Every closure is an awakening,
and every awakening settles something.
~John Dewey (Art as Experience)
Every closure is an awakening,
and every awakening settles something.
~John Dewey (Art as Experience)
Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net:
Describe in great detail your favorite room, place, meal, day, or person. You can do this in paragraph form.
Now cut unnecessary words like articles and determiners (a, the, that) and anything that isn’t really necessary for content; leave mainly nouns, verbs, a few adjectives.
Cut the lines where you see fit and, VOILA! A poem!
I wrote about a magical place. Here’s the version edited as per instructions:
what were windows,
Rivière de Sorgue bubbles
Musée de Petrarque stands stately
tiny secluded valley
the pool where
river is birthed
A hole I could hold in my hands.
the poet still walks.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Here is this beautiful place, a site of a novel (theoretically in progress, though actually resting, like dough) from our visit in 2011. I dream of returning there to stay and work on this project when the trees are all leafed. The arch is behind the Musee, a modern-ish town is directly behind the limestone wall/cliff. I’m standing on the path to the fontaine (the river source). There is another photo from this walk on the cover of my poetry chapbook 2011.
Here is the first version (I couldn’t do it in a paragraph form, despite myself!) I think it could make a fine poem itself:
Through the arch and back through time
the long-abandoned château des Evêques de Cavaillon, XIV
rocks crumbling from what were windows, vacant eyes looking down to where
The Sorgue bubbles by, twisting this way, then that.
Musée de Petrarque stands stately amid garden and tall stretched poplars.
We walk along the ancient path beneath the limestone cliffs,
This tiny secluded valley, until we reach the pool where the river is birthed
from a hole I could hold in my hands.
You can feel the magic here; the poet still walks at
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Which version do you prefer? The ‘brevity is an art’ version or the ‘extended version’?
I expect WordPress to link to a complete blog post about our visit to Fontaine de Vaucluse below (entitled Magic Fontaine); you may be interested in reading that post, as well.
Teacher moment: Do you know who Francesco Petrarch/Petrarque/Petrarca is? He was the father of humanism. He coined the term “The Dark Ages.” He traveled around Europe rescuing ancient Greek and Roman texts; at his death, he had the largest library in Christendom. He is called ‘the first tourist.’ He was a philosopher and scholar. Most of those things are forgotten. He is best remembered because he invented the sonnet form (specifically The Petrarchan aka Italian sonnet). For 50 years he wrote these 14 lined poems to/about Laure/Laura (deNoves) de Sade, a married woman who died, likely of bubonic plague, in 1348. He met her the first time April 6, 1327 in Avignon at Ste Claire Convent and his adoring sonnets in praise of her remain with us today. They are called Canzoniere. (Somewhere on this blog you’ll find one-#61- that I’ve translated from the Italian, likely also linked below). He was a man who knew he was making contributions to history. He expected to be remembered. I have a little crush on him, as in my Grace Awakening series, the musical young man, Ben, was Petrarch in a past life…)
In November, when I was actually on track with my NaNo writing, I had a few gems that still make me happy. This book is now with the editor (who has gone to Europe for 2 weeks, and abandoned me!) Thought I’d share this with you, in the hopes that it will inspire today’s Camp NaNo efforts to get more than 500 words a day, which is all I’ve been managing so far! (Arg). Enjoy.
Thought you might like to see what’s coming along. Ben is now at University of Calgary with his friends Paul and Ryan. (Craigie Hall is the music building). Grace is living in the Shuswap with her Auntie Bright. If you’re new to the story, you should know that Grace and Ben are connected telepathically. Ben is the earthly realm form of the demi-god Orpheus. He’s narrating.
I was walking down a corridor in Craigie Hall when a stab of pain crashed into my head. I staggered into the wall, and grabbed for support.
A girl rushed over to me, “Are you okay?”
