Writer draws from Buddhism, art and psychology to enhance prose

By Rebecca Bakken, The Kalamazoo Entertainment, October 25, 2009

KALAMAZOO, MI (USA) -- Poet and novelist Dale Kushner draws inspiration from religion, art and psychology in unconventional ways and will be sharing some of her methods with the public at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

<< Dale Kushner, an author and community activist from Madison, Wisc., will conduct a 4 p.m. workshop, 7 p.m. reading, on Oct. 27, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St.

Kushner will be the featured guest at “Poetry Feast: A Writer’s Place” at the Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St., where she will teach workshop attendees how to use Buddhist principles for focus, art images for inspiration and the teachings of Carl Jung to connect with the creative self.

“It’s going to be an experiential workshop, a benefit to any kind of writer. We’ll be working with some Buddhist techniques for stillness and memory, to help people get deeper in with their own material,” the Wisconsin writer said. “They can expect to find out something new about their own process. Why we become artist, why we write, why we have this tremendous desire to express ourselves is this deep mystery.”

Her work does not deal overtly in Buddhist ideology, but Kushner said the meditation practices of the religion really help her to focus purely on her thoughts and her work.

“They call clear seeing, so that it’s not filtered through the veil of the ego or the veil of daily concerns or actions. A lot of people get this just when walking out in a beautiful area,” Kushner said.

Art history was an early inspiration for Kushner who said she was especially moved by German expressionist paintings like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

“(‘The Scream’) is almost like a poem. The emotional context of it is so riveting.

 “I knew I had so much inside me I wanted to speak about,” said Kushner, who once operated A Writer’s Place, a literary center in Madison, Wisc., where she lives, until it closed due to lack of funding.

She said art and imagery are inextricably connected to words and poetry.

Carl Jung was a psychologist who dealt a lot with dream interpretation and had an appreciation for creativity. Kushner said that she will have workshop participants view art images as though they are looking at images from a dream.

“No two people have the same dream. So (the session is) to help people understand what the specific images (are) that come up, what they mean and how to work with them, how to connect with the deepest creative self, how to find voice,” said Kushner, who holds a master’s degree in fine arts from Vermont College.

The main body of Kushner’s work is poetry. She has been published in several literary journals and has been a finalist for The Dorset Prize from the Tupelo Press and the May Swenson Poetry Award from Utah State University, among others.

She is currently working on her second novel while in the process of selling her first, “The Conditions of Love,” a three-part story about a woman and the different kinds of love she experiences.


Poetry Feast:
A Writer’s Place — Dale Kushner, from Madison, Wisconsin, community activist and author visits (also founder of A Writer’s Place in Madison).

Kushner has traveled and published widely as well as taught both children and senior citizens.

4 p.m. workshop, 7 p.m. reading, Oct. 27, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St.


No registration necessary for workshop. (269) 553-7880, www.kpl.gov.