Poetry, random thoughts

Giving Thanks

I was raised between the kitchen and dining room table, flitting between cutting board and stove. Learning the lessons of taste over the chopping of onion and garlic. The transmutation of anchovy into love as it melts into tomato sauce. The spoken prayer after sliding cookies into the oven. I know that the magic of the kitchen is a form of sacrifice and alchemy.

I do believe the kitchen table is where everything begins and ends. I am grateful each morning and evening, and if I am lucky, some afternoons in which I can break bread and share a meal with my loved ones. For me, there is nothing more healing than a meal with conversation, questions, and laughter.

As we head towards Thanksgiving, I want to share one of my favorite poems by our indigenous poet-musician and US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Her words have constantly fed me. May they nourish your spirit as well.

Blessings around the table to all.

Amen.

10 seconds to Zen, creative thinking, Poetry, random thoughts

What are you doing to save yourself today?

“The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”  ~ Tennessee Williams

I have read this quote many a time before, but I don’t think I fully appreciated until now, the few short months before I turn half a century young (!). However, we won’t need to refer to my age beyond this point since I have decided that age is only one POV after-all.  Instead, I volley this quote out to you, my friends, as a point of reflection today.  Reflection.  How often do you reflect?  In my short life, I have found reflection to be integral to finding meaning and purpose in life.

I know that for myself, this Tennessee Williams quote rings as true and as pure as the characters he brought to life with his plays.  I still remember desperately attempting to use my research on A Streetcar Named Desire on my AP English exam, so inspired I was by his poignant work (it may have worked, but I am still traumatized by the Sylvia Plath poetic analysis of The Sow that dominated the exam.  No offense to the brilliance of the poet, of course.).

Creatives (artists, poets, playwrights, designers, musicians, etc) often have a way of striking the ore of truth.  I am going to save myself today by devouring the words of this genius playwright. It only takes 10 seconds to get down to the good stuff.  Hold your breath, and Love, love, love.  What will you do today?

10 seconds to Zen, creative thinking, daily draw, Poetry

10 Seconds to Zen (post 5)

Rhapsodomancy (in honor of National Poetry Month)

Go. Go now to your bookshelf (do you have one in your home or office? I sure hope so.).  Quickly glance at your books of poetry or literature, and pick the first one you find (no more than 5 seconds) Close your eyes (6).  Open the book to a random page (7). Open your eyes, and wherever they focus, read (8,9,10).  What hits you?  What word or phrase stuck with you?  Was there some magic or message for you?  Just this act alone can bring a sense of peace very quickly.  In 10 seconds. You might want to take more seconds, but the initial action to change the moment, the first ten seconds is the most important. You can change how you feel with ten seconds of effort.  Evolving your mindset gets easier with practice.

This practice of randomly picking a poetic passage and finding meaning is called: Rhapsodomancy. Besides being an awesome word, it was once a great poetry reading series run by a favorite writer of mine, Wendy Ortiz. Rhapsodomancy captures two of my loves: poetry and random magic.  I practice this kind of whimsical divination often; it is great for curing the blues.

Today’s 10 seconds–from the book I selected off my work shelf…

The Great Religions (by Hafiz)

the

Great religions are the

Ships,

Poets the life

Boats.

Every sane person I know has jumped

Overboard.

That is good for business

Isn’t it

Hafiz?

If you have never tried rhapsodomancy, try it today. It might just give you a little weekend peace!

creative thinking, Poetry

Magic, naturally.

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It’s nearly the end of  National Poetry Month and today is World Book Day (yay!). Though I haven’t been a strong presence in my actual poetry community, I am trying to remain present in the online community.  I have been writing daily, and reading as much as time permits with my busy work-mom-life schedule.

So it is fitting that I am reviewing another poetry collection.  And I am over the moon excited about getting to do so!  This time, MAGIC WITH SKIN ON by Morgan Nikola-Wren is my latest dessert for poetry this month.

Decadent, a bit gothic, and filled with delectable moments of urban fantasy, Morgan’s writing atmosphere is complete and propels the story.  There is a whole world involved in the character’s need to make sense of and control the whimsy of her absent muse.  A tale told in seven acts, readers will devour it in less than two hours.

More than once, I was reminded of my favorite Lilith Saintcrow (fiction) series– Working for the Devil — the dark hues, the temptation the muse (or fallen angel), and the heroine’s quest to remember herself.  It is gritty and wonderful.  I highly recommend it for a fantasy escape into a chewy world in which the heroine finds enormous agency in a sea of doubt.  She magics herself into completeness; threads the muse into her body. They become one as she powers forward into a world of word-bliss.

I have always been a fan of genre crossing and mixed forms of art.  This collection is like that — it can be read as a collection of stand alone poems, but it is really a complete story. It drives the reader all the way to the end.  When I read poetry collections, it is common for me to jump around and bop in and out of place with the poet.  Here, I was bound to stay on track and read through.  But at the end of the journey, I find that reading it backwards also has its pleasures.

So many of Morgan’s lines are bite-sized and perfect.  The toothy-ness of her story is worthy of adorning coffee houses, and home-offices for writers and others to draw inspiration.  My own wall beyond the computer screen now boasts this, my favorite line, “tonight,/i say we host/a dinner party for our demons” .   Yes, let’s.  They have been eating me alive for years, but I never thought, perhaps if I invited them to dinner, we could be friends.

Morgan’s collection gleams with the kind of magic that heals our (very) human, messy lives.  A fitting read for our time/s.  Brava!

 

Poetry

Eat the Words…

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I want to take a moment to review a friend’s chapbook of poetry.  I love her work and style, and it always delights me to be able to review her poetry!

Cati Porter is a daring poet and creator of spaces, both physical and digital, in which to collect and showcase poets/poetry.  We met over words in the digital sphere many years ago and forged an electronic kinship due to our (often) parallel journey in life with poetry, children, and (if I may say so) a fascination with sensuality in writing.

In her most recent chapbook, The Body, Like Bread, Porter explores the connections between our mortal, flawed and animal selves and the very human magic of crafting meals.  The rhythm and subject is sensual because working with all forms of food in the kitchen is, at its essence, a sensual process.  Kneading bread is like the body’s need for warmth and touch.  The bread comes alive with the careful play on words.

Each poem is a delightful morsel.  I find I am enchanted by how Cati pays attention to the smallest details: broken yoke, softened butter, sharp knife.  Even though the poet proclaims that Every Poem is Not a Love Poem (4), I claim that each poem within is a love verse to the kitchen and cook.

Grab a copy.  Eat the words.

random thoughts

Summer Reading 2016– A year gone by

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As I sit and write this I cannot really believe that we have been housesitting for a year.  It has been a journey, to say the least.  We have been comfortable here, and there were some difficult moments (like the cat dying on our watch!), but all in all it has taught us to live in the now, and make the best of (whatever) time you are given.  Each moment is an infinity.

And as time has passed, it is yet time again for the annual summer reading book list!  It is late in posting, but I have been voraciously reading since (before) summer began.  You can thank the musical Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda for that!  And as usual, my taste runs eclectic.  Some fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and work-related readings litter the floor. My kindle is full of all sorts of reads, and (of course) I am also reading the really readable Ron Chernow biography of Hamilton as well.  However, my ancient history roots still show since I (finally) bought Kara Cooney‘s The Woman Who Would Be King study of Hatshepsut.

Read on, my friends!  #readingsaveslives