Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Poem Writing Process Part 2

Often, once I am struck with an idea and kind of have a sense of where I want to go with a piece, I begin to let it ruminate in my thoughts, do word associations, writing exercises, more free-write to see if any thing else needs to come out and be said.  One of my favorite things to do for inspiration is to look to my mentors for guidance.  My love for poetry began long before I began writing, and there are so many poets that have left powerful imprints on my evolution as a writer and artist.  Searching in the annals of my memory and remembering any references or ideas about the life of an artist one person immediately comes to mind.  One of my favorite poets and teachers is Rainer Maria Rilke.  In his third letter in the book “Letters To A Young Poet” in which he is corresponding to one of his students over a few years span about life and art and poetry, he says this about being an artist.

Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentation, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!

With this inspiration and guidance in my mind and heart, I let this speak and inform my writing as I take it to another step in its development.

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My Poem Writing Process Part 1

Hello Friends!

I am excited for the new year ahead and as usual, this time of year comes with its own reflections and resolutions, I am not usually one of those people, and so I am not saying that I will be writing more in the new year or trying to write one poem a day, every time i try i fall flat on my face and it hurts to have words stamped all over your forehead from hitting the ground.  So that’s not happening.  Nonetheless something is happening these days, and new year or not I am going to follow it for as long as it allows me to.  I have been writing and been inspired lately to get back behind the desk and write with more intention and speak to the new lessons and discoveries I have made for myself and to push forward and create into what I want to become in this new chap book of my life.  (I have a baby on the way if you haven’t already heard!)

So as I go along the process, I figured I would also take this opportunity for those of you that might be interested in what my process as a writer, poet, performance artist or whatever you would like to call it looks like.  In so many ways, the power of an artists work  isn’t only represented in her finished creations, but in the story of how those creations came to become finished.

Tyler Floren Art


I have been blessed in my early stages as an artist with the opportunity to witness and to learn from the story and work of an amazing artist, friend  and most importantly brother, Tyler Floren http://tylerflorenart.com/ (Trust me, you will want to check out his work) His work as an artist has been some of the most influential work in my life, and has informed my work as an artist like no other, in so many ways the images he paints feel like the words that I write, and I have been able to sit with him from the beginning of some of his pieces, and see them grow and evolve, I even got to work on some pieces with him (The one pictured above)  and come to life as the story of his own unfolded.  So many people only come across his work at its final stage when they are hung on walls, but there is such a beautiful gift in being able to see the story come alive and grow with him throughout the time that it stretched to complete the work. And for that I have been eternally grateful.

My Own Process

That was a long segue into saying that I wanted to take that inspiration and this opportunity to share the same with you!  I am working on new pieces and have set intention to begin writing a new series of performance pieces in the next few months.  Tyler and I have some ideas for a future art/poetry opening road show of some sorts, so here is my attempt at beginning that project.  I figure I could perhaps attempt to document my own process and what it looks like for me to write a performance piece from start to finish to share with others as well. I am not really sure where this will take me,  but It seemed like a good place to start something new, begin paving new roads, and to travel out into unknown territory with a sense of resolve for the road ahead. So here goes….

Step one: Free Write

In the past I used to try and have an idea of what I wanted to write about ahead of time, today I am going to start out with nothing in mind and see where that takes me.  Often times I will just free-write without any thing in mind and let my stream of consciousness take over.

I often see this step as a sort of “cleaning house” or as I’ve heard it before “taking out the garbage”, getting words out onto paper and finding a good rhythm with your words and ideas is like stretching before a game, loosening up the joints and getting ready for some real work.  Some times it also ends up being a lot of the work already.  Think about it, the more loose you are, the better you will be able to trust your reflexes and intuition.  In that sense, when I can get my mind to remember that, the free-write can be the best space to get the makings  or beginnings of at least an idea or subject for a piece that needs to come out.  So today, I will start the process with a free write with no edit…..

