“As someone whose words often get caught in her throat,” she scribbles, “I’m especially moved by this ‘definition’ of community. I also often think of community as a ‘sum greater than it’s parts.’ To me, community means everything, we are nothing without it.
“Thank you for asking.”
She looks up and closes the notebook so that it makes a “whap!” sound. Her mind re-registers to the room and her surroundings, coming out of her writing daze, she passes the notebook along.
“What did you write?” her other friend chides.
“Nothing!” she remarks in defensively teasing way.
It’s a Sunday afternoon, and the group of friends, who meet at the coffee shop regularly (but usually with no defined purpose in mind), discovered this notebook entitled “Write me, I’m yours” sitting on a side table near the register.
Inside a poem is taped to the front cover, but the pages are otherwise blank, left to be filled by whoever happens on them. Beside the poem a prompt asks, “What does community mean to you?” The poem reads:
“Somewhere, there are people
to whom we can speak with passion
without having the words catch in our throats…”
Michelle Dunford, a Bridgetown native and member of StarfireU is a researcher and prolific writer of fan fiction. As a member of StarfireU, she was given the opportunity to design a collaborative project formed around her interests.
Together, a committee of fellow writers created this journal project, which “seeks to unite writers through communal journals, located at a variety of locations in Cincinnati, with the hope of inspiring creative responses to all the big questions in the universe (and maybe some small ones, too)…” The project is called, “Write me, I’m Yours.”
“…Somewhere a circle of hands
will open to receive us,
eyes will light up as we enter,
voices will celebrate with us
whenever we come into our own power”
Libby Hunter, one of the writers on the project’s committee says that the journals have created their own community, a space for people to come together creatively and celebrate writing.
“The journals are a good outlet for self reflection,” said Libby, founder of the literacy organization WordPlay. “They’re non-digital, tactile, and simple. The process is very kinesthetic.”
“…Community means strength that joins our strength
to do the work that needs to be done
arms to hold us when we falter
A circle of healing
A circle of friends
Someplace where we can be free.”
On Tuesday, June 11th at 7pm, Michelle and her committee will be hosting a readaround for the journals at WordPlay at 4041 Hamilton Avenue in Northside. Contributing writers are invited to attend, along with curious members of the public interested in listening to their community’s journal entries.
“The entries can have a confessional quality about them,” said committee member Chris Mooney, who volunteers along with Michelle at WordPlay. He said at first they weren’t sure if people would be too busy to contribute to the notebooks, but over the course of 5 months Mooney has been pleasantly surprised.
“It’s kind of anonymous, so people are willing to expose themselves,” he said. “A lot of people have been responding to each other’s journal entries. It’s interesting. I think it’s feeding some kind of need.”
On the other side of town, a 9 year old sits with pen and paper in hand, her face not lit from a screen before her but the sun coming in from the window at Rohs Street Cafe. She slows down a pace. The prompt is dreams.
“You stepped on the shower tiles,” she writes. “They lit up yellow and disco music started playing.”
Looking toward the future, Michelle says she is gathering information from contributing writers to form a supportive monthly writing circle.
“The best thing that could happen is more people get involved,” said Dunford, who also works part time at City Council and participates in Women Writing for a Change. “People can write me an email and we can get together. This is for people who want to write, but also for people who want to be supported on how to be a more creative writer.”
To find out more and get involved in Write Me, I’m Yours, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Write-Me-Im-Yours/134018040100175?fref=ts