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.