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


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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 depository of poetry, and published frequently.

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.

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. 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.

The poem Richard has chosen to share today is First and Last.

Thanks so much for being with us here today, Richard.
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

NaPoMo poetry party.1


Back story

Yesterday a friend reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to share some poetry on his lit blog. Rob said he’s planning to host a full month of guest poets on his long time blog in celebration of National Poetry Month 2020.

Yes, I said. And as I looked at what poems I might send to Rob, I felt a tiny shift in me that felt a wee bit like I mattered again in the world (cue all the feelings). And then I began wondering how I might be part of a ripple effect within my own creative community. Bringing us here: day one of this NaPoMo poetry party!

Please say hello to our first guest and my friend, Anne Linington. Anne and I met through Faithwriters, an online writing community in 2006, and have continued a virtual friendship every since. Anne is a lay minister (Reader) with the Church of England, and lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight. Anne reads her poetry at open mics, and leads a monthly poetry group at Carisbrooke Priory.

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Before you share your poem Anne, I’d like to ask you 3 questions, questions I will be asking each one of our poetry party guests:

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Anne: The importance of structure for the day which will be useful as we head to retirement.

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?
Anne: Sharing more of my writing, not necessarily new material, but older articles and poetry.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Anne: I offered to share my seventeen years experience of “Contemplative prayer” with others via Facebook.

Thanks for starting us off so well, Anne, and for sharing your beautiful gift and heart.
Blessings,
Lesley-Anne

 

The Plough

How could I have known
When I opened the creaking gate
to the field of my life,
And invited you in
To do the necessary work,
That your activity would be so painful
And yet ultimately
Bring about a harvest?

Setting your plough
To dig down deep
To turn over
And break up
Almost touching the deep bedrock
Of my soul
Revealing me in all my created
Rawness.

Leaving me exposed
Rich pickings for hungry gulls
Whilst all that I had previously
Thought worthwhile
Is torn from its root
Dies
And is re-interred
In the soil
Of my life

Now I lie open and naked
As my neat furrows are
Rained upon
Reduced
Frozen
Broken down
Emptied of all former life
Waiting

Then one day
The returning sun of your love
Gently warming
O’er lengthening days
Begins my re-awakening

Precious seed is sown
In prepared ground
Watched over
Anticipated
And the Autumn pain
Brings life
And hope.

Anne Linington ©

A snapshot of my life


dsc_0907To be honest, sometimes nature speaks, and I hear things. I’ve been aware of this since around 2006, but I think it may have been happening to me when I was a little kid. Only I didn’t understand what or who was speaking. 

In 2006 I began to walk with my dog with the intention of paying prayerful attention to what God might have for me, what he wanted me to see. I asked. And I believe God began speaking to me through the eyes of my heart. I became aware of the divine presence of God in all of my surroundings. I learned the whole earth is the fulness of his glory. I went seeking. I found God’s supernatural presence and life feeding thoughts in things like a roadside rose bush, and two seagulls chasing one another, heart shaped poplar leaves, and even in a tarp covering an old boat. And then I went home and wrote those thoughts down. This was the beginning of my writing life (two ancient blogs, here and here), and how I eventually came to poetry. 

This morning I was overcome by the weight of loneliness. Sipping my morning coffee, I looked out over the wood and wondered about how who I am aligns with these particular feelings at this particular time. I thought about what feeds me, why I do what I do, why I am hurt so easily, and the depth of joy that fills me in the creative process when I am realizing a vision for the sake of something or someone. As solitary as I am, creative partnerships invigorate me. I recognize how meaning must accompany my actions, and how the mundane responsibilities of my life are almost always my greatest challenges. I realize the tension of opposites in pretty much all of my life.

I began to cry as I thought of some relational challenges in my recent years, and I said out loud, I am so lonely. The next thought that came was, are you a victim in this? But I dismissed it and felt the depleting feelings.

