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

 

 

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Recommendations…


DSC_0558I’ve been otherwise occupied, obvious from the date of my last post. I’m sorry. Not much in the way of blogging, or even new poetry writing. But a rich time of learning the history of epic poetic genius, and growing into new word pursuits presenting to me in my community. Awe-struck by it all.

Here are a few things I recommend to you in my latent absence, or in the intent of a poetic line/seed poem that is rooting itself in my brain, in the commendation of sparrows and lesser things;

1. John Donne ~ Holy Sonnets, specifically Death Be Not Proud.

2. Wit ~ Play by Margaret Edson, screen adaptation, starring Emma Thompson.

3. BBC Documentary on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

4. Take a course, push outside the comforting constraints of current circles, learn.

5. Self-knowledge. Dig in. Unearth. Make adjustments.

6. Forgive. Often.

7. Dive into Life. Abandon yourself. That most often requires slowing down.

That’s all my friends.

With love,

Lesley-Anne

Navigating and staying afloat


skin boats

skin boats (Photo credit: 50mm-traveller)

It’s summer. Yup. And that means change and adaptation and realignment for me. I wrote about it here. And now I’ll share a wee bit more here.

I’ve been in a slump since Easters (reference to one of my fav. movies Nacho Libre). I sang in the choir, walked out of the church with a ceiling and walls, and couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t go back. I tried to figure out why. I made up excuses. I was dejected. Apart from a place I’ve been involved with for 20 years, I felt no compelling force drawing me back. I checked out an edgy inner city church. And when nobody there met my entirely unexplainable criteria, I knew I wouldn’t go back there either. I attended to soul care, read the Book, and engaged in spiritual conversations and activities and poetry. But no church.

There’s another book I read recently called Skin Boat, by John Terpstra (An interview with the author, here). A refreshing book about navigating faith (get this book!!!). Like my own faith journey, the author experiences questions without answers, a sense of belonging some days followed by lingering feelings of marginalization and confusion. His journey is shifting and liquid, and of searching for and finding enough to return for. As Terpstra says,

“I have heard everything there is to say about the place, for and against; both its necessity and its redundancy. Have felt it all, in my bones.”

And I guess, for me, it came down to what I felt in my bones this morning when I woke up. Today I chose to go because I wanted to be with my husband, sit together on a wooden pew. With anxiety and angst and dragging of feet, I pried open my fingers and received a crumb of bread from God’s table. (I didn’t go looking for bread, yet I was given enough to appease my hunger). It’s personal, what happened. But there were tears and words and nodding of heads and something inside of me realizing the reasons for staying away were far smaller than the reasons to be part of what is “church”.

Terpstra writes as both poet and cabinetmaker: “I have thought: the reason I persist is for what is being made.”

This morning I felt a seed of persistence sprouting within the soil of sadness I had allowed to gather in me. And a hint of what is possible, what is being made, should I continue to choose this place. I felt the embrace of arms, looked into eyes, listened to words that I scribbled down madly so as not to forget. The music lifted. The tears cleansed. And the seed continues to grow…

As described in this Can Lit interview, Terpstra asks himself why he keeps being part of this wayward and suffering and paradoxical institution, he responds, “this is the only place I know where time and eternity meet on a regular basis.” 

Today, I was at the meeting place.

SDG, Lesley-Anne

Party time!!!


The Party Group

The Party Group (Photo credit: theirhistory)

I’d like to invite you to drop over to bentlily, where blogger and poet and inspirational human being Samantha Reynolds shares thoughts on creativity and living mindfully.

Samantha writes among other things, a poem a day, and features a new poet every week on her blog. This week, I’m the one. And I’ve really quite excited about it!

Here’s the link!

And, if you haven’t visited my new poetry blog, find it here at Pop-Up-Poetry.

In the party mood,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

meanwhile, the pop up poet…


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So, probably know I’m doing a new thing over at Pop Up Poetry. I’m getting out more, not just writing, but reading! Often that means reading my work at open mics around town. If you are in the area and interested in the arts scene, you might just want to check out these Kelowna venues and events. Something to help make it through until Spring.

Last Thursday night I went up to the cozy and welcoming Mission House Coffee and Cupcakery, enjoyed some wine with good friends, met some new ones. I read some poetry, and listened to some local talent, musical and literary, at the first open mic of the year. It was great. Open mics are always inspiring and expanding. So thanks for the invite, Vanessa.  Check out the unique sounds of Vanessa Eidse vocals and ukelele on CBC Music HERE. She performed ‘Heart’ at the open mic. Awesome. I’m so looking forward to the next time.

There are a growing number of open mics around town. Rawl James’ Inspired Word at various locations is on my radar, with three offerings in February alone.  Streaming Cafe is hip and offers lots of events including open mics, next one on Feb 8th at 7 pm. And, Pulp Fiction is another funky venue where you can catch music and words and even some theatre, surrounded by retro posters, vintage furnishings and antiquarian books.

If you know of other literary opportunities, please do share there here with us.

And, if you head on over to Pop Up Poetry, you’ll find poem 2.

That’s all for today,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

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.