VOICES Series

Prologue: I believe the stories we tell one another have the power to change the world. Especially the stories we tell one another about ourselves.

As a society, we focus so much of our attention on the bold-faced “success stories” of CEOs and best-selling authors, the famous and infamous. We get accustomed to glossy, polished anecdotes that are fun to read but hard to relate to. Too often — especially during these times of isolation and separation — we miss the remarkable stories that live all around us.

The neighbor across the street.
The woman behind the cash register. …


VOICES Series

Prologue: I believe the stories we tell one another have the power to change the world. Especially the stories we tell one another about ourselves.

As a society, we focus so much of our attention on the bold-faced “success stories” of CEOs and best-selling authors, the famous and infamous. We get accustomed to glossy, polished anecdotes that are fun to read but hard to relate to. Too often — especially during these times of isolation and separation — we miss the remarkable stories that live all around us.

The neighbor across the street.
The woman behind the cash register. …


VOICES Series

Prologue: I believe the stories we tell one another have the power to change the world. Especially the stories we tell one another about ourselves.

As a society, we focus so much of our attention on the bold-faced “success stories” of CEOs and best-selling authors, the famous and infamous. We get accustomed to glossy, polished anecdotes that are fun to read but hard to relate to. Too often — especially during these times of isolation and separation — we miss the remarkable stories that live all around us.

The neighbor across the street.
The woman behind the cash register. …


VOICES Series

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Our world is built on stories.

Creation myths. History books. Medical journals. Scientific hypothesis. Tabloid tales. Math problems. Romance novels. Religious texts.
Haikus and headlines and tweets and tik toks and column inches.

We humans tell each other stories — and consume them — every second of every day we twirl around on this hapless planet.

Our societies, our systems, have been shaped by stories. Not all of those stories have been truthful. Or equitable. Or hopeful. …


by LaDonna Witmer

Tell me where it hurts.

Tell me how they hit you
where it counts.

Tell me how you saw it coming
for years, for miles
but still rocked back
still reeled in shock.

Tell me how you wish your tears were acid.

Tell me how they’d hiss and crater
when they splashed the ground.

Tell me how you’d cry forever
if tears would burn this whole thing down

Tell me how the flames spark and flicker
on the raw red backs of eyelids. Tell me
how they haunt you like a premonition.

Like a memory.

Tell me…


by LaDonna Witmer

•••

We have been hiding inside our homes
for one hundred and sixty six days
fearing the breath of the five million
four hundred sixty thousand
four hundred and twenty nine
the disease has infested.

Five mornings out of seven
I blink awake and exchange
one stretchy waistband
for another
just to stagger downstairs and
talk technology
with humans on screens
as we pretend
our efforts
matter.

One hundred seventy one thousand
and twelve
are dead
and incapable anymore
of caring.

The numbers on the scale keep going up, nineteen higher than the figure twenty-four weeks ago…


by LaDonna Witmer

•••

Somewhere up there
ten millennia ago
a being of light
ended.

Was there sorrow
in its supernova?

Did it mourn
as it collapsed
upon itself
in the cold?

Or did it know
its dying heart
would live remade
within our waking bones.

Born again in the thunder
of earthbound waves
in the fuzz of bees
in the cleft of hooves
and the exhalations of trees.

Stardust, in the quickening
of my girl’s little light.

Here, too, in the
stuttering neurons
of my mother’s tired brain.

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by LaDonna Witmer

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I once jumped from a 40-foot cliff just because a boyfriend said I couldn’t.

We were out on the Rock River in his dad’s motorboat with another couple, and had already climbed and leapt from a 10-foot ledge, heedlessly plunging our limber young bodies into the churning gray water. The other girl swam back to the boat, but our boyfriends began climbing higher. I followed.

“What are you doing?” Joe said. We hadn’t known each other long or well, but he hosted a weekly Saturday night Bible study and had a reputation for being a reformed drug-user…


A story of collaboration: How writing and design joined forces to create a power publication for Sundance Film Festival

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Photo by Pedro del Corro

What I do is not really typography, which I think of as an essentially mechanical means of putting characters down on a page. It’s designing with letters. Mr. Aaron Burns called it ‘typographics,’ and since you’ve got to put a name on things to make them memorable, ‘typographics’ is as good a name for what I do as any.” — Herb Lubalin

Sometimes a creative duo works on a project with such synergy, they can’t tell where one person’s ideation leaves off and the other’s begins.

That’s how the creative process works for Dropbox Brand Studio designer Pedro del Corro


How to find your voice and set it free

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Photo by Gabrielle Matte

One year ago, I had an epiphany that shattered the silence — not only mine, but the silence of thousands of people all over the world.

Although I’m a writer and make my living with words, I realized that all too often in my life and work, I was waiting for permission to speak. I was holding back on telling my story, on pursuing my dreams, because something inside me said I needed a person in a position of power to give me the go-ahead.

I was raised in an insular, religious world where women are taught to be subservient…

LaDonna Witmer

Reader. Writer. Hangnail biter. @wordsbyladonna

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