Sunday Interview – actually, more of a guest post

Christy Birmingham

 

Welcome, Everyone!

Many of you may know Christy, follow her blog, or remember my previous interview of her. Today, she will be taking over my blog to talk about poetry. I have, on occasion, written a poem or two, but only when divine inspiration strikes. Maybe you and I can learn how to be more poetically inspired after reading this post.

Please welcome Christy Birmingham from Poetic Parfait!

 


3 Ways to Get Inspiration for Writing Poetry


Ah yes, poetry. I love to write it. Do you? If so, you may find that while the craving is there, you sometimes run out of ideas for new poems. Here are three tips for how to get inspiration to write poetry.

Connect with Nature

This technique for gaining inspiration is my favorite one. Try heading outside to a trail, park or local gardening store. Take time to breathe in the fresh air of the trees, bushes and flowers. Take time to appreciate your natural surroundings.

I often smile as I head outside for a walk, whether it is a sunny day or not. I gain an appreciation for what the earth around me has to offer me. For free. Pay attention to your senses. Listen to the birds, smell the rose at your left side and notice the way the way the trimmed hedge curves.

Upon returning to your workspace, write about what invoked your senses. What caught your eye? Was there a cyclist that intrigued you? If so, perhaps he or she is the next subject of a poem. Well, what are you waiting for? Start typing!

Enjoy Break Time

An addition reason why the nature method works for inspiration is that it encourages you to take a break from your work area. You change up your surroundings, by heading outdoors rather than staying cooped up in the office. You need breaks, even from your favorite writing desk or the couch where you wrote that brilliant Haiku two weeks ago (note to self: write a Haiku later).

When you change your surroundings, your brain forces itself to understand your new environment. It could be your friend’s house, church or a short walk on the local trail. Mix up the routine for your brain and it will thank you. Your brain also has time to relax from the strain of trying to be creative! You return refreshed to your work area and find that you write that new Haiku quickly. Perhaps your mind and body simply needed a well-deserved rest.

The break need not be a long one as you likely have a busy schedule. Even 10 minutes works well. Breaks are beneficial. Now why do I suddenly want a Kit Kat bar?

Browse Online Networks

You likely belong to at least one social media network. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or another one of the many platforms available, it’s a potential source of inspiration for your poetry writing. Here, let’s investigate this method together. Log onto Facebook, for example, and look at your network feed. There, you will see photos, artwork, quotes and status updates that your friends have recently posted.

Those posts are gems for writers. Take that post that contains a quote and use it as a poetry prompt. Gain your inspiration from the words of Shakespeare, Keats or whoever happens to show up on your network feed that day.

Photos and artwork also make for terrific prompts. Enlarge the photo on your computer screen and free write onto paper as you look at the screen. Revise the free write or simply enjoy it, as is, for the burst of inspiration it contains!

The style of poetry that you write is not relevant here. What is crucial is getting your creative thoughts flowing. Whether you head out into nature, enjoy a break, or check in on your social networking buddies, I hope your inspiration flows and your words lap the poetic shores for many days to come.

*****

Cover of Pathways to Illumination Book

Christy Birmingham is a poet, author and freelance writer in British Columbia, Canada. Her debut poetry collection Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productions. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter too. If you haven’t been by her blog, yet, check it out here. She recently posted a review of Pathways to Illumination – 5-stars!

