Friday, July 22, 2011

Renaissance Woman

Now more than ever, I know so many people who perform a whole host of activities and pull them all off exceptionally well. These are not Jacks of all trades, masters of none. These are people who are tapped into the very essence of creativity, people who shimmer and glow with a seemingly unstoppable surge of inspiration and ideas. They are the ones who follow through on those ideas, acting as beacons, exemplifying what is possible for us all under the right conditions and with a lot of passion and hard work.

I do believe that we all have this potential, and I believe that one of the ways we can learn to activate it is by talking with and listening to those who are already successfully tapped in.

This upcoming Sunday night, I have the honor of interviewing Lois P. Jones, award winning poet, radio show host, published photographer, international editor, reading series producer, documentarist, and expert on Argentina's wine industry. I'm sure I forgot something. Probably more than one something. Nevertheless, I will be mining Jones's unique and generous mind for understanding as to what makes her the creative force she is.

I'm attaching a poem by Jones and a photograph she took in San Miguel de Allende in January of 2009, as well as some videos of her reading her poems. If you have any questions you'd like me to consider asking her, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. You can listen to the show live at Tiferet Talk on blogtalk radio at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time this Sunday, July 24th. Afterwards, you can listen to the archive indefinitely at the blogtalk site or access a podcast of the interview at itunes. 

Milonga for a Blind Man

Time is both loss and memory.
—Jorge Luis Borges

In the middle of the night
a man takes a key
from his pocket.

In the middle of the night
he climbs to the top of the stairs.
From his balcony he remembers daylight,

the crumbled cement and the cracks
on the tavern below. The way the sky spoke
to him, the last one with anything to say.

And the opening of the flowers
when they would open for him.
Pink or coral, her lips staining
his with a memory – a breath

and a daydream of pampas and hibiscus.
His shirt buttoned down to the waist
and the white skin of a butterfly.

In the middle of the night
he remembers a snow heart
and the red walls of morning

where he walked the streets
in search of distance. Someone
has counted his days

before he was born. And this blindness
that followed plucked out his eyes
to sleep. It always comes to this –

edges fading from the familiar,
a city vague and celestial. He has lost
count of all his endings.

Published in Rose & Thorn, Winter 2008

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ritual Sacrifice

I will end this, my very first blog ever, with a ritual sacrifice, which is pretty funny for a 99.9% vegetarian and 94.5% pacifist. Give or take a little. What I mean is that I'm throwing an early draft of a poem out here to you, knowing full well that it will decrease my chances of publishing it in a journal. Why would I do something so seemingly stupid? I do it to show you that, as the site name implies, there will be no holds barred in this exploration of creativity.

The poem "Bareback Alchemy" is the namesake of this blog, and to me it represents the facts that 1) when we create we tap into the divinity that lies within ourselves, and 2) creativity, strength, and life force can be born of pretty much anything, even the most profound suffering. For, while the poem grew from heartache, it ends in transformation to power and strength. And this is real power - not the fleeting, unimportant power over others, but the power to create, the power to romp with the gods on the playground of being and becoming, the chance to find out who you, yourself, really are.

What you can expect from me at Bareback Alchemy: deep and honest discussions about creativity in art and life, excerpts from my interviews at Tiferet Talk and my reviews of others' works, news about my own writing, discussions about spirituality, and more.

So, I offer you this poem as a brief and heartfelt manifesto - that out of the suffering and complexity of experience comes not silence. Out of the suffering let us instead raise our human voices, call up to the gods, sing to the goddesses, peer inward at the ominpresent, scratch at the dirt of divinty, and marvel at the boundlessness within our fellow humans and our fellow creatures.

Descartes said, "Cogito ergo sum" ( I think, therefore I am). Let us say, "We create, therefore we are gods." Blasphemy, phooey.

You knew where to look all along.

Bareback Alchemy
Bring on the cold.
I'm going to meet this life
without gloves or scarves or boots
and ride bareback through the cobbled
streets of time, howling incantations into the mist
and threading mystery through the folds of day.
Let the ticking minutes land where they may:
I point my heart at an uncharted
path, lift from the earth,
trot on the wind. No Nostradamus
could predict the intricate
twists and turns this horse will take
down alleys and through storms,
shaking its magical tail,
its righteous mane,
clopping the cobblestone
and trying, trying like hell
to buck me off. Let it
snow and sleet. I've got no fur
coat to meet winter with this year,
just a raw and broken heart
and the waterfalls in my chest
where my lungs should be.
So go ahead. Bring it on: cold
and heat, hurricanes, tornadoes, quakes.
I've got the freedom of the dispossessed,
that fire in my throat,
the lick of truth,
and I'll sing it loud
because I wear
the philosopher's stone
like a smile, don a raven
on my shoulder, sport the alchemy
to transform my demons into gods.