Louisiana Aesthetic (Reggie Michael Rodrigue) has kindly published a poem I wrote after the Acadiana Wordlab session he led. Thank you, Reggie for your magnanimous words.

louisianaesthetic

LUBA ZYGAREWICZ Petrified Time 12 Years of My Life Folded and Neatly Stacked

LUBA ZYGAREWICZ, “Petrified Time: 12 Years of My Life, Folded and Neatly Stacked,” sculpture/stacked dryer lint, tags and rope

Last month I hosted a meeting of the Acadiana Wordlab thanks to the graciousness of the lab’s founder Jonathan Penton who also publishes the literary journal “Unlikely Stories.” During the lab, I exposed the attendants to a wide variety of my favorite contemporary works by artists from Louisiana and discussed the merits and relevance of them and their works.

It was great pleasure, and I personally got a lot out of the lab due to the quality and variety of ekphrastic responses I received from the attendants. If you’re wondering what an ekphrastic response is, you’re not alone. I had no idea what one was until I hosted the lab.  Once I found out what one is, I felt a little stupid. It’s what I do here all the time –…

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2012: A Year in the Writing Life

There was a time when I could not write. There was a time when I was very sick and did not have a grip on life. So now that I am stronger and healthier, I feel I absolutely must do it. I must do it for my survival. I must write to discover meaning, to know myself more deeply and to contribute something beautiful to the world. It is a responsibility and I honor it with my best. I live this commitment because the ability and time to do it is not promised.

My life is somewhat illuminated now, but darkness is ever-present. I have to keep striking at the dark with my best energies and efforts. I hold firm to the belief that “Each success, no matter how small, in practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark.”

I hope you take that statement into your heart and live it for yourself.

The Writing Life 2012:

Debut full-length poetry collection, Eating the Heart First, published October 1, 2012 by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection.

Activities

Founded the Voices Seasonal Readings Series

Presented “Vision and Voice: Introducing Youth to Poem-Making” to middle and elementary gifted and talented students—April, 2012, Zachary, LA

Coordinated Words of Fire, Words of Water, the literary component of the Fire and Water Rural Arts Celebration in Arnaudville, LA

Presenter and participant, Acadiana Worldlab, Cite des Arts, Lafayette

Recognitions

“Any Winter Sunday in Louisiana” nominated by Referential Magazine for a Pushcart Prize

“What Winter Told Me” nominated by Thrush Poetry Journal for inclusion in the Poetry Daily online anthology

“The Bird in My Ribcage” and “As We Are” were selections for “Vision/Verse #4” ekphrastic arts project by the Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana. (June 2012)

Publications

9 submission packets sent out. 26 poems rejected.
14 Poems published:

“Of the Gone Woman” Unlikely Stories
“Because We Love” Unlikely Stories
“Dream of Sudden Water” Unlikely Stories
“The Disease is at Home in Her” Melusine, Spring/Summer
“The Embalmer’s Wife” Melusine, Spring/Summer
“Seeing Through” blue five notebook, Spring
“Ink on a Mirror” Louisiana Literature, 29.1
“Convergence” Louisiana Literature, 29.1
“Distortion” Unlikely Stories, Spring
“The Word Does Not Come” Unlikely Stories Spring
“Poem to the Madonna” Unlikely Stories, Spring
“The Oak Remembered from My Childhood” Referential Magazine, Winter
“Any Winter Sunday in Louisiana” Referential Magazine, Winter
“What Winter Told Me” Thrush Poetry Journal, January 2012

Readings

“Words of Fire Words of Water” Fire and Water Rural Arts Celebration, Arnaudville (December)

First Friday Reading Series, Lake Charles (November)

17 Poets! Reading Series, New Orleans (November)

Sundays@4, Baton Rouge Gallery – center for contemporary arts (November)

Voices Seasonal Reading Series, Lafayette (November)

DAF Grants Recipient Ceremony, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette (October)

100 Thousand Poets for Change, Cite des Arts (September)

Vision/Verse #4, project by the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, Lake Charles (June)

Festival of Words reading series at Casa Azul Gifts, Grand Coteau (April)

“Voices in Winter” with Patrice Melnick, Carpe Diem! Lafayette (February)

Media

Interview/feature article, “Eat Your Heart Out” The Independent Monthly (November)

Interview/live reading on KRVS (88.7 FM–www.krvs.org) Après
Midi with host Judith Meriwether. (November)

Political Animal

I was challenged to consider whether my poetry is political because of the theme of “change” in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change movement, which claims political and social change as its issue and mission.  I have very definite ideas of my own politics, but I do not often write directly about them.

I dug through old folders last night and found a few poems that seemed to speak to this notion.  I read a collaborative experimental poem, written by myself and Dana Guthrie Martin, titled “this dream runs ahead of me.” I also read “What Came After,” (Sunrise from Blue Thunder, 2011) a poem that was written in response to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami; the ensuing meltdown and continuing disaster at the Fukishima nuclear power plant. Lastly, I read “Poem to the Madonna,” (Unlikely Stories, 2012) which is a lament and critical view of an icon of religion and perhaps my most overt political statement.

