NaPoMo poetry party.12


new shot for sept 2019

Welcome, Karen Connelly, to our virtual gathering. How I wish we were sitting on a couch, legs pulled up, hands wrapped around a cup of tea, but this will have to do. We’ll begin by focusing on how you are keeping in these strange, life altering days, and then move to a poem you’ve selected to share today with us. I know you read this poem on Instagram recently, so I invite folk to head over there after our time together here.

It has been a week or so since I’ve listened to one of your midnight readings on Instagram. It became a way into deeper breaths, resting in the soothing sound of your voice, and readying myself for sleep. I am so grateful to you for those late evening posts.

Here are the three questions we have been cycling back to each day, and your generous answers;

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?

Karen: Hello Lesley Anne,

Because I’m a writer and therapist and work primarily from my home office, I haven’t changed my schedule all that much, except for a daily walk with my teenage son, which is a wonderful gift. Usually he doesn’t want to be seen with me in public, but now that his parents are his only companions, we’re all spending more time together. This has been an unexpected blessing for all of us. Though I also yell at him more—usually from the kitchen to the second floor– because of the Nefarious Screen Factor. We’re all spending even more time than usual in front of our screens.

But that also has brought a surprisingly positive benefit. I practice a neural-somatic trauma therapy called OEI, Observed Experiential Integration, and it’s been challenging and exciting to figure out how to work with clients on screen instead of in person. I have a couple of older and differently abled clients, for whom this change has been extremely helpful. They don’t have to leave their homes in these times of social distancing, and I’ve learned that doing this special body-based work is possible at a distance. So that’s really thrilling—it’s always exciting to learn something new, or to be challenged and realize you can figure out a solution. In fact, for a couple of these clients, working online is much easier. If someone has more ease in the experience of the therapeutic hour, the work tends to be more effective.

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

Karen: I’ve always been a spiritual person with spiritual habits and practices—I’ve been a meditator and student of yoga for decades– but that part of my character has become more defining and more definitive since I underwent an extraordinary crisis a few years ago. I’d let myself slide into that handy category of ‘emergency meditator’—I’d do the work when I really needed to, but I had a lot of secret resistance to the idea of goodness and service.

Cue the major crisis! I was crushed, so my resistances were also crushed. It was excellent. And terrifying. Heartbreaking. It was like Rilke’s poem: you must change your life. There was no more dabbling. I became a trauma therapist (an area in which I’d also meandered and read for years and years). During my training, the spirituality work became very focused and disciplined; I began studying Buddhist and Vedic texts again– really studying them–and meditating, praying and doing yoga every day. So. That is what gives me joy and vitality.

And trees. Walking around. The sky. This world and its creatures. The human voice.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Karen: A breakthrough that a client had. Completely out of left field; something we hadn’t really talked about before. The realization brought her great relief. More than relief: a feeling of resolution and profound grace. I can’t say more than that about her work but I can talk about my own sense of breakthrough, witnessing that, hearing the lightness in her voice, seeing it in her body. Working with people who are wrestling with PTSD seems, on the surface, to be so depressing. I think this is why I resisted deeper healing myself and resisted becoming a therapist for so long (though I was doing ‘mental health first aid’ for years, mostly with friends and students).

But today I glimpsed in my client’s moment of resolution my own emergence from crisis some years ago. People who’ve experienced severe abuse as children sometimes discover an unexpected freedom when they realize that the worst is truly over. The worst is over because we’ll never be children again, and (usually with good therapy) the trapped feelings that characterize PTSD begin to loosen and resolve. The resiliency, the ability to survive, indeed, the ability to thrive and find goodness in this world: human beings are absolutely extraordinary. There are many qualities about us as a species that are pretty deplorable, but when people heal, when they go down into those depths and emerge, their transformations are always surprising. We’re witnessing a lot of that goodness circulating right now, in this time of global crisis. I love that. I love us!

Karen is a literary writer, editor, teacher, and trauma-informed therapist. You can read more about Karen’s work and sign up for her Courage Room blog and newsletter at www.karenconnelly.ca.