Congratulations, Christy, & thanks for sharing your poetic insight! 🙂

Advertisements

Where I am from…

Reading Roger’s ‘bad poetry’ post over at Writing Is Hard Work, reminded me of something I wrote last year after sitting in on a grade 3 class. The teacher had read them a poem entitled, “Where I am from…” and assigned them to each write their own poem describing them as a person, their interests, things that happened in their past, etc, but not telling the reader directly, using similes and metaphors to build their descriptions. Each line had to begin, “I am from _________” and they had to fill in the blank. After assisting some of the students struggling with the concepts, I was inspired. I came home and wrote my own poem, which I’d like to share with you:

My grandmother who had a cuckoo clock and served me sweet tea when I was young

Where I Am From

I am from Denmark and the British Isles
I am from steaming sweet tea and chirping cuckoo clock
I am from suburbia with woods to explore and tree houses to build
I am from long walks and bike rides to Assiniboine Park
I am from two teasing brothers grown to fine men and fathers
I am from best friend forever, close like a sister though she lives far away
I am from ‘kick the can’, playing until the street lights come on
I am from Barbie and friends, with Mom-made clothes and cardboard playhouse on the front steps
I am from adventure, leaving home at nineteen to study in Grand Forks
I am from a love of children, especially those with special needs
I am from exploring new paths, new careers, merging with the old
I am from words; words that sing, words that excite, words that soothe and inspire
I am from peace

Does this give you any hints about who I am? See if you can come up with your own “Where I Am From” poem. When you’re done, send me a link. I’d love to read it. 🙂

Sunday Interview # 13

File:Zmrzlinový pohár s jahodami.jpg

Hi, Everyone! I am here, today, with Christy Birmingham, a Canadian freelance writer, poet and fellow blogger from Poetic Parfait.

Welcome, Christy! Would you please begin by telling us a little about yourself?

Absolutely! I am a freelance writer and blogger from British Columbia, Canada. I have recently started writing full-time and am loving it! I write for various websites and private publishers as well. I am also the proud owner of Poetic Parfait, where I share my poetry as well as having a weekly music feature. The blogging community has been very welcoming to me and my writing, which has been called ‘Interesting’ and ‘Unique’. I take those descriptions as compliments!

You should! 🙂

Most writers seem to have been bitten by the writing bug at an early age. Please tell us how long you have been writing. Was there any particular event that started you writing in the first place?

I first began writing creatively in elementary school, and majored in Writing in my first year at University. I didn’t think I could realistically make a living at the craft so I switched fields. I now have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology and Psychology (Joint Major). 

When I switched studies, I put writing onto the back-burner. In the last few years, I battled some difficult life circumstances. They were devastating for me. I still struggle some days. As I rise from that dark period, I realize that life really is short and we have to make the most of our time here. I decided to follow my passion for writing and brought it up to the front burner from its position at the back. I’m going to try my hand (literally) at writing, rather than wondering “What if?” and “If only” later on in life.

We are all glad you’ve risen from that dark place and have decided to share your passion for poetry. 🙂

How did you come up with your blog name and why do you prefer to write in poetic form?

Just the other day, I was asked why I chose “Poetic Parfait” as my blog name. I wanted to create a poetic spot for readers and writers of the genre, as I want poetry to get more of a spotlight in the general public’s eye. I wanted the name to tie into the reference to that goal. Two of my favourite things are poetry and sweets. Alliteration is a fun writing tool so I came up with Poetic Parfait. A few people tried to talk me out of the name when I first started the blog but I stuck with it. I went with my instinct! Now where are those M&Ms….

I like to write in poetic form because it allows me to play with words and provide snippets of emotion within a few stanzas.

What styles of poetry do you prefer, either to read or write? Who are your favourite poets?

I actually do not follow a set style in my writing format. Sometimes I start a poem with one line in mind and just type from there as my mind and fingers move together. I call it “free form” format. Some of my poems are edgy, while others are funny, and there is always emotional ties. I often write in the first-person. 

I have admired the poetry of Margaret Atwood for a long time.

Ah, our Canadian icon! 🙂

What other types of things do you write about?

Aside from my blog, I also write extensively about social media trends and tips, as well as writing advice for freelance writers. I like to share what I have learned and help others along the journey.

