Sunday, November 21, 2021

STORIES OF GRATITUDE: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 SHARING MY STORY OF THANKSGIVING 

AND GRATITUDE


THANKSGIVING PICK-UP

Copyright © 2021 by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte


As little kids, we didn’t think much beyond the pies and cakes at Thanksgiving, only suffering through the turkey and dressing to get to those two delights.  As we grew older, we began see the family togetherness of it all, both good and bad, and came to look forward to it. 

A day that started out as stressful for my mother as she balanced putting a feast together, by our designated 3:00 PM eating time, first for just her growing family and parents who lived nearby and then to sons-in-law, and grandchildren, always ended in her delight.  As the years went by, I held the meal at my home a few times, and my mother was more than happy to just relax and visit, but it was “off” and just not the same.

In different ways, Mom was the center of it all for us, and her presence was what held us all together.  So, it was no great surprise that when she died suddenly in 1981, it all fell apart; we all fell apart.  It was especially wrenching for my father and my youngest sister who was only 13 at the time.

While my father and baby sister remained in the family house for a time, without mom, it was no longer a place for gathering. All that was left was a hollowness that could not include being thankful.  We each began to hold our own Thanksgivings separately, and although we invited my dad, he would not come, preferring instead to eat with friends who had not been a part of our family core.

It was a sad time as we slogged through a few years of motionless grief that would not seem to lift.  And so, it was bit of a miracle that on the day before Thanksgiving, three years after Mom’s death I found a note attached to a paper plate on my porch.  Written by my little sister, the simple and to the point message read:

My Turkey dinners.  

I prefer dark meat please and cooked with a little salt.

Thanks,

Mr. Bize’

And sure enough, at 3:00 PM sharp on Thanksgiving, the doorbell rang, and there was my smiling dad, saying, “Pick up!” as I invited him in to get his dinner.  In the years that followed, I would continue to invite him in, and he would invariably say, “I can’t stay, I have more pickups to do!” and off he would go with his first Thanksgiving dinner on his way to the next. Before the hour was up, he would “pick-up” dinners from all four of his married daughters, and have a moveable feast of turkey and dressing, sweet potato pie, collard greens, Cornish hens, candied yams, sometimes quail and BBQ ribs, and always pineapple-coconut 1 2 3 4 cake, and his Louisiana staple, rice and gravy.

My father had found a way to work through his grief, and to touch base with his children during the holidays in a way that would not propel him backwards. He made it different enough for his broken heart to handle while building a bridge to cross over the sorrow.  It was quite ok that he could not bear to sit at one of our tables; how would he choose and why should he have to? That note and his new “pick-up” tradition let us all know that he was healing, and it gave us permission to do the same.  To let us know that we would have to find our own paths for dealing with the shattering changes we had to face.

My father found a way to modify his holiday tradition so he could go on, and for us, knowing that he wanted to, made us thankful once again.



SEE ME READ THIS STORY OUT LOUD 

ALONG WITH OTHER WONDERFUL HOLIDAY STORY READERS

AT

THE WOMEN'S NATIONAL BOOK ASSOCIATION-SAN FRANCISCO CHAPTER

https://wnba-sfchapter.org/

2021 HOLIDAY STORYTELLING FEST

CO-HOSTED BY KATE FARRELL AND YOURS TRULY

I AM AT 32:25 *

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yw8bmwqzvpof8ul/HolidayStorytelling2021.mp4?dl=0

Sunday, October 24, 2021

NO POETRY NO PEACE AT THE M.I. ON NOVEMBER 8

You all know how much I Iove words and one my favorites is: FREE! Join us on November 8 for "No Poetry No Peace," a free virtual event at the Mechanics Institute Library of San Francisco

( you can join M.I. and /or you can always donate a little somethin' somethin')

Friday, October 22, 2021

HEY, SHE WON!


SAN FRANCISCO WRITERS CONFERENCE (SFWC)

2022 WRITING CONTEST

ADULT FICTION:

Winner: Sheryl Bize-Boutte, The Burden Keeper

The winning story is the first chapter of my novel in progress, titled The Burden Keeper, and will be published with all of the contest winners and finalists in the SFWC Anthology slated for release in November 2021.

