Monte Nido Press
Monte Nido Press was originally created to publish SIDS (2004) a book for parents who lost a baby to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or lay people who come in contact with such parents: family and friends, paramedics, police, firefighters, day care workers, clergy, doctors and nurses. SIDS happens in all socio-economic strata, but in the Western world the tragedy strikes more often in people who have the least privileges and money. Monte Nido Press has allowed the price of SIDS to remain affordable ($6.50) and thus available to the largest number of people.
Monte Nido Press has since published a second book entitled: Tender Ears (2005), a book in honor of Los Angeles poet and writer and teacher, Holly Prado.
Subsequent publications will be predicated on both the merit of the submitted work and its social implications.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Holly Prado is an internationally renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and teacher. And she is our respected leader. The members of the current Tuesday Morning Writer's Workshop gather each week in her living room, with our manuscripts in various stages of completion, looking for a clear-eyed critique from Holly and our fellow members, that will improve our work, and nurture our writing talent as well. What we find is that and so much more.
This is what Holly believes about writing: that The Creative, and The Individual Human Soul are linked and sacred. Language, voice, emotion, theme--all the writing elements are filtered through those ideals. Myth and symbol are partners in the deeper layers of her psyche. To our advantage, she shares them with us when deemed appropriate. A most compassionate person, Holly is a tough-minded critic as well; she offers astute, thoughtful and nurturing criticism. The members of the workshop follow suit so the comfort level runs high. This must be why one of our poets, Sissy Boyd, wrote: ” We listen to each other with big tender ears in Holly Prado's living room.”
Holly has also created an atmosphere where intense friendships are formed, some of them lasting over a twenty-year span. That compatibility is what sustains us. We return for it. The chatter in the first fifteen minutes, before the workshop begins is alive with our friendship, and happiness to see one another. Mates, children, grandchildren, pets, politics, film, art, and of course laughter--all of these are welcome as conversation. But at l0:00 A.M, when our time together formally begins, the subject is writing, writing, writing. Our first hour is delegated to a topic of literary interest or to a piece of writing by an author who we admire. The hour is designed, of course, to improve our writing skills. Then there is a coffee/tea break complete with cake/cookies, cheese and crackers, along with more excited exchanges.
Next, we re-group and get down to the serious business of reading our work aloud to one another. We share all forms of literary pursuit: short stories, memoirs, essays, novels, and poetry--no written word is off limits. And then commentary from Holly and the members is invited, and so it goes. We are all in a state of focused concentration. Much of our work has been published elsewhere, but most of the current volume is published here for the first time. We have invited former members of the workshop to contribute (two residing in Europe; one in Wisconsin ; one on the east coast; one in Oregon --that's what it takes to leave Holly's presence)
Holly recently wrote a letter to the workshop as to how we should go about offering our critiques; this paragraph gives insight into her methods and her critical perceptions:
I believe the best response is often a question: What's your intention in this piece of writing? Where does the writing seem most fluid and developed? Where is it not quite right yet? How are you imagining the voice in the work? What language works best? Is the form serving the content, theme, imagery? A writer's answer to these kinds of questions can lead the discussion in a useful rather than tangential direction.
In addition to the workshops she leads, Holly has taught poetry at the University of Southern California for many years. Most importantly, Holly has faithfulness to her journal and to her dream-life that is unparalleled; she works with them both and often elevates parts of them into her formal writing. She recently completed a thrilling piece of work entitled “Monkey Journal,” after the Chinese year of the monkey in which she simply (but oh so elegantly) “allows the year to tell itself to her.”
Holly has seen us grow over a long period of time and has an excellent sense of where we are in our individual lives at any given moment; she demonstrates a keen sensitivity to personal problems, joys and losses, and in the safety of Holly's presence we are able to explore our depths, and sometimes visit the darkness that awaits us there, to see what it wants from our creative energies.
Holly has stimulated many success stories, as well. Several of our group have gone on to MFA programs, and completed them. One woman is completing her doctoral dissertation, and another finished hers several years ago, with helpful feedback from members.
Although there is little emphasis on publication in the workshop--much has happened for us in the outer world, in terms of publication, thanks to her criticism and care. As you can see in the individual author biographies, we have had novels, volumes of poetry, short stories, etc. published, and two of the books are award winners in their field. Anita Clearfield's lovely photographs grace the cover of this volume and of Holly's book, Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus.
Holly, a lyric, romantic poet in the tradition of Keats, has written to worldwide acclaim in many of her own volumes. She has recently published These Mirrors Prove it , her collected works of poetry, prose poems, and essays, spanning three decades. At its core is a lifetime of intuitive knowing, a gleaning of what lies beneath, beyond, and in the interior, as well as the hum of daily, constant, life and love, as in the poems about her husband, the actor/poet, Harry Northup. The verse collected in this volume exercises both control and exploration; lyricism and musicality are often pitched against dark perceptions.
This poem, “Rilke as Door,” taken from her book, Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus illustrates the way Holly holds language sacred:
his chest thrilled, stretched against
god's breath. poetry
` needs excess: Orpheus finds a man,
a woman, fully opened in the spiral
cypress tree, by wood as flesh
into Word and no thought can stop
the pulled and pulling roots from
the music: Orpheus
kept singing when his body disappeared--
like all the ones whose stories we forget
to tell, he comes as great, incessant breakage.
Thus, it seems necessary for us as writers to go into the unconscious and break things up, bringing them to the daylight of consciousness and sending them forth in our writing. Yes, “shattershatter,” as Holly names it, is part of our creative process and healing. This breaking and re-making is a large part of her message to us. Notice that the “Word” is capitalized into divinity. The members of the Tuesday Morning Writer's Workshop are greatly enriched by it. We can intuit Holly gently urging us to get the Soul's Voice onto the page.
Toke Hoppenbrouwers, Ph.D.