I should be writing my discussion post homework assignments for grad school but I’m not in the mood to do so. No, I’m feeling creative right now. That’s the way I feel after I attend a poetry reading or a book signing. Tonight, it was the latter as I travelled to Philly this evening to attend Bernice McFadden’s book signing for her new novel, Gathering of Waters, at the Arts Sanctuary.
It was so good to see Bernice again, having participated in her fiction-writing class last fall at the Arts Sanctuary. Some of my former classmates were in attendance, including my friend and fellow poet Debra Powell-Wright; fellow scribe Xavier Richardson; and Tarana Burke, managing director of the Arts Sanctuary. I also saw some of the Arts Sanctuary employees who I knew, including Lorene Cary, the organization’s founder, and authors Lori Tharps and Solomon Jones.
I was excited for Bernice as she discussed the spiritual journey she took to succeed as an author with the audience. She read an excerpt from Gathering of Waters and took questions from various individuals in the crowd. Afterwards, she signed copies of her novels for anyone wishing to purchase her merchandise. I bought a copy of Gathering of Waters and The Warmest December and had her autograph my copies of her novels Sugar and This Bitter Earth. We spoke briefly throughout the night and afterwards about my progress since our class ended, which I do owe Bernice an email explanation of the drama I’ve had with my latest unpublished memoir. I managed to get a picture of Bernice, Debra, Xavier, Tarana, and myself at the end of the night.
Eleven years ago, I read Sugar for the book club that I belonged to along with my friend and former writing partner Uva Coles. If you would have told me back then I would meet and participate in a fiction-writing class with the novel’s author ten years later, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I did along with several individuals for six weeks last fall. I have to say that class was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn as opposed to teach creative-writing. The in-class exercises and homework assignments we did tapped into our spirituality, challenging us to explore our creativity from this perspective. Some of the assignments were emotional and personal, confronting our fears and insecurities. Some were introspective and heartfelt, celebrating our strengths and heritage.
I had so much fun in Bernice’s fiction-writing class and I do miss the camaraderie of our Tuesday night classes. For our last class, we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, celebrating our accomplishments and sipping white wine. Bernice gave each student a card, asking us not to open until we went home. Later that night, I opened my card and discovered she included a personal note. I attached both items to a page inside my journal. The note’s message is personal and something I haven’t shared with anyone, including Uva, who I would love to do so since she constantly reminds me that she’s living vicariously through my creative endeavors. Sometimes I need to read the message to remind myself to where I want to be and to not allow any person or circumstance to stand in my way on this creative journey.
Thank you, Bernice McFadden, for your lessons, encouragement, and support.
Take care and be blessed.