Category Archives: Uncategorized

The work of today / (Onward!)

 

 

scribbled-on page of my novel

page of my novel, under construction

Whenever I’m staring at something like this mess, there’s an urge to whine (and brag?). Both.

The writing process. The glamour.

Ninety more pages like this, single-spaced.

The tired eyes.

This page isn’t even the worst of it!

But I know if I just take the time, nip and tuck, and keep moving onward, the novel will emerge stronger for it.

Onward!

Because, by Joshua Mensch

Because, a lyric memoir by Joshua Mensch

Because, a lyric memoir by Joshua Mensch

Because, by Joshua Mensch, is a devastating and beautiful lyric memoir. I can’t recall why I picked it up to read, but I’m so glad I did. It was rough going because of the subject matter (childhood sexual abuse) but the language, its incantation and repetition and just plain brilliance is so well suited to how memory and trauma work that the writer’s work (processing the devastation, and crafting language to approximate it) pulled me through.

If you have a history of sexual abuse, you might only want to read this book if you feel sturdy in your recovery. I’m sure it could be very triggering. But I also found it very healing to read.

I won’t soon forget this diamond.

Crooked Deals, by Hafiz

Before an inner critic workshop with my 9th grade class, I thought I’d look for a poem to read while we did power poses—something to fill the awkward moment of power posing in a room full of teenagers, something for inspiration. I took my copy of The Gift, by Hafiz, and I opened to this poem.

This was not active looking. I had not read this poem before. I could not have found a more perfect poem if I had actively looked.

The universe will provide! (And I’m eternally grateful to my friend Pegah for giving me this book!)

CROOKED DEALS

by Hafiz

(translated by Daniel Landinsky, in The Gift)

There is
A madman inside of you
Who is always running for office—
Why vote him in,
For he never keeps the accounts straight.
He gets all kinds of crooked deals
Happening all over town
That will just give you a big headache
And glue to your kisser
A gigantic
Confused
Frown.

 

Sex Object (by Jessica Valenti) (& walking down the street)

Sex Object by Jessica ValentiI’m woefully behind on posting about books. There are piles of gorgeous books waiting for me to have time to tell you about them. (I hope the books forgive me!) Catching up a little, at least today.

I don’t even recall how long ago I read Jessica Valenti’s book SEX OBJECT—it’s been months and months, maybe a year. My friend Ashley loaned it to me a long time ago. (Thanks, Ashley! I can return it to you now.)

So much within these pages resonated. Here’s one passage from p. 64 that articulates how it can feel to walk down the street—not just in NYC but also in my small, friendly home town—while female.

“There is a look that comes over men’s faces right before they are about to say something horrible to you.

Or make a noise at you, or whistle in your general direction.

By the time I was fourteen years old I could spot this look a half a block away. In the same way I can tell if someone is a tourist by their shoes or if a person has recently done heroin, I can predict that a man is going to be an asshole on the street—sort of like a depressing New York City sixth sense.

And the moment when you take those few steps before crossing paths with the man who you know is about to say or do something is the moment when you look down, or turn your head to face across the street, or put your earphones in—as if to signal that you won’t see them no matter what they do. That they are invisible to you.

Of course, they do it anyway. And you see it, or hear it.

Sometimes it’s not as bad as you thought, it’s a Hey, beautiful or a simple hello. But more often than not it’s a lascivious intake of breath or a clicking noise, or sometimes just a smirk while they stare at your breasts as you walk by. Once it was a man who came close to my ear and said, I want to eat you. No matter the content, the message is clear: we are here for their enjoyment and little else. We have to walk through the rest of our day knowing that our discomfort gave someone a hard-on.

We are trapped in between huge bodies unable to move, too afraid to yell or bring attention to ourselves. We are trapped on the train, in the crowd, in the street, in the classroom. If we have no place to go where we can escape that reaction to our bodies, where is it that we’re not forced? The idea that these crimes are inescapable is the blind optimism of men who don’t understand what it means to live in a body that attracts a particular kind of attention with magnetic force. What it feels like to see a stranger smiling while rubbing himself or know that this is the price of doing business while female. That public spaces are not really public for you, but a series of surprise private moments that you can’t prevent or erase.

And so you put your headphones on and look straight ahead and don’t smile even when they tell you to and just keep walking.”

