Every day is Woman’s Day


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAHairline Cracks in the Porcelain

I come from a long line

of born-again porcelain cleaners.

I am a tidy-bowl expert,

know the brush and flush, polish and rub,

I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.

I tried to put girlhood aside,

leverage being eldest

to escape wrinkled finger tips,

upright vacuum white-noise,

dusters made of outgrown undershirts.

When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows

at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits

of shared manliness with Dad.

I had no choice. I was taught

to bake and sew and clean proficiently

as an outcome of my femininity

and with all this evidence to the contrary,

one day my Father says to me,

“All things are equal.

You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”

So fast forward to University

and what appears to be a level field, free

from reference to my body’s ability

to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,

bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives

in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,

still what we do does not define our gender.

I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,

I am a self fulfilling prophecy

with EVERYTHING I want. Until…

Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence

unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation

of upside-down proportion,

all my notions of equality expanded

yet reduced to this…moment…

this…holy annunciation…

I am pregnant!

What?

Now?

What now?

I have to choose?

I choose.

He and I choose together, and my body

blossoms in maternity, my mind

rises like a phoenix

in blazing pride at this innate ability

to create and birth new beings.

Miracles… of possibility

through pain of labour, first one,

then two boys arrive…my joys.

And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.

SHE is something else entirely.

SHE unearths renewal in me.

FEMALE…we share more than DNA,

SHE is somehow hope and legacy,

SHE is the epitome of another chance

at THIS…AND…in feminine form.

But who am I to say…

I step back and let her find her way,

that dance, step in only when she asks.

Fast forward with my growing girl

my grateful orbit of her world. She says

“I might get married one day” and with a smile

“maybe I won’t have a child…”

Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”

I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,

and the beauty of no shame,

strength and intellect, all hers to claim.

She is powerful in her personhood.

(pardon boasting like I did something good)

Now she is gone from me,

like I knew she would be, eventually,

and we both thank Skype technology

for staying close with video chat.

I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…

that SHE finds space enough to BE,

to hold everything, all possibility,

glorious, wide and open…

Lesley-Anne Evans 2016

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The elusive art of editing


DSC_0050I think writers come to believe in an innate ability to catch our own errors, spit and polish our work to its very best form, and we do so each time we offer work for submission, contests, or print. This post is yet another chance for me to make editorial mistakes, I know, I know. (Sure, you can point them out to me if you like.)

Truth is, like many artists, poets are just scraping by financially. We cannot afford to hire editors, so we take risks, perhaps believing a little too strongly in our guts, our grammar, and our attentiveness. How hard can it be, we think. Well done, we say. It will be…fine, we whisper as we drift off to sleep having pressed “submit” again, with some hesitation and a little bit of angst.

Deep down we are not entirely sure, but we bravely do what we have to do, which can lead to embarrassing moments. Like the time I spelled the publisher’s surname incorrectly, or saw a clear lack of punctuation upon my 1st read, right after submission! My personal challenges often come in the form of it’s and its, and my deep and abiding love for the Oxford comma that ripples out, abundantly.

Or, most recently, after several months of design, planning, and (several) eyes on every comma, word, line break, title, font, layout, selection of hardware, paper, packaging, and marketing approach, I felt I was finally ready to put my poetry/art books together.

I painstakingly built one hundred copies of the book, tightened each Chicago screw,  placed each stainless steel washer, organized flash card covers into fun and witty combinations, collated stacks of poetry on beautiful cream paper (professionally laid out and printed and drilled with holes for the screws), hand tinted each vintage illustration, and felt a sense of progress and fulfillment at the growing pile of books.

Then I went online to put the finishing touches on the announcement for my book launch. As I typed in the title of my poetry/art book, I felt a niggling. I spell checked a word, and it was correctly spelled…yea, me! But the niggling didn’t go away. And then it hit me…there, blatant, unchecked, WRONG…was a word. On every title page of every book that I just spent days putting together, was a spelling mistake!

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principals

instead of what it should have said;

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principles

ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

First anger. Then blaming. Then another hissy fit because it was so OBVIOUSLY WRONG and I missed it…we all missed it… but I MISSED IT! And then the creative problem solving began…what if this, or what if that, in an attempt to save it somehow…but I could not. It was WRONG. It had to change. Then my gratitude to God that I saw the mistake before my book was sold!

Yes, indeed. Gratitude. Two hundred times I unscrewed those Chicago screws. One hundred times I removed the offending page and, after paying my printer a substantial amount of money for a one page reprint, one hundred times I replaced the page with the corrected title page. And then I tightly bound the book with the turn of two hundred more Chicago screws! Editor, I am obviously not. Life learner, yes I am. And my thumb and index finger were throbbing proof!

