Creative Community

Kwanza     Habari Gani?

Kuumba (creativity), to make the community more beautiful and beneficial for the future, is observed on the sixth night of Kwanzaa. Let’s celebrate creative work in the arts.  Founded in 2013, by Cheryl Clarke, Breena Clarke, and Barbara Balliet, the Hobart Festival of Women Writers produced its sixth consecutive weekend of programming in 2018 dedicated to celebrating the work of literary women. The Festival takes place in the small village of Hobart, New York, home of six independent bookstores and designated as The Reading Capital of New York State.

more information at Hobart Book Village

See all the

Highlights of Festival of Women Writers 2018

 

 

View a slideshow of the covers of six years of our Participating Writers’ Books:

Hobart Festival of Women Writers Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Calendar Sign for BLOG   Get a calendar to welcome the New Year. Purchase a Hobart Festival of Women Writers 2019 calendar. It features the work of the women who participated in our first Festival in 2013. The Kwanzaa gift that will last all year long. Purchase here:

HOBART FESTIVAL INAUGURAL CALENDAR

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A ROOM OF HER OWN FOUNDATION, a global organization of creative women with which I’ve been associated since its first writers retreat in 2003 has rolled out a wave of treasure this December, Gifts of Fellowship which include unique opportunities for the givers.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
You can STILL make a donation to support this great consortium of creative women AND have a chance to win an empowering ONE-ON-ONE video-conferencing session designed to build your skills and confidence in reading your own creative writing with Breena Clarke.

Are you ready to read your work for an audience?  Do you shake in your boots at the thought of performing your own writing? Consider donating to A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Edna Payne Clarke Gift of Fellowship and you could win an opportunity to work with me. Find out the full details and donate-to-win a Gift of Fellowship at A Room of Her Own Foundation:

 Winning fellows will be announced January 4th.

In this one on one class with me which is named in honor of my mother, Edna Payne Clarke,  you’ll get email and video-conferencing interaction. I’ll help you select the right material to read and I’ll share my tips on preparation and some techniques for a smooth and exciting dramatic reading. Hurry. Time is running out for this opportunity.

 

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction, is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

more information at BreenaClarke.com

Sugar Crush Redux Redux

I’m returning to the subject of Sugar, as in Sugar Diabetes, as in Diabetes.

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Habari Gani?

The Fifth night of Kwanzaa is Nia, purpose, to build and develop goals to benefit the people of the community. I’m adopting the goal of disseminating information about one of the most dangerous opponents that POC confront: Diabetes.

How does Food Access affect Diabetes Rates in Communities of Color?

“The American Diabetes Association recently reported that the average diabetic incurs about $9,601 in diabetes-related medical expenses per year. Recently, insulin prices have skyrocketed. According to CBS News, the cost of insulin from two manufacturers rose almost 8 percent last year, to more than $275, and some patients’ costs have jumped from $300 to almost $1,000 in the last year.” 

U.S. News

and consider this article,

Food Access and Diabetes Rates in Communities of Color: Connecting the Dots

by Lindsey Haynes-Maslow at Union of Concerned Scientists.org   READ THIS:

Connecting The Dots 

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Personal Apple Cobblers

A low sugar dessert

Peel and slice 5-6 apples of whatever kind you like.  Choose a crisp, sweet type like Honey Crisp or Gala or Fuji or Empire 

The juice of one lemon – approximately 1/4 cup

3/4 cup of Truvia baking blend

2 tablespoonfuls of cornstarch 

2 tablespoons of butter

1 frozen pie crust defrosted. I suggest the rolled kind that can be rolled thinner and flatter.  

6-8 small ramekins.   Much depends on how large your apples are. I suggest using medium sized ones. Fruit will “cook down” and may bubble over. Both of these things are tasty. 

