Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Thank you for asking me to talk about astrology, and I start by saying that whether it is part of my worldview is not an interesting subject. What is more exciting is seeing how the zodiac frames our lives inside its systems of interpretation. As artists, we often aim our attention to critique culture by studying its mechanisms of control and behavior. Tarot cards are reimagined and reclarified with new decks printed all the time, and we can likewise challenge some of the aspects of astrology for an upgrade.
Capricorn is my Sun Sign, and I relate to many of the things said of us, that we work hard, push ourselves to hone our skills, and consistently improve our practice and, ultimately, our craft. Our symbol is the goat; one of the stars in the constellation, Capricornus, is dedicated to the goat nymph Amalthea who nurtured and suckled the infant Zeus until he rose to power to rule over Mount Olympus. Capricorn is a philosophy of "onward," meaning to move continuously forward, never stopping, never allowing others to come between us and our goals, and this is incredibly helpful for artists.
Years ago, Black Mountain College poet Jonathan Williams showed me a letter from the poet Robert Creeley, who signed the bottom of the letter, Onward. I remarked to Jonathan about liking this choice of salutation, and he told me that he and Creeley had a conversation about it once. He was looking for the best way of saying what we must do, which is to be on a continuous path forward. It was beautiful, the more I thought about this placement, directly at the end of a letter, encouraging his reader, saying we must not stop!
Over the last four decades, I have known hundreds of poets, painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, and nearly all of them stopped doing their creative work. When I began writing poetry in 1975, I had no idea that my first book would not be published until 2006, nor did I imagine wanting to stop writing because it would take more than thirty years of hard work to reach that point. Onward we go! The uses of astrology often ask about the compatibility of lovers who are other zodiac signs, but what if we choose to see how our astrological traits can be of value to others? If we think of this belief system as a place to build community, then for Capricorn, instead of the competitiveness our horoscopes constantly accuse us of embracing, what if we channel it for change? Know your strengths, and in my case, it means to remind my friends how much their art means to me and not allow them to become former artists who stop making what they love.
We also do not have to quietly settle for definitions and prescriptions from astrologers. Capricorn is a goat with a fishtail--- a mergoat. Astrologers often say our goat upper-body strength helps us climb to the summits we desire, no matter how far away. They also say our fishtail is our weakness, making us unstable in water's subconscious depths. I disagree, having enjoyed balancing within myself these reputed conflicting halves. Much like the Great Sphinx of Egypt, it is not that the human head needs to tame the lion body, but instead needs to become at one and harmonious with the muscular, wild, fierce lion, and this is precisely the same with Capricorn. We learn to incorporate our deepest feelings, synchronizing with the underwater source of potential power by cultivating trust in our abilities and allowing our strong, forceful fishtail to steer us in the direction we most want our lives to go. Whenever we Capricorns prove astrologers wrong and make our two halves work together, we are unstoppable! We must not allow the suspicious doubts of others to interfere with the possibilities of our self-actualization, fully embracing all we have to offer our lives and the world.
Try this: replace "lover" in your horoscope with "community." Replace "should" with "could" and place "art" whenever they tell us about the things we need to do. Evaluate your zodiac sign for yourself, questioning everything until you have your personalized appreciation of the stars. Your life and what you want to create are quite possibly beyond the understanding of certain astrologers, so accept that you have a larger lens on the matter and find it yourself. You are now graduating from the Sandberg Art Institute, and it is up to you to love what you learned enough to continue making the things you came to Earth to do. Congratulations, and may you help the world around you thrive along with you!
Friday, July 9, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
my new chapbook from Ediciones Microcentro, translated by the amazing Argentinian poet Cecilia Pavón
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Monday, June 7, 2021
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Friday, May 28, 2021
Thursday, May 27, 2021
My newest ritual has 9 different ingredients; one of them involves interspecies communication. I have been in an apartment in Seattle, Washington, during covid lockdown for nearly a year. If you have never been here, crows rule this city. They are fearless, travel in large groups, chasing eagles out into the bay, and divebombing cats who dare to show their faces. I have been feeding them and eating with them at the window of #405.
A plastic hummus container pinned to the wooden ledge has peanuts, crackers, and fruit. Poet is the name of one of the many crows who visit me each day, and they often bring me gifts. The latest is the shiny piece of round gold foil in the center, marked "12." Here is what makes me so happy about this dazzling bit of foil: I dreamed Poet was going to bring it to me!
The first gift was a small twig, a part of it broken and hanging on by a thread of itself. Poet came to the window on that first day, waving the twig. Then they set it down, tapped the window with that sleek jet black beak. Then picked up the twig and waved it again. They set it down again, chose a cracker from the bowl, and flew off.
It was the night after the first gift, and my old boyfriend Christopher was in the dream, and he was yelling at me, "Stop saying crow, their name is Poet!" Christopher always thought he knew everything, but I liked his interjection on behalf of Poet. In the dream, Poet is at the window with a small piece of gold foil. Christopher said, "You better thank Poet, that is FUCKING GOLD they are giving you!"
Here we are today, all these months after the dream, and Poet brings me the GOLD! "Are we engaged now, buddy?" An emblem of the heart, feel the pulse of this golden river!
The 2nd gift was a tiny nub of translucent plastic. I wondered where Poet found this? It was for me, tap-tap, placed in the same spot where the twig had been deposited. At what point of the day did they find it, and then when did they think I would like it?
