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 last call


Me

The last day of April brings us to our final guest at my NaPoMo poetry party. If you’ve been following along each day (if not tomorrow’s wrap up will help you catch up), you’ll know our scope has widened a bit from strictly poets to meeting with a handful of visual storytellers – photographers. This morning we are joined by Malcolm Evans, a photographer and someone very dear to my heart; my son.

Tell us a little about yourself, Malcolm.

Malcolm: My name is Malcolm and I currently work as an Outreach Navigator with the Canadian Mental Health Association. In May I will begin working on my Master of Public Safety with Wilfrid Laurier University.

As all of you are also experiencing, my life is going through some unprecedented changes. Not only has COVID-19 changed where I live, how I work, and what I do in my spare time, it has also shifted my ability to focus on what matters most to me as an individual. As I find myself distanced from family and friends, there is a heightened sense of priority in my life. The things that matter most to me have been solidified by their absence.

I find peace in this.

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?

Malcolm: I tend to be the kind of person who does as much as possible, whenever possible. Since I am an essential worker, the only thing that has changed for me is the time that I spend outside of work. Luckily, a lot of my daily activities already abide by social distancing requirements! If anything, I’m saving money by spending less time in breweries and restaurants, and more time out in nature. The biggest thing that has changed is my ability to spend time with my family. I do my best to find activities that allow us to be together from a distance but it’s never the same.

Why is art important?

Malcolm: Art has always been a form of therapy for myself. The world tends to melt away when I am outside with my camera. Photography allows me to focus on things that have minimal impact on my life and yet, carry significant beauty. Finding beauty in the world continues to be an important source of happiness in my life. I think it’s important for everyone to discover a way to see beauty. Art is a lens that helps us achieve that.

What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Malcolm: I ran out of peanut butter today. It happened a lot faster than I expected. I love peanut butter!

You have chosen several photographs to share this morning, and they are striking examples to me of how form, texture, light, and shadow can be crafted into a emotive compositions completely devoid of colour, and yet my perception is somehow not limited to shades and tones of black and white. I wonder why? There is metaphor in this for me.

Thank you so much for coming by today, Malcolm. Your work is masterful. I wish you all the best with MELK Photography, the business you are developing that will specialize in black/white photography. Maybe you will share more about that another day. And thank you for the helping work you do on the front lines. It is a good work, and you have a good heart.

 

Falling Water 2SunflowerMELK93Water 2

And thank you, friends, for dropping in today. Come back tomorrow for our wrap up session where all of our amazing guests will be back for one more fond farewell.

“May the road rise to meet you, may the sun be always on your back, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.” (Irish Blessing)

Peace to each of you,

Lesley-Anne

NaPoMo poetry party.28


DSC_0076

 

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.22


IMG_7277 (1)
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.18


Bardsey

Malcolm Guite describes himself as “…a poet first of all. That’s a conversation killer. I’m a poet, priest, rock & roller, in any order you like, really. I’m the same person in all three.” In a 2016 interview with Lancia E. Smith, Lancia says of Dr. Guite, “he reminds us again and again with intelligence, beauty and skill that we are not dead yet. It seems with every passing day that we need that reminder the more greatly.” Today is no exception.

I’m just delighted to be spending time with you, Malcolm, albeit long distance as you are currently based in Linton near Cambridge, England. You have brought us a new poem, and a new song that arrived to you just yesterday. Brilliant! Welcome to day 18 of our 30 day poetry party. And to all the good folk that have dropped in to meet you, welcome.

You can connect with Malcolm and learn more about his books and work through his blog and his new youtube channel. His most recent book, After Prayer, is published by Canterbury Press and available here.

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?

Malcolm: Yes, the time I don’t spend traveling and attending meetings has become available for the deeper part of my vocation which is to try and serve the muse, to make poems which are as true and as beautiful as I am able to make them. Doing that needs time to read, listen and think, as well as time to write.

Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?

Malcolm: To answer that question, whatever kind of answer I gave, might be to suggest that Art has to be useful, to serve some end other than itself. But human art has no more purpose than God’s art. God did not bring creation into being because he needed it, but because it was a glorious thing and he wanted it to be there – he delighted in it and called it good, good in itself, not good for something else. I feel the same way about art.

