Interview with Christine Ray Writer, Blogger, Poet, and Barista from the Go Dog Go Cafe #amwriting #interview #nonfiction

Thank you Amanda of Mandibelle16 for interviewing me for the Go Dog Go Cafe.

Go Dog Go Café

Welcome to another Tuesday edition of my interviews series. Today I have another new interview for you, another talented writer, poet, and a Go Do Go Cafe Barista, Christine Ray. 

I hope you love her blog I have found it fascinating. You can check out some of Christine’s wonderful writingon the topics of Poetry, EroticaSpoken Word,  and for you new bloggers out there, B & R Advice for New Bloggers.

Before we go any further, I need to introduce Christine’s blog as a whole, it’s called: Brave and Reckless.


Christine Ray
Credit: Christine Ray

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself, Christine? 

My name is Christine Ray and I’m from Havertown, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia).I blog at Brave and Reckless. I feel as if sometimes I should call myself the ‘accidental blogger!’ I came to the WordPress blog site to make one piece of writing accessible called: What…

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Sewn

We line up the edges

of our frayed hearts

Thread a sharp needle

with silken thread

Spun from fragile hopes

New found trust

Dreams

Private smiles

Midnight whispers

Passionate kisses

 

We sew slowly

Carefully

Small, neat stitches

Smoothing wrinkles

from our fabric

Ensuring fit

Checking for gaps

Puckering

Going back once or twice

to unsew missteps

Correcting as necessary

before finishing a smooth seam

 

Step back

Admire our handiwork

We have created

Something fresh

Something new

To wrap ourselves up in

on cold nights

Tough enough to shelter us

in a storm

A thing of beauty

made from torn edges

and bruised flesh

A new whole

more than the sum of its parts

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

 

My Grandmother’s Kitchen Table

I grew up with my divorced mother in my grandmother’s 200 year old New England farm house.  The house had only been previously inhabited by multiple generations of one other family and was still assembled with wooden pegs when my grandparents bought it in the 1930s for their expanding family.

Elena Louisa Vecchione, or Helen, was true north for our large extended Italian- American family.  No one would have ever mistakenly called her a “sweet little old lady” but she loved me fiercely and her family came first.  Like most Italian grandmothers, she showed her love with food.  She kept a ancient refrigerator in the garage stocked full of homemade baked goods “just in case” someone stopped by.  Fresh brewed coffee was always just moments away and she instilled in my cousins and I the strong belief that no one should ever feel unwelcome in our homes–unless they were selling something we didn’t want to buy–and that no one should ever leave hungry.

The hub of my childhood home was the oddly shaped kitchen with its modest round table with it’s seemingly endless supply of flannel backed vinyl tablecloths.  Each one would take its turn,  in service day in and day out until it cracked with age and use to be replaced with another in a different pattern.  Every night my mother would wash the dishes while I dried and like clockwork she would ask me if I wanted to wipe the table down for her.  Smartass that I was, every night I would reply “No, I don’t want to wipe down the table, but I will.”  I would then carefully lay out the items my mother—who did not wake gracefully– would need for her customary weekday breakfast of coffee with sugar and Coffee Mate and a bowl of dry Rice Crispies because milk made them “too loud” in the morning.

The kitchen table was the place that my grandmother and her four daughters would gather and talk and laugh and tell old family stories over countless cups of Maxwell House drip brewed in a Mr. Coffee machine.  It is where we had holiday dinners, a card table shoved awkwardly against it for the overflow, transformed with linen tablecloths and my mother’s lilac china, now displayed in place of honor in my own home. That table is where I did my homework,  talked on our only telephone with its cord wrapped around my finger, learned about life and love, and ruminated on full circles when I later found myself sitting there with my-now adult cousins drinking coffee while our children ran around the big house playing together as we had.

The kitchen table was normally circled by four chairs. Purchased in the 1970s, they were tall backed wrought iron affairs with padded round seats covered in red embossed faux leather that would stick to our bare legs in the summer heat.  The pattern from the seats would remain visible on my pale thighs for hours after I got up.  Although four chairs seemed perfect for the small table, it would expand magically when my aunts or company stopped by.  My grandmother would say to us, “There is always room for one more at a round table.”

I think of my grandmother now as I look at all of the amazing writers whose work is published on Brave and Reckless.  Brave and Reckless has gradually and unconsciously become my version of my grandmother’s kitchen table, minus the vinyl tablecloth. Everyone is welcome here—well, at least everyone who isn’t selling something I don’t want.  I wish I could hand you a cup of coffee- I promise that Maxwell House has NEVER been served in my house- and a plate of my grandmother’s homemade cookies while we get acquainted.  My cousins would tell you to try the frosted anisette cookies but I am a fan of the chocolate rum and the Struffoli myself.  There were no strangers in my grandmother’s kitchen—just friends we hadn’t gotten to know well yet.