STAY TUNED...

Thursday, September 30, 2021

HEY, THIS STUFF IS REALLY HAPPENING!


HEY, THIS STUFF IS REALLY HAPPENING!

 An excerpt from my novel in progress, "The Burden Keeper," has been selected as a finalist in the San Francisco Writer's Conference 2021 writing contest. The excerpt, along with all of the finalist's entries as well as the winners, will be published in the SFWriter's inaugural anthology, slated for publication in November 2021.  


More at: www.sfwriters.org


My short story, "Plateau," has been nominated for "Best of the Net" for 2021 by Synchronized Chaos International Magazine.

Read the story here:

http://synchchaos.com/short-story-from-sheryl-bize-boutte-6/

COMING UP:

OCTOBER 15, 2021: WRITER'S LUNCH-ALL ABOUT BETA READERS

https://www.milibrary.org/events/writers-lunch-all-about-beta-readers-oct-15-2021

NOVEMBER 8, 2021: NO POETRY NO PEACE

https://www.milibrary.org/events/no-poetry-no-peace-reading-and-celebration-human-expression-and-peace-nov-08-2021

Friday, September 24, 2021

NO POETRY NO PEACE SERIES AT THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE NOVEMBER 8, 2021

PLEASE JOIN ME AT THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY OF SAN FRANCISCO

 FOR 

NO POETRY NO PEACE 

AN M. I. L. POETRY SERIES

ON 

NOVEMBER 8, 2021

6:00 PM-7:00 PM

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

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

REGISTER HEREhttps://www.milibrary.org/events/no-poetry-no-peace-reading-and-celebration-human-expression-and-peace-nov-08-2021#tickets

Join us and a selection of poets – some local, some far flung - to explore how "poetry provides pathways for creative and cathartic human expression and peace." The No Poetry No Peace series happens twice a year and the title comes from a collection written by Sheryl Bize-Boutte and her daughter Dr. Angela Boutte.


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.


Mahnaz Badihian is an Iranian/American Poet, painter, and translator whose work has been published in several languages worldwide. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines, including Exiled ink!, International Poetry Magazine, and Marin Poetry Center Anthology. Mahnaz runs the Literary magazine MahMag.org to bring the poetry of the world together. She finished the translation of a book called Spaldings Arise (2014) with Jack Hirschman. Her latest poetry collection is Raven Of Isfahan (2019) and she has edited Plague 2020 an anthology of COVID related art and poetry from around the world. Her new collection of poems, Ask The Wind, will be published by Vagabond Press this year. She is a member of the San Francisco RPB (Revolutionary Poet Brigade).


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.


Author of three poetry collections, Joan Gelfand’s reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in national and international literary journals and magazines. The recipient of twenty writing awards including the Effie Lee Morris Prize for Poetry and the Cervena Barva Prize for Short Fiction, Joan taught for California Poets in the Schools and currently for The Writing Salon.  Joan’s poem, “The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics” was made into a short film that showed in 20 international film festivals. Joan’s debut novel, Extreme was named New Fiction Finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards.


John Rowe has been active in the Bay Area poetry community for 25 years, especially with the Bay Area Poets Coalition, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization. He currently hosts a monthly open poetry reading on Zoom for BAPC. His poems have appeared in numerous small press journals and anthologies, and he has authored several poetry chapbooks including Beyond Perspective (Finishing Line Press). His poems reflect an array of styles and themes, and he has an affinity for writing short-form poems such as 5-line tanka.


Michael Warr is a 2021 San Francisco Artist Grant and 2020 Berkeley Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. His books include Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (W.W. Norton), The Armageddon of Funk and We Are All The Black Boy.  Recognition for his writing and literary activity includes the San Francisco Library Laureate, Creative Work Fund award for his multimedia project Tracing Poetic Memory, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award, Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. For more see https://michaelwarr-creativework.tumblr.com/


Maw Shein Win’s poetry chapbooks are Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA/Commonwealth Projects) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press). Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, California (2016 - 2018). Her full-length poetry collection Storage Unit for the Spirit House (Omnidawn) was longlisted for the PEN America Open Book Award, nominated for a Northern California Book Award for Poetry, and longlisted for the California Independent Booksellers Alliance’s Golden Poppy Award for Poetry for 2021. 

