It’s a wrap!


 

30 days
28 featured guests
485 party goers
Wasn’t that a party!!!

 

What a rich time this has been, one which has me realizing again what an incredible creative community (online and off) that I get to participate in. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about each one of you, and appreciate how candidly you’ve answered my questions. I can’t think of a better way to celebration National Poetry Month!

Below is our NaPoMo Poetry Party Featured Guest List, with links back to each guest’s post. So continue to enjoy and follow up with one another. Learn more about these incredible and unique creative beings who bring light to our needful world.

And if you find yourself mysteriously drawn to pick up a pen, or a paintbrush, or a camera, again for for the first time, I encourage to follow that inkling. Every art form is a gateway. Enter in, dear one.

With deep gratitude to each of you who have graced us with your presence.

Blessings, good health, and creative adventures,

Lesley-Anne

NAPOMO POETRY PARTY
List of Featured Guests

Joel Clements

Barbara Colebrook Peace

Karen Connelly

Gary Copeland Lilley

Brigitta Davidson

Chris Hancock Donaldson

Daniella Elza

Lesley-Anne Evans
(and again)

Malcolm Evans

Lowell Friesen

Malcolm Guite

Rawle James

Amanda Kelly

Deborah Lampitt-McConnachie

Anne Linington

Margaret Macpherson

Susan McCaslin

Nygel Metcalfe

Norm Millross

Richard Osler

Sally Quon

Jason Ramsey

Carmen Rempell

Harold Rhenisch

Robert Rife

Hillary Ross

Christine Valters Paintner

Bernadette Wagner

NaPoMo poetry party.28


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Good morning good folk. A dear friend who was going to drop by and share some work today has had a family emergency. I pray all will be well with them and that they can return one day to be with us.

(I’ve been giving some thought to a regular poetry party here at Buddy Breathing; what do you think?)

I hope you’ve been enjoying the daily visits with so many beautiful and inspiring people? I’ve intentionally steered away from any sense of promotion as I wanted to honour each guest as a person, and to simply sit and spend a little time getting to know their hearts. Please jump in on the comments and let me know how it’s been for you. Let me know if you want to come by one day and share too.

You heard from me once before this month, and here we are again. What shall I say? I think I’ll just share a wee bit from my life in hopes it encourages someone else on their creative journey. It’s a complex mess at times, but today I feel I’m being exactly who I am. With integrity. Truth. Purpose. Providence. With a splash of should-I-be-saying-this-out-loud and do I sound pretentious?

This week I went for a walkabout and installed some poems in my neighbourhood in a process I’ve called “Pop-up Poetry.” I keep another blog all about it HERE. I had a surprise encounter with boys on bikes that you might like to read about HERE. Two front line medical workers affirmed what they called my immeasurable gift, and this at a time when I’m questioning the helper in me. Each time I step out with my poetry and receive a response from anyone, I sense something that feels like a quiver of certainty. This is how I help. This. Poetry.

Eight years of doing Pop-up Poetry and it never gets old. I step out in a mixture of angst and fear and embarrassment (reverse pride) and come back lighter and almost free. I think there’s something about doing what I can, and sharing what I have, that carries me. Pop-up Poetry is woven into my life now.

I’ve been working with the brilliant editor Harold Rhenisch over the past couple of years. He is mentoring me, unleashing me, helping me to believe in my voice and to allow poems to be born through me. It is so difficult some days as I feel my intellect stretched past what I think are my limits. Sometimes I rise with understanding. Sometimes I write and it is complete crap. Sometimes I enter into a flow and a few words string together into a luminous line. I remember the day I asked Harold if he might take a look at my poetry and see if there was something worth doing there. From that day until now is pure gift. Harold inspires me to be like him; to come gently and humbly alongside others in their creative journeys, to speak life into them, and to be a friend.

