I wrote a poem today. It is the first new poem I have written since May 17th. The summer has been one drama after another. I am pleased with the form this poem has taken. It was inspired by a photograph by Zeralda and might become part of our collaborative project of words and images.
My prayers and thoughts for healing the suffering of your people go out to you…I have and will continue to give what I can.
My prayers, too, are for all who are suffering in mind and body.
Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross. — Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 on behalf of The Yele Haiti Foundation.
OFFICIAL BLOG RENEWAL POST001-1014
Each success, no matter how small, in practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark. And I have been in dark, metaphorically dark and literally extinguished places. I’ve been around fires a blazin’ too and they can be happy places!
Ah ha, yes. Well.
I am a poet/mother/wife living with bipolar disease. I have been blessed with clarity and stability in my medical situation for a few years with the effort put in by my strong team of caregivers medically, in the healing arts, and through the support of loving family members who have stood by me. I had recurring traumas and “breakdowns” in my life which robbed me of many things. I was unhappy and clinically sick for most of the 1990s.
I’m gaining back my life, which could have been lost, had I succumbed to the disease and died. (And yes Bipolar kills. Look up the suicide rates of bipolar people, people!) I have been gaining back my sense of self and finding healing through writing. There’s a link between mental illness and creativity. My interest would be: poets who have bipolar disorder. This is a hot topic and I expect to weigh in on it from time to time.
I’ve always been a writer, writing up to this very sentence, poems, plots, plays and peddling pure phiction.
I am a lifelong resident of Louisiana, and a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now called University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I majored in English and minored in Philosophy—the perfect match of disciplines for a budding poet. I published a few poems in college, got married, and only sporadically wrote for a few years.
When I feel the aura of a poem coming on to me so clearly, I am moved by words yet forming, as if words could ride air and pass through my skull, form the syllables in my mind and mouth, and I get up from whatever I was doing and write something. Writers write. Thinkers think. Thoughts fly away until you put the thought-words on a piece of paper or enter them into a computer—then you are a writer, for having written it. Congratulations!
Pre-Poems/Free-Writes— the mystique of this airwave/brainwave/of what was working in my subconscious/some feathery slip of a thing flits from its dark hiding place and dawns in the mind.
I was a lazy writer, in the sense that I did not demand it of my self. I wanted to learn how to do it my way. Not in a conventional class room. I wanted to be in my environs living and drawing my poems from the right here that I am living. The within: my domestic life, sex life, body life, mind’s life, and my natural life as a creature on this planet with other creatures, domesticated and not.
I am in the pursuit of the image. It is my starting point in all writing I do. What is the image? Observation is the key. I am also an amateur photographer, so for me it is usually a visual stimulus. A description must encompass, not describe too much but rather show in deft and artful language the essence, the charm of it.
Is it startling? Is it sustainable? What I mean is does it having lasting qualities to live on in the poem if we construct an environment for it to thrive? Will its meaning inspire other meanings which may or may not conflict with the intended meaning. Does this matter? If it is what it is and you want that image/those words, then you choose. Poetry is making choices. Words-connections-shaping-breaking-exploding and putting the poem back together, or not– are the choices of the artist. Read poetry, get inspired, and learn to make choices. Major choices are definitive; some choices allow a little wiggle.
That’s what it is about.
I am building around a central image, not always, but habitually. Images come from things and we get to know things through our senses, sight, smell, taste, hear and touch, so images come from the basic 5 senses—this is basic knowledge of what is concrete and what it abstract in the study of poetry but it is crucial because by utilizing these tools you can transform, imagine, ignite passionate responses, and through words you can bloodlessly crush people in a way they like to or would rather not like to be crushed.
So when I return I will speak of why I am in pursuit of the image as it is stated at the top of the blog.
I welcome comments for friendly and heartily espoused discussions. What I have written here is brief and leaves many questions to me but I wanted to holdback so questions could be put to me and any other readers for discussion.
I am taking me in a whole new, freeing direction metaphorically speaking.
I am a poet/wife/mother and have participated in arts outreach for many years. The outreach work has been life-changing and healing for me and hopefully for the people I have served. DAF Louisiana Division of the Arts grants have been the primary funding source for these programs.
Festival of Words directed by Patrice Melnick, and funded by a DAF Louisiana Division of the Arts grant, addressed community needs in Sunset and Grand Coteau. As one of the contributing artists, I presented a storytelling workshop to economically-challenged elderly and an in-school poetry reading to students. The response was overwhelming. The aims were met with great success. Something very important, motivating and transformative occurred through our endeavors.
Recently, I served as lead writer for the Acting Up in Acadiana‘s “Play. Music. Heal.”—a theatrical piece where actors, musicians and writers are exploring the notion that music has the potential to heal across socio-economic and cultural lines. This project received funding from DAF Louisiana Division of the Arts grant. Part of our discovery has been that art; music specifically, has the power to heal the psyche, raise self-perception, bring communities together and lift us to our greatest selves.
The human creates to survive. If we stifle creativity our culture withers. If we do not cry out at this time, we may be on an irreversible path. The effects to our state if the severe cuts to arts funding that Governor Jindal proposes go through could be devastating culturally and economically.
We are an ingenious people—we “make do.” But when you “gut” the arts, specifically programs that serve at-risk communities, you are cutting not only jobs of the artists, administrators and staff but you are cutting off people from people. Cultural tourism is the second highest industry in Louisiana. I would guess the industry employs thousands, or more, people.
The arts provide personal empowerment. Teaching-artists offer the tools to self-express creatively in theatre arts, music, dance, literature, visual and conceptual art, folk art, and so on. With these cuts, the individuals and communities who are in the most need may be the first and most devastated victims.
Art is a lifeline. We learn who we are through creative expression and by witnessing it. Through art we become more than ourselves. I am resolved to fight for my life as an artist and for the hope of new creators in Louisiana.
…On a mission and will return soon.
Full report and visuals when I upload again.
Over and out and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Our kitty Pepper, the Pep Cat got “fixed” today. My sweet girl is recovering at the veterinary hospital. I can pick her up tomorrow morning. We found her as a kitten in a gas station parking lot on October 1st, 2006.
December 2007 View from the Secret Hideaway