More here:

https://www.milibrary.org/events/no-poetry-no-peace-reading-and-celebration-human-expression-and-peace-nov-08-2021


REGISTER HERE: https://www.milibrary.org/events/no-poetry-no-peace-reading-and-celebration-human-expression-and-peace-nov-08-2021#tickets

Questions?

Taryn Edwards - 415-393-0103


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

LAINEY CAMERON PODCAST SEPTEMBER 3-5

 I WILL BE CHATTING WITH AWARD WINNING AUTHOR LAINEY CAMERON 

ABOUT MY NOVEL 

BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU

ON HER PODCAST

THE BEST OF WOMEN'S FICTION

SEPTEMBER 3-5  2021

https://www.bestofwomensfiction.com/

HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM LAINEY'S 5-STAR REVIEW OF BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU FROM AMAZON AND GOODREADS:

"Set in a race-divided community and full of murder and mayhem, the true spirit of this novel is in how it builds an entire fictional universe set on the Louisiana Bayou.

With the immersive spirit of a fairytale, that universe pulls you in. A tale of women trying to do their best in a time that offered fewer choices and was significantly worse for women of color or mixed race. But this is not a novel drenched in pity; the female characters have agency, and self-awareness, and are well-written and credible."

JOIN US ON THE PODCAST TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THE BOOK, WRITING AND FORMULATING FICTION

AIRING SEPTEMBER 3-5

https://www.bestofwomensfiction.com/

get your copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Bayou-Sheryl-J-Bize-Boutte/dp/B089M615NT/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Friday, July 2, 2021

sIX FINGERs a love story

Poetry from Sheryl Bize-Boutte

Published on 07/01/2021 by Synchronized Chaos International Magazine

  

 

 sIX FINGERs 

 a love story

   

 He was born with six fingers 

 on each hand

 scalpel applied in a secret room

 Precision clean cut no trace

 Only a few knew 

  Cautioned not to reproduce

 He was fine with that

 A captain of industry

 A hellion

 A brute

 An unrepentant supply of evil

 A success

 Five remaining fingers

 On each hand

  Vice grips on all there was to have

 They named him man of the year

 In his private garden

 Of forever green grass

 And the blue eye sky

 He prospered

  

  

 She was born with six fingers 

 on each hand

 They tied them off with dirty string 

 let them fall back into origin

 Scars of protruding keloid

 Are even darker than her total gold

 Everyone knew

 Everyone whispered

 She was a hellion

 A brute

 An unrepentant supply of evil

 A bad mother

 A failed woman

 They named her witch

 Assigned designations without power to change

 Five remaining fingers on each hand

 barley clinging 

 to that thirsty branch

 Of the diseased tree

 She struggled

  

  

 They came upon each other one day.  It was a chance meeting, another arrangement of the universe.  After all, their worlds were separated, divergent, inequivalent yet equally actual.

  

 She was weary yet determined, walking slowly, the sidewalk seeming to grab at her steps as if to stop her progress.  This was nothing new.  Everything in life seemed to do that to her.  Yet she continued.

  

 He was on the same sidewalk, head in the air, walking briskly.  Too briskly to notice the woman he was heading toward. 

  

 And then they collided.  He was beyond angry that she had interfered with his forward progress. No one had ever done that before. No one. He instinctively pushed her to the ground.  That was his nature.

  

 She knew she had to protect herself.  She knew immediately she was on her own. If she had to fight, that was what she would do.  He would not be the first she had to battle. He would not be the last she would best.

  

 She lay there looking up at him, one of her hands shielding her eyes from his blue glare.

  

 And that is when he saw the scar on her hand.

  

 He immediately knew what it was and what it meant.

  

 He reached down to help her up.

  

 She wondered why and did not trust.

  

 Jarring clarity took him to his knees.

  

 He took her hand and ran his fingers across the scar.