I’ve also been giving myself to a vision I’ve carried for years, to create a place of refuge for those seeking solitude and soul refreshment. It has meant moving homes. It has meant enfleshing ideas and building things and refining the vision. This place we’ve landed, this place we’ve lovingly named Feeny Wood, has brought me to tears of frustration and joy. When COVID happened, it meant the very first booking in our Bothy (forest prayer hut) had to be postponed. Carrying a vision for hospitality in a time of staying-in-place has me wondering and asking what’s this all about, God? I keep stepping in.

Today I will sit down with my husband to talk about plans for our courtyard contemplative garden. I’ve planted a line of blueberries, transplanted some wild strawberries, and wheeled in 4 yards of lovely black earth. One step at a time. In due course our bans will lift, and our doors will open, and people will come. Maybe it will be you?

I’d like to share another poem with you today, one that arrived this week. She is new and saying something I’m still straining to hear. In other words, more edits are likely :)

May this day bring you bright spots, and a laugh or two,
Lesley-Anne

My Son as the Captain of A Tall Ship

That gentle trough
of sinew and skin like velvet
seems an odd design
for a boy's neck or a horse’s nose.
I want to rest there. I feel faint
at the thought.
When you are absorbed in Lego worlds
I will walk up behind you
and wait. Imagine how it might feel
to float once again in the swirl of hair
on the top of your small head;
drift there for a while — a buoy
in the current of our story.

From above I will tip over
and touch your neck — here, now;
a hint of sweat; your hand
brushing mine away.
I am a channel marker.
You are long gone to sea.

NaPoMo poetry party.11


Photo: Lesley-Anne Evans

Today is Easter Sunday. Whatever your Easter tradition or practice, whether you have one or not, I celebrate your presence. Having thoroughly enjoyed our time together over the past 10 days, and looking forward to more this month, here I am, hosting myself.

Easter Sunday is a day in the Christian tradition we’d be gathering together all over the world. We’d be turning to one another and saying: He is Risen; He is Risen Indeed! Those words are a proclamation for followers of Christ; those who trust in God’s mystery and love; those who celebrate the compelling audacity of Easter’s message; those who hold holy questions and doubts and wonderings; me.

I have been wandering on the road between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And I arrive back here: with my lack of knowledge and understanding, and with my inconsistency of practice and ofttimes questionable motivation, still I am the BELOVED of GOD. The Easter story is perhaps so mythic and audacious because of its offer of unconditional and divine LOVE.

With a gift like this, then why does Easter feel less like a celebration this year? Why have I struggled so much with what I will say today on this blog post? Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, borrows the words of her dear friend Rachael Held Evans, when she describes similar unsettled feelings this Easter. Sarah shares her Easter Sunday Field Notes deeply grounded in her life of faith, and then she says this:

On the days when I believe this…

It’s the oddest and yet the most honest thing for her to say in my opinion, this way of believing one day, and not the next. What else do I have but the truth of my own experience? And this is how my faith looks; one day transformed by love; one day tempered by the worry of personal circumstances and a great blanket of fear and weariness brought on by COVID; one day I believe; the next I wonder if any of it is true.

In her Easter message, Sarah goes on to say:
“God [is] with those still mourning, with the scared, with the sick, with the angry, with those who hold the great and terrible knowledge of the Presence of Love in our thin and weary places. On the days when I believe this, it’s enough. On the days when I don’t, it’s still enough. Christ is Risen.”

He is Risen Indeed.

Sigh…

And now, in responding as each poetry party guest has done so generously, here are my answers to our daily questions:

1. 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?

Lesley-Anne: Being a writer and already working from home, my life hasn’t changed much on the surface. I have a daily routine and creative practice that I’m continuing to keep while I stay in place. Adjusting to having my husband working at home, and hearing his business calls in what would have otherwise been a silent space, has been interesting.

