WordSwell is a fountain rising through the chest. The words of this fountain express ideas, emotions, and concepts, a record of our true response to what is happening, our deepest feelings about the event. WordSwell expands who we think we are and opens the boundaries of what we think life is. WordSwell is our authentic self, pushing at our skin from inside.
WordSwell figured in the creation of AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD BLIND - POETS ON 9/11. Allen Cohen and I wanted to collect poems on 9/11 and bring the book out on its first anniversary. We chose to publish pieces that captured peoples' responses to the event itself. In two months we had more than 800 submissions. We had poems from old people, young people, famous people, unknown people, writers, non-writers, teachers, students, all expressing their profoundest reaction to a terrible moment in our history. The anthology only samples some of the writing about the event, by a few of the vast numbers of people who must have experienced an upwelling of emotion at the time. The book received the PEN Oakland national writing award in 2003.
WordSwell deserves appreciation. It doesn't take a huge event to set off this uprising in our bodies. Many small, everyday things provoke such responses, and when we put the words down on paper we honor them. This makes the experience enduring and keeps it from being simply a few thoughts that float through our minds and vanish. Our authentic response thus becomes something in the world and separate from us.
This gives us the power to deal with any experience and our response in a meaningful way. We can now reaffirm it, negotiate with it, and pronounce it ours. We thus become more powerful in the world. We become more integrated, stronger, healthier people. We become more authentic and more able to effect social change, more real in our interactions and in our loves. WordSwell graces and enriches our lives.
WordSwell brings out the writer in people by helping them engage their creative unconscious in an energetic, playful, and healing manner.
Through its power to connect with passion and the authentic self,
- WordSwell works through its programs to enrich and heal those who are injured, whether by health problems or mental illness, the elderly, the imprisoned, and youth in trouble;
- WordSwell offers to work alongside and invigorate existing programs, such as creative writing in our schools, spoken word, art as therapy, and other venues for personal growth;
- WordSwell seeks to increase political awareness, inviting people in all walks of life to present honest reactions to our political situation in concert with recognized poets; to enhance our own deep connection to our culture and our planet, to face the global complexities of climate change, immigration and social upheaval;
- WordSwell develops and presents its own excursions into our gardens, into the Sierra, into the outback of our Western United States, and to Europe and Africa through publications, readings, and teaching teachers;
- WordSwell adds power to writers whether they are committed to healing, authenticity, personal growth, increasing writing skills, furthering a career, or enhancing social awareness.
Statement of Nondiscrimination
WordSwell does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic identification, political affiliation, or disability in its activities or programs.
We're Looking for a Few Good Teachers
WordSwell is looking for people interested in teaching at WordSwell events. Training and explication of theory are available at the Crazy Child workshops, listed in the Calendar. To enroll, use the contact form below.