Such a Big, Bright Star

Such a Big, Bright Star

“It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard. Work harder, work harder, work harder!” That’s me chanting to my friend Jen in the car the other day after a delightful lunch of pea shoots and hummus at Standard Fare, in Berkeley. I was explaining what running on the treadmill was like for me. “It’s hard,” I’d said, “I don’t love it, but I do it, and as I run I think, ‘it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard,’ and then I say to myself, ‘work harder, work harder, work harder.’” Jen and I looked at one another, and then we both burst out laughing. “Oh my god,” said Jen, who has been my good friend since we were 13 in Los Angeles, “you need to put that on a t.shirt. You need to write that shit down.” And not because it’s an important anthem to live by, god no, but because I have lived that mantra since I was 15-years-old when I used to run up this super steep hill in my neighborhood – the one we called, the Wiggly Waggily – a hill that was tippy top and breathless, a hill I ran because it was the hill I deserved on account of my thighs, which I knew were too big. How I’d do it is I’d stand at the bottom of the great hill and I’d wait until I heard a car coming down, and then I’d start running up so that whoever was in the car – even if it were some old grandma who couldn’t even see over her steering wheel – wouldn’t see me standing there or...
Lyric Essay with Laurie Wagner + Sonya Lea!

Lyric Essay with Laurie Wagner + Sonya Lea!

The Lyric Essay Join Laurie Wagner and Sonya Lea on Whidbey Island WA Friday, September 5 – Sunday, September 8, 2019 Please join me and my very dear friend, Sonya Lea, for a beautiful, restorative, nature filled weekend of writing and storytelling on Whidbey Island, WA. During this long weekend retreat we’ll focus on the lyric essay, the beautiful wild child of personal essay meets poetry meets your playlist. Inside the lyric essay there’s room for mythology, reflection, repetition, multiple perspectives, sensory details, music, and mathematical formulas. The lyric form has room for all the vocabularies of your particular experience. Imagine telling the story of your first love through the wisdom of Tarot cards. Consider telling a tale about an injustice using only the dialogue of strangers. What if you wrote the story of loss through the letters of the alphabet? We will learn new ways around a sentence, and interrogate what we have to risk in writing this essay. How can we push past pretty writing to sense what we have at stake in this work? How can we think more critically about what our work asks of us? Where might the lyric form show us what we stand for, even marry our words with our activism? In our four days together we will embrace experimentation, foster individual perspective, and encourage the growth of your creativity through writing prompts, discussion and reading. We’ll explore braided, collage, elegy, manifesto, and more as we allow your essayist to emerge, in everything that you already are, and perhaps also in newer, more dangerous truths. Details We will be staying at a...
A Woman in a Parade of Puppets

A Woman in a Parade of Puppets

Would you like LAURIE to read the piece to you? Click below. https://27powers.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/parade-of-puppets.m4a   Sometimes, when I don’t know what to write about, when I don’t have a big story and I mostly just want to stay in touch, I shake my pockets loose for the small moments that are still with me from the week to see if among the scrappy change and crumpled wrappers there might be anything worth remembering, something with a little glow, a little light… Like… Walking down the streets of San Miguel de Allende last week with my 23-year-old daughter Ruby, how she was wearing that billowing yellow dress with the black cowboy boots I’d just bought her, how alive and free she looked, blond hair flying, new boots clicking on the cobblestone. And that woman, the tall English woman with the bad teeth and kohl dark eyes from too much drink and too much smoke and too many late nights, the formerly gorgeous, henna haired beauty who had gone to ruin – how she stopped Ruby on the street and shouted, “Never! Never! Never doubt yourself!” she practically yelled. “And if somebody says something that makes you worry, don’t listen! Never, never doubt!” she screamed, and stormed off. Ruby – who came to the workshop broken-hearted, who’s boyfriend of many years told her that one of the reasons he wanted to break up with her was so he could be with girls with bigger breasts. Ruby, who as a teenager had bought cream on the internet that promised to make her breasts bigger, Ruby who has one of the loveliest bodies I’ve...
Hang in there baby …

Hang in there baby …

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not an animal person. Seriously, I only just learned that the cat I’ve been living with for the last 8 years is a male. And once, after I’d moved out of my parent’s home in L.A. and had been living on my own for years, I stood at the end of their street cupping my hands to my mouth and calling for our dog, “Bow Wowwww, Bow Wowwww,” I cried, only to realize mid cry that Bow Wow had died years before, and that Mom and Dad’s new dog was named Skippy. I still don’t know the names of my Mother’s dogs – those two furry yappers who are always so happy to see me when I visit. “Hello!” I will say meaningfully to match their joy, but honestly, I have no idea who they are. So it didn’t faze me last Saturday morning when I walked into my yard and there was a very loud MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! coming from somewhere on my property. Even I could tell that there was a cat out there in distress. I looked up into the trees and over at the roof of my studio to see where the sound was coming from, but I couldn’t see anything, so I walked back into the house to tend to the pressing matter of coffee. A little while later I went outside again and there was the crying, but louder, more insistent. I noticed my two neighbors, Todd and Kenoa, standing in the street looking up, hands on their hips. “You’re welcome to come into...
Let’s Have a Difficult Conversation

Let’s Have a Difficult Conversation

So there we were, five old friends sitting down to a sweet New Year’s Eve night. We’d planned to do a ceremony of sorts – not your typical New Year’s ritualizing with champagne and reflections –  but something that would involve a little concoction we’d brewed up, and there would be groovy lights and an 8-hour soundtrack that my friend Jed had put together, plus we’d put pads down on the floor so we could lay down in front of the fire and relax. And just as we were getting this party started, Jed, who has been a solid brother to me for the last 30 years, says “Laurie, you talk too much, and sometimes, I believe you use words to escape your experience. I think you’ll get more out of the evening if you hold most of your thoughts to yourself tonight.” It was a stunning moment of straight talk. The eyes at the table went wide, everyone watching me for my reaction. I went wide too because I recognized the significance of the moment, that I was with someone who had the courage to speak plainly to me, even possibly hurting my feelings. He didn’t soften the blow either, he didn’t say, “you know, I think you’re really interesting, I think you’re great, I love you, but you might consider being a little quieter tonight, know what I mean?” No, he said it straight. And there was no cruelty or emotion in it, and no qualifiers or caveats either. He trusted himself and he trusted me to hear it straight, and I did. It doesn’t matter if he...