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

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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.

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Our guest today is Gary Copeland Lilley who lives, teaches, mentors, and flourishes as a poet and musician in the idyllic seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington. Gary is the author of eight books of poetry, and is published widely. Gary generously serves and creates community through initiatives like his Writer’s Workshoppe where poets are invited to “do your poetic thing with a focus on the crafting of poems, and on not judging poets.”

I met Gary several years back when he was leading faculty at the Centrum Port Townsend Writer’s Conference. It was a joy for me to sit in Gary’s presence, listen to tales of poetry and his days in the Navy, consider his rich insights, and stretch myself in a new context of American poetry culture. And the icing on the cake was hearing Gary play the blues at our evening open mics. (Hey friends, if you ever have a chance to attend Centrum, go!)

Thanks so much for honouring us by being here today, Gary. I’m excited because we get to experience you reading a poem (via video), and you’ve brought another poem in print. There’s something very special about hearing a poet read their work, I think.

If folk would like a taste of a little more about you, or purchase your poetry collections, they can start HERE, HERE, and HERE. As we have become accustomed to doing each day, we are going to ask you three questions;

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?

Gary:  I am spending my time with the guitar. I love singing. I’ve written a few songs that I’m still working on. Also, I’m learning some good songs to cover. Woody Guthrie songs and Wobblie (International Workers of the World) songs. These are hyper-political dust-bowl type of times, and, for me, that loops right back into writing poems.

Lesley-Anne:  Why is poetry/art important?

Gary:  Hmmm, a better question for me is when has it not been important? The beauty of the expression of things within our lives is one of the greatest joys of humankind. It is truly a gift from God to be shared with others.

Lesley-Anne:  What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Gary:  Today, in my small town of Port Townsend, WA a woman from somewhere else and in a hurry to get where she was going was honking her horn in the sparse traffic. That never happens here.

We’ll move now into the world of your poems. In a time when we can feel distant from one another, I’m grateful for this month’s poetry party that was for me a drawing closer. Thank you for spending this time with us, Gary.

Peace, and poetry,
Lesley-Anne


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NaPoMo poetry party.24


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Jason D. Ramsey
has a creative capacity and reach that is wide and unstoppable. I’ve been enriched by Jason’s generous friendship for many years through his online arts community Altarworks, and most recently through his literary initiative Barren Magazine. It’s amazing to me how connected you can feel to someone without ever meeting in person, and so it is with Jason.

Jason lives halfway between Detroit and Chicago, and serves as Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Barren Magazine. His essays and poems can be found in Parentheses Journal, Tilde Literary Journal, After the Pause, Isacoustic, and more. Jason is also a visual storyteller.

Thanks for making time in your full life to join our poetry party, Jason.

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?

Jason:  I take too little time as it is for the important things in life. I’m always on the go. My mind is always racing. I manage a respiratory care department at a regional hospital in Michigan, run Barren Magazine, and have five kids under 13 at home, so I stay plenty busy. The current world challenges weigh heavily on me. Not just the coronavirus pandemic, which I am in the thick of, but all of the world challenges. I can’t be on Facebook for more than five seconds without being saddened or disgusted. With that said, though, I am spending what little free time I have differently. Instead of being wrapped up in whatever the latest news articles spew out, I’ve been spending more quality time with my kids. It has been cold, but we’ve played ball in the yard, played board games, worked on schoolwork together. I feel like, somehow, we’ve grown closer as a family as a result.

Lesley-Anne: Why is poetry/art important?

Jason: Poetry, like all art forms, is a way for us to express the profundities of life in ways that challenge us. In particular, poetry is among the most emotional art forms. It’s is also one of the most difficult. It’s hard to find something new to say in an original way. Poets have always tried to be one step ahead of everyone else in terms of worldview, whether successful or not. I believe a new wave of great poetry will surface from our current world state. It has to. It’s intrinsic in our human nature. It’s our life blood. It’s all around us, not just as pretty words on a page. It’s our first thought when we look at a newborn; the air we breathe when we’re walking outside; the hands that raise in protest; the hands we lower in love.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Jason: One surprising thing that happened to me today was my oldest son’s attitude when I laid out his new 6th grade online classwork. Michigan schools are closed until fall, but our district is moving forward with online learning. He’s in 6th grade, and he has to juggle six classes. Middle school has been a rough transition for him, and he has had a very challenging last few months. Ironically, the poem I’ve included here is about him, last summer, when we were on vacation in the Appalachian mountains. The poem is mostly true in detail, but completely true in message. He has battled depression, ADHD, ODD, and more for years now. Getting him to do his schoolwork is often the hardest part of my day. But, tonight we sat down, went through his material, and organized things to set him up for success. He even found some joy in it. And we bonded a bit. Now, that’s poetry.

