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Friday, April 3, 2015

Call Jack.

What a week to be an MFA student at USF! In celebration of poetry month, we've had the honor of hosting Naomi Shihab Nye on our campus all week! Ask anyone who had any contact with her at all and they will tell you that they are ENCHANTED by this vivacious and kind-hearted woman. I honestly don't know where to begin. She inspired me as a writer, but also as a person. I wholly admire the way she moves about in the world, and I know I am not alone in saying that I felt touched by her presence.

I have so many golden nuggets in my notebooks from the past few days, but I think I will leave you with this one special story.

Naomi is a lifelong fan of Jack Kerouac's work and she also happens to share a birthday with him. So, on her 20th birthday, she looked up the phone number for Jack Kerouac in St. Petersburg, Florida - and she called it! She let it ring a long, long time, until finally, on the 20th ring, who should pick up but Stella Kerouac, Jack's widow! They had a long chat, and in the end, Stella asked Naomi when she could come down to St. Pete for a visit. And so, that is how Naomi Shihab Nye was able to spend several days in Jack Kerouac's home with Stella reading over never-before seen manuscripts and transcribing them on tapes!

And so, anything is possible, friends. Don't be afraid. Pick up the phone. Call Jack. Maybe Stella will answer...

PS - This Restless Writer will be spending a month in Nebraska this summer doing a writing residency at the Art Farm!