Listening to my interview with Linda Toren, poet, teacher, and host of A Way With Words on KQBM Radio 90.7 FM, I felt like an honored guest talking with Terry Gross. The focus was my book, BURNING WOMAN, Memoirs of an Elder, to be published by She Writes Press in June 2022.
Our conversation was far ranging. From talking about the inspiration for my first mask of rage as I was losing my father to Alzheimer’s Disease to discussing my personal resistance movement against our culture’s limited stereotypes of old people, images and stories seemed to flow as if I was turning the pages of my book in my mind.
When I moved from Berkeley to a small live-work studio on 40 acres in Calaveras county, mask making as my art form began to have a life of its own, inspired by the nature I found all around me. One of my favorites is “Grandmother,” peering out from a knot hole in an old oak I discovered in the high country near Sonora Pass.
Bas relief masks became life-size “Embodied Spirit” pieces that, over time, evolved into 20’ environmental sculptures at Burning Man. The “Dragon Labyrinth” was the first.
Contrary to the narrative of aging that says old people are “over the hill” when we hit 65, I lived my dream to explore the world beyond the Sierra foothills and trekked the Himalaya at the age of 67. It was challenging in ways I couldn’t imagine when my guide and I began our journey, but every step on the trail to our summit at 17,000 feet was worth it.
I hope you’ll enjoy this 16-minute excerpt. Thank you for following my journey to publication. You are an important part of my inspiration and I always look forward to hearing your stories.