Blessings and gratitude to you for spending time here today, Karen,
Lesley-Anne

Sonnet II/29


From Sonnets for Orpheus, by Rainier Maria Rilke, 
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy in 2003, 
during the early months of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

 
Quiet friend who has come so far,

Feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

And you the bell. As you ring,

 

What batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself into wine.

 

In this uncontainable night,

Be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

The meaning discovered there.

 

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

Say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.

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

 

NaPoMo poetry party.9


P1000524
Barbara Colebrook Peace
joins us from Victoria, Vancouver Island, where she lives with her husband, Terry Peace.

Good morning, Barbara. It’s lovely to connect with you again, albeit virtually. The last and only time we met you sat beside me in a beautiful seaside church, St. George the Martyr, in Cadboro Bay. We were attending a Poetry as Prayer workshop led by Richard Osler, who was our guest poet here just the other day. It was such a joy to meet you then, knowing you through your beautiful poetry collection Duet for Wings and Earth. And here we are again!

We’ve been focusing on three questions as we visit together each day, and so I’m going to ask you the same ones with gratitude for your responses;

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

Barbara: I’ve been blessed to live a quiet life for some years; what’s different now is the quietness of the world. I am so moved by humanity’s expressions of love and caring for one another. It’s not that I didn’t know it before, but now I see the breadth and depth and length and height of that love in action.

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?

Barbara: Because I was already blessed in being retired and having time for what I choose to do, this event hasn’t given me a sense of “more” time. I think I spend about the same amount of time in connecting with others as I did in the past, but in different ways. For example, our church community has a “church without walls” operating through our website where one can join in with morning prayer and compline (and our priest reads a different poem each morning as part of the prayer service. ) Also, our choir director has done an amazing job of helping us to sing together across physical distance.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Barbara: I’m writing this in early morning. I like to begin the day by going to the window and looking out across the water towards the mountains. Some days they appear and some days not. Today, as always, I am amazed by their loveliness.

Barbara is the author of two poetry books, Kyrie (Sono Nis, 2001) and Duet
for Wings and Earth (Sono Nis, 2008), which won an award from The Word Guild. She is also the co-editor of P.K. Page: Essays on Her Works (Guenica, 2001.) She has read her poetry on CBC, taken part in various literary festivals and concerts, and contributed poems and review essays to a number of Canadian journals and anthologies.

Please visit Barbara’s website for more information about her and her work.

The poem you are about to share is from your collection Duet for Wings and Earth. I find it to be a powerful reminder of ultimate love, a love that transcends our humanity in every way. Thank you for walking us into the Easter Weekend with your words.

Blessings and continued good health,
Lesley-Anne

Song of God: For Judas not yet born

to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal,
until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak,
when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed
and the stars of the Navigator’s Line go out one by one.
		---JOB 38:14,15 (New English Bible)


Judas, sprawled on the grass, the sun in your eyes as you look up 
and laugh, plucking a stalk and whistling between your green-stained
thumbs, saying This is better than Jerusalem.
Judas, child of lostness, how could I bear it
if you were not born? 
Your features known to me in every detail.
How could I not bring you to birth, when even now
clouds passing over the earth part to reveal
your face in shadow between fire and starlight; even now the daystar
   awaits my signal
to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal,

and the angels, who have thousands of different words for light,
have arranged the light around you.
In our little camp on the mountain slope,
Peter and James and John are still asleep;
only you and I stay awake to see the dawn,
our clothes smelling of lentil stew and woodsmoke.
We have stayed up talking, you and I, all night.
Now we wait for the woods and valleys to slowly emerge,
and the long mountain ridges unfold in their beauty, one by one
   picking up the sun’s spark,
until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak,

the earth in this moment unique; only you and I share.
We are not ready to come down from the mountain.
The wind is passing over the house where you will be born.
If you are not born I could not bear it.
Before we go down from the mountain, we tell each other
what we dreamed:
you dreamed your mother dying
and you tell me your greatest fear,
being left alone at the time of death, no sound of human voice, only
   the wind,
when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed.

It is Sabbath, and the morning of your birth. Shalom, Judas, 
peace be with you;
the earth rising on the first morning of the earth,
fragile blue jewel, my beloved Judas.
Peter and James and John are still asleep.
It is time to come down from the mountain.
Will you remember this, will it be enough to keep you from
despair, when you greet me with a kiss as the men come
bearing torches, 
		     and the last word I speak to you on earth is
   Shalom-----
and the stars of the Navigator’s line go out one by one?


