Friday, February 26, 2021

JOIN ANGIE AND ME AND OUR POETRY FRIENDS ON APRIL 26 AT THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY

JOIN US ON APRIL 26

AT THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY

FOR 

NO POETRY NO PEACE

"Poetry provides pathways for creative and cathartic human expression and peace." 

Join us in celebration of National Poetry Month for a reading of poems from No Poetry No Peace, a collection written by Sheryl Bize-Boutte and her daughter Dr. Angela Boutte; and a special selection of local (and beyond) poets.

Monday, April 26, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm


This event is produced in partnership with the San Francisco Writers Conference.

About our poets:

Pushcart Prize nominee Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland multidisciplinary writer whose autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry, artfully succeed in getting across deeper meanings about the politics of race and economics without breaking out of the narrative.  Her writing has been variously described as "rich in vivid imagery," "incredible," and "great contributions to literature." Her first novel, Betrayal on the Bayou, was published in June 2020 and a poetry collection she has written with her daughter Dr. Angela M. Boutte, titled No Poetry No Peace, was published in August 2020.  She is also a popular literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee for local events.

Dr. Angela M. Boutte is a biochemist, neuroscientist, and avid recreational indoor climber who loves the tranquility and peace found in writing the occasional poem.

Isis Machline Blanchette is a wife and mother of 2 young boys living in Long Beach, Ca where she works as a special education program director. Isis loves to dance, sing, and enjoy life's simple offerings.  She has been writing most her life and is an aspiring author. She writes prose, essays, poetry, historical fiction, and science fiction. Tonight she will share from her poetry collection. 

Leticia Garcia Bradford is a poet, playwright and publisher. In 2014 she founded B Street Writers Collective (BSWC), Hayward, CA- a community of writers both amateur and professional. Her poems and stories have been published in local and national journals. She edited BSWC’s anthologies Fly With Me and What Is Love which she is, also, the publisher for MoonShine Star Co. In 2017, Leticia toured around the entire SF Bay Area with her poetry and stories at open mics and readings.

A long time activist, journalist, and Bay Area resident, Fred Dodsworth earned his bachelor's degree in creative writing with a concentration on gender studies, and his Masters in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. A poet since childhood, Fred's short stories and poems have been published in Red Light Lit, Rag Mag, Troop, Oakland Review #3, riverbabble, Transfer, Milvia Street, Bay Area Generations, Writing Without Walls, Saturday Night Special, Something Worth Revising, US Represented, and in the anthologies 11-9 the Fall of Democracy, RISE!, Colosses: Home among others.

Kevin Dublin is a writer of poetry, prose, scripts, and code originally from the small town of Smithfield, NC. His words have recently appeared in The Racket, Cincinnati Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Sparkle + Blink, and he is author of the chapbook How to Fall in Love in San Diego (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Kevin holds an MFA from San Diego State, leads workshops as a part of Litquake’s Elder Writing Project, and enjoys making video adaptations of poetry and developing web apps for writers. You can find him on Twitter @PartEverything.

Mary Mackey is the New York Times bestselling author of 14 novels and 8 collections of poetry including Sugar Zone, winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams, winner of the 2019 Erich Hoffer Small Press Award for the best book published by a small press. Her poems have been praised by Maxine Hong Kingston, Al Young, Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield, D. Nurkse, and Marge Piercy for their beauty, precision, originality, and extraordinary range. Her novels have made The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller lists and been translated into twelve languages. At www.marymackey.com, you can sample her work and read her interview series People Who Make Books Happen, which is designed to help writers and teachers of writing. You can also follow her on Twitter @MMackeyAuthor.

********

Please register via Eventbrite and the Zoom credentials will be sent to you when you register and a few days prior to the event.

Please register here for this free event:

https://www.milibrary.org/events/no-poetry-no-peace-apr-26-2021#tickets

Questions? Contact Taryn Edwards, tedwards@milibrary.org

 415-393-0103



THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY 

PRESENTS

From Storyboard to Narrative

with Sheryl Bize-Boutte and Joan Gelfand


Saturday, May 8, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

This event is produced in partnership with the San Francisco Writers Conference.


It will take place via Zoom. Please register via Eventbrite and the Zoom credentials will be sent to you a few days before the class starts.

Questions? Contact Taryn Edwards, tedwards@milibrary.org

In this workshop, authors Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte and Joan Gelfand will guide you from storyboard creation to story narrative.  You will become familiar with the process of storyboarding, how it helps and guides the writer, how Sheryl and Joan each used their own unique storyboarding techniques to create narrative for their novels, and a fun storyboarding exercise for class participants.   

