Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Quote on Living and Another About Poetry from Henry Miller

I have been looking for a quote from the Rosy Crusifixtion by Henry Miller that speaks to the point that writers must live their lives and not just write all the time. All I remember is that Miller was not worried (or may have been at some point and shirked the worry) about writing every single day. Living was important and he would trust that memory would serve him by acquiring the bits that were important to remember at any given time. 

It could be that the passage from which I crave quotes is close to this one (which is one of my all time favorite quotes, as I deem the words words to live by): 
"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music--the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself."
Although I did not find the quote that I wanted, tonight  (and I'm turning in soon since I've been up since 3a.m.), I did find the following about poets and thought I would post it here for safe keeping: 
“Conditioned to ecstasy, the poet is like a gorgeous unknown bird mired in the ashes of thought. If he succeeds in freeing himself, it is to make a sacrificial flight to the sun. His dreams of a regenerate world are but the reverberations of his own fevered pulse beats. He imagines the world will follow him, but in the blue he finds himself alone. Alone but surrounded by his creations; sustained, therefore, to meet the supreme sacrifice. The impossible has been achieved; the duologue of author with Author is consummated. And now forever through the ages the song expands, warming all hearts, penetrating all minds. At the periphery the world is dying away; at the center it glows like a live coal. In the great solar heart of the universe the golden birds are gathered in unison. There it is forever dawn, forever peace, harmony and communion. Man does not look to the sun in vain; he demands light and warmth not for the corpse which he will one day discard but for his inner being. His greatest desire is to burn with ecstasy, to commerge his little flame with the central fire of the universe. If he accords the angels wings so that they may come to him with messages of peace, harmony and radiance from worlds beyond, it is only to nourish his own dreams of flight, to sustain his own belief that he will one day reach beyond himself, and on wings of gold. One creation matches another; in essence they are all alike. The brotherhood of man consists not in thinking alike, nor in acting alike, but in aspiring to praise creation. The song of creation springs from the ruins of earthly endeavor. The outer man dies away in order to reveal the golden bird which is winging its way toward divinity.”
Henry Miller, The Time of the Assassins: a Study of Rimbaud
Further, as a sort of side note, the above picture was found with this blog which I would follow, were it not dead

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why I Won't Buy Jillian Michaels' Body Revolution

In my mid-twenties I bought one of the Billy BlanksTae Bo videos. I thought that the Tae Bo class would be a nice variation to my workout routine. I was already practicing from a Living Arts yoga video once or twice a week and going to a spin class at least two or three times a week. However, within fifteen minutes of trying the Tae Bo workout, discouraged, I crashed into my seven foot floral couch, sweat pouring, and watched as the very fit participants in the video kickboxed through the next hour or so. I never tried the workout again.
Recently, I viewed some part of Jillian Michaels' (The Biggest Loser) infomercial for her new series of workout DVDs called Body Revolution . My interest was piqued. I remembered that Jillian Michaels has been integral in helping many people slim down and get more healthy. The woman changes peoples' lives on television. However, after watching what little I did of the infomercial, I wondered if taking her workout plan might prove the same results as my attempt to work out with Billy Blanks, all for the cost of $135.00 (after the estimated shipping and handling) which to me at this point in time is no chump change.
The infomercial features a room full of very fit people employing some very high impact routines that I have no doubt will slim, trim, and tone any participant if they are able to keep to the routines. What I don't see is an entry point for people who are either just beginning the workout or at a mid-level in the infomercial. Nor do I see anyone whose body type I can relate to as far as where I am now.
I understand that the series increases in challenge and I also understand that Michaels has included workouts from The Biggest Loser. It is evident that the program aims for significant and swift results. I like these bits of information and yet I still crave to watch someone go through the process as I do instead of finding myself working out with people who look to me like athletes already. I think that seeing someone progress as I progress would encourage and feel more realistic to me than what I've seen so far. The knowledge that Jillian Michaels was the personal trainer for the participants of The Biggest Loser just is not enough.
I am not sold. 

***originally published at Yahoo Contributor Network

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Some Possible New Resources for Naad Yoga Studies

This post has been moved to Finding Naad.

Learning to Write Articles for Percentages of Pennies Per Page View Inspires Me to Keep at It

In Summer, 2010, I got together at Under the Umbrella cafe with two other writers to chat, become re-inspired, and glean some ideas about writing.