What would I do differently next time? I don’t know, I run a tight ship, so I still can’t afford an editor. Or, maybe I can? Maybe we could barter something? Or, maybe if I sell all of MY POETRY/ART BOOKS (limited edition, signed, numbered, unique, collectible, fun) I can afford an editor for my next project?

Have you got a copy of POETRY PRIMER yet? If you live in Kelowna, delivery is free!

A human, being, and learning humility,

Lesley-Anne

It’s all the same, really.


DSC_0485I lay in bed awake last night, thinking about yesterday’s post at Pop-Up-Poetry, wondering if I should have posted here instead. I considered relocating the post, deleting it from PUP, as if I were two different people writing at cross purposes, which I know isn’t the case. Processing again…

Bottom line is, it’s all the same. While BUDDY BREATHING has always been more personal and journalistic, and PUP is for the purpose of tracking a process, it’s still just me. My thoughts and actions are interconnected.

So, if you missed it yesterday, here’s THE POST over at Pop-Up-Poetry.

All in the spirit of open heart and active hands,

LA, SDG

463*…


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463. grace enough to recognize I’ve veered from the thankful path for several months, and I can step back on, right now.

* As I explained back at the beginning, the concept of naming one thousand gifts is not mine, it is one that I learned in the pages of Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”. The website of the same name can be found here. When I spoke of her book here on my blog post “Soon and very soon we are going to see”, I implored you to run out and buy a copy of Ann’s book. If you haven’t done that yet… PLEASE DO! I have since bought a couple more copies, given them away, continued to read and re-read my copy, and realized a deep call on my heart to begin to write down and name and own a thankfulness around the things that God fills my eyes and heart with each moment of every day.

So I continue to look and see that God is good in the hundreds of millions of intricate details of my life. I caught a glimpse of my face today in the rearview mirror of my car, after seeing items 50, 51 and 54 and I was smiling… that Mona Lisaesque smile that says so much… hmmm… perhaps the fullness was showing…

On the path, looking,

Lesley-Anne

464. the colour purple against that particular colour of yellow and the feast for the eyes that can be captured digitally to enjoy over and over and over…

465. a young friend gets a job after months of searching and trying and wondering and waiting…

466. not having any answers but finding some small words of love and kindness for the hurting ones, when your heart is heavy yet nothing compared to the weight they carry.

467. family… young and old, active and still active, sitting around the table as the light goes down and the stars come out and the conversation continues… being able to remember those times today when the house is empty of all of them.

468. gainful employment for the guys, youth camp for the girl, good things coming to us undeserved.

469. doors opened and closed, perspective for both.

470. another day to Carpe Diem!

471. losing track of the numbers and focusing on the listing of good gifts.

472. the words of others that fill my heart, poke me in the ribs, get me thinking.

473. a few bits of poetry paper pinned to trees and lights and benches and the potential for words to settle into the lives of others.

474. summer.

475. creative ideas and bouncing them off others and how their ideas melded with yours are so much better.

476. things to look forward to.

All is as it should be, SDG.

Lesley-Anne

Hope is oxygen, and random stuff leading to New Years…


1. A worthy pursuit is capturing JOY (and HOPE) and sharing it with others. Buddy Breathing is about sharing HOPE. An example of sharing JOY is Jump for Joy, a ‘project’ blog by a Canadian born photographer. Her project is to capture photos of people expressing joy while leaping into the air! People from all over the world, including many Canadians. I smiled often at her photos, proof that JOY (and HOPE) is contagious!

2. Speaking of photography, I’m excited to share that my son Malcolm is launching a photo blog. He has some amazing shots in his portfolio… coming your way soon…

3. So, here we are mid Christmas season and feeling a tad… bored? It happens when so much emphasis is placed on prep for THE DAY, and then THE DAY comes and goes and there isn’t much to do anymore. You’d think we’d be happy about this. Why is relaxing into the moment so difficult? But it is. Have we forgotten already the magic of a winter’s evening on the ice… just last week?

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4. Poetry… how best to share it, market it, send it out into the world to live and breathe. Many differing opinions, many options to consider and do nothing about getting it out there. So, 2013 is the year of setting my poetry free (publishing). I begin by attending a Patrick Lane January workshop at Honeymoon Bay on Vancouver Island, more learning, more writing and serious goal setting. Then the rubber hits the road. Writing is work. Writing poetry is work. Selling poetry will be even more work. As always, you’ll be the first to know the details!!!

5. Naming gifts has been something sustaining this year. Beginning with reading Anne Voskamps book, One Thousand Gifts, and awakening my soul to gratitude in every great and small thing in my first naming post, I managed to name 445 gifts in just over 6 months. Not 1000, but well on my way. A daily naming would get me there, but that’s not the point. For me it’s about remembering to be thankful, and that’s not full time or all the time, but the sometimes that are slowly growing closer together.