As a freelance writer, do you write for any particular company or publisher? If not, how do you approach people about writing ideas you have? Is it anything like submitting a novel or short story to a publisher? I’m curious about the whole process. 🙂

Curiosity is a good thing! I write for multiple websites as well as working with private publishers. I write online for HubPages, Knoji, and Helium. As well, I have been fortunate enough to form connections with two publishers. There is a lot of multi-tasking between writing and also promoting my online work.

Do you have any links you’d like to share?

Feel free to stop by the table at Poetic Parfait:  http://poeticparfait.com/

I also encourage connections on Twitter and Google+.

Twitter: @christybis 

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/112149635100346840584/posts

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Making a living at being a freelance writer is hard work and does require drive to be successful. For all of those aspiring writers, just remember: We all have to start somewhere! Keep working hard and, with time, your little successes may just build up to large ones. Let’s make those goals happen!

Thanks so much for your encouragement and for taking the time to chat with us, Christy! 🙂

And thank YOU, readers, for joining us, today. Please take the time to check out Christy’s poetry. It really is like ice cream for the soul! 🙂

Literary Manitoba

Symposium on Manitoba Writing

For those of you worried that I had dropped off the end of the Earth, or went on a Space Safari, or I’m lying on my death bed, I assure you I am very much alive on this solid plane of existence/on this planet  – although I am a little tired and overwhelmed by the literary world. As I mentioned in my last post a week ago, I’d be going to the Symposium on Manitoba Writing this week. It has been a little bit of a whirlwind trying to take in as many of our literary speakers as possible while still preparing and presenting a panel of my own.

File:Parliamentwinnipeg manitoba.jpg

The Symposium kicked off on Wednesday evening with a screening of ‘Tramp at the Door’ and a talk about Lise Gaboury-Diallo, a local French Canadian who has been an important literary mentor to the Francophone population here, having written a number of critical papers, short stories and poetry. She teaches at the Université de Saint-Boniface here in Winnipeg in the Départment d’études françaises, de langues et de littératures. For those of you who are not familiar with Canada’s bilingual history, Manitoba has a strong duality of languages and culture with many French communities in the province and in Winnipeg. Most of the first white folk that set foot on the prairies were French hunters and trappers and their language and culture has been painstakingly preserved here with French immersion schools along with dual-track schools and all Elementary schools are introduced to the language. Of the thirteen main publishers in Manitoba two of them are Francophone publishers; Les éditions du blé and Les éditions du plaines. Most of this morning’s panels and readings will be about French writing and spoken in French, so I have taken the morning off (since I only married into a French family and am not fluent in the language!) in order to catch you up on my activities since Wednesday.

Instead of taking in the French film screening and talk, I went to the airport to pick up my co-panelist, Julie Burtinshaw, a fellow YA author, who flew in from Vancouver. I brought her to her Bed-and-Breakfast to check in, then we headed downtown to grab something to eat at the Free Press Cafe where we stayed to listen to seven ‘Under 30’ young people read their work.

Winnipeg News Cafe

The cafe is a unique little place in the heart of Winnipeg, right down the street from Artspace, where the Manitoba Writers’ Guild office and other art-related spaces are located. The Free Press cafe is owned and operated by our largest local newspaper chain and provides a live-stream variety of programs, hosting events like town halls, mini-concerts, book readings and more. It’s also a good place to meet the journalists, as they rotate in a variety of editors, beat writers and columnists week to week. They also feature culinary delights by the local restauranteur Domenic Amatuzio. I had the Manitoba Club sandwich accompanied with their house salad – both were wonderful. Julie said the Portobello mushroom sandwich was equally delicious! After we ate, we were delighted to hear the prose and poetry of Joshua Whitehead, Joann DeCosse, Adrian Werner, Bronwynn Jerritt Enns, Andrew Eastman Carlyn Shellenberg, and Michelle Elrich. Make a note of their names as I am sure one day, you will hear their names spoken in literary circles and say, I remember reading about them back in May 2012!