As an artist, I am asserting my self and my art into the world for the purpose of engaging and affecting other humans.  Art drives and shapes my living. With each stroke of the pen or tap on the keyboard I claim my right to create freely with artistic purpose. Many have died, or have been shamed and shunned, for far less.  

I think of myself as a feminist. This is a fairly new awareness. I have always considered myself a strong female, capable and determined, but I am now inclined to claim the label because we are under threat.

Much of the angst that comes through in my poetic voice is resonance of the truth that women continue to be oppressed. When I write erotica, for example, I want to express myself as a sexual being, an entity that claims complex, nuanced sexual impulses and wants.  I do not take this for granted. I express sexuality via a poetic statement to engage and enlighten not only the reader but myself.  I give myself permission to write what I need to write—if I waited for the world to allow me to do it I would be paralyzed. I break through those misgivings and sense of “decorum” to find the gritty or glorious truth. The intent is art, not puerile entertainment.  

If the idea is to trigger social change, then we must look at the individual, we must look to ourselves. At the very heart of humanity’s dilemma is that we are the instigators of our own ills as well as the glories—with the exceptions of our own coming into the world and the fact that we will die.  The change we seek will happen when humanity finds its own humanity—but will hate ever cease? That is the question and our enduring jeopardy.

Nothing I am saying here is new, and perhaps not said in a new way. What is and will always be groundbreaking is each solitary individual’s first act, claiming their right to be a whole, creative being: a voice in seven billion singing out.

Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 5

My time at the Casita is coming to an end.

What sense is left in these hands?  What do my fingers know that my mind has yet to discover? I type and words appear, or scrawl a script with my pen and there seems to be a meaning that was elusive to my tongue.  The words I write have more sense than the words I speak. The body knows things the mind does not.

I go outdoors to feel night. Through a lighted window shade, I see the silhouette of a woman adjusting her ponytail. It is almost midnight. Watching her inspires the beginnings of a poem, but I feel a little guilty watching  so I close my eyes.  I listen to frogs and crickets harmonizing. Something rustles behind the casita and it scares me. I enter the casita and lock the door quickly.

Meditations

I pick up a book of meditations that I have read off and on over the years. This book has a strange effect on me, sometimes sending me into peculiar mental states with glimpses perhaps of a deeper reality we only sense in extraordinary moments. (What moment is not extraordinary?) I am hesitant to name the book. There has been controversy around it. I will only say that when I read it and meditate on its passages and teachings something opens in me and I sense the resonance of the Infinite. I have experienced fear and awe when reading deeply in this book. I will take it in small doses…I hope that these truths will permeate my life.

It is almost daybreak.

I stayed up because I could. I drank canned espresso and fruit juices with yerba mate and I am buzzing. I want to take mini-retreats when I return to “reality”—whether it is sitting alone in the dark, taking a bath, sitting on the cypress swing in the backyard—healthy actions that will replenish me. I think there is an issue for me as a woman that makes it all the more necessary for me to retreat from the world. Note to self: explore this later…

The sun is up.
I sit on the little porch and smoke my third to last cigarette. I listen to the birds sing. They are going at it like crazy, telling each other their dreams. Or they are discussing their plans for the day—a ‘team meeting’ of sorts. Where is the freshest water? Where are the trees with ripened fruit? I sit on the steps and listen to them.

If I listen long enough I will understand them.

 

Two poetic lines that come to me:

 “The sheets are so white against new blood.”

 “She is unbelieved.”

Announcing the “Voices” Seasonal Reading Series

I’ve surreptitiously founded a literary reading series in Lafayette, LA called the” Voices“ series.  The hope is to showcase amazing talent that we have in our community and beyond, perhaps, and bring a lively arts happening on a Saturday evening to Carpe Diem! We hope we will have success with these events and appreciate you sharing this information.

What was a whisper of a thought formed into an idea, then a plan, and then real, live happenings.  Our first literary night was in February when Patrice Melnick and I read original work. It was a great night.  

High off that success, we are planning spring, summer and autumn readings for the rest of 2012. Our goal is to present four literary events through the year to coincide with the seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn.  There may be additional readings for special events, such as book signings.   

Our host venue is the wonderful Carpe Diem! Gelato – Espresso Bar at 812 Jefferson Street in Lafayette.  We love them and they love us! Please support Carpe Diem!

 For the “Voices in Spring” event, we have poet/professor Marthe Reed of ULL reading her bold and elegant poetry, and Bonny McDonald of LSU performing an original act of spoken word, music and movement,–both artists will present something captivating, unique and dynamic at 7 p.m. on April 21st.

It would be their pleasure to inspire and entertain you.  

A bit from the press release below.

~Clare

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.

—Anais Nin

On Saturday, April 21st, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. CARPE DIEM! GELATO-ESPRESSO BAR invites the public to spend a spring evening experiencing poetry and performance arts while enjoying gelato, espresso, tea, and pastries when it hosts VOICES IN SPRING: Poetry by Marthe Reed and Performance Art by Bonny McDonald.

