Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#62 Micah Ling: Outside of Time

Micah Ling’s name has always given her problems. She is not Asian or a man. She is Native American (mostly) and a woman (completely). Micah has a twin brother, but she was born first (by about 45 seconds), and her twin likes to say that she ditched him (which she would never do). She loves her family and thinks of her parents as her best friends. She started writing her mother little poems when she was about 7 years old. Her father drives a motorcycle and she started running with him when she was 10 years old. When she was 11 years old, she became a vegetarian after seeing how the turkey was killed on Thanksgiving. It made her sad, especially since she gives a name to every animal that she sees. Micah ran through high school and through college. Running is her meditation and she can think about things while she’s running without getting overwhelmed. Micah went to Indiana University for her MFA in poetry and MA in literature—and met her future husband, Nate, there in Bloomington. Nate drove a motorcycle and she would ask him to give her a ride on his bike every time she saw him. After about a year of asking, he did and that was the beginning of them. It is years later and she continues to live on his endless supply of kindness and forgiveness. It is years later and Micah is still running, but her feet are full of pains these days. In college, she ran the national race with a broken foot that still comes back on her. She wishes that she had never raced. She would rather just run outside of time or competition. Now she has the best job she could have, teaching writing and literature. And she still writes poems, often formal poems, so that she can break all the rules.

[Update #1: Micah Ling and Nate Jackson married.]

[Update #2: Micah Ling just published her first full-length collection, Three Islands.]
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#51 Gina Myers: Ice Skating on the Page

Gina Myers was born, grew up, and went to school in and around Saginaw, Michigan. Despite its cold winters and depressed economy, she is a warm and happy person. As a young girl, Gina was a tomboy who followed her older brother around and did the things that he did. This is why she played hockey for three years before her parents switched her to ice skating lessons. (It should be noted that Gina might have won a gold medal with the first USA Olympics women’s hockey team if she had kept playing hockey.) She doesn’t talk much about figure skating anymore, though this was the focus of her life through high school and college. During this time, Gina was also a photographer and a poet, but she stopped shooting photos after her camera’s battery went dead and she never bought a new one. After college, she took a road trip to NYC with a friend and visited the New School. After returning to Michigan, she dreamed of NYC and knew that she had to move there. She couldn’t stop thinking about all those pairs of feet walking on the sidewalks. Gina took her ice skates to NYC, but only skated once in Central Park. She attended the New School and became a poet with a natural, playful style (think of the ice rink as the page). Unfortunately, she became unhappy in NYC. She tried to fix the unhappiness by changing parts of her life—her job, her apartment, certain people—but she eventually had to change cities and moved back home. In a few years, she will leave Saginaw for another city where she will continue to write poems. She is feeling optimistic.

Gina Myer's first full-length collection of poetry, A Model Year, was just published by Coconut Books. David Shapiro says, "The poetry seems to have taken a polygraph test and has the truthfulness of an injured voice."

Here is Gina's blog, A Sad Day for Sad Birds.
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#197 A. Jarrell Hayes: Words=Life

