This morning’s guest is Amanda Kelly, a dear friend of mine. Amanda is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna. Her poetry has been published in her debut chapbook Heartstrings, Room Magazine, UBCO’s Paper Shell and Camosun College’s Art-Poem-Art-Experiment. Amanda just finished 120 pages of her first draft of a novel exploring themes of how can queerness and faith co-exist and what that looks like in the face of religious rejection.
Check her out on Instagram: @amankelly @twoqueerbeans
Lesley-Anne: This photo of you makes me so happy, Amanda. Can you give us a little window into your life right now?
Amanda: I’m enjoying creating a sacred home with my partner, we have been moved in for five months now, and are both homebodies. She has her amassing collection of plants and I have my stack of to be read books that will last me for the next six months. Currently Tinga de Pollo is the recipe on repeat, a glass of red wine, and Modern Family to alleviate the seriousness of our times. I am currently reading “Bear Necessities” a heartwarming and quirky novel about a widowed father who chooses to be a dancing panda street performer in the face of unemployment. The characters breathe and exist effortlessly, so it’s been lovely to share mornings with them.
Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?
Amanda: I spend less time getting from Point A to Point B. It is nice to move through nature, a commute for the soul, without any end goal or time restraint. Getting out into the forest is no longer a bullet point on a list, but instead is an assumed part of my day. I now figure out a way to feel the sun on my shoulders, let the roar of Mission Creek wash over me or feel the shade of a forest canopy.
Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?
Amanda: It connects us to the broader human experience, where we can see how we are bound to one another through suffering and beauty. It’s therapy, regurgitation, necessary and it makes us feel a part of a rhythm or pulse beyond. Art is like sediment; it builds upon itself.
Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Amanda: I don’t tune out birdsong anymore. It’s the soundtrack to this time in my life, they are always there. It always surprises me how much of the day contains birds trilling.
What a pleasure it has been to introduce you to Amanda, and vice versa. I imagine a day, possibly not too long from now, when we might meet together and read one another the poems that have been born during this time of COVID. Wouldn’t that be fine?
For today, we’ll sign off with Amanda’s A Kiss on Mount Baldy.
A Kiss on Mount Baldy
We perch on the valley bowl’s rim, her fly-aways
interrupt a dry mouth vista, brush shoulders with
cerulean lake waves swallowing- gulp. Oh, try to grasp
these stray thoughts. The desert air thin with summer,
either we breathe too much or too little.
Dare our humid hands on hips, cup chin, jaw, shoulder
and breast. Eyes close, I stumble on loose shale-
my body comes into hers. Fingers connect in and
out, choose less footprints, more exposed
stone, and kisses that confer with souls lodged in throats.
We expand and exude as frogs in day’s descent. Blurry
balsamroot and purple lupine pepper thighs. Look, at
their survival in the desert heat. The striated notes, our spines
attune to the crisp and clear intent- do not rush to the sun.
Acknowledge the night’s heavy-lidded blink and the