“Writing the Erotic” – a workshop at The Sitting Room


Writers! Here’s one of the many announcements of a workshop I am facilitating in Cotati at The Sitting Room: a Community Library:
Dates: September 12, 19, 26 and Oct. 3, 2015 (Four 3-hour sessions)
Time:    Saturday mornings 9 a.m. – noon
Cost: $120 (max. 10 participants) Advance registration recommended.

Whether you want to add one sexy scene to your story/novel or dream about writing an erotic poem or story that will charm, excite and perhaps blow your reader’s mind, this class will give you some guidance. What makes good erotic writing? What’s the difference between erotic and pornographic? (Is there a difference?) What is your personal erotic/sensual aesthetic? Sensuality and mischievous humor can be woven into your memoir, plays, and documentary writing too. We’ll read examples of effective sex writing and “bad” (by this I mean something that makes you cringe, not bad in a good way) sex writing. We’ll do in-class writing exercises and, following the first session, submit work to our colleagues for critique. I will also invite a local “sexpert” to one class to give us inspiration.

Contact: jennieo@sonic.net

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KRCB radio interview on Poetry, Politics and Passion

A radio interview on KRCB’s “A Novel Idea” about my recent book, Poetry, Politics and Passion, edited down to the juiciest 20 minutes. My thanks to interviewer/producer Suzanne Lang for her insightful questions and our delightful conversation.

Please listen and enjoy:

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Ménage à May: An Erotic Literary Soirée

This is a video of my reading at Steamy Sonoma County Ménage à May: An Erotic Literary Soirée performed in Sebastopol on May 30, 2014

You may also view this video on my video page on this site or on YouTube, here.

Please enjoy, and share with your friends.

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Film Recommendations

5,000 were served dinner last night at our local vets memorial building; when the Rescue Mission began this service at Thanksgiving 19 years ago, they had 300 dining. 49 million of our fellow U.S. citizens are living in poverty. What’s going on? The film “Inequality for All” in theaters recently and certainly worthy of a Best Documentary nomination helps explain. Focusing on Robert Reich, economist, author and Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, it is as entertaining as it is enlightening. Everyone, including every Congressperson and Senator should see it, but of course they won’t.

Another film  everyone should see is “Chasing Ice“–about the work of National Geographic world-famous photographer James Balog and his project of recording the demise of the world’s glaciers and the consequences for climate change and life on earth. Beautiful and terrifying. Stunning and timely. NetFlix it; buy it and show it at a house party.  Same for “Inequality for All.” The attention and respect that Reich’s young audience gives him during his talk at the end of the film is the thing that gave me hope, however slim, for humanity’s survival in an inevitably transforming world.

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A sad, deep time

I wrote this poem on the morning of a memorial service for a dear friend’s husband, thinking about her, and another woman left widowed, and of yet another sweet friend who was about to make her transition (and who did leave us on September 16). Days of intense deep feelings as my community supports each other in grief, and in honoring great souls we have known and loved.

for M, M and M

A tall woman speaks the vision of her own death:
a redwood topples into waiting arms of the surrounding grove
is held, like bow to cello, suspended. An indelicate wind
rubs her deeply-grooved bark against the bark of her kin,
a keening song.

A hummingbird of a woman wants to hurry death along:
she is enjoying eye-candy of this world, but is weary,
at last sinking into her own shadow. She strokes
the eyebrows, the downy cheeks of her visitor
who kisses the oh-so-thin forearm, skin transparent
as a Cosmos petal. They repeat to each other I love you,
I love you, and goodbye.

A woman who plays cello, a woman who sings
face a morning when the clouds do not break. Their tribe
gathers to help roll aside one boulder of grief after another.
There is nothing else to be done. All of us, in our way,
are waiting to fly.

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Love has no color: first integrated prom in Wilcox County Georgia

How great to start my day at 6 a.m. with Democracy Now’s interview with two adorable and articulate students who have organized this event; the show connects the integrated prom story with the 1957 integration of Little Rock Central High School by a group of students known as the Little Rock 9. You can watch and get transcript at this link. Bright light on a foggy morning!

A group of Georgia high school students are making history by challenging the segregation of their high school prom. Thanks to their efforts and the support of groups like the NAACP, Wilcox County High will hold its first-ever integrated prom this Saturday, nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education desegregated the nation’s school system…News of the case spread quickly over social media, fueling support and donations for an integrated prom from as far away as Australia and South Korea.
Democracy Now April 26, 2013

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I feel an addiction coming on

Yes, I participated in 8 (2-minute, 1-minute?) heats at the Arthur Murray Dance Showcase yesterday. The whole day and night adventure was great fun. The risk to dance as a newcomer paid off in supreme enjoyment of the well-organized spectacle–watching dancers of all ages all day, browsing $4,500 dance dresses covered with beading, sequins, Swarovsky crystals, hanging out with the students and instructors of the Arthur Murray Santa Rosa studio, enjoying great food, classy dinner ambiance with the most wonderful centerpieces and favors–it was like being at a wedding reception. And then I have documentation (my thanks to Cara Recine for expertly using my camera) in video and still photos. I watched and edited them until two in the morning.