I had been thinking a lot about all of my talents and joys and I wondered how I could implement more of those things into my life. I have had more than fifty jobs because it is challenging for me to not become miserable when my interests and abilities are not engaged and of course, I have been searching for that job that is a joy and not a challenge because of the lack of engagement related above.

I had come across the Strengthfinder book and while it offered some really good insights about how I work best and how I learn, I still felt a bit lost. Most of my skills have been best utilized in my volunteer work with internships and non-profits. I enjoy working in those sectors because there is usually a lot of freedom there to explore, learn, and hone skills. Of course, the pay is not great if it is a tad above nil. A lot of CEOs at non-profits get a pittance if anything at all. Also, my work description, if it existed, was fuzzy and not backed by proper certifications so that I might move forward with those skills into future employment. This was probably mostly my fault because at any of those situations, I have usually had the freedom to at some level create my own position. I suppose as a writer, I can write that in, create the titles and such if I need/want to....

At any rate, getting back to the meeting: One of the things that I really wanted was to step significantly back into my writing life. I wanted to learn ways in which I might be able to make a little money with it. I'd heard that you can still make some ducats writing sci fi and romance novels but these are things that aren't too much of an interest to me, despite my attempt to write just about everything. I'd applied for a technical writing position and made it halfway through the editing portion of the interview, and when I became so bored to literal tears, I decided I couldn't go that route. I would pull every hair out of my head in grips.

The three writers at Under the Umbrella talked a bit about freelancing. I'd wondered if freelancing was a bit dead. Nonetheless, I seemed to know people who did freelance and at least two who did well enough to eat and have shelter by. One of those people was at the table.

I knew that I had become a fairly decent writer. I'd won some awards and scholarships for writing and have even published a little. When I wrote for a fellowship, despite the site saying that those who were not accepted would not get a letter, I got a letter saying that my work was worthy of some program, that there was no doubt I would do well in any program that might accept me, and that perhaps I should try the fellowship again with new material.

The chat at Under the Umbrella was a relief as well as a boon. Recently, I have been trying to fulfill the advice that I obtained there from the freelancer who feeds and houses himself with the work. The advice was a simple first step. Write a blog post everyday on any subject, about 250-300 words, before making inquiries into freelancing gigs. Write about everything. Write about products in your fridge. Write about books you've read, records you've listened to. Anything and then Presto (!) you have a portfolio.

I've taken the advice to heart, even if I don't make the goal of writing something 7 days a week. I have to keep in mind that I am learning, too. I want to write very good articles that are informative and valuable to readers. I haven't practiced journalism since Junior High School. Not everyone takes blogs seriously, and I don't even know if anyone really reads these things. The solution? A dear friend of mine told me some time ago about Yahoo Voices. It's a website which is very similar to Examiner or Yourhub. Anyone can submit articles to the site and there are varying levels of writerly ability there. I have been watching some very good writers, some freelancers, to try to gain more skills. I have also begun to submit to the site on a regular basis. I like the site even though I rarely make a per article up-front pay (and the most I have made so far is $3.02). The boons from the site are priceless to me, though. Even the percentages of pennies I earn per page view are incentive for me to continue. I am making more there with a writing exercise than I am on my blog and the possibility for an audience is increased by the nature of the site. Further, when I ask for up-front pays, I get very good tidbits from the editors who teach good journalism (ie using full disclosure, getting permissions, and nixing assumptions in articles). The experience is good and helping me keep my gumption up.

I'd suggest it to anyone who wants to try.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reigniting the School Girl Crush for Music

Perhaps this is something that happens as we get older.

I am admittedly in my definitive mid-thirties. It is less and less, seemingly, that I find full albums that I become completely enamoured of and attached to like I did when I was in my teens. It's rare that I even get to listen to an album fully, let alone hear it more than once or twice. Often, I'll remember a song but not the artist, which is a turn from who I was in my teens. Back then, it seems I had to know everything about the artists I liked.
I'm thinking of this because I chose The Cure's Album Disintegration (1989) in my Spotify list just a bit ago. Everytime I listen to the album, I remember being 16 or 17, dancing around to the tape that had been recorded for me by a fellow co-worker at my very first job. "Here," she said excitedly, "I love this and think you will, too."
I did love the tape as well as the other tapes she recorded for me. Sonic Youth's Goo, and Depeche Mode's Violator along with The Cure's album quickly became some of my favorite and most listened to music. I would turn the volume up dangerously loud when my parents and brothers were not at home and dance around the living room, feeling that I could ride on the music. I became obsessed just as I might have with a serious school girl crush. Robert Smith and the lushness of his music, Sonic Youth's course tones and experimentation, and the sensualness of Dave Gahan's baritone voice were features that I had never experienced before.
I grew up listening to my parents' music, like most of us do. It was good stuff. The Gap Band, Parliament, Marvin Gaye, Cameo, and Sheila E are some of the groups and artists that come readily to mind. We listened to the radio, as well. George Micheal, Madonna, Prince, Dr. Dre, and whatever other pop, rap, R&B, and Soul was playing at the time, permeated my consciousness.
I suppose at about that time, I was starving for something new. That is the time, afterall that we've begun forming our own views about the world and our own tastes. I just hope that I don't become stuck in an age when I am certain that there is so much wonderfulness happening in the world of music. It's time to be just as hungry again, to find new favorites that my heart and musical ear just won't let go of.