Barbara Colebrook Peace 

NaPoMo poetry party.8


Wagner_B-2020

Bernadette Wagner and I recently renewed our decade long friendship when she swung through the Okanagan Valley with her new poetry book The Dry Valley, from Radiant Press. Bernadette stayed with me for a couple of days, and being in her energetic and encouraging presence, talking about meaningful things, was a reminder to me of how important creative community really is. Bernadette joins us from Regina, Saskatchewan, where she lives with her husband and son. She has a daughter attending university in Ottawa.

Bernadette’s way of putting herself and her work out into the world is inspiring. She is similarly tireless in supporting other poets, because as she says, that’s just what we do!

Thanks for joining in this virtual poetry hootenanay, Bernadette! In response to my three questions this is what you said;

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Bernadette: The COVID-19 times has taught me that I already live a quiet life, take care of myself and family, and educate community.

2. 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?
Bernadette:
People going on about having more time on their hands now certainly don’t live in my house! Until a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty much home alone from 7:45 am to 5:45 pm Monday to Friday. For the past two weeks (or has it been three?) I’m sharing the house 24/7 with my husband, an immuno-compromised civil servant working from home. And, as of yesterday, our son is also home 24/7 with COVID-19 symptoms. Our daughter, living out of province and also with symptoms, will be home from grad school in a month. 

My life is radically altered and altering. I am the heart-centre of our family, the nurturer, chef — domestic goddess, if you will — and I’m spending more time on the computer ordering food and supplies or in the kitchen cooking, than on writing, though I do try to do a writing sprint or two every day. 

I’m getting through it all by leaning heavily on the meditation practice I’ve had for almost 20 years. I meditate at least twice daily and for longer periods than I used to. Colleagues have been hosting free meditations online. I think there’s one almost every day and I’ve always loved communal meditation. Community is really important to me. And these sessions — there’s one specific to writers now — help me remember that I’m part of something bigger. That’s especially important now. 

I’m also grateful to social media for that sense of community. But I was quite shocked by people’s initial fears so I spent a significant amount of time talking people down, sharing positive messages. And there’s so much ugliness and negativity coming from a certain leader of government south of here and so many people sharing it that social media isn’t as much fun for me. 

I write a daily report, or try to, of the Prime Minister’s news briefings. It’s my public service, I suppose. I am a fiercely political animal but I have to say that thus far PM Trudeau is impressing me. And believe me when I say that it takes a lot for a Liberal Prime Minister to impress me!

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Bernadette: The robins have returned and their song relaxed and inspired me yesterday.

You can learn a little more about Bernadette here:
www.bernadettewagner.ca
@thereginamom
https://www.facebook.com/bernadettewagner62

Those who attended your book launch in Kelowna in early March had the treat of listening to you read the poem that you are also sharing with us today. It is so lovely in its imagery and strong sense of place. Thank you for the gift of these words.

Peace, and continued good health to you and yours,
Lesley-Anne

Fieldnotes from the Qu’Appelle
(in memory of Robert Kroetsch)


Morning bursts apricot and yellow
on the lake. Gray driftwood floats on sky.  
White sails, a blue breeze.  


	~	



Water gurgles, chugs. 
Beeps announce coffee.

This place allows 
for human
and more-than-human connection.  

Wings, skin, 
bark, fur co-exist.


	~	



Just around the bend, 
	maybe three miles north
		somewhere between the hills
		 				hanging

			in a mist that curves 
		around land and heart,
	insistent wind holds hawk high.
She swoops

drops 

then climbs, feast tightly taloned.  
	Soars over trees, birds, insect, 
		over chattering squirrels, 
			water, blood.


	~	


Number Eleven highway,
two blades slicing skin, 
how progress scalped this valley.


	~	


Two turkey vultures spiral high, 
closer, closer to the hillside 
abattoir. 


	~	


Orange-breasted robin pecks apart huge moth.
Families of swallows, inhaling insects, dip,
rise, dip again.



