A Vacation & Food For Thought

I’m taking a much needed break. Miriam’s Well will return to blogging at the end of May. Hopefully, expect some reports of Sedona and Zuni, folk art, chortens, monoliths, and more.
In the meantime, a crowd sourced creativity question:

HOW IS YOUR WRITING (or art) DIFFERENT THAN IT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO? And…do you motivate yourself more with reward or punishment in the creative arena?
I hope to hear from you. Send to msagan1035@aol.com
I will be responding to email, as always.
Enjoy!

I Am Not Getting More Beautiful With Age–I’m Getting More Anti-Patriarchal

There is a piece floating around on Facebook saying women get more beautiful with age. The woman shown–old and naked–is indeed beautiful. Also white, skinny, and long-haired. I’m sure she was quite beautiful when young, too.
I understand the urge to go against the convention of youth and beauty. However, this continues to annoy me, because once again women are judged by, exhorted about, and limited to…beauty.
I’m not beautiful if we are talking about societal standards. And what other standards can there possibly be? There is no abstract notion of beauty (if you believe there is you just aren’t seeing your own cultural bias.) Women–people–may get wiser with age, or more tolerant, or more creative–but trust me, this is not a given. I’ve cared for parents, in-laws, hospice patients, and friends. None of them seemed automatically improved by age.
And if we are talking about inner beauty (which frankly age might improve or diminish, no guarantees) then why am I looking at a naked woman?
Well, the one thing increasing age has brought me: a stronger desire to not be objectified. To not be reduced to my body or “beauty.” To fight patriarchy wherever I encounter it.
I know this can’t go on forever. Eventually age–and its compatriot, death–will get me. And although I hope it is true, I’m not creating a meme that says “Women get more feminist with age.” At least not one with me naked.

Eros be Damned by Carla Nagler

EROS BE DAMNED

you come to visit
dressed like an eighteenth century nobleman
a frilly, lacey shirt
silk breeches
a decorative waistcoat
embroidered in gold
and polished red heels

looking back
i’d have thought you’d have come
clad in black
from head to toe
but no
you, love, are a deceiver

you reek of mildew
and sometimes even sulfur
but for me, those rancid scents are forever hidden behind an exquisite cologne
of myrrh
and bergamot
and sandalwood
and patchouli
and even spicy cardamom

beneath it all, i know the mildew is there
and, at times, the sulfur will make me wince
but i inhale the myrrh
and the bergamot
and the sandalwood
and the patchouli
and even the spicy cardamom
and, of course
i look the other way

sometimes you will say good evening
but more often you say nothing at all
either way, it is always a lie

for you are a blood sucking creature
drawing me in
piercing my neck
but drawing only enough
that you may live another day

promises are made
and i am drained

you make your living by bartering souls
an exchange of goods and services
for other goods and services
it’s always been that way for you
but I must ask
do you receive fair value
for what you have given?

no
never

you dream of seduction
sensuality, vibrancy, even energy
but you also dream of fear and death
not your own, of course
but mine

mine and all the others

why?
because you, my love, are the believer

Carla Nagler just received her Certificate in Creative Writing from SFCC and loves walking up and down Canyon Road each day and looking at all the art.

We Are Meant To Carry Water

This is a fascinating volume by three poets–Tina Carlson, Stella Reed, and Katherine Dibella Seluja. Reading the volume casually, you can’t tell who wrote which poems. Instead, the voices merge into an archetypical whole. Reed explains: “Basically it’s four voices: Leda, Lilith, the migrant girl and then Helen of Troy steps in…The others, that are not in a particular voice were written individually by the differing poets. There is one poem we wrote collaboratively, “We Are Made of Stars and Footfalls” which was created from a text messaging thread.”
That poem beings;

Quick, hush, let’s meet
at midnight in the cave near the river,
bring lanterns and small cakes.

The process is at once both post-modern and intimate. For the reader there is a quality of emotional and mythic excavation in engaging with the book. As it says in the last poem “Your voice/is asylum for mine.”

