And the fury in my community was just staggering. The young priests in the parish were behind the message. The older priests weren't necessarily, but they all followed the orders of the cardinal and read the letter. Every Sunday, 2,000 people came to mass at that parish. The following Sunday, the attendance dropped to 200, and never recovered.
Every writer's difficult journey is a movement from silence to speech. We must be intensely private and interior in order to find a voice and a vision - and we must bring our work to an outside world where the market, or public outrage, or even government censorship can destroy our voice.
This was a very progressive group of clergy who foresaw the race riots that were going to take place when Dr. King started helping the local civil rights community push for open housing. They were sort of hoping against hope that we could educate kids in a way that could counter some of the racist messages they were imbibing at home. I don't know whether we did any good, but it changed my life in every single way.
There is no frigate like a book and no harbor like a library, where those who love books but can't afford their own complete collections, or those who need a computer, or kids who need a safe place to read after school, or moms with toddlers who want their babies to learn to read, can all come together and share in a great community resource.
She knew the intensity of adolescence, and knew no cure for it except growing up. And then one has age and experience, and mourns the loss of intensity. Maybe it's why musicians and mathmaticians are said to peak young-poetry needs the fire of an unbounded universe.
The hardest thing about adolescence is that everything seems too big. There's no way to get context or perspective, ..... Pain and joy without limits. No one can live like that forever, so experience finally comes to our rescue. We come to know what we can endure, and also that nothing endures.
It's hard for me to believe that just my words on the page are enough. I ought to be out physically keeping abortion safe and legal, restoring the Fourth Amendment, getting clean water back into Kentucky since the Bush Administration has allowed strip miners to fill it all up with slag. The list is endless. Bring it down. Make it small. Make it one thing that you can do. It's very hard for me to remember that.
Organizer is kind of a grand term for what I was doing. I answered an ad that the Presbyterian Church of Chicago put up on college campuses. I was at the University of Kansas, and it's somewhat relevant to my life and work that I'm a Jew. But they weren't doing a religious litmus test. They wanted energetic, civil-rights-committed college students to come help them run some summer programs.
I had a fantasy as a child that I might be a writer someday. I always thought that meant you went to New York or Paris. But after that intense summer, I never thought that I wanted to live any place but Chicago. It also made me see what the stakes were in the civil rights movement. And it made me see what real hatred was like and the forms that it took. But it also made me understand how powerless ordinary people feel in their lives.
I began wanting to create a detective who really turned the tables on that image of women, to know that you could have a sex life and not be a bad person. You could have a sex life and still solve your own problems. It was eight years from when I started having the fantasy that I was going to create such a detective to when I actually sat down and came up with V. I. Warshawski. It was a long, slow journey to come to a writing voice and do that character.
I cannot find words to express the depth of my loss or outrage about what's happening to this country. I don't know if I can find the words for it, but if this country ever recovers, it will not be in my lifetime. If I were elected President, the first thing I would do would be to set up a Department of Restoring the Bill of Rights. I would have 10,000 people working there.
While we were walking around, we came to the Catholic church, and we saw that some people had set fire to carpets and banked them around the rectory, which was made out of wood. They knew every fire truck on the South Side was going to be in the park, that the rectory would just burn to the ground. Our one little act was putting out that fire.
These events are swirling around them. In the white community, people felt like they had no control over their neighborhoods, their destiny. In the black community, centuries of government and economic forces were pushing on them. I went in with a kind of arrogance, maybe, that came from living in a very intellectual family, and I left knowing that there was a lot about the way people lived that I didn't know about.
I look at the great poets of the Soviet Union, like Anna Akhmatova, who endured far worse then anything we've seen or hopefully that we will ever see. If they could keep writing and keep a voice alive, keep people hopeful through their poetry, then I would be ashamed to stop and to give in. It would be really self-indulgent, unacceptable, and inexcusable to walk away from it.
When I tell people I was in the St. Justin Martyr parish, if they are native Chicagoans they know exactly where I was and what that was like. The Sunday before this particular march, the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Cody, had required all of his pastors to read a letter in support of open housing and economic justice in every parish in the city.