2016 ESR Writers Colloquium: Panel One
Marlena Graves: A Name God Can Change: Owning Our Stories and Wrestling with God
Genesis 32 describes how Jacob wrestles with God, emerging slightly crippled and with a new name: Israel. But before his renaming – before the wrestling match even begins – Jacob must own the story of his life so far. As writers, we also wrestle: what is our voice? What is our name? The answer must begin with owning our own stories and identities, even as God wrestles us toward new ones.
Shena McAuliffe: Writing as Recycling: Collages, Mashups, Documents, and Fakes
In Seattle, there is an 8-year-old girl who feeds her neighborhood crows. In return, they bring her gifts: Legos, buttons, glass beads, bottle caps, bits of yarn, polished rocks, and plastic figurines. The girl arranges her collection of glittering treasures in a box with a clear plastic lid. What happens if we write with the sensibility of crows, scavenging treasures from the world around us, and with the sensibility of this eight-year-old girl, gratefully arranging these gifts into our own masterpieces? Writers of contemporary poetry and prose use photographs, police blotters, historical documents, footnotes, and a slew of other “non-artistic” forms to make art and explore issues of justice. What can they teach us about writing and art?
Rabbi Sandy Sasso: Imagining with Scripture: Lessons from the Rabbis and Other Artists
The rabbis believed that the Bible spoke to every generation anew. They allowed the sacred stories to enter their lives and their lives to enter the stories. In part, this imaginative work became midrash, a body of literature that spins new stories out of narratives that scripture never quite completes, as well as from questions scripture never fully answers. What the rabbis did with words, artists did with image and sound, moving beyond literal analysis to the creation of new, living meaning in every generation.