  

 She embraced the bond of blue sky and golden sun.

  

 They knew their real names.

  

 Holding hands and rising together to their feet,

  

 Now beyond circumstance

  

 Strength and Hope walked on.

  

 copyright ©2021 by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte

  

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

JOIN ME AT THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE ON JULY 17!

THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY-SAN FRANCISCO

PRESENTS

From Storyboard to Narrative

with Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte

Saturday, July 17, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

This event is presented 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.

REGISTER NOW:

https://www.milibrary.org/events/storyboard-narrative-jul-17-2021#tickets

MI MEMBERS: $15.00

PUBLIC: $25.00


In this workshop, author Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte 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 uses her own unique storyboarding techniques to create narrative for her writing projects, 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.

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.

Admission: 
MI Members $15
Public $25

Register now ›

 QUESTIONS? Contact Taryn Edwards, tedwards@milibrary.org


Thursday, June 10, 2021

A STORY FOR JUNETEENTH 2021

A STORY FOR JUNETEENTH 2021

As we approach Juneteenth 2021 our thoughts may turn to wondering what it was really like during that time in 1865.  Certainly, we know from history, both written and spoken, that it was not all about the celebrations we engage in today. As always, other things were in play even back then.  The story I present to you today is a true depiction of those times, passed down by my husband and his family.  

Mama Dunn, is about the other stuff going on at the time and how a young teenager’s picture tells a story that continues to inform, rile, resonate, anger, and inspire today, in so many, many ways.




MAMA DUNN

Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte

Copyright © 2021 by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte


As teenagers in the 1970’s, my then future husband and I often spent time with each other’s families. We thrived on bar-b-que’s with live music, extended family birthday celebrations, wonderful holiday dinners, car trips, and plenty of impromptu visits that turned into full-blown parties. It was during one of his family’s epic card playing parties that I first saw the photograph.

A bit grainy and slightly creased, the sepia toned image was still clear enough to see the two people standing in the foreground of a lush grassy pasture somewhere in Louisiana. Although the exact year and place had long been lost to family memory, the images seemed to jump off the yellowed scalloped edged 3X5 photo paper of the day.

On the left of the picture stood a thin, brown-skinned girl who looked to be about thirteen or fourteen. Her hair was styled into two loosely braided shoulder length pigtails, her arms pinned uncomfortably at her sides as she focused on the camera lens. The stare she gave was drained of affect, hauntingly unreadable. Although it was not possible to discern what her feelings may have been at that moment, the lack of expression on her young smooth face revealed that she had already been through the unimaginable. Even more than a century later, the forces inside her core being traversed the faux tranquility of that photograph to send the lasting message to anyone who would ever see it, that until that point in her life, or one very close to it, she was, or had been, a slave.

Standing on the right side of the photograph was a very tall, achingly thin bearded White man.  His body was slightly turned toward her, and his left hand was outstretched as he posed while in the process of handing something to her. In the photograph, one could barely still make out the faded sunlight glinting off the of the shiny object he held.  It turned out to be a twenty-dollar gold piece. A reward or acknowledgement of some sort from him to this young Black girl.  Even through the haze and creases of the old photograph, he was immediately recognizable.

The young, brown-skinned girl in the photo would become my husband’s great-grandmother and would be known to him as Mama Dunn. 

The thin White man in the photograph was Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United States.

But how did this photo and unlikely meeting come to pass? It may have been that Abraham Lincoln was doing public relations and photo ops in between the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and his tragic assassination in 1865.  With the freeing of the slaves, the institution of slavery and its forced labor was shattered.  By the end of the Civil War in 1865, 620,000 soldiers had perished and much of the Southern U.S. was in shambles.  Damage estimates of physical destruction alone hovered around $1.5 billion.  With almost 2% of the U.S. population killed in the Civil War, more than any other war in U.S. history, there was a dire need for workers to meet the challenges of Reconstruction and to maintain the U.S. economy.  There may have been many reasons for this type of visit by the President, but I suspect that it had to do less with freeing the slaves, and more with efforts to end the war while motivating former slaves to stay, join the Union Army to increase the Union’s forces, and help rebuild the country.  

