Writers Reading To Writers

For the last several years I have hosted a group of writers at my home each month called Writers Reading to Writers. I provide a simple dinner and ask the members to prepare a short piece of five to ten minutes on any subject in any format: fiction, nonfiction, prose, poetry or what-have-you. At each meeting we read our piece to the group followed by a brief discussion about the work. From the beginning I have suggested that our commentary be focused on the ideas expressed in the writing and how that affects us rather than critiquing technicalities. Our group is not intended to be a writing class and we try not to judge or compete with each other. Rather, we are freely giving of our creative selves as expressed through our writing. Our meetings are intended to be a safe place to present original work for the enjoyment of the other members. I am happy to report that our conversations, over time, have proved to be exhilarating and satisfying experiences.

As the group evolves we have had meetings at various members’ homes where we all contribute to the meal in some way or other making it easy for everyone to host occasionally if they want to. We try not to slip into a gab-fest dinner party, although, we frequently need a wee bit of prodding to stay on track because, being a jolly bunch our natural proclivities are to indulge in a lot of La La – not surprising for a group of story tellers.

At one of our recent meetings Alison Barnet read, Go To Your Room which I thought to be topical and amusing. While talking about her piece Alison mentioned that it was rejected for publication by the South End News, a newspaper that she helped to create. Over the years Alison has contributed regularly to S.E.N. with numerous articles concentrating on the individual characters of the South End neighborhood where she has lived since the early sixties.

I responded to Alison’s disappointment and frustration by volunteering to publish her article on my Glamour Galore Blog. I had always intended to invite friends and colleagues to contribute to my publication, but I have been dragging my heels and procrastinating for far too long. So Alison’s article is a natural and overdue opportunity for me to collaborate with a writer whom I respect and enjoy. So let me share her work with you. I will be inviting all the members of Writers Reading to Writers to contribute articles to Glamour Galore and because we are one swell buncha buddies, I am optimistic of a favorable response. Duck dear reader ‘cause here comes a cornucopia of creative chit-chat!

Alison Barnet is the author of two published books. Extravaganza King: Robert Barnet and Boston Musical Theater (Northeastern University Press, 2004). This is Alison’s biography of her play-writing great-grandfather, who was himself a 19th century South End resident. Alison’s second book is entitled, South End Character, speaking out on neighborhood change. Her upcoming novel, Sitting Ducks, a South End comic novel, is eagerly awaited by her many fans.

Born on Staten Island, New York, Anne Alison Barnet has lived in the South End of Boston since 1964. She earned an A. B. from Boston University in English in 1967, and a M.Ed. from Cambridge (Massachusetts) College in 1991. In 1980 she was the founding editor of the South End News.

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Alison Barnet

At the front door of the Boston Athenaeum where she is a long term member, Photo by Iory Allison
 

Go to your room!

“Google, mama. Tweet. App.”

Only a two-year-old could have made up these terms. Cuter than a button and smart as a whip, toddlers, who used to restrict themselves to doggie and blankie, now utter wi-fi and hashtag without a twitter of the eye, and their adoring moms—there’s no such thing as a mother anymore—write the new words down, add exclamation marks, and send them up to The Cloud. That must be how it works.

Downsize was one of their first brilliant creations—what two-year-old can say reduce?—and blow-back one of their more unfortunate.

Of course, these babies already have their own computers, cell phones, and a myriad of other toys with screens they can touch and move with their sticky little fingers. Like everyone else, they’ve figured out how to use SmartPhones for stupid conversations. Was it a kindergarten argument at the bookshelf that resulted in ebook, an upset tummy in blog—a mom had to clean that up!

“Mom, I’m not a yahoo, am I?”

“No, darling. You’re your mom’s little podcast, mom’s little itune.”

Moms only correct their little ones when they confuse ipad with ipod, and that almost never happens.

Laughing for no reason, making silly faces, and waving their fat arms around, toddlers are on Facebook early on, large photos of their baby faces filling the screen, just begging to be liked. Some diaper shots have caused controversy, however. Then there’s all that sexting—you really should be at least four years old to do that—which has resulted in several arrests. Aren’t the prisons full enough already without little children being crowded into cells, thinking that cell means…well, you know.

Here in the South End, toddlers have been busily at work naming restaurants and stores. Actually, they’ve been at it for years while miraculously remaining only two years old. “Foodies, mom. Flock! BoMa, Brix, Bark Place! Coco Baby, Coda, Coppa, Picco. Polka Dog, Lekker, Oishii! Masa, Mela, Motley, Sault, Skoah, Sooki, Stir, Tadpole, Toro!” “How do you spell flower, mom?” The only restaurant name that didn’t come from a two-year-old is Vejigantes. That one’s beyond them.

“You’re so Gifted, baby,” says Mom, who undoubtedly talks like a baby herself. Maybe she’s an expert at uptalk or does that gravely little thing at the end of sentences that’s called a vocal fry. In her world, “you guys” is the plural of “you.” I am, you are, he/she/it is. We are, you guys are, they are. Probably she uses like six times a minute and punctuates messages with multiple exclamation marks. Please keep this area clean!!! Check in here!!!!

“Kindle, mom. Evite. Nook.”

“Hold on, sweetie. Mom’s in the bathroom live streaming.”

—Alison Barnet