by Marty Kezon
The title came easily. It took only a few minutes of brainstorming before one of the quieter participants spoke up to offer a potential name for our poetry book: “What if we call it ‘Gender Exorcists’?” The group’s excitement was immediate, and the consensus unanimous.
This moment came during a recent book group at TransWorks, a Chicago House program that advances employment and work opportunities for trans and nonbinary individuals. Since the fall of 2016, Literature for All of Us has partnered with TransWorks to weave the book group model into their six-month long mentorship cohorts. During monthly meetings, LFAOU’s book group becomes a way for each cohort to build community, connect around urgent issues, and engage with the work of trans and nonbinary writers.
by Abby Harris-Ridker
On Wednesday May 23rd, I took 5 book group participants from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Alternative High School to do process art with Literature for All of Us’ friend Cal Calvird at his studio, Create Space. As Cal explained to our students, process art is a natural extension of book group, it is a way to process, write, and reflect on whatever is happening in your life. Cal’s process is simple, yet hard to describe in full detail - as the students acknowledged, you have to do it to understand its power.
We started with intention writing. There are only two rules for intention writing.–First, make things active in order to breathe the intention into existence. For example, instead of writing I want to relax, you write I relax or I am relaxed. Second, don’t write things in the negative. For example, we were instructed not to write an intention saying “I am not anxious,” because then what are we experiencing instead? We were guided to frame that feeling in the positive and write something like, “I am calm” or think about how we wanted to channel that feeling into our intention - for example, “I hold my anger and use it to repair the world.” We took time to quietly write our intentions and reflect silently.