Although most slaves were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which specifically excluded most slave-holding states, Mama Dunn may have been living in one of the Louisiana parishes that were included. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation states in part,

“Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.” /1

 It was not until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 that all slaves were freed.  So in between all of that, with the country still at war, in economic peril, and the unfathomable human loss, Lincoln knew he had work to do.

My suspicions about the Lincoln “photo op” are further buoyed by the rest of the story from that picture day.  After the photo was taken, and there may have been others, Lincoln did indeed hand the young Mama Dunn the gold piece. But as soon as the photo session ended, he asked her to give the coin back.  As family lore tells it, someone in the crowd that day shouted, “Let the little gal keep it!” and an embarrassed Lincoln did just that.

Mama Dunn held on to that twenty-dollar gold piece, and the story of her meeting with Lincoln became a major part of family history with the valuable artifact serving as demonstration of fact. By the time my husband came into this world, Mama Dunn had reached 100 years of age and was living with extended family in Oakland.  


He became aware of her early on.  Even as a toddler, as Mama Dunn sat back in her dark green chenille covered chair, he sat at her feet on the matching ottoman and listened to every word she had to say. He listened to her hum. He kept watch when she dozed off. As he grew older, she talked to him a bit more, but never about slavery or hardship. She talked to him about how to solve the problems of life as well as how to celebrate the pleasures and victories. The Lincoln photograph would sometimes appear along with the chance to hold the treasured twenty-dollar gold piece. She was and remains his earliest and most influential life force. He loved her to the moon and back.

Mama Dunn passed away when my husband was in the third grade.  

She was 108 years old.

Still living in Oakland at the time of her death in the mid-1950’s, she was buried in a local cemetery where a flat square of stone bears her name and relevant dates, but still fails to mark her magical existence.

She is there to this day. 

In what used to be the Black section.

/1 National Archives Transcript of the Proclamation dated January 1, 1863





Monday, May 3, 2021

ON THE RADIO JUST IN TIME FOR MOTHER'S DAY!

Just in Time for Mother's Day

Join me and Kate Farrell on the radio
this Thursday, May 6th
for
Storytelling in Black and White, “Aspire with Osha”

We will be telling stories from our childhoods in the South.

KSVY 91.3 FM, Sonoma Valley Community Radio: http://ksvy.org/

The show will air Thursday, May 6th, 3 – 4 PM, PDT.
MORE ABOUT KATE AND ME AT:


LIVE STREAMING from the KSVY website. (NOT Zoom)
About Us - KSVY 91.3 FM

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

ELK GROVE WRITERS AND ARTISTS

On Sunday, April 18, I was the featured reader at the Elk Grove Writers and Artists Spring Event.

Led by the wonderful author, teacher and publisher Gini Grossenbacher, they are a group of talented writers, dancers, poets and more.

I read from Betrayal on the Bayou and from my first book A Dollar Five, after which I was treated to readings by this gifted crew.

Today I received this lovely coffee cup as thank you gift from them.



Classy.  

Yes, they are.


www.sheryljbize-boutte.com




 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER BARKSDALE


Heather’s Bookshelf: 

Author Interview 

with 

Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte


Book Title:  Betrayal on the Bayou

Released:  6/19/20

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Interview by Heather L. Barksdale


What inspired you to write “Betrayal on the Bayou”?

Bize-Boutte: Embedded within my active imagination and actual Louisiana family history, this book had been rolling around in my head for about ten years before the frame and the heart of it all came to me at once and I sat down to write it. In my original concept, it was a sweeping biographical family tale, but after a while I knew I would never have enough factual information to fill in the blanks. Too much was being hidden and withheld by certain family members who will never come forward. It was then that I decided to write a novel.


When you encounter writer’s block, what do you do to break yourself out of it?

Bize-Boutte: I don’t believe in writer’s block. I embrace the ideas of “waiting for the muse” and “imagination at rest” when I am not writing, which is not often. I have learned the literary value of letting things simmer before they are written as well as writing them as soon as they reveal themselves. Both have equal power and neither state should deter the writer.




