Friday, February 17, 2017

A Room of One's Own

Sitting at my desk at the Marion Davies Guest House this blustery February day, watching palm trees dance frantically in the rain and processions of waves race onto the shore, I am reminded of Virginia Woolf's 1928 essay, "A Room of One's Own." Woolf argued for the solitude that every writer needs. What made her plea so revolutionary, however, was that she was speaking as a woman writer offering a vision of creative solitude to other women who had much less of it or felt they had no right to claim it. Whether her readers had a passion for writing was only one part of the equation; the other was the essential need for independence—the sense of freedom that can only be had, paradoxically, by taking refuge in a private room with a door that can be closed, and (perish the thought) even locked.

Slightly more than halfway through my residency, with scarcely a month to go, and having spent the majority of the past five weeks writing poems in this "room of my own," I am filled with gratitude and wonder at what a difference such a space can make.

This week, while preparing for the second event of my residency, a solo reading of my chapbook-in-progress, "Fugue for a New Life," Tuesday evening, February 21, I came to realize how much I have been able to accomplish here. Of the fifteen poems I will be reading, at least half of them were either written or substantially revised during my residency. And now, in the process of sequencing them, I can see from a broader perspective where this collection is going. I knew it was a book of love poems at its core, but now I see another thread, perhaps influenced by the theme of my weekly workshop and also last month's public reading, "Poetry and the Art of Listening." That thread is listening itself—an essential aspect love, or so it seems.

So thank you, Annenberg Community Beach House, the City of Santa Monica's Cultural Affairs Department, and everyone there who has made my Writer's Residency possible, for allowing me to occupy this lovely "room of my own" for this rare and cherished period of time. I will aim to make the most of it until March 14!


  1. Beautiful, Dinah, and your residency will end on my birthday! I have gleaned so much from the workshop and look forward to its lasting effect.

    1. Thank you, Scout! I've been so delighted by your contributions and hope to hear lots more from you, too.