Thursday morning I arose early, bubbling with excitement thinking about the day’s activities. I picked Julie up at her BnB and we headed out to the Canadian Mennonite University. The university is a two-building campus linking the old with the new. The main campus is set in what used to be the School for the Deaf, built in 1921. It was the perfect setting to house the literary symposium, bringing to mind images of castles with huge libraries.

The day’s events began in ‘The Great Hall’. Writers’ Guild members greeted us at the door where we registered, grabbed a coffee (or tea) and a homemade muffin or two before the Opening Ceremonies. Victor Enns, co-founder of the Guild began by introducing us to ’30 Manitoba Remarkable Books’ as selected by website visitors. Both books of poetry and novels were included in the list with such memorable authors as Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence, Miriam Toews, Robert Kroetsch, Jake MacDonald, David Bergen and Sandra Birdsell, just to name a few. If you are interested in learning all the books that made it onto the list, let me know and I will post the list at a later date.

Following Victor was a panel on publishing featuring David Arnason (editor of Turnstone Press), Anne Molgat, (director of Les éditions du blé), Jared Bland (managing editor of House of Anansi Press) and Joan Thomas (frequent contributing reviewer to the The Globe & Mail as well as award winning author of Reading By Lightning & Curiosity). They discussed the current state of publishing and what they thought was in store for the future. Anne described how the industry is moving away from the Big Publishing Houses and writers were relying on the smaller houses to get their work published. David suggested that being published was a means for authors to get ‘authentication’ for their work, ‘like a PhD for writers’, which I suppose is true in some ways but that opinion negates the struggle of hard-working writers who choose to go the self-publishing, or e-publishing route. In my opinion, their words are no less important than those of traditionally published authors. One point that was brought up was the fact that the smaller publishers of Manitoba seem to be thriving while others in Canada are struggling. Could this be due to the incredible writing community and the support of our provincial government? I think that may be the case. I had the chance to speak with writers from other provinces who don’t have an organization like our Writers Guild (with the exception of Saskatchewan’s Guild on which ours was based) that supports, encourages and educates writers.

One problem they brought up  was that with the smaller publishing houses, there is a lack of marketing budget leaving the writer with the task of promoting their own work. Suggestions such as using social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc – was a good way to promote yourself. Book trailers and author-promoting videos on YouTube were good to create a ‘buzz’ about your writing. Here in Manitoba, McNally Robinson Booksellers does a fantastic job of supporting book-signings and book launches, puts prairie writers in their own section, which makes it easy to find local writing, and places our new books in prominent places. It has even brought in an in-store printing machine that can almost instantly print books in their library of on-demand titles. Of course, the publishers did not mention this new technology. I just thought I’d put that out there in support of such a great friend to the Manitoba writers. 🙂

Next on the Thursday agenda was a panel of Mennonite writing with David Elias, Maurice Mierau and Hildi Froese-Tiessen, a special session entitled Writing from the Margins – Farm, Forest,  Frontier with Fisher Lavell, Donna Besel and Sharon Arksey, and Readings by Chandra Mayor, Melissa Steele, and Lori Cayer. Since I couldn’t be in three places at once, I had a difficult decision to make. I chose to attend Writing from the Margins and was thoroughly entertained by the three women from rural Manitoba with their wonderful stories and personal histories. Those living on the fringes of urban life or in extremely remote areas have a difficult time being taken seriously as writers because they are nowhere near where all the literary ‘action’ is, but their stories still need to be told. For more information on all the speakers I’ve mentioned, please check out the Symposium information page here, which includes a brief bio of each one.

Lunches and dinners were included in the price of registration and were cheerfully provided by the cafeteria staff in the new building of the CMU. Although it was a bit of a walk, especially if you had a physical challenge like arthritis or torn tendons in an ankle as in the case of my co-panelist, it was a pleasant distraction from sitting and listening for several hours at a time. The varied menus included lasagna, bison stew and bannock, vegetarian sweet and sour meatballs with rice, and garlic sausage and salad. Then it was back to a literary fare.