———–Begin Free Write——————

Always being sent back in time
to remember how much
we are enthralled in the velocity
at which we soar through galaxies
in the force of a passionate lover
alive in the touch of uncertainty
painting in colors unseen
still unknown for the masterpieces
we have yet to create
unbound by the rules of
folklore or form
frenzied in the relentless passion
to forge into the sun
steel rings made of our boundless creations
untethered in conventions or value
we are the infinite possibilities
breaking through
time or space assuming they exist
In ways we have yet to comprehend
or how others thought them to be
For instance, The plains in the distance
still open in their futures
are ripe with surprise laying in wait
Beneath the tall grass
covering steps behind
blazing trails ahead
igniting words into rich color
as compassion sears into our flesh
the marks of our unbending strokes
the impact of words that collapse walls
into crumbling towers made of misunderstanding
for we are all stories tall
building deep into foundations unlimited
scraping high into towers of infinite possibility
that courage our expression
into swords of bravery cutting down
the fear that threatens to suffocate
the breathing force inside
letting loose the binds that hold
captive the coming alive of hands that
form and shift ideas into images and
break images into frozen frames of time
bending endlessly
In our creation there is destruction
In destruction there is creation.
Both, broken sides of a complete coin
waiting to be cashed in for new currency.
There are new words to be written
old stories to be told
broken images to be painted
memories to be reconstructed
dreams to become reality
Follow the direction in which your hands move
they will show you the way
Trust in the push and pull of your expression
when the storms of life begin to weather
study the force inside of you
that beats when the compulsion to create
is lit
The stage,
the canvas,
the mic,
the beat,
the dance,
the lyric,
the melody
The pulsing rhythm
of vibrating matter
reverberating through your body
of life flowing freely through your blood
in the time line of eternal creation
Listen carefully
You are waiting inside
bold and bravely
ready to become
Yourself

—————-End Free Write———————

After reading over it a few times I have begun to get a little bit of a glimpse of what I am trying to say.  There seems to be a huge emphasis on what it feels like for me to be an artist. The ways in which I see myself and how I have been thinking a lot about what it means for me to call myself an artist, and what that calling entails.  I know that there is something inside me that identifies as an artist and I fully believe that I have work to do in order to fulfill that calling, but why?  Where does that come from and what does it mean to me?  Especially when it comes to “making a living” and living in this society how can I fulfill what I believe to be a calling while providing practical needs for me and my family? It is obvious that this has been on my mind and it is directly connected to so many of the important questions already happening in my life.  Perhaps this piece can develop into my own answer to that eternal question, “What does it mean to be An Artist?” Writing for me is an opportunity to create what I want to become, to use words as a manifesto for who I want to be and give myself a prayer to recite everyday on my journey to getting there. So I see this moment as an opportunity to define myself for this new chapter and evolve deeper into becoming myself.

I’ll continue along the process in the next time I step to this poem and work on it. I feel that it will be pretty soon, so don’t worry about being left hanging for part 2! Until then, blessings!

Holiday greetings, new year reflections.

Greetings!

I just returned to Sacramento after 12 days in southern Cali.  It’s so wonderful and fun to be together with my family and friends. Many people I haven’t seen in a long time and friends that remind me of so much about myself when I was younger. It’s also really revealing in the ways we have shifted and evolved in our own personal journeys since. While we reflect back on past memories, dreams come back into sight from the foreground of the foundations in which we have been set. I attribute so much of who I am to my journey as a whole, not only in this lifetime, but also in lifetimes past. And in so many ways, the past that I have created myself in, is somehow connected to the future self that I will create to be. The movement of those that have been connected at one moment, spin off into orbits throughout the universe and still we can come together for split seconds at a time on a ride that reaches depths and heights so amazingly vast and yet so cosmically close some times it can be so much of a head spin in the far reaches of the different parts of ourselves we can touch, and also so grounding when the foundations of those that love so much of who you have already become without them even knowing.

It gives me strength to continue on in the journey, knowing there are so many people in the distances still aware of your orbit, and though I explore with such ferocity on new plains, it is grounding to feel the weight of so many that pull for you in the ways they can, and in ways that others will not. We all have our own orbits to soar through, our own fears to overcome, and so many other battles that we must face alone, but in others, it is nice to come together for a rest, to let down your guard of the places that were once so familiar in our lives.

Reflection for a new year

As the year comes to an end, and the common reflections surrounding the turning of a calendar begin to rise to the surface, and we find ourselves in the midst of siblings, cousins, old friends, aunts,uncles, parents and grandparents give yourself a moment to remember the places that have gotten you here to this point, take time to thank them for all that they have taught you and the ways in which they have given to you. And let that gratitude propel you into the next stage of your life, as you continue to recreate yourself in the forces around you that push and pull to mold you into the movement of who you are and who you are becoming.

Thank You!

Blessings to you all during this holiday season and thank you for your support.  If you are taking your time to read this then to me, you are truly one of those people that have been a part of the trajectory of my life, and have been a blessing and support to me in this journey. For that I am grateful and may this be a moment for me to say thank you for that support.  This new year has a lot of wonderful new things in store and I can feel a surge of inspiration beginning to rise up.  The time to continue working and blazing trails has come upon me once again and am excited to share the new discoveries and adventures that come along with the ride. Blessings to you all and may you have a wonderful new year!