Are there any tips that you would like to share with other aspiring authors?  

Bize-Boutte:  Yes, this is from a poem of mine currently in progress that I plan to use in teaching writing classes:


WRITE IT 


Write it for you

Write it for me

Write it for them

Write so they see


Write your wishes

Write your truth

Write your encore

Write your youth


Write your real

Write your imagine

Write your fears

Write your passion

 

Write what you see

Write what you thought

Write who you are

Write what you brought


Write when it wakes you

Write when it shakes you

Then read out loud those words 

To set them all free

And add your voice

To this life symphony

Copyright©2021 by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte


Is there anything that you want readers to know about you, your writing process, or your book? 

Bize-Boutte: Well, I have been writing since I was gifted a Smith Corona typewriter by my parents at age twelve.  Although I did not write much during my thirty-one-year career in government, I never stopped conjuring stories, so when I retired, I began to “empty out” all of those stories, thoughts, poems and whatever else was in “my there.”  But guess what, “my there” magically refills all the time! 

As you can see from above, I also use words unconventionally, especially in my poetry.  I tell people to not be afraid to do that if it is a part of their voice.   

In my writing process, I generally get the entire concept of a book, poem or short story in my head all at once and I am able at that point to write the beginning, middle and end. In the case of Betrayal on the Bayou, it was almost fully formed as I set down to write it. Then I use my own brand of “storyboarding” to fill in any blanks, provide details and assure continuity. I do not write to word count.  I do not write filler.  I just write what comes and what makes me want to know what my characters will do next and what makes me want to turn the page to find out. When I feel I have done that, I then believe I have something to share with others. 

In Betrayal on the Bayou, I describe the insidious, permanent damage caused by colorism, racism and betrayal in a fictional Louisiana town in the nineteenth century, sometimes in literal, shocking ways. 


If "Betrayal on the Bayou" were adapted into a movie, who would you like to see cast to play your lead characters?  

Bize-Boutte:  This is quite the interesting question because I have been asked this by people who have read Betrayal on the Bayou, and yes, I have thought about it.  So here goes:                             

Emile: Chris Pine

Clotilde: Margot Robbie

Margot: Journee Smollett

Marie: Adele

Vanessa: Natalie Dormer

Francisco: Esai Morales


What is your favorite book, genre, and/or author?

Bize-Boutte:   I am a big fan of Walter Mosley and Stephen King for their sharp character development and storytelling. Two of my bedrock authors are James Baldwin and Barbara Neely: Baldwin for his fearless truth and Neely for her depiction of the complex Black woman. My “go to” poets are Niki Giovanni and my late sister, Patsy Bize who could “rhyme on a dime.” And I love James Grisham’s page turning crime and the late Sue Grafton and her wonderful crime solver Kinsey Milhone.


What are you working on next?

Bize-Boutte: I am always writing poetry so I may have another book of poetry coming up at some point. As for the next novel…I have two ideas “simmering” including a possible sequel to Betrayal on the Bayou, or something else entirely. 

The muse will bring it soon.


Learn More About the Author and Betrayal on the Bayou Here:


Blog:  www.sjbb-talkinginclass.blogspot.com

Website: www.sheryljbize-boutte.com


Friday, April 9, 2021

APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. COME CELEBRATE WITH US AT THESE EVENTS!

JOIN US FOR A POETRY MONTH CELEBRATION

No Poetry No Peace

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

A Reading and Celebration of National Poetry Month

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

S. J. Bize-Boutte

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

This event is produced by the MECHANICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY in partnership with the San Francisco Writers Conference.

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

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


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 selection of local poets.


 



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.

