“Do I know you?”
“I feel like we’ve met before.”
“You look exactly like my sister-in-law.”
These sentences or some variant of them are words I hear every week. And they are usually followed by the person telling me a story. At the gas pump. In line at the grocery store. After a workshop. I am a magnet for people with something to say.
Listening to, reading for, and coaching storytellers and writers is not new territory for me. I have spent my life teaching creative writing and creating exercises for my students and writing prompts and conferencing with students and facilitating workshops. Helping people tell their stories and express themselves has been the focus of my twenty-five year teaching career.
You might ask, “When, in between, all of that teaching, did you have time to write your own work?” The answer that I want to give is: “Oh, I wrote in between my kids’ soccer games and faculty meetings. It was great.”
The real answer: I didn’t always keep writing. And, it wasn’t always great.
I went weeks even months without writing because I was getting married, moving house, having kids, doing laundry, cleaning up dog poop, getting divorced. Life doesn’t always give us time for morning pages or writing retreats. In retrospect, I realize that in those times I was gathering material for future work.
Along the way, I discovered the Iowa Summer Writing Festival (ISWF), and real dedication to crafting my own work began thanks to teachers like Linda Bendorf, Katie Ford, Lon Otto, and Ilya Kaminsky.
Then, 15 years ago, I was invited to write and read an occasion poem. I remember John saying, “I heard you were a poet, and we have this event coming up.” It was the first time I heard someone call me a poet.
At that time, had you asked me who I was, I would have said mother and teacher. It was only seven years ago that I realized I am, indeed, a poet and an artist. It was also about seven years ago that I began reading and performing my poetry publicly and regularly.
In one way or another, my life has been about living stories, sharing stories, writing stories and helping people tell their stories. In all forms. Backchannels is a natural continuation of everywhere I have been. Backchannels is a platform for everyone to offer their writing to the world and for discussion about their work.
Perhaps you have had a similar ebbs and flows in your writing life. Maybe you have been working steadily since forever. Have you been published? Have you performed? Have you self-published? Have you never quite worked up the courage to publish? Are you new to this whole thing? Backchannels is a great place for everyone to submit poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, visual art, personal essay, experimental multi-genre work: we want it all.
Our goal is to create a friendly literary journal and community that publishes work and then creates a backchannel that invites readers and writers to discuss the published work.
Join us as we write, read, and discuss. Let’s share our stories and our lives with each other.