cover design by N Wingate

cover design by N Wingate

There's a feeling I've chased for most of my life. It has something to do with connection, with language and listening. It comes when I know I've been heard and seen. It grows to elation when I'm with a group of people who feel they've been heard and seen. When this feeling arises something happens - an unfolding, a blooming. People become themselves. This is what I value: when stories that have been floating around in someone's mind for years venture on to paper. When words are set down. When people tell their stories. When we listen.

At the conclusion of every Writing Circle course, we have a celebration and each writer is invited to share something. We travel the circumference and enjoy another chance to hear each others' voices. Some people read work we've seen in earlier drafts, some people read work they wrote the night before (nothing motivates like a deadline), and some people read work they've been quietly holding close, in the knowledge that once they are ready to share, their words will be met with compassion. We celebrate our community.

Celebration is more than party hats and confetti. To me, a celebration is a pause, an acknowledgment. In the Church, when the Mass is celebrated, it is solemn and sacred and deep with joy. A celebration holds something up and asks that we look at it on its own terms, asks that we let it work on us. When we celebrate something - be it a relationship, an accomplishment, a piece of creativity - we give it space in our consciousness, a measure of attention. A celebration doesn't necessarily leave us feeling happier, but it does give us an opportunity to become more whole.

To me, writing is a celebration. Bringing together voices in community is a celebration. Reading each of these pieces, looking for the perspective that it and it alone can offer is a celebration.

When assembling Circumference, the image that came to my mind was the Zen symbol of the enso. An enso is a freehand circle drawn in a single, uninhibited stroke informed by a lifetime of practice. The circle can be closed, representing completion. It can also be open, representing movement and development. I choose an open enso because writing isn't complete until the reader participates. In that spirit, I invite you to join me in a celebration of voices from this year's Writing Circles. Here you will find a variety of genres and styles from writers who live in and come from many corners of the globe. All are part of a community I am tremendously proud of. If something moves you or makes you smile, leave a comment, make a connection, let the writer know you were there. In that way, you join and complete the circle.