JP

Untitled

 

I can see my moment of reckoning fast approaching on the horizon
Night delivers darkness sooner than I can remember
Each day my steps slow going on the highways blend frazzled fractured memories
into recurring nightdreams and daymares of my vision
I feel weary from the burdens I have carried for far too long
Still learning how to wrestle with the monsters
Hidden under shadows of the darkest night of my eclipsed moon
Still trying to dance with the demons of my fear keeping my feet to the ground
THOUGH I know I have the strength to move mountains with the stomping of my feet
Still, Shaking the dust off my eggplant colored heart,
Some people say purple signifies bruising
Others forget our blood is both the color of water and fire in collusion with the air
maybe this is who I am? (play)
A solitary traveler saddled with baggage too heavy for me to carry
My eye fixed on the horizon in the near distance
I know something awaits ready to show me the way
Make no mistake, when that day comes,
I’ll be leaving those bags on the side of the road
And I will never look back

I’ve come to understand that the journey of my life
Resembles a path upon which I set out to discover
the reasons I exist in this world in the way that I do.
A Tender yet strong body,
A protected and vulnerable heart
Lungs mimicking the movement of my prayer
The Inhale and the exhale of breath summoning
Divinity in the subtle movement of hands
Letting go and Holding on
In the closing of fists and the opening of palms
I can feel my way to freedom like it was printed on my heart through psalms
But sometimes raising my fists means surrender
Sometimes opening hands means to resist
Deep in my chest I carry remnants of the bridges I have burned
Just trying to understand the difference
Still, This is the only way I know to how to walk
To Proceed with cautious abandon,
To throw reckless to the wind
Let everything else fall idle to the wayside
How can I be lost going somewhere I’m sure I’ve never been

The rebirth of a phoenix rising from the ashes,
Is a redemption story unlike many others
With fire blazing from its wings
In an attempt to return to all that it once loved
Turned everything to ashes in the wake of its flames
Even repaired bridges stand no chance at its fury
The Glorious Phoenix consumed in its own passion often rises never to be seen again
But the trees, The trees those burned bridges were once made of
Speak of a rebirth through the shedding of their leaves much like the color of fire
Blazing red, Bright tip flamed Yellow
Leaves glowing orange they mirror a reflection of the suns halo
Why would the wisest ones of all
Season after season ignite their beauty into ashes
Exposing barren branches left naked for the winter?
They’ve got secrets we are supposed to uncover
They tell me, Remember that spring is always around the corner
Trust deeply in the cycles of life you walk
Let the rhythm of your steps stomp into the ground a reminder that your rebirth is told
not only in the purging flames of a fiery phoenix flying into the sunset
but also in the Trees of autumn sacrificing their leaves to feed the soil in which you root yourself down.
So when the reckoning returns, maybe this time I will learn to blaze these wings fiercely without burning everything I love to the ground.

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Writing again

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really connect with my writing in the last two years or so.  I have gone through so many shifts in the seasons of life, learned so many new lessons, deepened my own understanding of my self and have been going non-stop.  Since May 2010 it’s been a whirl wind of movement.  I moved from my hometown of Los Angeles up north to Sacramento.  I left my family, my community and so many of the things that have inspired me to write my first Zine/Chapbook, We Can All Be Brave.  That was such a powerful time of my life leading up to that, and having uprooted myself to construct another chapter of my life, my writing was one of the first things to take a break in trying to understand all of the shifting thats been going on.  Rooting myself here and experiencing the new seasons of life (they have Fall and Winter in Sacramento!!! Can you believe it!) I had a lot of lessons to learn and ways in which it was important for me to evolve and to draw new words from these surroundings.  For that past year and a half it has been so many new experiences and so many deep levels of love and loss, sex  and friendship and connecting with my own body in new ways has led me to a new chapter of my writing.  With the lunar eclipse last week and the setting of new intentions for the new year, I can feel the shifting of energy in my creative forces begin to awaken again.  To rise amongst the ashes of its death, only to find new life and strength, to find new subtelties and truth in the honest ways I have become myself.  I am enjoying the new processes and ideas, and learning how to adapt to the speed of it all.  Through Yoga and some meditation I am expanding my creative conciousness and doing a lot of dream work as well.  It is good to have the feeling again.  And though I know the breaks in my writing is just as important for my work in doing what I do, it feels good to be on the writing side of it again.

-JP