Sticky and Gooey

Hey, I’m going to get to do something fun at the Beacon Arts members show on Saturday, November 5! I’m going to read “Parker House Loaf,” a piece about food, class, status, luxury, and art. A few of you will remember my food writing from a few years back, so here’s the place to hear some more! Along with a performance by the great Donna Mikkelsen, and of course the fabulous art of the Beacon Arts members on the walls! At KuBe Art Center, 211 Fishkill Ave. in the old high school, 4-6 PM. See you then.

Betsy Andrews at Lit Lit

Betsy Andrews (photo courtesy the author).

I’m thrilled to report that poet Betsy Andrews will be the featured author at Lit Lit next month, Friday, November 4! Betsy’s poetry is fierce and lyrical at once, all about the climate, the family, and the Anthropocene, edgy, political, and freaking gorgeous all at once.

Her latest, Crowded, is just out from Nauset Press, and Betsy will read from it and sign books at the November 4 Lit Lit at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main Street in Beacon, 7-9 PM. As Susan Tichy writes, “Private and planetary angers twist together in Betsy Andrews’ Crowded, rising and falling together in the drunken winds of violence we have come to recognize as home.”

Come hear Betsy — followed by our usual kickass Lit Lit writers. Betsy is the winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and the 42 Miles Press Prize in Poetry, and also one of the best food writers around.

You can sign up at the door to read one of your own pieces of writing, up to 5 minutes in length! We will take all comers till we run out of time 😄

A Few Delicious Things Coming Up

Hey everyone, two quick things to announce:  1) My next memoir workshop starts Wednesday, September 21 from 7 to 9 PM Eastern Time on Zoom. It will go for eight Wednesdays until November 16 (skipping the week of October 5 for Yom Kippur).

The focus is on craft, especially using emotion, sensuality, storytelling, lyricism, and voice. Everyone will get frequent feedback in a supportive atmosphere; class size will be small. The fee is $325.

Writers at all levels are welcome. For more information or to register, please contact me at minkowitz46@gmail.com.

2) We have a fabulous LIT LIT coming up for Friday, October 7 at the Howland Cultural Center! 🙂 Let me know if you want to read! For those of you who don’t know the drill, it’s 7 to 9 PM at the Howland, 477 Main Street in Beacon New York! Everyone who wants to can read their own writing of any genre of up to five minutes in length, until we run out of time. Because of the unique magic of Beacon, we get amazingly good memoir writers, novelists, poets, playwrights, and others!

I also keep a few slots so that people can sign up at the door. Or just come and listen. Lit Lit is a great place to meet Beacon writers and readers 🙂

To sign up, please email me at litlitseries@gmail.com. The event is free, and soft drinks, wine, beer, and snacks are available by donation. Masks are required.

I Wanna Be Your Writing Coach

Yep, I do! And I bet you have a writing project you might like some help on.

Hire me to help you figure out where you’re going with a piece of writing — and help you get there! (I also have some good strategies for helping you publish it.)

I’ve been teaching writing students and coaching authors for 23 years, and a professional writer for 35. I’m a gentle but perceptive teacher, and I’m here to help you make art.

Hit me up at minkowitz46@gmail.com. Or just use the form below.

Queerness as Holiness


This is a brief talk I gave at the First Presbyterian Church of Beacon as part of their first Pride Service, June 26, 2022.

By Donna Minkowitz

Since I first felt the power of queerness in my life when I was 14, it has seemed to me like a kind of fierceness, a kind of fire, the sensation that radical joy is worth fighting for, that sex is worth fighting for, that the funky beautiful intoxicating overflowing life force inside yourself is a thing to defend, a thing to show, a thing to love, a thing to refuse to squash or strangle or imprison within gates of adamantine iron.

I’m here to speak on behalf of of that life force.

As a young adult in the 80s, I was part of the first generation of activists to reclaim the word QUEER for ourselves. Some of the stronghearted holy power of queerness comes across in these lines that the gay singing group The Flirtations used to sing, which were written by a black gay British man named Labi Siffre:

the higher you build your barriers
the taller I become
the more you refuse to hear my voice
the louder I will sing

“When they insist we’re just not good enough,” the song says, “just look em in the eye and say/We’re gonna do it anyway! We’re gonna do it anyway!
Anyway!

And that my friends, is the buoyant, ever-defiant power of queerness.