First thing Thursday afternoon, Keynote speaker Marta Dvorak discussed how Manitoba writers and artists ‘are fine illustrations of an imaginative continuum on a planetary scale’. It was a scholarly account of her impressions of our literary history and culture. Afterwards, presenters read their papers on Poetry, Robert Steed, Urban Winnipeg and the Writing Community. By this time, Julie was feeling a little jet-lagged so we skipped out on the afternoon sessions and took in the used book sale instead. I picked up a half-dozen books that I hope will help in my future historical research, then I drove Julie to her BnB to relax before taking in the evening readings by David Bergen, Meira Cook, Struan Sinclair, Joan Thomas and Sarah Klassen.

I think I will end here. There are still some people I’d like to hear read this afternoon, and I might take in the finale tonight, a Cabaret evening at the West End Cultural Centre. On top of all that I have 80 emails to take in, mostly your blog posts that I have been neglecting because of all this literary activity. (Sorry about that!) Tomorrow, I’ll talk about Friday’s sessions, which includes my panel.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, so far! 🙂

A couple more poems

In keeping with selling the cottage, I found a couple of poems that kind of relate. The first is called ‘Lake Winnipeg’ by Nan Emerson’s book Windsong and other verse that I mentioned from my last poetry post. Since our cottage was in a resort area on the banks of Lake Winnipeg, it seemed appropriate.

Lake Winnipeg

I can hear the waters talking:
Have they secrets, they whisper,
Whisper, whisper as they lap upon the shore.
I can hear their lazy murmur:
‘Ripple, ripple I am gentle.
Come and lie upon my bosom,
I will hold you soft and buoyant;
Catch and hold the sunbeams for you.
I am warm and I am sparkling.
Play with me quite close to shore.’

More persuasive grows the whisper:
‘Come a-swimming, come a-boating,
Come a-sailing far from shore.
I will toss my waves so gladly,
Little white-capped waves so merry,
I will dip and rock you safely.
I will take you swiftly, gaily.
Trust me, I am ever kindly.
I will lull you into dreaming.
Have no fear, come far and farther.
They are cowards who say beware.’

But the whispering voice grows deeper
And the ripples change to breakers
And the water’s voice to roaring.
‘See, my waves rise high and higher.
Rolling, tumbling on the shore.
They who trust me — I destroy them,
Dash to pieces all the sailboats,
Clutch them, toss them, hide forever
Those who trust me ‘neath my waters.

Swimmers lie upon my pebbles;
Bones there are among by boulders;
Fishes dart and play among them.
Ships I take lie bleached and broken.
And I laugh when in my rages;
Laugh aloud while gulls are screaming;
Shout and roar while winds are howling.
I’m the king of all the waters!

Then again I’ll coax and beckon.
Then again with gentle ripple
Little waves will woo and sparkle;
Come a-sailing, come a-swimming.
I’ve no secrets — though I whisper.
They are cowards who will not trust me.
They are fools who say beware.’

While it sounds rather harsh, the poem makes the point that, with Lake Winnipeg, you need to be careful. There are points along its beaches where a severe undertow has drowned even the strongest swimmers. On a personal note, it claimed the life of the teenaged son of one of my parents’ friends. Lake Winnipeg is very much like an ocean with strong currents and sudden winds that can come up abruptly, whipping the waves into a frenzy that can easily overturn small craft. As you can see with the accompanying photos, the lake can be rather harsh. When my daughter got married, the wind was quite strong and the waves were high. Lake Winnipeg has been notorious for sinking ships, especially during the fur trade years when the lake was the main route to Lower Fort Garry and the Upper Fort at the Forks. Despite all that, on a hot summer day when the wind is calm, its cool water can be a pleasant relief. When I was young, the sand was a fine white powder and before the hydro dam was built at the northern mouth of the lake, there used to be sand bars that stretched out a great distance. That’s not the case, anymore. Last fall saw at least 20 feet of the banks washed away by high water and wicked waves.

