essay at LA Review of Books

shadow of writer at Long Pond, Omega Institute, October 2017
shadow of writer at Long Pond, Omega Institute, October 2017

Here’s a link to my essay, “A Trampoline,” recently published at LA Review of Books.

This essay is part of my memoir-in-progress, 318, about my childhood home that the fire department burned down as an exercise. Gratitude to all who have lent support, especially those who read & helped with early drafts; to Nick Flynn for Memoir as Bewilderment; and to Gina Frangello, for publishing this piece.

May we all find our way, as we work our way back up.

Cover!

Thrilled to unveil the cover of my debut novel, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival! Grateful to Ash Goodwin for design, and to Gronk for the beautiful art, and to Rod Val Moore and everyone at What Books Press. (Please treat yourself by perusing the work of Gronk!) Also grateful to the generous humans who read and provided blurbs (Jim Krusoe, Gayle Brandeis, Ariel Gore, and Nick Flynn). It takes many hands & spirits to do this work.

The novel is forthcoming in October. Stay tuned here for more information!

Free creative writing workshop! June 29

UPDATE: as of 6/25, the workshop is full. But you can sign up for the waiting list at the link below.

Creative Writing for Adults

We have a few spaces left! REGISTER HERE: https://greenelibrary.bibliocommons.com/events/60bfd8c264016437009c9492

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 

6:00PM – 8:00PM

Yellow Springs Community Library

YS author Rebecca Kuder will lead numerous writing exercises to unleash the creative spark and let it frolic on
the page. Inspired by Lynda Barry and others, we will write and draw and move. No previous experience necessary! Please bring a pen and notebook, though we will have some supplies on hand.

Optional: bring a photo that connects to something you are fascinated/obsessed with.

Please wear a mask if not vaccinated. 

From Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

This passage from Celeste Ng’s novel, Little Fires Everywhere, captures so perfectly the feeling of wanting what I know I can’t have.

“After Pearl had begun to snore softly, Mia kept her hand in place, as if she were a sculptor shaping Pearl’s shoulder blades. She could feel Pearl’s heart, ever so faintly, beating under her palm. It has been a long time since her daughter had let her be so close. Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there were something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

—Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere (p. 248)

(Learning “to live on the smell of an apple alone” seems like the work of my current stage of motherhood.)

A SHINY POSTCARD WITH BIG NEWS!

assemblage of small items on desk, ermine, elephant, mug with tiger on it, Hans Bolling figure, clock, pencils, etc.
Step Right Up!
vintage postcard of California Alligator Farms, Los Angeles, Cal.
A Peep! A Teaser! A Glimpse Of What’s To Come…

My novel, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival, is forthcoming from What Books Press!

It’s official!

I’m overjoyed and gobsmacked to announce that The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival is forthcoming (October 2021) from What Books Press. I’m so grateful to Rod Val Moore and Kate Haake and Gronk all who are working to make What Books Press such a fabulous collective. I’ll share more news when I can. For now, please mark your calendars for October, and get ready to enjoy the show!

p.s. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post, or the writing of this novel.

Inbox

May Day 1983. (318. My ghost.)

I keep many emails in my inbox. I don’t always archive, delete, or (if I’m honest) even read all the messages that arrive there. What’s weird is how often the precise number of messages in my inbox is 318. Maybe I am trying to recreate that place in any way I can, even through my electronic inertia and disarray.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

I recently read The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Wheldon Johnson. Johnson was the polymath who (among so many other experiences and accomplishments) wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which I hope some day the United States will embrace as national anthem…please enjoy this glorious video presented by 105 Voices of History National HBCU Concert Choir.

About The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, from the Penguin website:

“Originally published in 1912, this novel was one of the first to present a frank picture of being black in America. Masked in the tradition of the literary confession practiced by such writers as St. Augustine and Rousseau, this “autobiography” purports to be a candid account of its narrator’s private views and feelings as well as an acknowledgement of the central secret of his life: that though he lives as a white man, he is, by heritage and experience, an African-American. Written by the first black executive secretary of the NAACP, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, in its depiction of turn-of-the-century New York, anticipates the social realism of the Harlem Renaissance writers. In its unprecedented analysis of the social causes of a black man’s denial of the best within himself, it is perhaps James Weldon Johnson’s greatest service to his race.”

The novel is extremely relevant and feels very modern. When I heard “Lift Every Voice And Sing” growing up, I don’t recall learning about the life of the person who wrote it. The resonant anthem seems almost incidental in Johnson’s life story, just one of his many varied works, although music was central to his existence. I’m grateful to know these things now. How different so much would be if I had been taught more about the writer behind the beautiful song, when I was a child.

May we teach our children and ourselves more fully about what our country is made from, so that we may lean toward what it finally may and will be…

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty…

Drag it to the curb!

Cleaning a corner of my office…going through a box of stuff from when I taught a 9th grade creative writing class. In the box, I found a stack of half-pages detailing an extra credit assignment I offered the students at the end of 2019. Though I rarely read my own work to the class, in this case I had shared my story “Curb Day” which is about dragging items out of your house and life. Finding this assignment now (as I drag to the curb what I no longer need from that job) seems very resonant! Use it if you want to.

DRAG IT TO THE CURB!

  • Number from 1 to 10.
  • Pretend there was a day when the trash collectors would take ANYTHING…start with the phrase, “I would drag to the curb…”
  • List 10 things you would drag to the curb.
  • Find an item that seems like it wants your attention and circle it.
  • 5 minutes: Describe the item in detail. Pure description.
  • Let the dragged item become part of a brief narrative/story.
    • You can be the narrator/main character, or you can assign someone else to deal with the item.
    •  You can write in 1st (“I dragged…”) or 3rd person (“they/she/he dragged…”).
    • You can fictionalize as much as you want to.

You can even change your mind about dragging it to the curb, and drag it back into your life!