	~	


	Qu'Appelle Valley green is 
        silver sage,
a treetop's lime,
river bank hay,
	market garden crops,
stands of spruce, stretching,
	short commercial lawn,
		sea of forest holding a hill,
a yellow clover stalk.


	~	


Living sky 
shapeshifts colours,  
a river of vulnerability
pinpricked by light.


	~	


Peace filters through 
singing elms,
beneath their fluttering gold,
rippling grasses.

 

NaPoMo poetry party.7


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It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Christine Valters Paintner, who joins us today from Galway, Ireland. Many years ago I read Christine’s book, The Artist’s Rule. Her writing was a refreshing invitation to me to consider how spiritual and artistic practice might be meaningfully interwoven. I read Christine’s book again years later, and the practices continued to be integrated in my life. Then, in 2017, I had the immense privilege of spending a week with Christine at her “Awakening the Creative Spirit” facilitation training in Perth, Scotland. My life is undoubtedly marked by her wisdom, and grace.

Christine is a Benedictine Oblate and an accomplished author, poet, artist, and teacher. Her Abbey of the Arts is an online monastic community offering “pilgrimages, online classes and retreats, reflections, and resources which integrate contemplative practice and creative expression.”

It is wonderful to have you here with us today, Christine.

1. What is your present unique version of life teaching you?
Christine: I am being reminded how much I adore long stretches of time at home in quiet spaciousness and how my own creativity erupts freely in those conditions. 

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?
Christine: I am writing more poems, but also immersing myself in some other creative projects including a lino block art series for a book on Mary I am writing, collaborating with videographers to create videos for some of my poems, releasing a new album we produced and starting to dream into the next music album already. I am also sitting in silence and listening a lot more.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Christine: I was standing in the grocery store with a scarf over my face picking out Doritos for my husband and a recording of the voice of our prime minister came over the PA reminding everyone why we were practicing social distancing. I started to weep at the surrealness of the moment, at all the suffering right now, and all the grief in my heart in the midst of trying to carry on the most ordinary tasks.

You can access Christine’s poetry collections here:


I appreciate the poem you have offered us because it recognizes a world of darkness and of light, and the need to hold space for humanity in the tension of these realities. To me this is the contemplative call, and one I believe you answer richly.

May the road rise to meet you, my friend,
Lesley-Anne

p.s. and this, the sound of your voice, blessing all of us.

 

In a Dark Time

Do not rush to make meaning.
When you smile and say what purpose
this all serves, you deny grief
a room inside you,
you turn from thousands who cross
into the Great Night alone,
from mourners aching to press
one last time against the warm
flesh of their beloved,
from the wailing that echoes
in the empty room.

When you proclaim who caused this,
I say pause, rest in the dark silence
first before you contort your words
to fill the hollowed out cave,
remember the soil will one day
receive you back too.
Sit where sense has vanished,
control has slipped away,
with futures unraveled,
where every drink tastes bitter
despite our thirst.

When you wish to give a name
to that which haunts us,
you refuse to sit
with the woman who walks
the hospital hallway, hears
the beeping stop again and again,
with the man perched on a bridge
over the rushing river.
Do not let your handful of light
sting the eyes of those
who have bathed in darkness.

—Christine Valters Paintner

 

NaPoMo poetry party.6


Rob @ the church

Robert Rife is the reason I’m hosting this daily poetry party for the month of April. Rob invited me to participate in his NaPoMo blog, and in that I recognized how much I was missing creative community. So, here we are. Thanks, my friend.

Rob lives and works in Yakima, Washington. He is Canadian born, with the soul of a Celt. I’ve known Rob for decades as a talented singer-songwriter, poet, essayist, and I am drawn as he is to the Christian contemplative way. The standout memory I have is of Rob and his wife Rae’s visit one Canada Day not long ago, when Rob serenaded our captivated family and friends as the sun set over Lake Okanagan:

9EDFA310-F6F5-4436-9CD0-14222657E576_1_105_c

(Unfortunately I’m unable to play this video without upgrading my blog platform…but imagine how hauntingly beautiful this experience was, and then multiply by 10.)

