allison wonderland books, art

Book Recommendation: Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away by Alice Anderson

Imagine, if you will, you’ve survived being childhood sex abuse. Imagine, you work to put yourself through college and earn your seat in a prestigious MFA program. Imagine, you’ve taken your experience as a survivor and skill as a writer and turned it into advocacy for other survivors. This would be a story worth celebrating.

This was Alice Anderson’s story. But her celebration was cut short when married Liam.

As we learn in the opening scenes of Anderson’s memoir “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” Liam was controlling and he was cheating on her. In short order, we learn about his progressively worsening OCD. His years verbally abusing her and isolating her from everyone and everything she loves. Soon after the discovery of Liam’s infidelity, he attempts to kill her. Anderson takes us along for every heart-racing turn of her escape, the ensuing custody saga, and long-term impact of the night she was nearly murdered.

Alice Anderson, photo courtesy of the author

Anderson is a gifted writer, in both poetry and prose. In “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” she is conversational and poetic. I powered through reading the book in two days because I had to know what happened next. I can’t recommend this memoir more highly for the story, the craft, and the fist-pumping badassery of Anderson fighting her way out and naming names.

Anderson has a well-developed instinct and she listens to it. She had no shortage of people who supported her. But she endured her fair share of tu-tutting from people who didn’t want to interfere with a parent’s relationship, however violent, with his children. Law enforcement and court personnel who threw up their hands and said, “we know he tried to kill you, but he didn’t hurt the children.”

Anderson shares it all, every infuriating cycle of her ex-husband’s pattern of abuse and the court’s fixation on reunification. A pattern that, ironically, mimics the oft-criticized pattern of a domestic violence victim going back to an abuser. Several times throughout the book, she notes how much easier it would have been to stay.

There are crucial, lifesaving lessons to be learned from her story. For saving ourselves, for saving people we love, and for advocating for vulnerable people in courts. This is a must-read for people who write state and federal legislation around intimate partner violence and family law. It should be required reading for anyone involved with family court. Because while “I’ll Fly Away” is a brutally triumphant story, it’s one that should not have to be told.

Writer Geek Out

Elements of Anderson’s poem The Split appear in her memoir. Poets especially might like the exercise of comparing the book passage with the poem.

Author Interview

There’s great interview with Alice Anderson over at The Rumpus. Check it out: Finding the Finally: Alice Anderson Discusses Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away.

Are you still here? Buy the book already!

Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away was released on August 29, 2017 on St. Martin’s Press. It’s available on Amazon, IndieBound, and probably your local indie bookstore. Get you one!


art, communications, non-profit

5 Tips for Indie Arts Resource Development

Honey by Dino Giordano. Licensed CC by 2.0.
Honey by Dino Giordano. Licensed CC by 2.0.

Shunpike kicked off a great training program last night. They found that the traditional workshop model wasn’t working for their members, so they created a series called Hive Mind. The format is short lectures, panel, and group discussion. Half the program time is dedicated to the discussion, and it’s here where the program shines. The panelists come off the stage, and sit with the audience. Facilitators encourage anyone in the room to answer questions or share resources, regardless of status as a “speaker.” I like this peer learning format, and my fellow audience members seemed to groove on it, too. The series is divided into four parts, you can read more about upcoming sessions over at Shunpike’s website (they’ll also post video archives of the lectures and panel).

Last night’s session, “Honey,” was about attracting resources. We heard from a mix of independent artists and arts organizations. My overarching take-away from the evening is the importance of building and maintaining relationships with supporters. Below are my thoughts, and links to related resources that I’ve used and recommend.

Nat Evans shared lessons from his successful crowdfunding campaign. Nat stressed that before you start a crowdfunding campaign, you need an established social media presence. Growing that presence is a regular part of your work. “Social media is like a digipet: if you don’t feed it, it dies.” For his campaign, Nat used social media to continually engage supporters. And also a lot of cat memes. His wry, meta advice, “If you engage the internet with the internet, you’ll be successful on the internet.”

Resource: Although social media usage is constantly evolving, I’ve found this guide on peak posting times to be very helpful in executing social campaigns.

Kenji Stoll of Fab-5 talked about his organization’s efforts to develop earned income through mural projects. Fab-5 has a space in Tacoma (“Fabitat”), and is especially committed to being a good neighbor. Relationships with others in the neighborhood help bring new volunteers, youth and contracts. It’s worth noting that this organization is entirely volunteer-run. I didn’t have a chance to ask Kenji if this is intentional, or if they have plans to develop staffing in the future. From a fundraising perspective, I caution all-volunteer organizations to establish and maintain good records so that future leaders can pick up where you left off with donors.