6. Almost at New Year now, I pause to remember what has been gained, what has been lost this year ~ a sweet friend passes away too soon, eldest son grows up, goes away and comes home again, middle son graduating, daughter fledging, husband loves, survives heart attack, we make changes, eat healthfully, exercise more, parents visit, peer mentors emerge, old friendships deepen, poems written, contests won and lost, publishers say no and no thanks, Pop-Up-Poetry launches, I live and learn and lean into what God would have of me.  I still consider a Soli Deo Gloria tattoo. Life continues…

Thank you for the path you’ve walked alongside me this 2012. It’s a privilege to write for you and imagine you reading my words, considering things I mention, and I get SO EXCITED when some dear person says something back to me! My heart LEAPS! May you continue to find HOPE here, and beneath it all, the foundation of God bearing up the life of this very ordinary woman.

All is well with me. In borrowed words, “all is grace

Lesley-Anne SDGDSC_0485

Provision… a poem


Song Sparrow, Winter

Song Sparrow, Winter (Photo credit: Ed Gaillard)

I joined an online group of poetic souls at dVerse. I’m just beginning to poke around and see what I can dive into over there, but for this week’s “Poetics”, we are invited to work in First Person Narrative. First person narrative is storytelling through the voice of the character, at a particular moment, and referring to themselves. We see things through the narrators point of view. This then is my offering;

Provision

Today it is enough ~
this fragrant cedar bower
this covering of down
well fluffed against the chill.
Today it is enough ~
backyard feeder brimming
millet seed and sunflower,
snow melting in the bath
a slackening of thirst.
Today it is enough ~
echo of dusk song thick
on air, wrappings of
wings tight warm,
my head upon my breast,
I keep this winter space,
this grace before flight.

Inspiration of Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

The precipitous perils of writing


National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills

National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills (Photo credit: mySAPL)

I write because… I feel better when I do, worse when I don’t, especially during the grey days of February. I feel like I’m supposed to write, that it fulfills something in me when I do. Writing is cathartic, gets the inside out, stops the slow simmer-spiral down, provides the occasional epiphany, allows for conversations to develop, promotes transparency, builds bridges, finds community. All that and more.

“Writing is a struggle against silence.” ~ Carlos Fuentes

But where I write/publish (and what is safe, yes, there is a very real element of professional safety involved around potential copyright infringement etc.) and what disqualifies me from further publishing of my thoughts-work-art is a very real concern these days. It causes a bit of angst for me and I don’t quite know what to do about it.

This year, when CBC announced their annual “Canada Writes Contest”, rules clearly stated that any work previously published in any form, including on the internet, was not eligible for submission. Bummer. Big bummer. And I’ve noticed an increasing number of Literary Publications that have this qualification in their submission guidelines.

Yikes, I thought… so much for blogging my poetry, my essays, my words, when it is clearly disqualifying me from serious literary activities. Or, does that really matter?

There is an inherent tension in the life of an artist… the hard wired need to express what and who you are, and then while you are busy doing just that, at some point, the thought crosses your mind and then becomes a small voice repeating itself over and over, expressing the need to expose your work to others. Then to further complicate things, the dawning realization that the ‘work’ of getting projects out there to others is quite complex and filled with dead ends and wrought with politics and costs and the days and the weeks and the years pass and you suddenly wonder, if this traditional route of getting out there is really working, is really worth all the trouble… I mean, is it? What is the point of writing if nobody is ever going to read what you write?

I used to share my poetry openly and with abandon here on my blog. Tuesday Poems were… every Tuesday gifts to whomever dropped by to read them. Then after the “Canada Writes” disappointment, a bit of fear set in, and I reluctantly quit posting poems. The haunting question remains… what if I’m giving it all away for free (because poets can expect to make big bucks once they are famous, right!!!), what if publishers consider any form of any draft poem published online out out out of the question too. Simultaneous submissions aside, if it’s online and free for all to see, then would any discriminating publisher want it? Would they?

It’s feels like a gift has been given (the world wide web way of sharing words/art/ourselves) and then taken back. And that really isn’t a very nice thing to do, whether it’s a pony or a candy or an opportunity? How is posting online any different from reading work aloud in public places? Or posting broadsheet billboards of my poetry old school style on posts and walls and street signs? Or, sending a hand written poem to a friend? If I share my written work any way whatsoever, is it considered used and tired and not worth publishing in a traditional sense? I’m confused. And a little bit angry.

I’m just laying this all out there today, in hopes of starting a conversation, discussion, around this topic. What do you think? What are the underlying issues?

