Pandemic Publishing

The last time I shared an update on all things songwriting in my life was January 23, 2020. At the time, I had no idea the larger world and my own circle within it would literally come to a halt in the middle of March.   At the start of 2020, I was feeling inspired…

When you cross the border

Two Mondays ago, I met a man named Samba at the refugee center where I volunteer in Brussels, Belgium. He told me he had been in Belgium for a week. My co-volunteer, Sarah, and I had posted a piece of paper on the white door beside our poetry wall as usual. As it was our…

From Africa it’s a long story

The sun shone over Brussels yesterday afternoon, and I experienced the rare occurrence of being too warm for my jacket, scarf, and hat at the tail end of December. I set them on the bench by our open “office” space at a corner of the covered corridor at the refugee asylum center known as Petit-Château…

We are bound together

After volunteering at the asylum center now for nearly two years, the repertoire of songs has grown tremendously. Periodically, I spend about a day going through photos and voice recordings. I try to keep everything organized by putting all of the photos and song files for each song in its own folder. This way, I…

Ride the creative wave

I recently wrote a song from my friend Mohammed’s story. The song was derived from a very small portion of the much longer story. We filled several large sheets of paper before beginning to work on the chorus, and it was only a few phrases that made it from the story to the finished song….

Natareya

Something I love about songwriting is that each experience brings a new song into the world that didn’t exist before. During the summer, I do not generally go to the refugee center. My volunteer partner returns to her homeland of Scotland for a long visit, and it is a time to rejuvenate and refill my…

Migration Collection Day

This morning, Atticus and I headed out early (if not bright) to the center of the EU in downtown Brussels. We live on the very outskirts of this international city. When my husband first arrived and was tasked with deciding which commune we might enjoy living in, he chose Boitsfort (strong forest) because he knew…

If I could be a word

I headed to the refugee asylum center yesterday afternoon sans chien (without dog). I had left our new wolfie dog in his plastic crate for the first time, and I was nervous at the state my husband might find him in. we texted back and forth, me from bus 17 on my way out of…

Writing Alfredo’s song: Part I

The Spoken Story In May 2016, I interviewed a friend of my mom’s who has been living with AIDS for over 30 years. I am always searching for a person who might be interested in sharing their story with me, and my mom told me that her friend was over the moon when she mentioned…