Category Archives: truth and beauty

Monday Potes: 3:15 Rides Again

I JUST finished typing up my 3:15 poems from this August. This may be a record for me. Usually I finish a few months before the next round.

What was so amazing, though, is I barely remember writing the last several poems. As well, as the month went on I obviously had a harder and harder time staying awake (the writing grew barely legible) and the work got a bit more surreal.

Below is one of my favourite poems from the month. I remember I was reading a dystopian novel at the time where they couldn’t see stars. Stars were the stuff of myths. So, without stars, what would poets compare their lover’s eyes to?

Aug 20, 2010 – 3:15 AM
Vancouver, BC

without the stars the life of us
is a very lonely place of singular
miracles spiders without wings but webs
birds without webs but songs     a gravitational
kingdom     a jungle-gym dictionary
cats without scales but purrs and claws
seahorses without fur but delicate curls
you without me but lost me without you
but dreaming without windows
sunshine and sunflowers even a moon
even without the stars your eyes
could be compared to sea
shine to dew on glass
to two moons were there
such a thing without the stars
less poetry about the stars
without stars just vastness
chilly witness    irritable reality
oh stars oh light
oh look the stars are like
your eyes

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Filed under poetry, The 3:15 Experiment, truth and beauty, writing exercises

Gwendolyn Alley’s Middle of the Night Poems

I know I’m not the only one who has been urging Gwendolyn Alley to publish a collection of her poems. And now she has done it, created a moving story, over years of participating in the 3:15 Experiment, with this collection of poems from the middle of the night for her mother and young son.

I met Gwendolyn at the Taos Poetry Circus in 2000. At that time, The 3:15 Experiment had been running for 7 years and had been growing each year. The Taos Poetry Circus became and annual trek for both of us, and she became part of the cycle of experimenters.

Gwendolyn’s unflagging enthusiasm and dedication drew us closer together and she became one of our core “cognizanti” – co-editing the between sleeps 3:15 anthology and hosting a 3:15 Fiesta in Ventura in 2006. She was a natural addition to our core group, as she has a knack for bringing people together, artists in particular, for a common and higher purpose.

Gwendolyn has done so much for poetry and poets: organizing events, editing the work of writers, encouraging and mentoring writers. It’s about time we celebrate her work.

This collection is available now in limited run chapbook form from en theos press. A printed book will also be available later in the year.

For poets, for mothers, for those who marvel at our connectedness.

READ MORE about Gwendolyn and the “Middle of the Night” launch.

From “Middle of the Night Poems from Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son”

August 1, 2003

it’s 315 time again
i go to lie on my side to write
but the baby is there
i can’t lie on the baby
it’s like lying on a watermelon
large and hard

the baby sleeps right now
no movement–i’m awkward
trying to find a way
to comfortably write i’m strained
as constrained as the baby at 29 weeks
we are alike today in that way
both trying to get comfortable
to get some sleep
the baby can see light
a red glow seeps through my belly
can hear sound but probably not
the crickets outside or
daddy making his going to sleep sigh
hmm mmm mmmm he says

the notebook too is pregnant
uncomfortable it doesn’t
want to open to bend back
to receive anymore
it too is slightly bent
out of shape its spirals
damaged well traveled but
empty of much writing

as i slide down scoot down
slip down off my pillows
losing my great grip on my place
the angle of the pen
the lightness of the ink
indicates betrays its discomfort
the pen is pregnant too
pregnant with poems with desire
to be a useful tool
yet more than a tool of transmission
a tool of transformation
i too am that tool
one of transmission of transformation
the baby in my belly
the pen in my hand

Also known as The Art Predator: you can visit Gwen’s very active blog at: artpredator.wordpress.com

For writing advice, personal or business, visit her at The Write Alley: thewritealley.com

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Filed under on my bookshelf, poetry, random poop, The 3:15 Experiment, truth and beauty

Monday Poetry on Tuesday

Cycle of Dizziness

I want to touch the matter in front of me
and say I am recording you
to reassure my science

when I go inside to have a conversation
to appear days later in a foreign place
with David Byrne singing in my ear

ginger is the new black

I’m getting old and all the things
the peace-resters told me are True

little bang little
bang            bang

my medication is grief
I make a tea with
get burnt and sober

sipping my choices

grind myself helpless and thin
or open up wider     to
fall limitless in

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Filed under monday poetry thang, poetry, truth and beauty

Pause for Repression

Working on transitioning my old home office space into a new one made me realize how oppressive my space was. No wonder I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and underinspired.

But digging through all my papers and files has unearthed some fantastic material. In this particular case, a writing exercise I’ve only used once, so I thought I’d try it again.

The exercise is to title something, and then working through the poem, conclude with the opposite idea/feeling. The concept of “repression” came to me because of my thoughts around my work space. Then I realized how important forms of repression are. We have to repress certain things, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to function as human beings on this planet.

