Tag: poems

too long

It has been too long since i have written here, although i have been writing like a fiend in other areas of my life. Four poetry collections are compiled and in the process of being edited and transformed into works that flow with some level of grace.  A short story and a novel keep plodding forward, although progress has been slow.  Most days, i fall into bed utterly exhausted and without a dent made in my to-do list.

My art has falls into stolen moments.  i have a thousand things i ought to be doing on any given day – from the regular job to housekeeping to managing the mental breakdown that seems to be stalking me to digging myself out of this financial hole.  However, no matter how busy or frenzied i get, i have to be creating, or i will truly lose my sanity. Huge amounts of micropoems and small drawings flood out of me when i have more than five minutes of idle time.  Most of them are being collected on another blog – handprints on the wall – to separate them from the work that requires more focus and editing.

Once these tiny poems are written, by in large, i don’t worry about them anymore.  When the drawings are scanned and cleaned up, they no longer rent space in my awareness.  Yet they are left, like the cave paintings in ancient times, scattered about my rooms.  They move effortlessly into the hands of others.

Hopefully, i will be back to writing here more regularly now that summer has passed and the demands on my time have begun diminishing.  Otherwise, i will be writing – just moving forward a bit more slowly.

poem: subtext

We laughed
as we talked about poetry,
the subtext and the hidden meanings.

The joke
was sitting there
for anyone to see
in my own verses.

“I have no subtext.”
i smiled,
“It is all right out there,
naked and exposed,
in the palms of the reader’s hands.
No careful reading required.
No need to know
the mythological significance
of esoteric Greek names.”

She agreed,
“You are direct,
that is for sure.”

And, i wondered
if there wasn’t a cost
paid
by my bluntness,
by this emotional
exhibitionism.

Certainly some
have read one poem
and thought they knew
everything i was
from that sequence of words.

But poetry is an art
of the immediate,
a capturing of an instant,
a search for Truth
inside a few fleeting words.

Even though my lines
refuse all fancy dress,
they only present
fragments,
frozen in black and white
rather than amber,
one fragment
in a kaleidoscope
of being.

28 november 2015

without technology’s hum

IMG_0004Since we closed the popup, i have been avoiding technology.  All the social media accounts have lain fallow, i have not even typed in the poetry that is literally gushing from my fingers.  Not content with the solitude of the house, i have been keeping myself walled off in the newly created house-studio, locked inside what had been my livingroom and spare bedroom.

Even the kitchen seems to be too convivial for my needs.  Each time i go to do dishes, i wind up listening to music and singing – which seems at odds with the peace that i am actively seeking.

Sunday, in response to some interpersonal strife, i became truly draconian – unplugging one phone and turning the other off.

i have needed silence. i have needed stillness. However, the silence has not been that quiet – it has been filled with word and image.  My heart felt too heavy (interpersonal strife-wise) to write long prose.  Instead, i focused on pen and ink haiku. As soon as the art began to trickle out again, it turned into a flood.  In forty-eight hours, i have written about twenty standard poems and i had to refill my ink jar three times, i drew so much.  i have made over 30 tiny pen and inks – this form of art feels like a compulsion at this point.  i feel agitated when i am not making art, fully content when i am.

Today, though, i have been forcing myself to work on somewhat unpleasant jobs, taking time away from the flow of creation.  I enjoyed no fewer than six phone calls to the Healthcare Marketplace (five were disconnected midway through), two to local health insurance companies, one to my current health insurance company.  But in the end, i got new health insurance to replace the plan that the old company canceled.  The dog went to the vet – he’s lost over ten pounds! – and got his license for the year.  i got more dishes done, along with the litter, and the laundry is sorted to wash tomorrow.

Practical and necessary jobs were finished.  The weariness i feel is somewhat earned. Yet, even as i type this up, i stare at the bottle and pen.  With all my heart, i want to throw myself into drawing and forget the rest of the world.  Even through the chores of the day, every spare moment i could (including the two hours on hold for various healthcare entities), i drew with pen and ink and wrote these wee poems.