I find time has expanded, and sometimes days feel endless. I am taking on small projects to try to focus on good things outside myself. Like this poetry party, for instance. It is a way to reach out to others and right size (for a little while) my worry. I’m may join the mask making efforts as well, or something else. But I still wake at night, anxious about my kids, about our world. There is always tension.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Lesley-Anne: Curiosity, along with the desire to look and see has always taken me to beautiful places, and can be a challenge to me. I wonder things and pursue answers, but often there are none. If my curiosity takes me too deep, it can be difficult to bear. But if I approach the world with lighter curiosity as an observer and then celebrate what I see, then I am easily overcome by the beauty of the natural world, the little everyday miracles all around me, and I find myself taking photos of it, writing about it, and going deeper with it in a way that is not too heavy or difficult. I find creation and creativity are mysterious connections to Creator.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Lesley-Anne: I was shocked to discover that a Northern Flicker has been trying to create a nesting cavity in my Bothy’s exterior wall. Now we will try to find a way to live in harmony, possibly by building a nesting box for him, or for owls.

My blog you already know about, and if you’d like to learn more about my creative life, projects, writing, please drop by my website here.

The poem I’m sharing today is a work in progress. Thank you for spending your time here with me today.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

It is a Song With and Without Words


It’s robin red breast who gives word 
to backyard junkos, who calls 
a five minute warning. 
And as the swans v-wing I know 
for sure, light 
stretching elastic to meet early risers, 
leaves winter to a little death. 

I breathe, restless for essence of rain 
and reclamation, earthworm soundings 
in soil depths. The glory, 
glory hymns of songbirds, glory 
in the fullness of Fibonacci curve 
of lambs wombed and waiting, 
subtle fissures in fragile shells, 
green’s insistent pierce 
through monochromatic grey. 

Revival days, when tulips prove 
their faithful hearts, and bridal-wreath 
believers raise their arms wide 
and white in praise. And the wood 
blooming the colour of Amen.

-Lesley-Anne Evans

 

Sabbath rest


Re-reading Sabbath, by Wayne Muller…deep sigh. Paying heed to the longing for more than one day a week.

Spending several mornings in a row by the lake, poetry, paper, pen and bible by my side…yes. Be still. Listen. Know. Learn how to do this again…lean in, see, hear. It is good.

Spending golden hour in pursuit of the light, camera, eyes, heart seeking ordinary beauty…yes…weeds, but not really…

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And then this morning by the lake a poem comes trickling, flooding through me…just when I think I have passed writing the last one, when I’m convinced it has all been a cruel trick of nature, that I actually can’t write a jot, that my work is shite, that the combinations of words will definitely NOT flow this time around…what was I thinking…and then…a poem…a draft poem…appears (she says carefully, not wanting to sound as if she thinks it is any good.)

A friend once scolded me…you are a poet…you write…HOW DARE YOU NOT SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD!!! Whoa, it bothered me to be spoken to like that. Who was she to say that? I stuttered out excuses, like these ones I still push down every single time;

I’m nervous

It feels self-serving doesn’t it, a bit boastful

There are many poets so much better than I

It seems inappropriate to ask if I may read, silence is just easier

Um…I don’t think it’s that good yet, maybe a few more edits

Edie looked at me straight on and said it again…How dare you! It’s your gift! It’s your voice! So you’d do good at getting over yourself and sharing your work. (Well, maybe she didn’t say it precisely like that, but I remember clearly her emotion, her gentle yet persistent tone. I often share those words with young emerging and nervous poets I spend time with.)

It’s been a while. The last few days as described above have included solitude, silence and the joy of allowing my heart to free up my fingers and journal some thoughts and some poems. Here is one of them. For you, Edie.

Praise the Mutilated and Aching World

after Adam Zagajewski’s ‘Try to Praise the Mutilated World’

 

Praise the mutilated and aching world.

Praise civil rights activists and pamphlet propaganda,

praise the moment after

you watch the Youtube video and can no longer say

I did not know. Praise your confusion. Praise your disbelief.

