Arystine Danner adult librarian and Branch manager reads a short story about her mom during the open mic Poetry Jam: My voice my power on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the North Austin Chicago Public library. | Shanel Romain

While attending a poetry jam at the North Austin Chicago library on Saturday, Nov. 26, I listened to Arystine Danner, the branch manager and adult librarian, read a short story about her mom.

You’re over a writing group here at the library?

I am. It’s called Write About It. The group has been going on since maybe 2017.We have a nice amount of people. If everybody were to show up, I’d probably be overwhelmed.

Do you instruct them on writing? How does the group work?

Write About It is a forum, a space for you to come and read your writing. It’s like an open mic on zoom.. You read your writing and then it’s gently critiqued by other people. You don’t know how it sounds until you read it out loud. It may sound good to you, but not so much to other people. As you read it, you think, that doesn’t even sound right. So, now you can tell that it’s not right. But you don’t know what’s missing or what can be changed and that’s what we use it as. You can read what you write and get some feedback.

We have people that write memoirs, fiction, poetry, etc. We have a whole array of people.I have people from Texas, the suburbs, and New York, etc. They love it. They’re always asking me when I’m gonna write something, but I call myself a librarian because that’s what I am. I write, but some people are way better writers than others and I am the other, I’m not fooled by that.

You were reading a short story today about your mom?

Yes. It’s called “My Mother’s Hands.” My mom would always look at her hands when I was younger and she would say, ‘My hands are so ugly,’ and I would say, ‘Ma, you have beautiful hands.’ And I noticed as she got older, her hands would lose elasticity and become thinner. I said one day I’d write about that.

I know what she went through from when she was a little girl and had to work in the cotton fields in Arkansas. When she got older she was working in the factory and she was always digging in the dirt, gardening and stuff.

My mother’s hands were beautiful because they raised me, they provided for us and her hands did so many things. She was country strong.