Spine out


So I was sitting next to Emmy at one of Anthony’s wine tastings. In the midst of a wildly esoteric repartee about how that last wine tasted of dirty cowboys she told me about a possible book storyline. “Yes, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before. It’s a sci-fi about the farming of lady’s milk and the personal, cultural, and political ramifications of that reality.” The conversation with Emmy was blowing parts of my mind into little bits. In a good way.

“She’s a creative thinker,” I mused. So when I found out that Emmy was getting a bunch of people together for a story telling event I was psyched. She’s funny; she’s been on Comedy Central and in movies and written award-winning screenplays and books. And the other participants are all edgy and smart and making things happen in their own way. Masters of suspense, old time environmentalists, slam poets, and hot new authors all will be in the house February 27th.

Spine out is free and promises to jiggle things around in your brain. You might just get a good story out of it.

He’s back and he’s bringing chocolate.

Saba is pretty exotic. But Anthony knows about cool stuff. Word on the street is that saba is a syrup made from grape must, others insist that it is Japanese sushi mackerel, and a small minority consider it a variety of filipino plantain. Apparently one of those sabas will rendezvous with chocolate to create a revolutionary dressing for the salad. You’ll have to show up to find out which one.

Anthony’s classes open up an adventure in the world of food so that what was once charted territory becomes an untamed jungle. Have you ever had fresh chocolate fettuccine with truffle Moliterno cheese? Neither have I. Neither has anyone I know. But Anthony is serving it on Sunday.

If you feel bored by food, or want a mini spa for the senses, or if you like chocolate, come have dinner with us. You will come to know food and wine in a new, refreshing way.

Getting to the big space—an interview with Douglas Goetsch

In the following conversation, conducted via email over a few weeks, Douglas Goetsch contemplates the creative process of helping students access their best writing. Douglas will be teaching a Free-Writing Intensive at CILK119 on February 7th.

Sylke Jackson: Why did you start teaching the Free-Writing Intensive?

Douglas Goetsch: The Free-Writing Intensive comes out of an experience I had as an artist in residence at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I began to write the best poems of my life, poems that would land in the New Yorker and The Gettysburg Review, and secure me an NEA Fellowship. The college teaching load (minute compared to my years of teaching public school in NYC) gave me time to deepen my daily meditation practice, which I sensed had everything to do with my creative outpouring. My first drafts, in particular, covered enormous imaginative territory, and I wanted to translate the expansiveness I was experiencing into concrete teaching methods. I developed a series of free-writing protocols, each designed to run interference on the ego, allowing a deeper self to sneak onto the page. This was putting a foundation of training under Frost’s dictum, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” That surprise is always a leap: the leap from what we want to say to what the writing wants to say. The body of teachings I’d developed in Oklahoma became The Free-Writing Intensive, a course I have been giving around the country.

Jackson: I am curious about meditation affecting your creative outpouring. Do you have a sense of how this works? Is meditation related to what you teach in writing class?

Goetsch: At first I didn’t have a sense of how exactly it worked, and that’s probably a good thing, because if I were in a place of “knowing,” nothing mysterious may have unfolded. But whatever that state is that artists need to be in, to be receptive to things larger and wiser than themselves—I’ve lately called it “the big space”—meditation, by putting the ego out of business (if only temporarily), was getting me there.
But this isn’t a particularly “Eastern” thing: writers everywhere succeed by virtue of their ability to get to, and stay in, the big space, where they experience a dissolved and expansive sense of self, less personally invested, often strange, and deeply wise. Stuck writers, on the other hand, tend to force things, trying to make willpower do the work of imagination. Free-writing, which is rarely taught properly, or trained in as a discipline, is a great antidote to this. Like meditation, free-writing can invite openness—not unlike an invocation to the muse—putting us in a state of equanimity, where the imagination can slip the noose of the thinking mind.

Jackson: So, being free of the ego is one condition that allows writers to write well. Are there other ways that writers can support themselves in the writing process?

