing goals to stimulate my emotions, but to also surface the emotions of others, because now I know first hand just how close these emotions are from bursting out of their seams at any given moment.
All in all, the meeting with Grace Dunham empowered me and my peers to connect much more deeply to sensations, so that our writing in turn could be more deep. As David Jones says, “it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” Indeed it is.