AND ON APRIL 30, 2021

4:00-5:30 pm Pacific Time, PDT 

FOR THE

WOMEN'S NATIONAL BOOK ASSOCIATION-SAN FRANCISCO CHAPTER

SPRING POETRY MIXER


REGISTER HERE:

https://wnba-sfchapter.org/april-30-wnba-sf-poetry-mixer/

MEET THE POETS:

Lucille Lang Day is the author of seven full-length poetry collections and four poetry chapbooks. Her most recent collection is Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place (Blue Light Press, November 2020). She has also co-edited two anthologies, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California and Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California, and has published two children’s books and a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Her many honors include the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Literary Awards, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, and eleven Pushcart Prize nominations. She is the founder and publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books. https://lucillelangday.com


Award winning poet and Pushcart Prize nominee Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland multidisciplinary writer of prose/poetry, autobiographical and fictional short stories. 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 has served as a poetry judge for the Bay Area Poets Coalition, the long-term emcee and co-curator for theMontclair/Oakland Public Library’s annual celebration of National Poetry Month and is slated to judge the WNBA-SF’s Effie Lee Morris Writing Contest poetry category. She is a popular literary reader, presenter, and storyteller, and in addition to her books, her varied works appear in numerous journals, anthologies and print and on-line magazines and videos. www.sheryljbize-boutte.com


 Dr. Jeanne Powell holds degrees from WSU in Michigan and USF in California. She is a published poet and essayist, with four books in print from Taurean Horn Press and Regent Press: MY OWN SILENCE, TWO SEASONS, WORD DANCING and CAROUSEL. She founded Meridien PressWorks™, which published 20 writers in 20 years. Jeanne’s film and cultural reviews appear online. For ten years Jeanne facilitated Meridien Writers, which met monthly in San Francisco. For a decade she hosted Celebration of the Word, a weekly open mic in the City. Jeanne has taught in CS, OLLI and UB programs on college campuses. She has been a featured performer in coffee houses, cafes, libraries and bookstores. Jeanne’s new collection of poetry will be published in April 2021 by Taurean Horn Press. www.jeanne-powell.com   starkinsider.com/author/jeannep


Athena Kashyap grew up in India and went to the U.S. for her higher education. She received her BA in Critical Social Thought and History from Mount Holyoke College, her MA in English from the University of California at Davis, and her MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University. She currently lives in San Francisco where she teaches English at City College of San Francisco. Athena has written two collections of poetry, Sita’s Choice (2019) and Crossing Black Waters (2012), both published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in Texas. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, All Roads Lead You Home, The Missing Slate, Forum, The Fourth River among other journals. Her work has also been anthologized both in the U.S. and India and has been translated into other languages.


Iris Jamahl Dunkle is an award-winning poet, literary biographer, and essayist. She has published four poetry books, including West: Fire: Archive, The Center for Literary Publishing, 2021 and the biography Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is Poetry Director at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.


The author of three poetry collections, a chapbook of short fiction and You Can Be a Winning Writer, a book for writers, Joan Gelfand’s work appears in national and international journals including Rattle, PANK! The Los Angeles Review of Books, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, California Quarterly, the Toronto Review, Marsh Hawk Review and Levure Litteraire. Her chapbook of short fiction won the Cervena Barva Fiction Award. President Emeritus of the Women’s National Book Association, a member of the National Book Critics Circle and California Writers Club, Joan coaches writers. Joan’s novel, Extreme, set in a Silicon Valley startup, was published by Blue Light Press in July, 2020.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

MILLS COLLEGE QUARTERLY ARTICLE: MILLS GIRLS AND BLACK POWER

MILLS GIRLS AND BLACK POWER


An article entitled Mills Girls and Black Power has been published in the Spring 2021 issue of the Mills College Quarterly Alumnae Magazine.  The transcription of a January 2021 roundtable discussion featuring myself and three of my Mills College 1970's sisters, shares insights and stories about how we fought for equity as Black students at Mills while not quite fitting the prevailing definition of what a "Mills girl" should be. 

https://quarterly.mills.edu/mills-girls-black-power-a-roundtable-discussion/

Sunday, March 28, 2021

THE CLOSING OF MILLS COLLEGE AND THE LAST BLACK GOLDEN GIRLS

THE LAST BLACK GOLDEN GIRLS


Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte
Mills College Class of 1973



I am writing this on the day of the March 17 announcement about the “transition” of my alma mater, Mills College, from a degree-conferring academic institution to an as yet undefined “Mills Institute.”  This declaration finally put to rest months of speculation and misinformation surrounded by years of concern about the future of the College. 

