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Gorgeous, Darkening Days...

Fall Update, October 2023
Gorgeous, Darkening Days...

[Atena stands in front of the Solidarity to Celebrate audience, underneath a string of yellow incandescent lights, in front of a brick wall with green leaves visible above the top. Atena sings into a microphone, eyes closed and face lifted. She’s wearing a brightly patterned blue and green African jacket over a black shirt, with a long, gold and red beaded necklace.]

Fall is my secret favorite season: the colors: cool, blue skies, and the warm-hued leaves… The petrichor aroma carrying the promise of decay, inviting us to have faith in another course around the sun as the days darken… Thick, soft sweaters and open windows… How we draw together before the long-haul of winter (some might call this cuffing season…) Autumn is a riot of sensual glory.

Here’s how I’ve been rounding the season’s bend:

Retreat and Advance!

RETREAT as in: Roots. Wounds. Words. Winter Writers Retreat! I was encouraged to apply by another Anaphora Residency alum, and I was accepted! This is going to be a rocket fuel boost toward completing the first draft of my manuscript!  From the RWW website:

“The Roots. Wounds. Words. Annual Writers’ Retreat for Storytellers of Color is a sacred space wherein BIPOC stories are celebrated, and BIPOC storytellers immersed in liberation.”

Those of us committed to liberation work know storytelling is an essential skill because if we want people to accept hard truths, we have to dress truth in stories that resonate. The Roots. Wounds. Words. Retreat is a space designed especially to support writers in honing our storytelling in the service of liberation movements. I’m excited and honored to be invited!

Read This! Reframing Shame

Do you find it hard to ask for help? I do. It makes sense: it’s been stigmatized as weakness or defect our whole lives! But listen: how can we be in solidarity when we can’t ask for/offer what is needed?

I’m proud to be a cultural worker and proud to ask for your support so I can continue my work; Learn how to invest in this storyteller and why it’s important to ask for what we need.

ADVANCE: Not the monetary kind of advance - not YET… (by all means, let’s manifest that!), but PROGRESS! Speaking as somebody’s mother and somebody else’s FTE employee, and somebody else’s board chair: progress on a writing project is a big deal! Additionally: I’m having FUN! Currently enjoying two fascinating books: Undercurrents of Power by Dr. Kevin Dawson and Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols. The things I’m learning about aquatics and how humans relate to water… WOWWW! The fundamental element of our lives is always calling to us but is also the most dangerous place for us to be.

FYI: everything you’ve been told about why Black people don’t swim is probably a lie. More to come on that hot topic..

Chicago End-of-Summer Moments

I had some great performance opportunities and appearances in Chicago to wrap up the summer: the Exhibit B at Comfort Station Social Justice Fair in Logan Square, Poetry on The Green in the West Loop, Printers Row Lit Fest, and the always uplifting Solidarity to Celebrate event, hosted by my organizing collective Lifted Voices at Haymarket House (outdoors, for COVID reasons).

More about Solidarity to Celebrate here, and the event video here!

[Image: Collage in quadrants - clockwise from upper left: a picture of Atena with Andrea Change, Executive Director Guild Literary Complex and author, Faylita Hicks, at the Printers Row Lit Fest; Atena, reading from her book incantation‘s for rest at poetry on the green; Flyer for Exhibit B at Comfort Station Social Justice Festival; close-up, picture of black hands holding a 2023 Solidarity to Celebrate award.]

Plans For These Darkening Days

Seeding Stories: Diving into deep reading and writing to build my manuscript prep portfolio and get this book written!

NaNoWriMo but With Poems! Very possibly you’ve heard writers talking about National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). Well my ADHD loves a group project, so I’ll be joining thousands of novel-writing aspirants in bolstering my daily word count toward getting this book of narrative poetry written! Check out my Instagram and Patreon blog for updates.

Fundraiser Funtimes! Retreats cost money. Paying the staff and faculty authors to keep these opportunities sustainable is important. I got a cute lil’ scholarship for RWW, but there’s a lot left to cover. I’m raising funds AND using my platform to challenge thinking that says we should be ashamed to ask for help… Stay tuned for more…!

  • Our RWW retreat hosts have arranged a Givelively fundraiser, which I invite you to support!
  • If you prefer the direct route, that support is also welcome: Here’s my link for Venmo or you can Paypal me at @atenaoyadi.

Wishing you lots of warm cider, cozy moments, and exhilarating cool breezes!

In solidarity and gratitude,


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