The 3rd was a dried red berry. Poet seemed to have a hard time parting with it. I said from my side of the window, "It's okay if you want to eat it." But they put it down, traded it for a peanut.
The 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th were soft and fuzzy seed pods from the same kind of plant. Tap-tap, "You need this... And again..."
The 8th gift is a lovely, twirly tree seed. Poet was proud of this small flag. Tap-tap, then waving the flag of Maytime whose violent growth surges are weighed against its arrant grace.
The 9th was a strip of bark smelling of the sacred nourishment and fertility of the forest.
The 10th was a red half-moon piece of processed cat food. Poet struggled. They LOVE red half-moon pieces of processed cat food! "It's OKAY, Poet! I'm VEGAN! Go ahead, take it!" They set it down on the ledge in the spot where they place all of my gifts. Then tilted their head to look at it very closely, then picked it up, set it down, looked some more. Then Poet quickly tapped the glass, grabbed a cracker, and flew off! "I HAVE TO GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW BEFORE I EAT THAT DELICIOUS HALF-MOON RED CAT COOKIE!" The effort alone is something I cherish from our bartering.
The 11th was a fragile, soft, green seed pod. It was the sweetest of all the gifts, held by the absolute tip of Poet's beak! As they flew to the window, it stood out, a small green light set in front of their flight. The most petite bouquet, just for me! And how was I to know that THIS was to proceed the GOLD dream foil? If you ever meet me, ask to see the GOLD dream foil; it will always be with me.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Monday, May 24, 2021
If all goes well, I will be living in a gallery space in Rome this coming November. For years I have wanted to LIVE a very public (Soma)tic poetry ritual, and thanks to artist Jason Dodge, it is coming true!
Am I saying I will be an exhibit? I suppose so because all breathing, walking, dancing, eating, sleeping, and other forms of living will be done there. Most important to me, though, is the community of the museum. Each day and evening, there will be many ritual activities for writing poems and anyone can join me as often as they want. Cooking as ritual for writing poems, as well as building, painting, talking about death, disease, love, and the destruction of everything that wants to prevent the bridges we can make to reach one another. This community ritual is separate from Poetry Commons, but I hope to collaborate on many levels with many different people through both.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Sunday, March 21, 2021
A Note on the (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual for the poem "9 Shard," by CAConrad
for Anne Boyer
For decades, poets have told me they write their best work when they are depressed or from the pain when a lover leaves, something that steers them into melancholy. When I teach creative writing, this often comes up, and I tell the poets in my class that I understand, but I also believe it is not exactly what we think it is.
We live our lives with our list of daily routines, from washing our bodies to obeying traffic signals on our way to work. There is so much to remember to get through the day. When tragedy disrupts our routines, suddenly, all of our attention is centered on that loss. It is in the focus of loss where many believe they can write better: Focus, the keyword.
It is crucial to learn that the focus the depression offers helps us write, not the depression itself. After we finally understand this, we see how we can orchestrate any focus we want, to write whenever and however we want! (Soma)tic poetry rituals have given me eyes to see the creative viability in everything around us for the poems!
Depression never again has to be a catalyst for creativity! What a relief! If I had to be depressed to write poems, I would have stopped it many years ago. After my boyfriend Earth was raped and murdered, I created a ritual to overcome my depression, getting out of the melancholy instead of romanticizing its violence on our emotional and spiritual bodies.
Poetry can improve our lives' quality if we forego the fable of sadness and alcoholism as being the best tools for a poet. I chose one of my newest poems for this anthology because I hope my latest always to be my best. Having written poems is not as important to me as continuing to write them because it shows me I am still living in a state of awareness. This poem encapsulates many years of understanding how to trust my audience, corresponding, rather than connecting things for them. To me, by not entirely connecting, I am inviting the reader to write with me. The space around the poem is for the reader's imagination to flourish. Collaborating with the creativity of the reader is something I always need to trust.
The poem below is from a series I call "Shards." They result from a (Soma)tic poetry ritual currently titled, "Ignition Chronicles," which has a couple of ingredients I would like to explain. During the pandemic, I am in Seattle, Washington, which is part of a rainforest. It has more rain than I have ever experienced, with an average of 36 inches a year. I knew that a new relationship with water would be beneficial for me for many reasons, chief among them being to expand my emotional capacity to cope with so much cloud cover. Each morning I take my bowl of millet or rice with nuts and berries to Kinnear Park to eat beneath a pine tree. The rain filtering through the branches places a taste of pine in my bowl. A Steller's jay flies to join my ritual each morning, landing nearby to scream for a nut. It is the only voice they have, so I imagine they might mean, "Good morning," but it very much sounds like a scream to me. When I mimic their sound, they seem to approve, shaking their magnificent crest. And then I write. Then I watch the sunrise over Elliot Bay and gather pine needles for tea later in the afternoon. Hearing the Steller's jay and crows of Seattle awaken each day is reassuring that we all know to greet the power of what morning brings.
Later, I watch the sunrise again in another part of the world on outdoor public webcams. I have watched the sunrise in Mecca, Tokyo, Istanbul, Prague, and other places each day, trying a different outdoor webcam, meditating on these shards of light traveling 9 minutes through outer space after leaving the sun to reach us here on planet Earth. Yes, illumination and warmth arrive, but so does the help it brings for our bodies to produce critical vitamins for bone health, among other things. I drink the pine needle tea while writing with worldwide sunrise each afternoon.