This fiery joy is also what our queer brother the Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins had in mind when he spoke of Jesus metaphorically as a falcon:

“I caught this morning morning’s minion,
kingdom of daylight’s dauphin,
dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding of the rolling level underneath him steady air
, and striding high there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing in his ecstasy!
Then off, off forth on swing, as a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding/ Rebuffed the big wind…
Brute beauty and valor and act, oh air, pride, plume here/ Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion times told lovelier, more dangerous. Oh my chevalier!”

For that is queerness too, the wild life force that refuses to give in to narrow demands of propriety. Queerness is also the ecstasy Hopkins is invoking in this poem, and the willingness to embrace wild, unchained beauty even when it might be socially or politically dangerous, because all beauty and pleasure comes from God, in fact, as Hopkins is suggesting in this poem, it IS God.

Beyond this, queerness is the radical belief in the goodness and innocence of pleasure, and I am thinking of myself at 14, discovering kisses and affectionate touch, discovering hands shoulders long hair and bellybuttons in all their sweetness and goofiness.

The queer life force within me has saved me so many times, it saved me as a teenager when the enlivening, flowering beauty of puberty gave me a power to stand fast against the violence I was experiencing at home, as a young and as an older adult when the sunny queer force in my blood gave me hope and creative power that always let me sail past depression and obstacles.

Thank you very much for inviting me here today to your beautiful congregation to speak about the connection between queerness and holiness.
And thanks to the supremely alive, defiant queer life force inside me that keeps my blood flowing. Thank you.

Next Lit Lit: Shaina Loew-Banayan!

NEXT LIT LIT: chef/writer Shaina Loew-Banayan, who just got a glowing review in @newyorkermag, is our featured author Fri. June 3, reading from their tough, tender, lyrical memoir Elegy for an Appetite. I’m so excited about this! It’s a memoir about, among other things, being a chef and someone who is crazy about food who also has an eating disorder. 7PM @howland_cultural_center in Beacon, followed by our regular awesome literary open mic. 477 Main St. in Beacon NY.
All of the advance signup slots to read in the open mic are full, but if you arrive by 6:30 you have a good chance of getting a spot! See you there! #beaconny #beaconnewyork #openmic #foodwriting #hudsonvalley #literature @cafemutton #hudsonny

Donnaville: Work in Progress

Hey there! I thought I would describe to you what I’ve been working on since late fall of 2019. It’s a new book called DONNAVILLE, and it takes place in a city that is, yes… the city of my mind. You know how the poet Delmore Schwartz once wrote, “The mind is a city like London/Smoky and populous: it is a capital/Like Rome, ruined and eternal,/Marked by the monuments which no one/Now remembers”? This book imagines that city, er, my city — the little citystate of my mind.

You know how Sylvia Plath once wrote, “Is there no way out of the mind?” (Look it up, it’s a terrifying poem.) Well, sometimes Donnaville feels a little bit like that, because its central location is a prison, and one of the two main characters is the Jailer, who is also a janitor and torturer.

You know how Denise Levertov once wrote to a lover, “You invaded my country by accident/not knowing you had crossed the border./Vines that grew there touched you”? And then she tells him, “I invaded your country with all my/’passionate intensity,’/pontoons and parachutes of my blindness./But living now in the suburbs of the capital/incognito, my will to take the heart/ of the city has dwindled. I love its unsuspecting life,/its adolescents who come to tell me their dreams in the dusty park…”? Well, Donnaville is also about that, what happens when people approach the “countries” of other people’s minds, and try to have relationships with them. When different countries (or citystates), in other words, try to get together.

So, I have finished preliminary edits. It will be a long while before this book is out, but if you want to read some short excerpts, you can read them here, here, here , here, and here. Hope you like! 🙂

Vote For Me!


Edited on April 20: oh my God, I’m a finalist! Truly did not expect that. If you want to, please vote for me to advance further. For this readers’ choice award, people actually get to vote once a day!

Okay… For the very first time in my life, I get to say, “Vote for me!”

I’m thrilled to have been nominated for Chronogram Magazine’s annual award for the best author in the Hudson Valley 🙂 This is a readers’ choice award, and finalists and the winner are determined by whoever gets the highest number of votes. It’s the absolute truth to say I would be honored if I got yours.

Just to refresh you, I am the author of two award-winning and critically acclaimed memoirs. I am the founder of the Lit Lit series in the Hudson Valley, the winner of a GLAAD Media Award and Radcliffe College’s Exceptional Merit Media Award, and a writer who has gone undercover to write about white nationalists and the Christian right.

Everyone is allowed to vote, whether you live in the Hudson Valley or not.

You can vote for me at this link. (Please just scroll down slightly from the Artist category where this page begins, to the Author category where I am.) Many thanks, and if I win, I’m giving out pie!

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