 

Antioch University LA Literary Uprising (May 7, Columbus, Ohio)

Rebecca in Glen Helen

always trying to fly

Thrilled that I’ll be reading in Columbus on May 7 at the Antioch University LA Literary Uprising!

Check it out:

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
7:00pm-9:00pm
Hosted by Barbara Fant, the Antioch University LA Literary Uprising will feature readings from Erica FloydJake BaileyMelissa BentonRebecca KuderChristine Waloszczyk, and Jahzerah Brooks.

For more details, please visit the Two Dollar Radio HQ website at https://twodollarradiohq.com/events/

It’s going to be a great night, so please join us!

CALMS (helps calming anyone, not just babies!)

check in with yourself, allow a breath, listen to your baby, make contact, mirror feelings, soothe your baby
Recently, I recalled something my amazing beloved doula-sister Amy Chavez gave me when I had a baby (maybe she gave it to me before I had a baby). When my child was a baby, this image was on the wall in at least one room of my house, maybe more than one room. (You can see a slice of aqua bathroom wall of our old house behind this image.) At that time, it was extremely helpful. It’s a good reminder, still, always—whether there’s a crying baby in your midst or not—it occurs to me now that anything or anyone needing our kind attention can be substituted for the “crying baby” on this CALMS list, actually…
Thank you, dear Amy, for this wisdom, which still applies!
And may this be a blessing to anyone who needs it.

(consider the commas, etc.)

Revising rough paragraphs from the house memoir…realized it was actually a handful of deflated, sad sentences wanting to be a poem so I wrote them into a poem. And right now, I’m in love with the poem.

…revision’s cool heart, still to come, and time, will tell. (But for now it’s fun to fall in love with this unplanned poem.)

5 minutes of inner critic love

graffiti di Venezia, summer 2017

graffiti di Venezia, summer 2017

Dear readers,

Here’s a little something I did with the middle school students this week. I thought you might like it, too.

You can do this exercise as often as you want to. Also, you can take more time with any step if you would like to, but the idea here is that you don’t need a lot of time to have fun & decrease the self-doubt.

Love,
Rebecca

p.s.If you try this, let me know how it goes! And to read more about my work with the inner critic, go here.

**

5 minute Inner Critic exercise
by Rebecca Kuder, M.F.A.

INTRO: What is the inner critic? (Because people sometimes ask.)

It’s fine—and sometimes helpful—to have the part of yourself who edits, who helps make sure you are safe. But we’re dealing with the part that isn’t helpful: that voice that gets in your way, or makes you feel small, or stuck, or makes you doubt yourself. Sometimes my inner critic tells me I’m not good enough. Or says, “Who do you think you are?”

Exercise:

1. Take a piece of paper. 30 seconds: Imagine the inner critic as a character. It could be a ball of cat hair, a building, a monster, whatever—take 30 seconds to draw a picture of the inner critic. Keep drawing for the entire time.

2. 30 seconds: (As you are able) Stand up, close your eyes, do a power pose—WONDER WOMAN is one option (feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips)

3. 4 minutes: Turn the page over: Write a letter: Dear Inner Critic…and keep writing for 4 minutes. You can say anything! You can use bad words! If you run out of things to say, write the words tick tick tick until you think of something else to say. You never have to show anyone this letter unless you want to. At the end, sign your name.

Year’s Best Weird Fiction times 5

SONY DSC

Year’s Best Weird Fiction series bundle!

Happy New Year! And may 2019 be a weird one (good weird, I mean).

Maybe you haven’t heard that you can buy the entire series—all five volumes of  Year’s Best Weird Fiction from Undertow—together in a tidy bundle, thereby securing hours of weird reading pleasure. Go here for more about this fabulous deal!

(I’m honored to have my stories “Rabbit, Cat, Girl” and “Curb Day” included in volumes 3 and 5, respectively.)

Some recent recommendations

rainbow bookshelf

(Sometimes it’s hard to find a book, though.)

I haven’t made time to post lately, but here’s a short list of books I’ve enjoyed recently. Enjoy!

Banish Your Inner Critic by Denise Jacobs

Salt by Renee Ashley

Another Phase by Eloise Klein Healy

Bone Black by bell hooks

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Family Trouble edited by Joy Castro

We Were Witches by Ariel Gore

Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow