Raven's Emergence

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Raised by 36 people in 13 months
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I’ve been a practitioner of various arts, mostly based off writing, for all of my conscious life. This has been a daily practice, often untenable, due to combination of working class roots (where work is supposed to be impossible by nature) and a strong inner-critic (the voice of fraud syndrome common among those who have immigrated classes). Generally, over the years, this has been done in the illegitimate ways of self-publishing, both physical and digital, and avoiding the established world of gatekeepers and approvers and official co-signers. In the ways of becoming known in the creative world for the amazing body of stuff I’ve created, this has not worked to my benefit. But the art has gone on unimpeded.

I’d like to say there’s been a recent transition that triggered a change in attitude but recent changes were built off earlier changes, and change is a constant, so it’s more appropriate to say I am at a point in my life where I’m finally trying to achieve full Raven wingspan. I am ready to fully emerge creatively upon the larger world.

One recent project was my freestyle sonnet one, where I wrote 1140 sonnets, off the top of the head, in connecting crown form, with a heroic sonnet woven by each one, 76 total. One of these 76 was done over the course of a few months with my friend Mark Edwards as part of his one-minute video project, and we have a Super-Sized Sonnet video collection, just as offput from both our personal constant processes. Well, through the existence of that video collection, I was exposed to others outside my circle, and the end result is I got an emerging writer residency in the California Redwoods later this year at the Wellstone Center.

While exciting, it’s also imposing, as the transition from illegitimate crazy person scribbling sonnets in the traditions of anonymity on a park bench to a legitimate writer is one I don’t feel comfortable with entirely, nor one I can afford to be honest. I will not be quitting my day job any time soon because I can’t afford living WITH my day job, much less without it. So the travel burden of going to California is one my budget does not have any wiggle room for. Not to mention having had to hoard my sick leave (thankfully I at least have paid leave, which has not usually been the case in my work history) to have the time off without missing a paycheck.

But also, a couple summers back, I did a train/bus loop around the country, and though Amtrak residencies of an official nature seem to be gone, I am hoping to take the train out, from Charlottesville through New Orleans through to Los Angeles, then up to the residency. After the residency period, there’s some travel with a friend up to Oregon, where hopefully we set up a haiku event, and then take the train from Eugene back to Chicago on through to Charlottesville. Thus, if I can do this the way I hope to, I’d have about an additional ten days of train travel to use as a sort of residency as well, albeit not in sleeping cars (lol, working class roots don’t allow for that), but you can sleep pretty good in regular seat on Amtrak.

I’m looking at about $1000 for travel, though without discretionary income due to current situation, ideally if I could get $1500 that would give me cushion to do this without compromising my home life. But I also feel, when compared to the needs of many in the larger world, this is a selfish request. And this is the dilemma of such an endeavor – if there are a group of people who feel comfortable supporting and asking for support for the arts, how do we get others who are outside of that to feel comfortable with that? Where I currently live has a fairly large contingent of homeless people and people living out of vehicles in close proximity, and I know how much $1500 is. But this would cover travel to the residency in the California Redwoods, as well as using the train for that travel, which would create a second mobile residency, to follow the American expanse slowly and see it's undulations, all while talking with the random people along the way. (Random people on the train are the best, but random people anywhere can be the best, and also sometimes the worst, but if you are moving through you often times do not get people's absolute worst.)

But here I am, hoping to “emerge” as a legitimate artist, thus asking for financial support in doing so. Please note: if you are struggling economically, please do not put yourself out on my behalf. But if you are able to support, or know of people with the economic comfort level to do so easily, please share and/or contribute. The best place to get an idea of my work is the website I’ve maintained for years, www.ravenmack.com, or the playlist of one-minute freestyle sonnet videos ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4kfC-1yVQQ&list=PL9SPtuGX6V3rCwYmXrOPrmNQQ6DvHGTt0) but I’ve scattered words and art in a bunch of places, both physical and digital, for many years.

