“What starves pain, what forces it to release its grip, is speech, the voice upon which rides the story, this is what happened; this is what I have refused to let claim me.”
― Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light
This week Central Piedmont Community College is hosting Sensoria: A Celebration of Literature and the Arts. Amy Bloom described it as “a joy, a beacon of light and a sea of reading and writing and thinking pleasure.” Every year I am honored to participate in this unique festival. It renews my soul and lifts my spirits.
Tracy K. Smith, the current U.S. Poet Laureate, will be joining us this year. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, served as a field guide to losing my mom. Whether Smith knows it or not, she sat with me and commiserated. We compared stories of grief and guilt.
Bryn Chancellor, author of SYCAMORE, will also visit our campus as part of Sensoria and the culmination of Levine Reads, our first campus-wide book club. This project has been a long-time dream of mine. I am thrilled to see it coming to fruition with a local author. Chancellor is a professor at UNCC and a personal friend.
For the fourth year in a row, I am honored to work with my colleague and dear friend, Elizabeth West, to present a writing workshop as part of Sensoria. Our interactive presentation will guide participants through capturing small, vivid scenes as a method for exploring self and crafting a memoir.
I consider this festival to be a true gift to our community. As George Saunders wrote after visiting our campus in 2017, “Sensoria’s passion for bringing art to the community...continues to inspire me months after my visit.” He further explained, “The Festival and its organizers seem to manifest an innate understanding that art is - or should be - an essential part of our spiritual existence - the best way we have of expanding our capacity to love and understand one another.”
If you live in or near the Charlotte area, please check out the schedule of incredible events. I am excited to share the festival with my children this year. My daughter and I will be attending the presentation by Holocaust Survivor, Susan Cernyak-Spatz. There are music and dance events, in addition to interactive workshops and presentations. Sensoria truly has something for everyone. I hope to see you there.
Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes! I felt love and light from every direction. Year 39 is off to a great start.