A. Jarrell Hayes grew up in Columbia, MD, the youngest of 4 kids. He usually stayed off by himself and played with his X-Men action figures. By 8, A. Jarrell started writing fantasy fiction and loved making choose-your-own-adventure books. He usually made them so that every choice made something bad happen, which was a reflection of the difficult things he was going through at the time. He was often anti-authority, rebellious, and got in a lot of fights. He got kicked out of numerous schools. When he was 12, A. Jarrell’s parents couldn’t handle him anymore and committed him to an adolescent residential treatment facility. A. Jarrell felt abandoned. Eventually, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which means he has to deal with the mania and depression of bipolar along with the hallucinations and paranoia and delusions of schizophrenia. The facility was really terrible and the treatments didn’t help at all. At 14, A. Jarrell was released from the treatment facility and willed himself to be healthy. He now takes full responsibility for not keeping himself in order back then. Unfortunately, the experience caused A. Jarrell to erect a wall between himself and his family (actually, people in general) that cannot be undone. Only other residents and those that have been incarcerated can fully understand what happened during his time there. In high school, A. Jarrell was the best mascot (the Scorpion) and classes were easy for him. In college, he has studied English. Over the years, A. Jarrell has worked a bunch of different jobs—including shoe salesman, credit card representative, and pharmacy clerk—which was just him searching for his place. He enjoys freelance blogging, but wishes it paid more. Once, on a train from Baltimore to Seattle, a woman accused him of being a private detective (he was wearing a trench coat and had a camera)—asking who sent him and how long he had been following her. At the end of the trip, she apologized for her behavior. Now A. Jarrell continues to write poetry and fantasy fiction. He writes poetry as a way to channel the somewhat disturbing and frightening images in his mind. He writes fantasy fiction because he couldn't find any with Black characters. There are orcs and trolls and elves and all sorts of fanciful creatures, but no Black people. A. Jarrell still has to deal with schizoaffective disorder, but the imagination that comes with the disorder helps when he’s writing fantasy fiction. He has always had a vivid imagination and trouble separating from reality. So far, A. Jarrell has published 6 books – 3 fantasy novels and 3 collections of poetry –and he will publish more. Eventually, he will finish up college and then maybe he would like to teach English in Japan.

More A. Jarrell Hayes
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#62 Micah Ling: Outside of Time or Competition

Micah Ling’s name has always given her problems. She is not Asian or a man. She is Native American (mostly) and a woman (completely). Micah has a twin brother, but she was born first (by about 45 seconds), and her twin likes to say that she ditched him (which she would never do). She loves her family and thinks of her parents as her best friends. She started writing her mother little poems when she was about 7 years old. Her father drives a motorcycle and she started running with him when she was 10 years old. When she was 11 years old, she became a vegetarian after seeing how the turkey was killed on Thanksgiving. It made her sad, especially since she gives a name to every animal that she sees. Micah ran through high school and through college. Running is her meditation and she can think about things while she’s running without getting overwhelmed. Micah went to Indiana University for her MFA in poetry and MA in literature—and met her future husband, Nate, there in Bloomington. Nate drove a motorcycle and she would ask him to give her a ride on his bike every time she saw him. After about a year of asking, he did and that was the beginning of them. It is years later and she continues to live on his endless supply of kindness and forgiveness. It is years later and Micah is still running, but her feet are full of pains these days. In college, she ran the national race with a broken foot that still comes back on her. She wishes that she had never raced. She would rather just run outside of time or competition. Now she has the best job she could have, teaching writing and literature. And she still writes poems, often formal poems, so that she can break all the rules.
Comments

#59 The Storytelling Instinct of Shaindel Beers

When Shaindel Beers was 4 years old, her mother kidnapped her and they fled cross-country. For a year, they lived with strangers. Because of this, in part, Shaindel has never been afraid of anybody or anything. During this time, and before she could write, Shaindel told her mother stories, which her mother wrote down with crayons. This storytelling instinct and the fact that she observed adults often writing things led her to believe that this is what adults did, a behavior that she would later emulate as an English professor and a writer of poems (when she starts with a feeling) and fiction (when she starts with a character). Eventually, Shaindel and her mother drove back to her father, but the family was still dysfunctional—in part because of her mother’s OCD, which manifested itself, partly, as a hoarding instinct. In fact, growing up, Shaindel always thought of her friends’ houses as strangely neat, oddly empty. Her mother’s hoarding led to the family house being condemned and her mother going to jail for pulling a gun on two people who were trying to clean out the house. This might not have happened, but Shaindel’s father was at Subway getting a sandwich. Another thing that almost didn’t happen was Shaindel meeting her husband, Lee. Two hippies who live in a trailer on a reservation had fixed them up on a blind date—because they both read all the time and they both are hermits—but the hippies told them each a different meeting time. When Shaindel got there, Lee had left. Shaindel found out where Lee lived and went to his house. He answered the door in a wife beater that showed off his skull tattoos, but Shaindel was not afraid. They got married, and—oh, wait, did I tell you that Shaindel means pretty in Yiddish? It does. She is. Ask Lee. He’ll tell you.

