Reading, talking and writing with writers from far away

Happy almost end of July dear writers of the not so very real. The more I go on in this writing business, the more I learn that the world of writing is all about relationships. It’s the relationships that make it more than a job — paid or unpaid. The people we connect with on our journey — whether they are teachers, students, fellow writers and/or new readers — are in the final analysis why we write. We are bound to to our community and to each other Albert Camus tells us in his Nobel Prize speech, and Anne Frank writes, “I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met.”

I was introduced to poet/publisher Shannon Phillips at Culturama, which is a fantastic free creative writing event offered by Mt SAC in Walnut, California. I met Shannon in line for pizza while she spoke with another amazing writer, the poet Aruni Wijesinghe. Months later, Shannon wrote me about a project she was involved with called THE BRIDGE, and she invited me to submit some work. I sent her one of my favorite stories — a strange one (surprise!) that I was having trouble placing — as well as one of my favorite poems. To my surprise and delight she accepted both.

But this is just the beginning of the story (“Get to the point,” I can hear you saying…. Wait, I’ll get there).

Last fall I received copy of THE BRIDGE volume II. This anthology features work by writers from the US and Pakistan. And gosh can these writers write. You should get the book and prepare to be WOWED. These are poems and stories that will amaze you.

This past Sunday night, I had the pleasure and honor of talking with one of the writers from THE BRIDGE. It was Monday morning in Lahore, Pakistan, while here on Whidbey Island Washington, the sun was just setting. Ambassador Ayesha Abid and I were separated by space and time and language and culture and religion (and age!), but we turned out to be close neighbors in spirit. We communed together about the power of writing across boundaries, and we talked about the importance of sharing our thoughts through poetry and fiction. We talked finally about the challenges facing women writers, who have so much to share with the world.

You can see our conversation here.

THE BRIDGE is a project that is the brainchild of Aaisha Umt Ur Rashid, and she can tell you better than I can what this project is about:

“The project of THE BRIDGE, taken as a whole, aims at connecting writers from across the globe while uniting them on one platform where they can exhibit creative pieces of timeless relevance. Each volume targets writers from one country and the work is evaluated without any societal prejudices or religious constraints. The first volume allied with Malaysian writers, while Volume II caters to writers from America.” (from the Editor’s introduction to BRIDGE Volume II)

I can share that volume III will anthologize writers from Pakistan and Nigeria, and who knows where volume IV will lead us? I can’t wait to find out!

When we meet and speak with writers in other parts of the world, we learn so much, and we receive so much. And… we can write with our writer-companions too. There’s a new initiative sponsored by the BRIDGE where you can co-write a story with others. You can see this opportunity here.

I invite you to check out THE BRIDGE. And I want to thank the brilliant BRIDGE team for their beautiful efforts, which have helped make our complex, troubled world more friendly, more intimate, and more creative.

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