***originally published at Yahoo Voices.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Sama Veda: An Entry Point and or/Anchor to my Studies of Naad Yoga (The Yoga of Sound) and Sound Therapy Generally

I told myself I would not attend any more schooling for a grip of time after finishing up my studies in massage therapy at the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado (MTIC) but of course, I was only kidding myself. The very night of graduation, I attended one of a series of classes concerning goddesses of Vedic literature and shortly thereafter, I signed a contract for an introduction course at Shiva Mandir's Center for Vedic Studies.

I wasn't completely sure of what I was doing. I am obviously interested in healing arts. I've completed my massage therapy course and in 2006 I completed a yoga teacher training at Samadhi Center for Yoga. Somewhere in the last little while, I briefly studied with a Barefoot Doctors' Program (with the Tai Chi Project) and I have (hopefully emphatically) communicated my interest in sound therapy studies through The Denver Center for Oriental Medicine. I am very interested in Indian culture and spirituality and have been studying it on my own for years now along with other bits from many cultures, native and far.

I have even more interests than that! These are interests that apparently I cannot or will not give up. I am a singer (who hasn't had a regular gig since 2006 because of school, work and multiple moves but who intends to still write, perform, and seek out music), a writer (who has published in some small publications, print and internet, and who has won some small awards and scholarships), and I have an interest in linguistics, words, communication, and poetry. I began my college career with a full tuition waiver for music (Jazz Studies) and finished my bachelor's degree in writing and linguistics (minor). I did not pursue (though I may pursue it later) an MFA in creative writing because I felt that it would put these interests further on the back burner and of course, most of the MFAs that I could have obtained a teacher's assistanceship and stipend for felt limiting.

It's funny how we come full circle, sometimes. I was interested in music therapy only fleetingly in high school (I thought I was going to become a great jazz singer...and I may still do some of that) and the programs I looked at then (which were sparse) seemed very limited. As you can see, limitation is not okay with me.

The last time I tried to complete a degree in music (probably around 2009), I knew that my goal was to do a final project that involved music and sound therapy. I was very excited about the project and even had a wonderful adviser who lent what became the bulk of a bibliography towards these studies. She also gave me many names, numbers, and resources to this goal. I still have these things and hope that they will contribute to my studies and career (if this is what is indeed occurring, the development of a career) and I have been collecting other names and resources along the way.

So the point of this post? I attended a meditation retreat a few short weeks ago via the Vedic Studies Course mentioned above. I already had come across readings and teachers (such as the Sanskrit for Yogis course created and taught by Dr. Katy Poole) which spoke to the power and resonance contained in Sanskrit (and really, all sound, all language). During the retreat, this information was reiterated but also enhanced by the note that the Sama Veda is a whole book of knowledge about melody or sound. I was excited immediately because here is a study tool that touches on so many of my interests. Further, if I can, studying this portion of the Vedas could provide an anchor and starting point for me to stem off of which does not stray too far away from the studies I have immersed myself in to date. Further, Sama Veda seems to hook together the interests that before seemed so disparate and scattered.

