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Love, Loss and Rising Up: The "Fierce Fragility" of Michelle Bitting

In this week's new episode, Susan talks to Michelle Bitting - a poet with a mission! Together they discuss poetry, process, the crisis our culture is in, and from whence her art comes and how it gets on the page.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Michelle Bitting

A fourth generation Angeleno, Michelle grew up in Los Angeles near the ocean. She studied theatre, wrote poems, danced, played music as an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley and went on to study Meisner acting and perform as a modern dancer, including a two year workshop and filming stint with Twyla Tharp for the James L. Brooks movie, I'll Do Anything. Formerly a line cook, chef, outreach worker and pre-school assistant, in 2001, she returned to creative writing and since then has taught poetry in the U.C.L.A. Extension Writer’s Program, led master classes and lectures at universities, high schools, and literary centers across California and beyond, including dozens of hours at Twin Towers prison, DTLA, and for ten years has been an active California Poet in the Schools, reaching over 500 student poets per year. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon, an MA in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology, and in the summer of 2018, completed a PhD in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Michelle is the Poet Laureate of Pacific Palisades and has won multiple grants from the Optimists Club and Poets & Writers Magazine for her teaching work in Los Angeles. A mother of two, she is married to the actor, Phil Abrams.

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Visit Michelle’s website for more information!

Gathering Wisdom, Living in Wonder and Learning through Transformation: Cultivating a Contemplative Life with Mirabai Starr

Susan talks with author, poet and grief counselor Mirabai Starr, who uses poetic and passionate language to make the timeless wisdom of the mystics accessible to us in our modern day life.

Together they discuss inter-spirituality, the gathering of wisdom, the transformation of loss and more!


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Mirabai Starr

Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. She has received critical acclaim for her revolutionary new translations of the mystics, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich. She is the award-winning author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and IslamCaravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, and Mother of God Similar to Fire, a collaboration with iconographer, William Hart McNichols.  Her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, is forthcoming Spring 2019. She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

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Visit Mirabai’s website for more information,

or connect with her on

Facebook, Instagram, or on Twitter @MirabaiStarr!

Check out her latest book: Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics here!

Shattering Mental Health Stereotypes: A Conversation with Dr. Kimya N. Dennis

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Dr. Kimya N. Dennis is a prolific writer, college professor, community organiser, and a believer in interconnectedness and breaking down barriers. Her work combines the worlds of criminology and sociology, looking at cultural differences and encouraging a multidisciplinary approach for all doctors and mental health professionals where diversity is discussed every day instead of in workshops and seminars. 

She wants to shatter the myth in some communities that “only white people have mental health issues,” challenging our stereotypes, assumptions and beliefs about suicide, mental health and depression at every level - from the individual, all the way up to the organisations and institutions who are training the future health and wellness practitioners of tomorrow. 


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Dr. Kimya N. Dennis

 

Dr. Kimya N. Dennis does interdisciplinary community outreach, consulting, teaching and research regarding mental health, suicide and suicidal self-harm, criminal justice processes and reproductive health and freedom. Dr. Dennis collaborates with community members and organizations. Collaborations include guest posts for Mental Health America of Virginia, interviews for various media outlets, board of directors for The Mental Health Association in Forsyth County and board of directors for Forsyth Futures, both in Winston-Salem, NC.

 

Please visit her website www.kimyandennis.com for more information! 

 

Click here to read her article discussed in the interview: Suicide isn’t just a ‘white people thing’

 

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Empathy, Protest and Productive Conflict: A conversation with Activist & Author Aruna D'Souza

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“My friends tell me empathy is my superpower,” says Aruna D’Souza, “but I am deeply suspicious of the idea of empathy as a motor for political change.” Protest and empathy is at the center of this conversation between Aruna and Susan.

If we delve deeply into the slogan Love Trumps Hate what will we discover about personal will vs collective will? Writing White Walling: Art, Race, and Protest in Three Acts was a self-education for Aruna - an act of transformation - an exercise in what it means to be an ally “sitting and looking carefully at what people have said, without falling back on knee-jerk arguments like free speech and artistic freedom, caused me to ask - to what extent are these things just shields for us not to talk about racism?”