And if you do support, thanks. Even if you don’t support through financial contribution but have been with me throughout the years, thanks to you too. In fact, more thanks goes to those people – the fellow artists and writers of various legitimacies also driven to create because it’s an innate part of being human. And also those who just enjoy whatever it is I do, in my philosophically meandering non-genre-definable way. Thank you too. Even from the outside, art wants to be heard or seen, and hopes to be appreciated, or at the very least have a positive effect on the world around it.

I look forward to expanding my creative wingspan for the rest of my life, and accomplishing even more, perhaps in more legitimate ways, but if not, I’m find with being illegitimate as well. There’s a lot of freedom in the shadows. And I'm going to do what I do whether the larger world ever realizes it or not. I don't really have a choice.
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HEY YOOOOOOO
Life has been crazy and somewhat unstable, which has left me feeling shaky about this pending trip, but I am focusing on just knocking it out. I am entrusting the universe to hold shit together on the homefront while I am out, and I've been outlining like a madman the past few days, a story that's been growing in my mind for a long time, in the hopes that between two weeks on a train and one week in the redwoods, I can crank out most of a book in this time.
Wanted to let you all know the best way to keep up with this trip, in the limited engagement I'll be doing. I do a monthly renga at my public twitter acct ( https://twitter.com/_raven_mack_). Next month's renga will be my trip. I also have set up a snapchat (raven_mack) as well. Not sure what I'll do with that, mostly just focusing on disappearing into a hole of this other unreal world that exists in this book I'll be putting together.
I just wanted to update you all, and thank you for the support in enabling this. I leave Charlottesville by train late next week, go to New Orleans. I'll spend a single night in New Orleans (really just long enough to sleep), then on the train from there to Los Angeles, which I'm really excited for. Please note, I am not doing sleeper cars, just regular seats. That is preferable in my opinion. From Los Angeles, I ride up to the Bay Area, where I'll spend a week at a residency in the redwoods, four miles from the ocean. Me and my boy go from there up to Oregon for a few days, where we will have a haiku event in Eugene. Then I catch the Amtrak again from Eugene to Seattle, Seattle to Chicago, and Chicago to Charlottesville. I booked those tickets all in a row, even though apparently there is zero chance I do not get delayed in the oil fields of the Dakotas from what I've heard. But I figured screw it, if they sold me the tickets and I'm late, they'll put me on the next train.
I did a similar trip making a big loop around the country in the summer of 2016, but with train and bus rides. (Riding the bus from Chicago to Seattle, and from Los Angeles to New Orleans, which effectively made me realize I'm good with never riding another bus again.) I enjoy the on-the-ground travel over the entire continent's landscape, seeing it all unfold, and talking regular shit with regular chumps like myself on the train. (Although talking fishing with a guy freaking out on bath salts and a mennonite guy on the bus in Montana that last trip is an all-time most surreal life experience, to be honest.)

So that's it, the update. I was shocked how fast my campaign went. If you want to support my artistic endeavors on a regular basis, I do have a patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/ravenmack). If you are local to me, I'll be back in time to have a haiku event at the Tea Bazaar in Charlottesville on October 25, full of whatever the universe fills me with on this journey. But mostly thanks for your support. Impostor fraud syndrome is strong in me, but I realize my artistic voice is not necessarily the same as what is always seen. That's likely why I feel like such a fraud a lot of times. But I'm working at stepping into myself, being the full (fool?) Raven I am meant to be, which - believe it or not - I've not yet even come close to being. Thank you for supporting this trip, and since escapes from real life are rare for me and people like me, I'm not taking this lightly. I'm gonna crush this shit.

salaam,
Raven
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I had no expectation of coming close to reaching the base goal this quickly. I put the amount up at the ideal $1500 so that I can know I'm not going to mess up my other bills or come short due to gofundme fees. Thanks so much to everybody who has contributed! I'm in shock.
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$1,710 of $1,500 goal

Raised by 36 people in 13 months
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SB
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Scott Barlow
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KM
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