I am not sure if I am taking a course far too overwhelming but I have already sent out a couple of inquiries about the study. My excitement for learning has been renewed and I am more sure of myself that I have chosen the right path for myself, even if the lack of certifications or degrees in certain subjects make me seem subpar, not serious, or simply unworthy of expertise.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Here's Something Fun -- The Copy-Change (or imitation) Poem and a Boff

One of the prompts that keeps coming up in poetry classes is the copy-change, or imitation poem. I've seen the exercise again and again since probably the third grade. Essentially, you choose a poem and use it as the skeleton for a new poem that you create. For more information about this prompt or method, check out this link

I generally don't like the exercise (despite its value, which I agree can assist in teaching how poems can work in a bit of a training wheels kind of way). I tend to either make a joke out of the copy-change or redraft the copy change to make my own poem. Tonight I wanted to share one of the jokes and perhaps at another time, I will share one of the redraftings. Below follows my copy change poem from a 2006 poetry class after Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. I hope the poem evokes a few chuckles. =)

The Pee Not Taken: A Parody that Will
Surely Send Frost to Haunt Me From His Grave

Two seconds before my gates unleash,
And sorry I didn't take a pee
Before my leaving, I clench my teeth
And look down the path far's I can see
Where I might crouch by a bush to pee;

Then hold my nethers, as best I can,
And walking perhaps slowly is best,
Because I'd hate to wet my clutching hands;
Though hands soaked can't match soaking pants
And stained legs, dreading the sodding rest,

Both pants, hands in danger of the leak
Unleashed over leaves finally.
Oh, that I dread my neighbor's toilet seat!
Although my house is just up the street
I doubt I can make it successfully.

My neighbor will remind with a scoff
Someday ages and ages hence:
How I stubbornly ran out and off--
I became the man in this boff,
And sorrowfully ruined my pants.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Letting Go and What Serves Us: A Dialogue on the Clarification of Action and Terms

love gun found on Broadway/Denver
photo by Tameca L Coleman.

I need clarification if anyone here is willing to help. I may ask people specifically, via private mail. I may not. I may just continue to read and ruminate on my own, commit these thoughts to my private journals, and forget that I want to talk with others about this very thing. Any comments or feedback is very much appreciated.

I am really confused about all this talk about living in the present moment/letting go of the past because I wonder if sometimes doing that for some people, means not feeling responsible or taking responsibility for the things we may have done in the past that either were not within the guidelines of our own code of ethics or integrity or perhaps those things that hurt others as they were re/actions out of what ails us.

I don't mean to say that we should hold on to those things but we should surely learn from them, take heed of the mistakes so that hopefully they are not done and done again, and forgive ourselves properly instead of just detaching from it all, living in the present moment because the past is already done. . . .

Is this New Age recklessness or irresponsibility under the guise of something better? Certainly, I'm missing something but there just seems to be so much detaching. . . .detaching, detaching, and looking for those things that only serve us (really all of it serves because it's the lessons inherent in all, isn't it (?)) which for some reason feels to me like a sort of numbing where only pleasure is sought. Am I not seeing this correctly? Is my filter off? Seriously, I want to hear others' thoughts about this.

I wonder too, if we're always letting go of people, letting them take care of themselves, even if they do not have the tools because maybe their presence "does not serve us" or doesn't make us happy anymore does more harm than good.

...and then if we don't have the tools to help those who don't have tools. . . . I get that part and don't know what to do about that either. I hope that I can move beyond ignoring those who need a little something more than a snub or cold shoulder.

I see so many people walking around wounded to a point of despair and I know I have been to those points as well and luckily I have had some sort of support to guide me through. Luckily, I had the sense to ask sometimes (not all the time). Not everyone has the support or the sense (and that's not meant to say that they are stupid but that perhaps they are flooded by what ails them and so therefore don't even know if they can ask or how).

I guess I just keep thinking I can do something about it and I keep looking for others who want to do something about it, too. And I am talking about the implementation of tools here, empowerment, not saving, not shouldering the weight of what ails the whole of the wailing parts of the world.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Arguments for Writing Poetry (1)

I love this quote from Mark Strand's The Weather of Words
I is for immortality, which for some poets is a necessary compensation. Presumably miserable in this life, they will be remembered when the rest of us are long forgotten. None of them asks about the quality of that remembrance--what it will be like to crouch in the dim hallways of somebody's mind until the moment of recollection occurs, or to be lifted off suddenly and forever into the pastures of obscurity. Most poets know better than to concern themselves with such things. They know the chances are better than good that their poems will die when they do and never be heard of again, that they'll be replaced by poems sporting a new look in a language more current. They also know that even if individual poems die, though in some cases slowly, poetry will continue: that its subjects, it constant themes, are less liable to change than fashions in language, and that this is where an alternate, less lustrous immortality might be. We all know that a poem can influence other poems, remain alive in them, just as previous poems are alive in it. Could we not say, therefore, that individual poems succeed most by encouraging revisions of themselves and inducing their own erasure? Yes, but is this immortality, or simply a purposeful way of being dead?
The quote makes me happy, giddy, really and it also reminds of the following quote from Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual

Considering the ways in which so many of us waste our time, what would be wrong with a world in which everybody were writing poems? After all, there’s a significant service to humanity in spending time doing no harm. While you’re writing your poem, there’s one less scoundrel in the world. And I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m certain, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay.
I like adding to energy, and creating poems to the whole process of creation seems like adding energy to me. Further, all of this rings of some kind of spiritual and moral life. These things are also close to my heart. I live a life of some sort of spiritual discipline, hoping to add to the good in the world.