A Child's Garden of Verses

Now, for something completely different, a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson called ‘Farewell to the Farm’ from his book A Child’s Garden of Verses. I will only post the first two stanzas, which reminded me of saying goodbye to our family’s summer home:

The coach is at the door at last;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing:
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swang upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye to everything!

Well, Poetry Month is coming to a close, so this might be the last time I post a poem, unless the muse moves me or I come across one I really like. There were a few sites that I follow that posted some great poetry. I did enjoy reading what wantoncreation had to say about poetry and learned a lot about different types of poems, thanks to him. C. B. Wentworth posted some lovely poems along with picture prompts. Diane Dickson has also posted some nice poems during the month. If anyone is interested in reading them, just click on their names. 🙂

For those who have been searching for sites participating in the poetry challenge, which one(s) did you find posted the most satisfying poetry?

More poetry

Since it is still Poetry Month, I decided to make another post on that theme. Normally I would post this on Sunday, but I will be pretty busy getting ready for and hosting my writer’s group tomorrow, so you will get to see this early!

I came across a few more poems that I wrote awhile ago. They’re not great, but I thought I’d share them anyway. The first is:

THE ADDICT

Please can you forgive me
When all I can see
Are ghosties and ghoulies
And all sorts of foolies
And things that go bump in the night?

The things that I love
Are the flights up above,
Aliens, space ships
And fantastic night trips.
I read them constantly.

Along with those things,
I like dragons with wings,
Princesses and sword fights,
Wizards and white knights,
And anything strange or bizarre.

As you may have guessed
(And this isn’t a test)
My affliction, addiction,
Is for speculative fiction
Of which there is never enough.

I guess that is why
I gave it a try
And wrote down some of my own!

a digital image created by my son

I think I wrote this back when I first started writing seriously. It’s a silly little piece, but was a fun way to let you know some of my favourite genres to read and write.

This next one, I had running through my head as I tried to get to sleep one night. I had to get up and write it down or I’d never get any peace! I can’t quite remember what prompted me to write it. Perhaps it was an incident at work, or a show I watched about how parents sometimes don’t realize the affect they are having on their kids. It doesn’t have a title:

Parents argue.
Who cares?
Parents fight
Are they aware?
Small eyes open wide with fear
Angry words small ears will hear.

Swear words
Bite and sting.
Nasty words
Spoil everything.
Small minds begin to learn.
Small hearts begin to yearn

For silence.

Nan Emerson

While clearing out my parents’ house, I came across one of my grandmother’s books, ‘Wind-song and Other Verses’, copyright 1957 printed by Hignell Printing Limited, Winnipeg, Manitoba), a book of poetry written by a friend of hers – Nan Emerson.

Nan, her husband and my grandparents used to winter in Laguna Beach, California, so many of her poems reflect the scenery found down there. I doubt many have heard of her because she was published locally, but I was really surprised to find her book listed on Amazon! A couple of her poems really appealed to me.

The first, INSPIRATION, strikes at the very heart of poetry writing:

There’s a poem somewhere near
And it’s seeking help from me:
It is trying to find words
That will set its spirit free

If I listen with my soul
And my mind keeps very still
I can hear the rhythm start
Like the trickling of a rill.

If I listen with my heart
To the undertones of rhyme
It may swell out into thoughts
And to words that I call mine.

Within the pages of the poetry book, I found a sheet of stationary with her married name and address. On the back was a typewriter-written poem with her name beneath it, dated 1965. The poem is called FRIENDSHIP and made me think of my close friends with whom I have similar feelings:

Sitting alone in a garden
With the quiet hills nearby
And the shimmer of blue Pacific
Reaching out to the edge of the sky,
And the flowers all around me:
Too much beauty to comprehend.
Too much for one soul to garner
And I longed for a dear, dear friend.

