While this semester is certainly proving to be the most stressful of any semester I've experienced, as high school student or teacher or undergraduate, M.Ed student or MFA student, it is also is perhaps the most satisfying. Gone, though nowhere near fully, is that heavy question: What am I doing here? Present, now, is a sense of belonging, of fitting into the grooves, of finding a rhythm, and look: last night's reading was a blessing, truly, and tonight's event was no less so.
I've been in love with Kingston's use of language since the eleventh grade when my mother's AP Language class (indeed, I was a student of my mother's in high school, and no matter what troubles we may have had in the past, I will always be able to say this: she's a damn good teacher) had Woman Warrior as optional summer reading. Oh, such magic!
Easily, she's been in my top ten, fifteen favorite writers of all time based on that book. I've met a few of the others on that list (Sharon Olds and Margaret Atwood and Maxine Kumin and Kimiko Hahn come to mind).
Meeting authors, too, can be such a precarious experience. We risk becoming disappointed with those we have been star-struck with. Some are stand-offish, not interested in their audience, in budding writers, in participating with universities and the public but have strangely arrived, zipping through a reading with hand outstretched, but Kingston was truly not a writer in this category. One needn't have the experience of shaking her hand to know this; one only needed to sit in the audience tonight at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, where she actually lectured (oh my! a lecture for the Esther Freier Lecture series! a novelty!) about peace and achieving peace through art. I could feel it too, that intense calm enter the concert hall, that goodness which has followed me home, has mingled with the atmosphere of last night, and has left me happy to face this overwhelming semester, able, just a little, to whisper: bring it on.
(Side note: in case you cannot tell, I do event photography for the English department.)