You can find Jason online at:

facebook.com/JasonDRamsey
twitter.com/JasonDRamsey
instagram.com/jasondramsey
barrenmagazine.com

This has been a lovely visit, and we will leave one another now with your poem, ‘In the Blue Hue of Morning’ as it was published in Parentheses Journal (Fall 2019). Thanks so much for spending time with us today, Jason.

Stay safe, and blessings for the care you lavish on bodies and souls,
Lesley-Anne

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NaPoMo poetry party.23


Amanda

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 
morning return.

NaPoMo poetry party.22


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Brigitta Davidson
is in the house! Brigitta please catch us up on what’s happening in your life right now. I hear you are back in Kelowna for the time being after continent hopping for the past four months with your family.

Brigitta: This entire year has been a strange whirlwind honestly. I’ve had to move home because of COVID-19, however, I’m currently converting an old cargo van into a home and I plan to move into that with my partner once it’s all finished. The hope for this summer is to hang about the interior in the van and spend as much time outside as possible. Lots of hiking, climbing and swimming to be had!

And I am currently completing my 3rd year at UVIC on the island for a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and business.

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?

Brigitta: I notice I have been oscillating between spending more time doing tangible, enjoyable, wholesome activities and doing nothing at all. On days when its sunny and I’m feeling mentally positive and motivated I will go for a run, do embroidery, read, play music. However, if I’m feeling isolated or sad or anxious, I find I will spend hours in a wormhole on my phone or lie on the kitchen floor for a good while not even getting up if I have to pee. It is a strange thing to be bouncing between feeling inspired and wallowing to the point of wasting an entire day. I suppose it is good to have enough time to see the degree to which I really fluctuate whilst learning both how to be okay with it and (also importantly) how to deal with it.

Lesley-Anne: Gosh, I hear you. I feel similar wild fluctuations of dread and emptiness followed by bursts of inspired creative activity. Why is art important?

Brigitta: I feel that art is entirely pointless, and that is why I believe it to be the pinnacle of the human experience. Art has this uncanny ability to move people. It can unite them, divide them, inspire them depress them etc… I think emotions are at the core of the human experience and art is one of the most powerful ways we can connect to our emotions. Aside from our imposed meanings and enjoyment of art it serves no practical purpose. It is one of the few things we, as a species choose-nearly unanimously – as integral to society although it serves no utilitarian purpose. In a post-enlightenment world that is rather astounding.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Brigitta: I was surprised that I ran out of time to do all the things that I wanted. Today was a good day, one where I was motivated and enjoyed the time I spent. However, even in this time of isolation where I am on hiatus from work and school there still seem not to be enough hours in the day.

Thanks for spending time with us, Brigitta, and my hope is this will lead you into another really good day. You mentioned to me that you are inspired to be more active at your poetry blog which already has great content. So, after you share your poem, people are invited to head over to your blog to read more of your work.

Happy nesting and tiny home making to you,
Lesley-Anne

gentle and small and turbulent
in a messy, rushing world
sometimes I feel like a pebble drowning in the rapids
or peaceful like the sea foam gently lapped up by shores
expansive like open waters
and small like scrapes set alight by the salt
we are simply people falling in and out of love
gentle and small and turbulent

NaPoMo poetry party.17


Carmen Rempel is here with us today, from Kelowna, British Columbia.

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Hi, Carmen, and welcome to Buddy Breathing.  By the way, I’m enjoying your BLOG But I’m Brave so much. You have a way of tackling tough topics with authenticity and humour. I know you as a compelling public speaker, and I’m delighted to get to know you as a writer.

