Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Antioch University (draft 2)

Yesterday I went to the graduation ceremony of the MFA Creative Writing program. I thought I was there to celebrate my two friends Gina Loring and Dasha Kelly. Two amazing writers, poets, storytellers, performers, friends, spirits, beings. I am sure they made a great impression on you while they were there. I sat there, maybe fifteen rows back and was more and more inspired speaker after speaker. I didn't expect that. Well, not to the degree that I was inspired. Thank you.

One of the student speakers put a particular thought in my head. I wish I could remember his name. He was an older gentleman with a good sense of humor and big stomach. I was encouraged by that too. I'm kind of funny, my stomach could be smaller and I'm a little older than most college students. Hmmmm. In his speech he talked about what he imagined what the admittance board discussed as they read his letter requesting to be admitted into your fine program.

I thought about that. What would the board think about any letter I would write about myself? What would I write to a group of seven or so people to sum up why I should be chosen? Where would I begin? What would I leave out? Who would I ask to review it? Dasha? Gina? My son? Bill collectors? What would you be looking for? How long should it be? Is the abortion too much? That I call myself a feminist but feel the need to explain that everytime I say it, is that not smart enough for someone you would consider? Would you want a list of my lovers? Some of them will not say the best things about me, but some of the most awful things will be true. Sorry. I have lived my life as a human being you know. Would you want to speak to my husband soon to be, who will describe in the most honorable way. And that will be true too.

I am just freewriting here. Have never written a letter like this before. Never even thought about it. I have spent years in college but still don't have my B.A. yet. Long Beach City College, some business school in the valley my mom thought was a good idea, a summer at Spelman, Grambling, Strayer (an online school, my favorite. I work well in pajamas.) Then Everest where I studied to be a nurse's assistant. None of this is impressing you I'm sure. Just thought you should know. Like I said, I don't have my B.A. Yet. I have been saying yet for a very long time. But I have lived my adult life as an artist. A storyteller mostly. A writer. A performer. I have told my stoies on stages throughout this country. I have written seven books and published two. I have three cds featuring a collection of my poetry. But this is sounding more like my bio than what I really want you to know about me.

This might be an interesting exercise for me. To write a letter to you. You seven or so folks sitting around a table who don't know me at all. A letter from me, about me. I am encouraged to take it on. The letter, maybe not sending it. My guess is that I will discover more about myself than you may care to know.

Well, you folks keep up the good work over there and have a nice day.


Jaha Zainabu

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