Hope’s Beautiful Daughters: A Spring & Summer Class


Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
— Saint Augustine

Why repeat the facts—they cover up our feelings. The development of these feelings, the spilling of these feelings past the  facts, is what fascinates me. I try to find them, collect them, protect them.
—Svetlana Alexievich

The truth is that I simply did not understand why anyone would want to violate the rights of others or to ruin the environment. Why would someone destroy the only forest left in the city and give it to friends and political supporters to build expensive houses and golf courses?
—Wangari Maathai

Our strategy should be not only to confront Empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer recklessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
—Arundhati Roy

Writing is essential to my life, like breathing. I can live without a husband but I cannot live without writing. By writing I become one with the world and with myself.
—Nawal El Saadawi

In this class we will get (re)acquainted with some of the world’s great writers, activists, dissidents, Nobel Laureates, investigators, critics, chroniclers, and healers of our time. We will meet twice a month on Wednesdays via Zoom over six months, reading and reflecting on one book each month. Among the themes we will explore are reverence for life, compassion/accompaniment, questioning authority, dangerous memory, structural violence, and deep listening.

Of course, by our deep reading and lively exchange, we may be compelled to do some writing of our own–poems, correspondence, manifesto, instruction manual, mini-memoir, interviews with elders, political tract, and so on. A class blog will be a site for visiting and being inspired, insha’allah, in between classes.

The books:
Ukraine: Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl
India: Arundhati Roy, Walking with the Comrades
Kenya: Wangari Maathai, Unbowed: A Memoir
Iraq: Dunya Mikhail, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq
Egypt: Nawal El Saadawi, Off Limits: New Writings on Fear and Sin
China: Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

Our first meeting will be on Wednesday 22 April, at 7 p.m. Tuition is $150; you can send me a check or use Paypal.

If interested, message me or send an email: markjchmiel@gmail.com.


Collage by Tammie Augustine; Computer Lab at Florissant Valley Community College; February 2020

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