This change will also mean that Mills College may hold its last commencement ceremony in 2023.

 That year, 2023, holds special meaning for me and my classmates from the graduating class of 1973.  It will be the year that we reach fifty years since our commencement. It will be the year in Mills’ parlance that we become “Golden Girls.”  A Mills “Golden Girl” gets the royal treatment at her fiftieth reunion and it is a wonderful and joyous achievement, whether it is tethered to the institution, to us a group of amazing women, or both.  To truly understand how significant that year will be for us, you have to know that the Mills class of 1973 is still thought to be the largest class of Black women in the history of the college.  Gaining admission in 1969 to this prestigious all-female undergraduate institution was both a result of the Black Power Movement and our stellar grade point averages.  Many of us were from Oakland and up until our acceptance and admission to the College had little or no idea what was hidden behind the ornate fences that surrounded it.  The fact that we graduated, many with honors, was and is a testament to our tenacity, savvy and still quite evident, “change-maker DNA.” 

In 1969 we arrived Black at a Mills College that begrudgingly welcomed us.  Mills had, and has always had, a split personality.  With a progressive presentation on the outside, Mills was, and is still deeply biased on the inside. My years there were filled with pride and pain and would become the subject and title of an article I wrote for the Mills Alumnae Quarterly Magazine in 2015.

I write this from the perspective of a former student who was both richly encouraged and treated with withering disdain. I write this as the first and only woman of color to be appointed as the Executive Director of the Mills College Alumnae Association, who on my first day on the job watched three white employees walk out as one of them said, “There is no way we will ever work for her.”  I write this as a short-term contractor at Mills who while in a staff meeting listened as the art museum director at the time said she was taking down an African art exhibit and putting it in the basement, “...because no one wants to come here and see that crap anyway.”

The March 17 Mills College announcement cites changes in higher education, declining enrollment, and budget deficits as the reasons for its academic demise. But, as with many colleges, Mills relied heavily on the financial contributions of the “good old girl” White alumnae, many of whom have now passed away. Some of these same women can be found in the College’s yearbooks of their era in drama classes smeared in blackface, and while I was Executive Director, one of them asked me more than once if I was available to clean her house.  Many of them are gone now, and when it came time to seek new funding pathways, Mills did not cultivate the alumnae of color. 

Don't get me wrong here, Mills did in fact ask us for money from time to time, but they never cultivated us as a Mills affinity group.  They never mixed us in their famous Mills College chocolate chip cookie dough as a part of the Mills alumnae recipe. We were never a normal course of business for Mills.  Mills never connected and acted upon the changing demographics of its alumnae base and the opportunities to fundraise outside of their real inside identity.  Oh yes, there was the attempt to connect in 2006 when a large meeting of Black alumnae was held.  It resulted in many painful stories of ill treatment at Mills, many tears, but no meaningful follow-up.  As I write this in 2021, Mills College has no Black employees in its Office of Alumnae Relations. I asked. What does that say about their internal design even today?  

So, while I am saddened by the news that my alma mater will no longer exist in its present state, I also understand the inevitability of it all.  Knowing no lasting progress has been made to change the closed, confusing, and "you are not really a Mills girl" culture I and others faced in 1969 and beyond,  from time to time I have wondered when the doors would close. 

 Yes, we have come full circle, my beloved Mills College 70’s sisters. Who could have imagined that the Black women who graduated in 1973, would be among the last group of “Golden Girls” for Mills College?

And who could have imagined that here in 2021, we still have to wonder if Mills will celebrate our shining legacy?

SJBB/March 2021


Thursday, March 11, 2021

BOOK REVIEWER HEATHER BARKSDALE GIVES BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU 5-STARS


IN HER 5-STAR REVIEW 

OF 

BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU 

AUTHOR AND BOOK REVIEWER

HEATHER BARKSDALE WRITES:


"...Overall, I found the book to be well-written, character-driven, and haunting. I thought that the character development of each of the main characters was really well done. Each of them had their own voice, background, desires, and motivations..."



Discover the characters, their stories and more.  Get your copy here:


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