Pushcart Prize nominee Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland multidisciplinary writer whose autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry, artfully succeed in getting across deeper meanings about the politics of race and economics without breaking out of the narrative.  Her writing has been variously described as "rich in vivid imagery," "incredible," and "great contributions to literature." Her first novel, Betrayal on the Bayou, was published in June 2020 and a poetry collection she has written with her daughter Dr. Angela M. Boutte, titled No Poetry No Peace, was published in August 2020.  She is also a popular literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee for local events.


Joan Gelfand's reviews, stories and poetry have appeared in over 100 national and international literary journals and magazines including Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, California Quarterly, the Toronto Review, Marsh Hawk Review and Levure Litteraire. Joan has been a featured reader at numerous venues in the United States and Mexico  including Bowery Poetry Club, the Southern Festival of Books, The Public Library of New York, and Litquake. Development Chair of the Women’s National Book Association, a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards, Joan blogs for the Huffington Post and coaches writers. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Adam Hertz and two beatnik kitties – Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Admission: 

MI Members $15

Public $25

register here:

https://www.milibrary.org/events/storyboard-narrative-may-08-2021#tickets

For each class, we reserve the right to cancel at any time and issue a full refund. If you are unable to attend your class, please email tedwards@milibrary.org at least 10 days prior to the class to receive a full refund. All fees must be paid at the time of registration.


 Questions?

Taryn Edwards - 415-393-0103


Sunday, January 31, 2021

YOU ARE INVITED TO A MILLS COLLEGE VIRTUAL WRITER'S SALON

Participate by video or teleconference Thursday, February 18

 

Join alumnae and guests for a

Virtual Writers’ Salon

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2021
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm PDT

This event will be held via Zoom meeting. RSVP below to receive login and dial-in instructions on the day of the event.

 

Come prepared with your favorite snacks and enjoy short pieces from Black alumnae/i authors. Videoconference participants will also have the opportunity to chat in questions of our authors after each reading. For this edition of the Virtual Writers' Salon, hear from:

 

Sheryl Bize-Boutte ’73

Isis Blanchette-Marcelin ’11

Alex Brown ’05

Ericka Duke, MA ’15

 

And welcome Kirstyne Lange ’12 as co-host!

 

Please respond by February 17 to receive login and dial-in instructions.

RSVP ONLINE

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

LA CREOLE JOURNAL

 ENJOY MY ARTICLE 

FROM MARKSVILLE TO OAKLAND: 

THE MAKING OF A CALIFORNIA CREOLE

IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF

 LA CREOLE

(A Publication of the Louisiana Creole Research Association, Inc.)


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://lacreole.org/support/purchase/







Sunday, December 13, 2020

THE DRESS: A HOLIDAY STORY

THE DRESS *    

By 

Sheryl J. Bize Boutte 

 © Sheryl J. Bize Boutte 2012 

 

By the mid 1960’s my parents had four school-aged daughters to support and a fifth change-of –life daughter on the way. Birthday and Christmas gifts often supplemented outgrown or worn out school clothes along with the begged for doll, bike or skates.  Sometimes we got something special; something homemade, handed down or handed over that always brought a unique and precious feel to the celebration.  

 

It was in this tradition on Christmas Day in 1966, while the color wheel changed the aluminum tree from blue to green to red and back againmy mother, referring to me by my “old soul” nickname said, “ This is especially for you, Grandma”, as she handed me a gold- ribboned box.  Inside was a simple frock; a multi-colored, multi-flowered shirtwaist dress with a wide belt and full skirt.  A gently worn hand-me-down from one of my mother’s wealthy acquaintances, the bottom of the hem hit just below my knobby knees and fit my still-growing 15-year-old body perfectly. It was a spring dress, of course, but I could not wait to wear it to school.  My fingers were already turning the front doorknob, as my mother’s voice admonished, “Girl, don’t you know it is JANUARY? You are going to catch pneumonia in that thin little dress!” But was halfway down the street and around the corner on my way to school before she could finish her warningMy inaugural wearing of this dress would also be the day a 17-year old boy would look out of his window from the 3rd house on the right and see me for the first time.  

 

wore The Dress much too often, but I had never had anything like it. It had the power to make my teenage self feel like a big grown up lady and became the favorite in my sparse wardrobe.  It also made that boy wait for me to pass his house each day and then fall into step behind me.  Stealthy and silent, he walked behind me for the five blocks to school for the rest of the school year. A bookworm and a loner, totally inside my own head as I made my way, I never once thought to look back. 

 

Months later the forces emanating from The Dress would give that boy the courage to ring my doorbell 

 

“Hi, I’m Anthony from around the corner. Does the girl with the flowery dress live here? he asked the sister who answered the door.  Rolling her eyes, she said, “You must be looking for Sheryl.  She is always wearing that old-timey dress.”   

 

From that day forward, Anthony, the boy who had been my silent and unseen companion became my boyfriend, and soon after that, my fiancĂ©.   

