Saturday, June 28, 2014

The World, Arcana XXI: The Road Trip and The Puzzle

Sea Ranch Chapel
The same feeling that leads us to a “memory” of primeval hermaphroditism has taken people a step further to the image of the entire universe as having once been a single human being... Rachel Pollack on The World Card, "Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom."

I woke at 4 am to make a thermos of coffee to add to the van already stocked with gear for two weeks away from home, including a cooler with two frozen hummingbirds and a blonde sparrow I mislabeled a flicker, sorrowful casualties of the cats shrugging off their belled collars. My plan: to deliver the birds to an artist in Northern California. She promises to use their feathers and revere their tiny skeletons which fractionally alleviates the hangover of feline destruction, my guilt at fostering the urban food chain.

In the hours of unbroken reverie, one child per seat row in the van sleeping soundly as we stop-stop-go in the perpetual rush hour traffic of LA, I metabolize the week’s events. I’ve been blogging about the anxiety of exposure that keeps welling up as my book approaches November release date and private poems (such as Peer Counselor) about the past take their place in online journals and print publications...

….so that private narratives become the occasion for public conversation…giving others from that past a reason to reach out, wondering where or how they fit into the tapestry, which is both the risk and the reward every artist and writer faces when sharing work.

Butterfly Shield by Peter Pryputniewicz
Driving, I registered this physical sensation of the body as some kind of magnetic puzzle piece, for so long cloaked, emerging into view. The rest of the pieces, or players, drawn to reconnecting, re-making our collective map, putting themselves in right relation, or asking to relate. Where do I fit? What was my part? Yours? A beautiful, if unnerving, side effect—let’s redraw the collective body, light-filled, all of us grown, matured, bringing our best and most loving selves to re-align in order to forgive and heal one another.

Emotionally it is complicated: perpetrators have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, cousins. So do those who suffer at the perpetrator’s hands. But even those labels (perpetrator, victim) push us too easily on opposing sides of an equation. This part of the journey for me isn’t about blame, but moving on. Yet sometimes you can’t move on until you admit out loud what happened and how.

And if you’re a writer, and/or a blogger, you weigh each biographical revelation against what it might set off in others and yourself.  How do you know if you are going about all of this the right way? Or if it matters to keep living one’s way to the answers to the questions, out loud, word by word? Are you doing more damage than good? Is it time, like a dog with a wound, to don the proverbial scone of that white cone so you'll stop revisiting the wound...time to just let it be, enough already?

Traipsing through such mucky fields of doubt for me requires staying in close contact with other riskers until some omen appears. And appear it did, the following day after driving through the geography of trespass under a three quarter moon:

Through night’s hull, I pass
My hometown. Fog fades treeline,
River’s dim black hem…

Osho-Zen Tarot by Ma Deva Padma, Osho
Fog shrouded the road and I pulled frequently over to let a handful of throaty pick-up trucks zip by. I rolled down the window to clear my head and in rushed that familiar dank marshy smell of ditch weeds. Later, as the road ascended the cliffs, the saltier tinge of ocean air. It was close to 11 p.m. when I safely made it to my destination.

The next morning, I sat with tea and a cherished writer friend. Knowing my love for tarot and nothing of my internal grief over drawing others from my past into the tapestry of my now, she hands me her Osho-Zen Tarot deck (see below for links to the artist and deck reviews). Halfway through the deck, I spot it: the artist’s depiction of The World Card as puzzle, one piece foregrounded, the very one that will complete the face of the soul traveler at her third eye. Perfect out-picturing of this leg of the journey—the third eye’s ability to help us access visible and invisible realms, to witness self and others with compassion.

And later, less tarot-ish omens arrive in the form of correspondence from readers thanking me for the level of reveal they’ve come to expect on this blog, and voicing reminders to remember the exquisite power of nature to heal trauma.

The coastal flowers, vibrant purple and orange, celebrate with me on my morning walk. The deer and the dragonflies come into focus as past loses its grip.

Dragonfly’s stuttered
Thrum. His hoard: eight slight wings sheathed
Violet by the sun.
Dragonfly, I’m later told by another writer, offers this medicine: let go of old illusions about the self.

