My life has been shaped by two very early events: I was born into the racism of the civil rights American South, and I carry the grief of my daddy being killed by a train. Maybe these two events shaped my deep desire to use creativity to build connection and community.
My first published book was a grief response to the tragedy of 9/11. Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God (Paraclete Press, 2009) offers making crosses from broken and found objects as a form of active prayer. The book led me to facilitate two years of cross-making workshops, where I learned the power of creating in small groups.
As a member of the Mission Group of the Memphis School for Servant Leadership, I led a nine-month Formation class based on the Parker Palmer method, and participated in the inaugural Formation class at Memphis Theological Seminary. This experience led me to form and facilitate for eight years a weekly writing group of men and women experiencing homelessness.
As a member of that group, I edited the group’s ezine, set-up public readings, led field trips to local sites, organized 4 annual Community Writers Retreats where the housed and unhoused wrote together, worked with Rhodes College students to provide original content in establishing The Bridge street newspaper, and edited the group’s memoir, Writing Our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness (Triton Press, 2014). For this, I was named an Upstander by Facing History and Ourselves and as Champion, Memphis and Shelby County Homeless Consortium (2015).
All this led me to proselytize about the power of writing in community. I served on the Advisory Board of Mid-South literacy, guest lectured for Women’s Prison Stories, gave a keynote speech at the Mississippi Writers Guild, and look forward to soon being a writing instructor at the 100 Men’s Hall in Bay St. Louis.
That offering will be based on the lessons I learned from writing in groups. We R Righting Group: A Pocket Guide on Writing in Groups…and Righting the World is a simple “how to” offering guiding principles, basic supplies, fun topics, and motivation for forming community through writing. Use the Contact form if you’d like me to come talk to you and yours about forming community in small writing groups.
My writing achievements can be found on my Achievements page. I practiced law for 19 years where I was the managing partner of my law office, chair of the Health Law Section of the state bar, and named a Top 40 under 40. I’ve also worked as a runway model and found-object artist. I split my time between New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Oh, yeah—I’ve been known to appear in public in costume.