Too many were just for me, expressing my current frustrations, sadness, gratitude, hope, confusion, as well as my dismay at the cruelty and oddness of people, and repeated calls to be stronger within myself.  This art made me feel a bit self-indulgent, but it helped to create. i lost myself in the flow.  Everything else became quiet.

And, now, i am overloaded again – ready to throw myself into the search for silence.

 

quiet day at the gallery…

photoToday has been another gallery day – Harbor Artisans at Southwest Harbor, Maine.  This is the surest sign that summer has arrived, spending my days off from the studio at one cooperative or another.

During this exceptionally quiet day – by 4 pm, only five people have crossed the thresh-hold – I have been catching up on my writing.  Nearly all the poems I have scribbled into notebooks this year have been edited and typed into the computer.  The novel I was obsessed with over the winter – that I had to put aside in favor of pottery and the rush of stocking stores – has come surging back.  I love the days I can throw into writing without guilt or worry that I should be doing something more financially productive.

Ah, the sun is shining, the store looks beautiful and I am feeling a wave of gratitude, even though I wish other people were here, preferably buying everything in the store.

Since this blog is not the most thrilling run of drama ever, I’ll leave you with one of the cutest poems from today’s editing – about my cat Roxanne.

#

She hides –IMG_1201
nothing visible
to those seeking her
but a mound
under a quilt,
even her pink nose
and glorious whiskers
peek out under pillows,
safe,
where no one can see.

The world is cold,
noisy,
filled with wild beasts
and potential annoyance.

Within her warm womb,
she finds softness,roxi_closeup
the sweet echo of her own purr,
and the fantastic glory
of her dreams.

It is not so much
that she hides…
she retreats
into the embrace
of the best company
she knows –
her own.

 

compulsion

(published at 1:30 am, May 13th)

Every once in awhile, I am faced with a compulsion that I cannot deny.  Tonight is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

All I wanted to do was sleep – truly and deeply, that is what I wanted.  Physically I am in misery – migraine and eye problems, compounded by a whole host of other pains that have plagued me today.  However, as I settled into bed, my head hurting too much to sleep, I decided to console myself with the Psalms.  I started to re-read the 46th Psalm with my good eye and that started an avalanche.  I wrote a rosary cycle from lines of the psalm.  Then I remembered many hundreds (part of me wishes I was exaggerating on that, but there are at least a thousand) of poems and meditations and prayers that have been such a huge part of my spiritual life.  And, in a way, I have been shy about sharing the full extent of it here.  (Surprise!  Bet you didn’t see that as shyness since it has been spilling all over the pages!)

At any rate, I don’t want to beat those who are interested in art and the artist’s process alone with my spiritual thoughts and practices. Yet, these poems and prayers are an intimate and vital part of my daily spiritual life. Obviously, they creep into this blog here and there – but I realized tonight, I can do both sides of my life more justice with two blogs.  This one will keep talking about art and the business of making and selling it – and no doubt faith will play a role since it is what gets me through the day – but the other blog will focus on prayers and meditations, including those rosaries that I love so much and never really talk about to anyone else.

So here you go – my other blog.  The first post went out tonight, and within an hour I had twenty more blogs queued up.  I haven’t decided how much I will flood social media with these writings (again with the shyness), but I am sure they will show up.

Oh, and one more thing before I go: a note on capitalization.

see... pretty lowercase asha
see… pretty lowercase asha

I never capitalize my name  – asha fenn – because I like how it looks lower-cased too much.  (Seriously, no more deep thoughts on that one, it just looks prettier.)

