Sometimes, there are no words.
Sometimes, there’s just noise: a sigh, a shout, a whimper. And in that inability to speak, I try to listen closely to the sounds I make—the sounds that arise from fear, worry, unease, and anger as we move forward into the next four years. Recently, I read as part of Writers Resist in Seattle; in my moments of unbearable noise, I remind myself why I write: for my community, for my loved ones, and also for myself. Writing is a means of giving. And what else can we do now except give—through noise, through human connection, through language when it’s ready?
I’d like to offer a few pieces of writing that have buoyed me these past few months:
“won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton, to celebrate the excellence of women of color
“Poetry is Not a Luxury” by Audre Lorde, to remind us that poetry “is a vital necessity of our existence”
“The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass, to try to love again even in grief
—Jane Wong, teaching The Sounds of Poetry
Now more than ever, we must write. Novels, stories, essays, and poems show us our humanity, deepen our empathy, and enrich our lives. Lately, we’ve seen our community of writers and readers grow beleaguered, angry, confused, and paralyzed. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing advice and words of encouragement from Hugo House writers and instructors on what keeps them returning to their work. We hope these words inspire you, too, to keep going.
Jane Wong‘s poems can be found in anthologies and journals such as Best American Poetry 2015, Best New Poets 2012, Pleiades, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Third Coast, and others. Awarded The American Poetry Review’s 2016 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, she is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, Squaw Valley, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University. Along with three chapbooks, she is the author of Overpour (Action Books).