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

Malcolm: I picked up my guitar and wrote a new song – suddenly, just like that -something I haven’t done for years.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and these new creations.

Blessings and continued health and peace,
Lesley-Anne

The Risen Jesus Greets His Disciples  (John 20:19)

We bolted every door but even so
We couldn’t catch our breath for very fear:
Fear of their knocking at the gate below,
Fear that they’d find and kill us even here.
Though Mary’s tale had quickened all our hearts
Each fleeting hope just deepens your despair:
The panic grips again, the gasping starts,
The drowning, and the coming up for air.

Then suddenly, a different atmosphere,
A clarity of light, a strange release,
And, all unlooked for, Christ himself was there
Love in his eyes and on his lips, our peace.
So now we breathe again, sent forth, forgiven,
To bring this breathless earth a breath of heaven.

My guitar in my hands

When I pick up this old guitar
My mind and soul are free
For every song I ever sang
Will keep me company
My songs can sail me out to sea
Or trek the desert sands
I roam through time and space at will, 
My guitar in my hands

They sent me word three weeks ago
That I should stay at home
To help protect the NHS
I may no longer roam
But that’s all right, this magic box
Lifts me to other lands
And brings me safely home again,
My guitar in my hands

Chorus:
With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

I’’ll be off to West Virginia
Soon as this song takes hold
Where the pickers were as poor as dirt
But all their songs were gold
I’m back there with the Carters now
And all those old time bands
They’ll keep me company tonight
With guitars in their hands

From the days of ancient Greece my friends,
When Homer smote his lyre,
To the studios of Nashville
Where the best are up for hire,
From the pubs and clubs of Dublin
To Scotland’s silver strands
You join a mighty company
With a guitar in your hands

Chorus:
With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

This lockdowns locks give way to me
They open with a pick
Three simple chords can set me free
It’s such an easy trick
So I’ll stay home to save more lives
I’ll meet all their demands
Until we meet again my friends
With guitars in our hands.

 

NaPoMo poetry party.15


I have been speaking poems through people since they first woke. Now, in stillness, I celebrate that they are learning, once again, to hear. Here is a message I sent to a friend, who some call Harold Rhenisch. He heard it last fall, but didn’t understand that it was never a poem and always a prophecy. Now he does. We’re getting there! Here’s a photo from Big Bar Lake. As I hope you can see, we’re both there, and now so are you.

down

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?

This quiet is a coming home. I can breathe.

2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?

I am giving my human friends gardens and poems. The rest is up to them.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Nothing surprises me. Instead, there are moments of sadness and delight. I sent a kingbird to Harold’s garden. And he noticed. Beautiful!


www.haroldrhenisch.com
www.okanaganokanogan.com
www.earthwords.net
www.afarminiceland.com

The Messengers



Another lake heaves itself 
up on top of its flat

and flies off towards the clouds
that are billowing 

from the cities to the south.
No one has yet given a word 

for the holes that have appeared 
of late on the plateau,

but considering that the men of the North
have only asked the frost lines 

that the sun etches in the nearly 
dumb wind crests of the snow,

the thin ones that know only a few 
crumbling sounds as words, 

there’s no firm ground for either 
revelations or philosophy. 

No matter. The true philosophers 
are locked inside classrooms to the south, 

struggling to invent birdsong 
out of a dry cracker, a few buttery tones

and mouth harps. So far, 
they have plumbed only

the cough and the hammer.
Here, we have only the broad-winged 

cranes to teach us,  
who fly high above, shining in the sun,

who would never betray 
the emptiness and fullness 

they have scoured
from earth’s night.

They should be lauded as philosophers, too,
but the machines, the darklings 

with the bright eyes of noon eddies,
have received them grinning from their dunes,

so they fly on in long skeins
to the cold North,

following their broad-muscled lakes 
and calling for all of us below to follow

them beyond the edge of the torn 
cloth of the world.