Marthe Reed has published two books, Gaze (Black Radish Books) and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer with drawings by Rikki Ducornet (Lavender Ink); a third book is forthcoming from Moria Books. She has also published chapbooks, post*cards: Lafayette a Lafayette (with j/j hastain), (em)bodied bliss and zaum alliterations, all as part of the Dusie Kollektiv Series. Her manuscript, an earth of sweetness dances in the vein, was a finalist in Ahsahta Press’ 2006 Sawtooth Poetry Contest.

More info at: http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~mxr5675/ 

Bonny McDonald is a teacher, performance artist, and poet from Louisiana currently working toward a PhD in Performance Studies at LSU.  Over the last ten years, she has traveled widely as a performance poet and as a teaching-artist, leading a variety of workshops on creative writing, public speaking, and the dramatic arts. Part song, part dance, part poetry reading, her recent work explores boundaries between waking and dream, reality and fantasy, the body and the page.

The free event begins at 7:00 p.m. 812 Jefferson Street, Lafayette

It is never enough, is it?

Why do I carry some nebulous shame for things I have or have not done in my life? I wish I could have a ‘no apologies’ attitude and continue brushing off the backhanded compliments or outright snubs. I am glad in who I am and enjoy the life I have created with my family. I am growing as an artist and believe in my work. I am moving forward in the process of discovery that writing offers—that life offers.  But recently something was said to me that made me waver oh so slightly in those beliefs. I am writing this entry to clarify my perspective for myself and to make a statement to those others who judge me.

I am in recovery. I am recovering from abuse, breakdowns and raw grief. I have been open about my history. I have engaged in this recovery with all of my being for the sake of my children and loved ones. I know I am cherished. I cherish myself. I cherish this time I have which almost slipped from me due to illness, misdiagnosis of that illness, and the devastation of self that was the result of both.

I wondered for years about the life I could have lived if I did not have bipolar disease–if I had not fallen apart those so many times.  I do not allow myself to wonder what my life would have been like without Adam. I do remind myself that at the time others were pressuring me to not have a child at such a young age. His life was a grace in mine.  I learned more about love, compassion and humility through Adam’s life than I ever could have if he had not been.

I embrace the life I am living.  I realize I am where I need to be to do what I desire—which is to raise my daughter to the best of my ability, do meaningful work in the world and honor the loving relationships in my life.

Since I have lived in relative stability for several years, I have come to be able to pursue the writing which brings me great joy. I took the first steps on this path in 2004 after Adam died.  In dealing with my grief, writing offered a path out.  Through the writing process, the creative process, I am accessing life and myself in deeper ways. I am looking within and without and creating art through myself. That activity is essential to my recovery and my peace. That I have achieved some success is uplifting beyond words, but I will try:

Each success, no matter how small, in the practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark.  

I believed what was believed about me for too long rather than believing myself.  But I won’t hold those negative beliefs any longer, not even a shred. My ambition is true and I am on fire with it. I set myself on the path and I do not allow much to divert me from it—even gross insults and arrogant snubs.

No, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder but I do recognize when I am being belittled and it will not go unanswered.

Six Months In

So far in 2010–six months in–I have had nine poems published and three have been accepted and will soon appear in magazines. I am thrilled to bits about this. I was updating my C.V. with the new acceptances and noted that 49 pieces of my creative writing have been (or will be) published. Most of them have been published since 2004. 

In 2004, my son died.

When Adam died, I promised myself that I would live my life as a writer; that I would write purposefully and professionally for the rest of my life, God-willing. I have lived the writing life each day since.  I embrace my role as writer, along with my roles as wife and mother, proudly and with serious intent.  I always start out my “bio” with the phrase:

Clare is a poet/mother/wife…whatever.

I am these things at my very center. I move outwardly from ‘that place’ in my heart—

I can also share that I have bipolar disease. I have struggled for most of my adult life with its symptoms. I have had serious breakdowns and lost so much but I have been very blessed to have a doctor who saved me with careful attention and astute clinical sense which he used in my treatment.

I have been in recovery since 2000.  That means I am moving forward but the disease never leaves.  It is always at my back.  It is deadly–but thankfully I have been able to care for myself and my family somewhat steadily for a long period. I learned the hard way how to sense the oncoming symptoms. I have the strong support of family, friends and a treatment team of doctors.

I am in recovery.

I am recovering.

I am.

If you would like to read the poems that have been published on the Internet so far in 2010 please click the links below.

“White Bull, Black Road” Scythe, Vol. II, 2010

“The Woman You Married” Scythe, Vol. II, 2010

“Little Poem at Pink Moon” Scythe, Vol. II, 2010

“Memento Mori” THE RED ROOM: Writings from Press 1, anthology, 2010

“Mute” Blue Fifth Review, blue collection 1, anthology series, 2010

“Winter Brought Out All the Knives” Melusine, 2.2 Spring/Summer 2010

“Birthing” Avatar Review, Issue 12, Summer 2010

“Make a New Garden” Avatar Review, Issue 12, Summer 2010

“The Never That Was” Avatar Review, Issue 12, Summer 2010

“Father Almost Drowning” Poets & Artists, forthcoming 2010

“Open Me with a Fire of Words” Wild Goose Poetry Review forthcoming 2010

“Premature” Literary Mama, forthcoming  2010