A friend who could sit beside me
And share in the garden’s delight,
Or walk with me by the ocean;
Lift with me in the sea bird’s flight.
We would not need to be talking.
Just a glance and a touch of the hand
But she would feel as I would feel
The joy of the sea and the sand.

File:Sunset on the Charles.jpg

She would share with me the pull of the tide.
We’d watch the red sun sinking low
And we would share the rapture
‘Til the last faint afterglow.
For a friend is one who doubles the joy
And halves the sorrow she shares;
Keeps us cherished and safe and warm in her heart
And carries our griefs in her prayers.

I feel fortunate to have many ‘dear, dear’ friends that I can say double the joy and half the sorrow, like the one mentioned in the poem. I’m hope they know how special they are to me.

Do you have friends that make you feel this way? I hope you all have many. 🙂

Poetry

In case you haven’t heard, April is National Poetry Writing Month according to those who are taking the 30-day Poetry Challenge. I haven’t created any poetry lately. For me to write poetry, I need inspiration that compels me to write in that format, which doesn’t happen often. I normally write prose, something more like this:

The Wolf

He is close.

He laughs at me with his doggy grin, tongue lolling out one side, eyes twinkling with amusement. Suddenly, he bounds away. He runs with his pack, his family. They chase a herd of dear and feast, replenishing their strength. He joins his mate, nuzzling her face and neck as she nurses her pups.

Twilight descends and the full moon rises, washing the fields and woods with silver. He feels compelled to find a higher place, a rocky plateau. He lifts his voice, praying to the grandmother as she slips across the inky sky. He prays for a bountiful hunt, a healthy family, to live long enough to see his pups grow strong. He thanks the grandmother for the light in the midst of darkness, for the freedom to live as he chooses.

File:BarkingMoon.jpg
In some strange way, watching him is like watching myself. He is a nurturer, loving, giving. He dotes on his family, cares for them, lives for them. He is my spirit that longs to be free, free to travel the great expanses as does the wind, free to choose whatever path makes him truly happy. And yet, he IS happy at that moment to be with his family, happy to grow with them, happy that they travel with him.

He is me.

The inspiration for the piece above was a song presented by a native elder as he beat his drum. Although I did not understand the words he sang, the images above came to me as I listened to him, eyes closed, heart and mind open. I used these images in ‘Spirit Quest‘, when Michelle had her first sweat lodge experience. I was surprised at how much the music had moved me, but I felt an affinity to the culture. The beat of the drum stirred my blood. According to the elder, visions of a wolf represents your inner self, and so the wolf piece was born.

I also wrote a couple of free style poems based on my feelings and all I had learned at the time:

Wind

Once, the breath of the Mother caressed my face.
Fingers of cool air reassured me that all was well in the universe.
The cries of eagles floated on the wind’s feathery back.
The burble of a clear stream brought the blood of the Mother to sustain me.
Now, all I hear is a single voice echoing the songs of our ancestors.
Her haunting tune plucks at my heart.File:Golden Eagle flying.jpg

Tears form trails on my cheeks
Like the path of the buffalo, so long ago.
It saddens me to know that so much has been lost
Because of man’s foolishness.
It is time to recover what has disappeared,
If not in the flesh, then in the spirit.

Noble beasts, their homes destroyed, search for other places.
Birds fly far from us as cities engulf the land.
Trees become our homes, but we do not hear their cries.
Their voices are silent, their dignity stripped from them.
Our most ancient ancestors, the rocks, are torn from the Mother,
Crushed, set aflame, reshaped.

I feel the pain of the Mother.
I long to embrace Her, comfort Her.
How can I stop Her suffering?
My fingers must tell Her story.
My voice must warn of Her plight.
Let the wind carry my words.