To order: https://3taospress.com/

3 Questions for Tina Carlson

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

Lines are the limbs, the frame of the poet’s body. Without the line, there is no scaffolding, no real landscape. When I write a poem, I have little idea of the landscape at first—the words and images and content help make that clear. I love how the skeleton of lines can foster content and meaning of a poem. I tend to use lines in a fairly predictable and consistent way, but I love the way bolder poets play with lines and breath and air to give the lines more room to float and surprise. A poem can survive with joints of air and empty as in Dana Levin’s work. I just read a poem by Kaveh Akbar called ‘Ultrasound’ (c2019) where the line breaks made me breathless and intrigued–http://academyofamericanpoets.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/y/08C4635BA8F97F64/CC293A801C77B47D20B193FBA00ED1DB

I love to use enjambment in my work to create energy and momentum in a poem as in ‘How She Becomes a Fountain’:

Find in her stashes
of gold, the hymns

of whales, the
oceans turned

blue, as plankton surrenders
to acid and heat. Light has no

destination. Stars die
on that floor, orange

arms turned to
mash. Body walls

Once the poem is coming to light, my favorite things to do is to play with line breaks, with breath. As images and words can animate the poem, lines give it breath and space and a place to live on the page.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Absolutely. Even the mind is somehow located in the body, I believe, so how can poetry not be connected to the body? I spent much of my life just outside my body and was connected to the soma through lying in dirt and climbing trees and rocks, as well as writing poetry. Poems connected my sensory experience which always lives in the body, to a page outside my body and was like a blood vessel or a nerve pathway for me. Now when I write I need to feel something inside my body—an emotion, a strong sense of image or place, a sense of energy or charged meaning, for the poem to be worthwhile or even possible to write. My first book Ground, Wind, This Body is basically an attempt to translate my childhood experience of embodiment and dissociation into poems. I believe we experience life through the vehicle of our body so poetry that stays close to that experience tends to be more vivid and alive for me.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

Yes. I dislike what I perceive to be the emphasis on contests and prizes and bios and publications. I understand this is how poetry is available to more people but it is painful to me, nevertheless. I try to not give too much power to what others may perceive and good or significant and instead read and hopefully write what moves me. I’m afraid I stay too hidden due to my fear and avoidance of the marketing of poetry. It is always an edge I am working with.

Tina Carlson is one of three authors of “We Are Meant To Carry Water.” This week, Miriam’s Well will be interviewing each poet and covering the book as well.

To order: https://3taospress.com/

3 Questions for Stella Reed

What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

I usually let the poem dictate the line regarding length, enjambment, or if it wants to be a prose poem. This is driven by the emotion in the poem, is it urgent? (short lines) Thoughtful and rambling? (longer lines) I have been experimenting with poems that have long complicated titles and short lines, just for the fun of juxtaposition. I also enjoy playing with surprising enjambment: taking a line to what seems to be its natural ending and then BAM! continuing the thought on the next line with a surprising word.

Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Definitely. I feel poems very physically when both writing and reading them. There are some words that make my skin crawl and others that make me want to dance. When a poem is skillfully put together, even if the meaning isn’t apparent, the mood of it can hit my solar plexus, the same place in my body that responds to grief or joy. I sometimes work on poems when walking along the river. The rhythm of movement, the flow of the water reflects in the movement of the poem. The same with being very still. Those poems are quieter.

Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

Hmmm… I love writing poetry. I want to keep that the main focus of ‘being a poet’, the process and prayer of that activity. But ‘being a poet’ in the world comes with expectations of publishing, of marketing, and from well-meaning friends or acquaintances who when you speak to them about anything from politics to potato salad say “You should write a poem about that.” Other than that I really love being a poet and love the poetry community. It’s a very exciting time to be a poet right now, there are lots of diverse voices to tune in to.

Stella Reed is one of three authors of “We Are Meant To Carry Water.” This week, Miriam’s Well will be interviewing each poet and covering the book as well.

To order: https://3taospress.com/