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Sunday, January 27, 2019

'Let stories happen to you'

“There's a reason poets often say, 'Poetry saved my life,' for often the blank page is the only one listening to the soul's suffering, the only one registering the story completely, the only one receiving all softly and without condemnation.”– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

With all the focus on the Academy Award-nominated movie “Roma” and its Mestiza (Native American/Mexica Spanish) star Yalitza Aparacio, it seemed fitting to write a bit about another Mestiza “star,” Pinkola Estés, internationally renowned writer and spoken word performer.

Born on this date in 1945, Pinkola Estés grew up in the oral tradition cantadora, which translates as keeper of the old stories in the Latina tradition.  That tradition came from immigrant, refugee families who could not read nor write, or did so haltingly, and for whom English was a third language overlying their ancient natal languages.

Estés has been a "distinguished visiting scholar" or "diversity scholar" at universities around the world.  Many of her talks are rooted in her books, among them the international bestsellers Women Who Run With the Wolves and her Spoken Word masterpiece How To Be An Elder: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman.   She also is a managing editor and columnist writing on politics, spirituality, and culture at the newsblog TheModerateVoice.com, and a columnist for The National Catholic Reporter online. 
                                     Her advice to new writers also is a challenge:  “I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter 'til they bloom; 'til you yourself burst into bloom.”

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