A Month of Poetry….Why?

It was the first day in May, and the morning air felt static with promise. I was up early. Still sleepy and warm from the shower, I stood at the top of my stairway and watched the first rays of sun break over the peak of the mountains to the Trust in Joyeast. The sunlight was falling between peaks in veil-like beams. I grabbed my phone from the nightstand and snapped a picture.

Not wanting to wake my girls, I crept downstairs to begin my morning ritual in the usual way, seeking a fresh cup of coffee. I opened the fridge to get creamer, and as I closed it I found remnants of my daughter’s poem she’d made with my magnetic poetry set the night before. It said:

Her smile was a river in the music of her voice.

 I paused and read it again, and again, letting the words swirl around inside my head.  My eight-year-old did this. She created this and simply left it there. Not worried if it made sense to anyone but her. Not wondering if anyone would accept it as art, or as truth.  I remembered feeling that way…a very long time ago.

I poured my coffee and fingered at the small rectangles of words left inside the magnetic poetry box. Not looking at the words, I placed the first two squares I picked up on the fridge. Morning, and joy. I stared for a few minutes at the light shining in through a high window, and then I found the rest of the words I was seeking, or rather, they found me.

This morning broke like trust in Joy.

Pure, effortless, and serendipitously meant for no-one else but me in that exact second of my life. Poetry.

I felt inspired, empowered. It was a gift, to be able to start the day this way. I remembered all the times in my life when and why I’d written poetry: For heartbreak, for love, for inspiration, to remember, and to forget. Poetry was a part of me even when I had chosen to stop writing it.

In that second, some strange, sure voice from within me made a promise.  I would create a new poem every day in May. There would be no rules, except to write without rules, and that it had to be something new—not something I’d ever written before.

In the next second I remembered a discussion Lori and I had about the boundless power behind being vulnerable, and so I decided I was going to share my poems publicly. I’d post them on my Facebook timeline. As I quietly readied myself for the day, there were voices in my head telling me why I couldn’t, shouldn’t do it. But there was one soft, sure voice telling me why I had to. It took me a few days to truly hear her reasons. But eventually, I did:

The first—

My writing tends to be overrun by emotion. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, but usually it’s problematic, because simple things tend to get overstated. For so many years, for so many reasons I smothered my desire and ability to write. Shut down by censorship and self-doubt, the emotion built up and bottlenecked, and when I finally led myself back to writing, it came gushing out like a volcano.  Poetry is emotion, and writing it every day, without limitation was a way to release the raw veins of it that remained.

The second—

It was time. I needed to show myself that I truly wasn’t afraid to be what I was. I wasn’t afraid to be judged or criticized or talked about behind closed doors, or even out in the open. I live in a place where the culture tends to oppress people into sameness. And as much as I told myself I wasn’t affected by it, of course there were parts of me that were.

On the fourth day I wrote about a time in my life when I felt suffocated by this very phenomenon. It was a night that I remembered well, lying sleepless in my bed, overcome with anxiety. I finally could take no more and went running barefoot into the night, not sure  whether I was trying to run to…or escape from.

Saturday May 4th

Inside my house
its tight and warm
Inside my heart
a brewing storm

 I rush for the door;
a war to end war
unable to breathe
for one second more

Raging through nightIMG_1042
 Bare feet
on concrete
a pulse-like beat

Afraid and closed in
 I run
for the fear
I might disappear.

I wrote this poem, and it was the first time I realized exactly why I was running. In fact, I learned something new every time I wrote. I learned that I could create amidst the most chaotic days. I learned that sometimes, the creative part of me just needed to sink into the narrows of my mind and hide, and that it was useless to try to force it out. I learned that I could accept criticism as mere publicity, instead of shrink away from it like a wilting flower. I learned that as a writer, my abilities can reach far beyond the recesses of my own experience, channeling others’ emotions and stories into my poems.

Often, it was free verse that came out, but sometimes a rhyme seemed to find its way into the story. Other times it was just one line, serving only one purpose. At one point, a friend who has also long denied herself of her love of writing became compelled to do a week of poetry for herself. I told myself that if nothing else came of my experiment, at least I had reached out to one other doubtful soul.