File:JingleDress.jpgThe Dance

Hearts beat
Feet thump
Rattles clatter

Hands rise
To the sun
Give thanks

Twirl
Spin
Pound your feet

Faster thrums the drum
Voices honour the ancestors
Hands give offerings

Sage and cedar
Sweet grass
Cleansing smoke

Souls are light
Happy
Free

Poetry is driven by feelings and usually evokes emotions in those who read it. Yesterday, I was perusing a close friend’s blog who has recently taken on a 30-day  health-related writing challenge and one of the challenges was to write a Haiku. When I read her Haiku, I was really touched and it brought home some of the physical challenges she has faced. I asked her if I could re-post it here, to share her thoughts on a debilitating condition. For the past three and a half years she has been struggling to recover from a stroke that paralyzed her entire left side of her body. Here is what she wrote:

How life will slow down
when the signals get so lost
and confusion starts.

His words would sputter
listeners look away since
He does not matter.

Helping hands reach out
She, glad not to be alone
Grasps at salvation.

After reading this, I hope you are able, in some small way, to appreciate the hardships she has faced. For those who might want to check out her blog and some of her other writing challenges, Linda can be found at Leading a Healthy Life here.

I have a few more poems to share, but I think I will save them for next Sunday.

[All photos in this post were taken from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the picture to link with the original site]

So, how many of you are participating in the 30-day Poetry Challenge? For those taking part, how have you been doing?

More Sunshine

I love the blogging community! You have been such a warm, welcoming bunch of people. You aren’t afraid to pay other bloggers a compliment and your posts are so interesting. I’ve met so many wonderful new people from around the world, it has been quite exciting. One of those special people is Amanda from Storyteller In The Digital Age. She has been kind enough to bestow on me the Sunshine Award. Thanks you so much Amanda! I love reading what she has to say and if you haven’t been around to her blog, yet, you really should head over there (as soon as you’ve read mine! lol)

Here is the pretty Award:

Since I answered all the questions only recently (you can read them here) I will do something a little differently but still Sunshine-related. I will ‘recite’ a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled Summer Sun. I know it’s not summer yet, but it talks about the sun. I also want to thank Christy Birmingham at Poetic Parfait for making me think about shadows the other day. Her poem Playing With Shadows reminded me of Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, a book I received from my great-aunt as a child and in which had the poem My Shadow. The book was still sitting on the table beside me so I thumbed through the index and found this sunny poem. Here it goes:

SUMMER SUN

Great is the sun, and wide he goes

Through empty heaven without repose;

And in the blue and glowing days

More thick than rain he showers his rays.

 

Though closer still the blinds we pull

To keep the shady parlour cool,

Yet he will find a chink or two

To slip his golden fingers through.

 

The dusty attic spider-clad

He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;

And through the broken edge of tiles,

Into the laddered hayloft smiles.

 

Meantime his golden face around

He bares to all the garden ground,

And sheds a warm and glittering look

Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

 

Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World, he goes.

 

I hope you liked it. As it turns out, today kicks off Poetry Writing Month.

I heard about it from wantoncreation who has already put out his first poem. If you would like to read it, click here. If anyone else is interested in the poetry writing challenge, head over here for the details.

 

Instead of actually writing poetry, which I am really terrible at, I thought I might add some poetry to my posts, this month. I doubt I will do this every day, maybe just on Sundays. I’ll pick out some of my favourites, or direct you to other sites with great poetry.

The final rule in accepting the Sunshine award is to pass it along to other deserving blogs. I think ALL the blogs I follow are deserving of the award. If I listed them all, that would take up a lot of space in this post and trying to pick only 10 is hard. I don’t want to leave anyone out! So, if any of you would like the honour of receiving this prestigious award, please let me know and I will direct people to your blog. 🙂

Since I have thanked the person who gave me the award (Thanks again, Amanda!) posted the picture of the award, did the Sunshine thing and nominated every other blogger I know for the award (You are all so great, I couldn’t pick just 10) that concludes todays post. Hope you all had a restful weekend. 🙂