You are welcome here.

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

Evolution

The last ten months have been one of the hardest periods of my life while also being one of the most transformative.  I have been struggling to pull myself out of one of the worst depressions of my life while also dealing with sometimes frightening and always frustrating (and as of yet undiagnosed)  neurological problems that have left me feeling betrayed by my own body.  At the same time, I have rediscovered my passion for writing, met countless wonderful, supportive writers and really found my voice.

I started Brave and Reckless with very modest ambitions and have been amazed by the ways the site has grown and changed and how in turn, it has helped me grow and change. B & R has become so much more to me than just the place where I post my writing.  It has truly evolved into something I am proud of and honored to serve as custodian of.  I am blown away by the amount of encouragement, support, and friendship that is offered here—not just to me, but also to the writers that I reblog, my guests and everyone who takes on the challenge of my quirky writing prompts.  I love the creative energy that radiates here as well as the light and human kindness that shines through.  You are an extraordinary community.  Please know that it touches me deeply that with all the other things vying for attention in your life that you choose to spend time here.  You are a gift.

Color You Mine

Unwrapping you

Thrill of opening

New box of crayons

Curated, my favorite colors

 

You taste

Granny Smith Apple

Plum

Wild Strawberry

Jazzberry Jam

 

Your vibrancy

Razzmatazz

Radical Red

Scarlet

Cerise

 

Your soul

Forest Green

Pine Green

Midnight Blue

Periwinkle

Blue Bell

Royal Purple

Wisteria

 

Our night music

Outer space

Silver

Black

Robin Egg Blue

Cerulean

 

Your mouth

Skin

Heart

My canvas

To adorn

Tonight

Walking Naked Into the Spotlight: Rewards and Terrors of Publishing Our Writing

I originally wrote this piece as a starting point for a community discussion here on Brave and Reckless about what it means to put ourselves out there as writers.  It is my opinion that we risk both our writing egos and often pieces of our soul when we publish our writing.  I would love to hear about your experiences.  What has been rewarding?  What has been challenging?  What fears do you still need to overcome?


My first creative writing class.  We have submitted single pieces for small group workshop but it is time for full class workshop.  6 to 8 pages of writing.  I mull it over and finally decide to submit some of the writing I have been working on about PTSD. About my experiences as a sexual abuse survivor.  I know it is a risk.  Most of my classmates are 18 to 22. The material workshopped so far has mostly been fiction but poetry and prose are my primary language. I do not sugar coat my life.  Even the pieces told from third person are intense.  Visceral.  This is deliberate—PTSD is experienced in the body, not just the mind.  I want the reader to understand this.  To experience this.  My story telling is not linear.  PTSD is not linear.  Healing is not linear.  It feels like a sine wave to me.  I know it will be challenging for my classmates .  I decide to be brave.  I decide to be reckless.  I submit these pieces of my soul. Then I wait anxiously for the written feedback we will receive before class then the more unnerving experience of the in-class workshop where I am only allowed to be the fly on the wall, the elephant in the middle of the room, silent. 

Much of the written feedback from my classmates is technical.  “Show don’t tell.”  Disagreement erupts about my choices of line breaks—the class is split on whether they are too choppy or not choppy enough.  One of classmates feels like my titles are misleading.  I roll my eyes a little at this one.  “The Name They Call Her” is about the experience of being called bitch at age 12, at age 16 simply because I tried to claim my body for myself.  Child Welfare was the name of the class I was sitting in when the fateful film was shown. Another suggests economy of words—probably the most helpful feedback I receive the whole semester and try to put into practice.  Several thank me for tackling such difficult terrain and talk about how the pieces made them feel.  This is gratifying, eases some of my anxiety.

The feedback that has stood out for throughout the months is “A suggestion for this piece is to vary the emotional experiences of the characters. Allow them to sometimes feel happy and sometimes sad, sometimes angry and sometimes at peace. The reader will be pulled into the piece more if the subjects of the stories are multi-dimensional.”  I am sure this feedback is well intended.  Perhaps even helpful if I had more emotional distance from the material.

But all I can hear ringing in my ears is “I would like you and your poems better if you smiled more.”

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

On Survival

Aurora Phoenix on Blood Into Ink– I am not worthy

Blood Into Ink

this surviving business

is a grisly clotted mess

we scratch and claw

through the carnage

of our wounds

belly-crawling

through the muck

toward healing

we press the edges

of our lacerations

squeezing through bitten lips

forcing out suppuration

mingled sweat and tears

we scrape away

laboriously

layers of filthy rot

in cleansing

tortuous debridement

accompanied by

horror movie soundtrack

hideous silent shrieking

of our souls

ripped asunder

survivor

conjures strength

renewal

wholeness

straight backed

warriors

conquering

getting to

survivor

looks like

rabid jackals

in a gory feeding frenzy

on trauma’s

afterbirth

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