A Letter from Ruth
March 19, 2020
I write you in literally unprecedented times. When Carmen Maria Machado was with us in January (which now seems like decades ago), she talked about the process of writing her memoir, In the Dream House, and said it was challenging because, as time moved, “I kept becoming a different person, as we all do.”These days, we are each becoming different people, sometimes daily and sometimes hourly, as we worry for the health and safety of everyone in our community, as we change how we work, and as we shift how we move (or don’t move) through the world to attempt to keep all of us healthy. In a world where we cannot safely gather, we need community more than ever, and at SAL we’ve been thinking about how we can best be a resource while doing our part to protect the health of our community and our team. As such, we wanted to share with you what we’re doing.
We are rescheduling all events through May 14th and are looking into offering at least one event online. We will share details as soon as they are confirmed and look forward to gathering in ways both new and old in the future. We also recognize that information and conditions are changing rapidly and that we may have to revise our new plans. We promise to communicate with you and to share information and decisions as soon as we have them.
We’re committed to continuing to pay our Writers in Residence in our Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, even if the schools are not able to open this spring. We will be featuring WITS Writer lessons through our daily #SALMoment to offer some fun, inspiration, and connection for kids at home; or to share with your family or roommates; or as an outlet for your own creativity.
We’re thinking creatively about new ways we can be a resource to you in these uncertain times. Our mission is not only realized by our programs on stages and in classrooms—so much happens in that spark between the page and the reader, between one reader and the next. Each weekday, through our #SALMoment, we will try to spark conversation, connection, and belonging through reading and writing. We can still do that—even now. We belong to each other. If you have other ideas about how SAL can be helpful during these times, we would love to hear from you. You can write to me at any time at [email protected].
When she was with us at SAL, Carmen also said, “Stories are complicated. If a narrative seems simple, be suspicious.” One narrative of these times is that they are frightening and confusing and overwhelming. Another narrative is that these times are all of that, and also a space where our resilience blooms, where we support one another, and where the cracks in our systems are highlighted so that we can repair them. I believe community and compassion are strengthened through crisis, and that the fear and hardship we are all facing also invite unprecedented opportunities for connection and resilience.
In our newsletters and going forward, we will continue to spotlight ways that we each can be part of hopeful action and connection, and to share the tools that help us make sense of the world, particularly in its hardest and most uncertain moments: stories and poems. Please know that all of us at SAL are wishing you and your beloveds health, safety, solace, comfort, and connection. We look forward to staying in touch, and to the day we can gather again in person.
Taking deep breaths and walking and writing and reading with you,
SAL Executive Director