19 October 2013

reading in milwaukee

Outside of Tokyo, our family lived in a house with a sunroom that looked out over the garden, and that was our playroom. Maybe I was five. In that sunroom, my brother, sister, and I would listen to records, 33s or 45s, and one of our favorites was the 1946 Disney rendition of Sergei Prokofiev's Op. 67: Peter and the Wolf.  You know the one: Peter is represented by the strings; Sasha the bird by the flute; Sonja the duck by the oboe; and the wolf. . . . We must have listened to that record a hundred times, and every time the wolf first appears—all brass and drums—we'd leap, screaming, over the high, arched back of the green couch to hide.

Reading in public is sometimes like that for me. Not that I'll be leaping over any couches anytime soon, but the clench of fear in my chest as I approach the microphone is the same. Every time.

Nerves aside, I am privileged to be reading with some fine faculty and grad students from my new digs at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee: Creative Writing Professor Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, and graduate students Tobias Wray and Elisa Karbin.

Meet me there:
Friday, October 25
Boswell Book Company
2559 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI
~ sherri

01 October 2013

new fiction: looking to land

Sometimes I tell stories from my real life—maybe even from those old, bad days—and people don't believe me. Some of my best rejection letters disclaim the believability of my personal stories.

It's fine, really. I'm grateful that my life manifests in a different space these days. Plus, I can't ever imagine running out of material, if that's all to be said for some of my past.

I've learned to mix it up, the real and the imagined. Bank back the fantastic real; expand the fabulist fiction. But every once in awhile, a kernel of raw truth might surface in one of my stories. I leave it up to the reader to guess, as I'm certain I  don't have to say which it is.

That's the beauty of writing fiction.

My short story, "Looking to Land," is published in the newest issue of Spilt Infinitive. My thanks to the editors for including me—I feel like I got to eat lunch at the cool kids' table today.

 ~ sherri

31 August 2013

upending the cart

Ten years ago, if someone had told me what I'd be doing this year, I would have laughed in their face. Or cried. Or both. But certainly not believed anything like this could happen to me in real life. Since January, it has been an ongoing series of amazing, life-changing, cart-upending moments, so much so that the only way to keep myself grounded throughout has been to remain focused on one event at a time; the cumulative whole has been overwhelming to consider.

The results are these. In January, I completed my MFA in Writing at Pacific University. In June, I was privileged to be the student speaker at the Pacific MFA commencement ceremonies. Then for the 2013-14 school year, I was accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee into the PhD in Creative Writing program and additionally honored with a Chancellor's Award and a teaching assistantship.

So in August, I said fond and difficult farewells to my family, dear friends, and all the supportive communities of home, left my marketing career of 25-years, and moved to Milwaukee, WI for the next phase of my development that begins at UWM. More than a shift of geography, it is a fundamental re-direction of psyche and purpose.

And finally, on a deeply personal note, this summer I also met with my first-born daughter, whom I had relinquished for adoption 28 years ago when she was only 10-days old. It was a reunion that exceeded all imagined expectations for being so sweet and full of joy.

Once again, my life is changed forever.

I remain grateful for the opportunity.

 ~ Sherri

By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.