Showing posts with label Poets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poets. Show all posts

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Celebrating the Harvest: Reading for the Earth

An Invitation:

Harvest is an ancient and sacred ritual, marking the year’s cycle, expressing our gratitude for the fruits of the Earth. In these dangerous and fragmented times how do we give thanks to our Mother Earth and to the farmers who feed us?

We are three poets and a novelist, who engage passionately with ecological issues in our work. Please join us for a harvest of earth-centered writing at First Light Farm Stand.

When: 2:00 pm, Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Where: First Light Farm Stand, 4588 Bodega Avenue, Petaluma

Who Will Read: Novelist Patricia Damery and poets Frances Hatfield, Naomi Ruth Lowinsky and Leah Shelleda

If you’re worried about Monsanto and the loss of species, or want to know more about the poets who will be reading, check out Sharon Heath’s blog posting On Butterflies and Men

A Publication

My poem “Lust and the Holy” is featured in the on-line literary magazine Wild Violets, accompanied by a delightful image. I hope you’ll check it out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Muse of Friendship

Musings on The Book of Now

[Cover Art by Bill Fulton]
There are times in a life when the threads of one’s tapestry are illuminated—one can see how one’s passions, obsessions and relationships are tied together. I had such a moment recently when I first held in my hands my friend Leah Shelleda’s beautiful anthology: The Book of Now: Poetry for the Rising Tide. The back of the book describes the contents: “Seven lyrical women poets, each accompanied by a study of their work…travel to the depths of the psyche, experience exile, rhapsodize on the beauty of our planet…write courageously about what threatens us: climate change, war, mountain–top removal, loss of species…” I am privileged to be one of them.

Leah and I have been friends and poetry buddies for over forty years. We met in an authentic movement class. What’s that, you wonder? It is an expressive art, a form of active imagination, a practice in which body and psyche are free to explore inner and outer worlds, to play with music, images, limits and wild permissions. Back in the 70s I was breaking out of my conventional identity as a wife and mother. Authentic movement was a great liberation for one who longed to move, who had taken a bit of ballet and a bit of modern dance and always felt too womanly, too voluptuous for the straight and narrows of dance.

Leah and I met each other playing on the dance floor, and soon became muses for one another. Our passions and obsessions overlapped—feminism and the feminine, psyche and the underworld, the mystic and the mysteries, poetry and prophesy, art and culture, the natural world and the world of the ancients. We became one another’s first readers, editors, consultants on all things creative. We supported one another’s authentic movement in words. We nourished, critiqued, deepened, broadened and enlivened one another’s work, listened to each other’s life stories unfold, held each other during times of suffering and loss, celebrated each others loves and accomplishments. To find myself among the amazing poets whose work Leah has gathered here is at once a harvest and an offering to the storm gods—the gods of the rising tide.

In a short essay introducing each section Leah engages eloquently with each poet’s work. Some of these poets are well known to me—Jane Downs, Frances Hatfield, and of course Leah herself. Some of them I’ve never read before and they are a wonderful discovery.

Anita Endrezee writes a poem about the “drunk on Main Avenue” who dreams “of pintos the color of wine/and ice, and drums that speak the names/of wind.” This is a deep cry from the lost world, lost music, lost authentic dance of the Native American Shaman.

Anita Endrezze

Another poet—also new to me—is Dunya Mikhail. She too has lost a world. As Leah writes she has “witnessed dictatorship and war in Iraq…[She] is a witness- and a Courier.” Mikhail’s biting irony and plain speech are sharp tools to carve memorials to the unbearable. Her poem “The War Works Hard” begins with these lines:

How magnificent the war is!

How eager

and efficient

Dunya Mikhail

Crystal Good, who writes from West Virginia—Land of Coal and Mountain Removal—is also a discovery for me. Her plain speech and irony about the world that is being lost as she writes comes in a different idiom, but she writes in a striking and compelling voice.

Crystal Good

Her poem “Boom Boom” is devastating on the subject of devastation:

Them boys come back ‘round after all the damage

is done. After all her long hair is gone. They grin/admire

what’s left of her hips–just

checkin’ on you.

Frances Hatfield

Hatfield’s first published book
of poems, Rudiments of Flight

Frances Hatfield is a colleague of mine at the San Francisco Jung Institute. She writes gorgeous, mind bending poems out of worlds much like the ones I inhabit—myth, dream, the underworld, strange happenings in the process of “The Talking Cure”:

the locked gate to the forbidden

room gapes open

the snarls of the guard dogs

hang like icicles in the air…

I’ve admired Jane Downs’ poetry for years, and have written about it in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Perspectives. She can evoke the sensual world of Now, while at the same time invoking the mythic world of Forever. Takes my breath away:

Marie Dern and Jane Downs

Our tender mouths,

our tender arms,

How could

we know that beneath

us a god roams

with dirt

in his mouth

Jane and book artist Marie Dern are the founders of Red Berry Editions where they create beautiful, often handmade, books. Jane’s collection of prose poems, Adirondack Dream, is forthcoming.

Leah’s poems continue to amaze and delight me. She can leap about in all the strata of being. She is inspired by dreams, travel, family, myth, art—all the wonder and grief of a deeply lived life. She understands shape shifting; she knows metamorphosis from the inside out:
Leah Shelleda

I saw a woman born of a doe

I saw a woman step out of the body of a wolf

There is return

Here’s some of what I wrote about Leah’s beautiful book of poems After the Jug Was Broken:

Shelleda's poems play at the edge of the wild and the forbidden; they dive down to the depths, bringing up treasure from the collective unconscious and the wisdom traditions; they enchant, seduce and bless…

I was especially pleased that Leah chose my poem Where the Buffalo Roam to be in this anthology. That’s because it’s so weird—a vision of the lost world of the Native Americans that came to me while driving on Highway 24. It’s been a long process of breaking the taboos of the conventional mind for me to own my visions and ghosts. This liberation began in that authentic movement class where Leah and I met, and of course, in years of the subversive practices of Jungian analysis and reading and writing poetry. We’ll need our visions, our weird other worldly experiences, our fierce love for the worlds of Now and the worlds of Forever— where the ghost dancers still stamp and beat their drums—if we are to navigate the Rising Tide.

Where the Buffalo Roam

A sky herd of buffalo stampeded the moon—I saw it
driving on 24. The radio said

the shadow of earth would steal the moon—
our only moon—but I tell you

It was a thundering ghost herd of buffalo
that shouldered the moon out of her sky

The moon disappeared in her deerskin dress
The ghost dancers stamped and beat their drums

They chanted the world before Highway 24
when earth was home to the buffalo

when the people followed the dance
of the sun, when they knew each story of rock

each spirit of mountain, of tree
what flowered, what died, what came back

as the moon came back in her deerskin dress—
our only moon—

in her radiant light
I looked at the sky over 24

but the buffalo were gone…