Daniel Elder

Daniel Elder

Speaker Bio:
Daniel Elder is a 2018 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Writing Fellow. His work appears in Catapult, The Rumpus, Pidgeonholes, and many more literary journals. He is part of the tiny big-hearted team at Lidia Yuknavitch's Corporeal Writing, where he leads creative writing incubators both online and in person. He lives in Oregon with his cat, Terence. Find him at @tumblehawk and at daniel-elder.com.

Presentation: Nesting Dolls: Grieving within Grief

Though Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' book Five Stages of Grief have taken hold in popular consciousness, the truth of grief is more complex. Grief is messy, and though we may accept loss, grief never really ends. Grief ebbs and flows, curves back on itself, unfolds, expands, hides from us, then reveals itself to be hiding in plain sight, woven into our bodies. In the face of massive uncertainy—a global pandemic, political upheavals, centuries-in-the-making reckonings with racism and patriarchy—our griefs, old and new, become so broad and deep that it can feel impossible to put into words. These cascades of grief remind me of the nesting dolls that my Soviet Jewish immigrant parents staged as decorations around the apartment where I grew up: open one up to find another, and another, and another. Together, we will chart a path through the difficulty of enunciating our complex and interlocking griefs. We will look to the body and to objects, such as nesting dolls, that can serve as objective correlatives that can help us channel what feels like so much abstraction. We will look at writing on grief from authors such as Sonali Deraniyagala, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Paul Lisicky as well as my own writing about the death of my mother, and write through a series of exercises meant to help free material that builds up inside us, pressurized by everything from the pandemic to the tribulations of a single day.

UPDATED: February 27, 2023

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