Like the soul traveler in the Osho-Zen Deck, it’s true, I wish to start anew, standing under the silver hoop of zero as the happy Fool, the clueless Troubadour poised to quest for the next garden of poems. Maybe I will even trust the Gardener again, given the kind and loving bravery of other travelers from both past and the now coming forward to take my hand.

Which puzzle piece have you kept hidden? What does your sanctuary look like? How are you arriving?

Additional Notes:
I'm looking for bloggers to join me live for Beginning Blogging at San Diego Writer's Ink. We start already Tuesday night and still have room for a few more. Visit my teaching page to sign up.
Balancing the Ledger of Relationships: Questions in Novelist Sandra Hunter’s Losing Touch is up on my She Writes Blog. In this reading diary, I look at the universally haunting questions Hunter poses, the kinds of questions that make us rethink our habitual judgmental ways of viewing our loved ones.

The tarot-poet friend mentioned above is Michelle Wing. Her book Body on the Wall deserves more than a mention, in fact I wish I'd read it in time for my earlier post, Revising Guinevere, Ten Writers Transforming Rape or When Trees Mattered More Than Boys. Wing, part poet, part lightworker, helps others cross the bridge of the unthinkable with the program she founded for survivors of domestic abuse, Changing Hurt to Hope. Wing is also currently editing an anthology of writings by participants of the program (due out in the fall of 2015).
The dragonfly-medicine poet friend is Lisa Rizzo (In The Poem an Ocean, reviewed here at The California Journal of Women Writers by Marcia Meier).

Reviews and purchasing information for the Osho-Zen Tarot Deck (St. Martin’s Press, 1995) at Aeclectic Tarot. The deck's exquisite artwork by Ma Deva Padma, Osho. Here's a small paragraph on Ma Deva Padma's process of making the deck and a link to her Embraceart Studio.
Another beautiful poet, risker, brave light, Ruth Thompson of Saddle Road Press (Woman with Crows, Here Along Cazenovia Creek). Here's an interview with her I know you will love on writing poetry, “I wrote myself back to life."
Peer Counselor the poem is up at Chaparral, thanks to editor Kim Young, author of Night Radio, which she discusses in this interview at The Coachella Review.

Photo Robyn Beattie
Cover Design Don Mitchell
Related posts on the process of exposure and healing from date rape:

Thumbelina, Innocence Found at Feral Mom

Lost Wings, Hesitations, and Outgrowing the Metronome at Suzi Banks Baum's Laundry Line Divine.

And finally, I'm in the process of mapping out my book tour for November Butterfly slated to start November of 2014.

I'm open to suggestions for reading venues, and looking forward to reading--please send me an email if you have suggestions. I'm looking at pairing readings with poetry workshops for small groups and venues. 

I'm working on a static page for the book on my main site, but in the meantime here is one of the blurbs I'm thrilled to feature on the back cover:

Photo by Robyn Beattie
In Tania Pryputniewicz’s collection, November Butterfly the lyrical I, looks into the mirror to find a different face with each pass. In this way, Pryputniewicz maintains the intimacy of the poetic I while expanding the personal lyric to a global resonance. As Ophelia, Jeanne d’Arc, Nefertiti, Amelia, Lady Diana, Marilyn and Sylvia come to reflect, we too find ourselves dissolving into the mirror—it is not only ourselves we see in the looking-glass, but the eyes of generations staring back at us. With her gift of deep empathy, imagination, and lyricism, she gives readers the chance to live again and again and again.
Nicelle Davis, author of Becoming Judas

Marilyn, the poem, originally appeared at Salome Magazine and will reappear in November Butterfly in Section I featuring the iconics. Section II focuses on Guinevere's Camelot and Section III looks at present incarnation. Overall, the book's poems constellate around notions of how women over time thrive at the crossroads of love and motherhood given the inescapable trials of intrusion.

Robyn Beattie's website.

June 30, 2014 update: writer Barbara Ann Yoder just forwarded me a link to the site of The Embodied Tarot, which outlines a list of beautiful ways one could use the body and the tarot to grow and heal. Jennifer, founder, also has a facebook page you can visit.


First and third to last photos are taken inside The Sea Ranch Chapel, "gift of two Sea Ranch residents who wished to offer a nondenominational sanctuary....It was their hope that all who enter will find a measure of peace in the blending of art and purpose amid surroundings of beauty and inspiration." (from note inside chapel)

Butterfly Shield artwork, copyright Peter Pryputniewicz.