It’s just great having you here, Rob, and I’m excited for those joining us to catch a glimpse of your talent and heart. Thanks so much for being willing to stop by. As per usual, we’re circling around three questions that touch on how we are coping these days.

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Rob: We must always see silence and solitude as gifts. That is especially so during those times when they’re “imposed.” Oddly, I am less adept now at utilizing this shared solitude, a gift of abundance, as when I stole it from a busy schedule!

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?
Rob:
We are busily trying to prepare a house for the market (such as it is). But, it is becoming an oasis for creativity once again. And art is life. And life steeps art, which itself, is an act of gratitude.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Rob: I arose to draw breath. The rest? Pure gift.

You can get to know Rob better at his blogs www.innerwoven.me and www.robslitbits.com. Also, his music (so much more than bagpipes) is available on iTunes under Robert Alan Rife and streamable on Spotify.

This has been a great little visit, Rob, and I wish you peace and healthy days ahead. We’ll leave now with your journeying poem:

Look Now, the Bless-ed Road

Look now, the bless-ed road rises to meet
feet, weary, uncertain, but sure
of steps yet untaken that, parting, greet
a step, one step, from that step. Intentions pure
where hinted there, evidences of worn
and bent, slow and plodding with care,
the stone-way moss with feet, unshorn.
It now draws this one from here to there
and back, or not? Perhaps to see once more
the trace of place and diligence where
friend not seen for to strength restore.
Beyond this hill, that rock, another vale,
to part from us the sure, the safe, the soft
and bring once more the promise of tale,
of song, of new and now and hope aloft.
As turns the way from risk to gift,
she bids one turn and, unflinching, faces
the way unmarked by mark-ed feet, swift
to lead not ahead or behind, but grace -
the name of he who draws, and we who strain
the path we sought,
and found again.

 

NaPoMo poetry party.5


promo pic 1 pic 1

Lowell Friesen is from Coldstream, British Columbia. He is the first of a few singer songwriter guests who’ll be dropping by. Lowell’s creativity spills over in a number of ways: he is an accomplished potter with a studio Nautilus Clayworks, a poet/lyricist, a talented musician, and also a co-steward of the land his family has tended for generations. It’s wonderful to have you here today, Lowell. And Happy Birthday tomorrow!

Here’s a link to your Facebook page so folk can check out some of your past and upcoming live stream music events.

As you know we’ve been asking everyone to share their thoughts around three questions related to the unique times we find ourselves in. Thanks for offering your insights here:

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
L:
I think this new, although I wouldn’t say quieter, life has clarified whats truly important. Things that needed doing just got done, my priorities shifted almost immediately and I felt myself become less selfish almost in an instant. Taking care of my family, creating an abundance mindset on the farm, helping those less fortunate, spreading joy, not fear, all became no brainers. Maybe that’s a sad reflection of my egotistical existence pre-covid.

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?
L:
I don’t find that i have more time for anything, in fact, quite the opposite. There is so much work to be done. I’m working 7 days a week now with very little down time. I’m realizing the luxuriousness of my pre-covid life.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
L: I
think the most surprising thing that happened today, and has been slowly happening these last few weeks is my new found faith in humanity, I’ve never witnessed kindness and compassion like this before, and I find myself quite pleasantly shocked at my love for my fellow sapiens, I thought I was too jaded to feel this kind of connection and love. ;)

You were telling me about your poem Poet King, and how when you wrote it you had just received a $20 cheque for the publication of another poem back in college and were so happy. I totally get that…the elated feeling of getting just a little bit of recognition, and cash, for something you love to do. Ah, the life of an artist! Belated congratulations, and thanks again for being part of this little gathering.

All the best,
Lesley-Anne

Poet King


Today, I am The Poet King,
A Pulitzer of peculiar prose;
A laureate of ludicrous lament.
Today I am cashing the cheque
that I was going to frame,
my first million made-
signed over instead
to the taco temptress
to the burrito babe
who, sensing my jubilance
and catching on to my high-flung spirit,
gives me chipotle mayo
on the house-
with a sly wink,
and a smile.
Oh she knows who I am,
The Governor General's gift of gab.
The dream of every miniscule morpheme
To be more than what may seem,
I am the theme and form of abnormality
My thought and articulation,
the sensation of my reverberation
is the song that no other could sing
For I am-
The Poet King.