 

On a beautiful spring day in 1971, we married in the living room of my family home with only our parents, my grandmother and a few friends in attendance.  Still waif-like at age nineteen, my wedding dress was an elegant non-flowery peach chiffon and silk, the perfect compliment to my new husband’s ruffled peach shirt and coordinating bowtie. Our reception consisted of post-wedding photos taken in my parent’s park-like backyard, while our few guests dined on crust-less tuna and chicken salad sandwiches cut into little squares accompanied by Mumm’s extra dry champagne. 

 

The years passed as we settled into married life, college graduations, career building, and child raising Anthony and I were so destined to be together, that people came to refer to us as “Sheryl and Anthony” or Anthony and Sheryl” as though they could not bring themselves to separate our names.  Friends would say,  “If you see one you see the other” and actually seemed proud to know a couple that had been high school sweethearts. Our love for each other remained strong and true but after a time, The Dress became so faded the flowers were barley visible, and so threadbare it was no longer wearable. Tearfully, I threw it away. 

 

A thoughtful gift-giver, Anthony would often come home on my birthday, our anniversary or Christmas with a ribbon-tied box containing an exquisite dress, suit or even shoes, from a small boutique he claimed as his territory for his gifts to me.  Once he presented me with a beautiful white suit and when I asked what the occasion was, he replied, “Because it's Tuesday.” He always chose the correct size and only stopped the practice when his boutique of choice went out of business.  But of all the wonderful gifts he bought for me to wear, he never found anything as special as The Dress.   

 

Then one rainy December day while flipping through a Christmas catalog I saw it; a multi-flowered shirtwaist dress with a white background, a full skirt and a wide belt. Could it be?  When it arrived I was a bit disappointed to find that the fabric had an unworn stiffnessthe flowers were not as vibrantand the belt was a skinnier version of its beloved predecessor.  But after so many years of The Dress drought, I decided this dress and I would make a pact to stay together, even though we both knew the relationship would never be ideal. 

 

Anthony loved me in this dress even though I knew it for the poseur it wasAnd because he loved it, I wore it to work and out to dinner.  I wore to the movies and to the supermarket.   I wore it with a shawl in the spring and with boots and a jacket in the winter. continued to wear it after our daughter was born in the 70's and was surprised, yet happy, that after I punched an extra hole in the belt for just a bit more room, it continued to fit. I wore it through my daughter’s early school years and into her entry to junior high.  After she told me how much she liked it, I wore it even more. Still, through all of that, this dress could not convince me that it was the one. 

 

Since I could never get enough of how happy it made my family, over time the dress and I had settled into an easy truce. I came to accept the fact that it could not help me to recapture the feelings I had when I wore the anointed original.  And it seemed to know that although it was not The Dressmy family’s reactions would make it most treasured piece.   

 

After nineteen years of wear, I put the dress on one day and discovered I could no longer easily button it.  Could I loosen the belt, perhaps? No, I had run out of room for more belt holes. Not wanting to give in to the truth I buttoned the dress and fastened the belt anyway, breaking a fingernail to the quick as I did so. The dress countered my orders for its cooperation with sharp and intense rib pain and taking away my ability to breathe.  We stood at loggerheads in the mirror for a few seconds before I gave in and feverishly began to free myself from its grip.  My disappearing waistline and the dress had finally conspired to betray me.  With mixed emotions I knew we would have to part ways.   

 

As loved ones became new angels and babies were born, Christmases came and went.  They were always special and filled with the joy of being with family and friends.  Christmas day would always find my famous Creole Gumbo on the stove along with homemade cinnamon rolls.  There were many treasured gifts given during these times, but nothing ever matched the magic of The Dress. 

 

Christmas Day2010, Anthony presented me with a large golden box wrapped with a golden bow.  Weeks earlier we’d decided that because we felt so blessed, we would forgo gift buying that year.  I was both surprised and somewhat annoyed that he had broken the pact and with pursed lips I launched into a protest, “But I thought we weren’t going to…” Smiling that smile he wore on my parent’s front porch those many years ago, Anthony waved off my objections and said, “Just open it!”  I peeled off wrapping paper printed with the words, “Zell’s Vintage,” and opened the box.  

 

 Inside was a simple frock.  

 

 A multi-colored, multi-flowered shirtwaist dress with a wide belt and a full skirt.   

 

 The Dress was back for Christmas. 


***********************

 

 * This version of The Dress was originally published in the Harlequin anthology A Kiss Under the Mistletoe  (Jennifer Basye Sander ) 2013 and was published in my short story collection, A Dollar Five-Stories From a Baby Boomer's Ongoing Journey, 2014.  Most recently, it has been republished in The Little Book of Christmas Joy-True Holiday Stories to Nourish the Heart (Jennifer Basye Sander, Park Row Books, 2020), and was featured in the Women's National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter https://wnba-sfchapter.org/ "Holiday Storytelling Fest", December 2020, hosted by Kate Farrell.