There are so many arguments that poetry is dead but I don't think that is true. It's not just these quotes that make me think that but the way in which I see poetry working in the communities around me. I see poetry as a healing conduit, a way that people connect, share, vent, transform, understand, make connections and build dialogues. Perhaps what is dead is the ego in poetry. The Poet's work is for all not just for one. I think it's probably always been that way, despite any of our initial hope and search for glory.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Post of Many Poet's Journal Posts

It's time to post regularly.

I thought I would start with some poet's journal posts, most of which will come from a notebook I did for a poetry class in college (2006). I am partially copying my friend John May, whose autodidactic tendencies are both admirable and inspiring. His knowledge, poems, and explications are constantly growing. Please visit his blog. He does good work.

Between the old journal, the inspiration, and of course further readings on my own time, I hope to add to the conversation, or at least post tidbits here for me to revisit as I need or want to or can. Part of this blog then will be a poetry journal that I can access and share online.

I do hope that others will join in the conversation, post their thoughts, write their own posts, share their work, and on and on. I miss the classes, the friends, conversations, and the workshops. Here's hoping I retrieve back some of which I crave.

I wanted to start out with this, a quick essay over the question of whether poetry need be accessible. I would love to hear your thoughts. I see a couple of slippery slopes down there. I didn't edit them out because I'd love to be argued with. ;) Peace and junk:

Accessible Poetry First

"Poetry is knowledge, salvation, power, abandonment. 
The poem is a shell that echoes the music of the world."
--Octavio Paz.

The most potent poetry is universal. It communicates. Its aim is to translate abstractions and the human experience into language. It translates the subconscious, memory, sensual experiences and emotions through images, allusions, and a poet's perception. When a poem is inaccessible, it alienates the reader, guaranteeing a lack of connection between the reader and the poet. There is no communication. Many poets argue that they have a duty to connect with readers. Sylvia Plath for example, states that "one should be able to manipulate [their experiences] with an informed and intelligent mind...personal experience shouldn't be a kind of shut box and mirror-looking narcissistic. ...it should be generally relevant to such things as Hiroshima and Dachau...[things that others can relate to directly or indirectly]" (Alvarez).

Inaccessible poetry can offer grand mind games. It can send readers on scholastic scavenger hunts through dusty library book shelves and obscure articles in databases, as in the case of many of Ezra Pound's or T.S. Eliot's. The readers of such works will surely become smarter and more experienced. However, for those looking to solely connect, inaccessible poetry is a kill shot which can shock a reader from ever trying poetry again. William Carlos Williams states, in his poem "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," that though "It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/...men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there."

This statement suggests that poetry is an extremely important medium for the understanding of things that are difficult to talk about or understand. Poetry approaches life's questions and though it does not always succeed in finding answers, it tries. It sends the message that the trying is worth the effort. In Poetry's search for understanding, it dually aids others in their own search as they read. To obscure the message in poems for the sake of being elite is to shirk the Poet's duty and to greedily hoard the message for a select number. It is a tactic that can make the way too difficult for readers uninterested in scholastic exercises. Elitism suggests that one must become a person of letters in order to understand the work. Any reader communing with poetry wants to be touched by it. If it is not understood, it is difficult to feel anything. 

Work Cited: Alvarez, A. Sylvia Plath. Beyond All This Fiddle. London: Penguin, 1968. pp. 56-7.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection of Old School Junk as Blog Fodder (!)

For a long time now I have been trying to figure out what to do with the crap ton of files, paperwork, essays and junk that I have accumulated from my undergrad career. Further, I have wanted to utilize my blog more actively to both show that I have done some work and that I intend to continue work as a writer and such.

So, as I go through boxes upon boxes of things, throwing things out and of course organizing the keepers, I'll share what I can and hope for readers and their feedback.

If nothing else, this will be a portfolio, of sorts and a way for me to share some things that I would not otherwise send out to publishers. I would rather not sit on or forget these things. They are easily lost. Further, unearthing them, for me, has been some sort of fun!