Praise the ones who call it evidence, or conspiracy,

and sleep soundly with both points of view.

Praise each pair of opposites, the terror and the beauty,

disgust and delight, the wildness within us

and the sea, sky, and expansive forests

that swallow men and their wives.

Like the elderly man, axle deep in snow

at the end of a logging road, who suggested his wife

stay right here, stay warm, and I will go for help.

Praise his half-frozen body

and the wolves who received his offering.

Praise her waiting, for days.

Praise the sway of nighttime hydrangea bouquets

and dead black stares of roof rats chirping

like beautiful birds. Praise their goings out

and comings in for seed and vegetables.

Praise their diseased droppings.

Praise copulations of wet salmon

over gravel substrated shallows, praise

their slick fins and gaping gills.

Praise homefires in our wood stoves

and firestorms in our neighbourhoods,

praise the smoke, the candled trees,

the displaced and crispened wildlife.

Praise equally the ash smothered front lawns

and ash crossed over foreheads in remembrance.

Praise each fickle choice and self-righteous justification.

Praise lonely and never alone.

Praise here and hereafter.

Praise Him whom you have not seen but believe may be who he says he is.

Praise Him. Praise Her. Praise Us.

Praise the mutilated and aching world.

 

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

Every life is a poem…


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You may know that I write poetry, but Buddy Breathing is not usually where I post it, if at all. You will find a small selection here on my author website, but the timing is such that I am going to post a newish poem here today.

It’s a poem I’ve been scratching away at since I first was accepted into the Northern Ireland 2014 ~ Storytelling, Music, Art, and Peace experience. Thanks to Gareth Higgins, Karen Moore and David Wilcox, the wonderful co-leaders of this trip, poet, priest, philosopher and scholar John O’Donohue’s legacy of mindfully walking the Irish landscape will be realized once again for a small group of most fortunate people, myself included. The long call of home to my birthplace, to talk and walk and open anew to understand… in just a few short days I will answer what has been percolating inside me for years. I sense changing coming.

Maybe even before I knew of this pilgrimage I’ve imagined myself arriving in a place like that described in my poem. A wild and desolate place, perhaps the middle of a wide and endless field, or the top of a rounded barren hill (not a mountain as I’m not that kind of adventurer), or an abandoned once inhabited place grown over and melding again with the earth. Any such place I’ve seen in movies or aptly described in a book or glimpsed in reality or dreamed myself to… are somewhat liminal spaces between here and somewhere, between what is and what could be.

For me landscapes best describe how it might feel to stand physically and/or metaphorically at a transition, an edge, and to feel the pull of such a place… and so in this spirit the poem began. It is, as always, a work in progress.

Edge

Take the path up
through the stinking mud
and tufted grass barely rooted
in barren. Keep on up
to the cliff top, lean
into the wind, tears
pulled from your eyes and drained
down stark lined cheeks. Up, up
to the edge where all that lies ahead
is North Sea waves half ice over shipwrecks,
selkie dreams dashed hard
on the jagged shore. Look north,
out where the sky meets mossy
undulations of standing waves,
where looking back at yourself you are nothing
but a speck of possibility. Look down
at shoes muddied and scuffed, wild
brambles hitch hiked to your old wool coat.
Reach out your hands,
ridged nails on fingers
wrinkled staccato with terror. There,
and only if you dare,
open up your life,
widen your lungs to salt mist, your veins
to the pulsing hum of thin places.
Steady yourself, eyes up, up,
your heart a fast cloud in the groaning gale.
Feel the heft of surf’s begging boil
beneath you. But stand your ground.
Sing. Sing.

Lesley-Anne Evans

 

 

All I want for Christmas…


I’m not usually one for Christmas lists, I seldom ask for specific gifts. Come Christmas morning I will feel quite uncomfortable with all eyes on me. I feel some pressure for an appropriate joyful, grateful response, and wanting my family to know how much they mean to me apart from what they give, but also how much I appreciate their efforts and love to me in their gifts. I’m not gifty. Perhaps I’m complicated content.