Resource: There are a number customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions that enable easy recording of donations and volunteers. Tech Soup offers a great round-up, and some discounts to qualified non-profits.

Terrell Dorsey of Unleash the Brilliance underscored the importance of letting go of fear in making asks, and in being persistent. Terrell secured a significant corporate sponsorship, but only after working through a year-long process of getting to the right person to make the ask. Go, Terrell! Terrell innately knows the value of a telling a good story, which is no doubt a critical part of his success.

Resource: The Storytelling Non-Profit is an excellent blog and training resource for developing your non-profit’s messages to supporters.

Vanessa DeWolf of Studio Current also talked about the value of neighborhoods and relationships in building support. “Everyone is charmable,” she said, and she encouraged asking for support first from the people you see every day, and those who use your services.

Resource: Tripoint Fundraising offers a free resource for creating a short-term fundraising plan. This guide breaks down the process into very simple steps, starting with your closest supporters first.

The event was a great chance to talk with other artists and non-profit leaders. I’m a volunteer advisor in Shunpike’s Arts Business Clinic, and these resources and conversations are helpful to the people we talk with in the clinic. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!

Bonus Resource: Shunpike! Shunpike offers incredible support to individual artists and arts organizations.
art, non-profit, poetry slam

To Slam, With Love.

Last night I dropped by the Seattle Poetry Slam. It’s been more than ten years since I’ve had any formal affiliation with this show, and I don’t get to it nearly as often as I’d like. But, last night one woman reminded me of the brilliant gift that poetry open mikes offer us. Continue reading “To Slam, With Love.”

image of an altered book
art, craft, photo projects, portfolio


image of an altered bookI’ve seen altered books in craft magazines for years. I was inspired to create one for my final project in a bookbinding class. My grandmother was an avid reader, and for many years had a hobby making dollhouses. I wanted my final project to honor her all that she means to me. Using her copy of Wuthering Heights, I did! I offer a little info on the project, and a gallery, after the jump.
Continue reading “Heathcliff”

click to see full gallery
art, craft, photo projects, scrapbook

Surprise! Birthday Memory Book

click to see full galleryAnother photo project, this one is a scrapbook for a milestone birthday — my brother’s 40th. If you just want to look at the photos, click the picture! For paper craft and scrapbook enthusiasts, though, let’s get to the project details!

Getting Started

I talked with my sister-in-law about the idea. Even though I planned to do all the craft work, the book wouldn’t be complete without his wife and kids’ contributions! After she agreed, I drafted a form letter that I sent out by email and regular post. Family members added people to the list, and we gave people several months to collect thoughts and photos.

Collecting Letters and Photos

Most letters arrived by email. Some people mailed in photos. I planned a visit a few months before his birthday (we live several thousand miles apart). During the trip, I collected old family photos. Once home, I scanned all the photos and returned the originals (eventually, Mom!).

Working with Old Photos

Several photos were quite old — one was an image of my great-great-grandparents! For these precious images, I went to a digital imaging specialist. They produced electronic copies, and archival copies. They also digitally restored damaged images, instead of using any chemicals to treat the originals. (I would happily refer them, however, they have since closed their business.) While handling the old photos, I used archival, acid-free gloves.

Organizing Content

Once all the letters and photos were ready, I took time to read and review everything. This gave me time to reflect on how to present everything, and to see what blanks I would need to fill in. It became clear that the best way to organize the book was around relationships and themes, instead of chronologically.

Making the Book

I’m not what you would call a “methodical” crafter. I like to pull out all my materials, and see what complements the photos’ stories. I get inspired as I go, and while this book had a few visual themes, I developed it as I went along. Photo-transfers, printing on textured paper, rubber stamps, hinged pages, and stickers are all at play on these pages. I left the “celebration” page blank for him to later include an image from a birthday cruise they would be taking.

Looking Back

It’s been a few years since I did this book. I am increasingly grateful that our grandfather included a letter (he passed on a few years later), and that our grandmother trusted me with original family photographs to scan and use for this project. We’re very, very lucky. If I were to do it now, the aesthetic would certainly be different. But the sentiments would be the same. It’s one of my favorite projects!