However, in a lot of my poems – particularly those when I am in conversation with God or contemplating my place in the universe, I lowercase the “I” – and this is not a mistake.  Indeed, when writing on these subjects I am actively attempting to keep my ego in check and to think about myself differently than usual.  For a long time, while I wandered in the wilderness of my grief, everything was lowercased.  When I publish old poems here, I keep the original punctuation and capitalization – the same will be true on the other blog.  Quite reasonably, I can say that during those times, I felt small and unsure.  But, even now, when I am on my knees in prayer, the lowercase i feels more appropriate.  Feel free to disagree with me, but at least I’m warning you… this is a conscious choice.  Except when I mess up and leave an errant i in an otherwise capitalized essay.

Which happens more than I’d like.

What’s the saying, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most?”

a sliced up thumb

I really need to throw.  This cannot be overstated.  I have a lot of galleries and stores that need to be filled, commissions patiently waiting, and I feel like I am running very far behind indeed.  Things keep getting in the way of things.  The work that needs to be done to support the art winds up taking enough time away from the art that I start to feel deprived.  It’s a vicious cycle. I think I could create enough work for three of me, but even if I managed to clone myself, we all would want to make art so badly that each of us would be complaining about not having enough time.  We would still have things getting in the way of things – times three.

At any rate, night before last, I sliced open my thumb working in the kitchen and it kept reopening as I threw yesterday. There was much blood on the pottery – thank heavens, I was working with almost black clay so no one will know (and it will go up to 2232 degrees, so the pots will be safe.) Still, it gave me pause as I thought about throwing today.  Once the studio quieted down and I was faced with a decision about what to do, I wound up surprising myself.  Choosing to keep my thumb from reopening, and not wanting to get the cut infected (or even more gobbed up with clay than it was yesterday), I turned on my computer and have been working with words.

nowordsIt feels like I have come home during the past two hours.  The drive to write has not been as acute or overwhelming of late. Indeed, the push to submit has been pestering me more than the urge to create (I keep hearing a southern voice from my past say: “Shit or get off the pot.”)

I always tend to have more poems rush out of me when I am in despair or drowning in anxiety, and for months I have been enjoying a shocking amount of contentment even when the assorted problems and worries (many of which have made it into the blog) sprang into being.  Granted, stories have been shoving their way out of me, but even those have not always been as determined as they used to be (with the exception of one character demanding to know if he was alive or dead).  Poems, though, had hushed themselves significantly.  Fewer have been coming but the ones that have poured from my fingertips made me happier.

For the past two hours I have been going through poems – editing, pouring through a collection trying to figure out if it’s ready to be released into the wild, staring at dozens of hand-written drafts that I’ve scribbled out this year.  I have felt like myself on a deep and joyous level – aligned with the universe and content in my life.  I am a poet.  It’s almost as though I had forgotten, and my own poems reminded me.

 

more poems

Here are some more recorded poems:

contentment

open like a flower:

the same in substance:

Sloppy poems:

Sometimes the longing:

writing

i ask againi was asked a few days ago how i manage to keep writing when life goes crazy.  For a long time, i wasn’t sure what to say.  i write because i have to; it pulls its way out of me.  However, the fact that i don’t fight the words does count for something.  Also, as the person who asked the question knew quite well, these first few weeks since i turned forty-three have certainly borne more than their share of pain, chaos and change.

Prose has suffered.  Often, i am too distracted to dissolve into a story and its characters.  Poems, thankfully, flow no matter what i do.  They flood out of me at night, to the detriment of my sleep.  They wake me up in the morning, shaking me out of my dreams.  In the middle of an otherwise busy day, they seduce me – and if that doesn’t work, they tackle me and berate me – demanding to be born.Spirals of wind

Editing my writing can be difficult, in part because it is always harder editing my own work than someone else’s, but also because revising does not excite me as much as the first impulse of creation.  Still, i prefer it to nearly any other task.  Tell me to edit a short story or do the dishes and editing will always win.  That said, gathering enough confidence to release poems and stories into the wild can take some time.  i let them sit until i can read them with fresh eyes and prove to myself that they are ready.