Repression

We must repress ourselves
daily     in order to go on in order
to move a pen, a cup, a stone
we are so small
in our collected selves
we must reduce the disagreeable
to a mumbled prayer and hope to emerge
in a wider existence
an expanded being

There is memory beneath the
fiery doings of the fearful
digging into dreams, loosening the world
we have to trust it is below our feet
and beyond the stars
shedding everything we’ve learned
to cling to

Repression is how we eat our meals and
put the toys away
how we step one foot into the street
turn on faucets and lights and machines

If united we really knew
how infinite our way
we wouldn’t even bother dressing our bodies
we would head straight into the sun
wild and bursting

If you decide to try this exercise, let me know and share the results.

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Filed under poetry, truth and beauty, writing exercises

for Gabrielle Bouliane (1966-2010)

Gabrielle’s last live reading.

The poem below is the best I can do right now… and it doesn’t feel like enough. How, ever, can words communicate what is ripped from the heart. I feel like I should watch this video every day, so that I remember how to live.

for Gabrielle Bouliane
(1967 – 2010)

you disappear on a full wolf moon but not really
in the age of a technology you shaped from, created you
send messages across miles and friends echo
that feisty stance, fiery angel,
oh, poet, gift-giver, love-master, my hours
in your presence are locked, sealed and
delivered  – – my dream-memory
days and nights spent on projects for literary minds
together building a factory to keep those hearts alive
smoke breaks outside the office in rusty Seattle
mother hens to spoiled wordsters all worth
while, our while, through earthquakes and madness
and divorces and spilled salt
we know life turns, tears, surprises for the
girls next door, tomboys and hippies and
drive, you had it, rode long highways, following
a bliss only shadowed by your gracious love

I can’t say good-bye, not here, not now
not with those wide-eyes in mine —

I’ll see you backstage, poet, that’s a promise
and meanwhile, this light you lit, I’ll shine.

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Filed under aw... poop, every day angels, music / poetry videos, poetry, spokenword, truth and beauty

Start the Year with Kindness

Several years ago I had the privilege of working for Puget Sound Community School in Seattle, WA. At that time, the school was only a few years old and had no fixed address. Classes were held in different places on each day of the week (from a retirement home to a community centre to a church to a frat house). Mondays we had field trips and/or community service and on Fridays students had mentorships in the community. There were no grades. Discipline happened democratically. The kids were amazing. I was having so much fun I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to work for them.

The founder and director, Andy Smallman, is a visionary educator, although I don’t know if his down-to-earth nature would call it anything other than passion. And his passion is contageous.

While I was working there, Andy facilitated an online “Kindness Class” – a way for the larger community to be involved with the school’s program. The assignments involved committing random acts of kindness and then sharing and discussing them.

He hasn’t run the class in several years and was inspired to bring it back last fall. Little did he know that when he did, the idea would spread around the globe!

We promoted [the Kindness Class] here and on the PSCS Facebook page. The idea spread and 250 people signed up. Steve sent a press packet about it to The Seattle Times. Their education reporter, Linda Shaw… came out and did a story (http://tinyurl.com/yct838d) that appeared in last Sunday’s paper. Local TV station channel 13 then did a quick news story on it last Sunday night (http://tinyurl.com/kindnessQ13 & http://tinyurl.com/KindnessQ13-Take2).
…I have been made aware by people interested in joining future classes that the Times article has been featured in newspapers in Raleigh, NC (http://tinyurl.com/y9o8n45), Greensboro, NC, Jasper, AL, Dayton, OH, Springfield, OH, Ontario, Canada, and likely others. It’s also making the rounds on Twitter, most notably having been “retweeted” by Deepak Chopra. And today it became the “Idea of the Day” on bestselling author Dan Pink’s blog (http://tinyurl.com/y8goczb). I’ve had people from as far away as Australia ask to join.

He had such a great response that he decided to run it again this term. I was so thrilled for Andy and PSCS that I signed up for the class, too. And, it’s not too late. YOU can sign up, too. It’s completely free:

…the idea is pretty simple. Each Sunday night I’ll post that week’s kindness theme via email and on a special blog set up for our class. Your job is to consider the theme and, in a way that is meaningful to you, act on it. After completing your act, you go to the blog and post what you’ve done so the rest of us get to learn about it. Imagine each of us interpreting the same theme each week in our own way and spreading ripples of positive action out in the world. It’s a revolution of kindness…


…As a virus, your acts will impact (some might say inspire) others, even people outside of the class. Being mindful, you’ll start noticing more of the kind things happening around you. You’ll become happier, more peaceful. You’ll sleep better. You’ll exercise and eat better. You’ll feel great. You’ll infect others with optimism.
How’s that sound for a way to start off the year?  Interested? E-mail Andy at pscs@pscs.org.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
-Scott Adams

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Filed under cool poop, do something different, inspirational poop, truth and beauty

Artless PSA by BC Filmmaker

It’s happening across north america, the tendency to let arts funding go (in schools, in our cities) when in an economic crunch because it isn’t deemed vital to society. Here in BC the government has been steadily making ridiculous cuts to arts funding and will continue to do so over the next few years.