Sometimes I wrote a poem, shook my head and laughed. Sometimes I wrote something and then closed myself in a room and cried. And a few times I wondered if I was reading someone else’s mind. But I think the most powerful idea that became of my month of poetry hit me as I wrote this poem:

I searched for light

In the darkest of spaces

Finding my Purpose

in all the wrong places:

My parents quiet choices
my teachers’ silk words.
In the arms of lovers
The untamed flight of birds.

 

I found vines of it

elusive and wild
in the blue of the eyes

of my youngest child.

 

My yearning for Purpose

Long held captive by fear.

What I thought I had lost

Became suddenly clear:

 

For all that will be

And for all that had been

What I was without…

Was always within.

I finished the last verse and posted it on my page with my heart pounding. It was uncensored truth, served up in a verse, that I created both by looking both inward and outward at myself. I had rediscovered what I had once known. Poetry was always within. It is the firm, quiet hope that moves me forward into my writing and into my life.

Why did I write and share a poem every day in May? It was my purpose.

Thanks for reading.

~C

“I Apologize” and “You Have Some Wonderful Stuff Coming”

 

failure

Well, this isn’t uncommon for me. I start out with a goal and I fall flat on my face. Our first week of guest posts and I only posted two. (My fault, not the group or our guest writers.) But, as I say this type of failure is not uncommon for me and I know how to pick myself up, dust myself off and just keep going. I apologize for the hiccup.

That being said, we will have some amazing writing for you in the coming weeks.

The whole of next week is a story by Josh McCracken. In his words, “it is a bitter sweet tale of first love.”  You’re going to enjoy it! I was tempted to post it this weekend, but refrained. It’s like when you want to give your kids their Christmas presents early. I’m so excited to share this with you!

The following week will have some very special, personal posts. They are pieces which come from the heart. Although some of them are written by people who do not describe themselves as writers, the pieces themselves are full of love, warmth and tenderness…the fire part of Writing the Fire.

And so, with our first week done we are moving forward.

I’d like to personally thank those who have submitted their poems, stories, articles and ideas. The pieces which have been submitted are beautiful, imaginative, funny, heartwarming and provocative. This has been a humbling experience. Thank you to our writers and thank you to our readers!

We are still looking for other writers to join our month of guest posts. If you would like to join us, or you know of someone who does, please email lori.king322@gmail.com. We’d be happy to have you.

Lori

Post for a Winter Morning

Dormant.

This word has been circling around in my head lately. Maybe because between the winter gray, life’s demanding schedules and lack of free time, I’ve felt like any creativity, power, or self-motivation I can usually tap into at will is exactly that: Dormant.

Just like the tiny, frozen sprouts of grass underground, late winter in this climate always makes me sort of sink quietly into myself. I’m tired. It’s cold- outside. Heck, its cold inside!

It’s dark and silent and frozen inside my soul. And the things that were once green, alive with growth and light are hidden away beneath layers of snow and ice and frozen black earth.

But here’s what I seem to forget every winter: the most beautiful thing about February is that, even as the trees bend beneath the weight of the latest storm, tiny buds are starting to emerge from their branches. It takes a quiet mind and a searching soul to see them—but do this: Pull a frozen twig down, close to your face. Look closely. What you’ll see is literally life after death.Image

 Sometimes it’s hard for us to see that what feels like death is actually the very antithesis of it. It is a rebirth; regeneration of life and all that confines it, often without logical explanation.

Consider this:

The sun re-appears and grows stronger with every passing, late winter day. Its light and heat is exactly the strength needed to coax sprouts out of the earth. New life is born under the deepest snow of winter. Spring happens without anyone forcing or willing it. It has purpose and meaning. It has boundless potential. As do we.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say in the last few weeks:

“I guess I have the winter blues. I just don’t want to do anything. I feel dead inside.”

If you feel unmotivated, tired, soulless, dormant, you aren’t alone. And it doesn’t mean you’re damaged or depressed, or dead inside. In fact the very opposite is true.

A period of dark and quiet is precisely what happens before the most beautiful things are born. So instead of begrudging yourself for wanting to just hold still all the time- sink into it for just a little longer. Be still and just breathe. Listen to the quiet inside your soul.

Wait… did anyone else hear that?

Spring approaches.

Much Love to All,

~C