Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was a German-Jewish antimilitarist anarchist essayist, poet, and playwright. I can check most of those boxes. I tried anarchy in my 20s; it didn’t fit. And while my maternal grandparents were German, I started life in New Jersey.
Since 2003, I have maintained my writing office, research library, and a small performance space in the same building in Berlin where Mühsam worked and lived with his wife Zenzl. Alt-Lietzow 12. There is a plaque dedicated to Mühsam beneath my window. His spirit is everywhere here. He sat where I sit. Climbed the steps I climb. Feared what I fear.
Nature doesn’t really care whether there are human beings or not. I’m sorry to break this to you. – Margaret Atwood
I’m not sure what I need to comment on first – the bloem or that wry, newsflashy quote. Let’s start off with the easy things first – the quote. Canadian environmental activist and contemporary Scheherazade, Margaret Atwood, really knows how to drive her point home and reverse perspectives. Isn’t it utterly refreshing to hear Nature’s point-of-view? Although She may not care about our existence, we should definitely be concerned about Hers – especially on Her special day – April 22 – a.k.a. Earth Day!
Now you might be wondering what a bloem is or maybe you’ve already guessed by now that it’s a portmanteau or a blend – a word formed by clipping two words and then merging them: blog + poem = bloem. If you ask me, it’s quite a simple equation and an appropriate tribute to World Book Day, which happens to be on April 23. If you’re interested in words, literature, the future of books, and their connection to the environment – for there is one – then you are cordially invited to sample my bloem, “The Future of the Library: The Future Library,” which serves as an appetizer for the main course, an interview with Margaret Atwood about this fascinating literary and environmental project.
One week before Christmas and no gift in sight?
Allow me to assist you out of your plight
For who really wants one more thoughtless gift?
Doomed to be piled on the re-gifting snowdrift
So why not create a story to tweet
In 140 characters – short and sweet
Well, actually in 280 characters or less as Twitter has recently doubled its tweet length. No Twitter account or money is required – just a bit of time. There’s no reason to fall under the glamour of the pre-holiday commercialization craze. All you need is a seed for a story that you can let grow and trim back into shape. You can do the old-school thing and write or type it on a decorative piece of paper. Then just stuff it into a little stocking. Of course, you can text or WhatsApp your gift of twiction as well. In search of ideas? Then take a peek at some of the twiction from my creative writing students.
What is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish community? Can the allure of tradition and a sense of belonging to such a community override the longing for freedom and the opportunity to experience the great wide world? This unrelenting push and pull between secure Amish community life and the tempting siren song of the outside world have shaped ex-Amish author and blogger, Ira Wagler. In his best-selling memoir, Growing Up Amish, the author offers his readers an honest, bittersweet, and moving account of how he left the Amish, only to return and eventually leave for good.
As one of the guest speakers at the Plain People Conference, Ira Wagler gave a heartfelt talk as well as read excerpts from his memoir about coming of age and his first love, Sarah Miller. But why don’t you listen for yourself?
After a dozen trips or more to Deutschland, I can officially say I consider Germany to be my home away from home. Each visit reunites me with old friends, and if I’m lucky, I get the opportunity to make new ones. I’ve grown fond of the land and the people. Upon reflection, I think I have quite probably seen more of Germany and its cities than most of its citizens. I lost track after the thirtieth town. Or was it the fortieth. … Hard to say. After this many trips, it’s all a blur of schnitzel and white asparagus. Read more »
Writers are a special breed. Constantly shifting through their perception of the environment with detailed attention, they store and analyze any piece of information on the endless shelves of their flourishing mind. Everything is of value. The way the grumpy barista was holding the pen as he scribbled their name on their cup of take-away coffee; the momentary silence before a daughter answered her mother, assuring her that she would be home in time for dinner; the way he brushed her cheeks ever so slightly, tracing the outline of her cheekbone with the tip of his thumb as they sat on the park bench next to each other, their eyes drinking in each others’ presence.
Writers are like magicians. They turn to the world for inspiration to create a universe of their own, using a handful of words to later engage their readers. They feed the pages of a satirical play, a lost romance, or a spectacular crime. I’ve always found writers fascinating.
When I came to America as an exchange student in the spring of 2015, I was burning with curiosity but rather shy of expectations. Little did I know that the U.S. would be my literary haven. Read more »