This weekly series highlights people in my writing circles who are exemplary literary citizens. I encourage you to look them up, buy their books, find them in the library, or otherwise read or support their writing lives.
This week, we meet literary citizen Julene Tripp Weaver
Like many of my writing cohorts, Julene and I have never met in real life. We were supposed to—at a writer’s retreat on the Washington coast several years ago. At the last minute, she was unable to attend. Still, since that time, she and I have held each other in the radar.
When Intention Tremor came out earlier this year, I needed to start devising a virtual book tour in earnest against the obstacles that the pandemic presented to me and a bazillion other debut writers with no physical places to promote and sell our books.
I sent out what I like to call “smoke signals” to certain people in my social networks. In those “smoke signals,” which were basically individual emails to people I knew to be great literary community stewards, I asked for help. Whatever help anyone could offer.
Links to a well-respected book reviewer? Sure.
Sharing my debut book news to friends? Yep.
Contacts at bookstores still holding virtual events who might be interested in highlighting my new book? Most definitely.
(Hey, the request for help is still valid… if you have any ideas, ping me here.)
The first person to respond to me in LinkedIn was Julene. She literally replied back in less than 2 hours! She suggested I reach out to the Sandy Yannone. Within 24 hours, I was booked on Sandy’s new book reading series.
And then… out of the blue… Julene suggested I reach out to PoetryBridge, another local poetry community with a virtual reading series featuring poets and storytellers. Within 24 hours, I was booked as a featured reader.
(You can see the details for both events on the Intention Tremor Virtual Book Tour 2021 page, with details forthcoming as I get more info.)
Portrait of a literary citizen
Julene didn’t have to do any of this. She could have looked at this email and said, I’m too busy, I don’t owe that person any help. But she didn’t… she shared two fine opportunities with me that I’m really looking forward to participating in.
One of these days, when vaccines are the rule and COVID-19 is a thing of the past, I look forward to meeting Julene in person. At the very least, we will gather at C&P Coffee over pie or scones and coffee in West Seattle.
(PS, they are open now for window service from 7am to 5pm daily, if you happen to be in the neighborhood. These cozy poetry-supporting venues are their own fine class of literary citizens, if you ask me. Please support them with a purchase if you can.)
Be like Julene… be a good literary citizen. It really helps so much and I don’t think she had to actually do more than just send me a reply to the first “smoke signal” with a link; the second tip was voluntary, the act of someone who is putting great karma out into the world. Thank you, Julene.
Read Julene’s work
One thing I did not know about Julene before writing this post: She studied with the amazing poet, Audre Lorde. That must have been an amazing experience.
Her most recent book, Truth Be Bold (2017), is a personal culmination of observation and lived experience working with and actively belonging to the HIV/AIDS community. After earning her Masters in Applied Behavioral Science in 1992 from The Leadership Institute of Seattle, Julene served this community in the areas of medical case management and adherence counseling for 18 years. Poetry, of course, has been part of that personal and professional journey.
Julene’s poem, “death walk,” placed third for poems in the Unfinished Works Competition sponsored by AIDS Services Foundation Orange County. To honor World AIDS Day in 2006, she traveled to California to read her poem at their candlelight vigil and art opening.
She remains vigilant in speaking truth to power about her journey of living with AIDS, with more recent writings found at her website (also, here), including a link to a selection of her work published in the World AIDS Day feature, “Through Positive Eyes: living with HIV and Aids—a photo essay” in The Guardian in December 2020.
Other powerful works by Julene include No Father Can Save Her (2011) and Case Walking—An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues: Poems (2007). Julene seems fearless, her topics difficult to even talk about safely at a distance, much less while standing inside them like a seedling leaning into a spring flash flood.
You can and should follow Julene’s virtual whereabouts online through her blog.