Photo album on my Facebook page and rumba video on YouTube. Oh yes, and the Press Democrat quoted me in their article and photo gallery on local partner dancing.

What a great week of living my artistic life, besides dancing for critique, I had the pleasure of:  video editing on Wednesday, preparing for Dan Coshnear’s April writing workshop on Thursday, activating my new smart phone on Friday, making photographs and editing them on Sunday, planting roses and garlic on Monday. Blessings counted!

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Un-Happy Anniversary

As the day job beckons, I’ll quickly give some links  to stories at Democracy Now from this morning of March 20 — 10 year anniversary of the Iraq War shock and awe bombardment (after the “gulf war” and 13 years of brutal sanctions, it might be considered Iraq War III). A thorough timeline, a report on the legacy of depleted uranium weapons and gruesome birth defects among Iraqi babies, and  journalist Dahr Jamail’s report on torture and Iraq as a devastated state. Years ago, Dahr was the only unembedded journalist reporting daily from Fallujah and I heard him speak at Sonoma State University.

Also worth it to note 62 Iraqis dead from car bombs yesterday morning. This is “liberated”?


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Accumulating good news…

. . . in the face of rejection. Yes, the editors of the Times They Were A Changing: Women Remember the Sixties and Seventies anthology rejected my essay “Radical Feminism and Me.” It’s a good opportunity now to workshop the piece, expand it and make it better. This coordinates perfectly with a project I’m just finishing in collaboration with Gary Carnivele. He has transferred from old VHS cassette to DVD my 1975 documentary, LIVES: 1, 2, 3, 4.

What was then called “self-referential” film and is now considered “reality” television, my household lived with a video camera for six weeks and filmed what was happening, which happened to be a lot. (The issues my documentary raises are still relevant 38 years later—child custody after divorce, creativity in its myriad forms, the meaning of women’s history in the present, and intimate relationships, including real fights and real sex.) Stay tuned for more on that.

To balance the literary rejection letter, how about the following?

My poem “Refrain” was accepted for publication in Stephen Kessler’s Redwood Coast Review, April 2013 issue. My book Poetry, Politics and Passion is now available in Kindle format at amazon.com for a mere $5.99. Two new video clips are posted on my website:  a half hour interview with me on “WriterSpeak” produced at the Community Media Center by Moonking People Productions; and me giving an intimate reading of my essay, “A Face of Ecstasy.”  Yes, it feels like Spring is bustin’ out all over!

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Still on the subject of Zero Dark Thirty

I just read an article in The Nation by Katha Pollitt (March 4, 2012 issue) that ends like this:

“… I don’t understand how anyone can see this much-praised movie as ambiguous on the torture question. The movie says torture works: ‘In the end, everybody breaks,’ Dan (Jason Clarke) tells the prisoner he is beating, water-boarding, walking like a dog and forcing into a tiny box. ‘It’s biology.’ And sure enough, the man gives up the clue that eventually leads to Osama’s front door. If, in real life, this information was actually obtained by other methods, as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin attested in a public letter about the film, there’s no suggestion of it onscreen. But the movie does something even worse: it not only makes torture look necessary; it makes the torturers cool. Dan is handsome, smart, humorous and unconventional—his own person in a crowd of company men. When not stringing people from the ceiling, he’s caring—a good friend to Maya, an animal lover. He doesn’t let his job turn him into a brute or a sadist—he knows when he’s reached his emotional limits and gets out. As for Maya, the lonely avenger of 9/11, what can one say? She’s not only smart, dedicated, selfless, brave and tireless—she’s Jessica
 Chastain! The most beautiful woman in the world, with flowing locks of red-gold hair that light up every scene she’s in, including the one where she fetches a pail of water for the water-boarding.

“The only person in the CIA who will see a day in prison for anything that happened during all this is James Kiriakou, the anti-torture whistleblower recently sentenced to thirty months for revealing the name of a covert CIA officer to a reporter. Don’t hold your breath for a Hollywood movie about him.

While I found Zero Dark Thirty very disturbing and would not recommend it, I do recommend this year’s Oscar- nominated documentaries, which have all been outstanding—including How to Survive a Plague, the inspiring and tear-inducing history of Act Up and the fight for AIDS recognition, as well as Five Broken Cameras, about one West Bank town’s resistance to the Israeli separation wall. Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat and his family were detained and questioned at the Los Angeles airport and almost refused entry despite all his documentation and Academy Award invitation. Burnat was able to contact Michael Moore who called the Academy’s lawyer to intervene, and the Palestinian family was released.  More here. There’s a story behind every true-story film.

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