My grandmother used to say, “just a hanky,” when we asked her what she would like for her birthday or for Christmas. It seemed such a little thing, a hanky, yet I know how you reach a point (or maybe you were always there) where material things don’t mean much.

So, as I was thinking about what I’d really like for Christmas, it’s about the intangibles of relationships and social constructs that are most meaningful to me… the HOW we LIVE with one another. It comes down to the acceptance of who YOU are and who I am, and finding a way of doing life together that brings meaning and joy to both of us. I want for us to KNOW each other, to love each other all the more for knowing how imperfect yet wonderful we are.

So I am going to disclose some personal things to you with the real hope of acceptance and continued relationship. Forgive me if I’ve been less than forthcoming previously.

So here goes;DSC_0301

1. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. I am a simple woman, simply trying to follow Jesus and infuse all areas of my life with God’s love. I celebrate Christmas because of what I believe. If you want to hear my story, I have one to share.

2. I live in a constant tension of faith mixed with doubt. I do not have many answers, and I’m becoming more comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” It’s not about convincing, arguing, debating, although there are those who are very good at apologetics, I am not. I believe my life is becoming what it is because of God and me doing life together. It just is, and most days I believe it to be true.

3. I’m uncomfortable with organized Church. I regularly push myself to participate, serve, contribute to my local church, and for a time I feel real belonging, but I often also feel like a square peg in a round hole. I have been, and perhaps always will be, a dweller of margins.

4. I am imperfect. I say stupid things, forget birthdays, don’t return your calls or texts. I talk negative and overly-serious and deep when you want light and fun. I hide from people. I spend too much time on Facebook. I fight with my husband and my try to control my kids. I hate cleaning my house. I’d rather write or read. I’m unfriendly to some of my neighbours, and don’t speak to one. I’ve ignored you. I’ve broken promises. I am horrible at baking, but love getting praise for my cooking. I love getting praise for anything I do, but feel guilty for loving it too much. I want to do things for God, but feel I’m probably doing things for me a lot of the time. I run from conflict. I have strong opinions. I talk too much. There’s more.

5. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression, and I am sensitive to those who have been and how much worse they must feel compared to me. However I wonder sometimes if it would be best for everyone (my family especially) for me to spend a little time in a hospital and get myself somewhat re-tooled. If this is even possible. Often my depression lines up with SADD (several months of cloud and no sunshine in the Okanagan), menopause (sleeplessness, hot flashes, irritability etc.), and a predisposition towards introspection and time alone. I wonder how #1, #2, and #3 line up with this point. I have noticed that being more involved with projects around creative expression and things outside the world of being a stay-at-home manager of my family, helps my mental balance. I have noticed that happiness and joy are two different things.

6. I love to create, and I love to see others find their creative spirit and create. I believe passionately in how much better we all are when we find what we are meant to do, what we were created to do, and then go do it. I love to connect with others and encourage them to be their best.  I love to see the ripple effects of love, joy, and healing go out from the heart of each creative spirit into the hearts of others.

7. I want to be part of a bigger picture of creative expression. I am keeping my eyes, ears and heart open to what is next for me as part of the greater creative collective. I am considering how I may pour myself into realizing a new dream around words, writing, giving and growing.

8. I intend to continue to sign “SDG ~ Soli Deo Gloria,” to my work, and attribute thanks to God for what he allows, facilitates and carries out through my one life. I continue to desire and ask for integrity in this.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your open heart. This has truly been a gift to me to be able to write to you, share things at Buddy Breathing for a long time now.

I look forward to what life holds for us in 2014 and hope you write and tell me what you are up to, what you are learning.

May you be blessed with a renewed spirit of deep joy and gratitude for who you are, and the gifts you have been so rightly given.

With my love, SDG,

Lesley-Anne