Category Archives: truth and beauty

RIP Poetry Angel: for Marty Kruse

I’ve been avoiding my blog because I don’t know what to say. The usual stuff has been superseded by a friend’s death. My throat hurts when I try to speak. I’ve been floating around my day in a sad happy sad.

Life is so amazing right now. I’m living my dream. And yet, underneath it all is a current of sadness for friends and family lost. Each new one reminds me of the others until I go all the way down the line to a boy from my high school who died of cancer. JD was the first friend of mine to die. We had barely graduated.

My Seattle poetry posse has lost a second member. Both to cancer. The first was poet and videographer Gabrielle Bouliane. A few days ago, we lost dear poetry angel, Marty Kruse. He was the kind of guy who would literally give you the shirt off his back. Or the shoes from his feet. He did all the books and merch for our poetry events, and selflessly helped out the community in any way he could. He was an organizer, a rabblerouser, and a big softie at heart.

He and Gabrielle were friends and the three of us were friends and we all ran around in the same circle of friends. It seems like the Seattle Poetry Scene circa 1993-2003 should have a name – the SOMETHING decade – because it feels like a piece of history. For those of you who were there, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe it starts earlier than that, but around 2003 many of us evacuated the area or started other lives.

But we’ve always remained connected. They were formative years. Creative and dramatic. We wrote and performed poetry with and for and through and against each other. A dysfunctional family that loved each member for the part he or she played in it all. We’d seen each other at our best, and seen each other at our worst. We loved each other because of, not in spite of.

When we lose someone, it reverberates through all of us and we are once again connected to and through that scene.

That’s how I’ve always felt, at least. And then I saw this lovely note from Marty himself. He must have written it years ago. This was posted by his friend Marie on a FB page of “Marty Stories.” It’s his entry in her junior high graduation book.

Life is just too short for anyone in our circle of friends. In the event that, God forbid, that any of us depart, we shall not perform the same way. Our circle is unbreakable.

I guess he’s always been the kind of guy to connect a circle of friends.

Marty, man, cheers to you. You done real good.

(and if you ever need a motivational kick in the ass, watch Gabrielle Bouliane’s last live reading. yeah.)

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Filed under aw... poop, truth and beauty

Find Your Tribe!

A friend of mine recently observed that this has been the year for me of finding my tribe.

It’s true, and it’s a very important thing to do, for everyone, but I’m thinking specifically for artists and writers and other creative types.

At the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend, YA author Laurie Halse Anderson referred to us as the Island of Misfit Toys. Remember that place from the old animated Rudolph flick they showed on TV every year? I laughed because I’ve often thought of myself as one of those misfit toys. Since junior high school,  when all that insecurity begins.

Creatives tend to be the oddballs. The weirdies. The ones who think differently, feel awkward in social situations . . . can anyone out there relate to this? I was a square peg in high school. I didn’t belong to any particular clique. I was smart, too, and got good grades, which can also be a hindrance in high school (in the U.S. at least). I mean, I got teased for being smart by many of my classmates. I got bullied on a few occasions (physically threatened twice). I wrote poetry. I bought clothes from thrift stores and cut pieces out of them (my favourite shirt was a Mobile gas station shirt that had the name BRUCE on it – not very PC, but I loved that shirt). My friend Dawn and I would freak our make-up and clothes and lurk around Pier 39 scaring the tourists.

Even as an adult, I’ve walked into a crowded room and felt like that 14 year old misfit. Not hip. Not cool. Not happening.

But at the SCBWI conference, I immediately felt like I belonged. It was one giant celebration of childhood misfitness. Of all the gritty things that have bombarded us and made us the writers we are today. The ones who can articulate that awkwardness. Whose characters speak to the minds of children going through the same dang things we went through, whether we place them in a dystopian future or a fictional past.

When you find that place that feels like home (and I’ve found it other places as well, like at FaerieWorlds this summer!) I believe it not only means you are connecting with your purpose and passion, but you have found a safe and supportive place to be authentically you.

Seek out those like-minded people. Seek out those who celebrate who you are and your successes, and who empathize with your misadventures and misteps. Boo to people who shut you down. Boo to people who zap your energy.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to bring that kind of light into your life, and to shine it back.

Find your tribe!

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Filed under every day angels, inspirational poop, truth and beauty

Weekend Workout: Making the Daily Matter

This isn’t my regular kind of weekend workout. This one is about getting refocused for the New Year. (now that you’ve let go of all the junk that was holding you back)

I’ve been thinking about why I have been “dragging myself” into this new year. Part of it seems to be a feeling of having lost my way. I find myself asking questions like, “Am I on purpose? Am I following my bliss? Where did all the passion go?”

Eleven years ago I moved to Eastern Europe and traveled around for the better part of a year. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I was full of every kind of emotion, vulnerable and open, writing massive amounts of poetry and doing a lot of, dare I say it, “soul-searching.” Everything was about experiencing the here and now, living one adventure to the next each day, even if that just meant taking a tram to a new neighborhood store. And even though there were periods of utter loneliness, I was totally alive in that loneliness.

I can’t remember the last time I felt like that and sometimes it’s like I’m just going through the motions to get to some abstract reward at a later date. I decided I wanted to remember how to live in the moment and to have those moments support my purpose, which in turn nurtures my higher self.

But do I have to physically leave the country in order to be alive and passionate about what’s in front of me in the here and now? Even though, while I was wandering about Eastern Europe, I didn’t know what I wanted to do next in my life, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be, doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I knew that it was serving some sort of higher purpose and that whatever was next for me would appear at the right and perfect time.

I think most of us would like to know that in all things we do we are serving our more “actualized” self. But that’s such an abstract idea. How do we serve our actualized self on a daily basis? Isn’t most of life about the mundane?

I wanted something physical I could look at every day to remind me of how I can do this. With each action, I can serve this higher self. Inspired by this idea, I ended up drawing this:

This demonstrates to me how I can view the small or “mundane” things I do on a daily basis as “serving.” Serving others, serving a higher purpose, serving a life worth lived. And by “serving,” my creative self is inspired and expressed (because serving, to me, is an act of love, and acts of love are necessarily creative).

Then, I started filling in each level of the pyramid. That’s when things got exciting.

Things to do on a daily basis: self-talk, read, write, communicate to my loved ones, play, rest, organize, appreciate, etc.

Things I do to serve: teach so that I inspire, write so that I connect, perform so that I open others to express, etc.

How this manifests creatively:  expressing myself through my stories with a true, radiant, and fearless heart, open wide to the joy it brings, connected to the divine

What would it mean to sit in my actualized self: balance, peace, joy, unity, connection

I actually have an image to put at the top, something I drew from a divination deck. I was going to post it here, but this is my personal image. I want you to find your own.

For a BLANK pyramid click: Actualized Self BLANK

I highly recommend this as an exercise this weekend. Using words and images, demonstrate how on a daily basis you can serve your higher purpose. What does this LOOK like to you? What do you see yourself doing? Your second and third tiers may be something other than what I’ve decided, but keep the bottom tier as the daily self, because I think that’s where we have to start, and the top as the actualized self.

Enjoy the process! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face or your money back.

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Filed under inspirational poop, random poop, serious play, truth and beauty, weekend workout

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