Monday, April 23, 2018

Writing Our Angels, Home and Abroad

Artwork by Tania Pryputniewicz
I could use an angel right now; how about you? I lost my mother in January and I’ve been two months blessed with caring for her with my siblings and four months grieving after her passing. As is always the case during times of intense sorrow, through the tears, many miracles, much beauty. Like this drawing of the angel I did last year for a friend of mine before I knew the cancer was returning, maybe in some kind of instinctive premonition that the ceiling of heaven was coming down a little closer than usual.

If you, like me, are feeling pulled heavenward lately and would like to explore your relationship to angels in writing, join me. I’m eager to get back to my teaching and my life as a writer. It’s just how I function, how I heal, and how I grow.  I’d love to work with you. 

Here’s what I put together for next month:

Writing Our Angels 

Have you ever wrestled with angels? Named an angel? Loved or raged in the absence or presence of an angel? Whether you believe in angels or not, you will find them throughout literature, from Blake’s time to our time in poems like, “Questions About Angels” by Billy Collins and “What the Angels Left” by Marie Howe and “For Each of You” by Audre Lorde and “The Angels" by Fanny Howe: I met them / in the Fields of Mourning.

What do angels give us? Are they to be revered in all their Hallmark glory? Or should we, as Linda Pastan writes in “Angels,” be weary of them? I am tired of their milky robes, / their star-infested sashes.

Whether you’ve had your own encounters with angels or have longed dreamed of meeting your guardian angel or have a question or complaint to lodge with a particular angel, come write with us as we examine our assumptions about angels and look at angel poems together. You’ll come away from our class with reveries and poems towards the creation of a personal Book of Angels. 

All levels of writing welcome; class structure includes weekly prompts and video calls in a loving and supportive virtual classroom environment. We start *note new start date to allow time for enrollment: beginning of this month on Monday, May 7 and run six weeks through Friday, June 15. Cost for the six-week session is $350. Please contact me for more information through the contact form on this website (use the link under my photo, which is accessed by clicking on my full name).

Snow in the morning garden!
My husband the Angel…

…gifted me a trip to Denmark when he heard I was losing my mother. In March, I flew to visit the beautiful host family I lived with as an exchange student when I was just eighteen years old. What a blessing to fall into the arms of my host sisters and host brother and my host mother and to fill in the narrative of the years apart. To sleep in the same house I slept in so many years ago, to wake to the kinship of loving voices, to peruse the home's artwork, to discover the Danish artist, Ovartaci. And to fall in love with of course, the colorful wings of his butterfly woman hanging in the hallway outside my bedroom and the pale blue floating figures and their equally pale blue mystical horses pulling the chariot of his "Tankens flugt" (Thought's flight). 

The Key to the Future
Thanks to poet Cindy Lynn Brown I joined the Odense Lyric 2018 Tech and Tekst poetry festival. I got the chance to hear several hours of Danish poetry and show three poetry movies. My Danish came back (enough) to introduce and read the corresponding poems from November Butterfly (in Danish). But this was largely thanks to Cindy's translations and my host sister Ulla Krogh Henriksen's coaching. Here's a sweet recording of Ulla reading Corridor for me:

The Little Mermaid
It snowed while I stayed with Ulla in Copenhagen; we had a beautiful day walking beside the waterway revisiting the Little Mermaid and discovering a fabulous scrap metal figure titled, “The Key to the Future.” He sits on a giant silver key overlooking the water in pensive pose, finger to forehead, reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. I loved fantasizing about the key to the future, what the door would look like, what massive lock might turn…what threshold we might cross, what angel meet there.

Hospice Angels at Tarot for Two

My tarot co-blogger and dear friend Mary Allen read cards for me several days before I lost my mother in early January. By January’s end, with Mary on the far end of the telephone in Iowa, I was able to write a bit about the long goodbye and the hospice nurse my mother loved so much:

Photo by Robyn Beattie
The day she decided to ask for end of life meds, she named the rose Gabriella after her hospice nurse and I cried with her as I pushed her in the wheelchair to the flower stand on the corner where we could buy Gabriella a “thank you” rose as red as the one we’d name after her and left alive in the garden.

Read the rest of The Hanged One here

Mary had travails of her own. She writes about the Two of Wands in relation to her month here:

My first thought about the two of wands is that in the Thoth deck it looks like bones—two bones crossing—even a tiny bit like the shadowy broken bones in the x-rays of my shoulder…I read online this morning that the two of wands is the card for partnerships, two people working together successfully, and that makes sense to me in terms of what’s been going on since I’ve had this broken, trying-to-heal shoulder.

Tania's Tarot Sketchbook
Read the rest of The Two of Wands here

Here's my companion post to Mary's; I am still circling grief, and writing here about the Ten of Swords and Four of Disks:

When Mary and I pulled cards in January just two weeks after my mother died, I pulled the Ten of Swords, “Ruin” with its image of ten sword handles ringing the periphery, points poised to pierce a central heart, the main and thickest sword breaking apart. I didn’t want that card for the month and tried a Mary tactic: I chose a second card. I’m grateful Mary has taught me it’s ok to do so.

Poetry News

This past weekend I made it out to read at the celebration for the Kowit prize, a poetry prize bestowed by the San Diego Entertainment and Arts Guild and given in honor of the late much-loved poet and writing teacher Steve Kowit. I am honored to be one of a group of honorable mention honorees. I dedicated the poem, “Moscow Road” to my mother. 

Can it really be the first poem I’ve ever written with the “f” word in it?  (I reference a phrase in one of the books my mother kept in the house when I was growing up, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.)  I lost my nerve a bit when I found out my husband couldn't accompany me to the reading, but God bless my teenage daughter. She shook her pony-tailed head at me and said, “Oh Mom, come on, just own it!” 

And so I did. Here’s a link to where you can submit your own poems (June 15-October 15) and order the San Diego Poetry Annual (or you can find a copy of it in the public and college libraries in San Diego ). This volume contains special sections: Poems from Juvenile Hall, Poems by Veterans, Native Poets, and the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize honorees.

I owe the following thank yous:

To the editors of San Pedro River Review and Blue Horse Press, Jeffrey and Tobi Alfier, for publishing "Silhouette" and "Strawberry Wine," in their Spring Music Themed Issue.

Founding editor of the Rockvale Review Sandy Coomer; "The Marriage Counselor Channels King Solomon" and "City Boys" are forthcoming in May.

Poetry editor Lindsay Wilson of The Meadow; "Stupid Californians" forthcoming this summer.

Editor in Chief Matthew Anderson of NILVX: A Book of Magic; "Tower" and "Fortune" linked haikus are forthcoming in Summer 2018 Tarot Series 2 issue.

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