I shook my head, gasping, and she guided me to a bench. I dropped my head between my knees. “I’ll be okay. It’s fine.” The pain wasn’t mine, it was reverberating from Grace. She didn’t know yet how to completely control her side of our connection. Her…
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is very sexy.
to your soul
and grind around
in your groin.
This is culled from a bio piece about the Grace Awakening Myth character Ryan, who plays sax. You may have noticed that Ryan is a little obsessed with sex, as well.
At the Vernon Writers’ Conference this past weekend, author Patricia Donahue encouraged participants to create biographies for our characters. She uses cards for this purpose and makes point form notes. I decided to explore ‘background info’ on the character of Christie by letting her speak for herself. This won’t be in a book, but it tells us interesting things about her, and how she got her job watching Grace. Enjoy!
My name is Crystal Visions of Rainbows.
It’s stupid. I know.
On the first day of kindergarten everyone laughed at me when they heard it. Everyone except Grace. She came and sat beside me on the circle time carpet and whispered, “That’s the prettiest name I ever heard.” I adored her from that moment, of course.
As I’m sure you can imagine, anyone who names her kid Crystal Visions of Rainbows is a hippy. Free love. Peace not war. Tie dye and joints. Yup. My mother. Her real name was Martha Grimes but she changed it to Earth Helper. Sometimes it is an absolute mortification to have parents.
She did one good thing, though.
One day, in her communing with the goddess through some psychedelic haze, she got me a job. I was assigned to watch Grace.
Watching, in this case means knowing who Grace’s friends are, how she’s feeling about things, and helping her out in simple ways. In other words, I was hired to be her best friend. I would have been her best friend, anyway. Theoretically I’m paid for this, but I don’t know if it’s in drachmas, gold, or good karma. Mother looks after the finances and any of those would be good enough currency for her. Myself, I don’t ask.
My brother Shane is lucky. Somehow he was excused from the expectation that he be a flower child. Shane (birth name, Sky Rider) is now aiming to be a corporate lawyer. Mother rolls her eyes, and is relieved when he assures her that he votes Green. It’s a small consolation.
With his abdication of the family burden to save the world, all the weight of expectation falls on me. Hence the bargain with a goddess.
When I was about twelve, I decided that my mom had been hallucinating the whole thing, and I put my foot down. No more spying on my best friend and leaving written reports in the silver bowl on the dining room table. There’d be no more of this crap about goddesses and duty and obligation.
But then the goddess showed up and introduced herself, and what could I do?
It was Friday after school. I was going to be meeting Grace in a couple of hours, so we could go see a movie. I walked in the door and there was this woman sitting in my living room.
My mother was nowhere to be seen. Shane was at some debating practice at school. I froze.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my house?”
She smiled and extended a beautifully manicured hand, “Hello. You must be Crystal Vision of Rainbows.”
I scowled. “My name is Christie.” I didn’t take her hand.
“Have a seat.” She indicated the chair opposite the one she’d been in. “We need to talk.”
I crossed my hands and stared at her. “I don’t think we do,” I’d said, and turned to leave. I was going to the neighbours to call the police. I took a step forward and froze, my right foot stuck in the air. I couldn’t move.
“Actually,” she drawled, “we will. Have a seat, child.”
Completely against my will, my body pivoted and carried me to the chair. “Hey!” I tried to fight it, but I had absolutely no control. “Who are you! What are you doing!” My hands folded themselves demurely on my lap. Inside I was thrashing, but outside I was quiet and calm. It was like being wrapped in an invisible strait jacket.
“Crystal Visions of Rainbows, I am pleased to meet you at last. I am Aphrodite.”
I gaped at her. “The Aphrodite?”
She inclined her perfectly coiffed head in assent. “The Aphrodite. Your mother told you about me, of course?”
“I read,” I grunted. Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love (beautiful, vain, used to getting what she wanted) was sitting in my living room in a perfectly tailored, spotless white suit. Her hair was twisted into a chignon. Scarlet toe nails peeped from shoes made of satin brocade. No blouse was visible; the suit jacket displayed her cleavage in suggestive, if not provocative, style.