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Aruna D'Souza

 

Aruna D'Souza writes about modern and contemporary art; intersectional feminisms and other forms of politics; and how museums shape our views of each other and the world. Her work appears regularly in 4Columns.org, where she is a member of the editorial advisory board, and has been published as well in The Wall Street Journal, Art News, Garage, Bookforum, MomusArt in America, and Art Practical, among other places. Her book, Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts was published by Badlands Unlimited in May 2018. She is editor of the forthcoming volume Making It Modern: A Linda Nochlin Reader, which will be published by Thames & Hudson.

 

Click here to visit Aruna's website!

Buy Whitewalling here!

 

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Falling Back In Love With Living: A Conversation With Katie McKenna About Life After Traumatic Injury

We’ve all used or heard the phrase “I feel like I was run over by a mack truck” ~ said mostly in response to life’s little to medium bumps in the road. Ten years ago Katie McKenna was literally run over by an 18 wheel truck. She lived to tell the tale and wrote a “brave and funny memoir” about it ~ How To Get Run Over By A Truck. The accident not only changed her life. It transformed her life. From Old Katie to New Katie ~ it marked the beginning of her journey to fall back in love with living. “Trauma can define you or redefine you,” Katie says. “My spirit is strong and continuing to grow.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Katie McKenna

 

Katie McKenna is a professional fund-raiser, life coach, writer and motivational speaker living in Brooklyn. She has given talks at high schools, universities, hospitals, medical schools and corporations across the country. She runs a blog called Small Bites and Little Victories and is an expert on the best date spots in New York City. How to Get Run Over by a Truck is her first book.

 

Find out more about Katie on her website!

Order a copy of Katie's book: How to Get Run Over by a Truck here!

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Speaking the Language of Joy with Beate Sigriddaughter

Beate Sigriddaughter is a poet, a writer across genres, a ballroom dancer and someone who makes the effort to “put poetry into practice” on a daily basis. She is an encourager, celebrator and facilitator of other women’s voices through her blog, Writing in a Women’s Voice. She grew up in Nurnberg, Germany reading fairy tales and playing in WWII ruins, learning to read at the age of 6, when she “disappeared” into books.

Her mother (who she honours with her last name) was a “trapped bird” in the conventions of her time, but nevertheless made freedom possible for Beate, encouraging her to go to America at 16 as an exchange student.

Beate recognizes her own daily struggle between gratitude and dissatisfaction, and efforts to create a language of joy that brings beauty to the world, helping us rise above our habitual  language of criticism and negativity. She writes “to make real what is most important” ~ joy, love, gratitude. “Poetry is action,” she says, “to take the most sacred pieces of my soul into practice,” and, she adds with a laugh, “to make peace sexy and exciting!!” Yes! Why not?


Meet This Episode's Guest

Beate Sigriddaughter

Beate grew up in Nürnberg, Germany, not far from the castle, reading fairy-tales and playing in World War II ruins. After graduating from a Lutheran girls high school, she studied at Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences, which had until shortly before been a Catholic boys college. She graduated 10th in my class with a B.A. in English and Philosophy and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

While at Georgetown University she studied with poet Roland Flint, former poet laureate of Maryland, and befriended late science fiction writer Roger Zelazny and his family.

Beate has published short stories and poetry, several books of poems and novels, and some other not easily categorized books. Some of her publications were under former names, Beate Goldman and Beate Murray. Several of her published short stories were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She won her first poetry prize in 1983 and the latest two poetry prizes in 2018, with a handful of other prizes in between. In 2017 Beate was named poet laureate of Silver City, a position she shares with co-poet laureate Jack Crocker.

Beate has also spent many years teaching ballroom dance and competing professionally in the American Rhythm division. She has taught ballroom dance at the Aurora Community College, Metro State College and The University of Northern Colorado, as well as privately at Have Dance Will Travel in Santa Fe, and at Booth’s Dancesport Ballroom in Denver, Colorado. 

She has facilitated one of several critique groups of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for over two years, and was also a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild. From 2006 to 2009, Beate was the fiction editor of Moondance, a woman’s literary ezine. For a time she orchestrated the Glass Woman Prize to celebrate other women's voices, funding the prize with ten percent of her own income.

Beate also hosts a celebration of other women's voices to the blog Writing In A Woman's Voice where she posts poetry and prose written by women or in a woman's voice. 

 

See a full list of Beate's books here.

Find out more about Beate on her website!