Shaindel's Website

[Note: In between when I wrote Shaindel's life story and when it went up here, she was offered a two-book deal with Salt Publishing (second item on the left), so feel free to congratulate her on that. The white space at the bottom of the postcard bothered me, but I'm glad that this good news is what it was for.]

Comments (1)

#57 The Visual Fixations of Heather Fowler

Heather Fowler almost went blind when she was a toddler. She required multiple eye surgeries to preserve her eyesight and this early emphasis on her eyes has led to certain visual fixations—especially reading, looking at art, watching movies, and staring at beautiful people. She inherited both her bad eyesight and her love of good books from her parents. Reading turned into writing and Heather’s first publication was in her seventh-grade literary magazine. Ever since then, she has been writing like a maniac—sometimes writing a poem or a flash a day for months at a time (there are so many words inside her)—and now she is a widely published poet and short story writer. But a writer is only one thing that Heather is. She is also a painter, singer, actress, friend, mother, and wife. Besides that, she has two degrees, two jobs, and one husband. She loves how much her husband loves her. She mothers three children and loves every single thing about them that makes them particularly them; she loves them more and more as they get older and bigger (she is made up of so much heart). She likes dead Russian authors, though she would never kill a living one, and fresh flowers, which she will cut with a knife. She is liberated by words and her imagination. She likes email and social networking because it connects her a world of people she would not know another way and she wants to know everybody, including you.


Visit Heather Fowler and read some of her writing.
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#53: The Healing Powers of Joy Leftow

Joy Leftow was born to a creative family in NYC and because of this, in part, grew up in extreme poverty. She slept with her mom and two sisters in one bedroom, while her dad and brother slept in the living room. She had two blouses, one skirt, and shoes with holes in them. The family had a radio, but never a TV. There were more problems than poverty, though. Her dad was crazy and often exposed himself to Joy and her two sisters. Her mom had cancer, but, thankfully, survived. Years later, her dad attacked the doctor who saved her mother’s life because her dad imagined they were having an affair, which led to him being hospitalized at Bellevue. Joy wrote her first poem, about snowflakes, at 4 years old, and then wrote many more poems and stories during her young life—everything was fantasy then. She stopped writing in the sixth grade, though, and started acting out, cutting school and smoking cigarettes. She dropped out of high school and married a drug dealer, but the marriage failed and the drug dealer went to prison. During these difficult years, Joy began keeping diaries—nothing was fantasy then—and now is widely published writer. After her now ex-husband went to prison, Joy went back home to live in the same neighborhood where she grew up. Things are much better now. She went back to school at Columbia and now has two masters degrees, one of which is in social work, because Joy is a healer, of herself and of other people. How else could she have survived?


More Joy
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#51 Gina Myers: Ice Skating on the Page

Gina Myers was born, grew up, and went to school in and around Saginaw, Michigan. Despite its cold winters and depressed economy, she is a warm and happy person. As a young girl, Gina was a tomboy who followed her older brother around and did the things that he did. This is why she played hockey for three years before her parents switched her to ice skating lessons. (It should be noted that Gina might have won a gold medal with the first USA Olympics women’s hockey team if she had kept playing hockey.) She doesn’t talk much about figure skating anymore, though this was the focus of her life through high school and college. During this time, Gina was also a photographer and a poet, but she stopped shooting photos after her camera’s battery went dead and she never bought a new one. After college, she took a road trip to NYC with a friend and visited the New School. After returning to Michigan, she dreamed of NYC and knew that she had to move there. She couldn’t stop thinking about all those pairs of feet walking on the sidewalks. Gina took her ice skates to NYC, but only skated once in Central Park. She attended the New School and became a poet with a natural, playful style (think of the ice rink as the page). Unfortunately, she became unhappy in NYC. She tried to fix the unhappiness by changing parts of her life—her job, her apartment, certain people—but she eventually had to change cities and moved back home. In a few years, she will leave Saginaw for another city where she will continue to write poems. She is feeling optimistic.

A Sad Day for Sad Birds (Gina Myers)
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