Testing the waters,

Lesley-Anne

Tuesday Poem 005


Is it any wonder?

My mother will tell you the precise hour of day
my sibling fell. Outrageous claim, hearing bone crunch
from miles away. (I rolled my eyes). Now I eat salt-sweet
crow with a side of maternal melodrama.

He didn’t (do they ever) come easy, arrived on pain’s
edge, pushing, cutting, cord and apron strings. So is it
any wonder his experience is mine, our dreams like
spirit lines melded in the night. Both may die hard.

My prayers are biased. I profess a life (submitted)
to (leading) Providence, but leave bread crumbs marking
The Way. Home is this nest of plucked breast feathers.
I would give my life for him. Is it any wonder?

While his father molds a man, I prick my finger, spot
(spill) a shirt with blood, tend to the needed (urgent)
steep compassion in my cup. Stay up, unbolt the door
run to meet him on the road.

NOTE:  A special thank you goes out today to Kolembo for speaking into last weeks poetry post in such open and helpful detail. If you have never visited or read Kolembo, you must do so. His work is profoundly real, raw, and affects me each time I read it. Life has taken me away from that particular poem to this new one over the past few days, but I continue to be grateful to those who read and give me such direct and helpful feedback for when I will return to those works in progress. xo LAE

POST SCRIPT to my NOTE:  Aforementioned poet friend Kolembo just invited me to link “Is it any wonder” to Open Link Night 48 over at dVerse… an online community of poets, writers, and… well… as I’ve only just walked through the ‘door’ over there… I’m intrigued by who I’ll meet. So, I linked in. Thanks K. Now this is everyone’s invite to pop on over for more poetry if you are so inclined. xo

Tuesday Poem 004B


Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro (Photo credit: stevelyon)

Those of you who are writers or poets or musicians or artists know what I mean when I say we work on our work, and we often wonder if it is EVER done. When I’m in the middle of working on a poem it bounces around in my head while I’m doing everything else unrelated to writing and suddenly I’ll have this word pop up and I have to go write it down because it’s EXACTLY the word I was looking for in the first place but couldn’t find it. Sometimes this type of brain pop happens when I can’t write down the word or the phrase and I’ll pray, “Please, please don’t let me forget this before I get to pen and paper.” And sometimes my prayers will be answered, sometimes I just plain old forget whatever I thought of.

In any case, a couple of weeks ago I posted the poem “The Precise Colour of Orange”. It was a draft poem, still I felt I could share it with you here. And since them, today specifically, there have been new words and phrases and ways of writing lines that have changed my original draft somewhat. I haven’t turned the poem on it’s head (which I find incredibly hard to do and I’m waiting for some guidance from an hard core poet friend of mine on this type of editing being good for me rather than feeling like death). So, here’s the new draft. I like it more than the first. Is it finished… nope. Will it ever be ‘finished’. I doubt it.

I hope you enjoy this work in progress.

The Precise Colour of Orange

We sit in the driveway, he slaps the steering wheel
of his Dad’s Camaro Z-28, punctuation marking
my small indiscretion, my attempt at last words.
In this way he teaches fear. Visceral, unexpected grip
where I don’t know what hit me, ‘til he’s long gone.

I make a point, slam the car door, run down the
road half blind and furious, hindsight like Lot’s wife
with similar salty consequences. By the time I’m back
I know I’ve settled. Lines I draw for hard hands make
way to soft. I don’t know what else to say. I could say

time, like dry ice white-hugging a concert stage, obscures bodies
and connections. I could say gravity holds its breath while
I hold tight against the chill. All I know is I am anchored
arms wrapping knees on cool sand, sun smoothing brow
of round topped Monashee, while Lesser Scaups gather Grebes

float out to meet the dark. I could say a florescent orange
mooring float is a garish substitute for unsung hues
of a sky set on fire.

Poetry Friday011


Bird’s eye

In my conservative, fresh from the suburbs view
(from above you on the balcony),
I see how nonconformity is perhaps in itself conformation.
Dread locked into hemped up anti fashion statements,
The mosh pit is filled with organic righteous, gifted saints ‘au naturel’.
Wafts of patchouli and musked flesh rise to my nostrils, as
Bongo meets zydeco. A same sex couple touch tentatively,
Lean in, sway to the music, with bright eyes darting
‘Round the room in search of reaction, or like minded acceptance.
Side tables are laid out with found objects;  bones, driftwood, feathers, and
Mashed wool recycled broaches, silver, objet d’art, canvases layered in promise.
All the while, artists and rebels and world informers nod intently to one another
Speaking in hushed whispers, over styrofoam cups of steaming tea.

I am without.

Lesley-Anne Evans, May 2010