As you know we’ve been having a daily party for April – National Poetry Month, and I’m hosting a creative a day for a conversation based upon a handful of questions. And then most people share a poem, either one they wrote, or one that wrote them, or one that is meaningful to them. Let’s get started!

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?

Carmen: I’ve heard about this “more time” people have been talking about. I’m an adoptive mom of two teenage girls (one with an anxiety disorder and one with an intellectual disability) who are now doing school at home online, while I’m trying to work at home online, so I have less time than ever! I’ve been waking up earlier so that I have a few hours in the morning to read and write before the rest of the house gets up.

Lesley-Anne: What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Carmen: Nothing breathes life into me more than being totally alone in the backcountry. There is a tension of total peace, and constant anxiety as I hike alone with bear spray in hand, hours away from the next human being, with nothing but the Divine Presence and my own thoughts. 

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Carmen: We got a roommate! A friend found herself needing someplace to stay because her roommate was exposed to Covid. We are so grateful to have her staying with us for the next two weeks!

You have a poem with a story for us today, and so I’ll just pass it over to you to introduce us and carry on. Thanks again for dropping by. It makes me long for the days when we will be back sitting across a table sharing a coffee, or a pint, and unpacking something light and frivilous, yeah, right!

Until then, may your words be unleashed and good health be sustained,
Lesley-Anne

When Your Hands Were Little

Background of Poem:

We were going over her old report cards together, snuggled up on the couch, tea waiting to offer comfort sitting wisely beside us. She had never seen them before, and they were from the time well before I knew her, so there was discoveries to be had for both of us. We read about her teacher being proud of her for this and that. I praised her for being called a friendly and helpful kid in kindergarten. I didn’t read that part that said she was well below grade level. I skipped over the extra note written by the teacher asking the parent to make sure she came to school more often because they couldn’t assess her properly because she had missed so much school. I left out the note from the principal asking to meet. Instead I read the bit about how the teacher said she was learning to share well with others. But then she pointed to the box at the top of the page that said “34.5”, and asked what it meant.

Sigh.

“That’s how many absences you had in between March and June in grade 2.” I said.

“Oh.”

There was along pause and I watched the wave of understanding roll over her. Then I watched as the wave of painful memories came next. By the time the third wave, the wave of attached emotions, came crashing in, she shoved the papers aside and laid her head in my lap and began to cry quietly.

I took her hand into mine, and we waited out the waves together.

After a while she started playing with my hand, fiddling with my ring, feeling the sandpaper of my dry skin. She held her hand up, stretched out against mine. “Your hands are so small!” She giggled. Her 12 year old hands match her tall lanky body, and are significantly bigger than mine.

They always have been. In our entire relationship her hands have always been bigger than mine.

I brought my other hand up, capturing her one hand between two of mine, and said “They may be small, but they are capable of taking care of you.”

Her smile turned sad. “I know.” she said.

As an adoptive mom of an older kid I have this guilt companion with me all the time. I’m her mom. Its my job to care for and protect my kid. And she had been going through hell without me. I know its irrational, I know its misplaced, but in my heart I carry a deep regret that I didn’t get to her sooner. This feeling is what inspired the following poem. There is probably some therapist somewhere who would love to name this feeling I experience, but I haven’t met them yet. So this is what I have instead.

If you want to take a peek into the deepest parts of my heart; here you go.

Please handle with care.

When your hands were little

I'm sorry I wasn't there 

I'm sorry that you were alone 

I'm sorry I couldn't be there when your hands were little.

Littler than mine.

I'm sorry I didn't know you then.

I'm sorry that you were scared

I'm sorry I couldn't hold you when your hands were little

Littler than mine.

I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you

I'm sorry that you were hurt

I'm sorry I couldn't soothe you when your hands were little

Littler than mine

I'm sorry I wasn't there to feed you

I'm sorry that you were hungry

I'm sorry I couldn't pack your lunch when your hands were little

Littler than mine

I'm sorry that I missed so much

I'm sorry that you had a whole life before me

I'm sorry I couldn't get to you sooner, while your hands were still little

Littler than mine.