Combine apple slices, lemon juice, sweetener, and cornstarch.  Roll out the softened pie crust. Cut out large circles with a biscuit cutter.  Cut strips of remaining dough into pieces.  Put filling in ramekins to half mark. Put dough in filling. Add more fruit.  Cut one tablespoon of butter into four pieces. Dot the top of each pie with butter. Cover the tops of each with crust rounds and fill in the sides with remaining dough pieces.   Brush the crusts with a tablespoon of melted butter. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbling.  

These are nicely portioned for a guilt-free dessert. Less chance that you’ll over-indulge. 

The Sweet Inspirations
Get your sweet in your ears with The Sweet Inspirations and this hit from 1968:
Study war no more
Study War no more
Study war No more
Study war no More!
Dossie Smoot

THE PEOPLE CATCHER: MR. WOOLFOLK’S BOUNTY

An original story by Breena Clarke published in Kweli, an online literary journal featuring diverse voices.

The People Catcher   

for more information on Breena Clarke’s books: www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction, is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

 

Dreams Crushed

 

In 1890, a group of migrants fleeing the hostile South settled an all-black town called Langston, 80 miles west of Tulsa. Oklahoma wasn’t yet a state, and its racial dynamics weren’t set in stone. The architect of the settlement, Edwin McCabe, had a vision of Oklahoma as the black promised land. He sent recruiters to the South, preaching racial pride and self-sufficiency. At least 29 black separatist towns were established in Oklahoma during the late 19th century.  for more information about the Tulsa Massacre

Following World War I, Tulsa, Oklahoma boasted one of the most affluent African American communities in the country, known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In June of 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot.    visit the website of the Tulsa Historical Society for more information: Tulsa Historical Society

for more details on this historic event, check out this book:

Death In A Promised Land

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Habari Gani?

The fourth night of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa, cooperative economics. Let’s take the opportunity to recognize the struggles of Black Entrepreneurs and support their businesses, support all local businesses when possible.

To purchase the books by Breena Clarke

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

Find a local bookstore on Indiebound.org

Discover books by African American authors at African American Literature Book Club

Join a book club at  Well Read Black Girl

visit the Hobart Book Village in person or online

more information at BreenaClarke.com

 

Oppression on My Table Redux

My Sugar Crush diet depends in large measure on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve got to govern my fruits though, choosing to eat the fruit and eschew the juice. So, my eyes light up at the array at the local supermarket or the corner fruit stand. But because I’m pondering the fruit I eat,  I wonder at the nearly invisible chain of custody of my apple or banana or orange. I’m no agricultural xenophobe. I don’t want to ban fruit or vegetables from anywhere. But I recognize the costs some people pay to get these scrubbed and stunning fruits to my table.  Organic? Non-organic? Local? Schmocal? Global?

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Habari Gani?

Ujima

collective work and economic responsibility.  Let’s take this opportunity on the third night of Kwanzaa to reflect on the world’s millions of agricultural workers who labor in oppressive conditions on factory farms and endure the effects of virulent pesticides to provide the fruits and veggies for our tables . . . and unfortunately, in our trash cans.

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“One toxic insecticide widely used in banana production is chlorpyrifos, a potent neurotoxicant member of the organophosphate insecticide family. Chlorpyrifos can harm workers, communities and the environment but is not generally detected on peeled bananas. Children are especially sensitive to chlorpyrifos toxicity. The chemical can disrupt brain development and impair cognitive functions, measured by intelligence tests, when the child is exposed during pregnancy and early childhood (Rauh 2011). Costa Rican researchers found that children living near banana fields where pesticides were used had much higher concentrations of chlorpyrifos in their bodies than children living where only 12 percent of farmers reported using pesticides.” —–Sonya Lunder, EWG.org

for more on bananas and pesticides, Bananas are pesticide intensive

for more on worker safety:

U.N launches Banana Worker Safety handbook

Celebrate Kwanzaa by trying to find a way to eat responsibly and not waste. Check out a diabetes-friendly recipe for banana bread to rescue overripe fruit.

banana-bread

Use 1&1/2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

Use an artificial sweetener blend like Truvia baking blend instead of sugar

Use 1/2 cup of canola oil for the butter

Add some chopped walnuts

  1. reheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together canola oil and sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf, comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

I LOVE BANANAS. I NEED BANANAS.