NaPoMo poetry party.4


DanielaElza-cropped-Wendy D Photograpy

It’s my pleasure to welcome Daniela Elza to our little gathering. It amazes me how it is possible to create online relationships, and I appreciate ours. It’s been years since I met you in person, just once, at a reading at the Okanagan Regional Library when you launched your first poetry collection. You are a friend, inspiration and encouragement to me.

I appreciate the considerable depth of your responses to the three questions that are becoming our unifying party chatter here. Thank you for that.

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Daniela: The quieter version of life that leads to the quieter version of me has always taught me that there’s so much wisdom there. That I’m wiser than I think, if I can still myself long enough to listen. It takes getting very still, very quiet. Now the whole world is cooperating with me to accomplish this. All my life I’ve fought hard to earn this quiet time. Now everyone says stay home, be a writer-in-residence. The world has also gotten quieter. A place where we can look into the mirror of this still surface the way we look at our reflections in a pond. And see what a mess we have made of the world. Hopefully (yes, I am an incurable optimist), hopefully, we will change a few things in our lives to become more sustainable and better stewards of this planet. It’s telling us to shape up. It’s teaching us that our reckless lives will lead to lots of misery, migration, and epidemics. If you look at what the experts are saying, you will see how we are bringing this upon ourselves. That means we can also choose to change. We have the knowledge. This quiet version of us hopefully will teach us how to also have the will and commitment to accomplish this.

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?
Daniela: I am spending it on writing, connecting with friends with whom I’ve been planning to hang out over the last 6 months, on submitting the submissions I couldn’t get to in the last three months, on playing games with my son (who is trying to finish his second year projects at Emily Carr University from home), we are back to having dinners together, playing scrabble, and listening to podcasts with popcorn together. I am spending it on learning to do yoga from home, since my yoga studio (after 25 years in the community) closed its doors forever after March 16. I had been going there for over half of the time they have existed. Now I’m rallying a few friends to get into the habit of doing yoga at home. Once I commit to that, and get the teaching online up and running, I will feel more anchored in my routines. After more than 50 hours of screen time teaching and prepping last week, I am also realizing there there is such a thing as screen hangover. Going back to reading the books that I’ve been waiting to read might just be what I need more of right now.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Daniela: Today I cracked open a box of 40 copies of my brand new book. Held the first copy in my hands. I didn’t have to even give my signature to the Purolator delivery man. He said he just had to be sure it’s me (no touching anything). How did he know it was me? I have no idea. But I must be doing something right if it’s easy to tell, just by looking at me in my grungy grey writing sweater and yoga pants.

Daniela Elza’s poetry collections are:

the broken boat (Spring, 2020) preorder now at
http://www.mothertonguepublishing.com/page22/2019-new-books.html
milk tooth bane bone
(Leaf Press, 2013)
the weight of dew  (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2012)
the book of It (iCrow Publications, 2011)
website: http://strangeplaces.livingcode.org/

Your beautifully crafted poem winter light resonates with me. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. And hearty congratulations on the arrival of the broken boat.

Blessings and good health,

Lesley-Anne

winter light
~ daniela elza


how harsh  our winter  is
      on the thin skin of  light
          I pick up    every morning 

to carefully     carry  across.

ice on the pond      in the backyard 
         you put your foot    down
                the morning   fractures.

as days   move through us
         I can never  tell
                where  the surface is

still frozen    where it thaws 
       with a   warm    undercurrent.
                and then     there are 

the words       we throw.

our    son     old enough now
       crouches        on the edge
            picks up a shard.      aims.

pieces glide    down the length 
         of us.     words shatter 
                 on our frozen faces.

on this pond we like to 
   play   as shafts of    light
        pierce   the cold breath of 

the afternoon.      the four of us
      over winter water  and the fear 
              of shadows on ice

what ice can    hide
    what we do    when we pick it up
         in the splintered light.


NaPoMo poetry party.3


IMG_3785

Sally Quon is joining us today from Kelowna, British Columbia. Sally is a writer, photographer (see the feature image above), and self professed dirt road diva. Sally’s essays and  accompanying photos at Featherstone Creative are insightful, and genuine. Welcome to our poetry party, Sally!

