Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Anniversary: A Party Dress and The Making of a Blog Mask for Feral Mom, Feral Writer:

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end--Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m still obsessing a bit about hesitations, the pay-off for waiting on the periphery. But realizing we each eventually brave the stage for our part. Nature’s metaphors provide solace: take flowers. They don’t choose when to bloom, nor do they falter. The heat of the sun impels them to fold back their exquisite petals to reveal their centers. I wrote more about the fear cycle of exposure due to book publication in Tarot Butterflies and Poem Disorder and Not Saying Goodbye to Feral Mom and in a forthcoming guest post hosted by Suzi Banks Baum at Laundry Line Divine, Hesitations, The Lost Wing, and Outgrowing the Metronome. (Link updated Jan 13, 2014.)
But December marks the official six year anniversary of this blog. Happy Birthday, Feral Mom, Feral Writer--here I am in a party dress for you! I don’t post here as often as I wish—but I’m grateful my absence here correlates with joyful ventures on other websites that were seeded here. One of my favorite offshoots of this blog is working with women bloggers at Transformative Blogging—especially the fun we have brainstorming the concept of a blogging mask.

Initially, it was just a metaphor: taking on a blogging mask to navigate the blogosphere with a little shield, a little simultaneous kick in the pants to get on stage. But it didn’t take long to fall in love with the idea of making a physical mask in order to ground the process of consciously honing in on a blogging mask and focus. It not only adds a spiritual form of listening but gives us each a tangible object to write to and speak from. And a way to involve the body, and thus the heart, not just the mind. I made my first mask in 2012 with the first round of online students willing to try it out.

But we were spread out across the states and unable to pair up, so I cajoled my daughter into helping me. With a strong fire raging in the woodstove, I got supine on the tan leather couch, which meant the cat quickly graced my knees, and my daughter told me “Stop talking, Mom, you’re wiggling the plaster around your lips." So there was nothing to do for those long moments but listen to the sound of the scissors shearing the plaster strips, the wind through the redwood trees, the thunk of her little brothers trouncing down the stairs, house jiggling in response as the boys brushed my toes with their restless bodies until my daughter shooed them outside.

When my mask was done, my neck wet and cat peeved at my feet, my son surprised me by taking my place and asking his sister to make him one as well. Then she too went under the plaster in a beautiful display of trust.

I went with a base coat, applied outside in the driveway with a can of silver spray paint.

Then came the blue. So dark…I had to add the pink. There was so much pink paint on the plate I flipped the mask over and used up the paint all along the backside of the mask. When I pulled this photo up today I saw the holographic properties, the inside face, peeking through…although, it does make me feel (this photo) like I’m showing you my cervix. Try to get that image out of your head!

Next I took the mask out in the woods and tried to photograph it by some moss. Which came out dark. So then I dropped it in a silver bowl.

Then, it sat balanced on the lip of a white jug in my cabin for about a year when my husband was commuting and we were both just hanging on to withstand the separation. Because he’d hand-trowled the interior of my cabin with plaster and painted it such a lovely pale tan, I couldn’t bear to be in that cabin and write…so the mask took my place.

Then I chose a veil to veil the the mask for use on my “professional site”…something about the paint showing through the mesh made it feel naked to me.


Then we moved to a sunny city. I decided to teach the mask making and blogging focus workshop in person for A Room of Her Own Foundation. A friend suggested I buy face shells in case anyone was afraid to set wet plaster on their skin. I couldn’t resist the urge to play with the face shells, thinking all the while about the friends near and far the blog work and connections have brought me, and those yet to come. Here we all are, a composite flower.
The journey goes on.

Here a few phrases I found from writings the mask revealed that still align with my goals for this blog. I’m grateful to extend my best effort to:

Face the poverties (of body, soul, faith, imagination, relationship).

Ground the numinous.

Greet the past through the veil of now.

Free the self into greater joy in the company of kindred hearts.