Ultimately, i think the real answer is this: i write because i make it a priority, even when other things are arguably much more urgent.

no wordsThere is a madness to being an artist and a writer.  You have to root yourself in the delusion that what you are doing at that moment – scratching a pen across paper or tapping on a keyboard or drawing a brush over a canvas – is the most important thing in your life. Actually, as you work, creating becomes the universe entire. Otherwise distractions grab you by the ankles and drag you away.

As i write this, i realize some forms of writing have suffered of late.  Blogging has taken a huge hit.  When i posted yesterday, it staggered me how long it had been since my last entry.  So, today, i will give you the gift of poetry as an apology.   Above are three poem-posters and now, three recordings of poems.

my hands itch

words caress me

language (this is not the best recording, but a good poem nonetheless)

Shifting seasons

gratitude doodle
gratitude doodle

click on the blue, underlined links to hear poems

This has been a season for change and gratitude.

i wrote about the theme of thankfulness earlier, but as i watch the sun peek out after days of rain, lighting the leaves on fire with a brilliant, intense greens, i feel this truth keenly.  This moment embodies sublime wonder.  As i write, i feel more whole and content than i can ever remember feeling before – even though my circumstances (as is the case with artists everywhere) remain perpetually unstable.

There is an indescribable, if not constant, joy in this life.  i am feeling wildly blessed today.  Much of my gratitude comes from a morning spent reading drafts of my prose and poems – my journey has confronted me.  My words made it clear: this is not a place i expected to be.  Depression, PTSD, rampant insecurity and self-loathing had plagued me for years, weighing me down to the point of death, certainly into a pit of immobility.  That i am no longer languishing fills me with thankfulness the depths of which i cannot begin to express.  It flows deeper than my marrow and bubbles out into the world.  Mostly, i delight in the realization that things did not have to get better externally for this internal shift to occur.

Today has been far from flawless.

My back woke me up with pain, but after some grimacing i coaxed myself up and out of bed.  Instead of pushing my body when i felt weak, i gave myself the gift of a few hours and plunged into prose and poetry.  Nothing centers me better than the written word.  Even going through my most recent poetry collection, looking for typos before releasing it into the wild, has filled me with delight.

asha throwing
asha throwing

All forms of creativity bring their own flavor to joy. Yesterday, i threw fourteen mugs.

throwing

The realization that someday soon they will be used by people, a form of utilitarian art, gave me great satisfaction as i worked.  Another fifty pounds of clay awaits me, hoping that by this afternoon my back will feel good enough to throw.  But, even if i cannot, all will be well.  My words, paint and other obligations will keep me company.

Lately, i have been thinking a lot about how throwing pottery has served as an analogy for my journey through this life.  Once, during one of my lowest spells, my pottery wheel tried to kill me.  As soon as i regained my senses, i wrote a poem about how the experience taught me how fiercely i will fight for my life even when otherwise imprisoned by despair.

that wheel’s a killer

Perhaps, my art has been further along on this journey than the rest of me.  Some of my poetry, especially that written during the darkest times of my life, has expressed profound gratitude and enthusiastic dreams.

salvation

taking wing

A seemingly endless to-do list lies before me and writing these few words has energized me enough that i feel ready to attack that mountain of chores with both hands and whittle it down to something more reasonable.  An amazing sense of empowerment has come over me with this contentment.  For big things, i still have to work myself into confidence, but i somehow move forward in the end.  i keep proving to myself that i am more capable than i ever imagined, although i am kept humble by my continued ability to be stunningly awkward and absent-minded.  It seems strange, but this one shift in my self-perception has altered nearly everything about how i write; all of the characters in my fiction suddenly became stronger, more at ease.  Two books are undergoing major rewrites due to this metamorphosis.

A new season has come upon me.  Caught between spring and summer, i find myself singing over the renewal of spirit.

fire woman
fire woman – to buy her click here