This is so short-sighted on so many levels. Not even taking into consideration how art enriches our lives, the arts and cultural sectors and B.C.’s creative industries generate $5.2 billion each year and employ 78,000 people. I’m one of them. And so are most of my friends.

What kind of mixed-message is BC sending when in its bid for the 2010 Olympics, our government boasted about our province’s vibrant arts and culture scene?

A friend of mine, director Kryshan Randel, created this beautiful piece to demonstrate, visually, what an artless life would be like:

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Filed under aw... poop, industry poop, pop / culture, truth and beauty

Inside Story on the Inside Passage – Part Three

NOTE:  It is harder to blog on a cruise ship than I anticipated.  Internet Access is not only expensive, it’s spotty. This entry was written during my cruise, but I didn’t get a chance to post it until I got back.

~~~

Today we’re in Ketchikan, Alaska, our first stop on the journey. There are three cruise ships docked here, dwarfing the town. It’s a lovely spot, isolated and friendly. They obviously cater to cruise ships because there’s no shortage of art, clothing, jewellery, and tourist attracting goodies. Ketchikan_20090831_0042

I asked a local how she felt about it and she said she liked that it brought more people into town. The only way anyone can get here is by boat or plane, the mountains and glaciers are impassable, so I can see how for many months out of the year, it could feel a bit lonely.

The only thing she doesn’t like, she said, was when tourists from the U.S. ask her if they take American dollars there.  Doh!  Sadly, she explained, it happens more often than you might think. Yes, Alaska IS part of the U.S. folks.

Ketchikan_20090831_0037

Yesterday afternoon we started some of the real workshop work. Dara has a PhD in mythology and uses myths to get to the heart of the Feminine Heroic. According to Dara, and I wholeheartedly agree, one of the reasons we have become so dissatisfied with contemporary films is that they have become unbalanced, over-stressing the Masculine Heroic – the external journey.

The masculine heroic journey is about the ascension to greatness, the individual staking claim, standing up to power structures, etc. The Feminine Heroic is about the internal transformational journey, going deeper into the place we call “soul.” And just as our own abductions into the underworld are essential for personal growth (i.e. our “dark years” – points of grief, sadness, depression), so these abductions are vital in creating authentic characters and stories that stay with us.

Dara’s lecture was supplemented by Deb’s writing exercises. Deb uses a combination of exercises to recall personal stories and physical sensations (i.e. where on our bodies do we feel our memories). As you can imagine, sharing these stories was quite emotional for several of us. Did I mention that we each got a pack of klenex at the start of class? I think everyone had theirs open by the end of the day.

Ketchikan_20090830_0034

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Filed under serious play, truth and beauty, workshops

If this is socialism… call me a socialist…

Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.

How can we expect the next generation of children to live peacefully and joyfully on this earth, when they can’t even trust us to nourish them, and their planet, properly?

I believe every child on this earth deserves to be fed every day. I believe every child should, if they need to, sleep with a roof over their heads. When they are ill, their parents should be able to get free medical help for them. And they should be able to get as much education as they need to pursue their career, at no expense to them. They should be fed, stomach and mind.

(I also believe they should participate in other activities that feed the soul, but I won’t go there just yet)

How is this possible?

It IS possible if people would begin to think as a collective, not as individual egos. We are so busy being hurt. Once we realize we are all made up of the same cosmic dust, we will let go and love each other in the way we were meant to.

But letting go of the ego is very difficult. The ego is tricky. It makes you believe you are made up of a bunch of things that aren’t you. All the ego wants is to be right, and I see so many people who’d rather be right than be happy. I’m sometimes one of them, I see it all the time… although it’s happening less and less now that I’m more conscious of it.

I attribute this to many things, but a great place to start is with Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. I’m reading it for a second time and it’s feeding me in all the right places.

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Filed under on my bookshelf, politix, truth and beauty

Serious Play – Redefining the Body

Baby and I haven’t had TV since Dec 28th and haven’t missed it. Mostly because all our spare time is taken up with renovating the house.

Instead, we’ve been addicted to T.E.D. Thought provoking talks under 20 minutes… What’s not to like? Add some chocolate and I’d say that’s a pretty good date.

We both enjoy the talks where art meets design. Or, in this case, where poetry meets prosthetics.

Aimee Mullins has gone far beyond how the traditional medical community might design artificial limbs. It doesn’t have to be about function… it can be artful, it can be whimsical.

2008-05-12-p1_mullins2Aimee Mullins

“A prosthetic limb doesn’t represent the need to replace loss, any more… it can stand as a symbol that the wearer has the power to create whatever it is that they want to create in that space… so people that society once considered to be disabled, can now become the architects of their own identities and indeed continue to change those identities by designing their bodies from a place of empowerment.” ~ Aimee Mullins

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Filed under inspirational poop, serious play, truth and beauty