You can experience more of Sally’s creative work by following these links;

Instagram:  @sallyquon

Blog:  Featherstone Creative

These are unique times for us all, and perhaps even more so for those with the sensibilities and perceptions of a creative. So I’m wondering, Sally, if you might give us a window into how today looks for you by answering these three questions?

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Sally: There has been a lot of “white noise” in my life.  By eliminating that which isn’t necessary, I have more room to appreciate that which is.

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?

Sally: Examining my priorities.  Deciding what and with whom I want to invest my time.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Sally: I received an Honorable Mention for a short Creative Non-Fiction piece.

That’s a wonderful bit of good news…congratulations! Thank you again for being here today, and for sharing your lovely poem.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

The Eyes of a Child

I close my eyes and picture
places I once was -
the streets where I grew up,
the steps behind the church,
the woodpile where I used to hide
my cigarettes.Are they still there?

Years between spaces,
sand-worn with age,
polished beyond recognition.
A glimmer, maybe,

like hope.
Like thinking somewhere out there
things are what they were.
Another child’s eyes
will widen to see
the mice in the shed,
the perfect nook in the crab apple tree,
the brook that used to flow
behind Charley Shipley’s house.

There was a game we used to play
--  hidden treasure.
My sister and I would hide things,
each for the other to find.
Silver coins and bangles
beads from our mother’s chest.

I wonder if we found it all?
Or if something was forgotten,
left waiting all these years?
Can you imagine,

just for a minute,

to be a child
discovering long-lost treasure?
A Spanish bracelet, or
that worn-out exercise book

filled with my lost poems.

 

 

NaPoMo poetry party.2


Welcome back to the party.

Today’s guest is Richard Osler from Duncan, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. His blog Recovering Words is a wonderful repository of poetry, and published frequently. I have come to many poets and their works for the first time through Richards blog, and am grateful to him for it.

Richard borrows the words of his mentor Sir Laurens van der Post when he says he lives his life not by conscious plan or prearranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird. From business journalism with the Financial Post, to financial analysis, money management and back to words as a poet and as a facilitator of poetry workshops and retreats, describes the richness of Richard’s life so far.

I have had opportunity to be with Richard as a both a poetry facilitator, and a workshop co-participant. The depth of his poetic knowledge and passion for it is extraordinary. I am equally taken by Richard’s recovery practice, where poetry becomes a healing doorway to many who have never written a word. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, my husband Bob and I were planning to join Richard in Umbria, Italy, for a 10 day poetry retreat. Sadly, this too is paused.

Richard la Romita 2018

I’m inviting each guest to consider these three questions;
1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
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?
3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

In response Richard says this;

In this time of quiet I quiet down inside poems, gardens and an evening fire’s burning eye. And I come back up to the fires burning cold to the touch in the poetry inside my library and allow more time to be curious about the poems that burn me to the quick. And today on the phone with a friend I put him on speaker on my smart phone so I could talk and click the wonder of the sunlight on two yellow roses in a vase on the altar in my bedroom. Yellow light on yellow shouldn’t be a marvel should it? Yet, I tell you, it was. It was.

Richard’s newest poetry collection Hyaena Season, is available through Quattro Books.

The poem Richard has chosen to share today is First and Last, a poem he tells me has been looking for a place to be. Thank you for the privilege of being that place, Richard, and thanks so much for spending time with us at Buddy Breathing.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

 

First and Last

 

Somewhere a small boy, already poised
to be something foreign even to himself
stands robed in front of an altar – the wind,
the rain, the wild hewn out of it –  and sees there
a symbol made proud with adze and chisel
from the birch planks it rose from – Ω , omega.
And he knows it, end letter in the Greek alphabet, last.
But paired on his tongue with ΑAlpha and he knows
it too. Beginning letter, first. Α Ω. A hierarchy.
First and last. Not yet confused with the teaching –
the first will be last and the last will be first.
But first and last wedded to become God.
This metaphor raised on an altar made
from stuff of air and ground, the “this is really that”,
and why, now, this memory, as down-under forests
burn and fall, of these names he used for God: Α Ω.

Richard Osler, November 11, 2019