Thursday, March 17, 2016


Cynthia Leslie-Bole

Orinda writing coach publishes first book of poetry

By Janice De Jesus, Correspondent
Posted:   03/02/2016 04:59:33 PM PST | Updated:   a day ago

ORINDA -- Even though Cynthia Leslie-Bole took up writing imaginative stories and poetry from an early age, the creative writing muse was elusive for awhile. Leslie-Bole said she had somehow "lost the thread" as she delved into academic writing in college and grad school, then later technical writing in her consulting career. "There was not a shred of creative expression," she said. It wasn't until Leslie-Bole left her job to embrace motherhood that she discovered the joy of children's stories and began to wonder whether she could write them. "At one point, I was saying to myself, 'I'm a good writer, but don't have a creative bone in my body," Leslie-Bole said. "Then I thought, "But how do I know that?' So I set myself a goal of writing one children's story a month for a year just to see if I could do it."

While she knew it was a challenging task, Leslie-Bole wanted to convince her doubting self. "The upshot was that I had a blast doing it," she said. "I experienced so much joy ... that it felt like a part of myself came alive again." At the time, Leslie-Bole had no interest in publishing even years later when, as a writing coach, she formed her own writing sessions in Orinda molded after the Amherst Writers & Artists Method (AWA) with the philosophy that "every writer deserves a safe environment in which to experiment, learn and develop craft." 

"I thought of myself as editor and writing coach, someone who uses words for her own creative expression, but nowhere was there an aspiration to publish," said the Orinda resident. But early last year, Leslie-Bole's writing students and peers, many of whom she helped guide toward publication, urged her to publish her work. She kept resisting until her friend and publisher, Karen Mireau, offered another creative challenge. "As a passionate admirer of her writing, I had often longed to see Cynthia Leslie-Bole in print," said Mireau, founder of Azalea Art Press, publisher of several local authors' books. "Early in 2015, when I expressed the wish to publish her, Cynthia met me with a creative challenge -- she would publish her book of poetry -- if I would publish one of my own."

And so they did, and will be jointly celebrating their achievements at 4 p.m. March 7, at Orinda Books. Encouraged by Mireau, Leslie-Bole presented a decades-worth of poems that capture the different phases of her life. "This is me, this is my truth, I have a voice," she said. Leslie-Bole's book of poems, "The Luminous In-Between," is an emotional map of one woman's life as mother, daughter, wife, friend and, perhaps just as significantly, as writer/artist, said Mireau, whose book, "Matzu Kaze," explores her own creative expressions following the death of her father. "We realized that in our many decades of helping others manifest their literary dreams, we had neglected our own work," Mireau said of Leslie-Bole. "And so began a most amazing collaboration. We gathered our poems, consulted each other about the editing, the formatting, the cover, and every conceivable aspect of each book's production. One year later, despite many personal trials, we fulfilled our promise to one another."

The title of her book encapsulates "the sense of luminosity that can be found in ordinary reality," Leslie-Bole said.

Elizabeth Perlman met the writing coach in the spring of 2013, when Leslie-Bole became sort of "Fairy Godmother" to Perlman's organization, The Intuitive Writing Project. "First she worked with me as a coach, guiding me through the fear and self-doubt," said Perlman, a student in Leslie-Bole's writing classes. "Then, when I was finally ready to launch my dream, she connected me with a woman would become my most trusted business partner. "Creative expression takes courage and Cynthia helps to instill this in everyone. I think that her greatest gift to me can be summarized in her poem, 'Before You Disappear,' when she wrote 'write to become visible to yourself.' Through writing -- and being encouraged in my writing -- I have become visible to myself, which is what I am now able to provide for my own students: the chance to become visible to themselves."

Orinda writing coach Cynthia Leslie-Bole has published her first book of poetry, which will be celebrated March 7, at Orinda Books.

Orinda writing coach Cynthia Leslie-Bole has published her first book of poetry, which will be celebrated March 7, at Orinda Books. ( Courtesy of Janice De Jesus )

Cynthia Leslie-Bole
 reads from her work at Orinda Books
March 13, 2016

A Double Rainbow
appeared at the conclusion of
the Orinda Books event