Photo by Cheryl Thornburg

Photo by Cheryl Thornburg

"Even if we are indeed all illusions, then let's make this the best and most beautiful and compassionate illusion possible." 

~Beate Sigriddaughter

Opening Creative Doors: The Joyful Terror of Writing with Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington is an award winning playwright, lyricist, librettist, and most recently a novelist. She chats with Susan about her creative process, the need for beginner’s mind, and her long career as a writer across many genres. She loves opening creative doors that terrify her ~ case in point ~ taking a playwriting course in college with the daunting challenge that everyone must read their work aloud! Going through that door changed her life.

Originally thinking she wanted to be a novelist, she discovered theater, an art form based on her passions of language, literature, words, dance, and music. Likewise, when she won the Kleban award at the age of fifty, she used it to say STOP! to her twenty-five years of working and collaborating in theatre, and decided to write a novel. She is now on her third. She values the joy and creative energy of being a beginner, “knowing too much can be a burden,” so she finds ways to stay curious and in an act of discovery with her writing ~ One of her secrets? She reads everything aloud. “Music is in everything I write,” she says, “My ear is smarter than my eye.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington, award winning playwright, lyricist and librettist, winner of the 2008 Kleban Award for “most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre,” has written dozens of plays, musicals, operas and radio plays which have been produced in 28 states, Canada and Europe, in venues ranging from Off-Broadway to Houston Grand Opera to the Paris Cinemateque. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England.  Additional awards include a Boston IRNE Award for Best New Play, a Bunting Institute Fellowship at Harvard/ Radcliffe, a Whiting Foundation Grant-in-Aid, the Joseph Kesselring Award for Drama, a New England Emmy, and a Quebec Cinemateque Award. Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  She has also been a frequent guest artist at Tufts, Harvard, Wellesley, Skidmore, and the University of Iowa.  She was the 2014 Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence at UMASS Lowell.

A Catalog of Birds, her second novel, published by Europa in 2017, has been praised by The Washington Post, CONSEQUENCE literary magazine and others. Alice Bliss, (Penguin/ Viking) her first novel, widely acclaimed in print and online and a Boston Globe bestseller, won the 2012 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction. Alice Bliss was published in Italy, Denmark and the UK, where it was a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick. In addition, Playwrights Horizons in NYC has commissioned Alice Bliss, the musical with composer Jenny Giering, librettist Karen Hartman and lyricist Adam Gwon. A workshop of the musical will take place in 2018 in NYC, with Mark Brokaw directing.

 

Find out more about Laura's work here: http://www.lauraharringtonbooks.com

Or click below to purchase on Amazon:

A Catalog of Birds

Alice Bliss

 

 
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Creating a Healing Path: Changing How We Think About Pain with Evelyn Hecht

Evelyn Hecht sheds light on pain: What is it and what can we do about it? She explains the difference between initial pain and chronic pain, and how we can retrain our brain to develop different patterns of response, thereby creating a path toward pain healing, a big step beyond pain management.

In her book "re.lieve: Solutions for Chronic Pain," Evelyn lays out simple tools, such as sleep, diaphragmatic breathing, and stretching exercises to help you take charge of your pain healing. “Listen to your symptoms, don’t fight them, have positive thoughts!”

Evelyn believes each person has the inner skills to create a healing path. “What are you saying to yourself about your pain?” she asks. How we answer that question can tell us much about how we relate to our pain and what we can do to change it.


Meet This Episode's Guest

Evelyn Hecht

Evelyn Hecht, PT ATC, is the owner of EMH Physical Therapy, specializing in pelvic floor & spine and all chronic pain for over 25 years.  She designed the pelvic health course for both NYU and Stony Brook University’s Department of Physical Therapy and taught  for 7 years.  

In 2014 she designed and launched an app, PelvicTrack, currently free on iTunes store, to help anyone suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction learn some basic exercises and track symptoms.

In 2017 she authored an e-book: “re.lieve: solution for chronic pain, self-help program” based on the modern science of pain with a guided self-help program to guide people suffering with chronic pain on their healing journey.

She earned her BS in Physical Education with a minor in Athletic Training from Brooklyn College and received her BS in Physical Therapy from Hunter College).

Check out EMH's website, Facebook, and YouTube channel for more information or to work with her in New York City!

Download PelvicTrack here!

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