Goetsch: There’s actually a part of the ego, sometimes called the managerial ego, that’s essential for writers: we need it to organize our time and put ourselves in a protected space to write—something Virginia Woolf talks about in A Room of One’s Own. A strong ego supports our practice: balances the checkbook, sends out submissions, doesn’t freak out with rejection, and has the confidence to enroll in classes such as The Free-Writing Intensive. Once we start writing, however, all ego must go away. Getting it to obey is as difficult as it is vital.

Lilli, Goddess of organization, invokes the mighty Evernote

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It was a dark and frigid night and Lilli Weisz was helping us put the pieces of our lives into order. In Evernote.

“The more you put in, the more powerful it becomes,” she told the room of people who seemed pretty together by most standards. But the sighs of joy were audible as Lilli revealed the efficient, easy system that lets you save, group, edit, tag, and share digital information. Soon key lime pie recipes, PDFs of lease agreements, the label from that great wine at Connie’s party, shopping lists, websites, emails, and photos of cute dogs flew across the power point screen and were popped into Evernote where they were rendered imminently accessible.

“See this picture of a wine label? You type in ‘vineyard’ and Evernote will read the text from the photo and find this file. It has an extremely powerful search capability.” So yeah, we learned that you can throw a bunch of stuff into Evernote, expand on it, and share it with others. The tags allow you to file one item many different ways, an important advantage over a hard copy system. Comforted by the prospect of increased organization, the participants of the Evernote workshop went back out to the icy streets of Nanuet, resolved to bring a whole new level of efficiency to their lives.

Robots, here we come.


We had an awesome first Arduino course last night with Dr. Bell at the CILK119 Makerspace. Thank you to all who came out, cracked open their laptops, and started exploring the exciting world of microcontrollers!

Everyone was able to get their first program running on the Arduino: a blinking LED. This is a small but significant first step toward building actual robots!

In coming classes we will be learn how to control lights, motors, and sensors, and we will even use the 3D printer to fabricate parts for the robots.

Click here to sign up for future classes.

I once was lost but now I’m found…on the internet

Wow. There’s a lot to know about search engine optimization. And Tom Ossa has the powerpoints to prove it.

Tom shared a huge breadth of information at his workshops on Wednesday and helped participants see how they can harness the power of the internet to strengthen their own initiatives. Tom created an interactive, stimulating environment for workshop attendees. Each person gained insight on how to enhance the internet presence of her products and services.

Tom covered Google analytics, writing styles, search engine ranking factors, links, keywords, bounce rate, meta descriptions, site structure, and offered a bunch of resources for building a better website. Check out his blogpost about the workshop for some great leads. http://www.rocklandwebdesign.com/category/rocklandwebdesign/

He’ll teach an ongoing series of classes at CILK119.  Next up will be Social Media. Stay tuned.


Get it all at CILK119

indie booksellers hold up

You can learn many things at CILK119 this November. These skills will definitely heighten your personal magnetism.

Tomorrow MCPetey will teach the masses how to party.
Michael Sherman will unveil the secrets of relationship Saturday night.
Tom Ossa will show how to get to the top of someone’s google search next Wednesday.
(Okay, he’s talking about your business, but still.)
And Chef Anthony Lo Pinto will wine and dine guests with feasts and fabulous wines in a couple weeks.

Writers can get stimulation and inspiration this Monday night. Katherine Flannery Dering will offer a writing prompt and tell people about her book Shot in the Head. It sounds intense and it is. It’s about living with a schizophrenic brother.

At the end of the month, after learning to rock, relate, be popular, drink wine, and write, we figured we would just shmooze and eat cake. So we signed up for the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Expo and Dessert Extravaganza. We’ll be at the Comfort Inn in Nanuet with books, comics, soaps, and Arduino Kits on November 19th.

So yeah, CILK119 is bringing sexy back. Come on down.