The Body and The Voice

Nonfiction Finalist 2020

Dear readers and writers,

It’s been a while since we talked here. For me, the last couple of months have meant collecting the fruit of recent creative work and readjusting to the ever-changing landscape of corona restrictions as well as other major life changes.

Things Are Changing 

These last few months have also been a time of redefining my identity, needs, priorities, and boundaries, following my mother’s death after years of debilitating, depersonalising illness; of learning to live both with her forever absence and with the lack of the much too familiar heaviness derived from the responsibility and constant worrying for her wellbeing. These last few months have been a time of redefining my own concept of love and self-love; of figuring out how much solitude and togetherness I really need, and why; of learning to live in a different way than in a constant fight-and-flight mode — a rather new concept for me; of learning to go for what I really want for myself, for real, with fear but without hesitation.

Recent Writing Projects and Accomplishments

Writing-wise, there are two projects I wanted to tell you about:

  • my hybrid creative work The Body and The Voice, one of five nonfiction finalists in the Gold Line Press 2020 Chapbook Contest
  • The Earth Mother Manifesto – A Prose Poem, my contribution to the Arcana 2020 project (which I co-curated together with artist Hazel Ang).

The Body and The Voice 

The Body and The Voice is a shorter version (call it chapbook or essay if you wish) of my hybrid memoir. While I willingly submitted it as a chapbook to the above mentioned contest, the full-length memoir (you can read about its background here) has always been on my mind. The memoir cost me three years of life, like my PhD did over ten years ago. During these last 3 years, my mother was forgetting more and more, and her identity was becoming more fractured than ever before. During these last 3 years, I was “remembering” and reconstructing identities — mine, hers, her father’s, and — more broadly — the narrative of a family, of a society, of a nation, of a certain time and place in European history, and ultimately — of inner and outer worlds, where narratives are almost never new, isolated, or non-universal´´.

Nonfiction Finalist 2020

My grandfather was a political prisoner at the rise of communism in Romania, many decades ago, and died of leukaemia after he was imprisoned and humiliated, something that his immediate family was heavily impacted by — financially, socially, and emotionally. The silencing and censoring that the family endured around this event lasted for many decades, until the fall of communism and beyond, and his story — unfortunately a story like many others of those times — is even now at the risk of facing historical erasure. This wound is at the heart of my book and was the heart of my mother’s almost lifelong suffering.

My memoir is my attempt to partially heal the wound or at least to transcend it, to turn it into something else — something that will feel like an almost too intimate conversation, something that will find an echo in someone else, something that other people will easily mirror themselves into, no matter where they are from. My memoir is also meant to act as a warning in times of rising nationalism.

The memoir overall remains fractured, made of fragments, poems, stories, old and new photos, with ever-shifting perspectives — as all my attempts of constructing a somewhat linear narrative failed. The “story” refused to fit nicely and politely within a traditional frame, it refused to obey; the real life story had to obey to social constrains for much too long. It is a story that isn’t only made of sadness, but also of dreaming, of remembering, of longing, and, most of all — of a longing for self-expression, family, and belonging, despite the weight of the past. This longing, together with the wound, is also at the heart of the entire book. The memoir as a “whole” is a kaleidoscopic story of reframing reality, over and over again, and admitting — while also accepting — that it will never fully fit into a predefined, “expected” form. It is nonfiction relying on poetry, fiction, and imagery, when reality becomes too horrid.

My memoir is still looking for a publisher, an outlet to be a misfit out there, in the larger world.

The Earth Mother Manifesto – a Prose Poem 

This prose poem is very close to my heart. I wrote it in response to the card “Strength” for the Arcana 2020 project, which brought together 22 writers and 22 artists from around the globe. Each participant used a tarot card from the Major Arcana for inspiration. While I am neither a tarot fan nor a believer, I do think that tarot cards can be very inspiring for creatives, and I use oracle cards in the same way — as a portal into the neverending world of imagination. The project was initiated back in 2019 by Steve Toase and Hazel Ang and this year I had the pleasure to select writers, edit their work, and bring their Arcana creations to the world.

The Earth Mother Manifesto – a Prose Poem is about many things and may feel wildly utopian for many women, even nowadays. Instead of telling you what it is about, I will trust you to discover it, filter it through your own experiences, and form your own impressions about its meaning. You can either listen to it or read it (layout design by Hazel Ang) below.

Strength

 

Instead of Goodbye

I would be curious to know how the pandemic and other smaller or bigger recent life events have affected your own creativity. Many of us find ourselves writing either more or less than before. Some introverts thrive in this imposed isolation, while others are emotionally and creatively frozen by it. For me, at least, the writing seems to happen in waves, and these two states occur in alternation.

Despite an increased level of social isolation, work and other major life changes keep me busy and sometimes keep me away from my writing. I don’t just mean busy in terms of the activities themselves, but also “busy” in terms of adjusting and readjusting to the world around me.

For in order to thrive, not just to survive, we have no choice but to adapt and readapt to our constantly changing surroundings.

Despite it all, I am still here, still writing — sometimes more, at other times less than before –, and still looking forward to whatever next year may bring into my life and writing.

With much writerly love, still yours truly,

Diana

 

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