Warmth of Other Suns

The brilliantly comprehensive, Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “The Warmth Of Other Suns”: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson details the crushing experiences of southern agricultural workers in the 20th century.  After reading this book, I began to think that saying a prayer before eating was not a bad thing.

A prayer/a hymn for the picker and the picker’s children. A prayer for the oyster-shucker and the oyster-shuckers’ children, a prayer for the cane cutter and the cane cutters’ children. A prayer for all those who harvest and box and pack our meals.

 An aphorism for THE THIRD NIGHT OF KWANZAA, UJIMA:

SHE NOR HE IS HEAVY, ALL ARE MY COMRADES IN GLOBAL CAMARADERIE

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LISTEN HERE:

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, sung by Donny Hathaway

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for more on Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

 

 

Self-Determination

Habari Gani?

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

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I was so excited this past year to have been included in the anthology, IDOL TALK: Women Writers on the Teenage Infatuations That Changed Their Lives edited by Elizabeth Searle and Tamra Wilson, a collection of forty-four essays on the women and men who influenced the mature selves of women writers. These are the figures who guided our growing up, who helped to determine who we became. In these delightful essays, we authors are at times lighthearted, but we are also frank and revealing and aware and descriptive of the zeitgeist of the teen idol era, that time between the end of the World War II up to and including the modern Civil Rights Era. Our idols were, by and large, rebels, visionaries, geniuses, innovators, and damn good lookers. And their looks were important as they were served up to us on magazine covers and on TV, the medium through which we came to know a great deal about our American culture. I write about the sweet, dreamy, velvet-voiced Sam Cooke.

I write also of The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in September of 1963. I was twelve then and Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson were fourteen years old and Carol Denise McNair was eleven. The four girls who died that day were casualties of the horrors of white resistance to civil rights and their lives are, for me, touchstones. The opportunity for self-determination was taken from them. More information at BlackPast.org

16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing_girls    sam-cooke-9256129-2-402

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I’m in great company in this anthology. The essays are written by Elizabeth Searle, Tamra Wilson, Darlene R. Taylor, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Kate Kastelein, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Lee J. Kahrs, Judy Goldman, Nancy Swan, B.A. Shapiro, Michelle Soucy, Amy Rogers, Ann Harleman, Linda K. Sienkiewicz, Janice Eidus, Katharine Davis, Jill McCorkle, Marianne Leone, Susan Lilly, Ann Hood, Lise Haines, Marianne Gingher, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Susan Shapiro, Marjorie Hudson, Morgan Callan Rogers, Leslea Newman, Leslie Lawrence, Katie Hafner, Lisa Williams Kline, Mary Granfield, Leslie Pietrzyk, Susan Woodring, Caitlin McCarthy, Stephanie Powell Watts, Ann Rosenquist Fee, Shara McCallum, Heather Duerre Humann, Lisa Borders, Mary Sullivan, Diana Goetsch, Emlyn Meredith Dornemann and Susan Straight. Wow! We cover a lot of ground,

For more information about IDOL TALK at this link:   https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/idol-talk/

Bonus materials in IDOL TALK are the “then and now” photos of the writers including glasses, braces and goofy hairdos, the fond, familiar glimpses of our youths.

Listen to the irresistible Sam Cooke.

Let’s celebrate Kwanzaa by being determined to recognize the needs of our communities and by being willing to stand for justice and dignity and against racism.  For more information about Kwanzaa, go toWhat is Kwanzaa

 

 

more information about Breena Clarke’s books at www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

 

Kwanzaa 2018

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Kwanzaa greeting: Habari Gani?

Today’s response: UMOJA, Unity.

