maureenstclair.com

Writing to Heal. Writing to Be.

I remember the first time I witnessed me, the truest version of me, the me that popped from the blue lined loose leaf paper; the me scribbling a note, in the middle of grade nine history class to my dear friend Lorraine; both of us a bit tipsy from sipping dad’s vodka over lunch break. Both of us back at school that afternoon simultaneously scribbling notes to each other in two different classrooms. I remember squishing that note at the bottom of my school bag and pulling it out days later and there I was on paper. Me. Unedited, unabashed, unapologetic. Me, right there on the page. I tried it again that night minus the vodka. I remember putting my pen to page and scribbling anything that came up, remembering the process the day before, writing anything and everything to Lorraine. I scribbled me down. And there I was again, unedited, unapologetic, unabashed. I wish I could say from that day on I never stopped writing, that writing became my everything. But nope. I had to go through a lot more to recognize the me that was worthy of writing, worthy of being me.

As a child, youth, young adult reading was my everything. I am not sure how this white girl living in a white world stumbled across writers that changed my life, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Maya Angelou, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Baldwin, Merle Collins, Marguerite Duras, Jean Rhyse. This I realize is where this white young woman got her passion for justice, for racial justice; for writing that was so exquisite and real that I could not put books down. They were my everything.

At 23 I moved to Grenada and there I dived into free writing once again in the form of hand written letters (no email back then). I wrote to my dad/mom, friends and lovers and I kept hearing back, ‘You should be writing.” I got so much praise for those letters and I got so much pleasure from writing those letters that I knew writing was going to be a big part of my life. And just before Maya joined this world, I picked up Julia Cameron’s, The Artist Way and that was it, ‘morning pages’ (free writing three pages every morning) became my daily prayer, my wise woman guide; became poems and blog pieces and characters and short stories, a published novel and chapters in anthologies with radical education as titles!

I published my first novel, Big Island, Small in 2018 with Fernwood publishing and from that novel came book launches which opened up spaces to converse, share poetry, dance, sing, dialogue crucial topics like racial injustice/justice, cultural appropriation, intersectionality of oppression, power and privilege, writing as a tool of personal and collective transformation. The launches were spaces of revolutionary love and sharing and learning/unlearning!

Big Island, Small was reviewed and praised by writers and scholars I admire, respect and love! Deep bow of gratitude. In 2019 I joined a collective of writers, educators, artist, activists; former staff, associates and participants of the Coady International Institute and contributed to an anthology of personal essays called, Seeds of Radical Education at the Coady Institute. The second anthology will be out soon and another chapter contributed focusing on The Grenada Listening Project.
Just write I tell folks in my workshops, formal and informal facilitated spaces using writing as a tool for personal and collective transformation! “Just write,” I say, “find yourself on the page. You’ve got this. There you are brave, free and alive. Find your complicated, messy beautiful exquisite self, waiting to burst from page to world

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