She nodded, “Very good. You know that you have been in my employ for several years.”
I started to speak but she raised her hand, and my mouth wouldn’t open.
“Your work the past few years,” she continued, “has been exemplary, and I have been pleased with your efforts. Recently, however, I have observed that you are growing dissatisfied with our agreement. This is not acceptable. You have an obligation. You must follow through with it.”
I tried to speak, but it doesn’t really work when your jaw is clamped tightly closed.
She flicked her index finger through the air and my body returned to me. “Speak,” she said imperiously.
“She is my friend. I don’t want to spy on her. What will she say when she knows that her best friends is spying on her! She’ll hate me!”
Aphrodite nodded, “Very likely. What would you feel like if she were to die because you were not spying on her. Would that be better?” Her brows were raised in calm inquiry.
“What?” I stared at her. “That’s ridiculous.”
“It is not. Why would we have someone watching her if she were not in danger? You are a key reason she is still alive, and make no mistake, the older Grace is, the more danger she is in.”
“Really?” I squeaked.
She inclined her head. “Your job is vital to Grace’s survival. Are you enough of a friend to keep her safe, even if it is a secret that you are doing so?”
“What’s so important about her?” Grace was just a regular kid. Uncoordinated, silly, crushes on boys, not great at PE, not great at music, not great at math, but good enough at everything, and pleasant enough that she got along with everyone, kids and adults alike.
“If I told you, I would have to kill you,” Aphrodite deadpanned.
Or maybe she was serious.
At my incredulous look she laughed daintily, in a contained, fake sort of titter. “She is important to me. I would like her alive. Your job is to continue to file reports through your mother… What?” She’d intercepted my rolled eyes and tilted her head. “You don’t trust your mother?”
“My mother is a nut job.” I love her, but she is. She’s into all the quackery of tarot cards, crystal gazing, tuning into her qi, and all that. She’s fervent, and loving, and fun, but she’s a nut.
“Your mother is attuned to me. It is not your place to question your mother’s role in this. Your place is to obey, and in so doing, to keep your friend alive. Can I trust you to return to your duty?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said quietly, looking down at my feet.
“Excellent. I look forward to your next report, Crystal Views of Rainbows.”
“My name is…”
“Yes. I know. Do you understand the power of your name? You see clearly. You divide simple facts into a spectrum of understanding, like a crystal divides colours into a spectrum, or rain divides light into a rainbow. You see beauty and create beauty. Your name is a declaration of your true self. You should not deny it.”
I sighed. “Can’t you call me Christie?”
She laughed that contained titter again. “If I remember. We are in agreement, then? You will report?”
“Very good. Farewell then.” She rose in an elegant unfolding, stepped into the centre of my living room, and (I swear to god!) vanished in a slice of light, as if she’d stepped through a curtain from a dark room into a brilliant one.
I sat staring at the spot. I was twelve, but I suddenly felt as if I’d grown up. I was doing great and important things, even if no one else knew about them. I was a hero, keeping my best friend safe. I smiled to myself and inclined onto the couch, pondering what else my mother might be right about.
(As a bonus, I can count this in CampNaNoWriMo word count. I’m in desperate need of the 1200 words! I have been seriously distracted by poetry this month).
the common denominator
in my life.
If trouble comes
What each event
has in common
In Grace Awakening Power, Bright tells Grace that she is the common denominator to the problems. It’s not that it’s Grace’s fault that bad things happen to her, but they aren’t happening to other people, they’re happening to her, and it’s something in her that brings the trouble.
I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately and wondering how to change the factors that result in the common denominator of my experience. How about you? Can you see how changing one or two things could change your experiences in a profound way?
PS. If find it very interesting that when centred, this poem took the shape of a punching bag. You punch these bags, and they whip right back at you. It seems full of profound symbolism. How do you interpret it?