This Fall I took a class with Ariel Gore, one of my all-time favorite writers. This Portland queer mama twice over is known for her Hip Mama zine she started in the early 90s just after her daughter was born and several gut-wrenching and often rather magical realist/neo-fantastic novels. My favorite so far might be her most recent We Were Witches, that I read last year just as I was returning home from that long hike and bike trip overseas so over-chronicled here.
So, underemployed as I am at the moment, I still couldn’t pass up a chance to take part in her Magical Writing online intensive, which ran from new moon to full. It included using the Tarot, altars, moon meditation, divination, and automatic writing to find new directions in our storytelling and certainly felt as experimental and intensive as it purported to be.
Our avatars, rather than our faces, were muses we had drawn to give us inspiration in the class and though we talked every day we only used first names. So it was a pleasant surprise when I realized that some of my fellow classmates were writing acquaintances and/or people I had looked up to for a long time.
At the end of our 14 or so assignments, we got to choose one to go into a collective zine the class put out. I actually chose our first prompt, which used the Tarot to show us a character’s past, present, and future, with the 4th card pulled being a lesson learned or an overarching theme. I pulled the 8 of pentacles, 9 of cups, 2 of cups, The Moon and found a character I came to quite love. They, in conjunction with another character I found along the way, continued to adventure through several tales in this magical class and perhaps their story might go further even still. But this was just an introduction and the end of time at that.
Here are just a the first couple paragraphs to give you a taste:
They toiled daily in the mines of their own heart, survived cave in after cave in. It was a brittle, fragile place, and harsh but also felt just like tough love at times. A love so tough it might kill you, it’s true, but a hard love nonetheless. The sculptures they carved from this roughness emerged from the stone behind them. Some escaped, some remained, jewels for eyes, living, breathing and dying in the wall of sediment hardened by the millennia.
They hated this place. This place of learning was a disappointment to them and they broke knuckle after knuckle on the bloodied ceiling. But one tired day they lay against their prison home and tried to curl into the softness, the crevices that exist even the hardest of substances and fell asleep to a fevered dreaming. In the morning, though you cannot tell morning from the inside of a mine, they rose with a hand continuously holding onto the walls, sliding over every stalagmite as they were compelled down a path they had never noticed before…
And if the chance to read a story of mine isn’t enough you might want to pick up a copy to read short pieces from Susie Bright, Jenny Forrester and more. Other authors included are Lori Dewender, Nicole Phoenix, Rebecca Fish Ewan, Steph Patzlaff, Sue Moshofsky, Amanda L. Andrei, Amanda Gilby, Carolee Gilligan Wheeler, Debi Knight Kennedy, Finn Jogen, Jenna Powers Fox, JJ Johnson, Laraine Herring, and Leah Harris.
To purchase one of these very special, limited edition zines Paypal $9 to arielfiona@gmail or Venmo @Ariel-Gore-1 with your mailing address.
For more information on the chapbook, Ariel Gore and all the classes she offers visit the Literary Kitchen.