Then an eagle flew over the treetops toward me and straight over the house, and the wisdom words “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” downloaded into my mind/heart. Did I feel caught up by that? You bet, I did. A teeny bit of pressure in my chest/heart/gut lifted straight away. I thought on those words a little more, how God is for me, he loves me and will come to me, and also how I have a responsibility for my own life and choices. Then I texted a couple of friends, and made a couple of asks that might help this introvert stand against self-isolating behaviour. 

Nothing has changed yet, but it might. It always does. 

Peace, out,

Lesley-Anne

#beautyhunter

p.s. This, just now, via email:

DAILY MEDITATION | JANUARY 14, 2020
God Longs to Bring Me Home
For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
ISAIAH 41:10 (NIV)

Every day is Woman’s Day


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAHairline Cracks in the Porcelain

I come from a long line

of born-again porcelain cleaners.

I am a tidy-bowl expert,

know the brush and flush, polish and rub,

I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.

I tried to put girlhood aside,

leverage being eldest

to escape wrinkled finger tips,

upright vacuum white-noise,

dusters made of outgrown undershirts.

When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows

at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits

of shared manliness with Dad.

I had no choice. I was taught

to bake and sew and clean proficiently

as an outcome of my femininity

and with all this evidence to the contrary,

one day my Father says to me,

“All things are equal.

You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”

So fast forward to University

and what appears to be a level field, free

from reference to my body’s ability

to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,

bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives

in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,

still what we do does not define our gender.

I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,

I am a self fulfilling prophecy

with EVERYTHING I want. Until…

Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence

unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation

of upside-down proportion,

all my notions of equality expanded

yet reduced to this…moment…

this…holy annunciation…

I am pregnant!

What?

Now?

What now?

I have to choose?

I choose.

He and I choose together, and my body

blossoms in maternity, my mind

rises like a phoenix

in blazing pride at this innate ability

to create and birth new beings.

Miracles… of possibility

through pain of labour, first one,

then two boys arrive…my joys.

And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.

SHE is something else entirely.

SHE unearths renewal in me.

FEMALE…we share more than DNA,

SHE is somehow hope and legacy,

SHE is the epitome of another chance

at THIS…AND…in feminine form.

But who am I to say…

I step back and let her find her way,

that dance, step in only when she asks.

Fast forward with my growing girl

my grateful orbit of her world. She says

“I might get married one day” and with a smile

“maybe I won’t have a child…”

Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”

I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,

and the beauty of no shame,

strength and intellect, all hers to claim.

She is powerful in her personhood.

(pardon boasting like I did something good)

Now she is gone from me,

like I knew she would be, eventually,

and we both thank Skype technology

for staying close with video chat.

I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…

that SHE finds space enough to BE,

to hold everything, all possibility,

glorious, wide and open…

Lesley-Anne Evans 2016

Ice, not ice


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Reflections on creek and her transformation

She is cold shouldered, hard edged. She is lifted above herself and perched topside, hard memories filled with small stones wait for the bottom to fall. She is thick with gathering.

dsc_0156How she wears so many faces; still and impenetrable under the overpass and upstream where she breaks tumultuous along fault lines, falling into herself again and again along breached edges.

Sometimes I see her clearly, other times she is shrub obscured, a stark backdrop to rich shades of ocher and brown, left-right axis to sky pointers, cottonwoods, Sunday afternoon walkers.

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A slit widens in her breast. She opens herself to a black and white diver brave enough to discover sustenance below her horizon. He floats and dives, floats and dives, finds a way where she appears solid as stone.

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Further upstream she is more exposed, her heart warmer, more willing. She flows wanton here. Mallards and Mergansers dip and fly.

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Eagle’s view of her is wider still. He anticipates the taste of spring salmon, how creek’s scent and navigational pull will entice a pink run and then exhausted demise. He watches from cottonwood, preens his tail, waits for the inevitable.

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She is ice becoming open water. She seeps from concrete abutments and along gravel pathways seeking the path of least resistance back into herself. She is the heart of greening.

She may soon rise above these banks. She will carry everything in open hands, her shoulders wide, and powerful. She will make herself known.  She is just beginning to remember words like ebb and flow. She feels the sharpness of each necessary fissure. She breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.

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I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.

John O’Donahue.