Bessings to you and yours in 2014. Love and thank you to each one of you holding up the invisible web of love and support that goes into writing this blog. I couldn’t do this alone and I’m grateful to be in your collective presence.

Additional News:

Mordred's Dream, from the Guinevere cycle, is forthcoming in Poetry Flash--I'm ecstatic, of course. Working on the movie with Robyn's images and some beautiful flute music and this one is graced by a male reader's voice--more to be revealed.

I'm teaching Beginning Blogging in person at Coronado Adult Education on Thursday evenings from 6-8 pm from Jan 9-Feb 20 and again April 10-May 22.

and a Poetry Workshop: A Tour Through Forms on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 pm from Jan7-Feb 25 and again April 8-May 27th. Call (619) 522-8911 to register or visit their website to view the brochure: Coronado Adult Ed/ROP.

And Poetry of Motherhood on-line....hope to work with you in the future.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Writers and Lovers Cafe and a December Book Giveaway Offer

Writers and Lovers Café arrived in my mailbox all the way from Taiwan, full of haiku, haiga, senryu, haibun, tanka, and tanka classics (edited by Tad Wojnicki--I wrote about his work earlier in Lemonade Stands and Writers and Lovers Café). In this slim and lovely debut volume you’ll find the usual favorite haiku suspects (moons and roses) but you will also find a wilder array of volunteers in the book’s word cloud from Ferraris to fruit, AA to sirloin, Auschwitz to flea markets, garlic to spiders, and castles to children’s handprints.
And it features a haibun by yours truly, Reunion, which attempts to capture the emotional fray of trying to right the disparate needs of a family of five reconciling after three years of weekend marriage. No slender lover pining under cherry blossoms—think peevish wife and preteen daughter on shore, and loose in the sea: the surfing husband and sons. An entirely different kind of pining. Or pinning. Some kind of defeat and attempted triumph. I have now written a description longer than the haibun, so I'll stop here.

Except to say my husband is singing in the shower..Yes, honey, I wrote this one about you. As I've mentioned on this blog before, whenever I get a poem rejection, he's famous for admonishing, "Was it a poem about me?!....No?...So write one about me and I promise it'll get taken..." There you go, I concede, more poems in his future. About him.

Here’s the back cover of this edition of Lovers and Writers Cafe listing an upcoming call for submissions just in case you have taken up a haiku challenge--for instance there’s a wildish group of AROHO women committing to writing a haiku a day starting in January; if you join me in that challenge,  by Tad’s haiku deadline here of March 1, 2014, you should have at last 60 new haiku. And what better thing to do with a series of haiku than to submit them to someone who will actually read and cherish them?

Additional Notes:
This edition runs $6 a copy plus $4 for international shipping; here’s the link should you wish to give Writers and Lovers Café to the haiku fanatic in your life. There you'll also find submission guidelines in a larger font.

Another amazing site celebrating these forms and more with beautiful galleries and video collage, with thanks to Liz Brennan for pointing me to their site:

Haiga Online; up this October, “Same Moon"

Book Giveaway:

I am teaching Poetry of Motherhood online starting January 6-January 31, cost is $125; in an attempt to entice you to register, I promise to send a copy of the anthology, Labor Pains and Birth Stories (Catalyst Book Press, 2009, ed. Jessica Powers) to the first two students who enroll (an $18 value). The anthology features an Introduction by Tina Cassidy, Afterword by Jessica Powers, essays by Ariel Gore, Amy Parker, Ann Angel, Ashini J. Desai, yours truly, and 24 more writing mothers.

The cover art features a block-print I drew, carved, and rolled out three weeks before my first child was'll notice the ecstatic depiction of the mother despite crowning child...a giveaway of another nature that I had no reference yet for the serious work of labor. On the other hand, it rightly intuits the absolute joy of holding one's infant for the first time.

I hope to have the chance to work with you in January. Writers of all genres welcome as we use Fertile Source poems for inspiration but the form our writing takes varies by writer.