NaPoMo poetry party.14


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Margaret Macpherson lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Right now she is off-grid, seeking the solitude of the lovely little cabin you see in this photograph. That sounds pretty appealing to me, Margaret.

I’m borrowing your words here, Margaret, when you say you are a writer, teacher and mentor who believes in freedom, self expression, justice and the uncanny ability of the human spirit to connect intimately with others. You love people and words and positive energy and your work speaks of your deep connection to humanity. You’re a Northern lass, a second generation feminist with three kids, a husband and a cat.

We met at Banff Centre, a decade ago, and thanks be to social media, we’ve stayed connected. Our recent lunch at U. of A. was a blast, so many things in common to chat about.

Let’s jump right in with three questions, Margaret, as they are windows into the richness of your life;

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?

Margaret: As a writer and, more recently painter, I have always sought creative pursuits but in these strange times I feel a new urgency to create. Not all that I do is for beauty and comfort, either. Sometimes I believe images and text should probe us to reflect, to consider new perspectives or even new questions. Art can, and sometimes should, make us uncomfortable.

I do feel like we have more time, and that’s curious because I’ve always been an artist and a gig worker but now, in the season of COVID 19, the quality of time is different. It’s blurred and amorphous. People are loosing track of days. It’s marvelous in a bizarre way because what is time if not a construct imposed upon us?

I don’t mind this world order falling away; I think it was broken and unsustainable. My hope is that we can learn from this crisis — death is always with us, we can’t love things, giving and receiving are both important in healthy relationships. I want the world to collectively re-imagine and implement a new order that upholds different values and principals. I know if sounds lofty and it’s not that I don’t succumb to Doritos and Netflix from time to time, but I am changed by this reflective period and, oddly, I feel hopeful.

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

Margaret: I think my spiritual life and my intuitive life have been deeply important to my being. I’m a survivor of sexual assault, an outspoken second wave feminist, and someone who gets energy from others, a typical extrovert. This isolation would ruin me if it weren’t for the artistic practices I’ve established and the rich communion I have with my creative self, the Creator within. I always have to acknowledge ego, all the time, however because when it gets in the way, you’re hooped. There is no flow between yourself and the richly mesmerizing spirit world.

I’m experimenting with an expressive visual arts activity involving three principals – deep meditations, trusting the process of the medium (in my case watercolours), and gifting the result. I focus on a particular person or situation and then paint and see what occurs. It’s remarkably revealing at times, but I have to remind myself to acknowledge and let go of ego – I’ve named the practice Non-prophet, just to remind myself how easily ego creeps in.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Margaret: As I write this, our black cat is sitting on the back porch in the mid afternoon sunshine. Watching her ears twitch, I realize how attuned she is to the coming of spring. My own longing for a deeper connection to the Earth surprises me. It might be time to head out to our cabin in the bush. There is no running water there, no electricity, no neighbours, no cell service, just a riverbank and the quietude of a world awakening. I need to feel the spring stirring, the way my cat does.

Margaret Macpherson has two published novels, Released (Signature Editions, 2007) and Body Trade (Signature Editions, 2012), a collection of short stories, Perilous Departures and four non fiction books. Her stories and essay have been anthologized and her poetry scattered to the winds. Margaret’s website is woefully out of date but if you want to get in touch visit her HERE.

Thank you for visiting with me today, and for our connection over the years. I appreciate your infectious optimism, and welcoming spirit.

Be blessed,
Lesley-Anne

And a poem…

Now, Breathe



Now, there is no more busy
Now, we have time
Now, distraction is foreign
and flights of fantasy are the only 
aircraft we can board.

Now, walking outside is our consolation
and brave sun, in our solitude, a new companion.
Now, the stars are less distant, 
and those we love even closer.

Now, we can’t gather
can’t hobnob, can’t see or be seen.
Now, we are quiet
focused, still.

Let’s breathe.
Breathe while the earth is healing
Breathe while the fields ripen
Breathe while the lungs of our longing
thicken and fill.

Time is on our side, at last.
It is all we have left.
Breathe in the ecstasy
of this world

waiting. 

Margaret Macpherson 
03/18/20 

Cover photo by Joel Clements Photography.