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Showing posts from March, 2016

Guest Blog: Joanna Chen, Entry Five

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The following is reprinted from Garnet News. VCCA Fellow Joanna Chen, who lives in Israel, is writing a six part account of her residency at VCCA. (All images, Joanna Chen)

I’m sitting out on the front step of my studio, writing and listening to the music of Eileen Edmonds. She was in the studio below mine, and her sweet voice would ring out every day from her front door as I walked by to make coffee for myself in the kitchen we shared. I watched her one morning, playing her guitar in the middle of the field that leads to the forest. She was in the zone, creating music with a voice as clear as the water that streams down through the forest this springtime. Eileen’s gone, but she’s left me the music she made here on my laptop. Now, I’m listening to her music again, and I miss her. My time here is fast coming to an end. I’m beginning to get emails about work that awaits me upon my return. Part of me, quite a big part, wants to ignore them. I resent the intrusion although I know that the re…

Guest Blog: Joanna Chen, Entry Four

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The following is reprinted from Garnet News. VCCA Fellow Joanna Chen, who lives in Israel, is writing a six part account of her residency at VCCA. (All images, Joanna Chen)

This week, after dinner, I present my work to the other fellows. I decided to share work I’ve done here, an abstract piece on trees and homeland, and a new chapter from my book. The presentation is a joint venture with Avy Claire, a visual artist from Maine who has been here almost as long as I have. Her work taps deeply into landscape, and we both feel a certain affinity. We take walks together in the countryside around VCCA, and I enjoy seeing the world through her eyes — the invasive plants that have become rooted in the native — and her uncanny awareness of what lies beneath the surface. I don’t usually have a problem reading. A friend once told me I should imagine I’m reading the back of a Cheerios box, and this little trick still works for me, irrespective of how many people are in the room. This time, however, a…

Joanna Chen Explores Landscapes of Dislocation

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Joanna Chen’s studio wall is covered with an installation of post-it notes, photographs and scraps of paper. Like many other VCCA Fellow writers before her, she has mapped out her book in this way. It’s a great organizational method, but it also has a visual impact that Joanna admires. “One of the great things about being here is all the visual artists also in residence. It’s brought all this out,” she says. “You could use Scrivener and all sorts of programs on your laptop to work out what your book is, but here,” she point to the wall, “is the book.”
A poet and journalist from Israel, Joanna came to VCCA with the intention of finishing her memoir. “It’s about the search for home when there is no home and what happens.
“It’s my life story, but I want it to be everybody’s life story. I’ve always been really hesitant, wondering am I deep enough or important enough. Everybody has a great story, why would anyone want to read this? I think the reason will be that it touches other people’s …

Guest Blog: Joanna Chen, Entry Three

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The following is reprinted from Garnet News. VCCA Fellow Joanna Chen, who lives in Israel, is writing a six part account of her residency at VCCA. (All images, Joanna Chen)

Earlier in the week my daughter, Emily, sends me a text message. I’m in the zone, sitting in the studio here at Amherst, listening to Patti Smith and writing a new chapter. What she has written stops me in my tracks. We’re all safe. Don’t worry. I immediately worry, checking the wires for news from back home in Israel. There have been three knifing attacks in Israel, one in Jaffa, an area I know well and where I recently took an Arabic course. I watch a video online, freshly posted and unedited, of a man running along a street, close to a fish restaurant I’ve eaten at a number of times with my three kids. A man’s voice yells out: “Give it to him! Give it to him!”
There have been three knifing attacks back in Israel, one in Jaffa, an area I know well and where I recently took an Arabic course.
I learn later that the 22-…

Guest Blog Joanna Chen, Entry Two

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The following is reprinted from Garnet News. VCCA Fellow Joanna Chen, who lives in Israel, is writing a six part account of her residency at VCCA. (All images, Joanna Chen)

Amherst, Virginia, 10pm – I check the weather report, gather up my pajamas and walk down to my studio. I have left the Republican debate, and a warm living room filled with writers, artists and composers who have become my friends over the past two weeks. The familiar sound of boots crunching on leaves is soothing. It reminds me of country rambles as a child growing up in Yorkshire, England. Earlier that same day, I take a walk through the woods below the barn with two visual artists. The ground is covered in dry leaves, dotted with red berries, slightly disturbed by others who have walked this narrow trail before us. The familiar sound of boots crunching on leaves is soothing. It reminds me of country rambles as a child growing up in Yorkshire, England.  Among other things, I am trying to write about my childhood dur…