Robyn Beattie's website.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vibrant Trio of Poets read at Moe's in Berkeley Tonight

Without hesitation, a bit of brash self-promotion--these two women I'm reading with light me up, so I'm proud to say we'll form a vibrant trio tonight at Moe's Bookstore in Berkeley.

I've been in Northern California, first on an incredible retreat, and now loosed to enjoy the river roots with friends and family for a second week. Come out to hear us read tonight at 7:30 p.m. if you are in the area--Michelle Wing will be reading from Body on The Wall, and Ruth Thompson, Woman with Crows. We are all Saddle Road Press sisters, and better yet, Ruth Thompson heads up Saddle Road Press (with Don Mitchell).

I'll be reading from my forthcoming collection, November Butterfly, most likely reading from the section featuring the well as from the Camelot section--Mordred's Dream (up soon at Poetry Flash).  To see the photo poem montage Robyn and I made for Mordred's Dream, or recent others montages, including one for Thumbelina, visit my photo poem montage page.

Mother would say I was born
naked and blind like a hummingbird...

--from Marilyn, November Butterfly

Teaching news:

I'll be working with bloggers again in July--this time at San Diego Writers, Ink. For full course description, visit my  teaching page. Class runs Tuesday's nights 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 1st to August 5th.

Poster courtesy of Michelle Wing.

Photo of butterfly by Robyn Beattie.

Cover Design for all three poetry books:
Don Mitchell.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

November Butterfly: Cover Equivocations and Peer Counselors

I am ecstatic to unveil the cover for “November Butterfly,” my first collection of poems (on schedule for November 2014 release from Saddle Road Press). Cover photo courtesy of my long-time collaborator Robyn Beattie; cover magic and design thanks to Don Mitchell (“A Red Woman was Crying”) of SRP.

Much deliberation went on behind the scenes as we attempted to hone in on selections from a generous image garden. For several months, place-holding the cover, we featured work by Sandy Frank from our ongoing poetry/sculpture collaboration drawing on poems in “November Butterfly.”

Sandy's sculpture we considered choosing for the cover hosts gold monarchs across her chest; across her back, beautiful black birds and the poem “Someone.” At some point, Sandy and I will put together a show of the sculpture poems (when we land a venue and have rounded out the collection, and if they don’t all sell before then; "The Painter’s Wife" sold last month). And even as I agonized over the decision, my loving editor Ruth Thompson (“Woman with Crows”) reminded me there will be other books and other opportunities to play.

I celebrated “final cover unveiling” with my sister in BeHe (Between the Heights) Twiggs Bakery and Coffee House; we opted for a couple cups of the Mad Russian blend (what else?!) and a couple excellent MJ’s Vegan Gourmet Excelsior Bars and nestled in an armchair. Here I am pictured on location with a tall volume of poems by Sophie Robinson we found tucked on the bookshelf right under the Blue Buddha. This was my first exposure to Sophie's work.

Other news for poems forthcoming in “November Butterfly”: Peer Counselor is live today online at Chaparral. This zine for Southern California writers is edited by Kimberly Young (“Night Radio”). Peer Counselor celebrates the unsung heroes we have in counselors. Who came up with the concept of peer counselors? Brilliant.

Photo by Robyn Beattie
Also in this Summer 2014 Issue of Chaparral: An Interview with Douglas Kearney:

When I’m editing a poem, one of the things I’m always thinking of is: if I change this word what happens to the music of the stanza? Do I get new music? Do I lose all the music? Do I only get ‘sense’ or do I also get ‘sound’? So I’m always listening for this equilibrium between sound and sense…

And I couldn’t resist making a word cloud, taking a couple words here and there from each poem in the zine:

Egypt, Musak, red arrows, astronomer, communist, Mallomars, Jamaica, skulls, monkey, geode, vodka, condoms, Apollo, void, DNA, arsonist, Los Angeles, orphan, lollipop, priests, cat, ghosts, Apache, desert, rain, coins, linens, cane, urn, peaches, mirror.


Sculpture by Sandy Frank

Review of Kim Young’s "Night Radio" at Pebble Lake Review by Melanie Jordan

A Conversation with Kim Young at Coachella Review with Kari Hawkey

Mark Salzer, PhD, Temple University, is part of the team articulating the usefulness of peer counseling methods.