 I’ve come to enjoy the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa, a harvest festival created in 1966 by Dr. Maulauna Ron Karenga to acknowledge African culture in the Americas, not as an angry alternative to Christmas, but as an opportunity to reflect before the incoming New Year. The frenzy of Christmas commerce has made celebrating that holiday a very noisy, frenetic tug of emotions about being there and getting there and wishing to be or get or re-get. If you’re ready to sweep up the wrapping paper and bring out the kinara, use these seven days of Kwanzaa as days for self-reflection and community.

Celebrate Kwanzaa 2018 –  December 26 – January 1

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There are seven principles of Kwanzaa called Nguzo Saba and each day is dedicated to one of these principles:

Umoja (unity) to maintain unity in the family and community

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility) to build and maintain a community.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) to help build and maintain our own businesses.

Nia (purpose) to build and develop goals to benefit the people of the community.

Kuumba (creativity) to make the community more beautiful and beneficial for the future generation.

Imani (faith) to believe in our people, parents, teachers, and leaders.

more: What is Kwanzaa    

And in celebrating Kwanzaa, there is no need to stuff yourself with sugar. Consider this the time to explore lower sugar, lower carb, higher fiber, higher protein options for your diet.

The First Principle of Kwanza is Umoja, Unity. The past year of Trump trauma has tested the idea of Unity in our nation. But I’ve made community with a wider array of people because of some of the traumatic events of the Trump presidency. I’ve talked a lot about health and fitness, “sugar” diabetes and communities of color. And I’ve reflected that the people of the African Diaspora are particularly, uniquely, and peculiarly connected to sugar and the trade in sugar and slaves and rum and the wealth it created.
Traingle trade
The Triangle trade in American History is a pattern of colonial commerce in which people were purchased on the African Gold Coast with New England rum, then the enslaved were traded in the West Indies for SUGAR or molasses, which was brought back to New England to be manufactured into rum.  for a fuller understanding of the Atlantic Slave Trade: http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_43.html
 The over-consumption of sugar has been implicated in the occurrence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and tooth decay. And diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and CERTAIN POPULATIONS ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED.  Because good diabetes diagnosis and management can be expensive for uninsured or under-insured people, many are unaware they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications. African-Americans are significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes-related blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.
— from American Diabetes Association website. Living With Diabetes
Celebrate Kwanzaa in 2018.
Light a candle tonight and reflect on UNITY. UMOJA Let’s think about the historical impact of sugar . . . or NOT. Let’s celebrate our triumph over that moment and resolve to push back against King Sugar. Make this cranberry cake/pie that I adapted for my diabetes-friendly diet. It satisfies my sweet craving and gives me the wonderful benefits of cranberries cranberry 411  and the usefulness and flavor of walnuts and some whole grain.

cranberries

Cranberry Pie/Cake
1 cup of whole wheat flour & 1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup of Truvia baking blend – a combination of the stevia leaf and a small percentage of granulated sugar.
 A dash of salt
2 cups of fresh cranberries (frozen is great, but not canned/jellied)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts – a healthy fat
1/2 cup of canola oil or oil of your choice
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of orange zest and 2 tablespoons of orange juice.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with a cooking spray of your choice. Combine flour, sweetener, and salt, add cranberries and walnuts and stir to coat. Stir in the oil, eggs, and orange juice and zest. (zest orange by grating the peel) Mix and spread into pie pan. The mixture will be thick-ish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

for information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com

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Winter Wonders

Winter wonders are not all about men in red suits and loud celebration. I have watched in wonder as birds have come to my small backyard bird feeder. Too awe-struck to photograph them or records their songs, I’ve just watched them.

I filled a small bird feeder and put it in my beloved dogwood tree. The dogwood has repeatedly complained that throughout the winter months when we abandon the backyard, she is without company. The feeder has brought many visitors including

(top to bottom) the beautiful Downey Woodpecker, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, The Mourning Dove, and the Tufted Titmouse.

Listen to my audio recording of Back Along The Octoraro, a story of avian enchantment. This audio includes some bird sounds recorded near my house last spring.

Back Along The Octoraro read by Breena Clarke

for more information www.BreenaClarke.com