Atelier of Healing: poetry about trauma and recovery

Atelier of Healing is a poetic journey through the process of healing from trauma. The anthology was carefully put together by poet/writers Eric F. Tinsay Valles, who is also the director of the Poetry Festival in Singapore, and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, founder of Squircle Line Press.

Because of the current pandemic, they made the decision to make the entire anthology available online. The international selection of poetry is freely accessible to anyone who is in need of the transformative power of creativity.

I was blessed to have a poem accepted for this wonderful collection. You can find my poem in chapter 8, but I encourage you to explore the rest of the website and share your favourite poems with friends and family.

Altitude

A short while ago I wrote a poem for a creative prompt by a good friend, and in the same week I made a collage for another creative challenge. As it turns out, the two influenced each other and even though the poem initially had a different resonance for me, I increasingly started to read it in a way that seemed to talk about the depiction in the collage.

High pressure

after Matsuo Bashō

outside the sounds of summer
i hear the birds and grasses
sing of a gold coiled and all
enveloping, but still that
gold is foreign to me – it remains
out of reach and out of
my way as if the warrior’s
hearsay is the final dream

In the guest room: Sean Tierney

The second artist to visit this guest space is poet and solar etched mono print maker Sean Tierney. When I engage with Sean’s work, the world’s spinning slows and it helps me to find a space of both quiet reflection and crystal clarity.


SAME OLD QUIET

My two hands beg a bird for
song but can only carry the tune
so far – to the tree line, bombing like
a waiter with a bowl of soup, knowing if
I drop it I’ve only the quiet of the house
to return to

the same old quiet

it turns
me inside out
and I don’t trust
even the floor to hold
me in that state

Three questions to Sean

What does reading/writing poetry do for you?


This is something I was thinking about recently when a friend pulled a 2011 anthology from my shelf containing a handful of old poems I wrote while living in Vermont. I was embarrassed when he read them out loud because of how simple and silly they were, but it got me talking about the poetry that was influencing me at that time. Mainly Richard Brautigan, but also a lot of Japanese writers like Santoka Taneda and Ikkyu. Poems that never took themselves too seriously, about subject matter so small it turned the volume down on everything else.


I also recalled a Thich Nhat Hanh book my mother had when I was a kid. I don’t remember the title, but I would return to that book whenever I felt anxious or overwhelmed. Stories about washing the dishes with mindfulness, preparing food, walking in the woods, etc. The small things we do every day and never ever consider to be miracles.


I realized then that this Thich Nhat Hanh book was a big influence on the types of writers and poets I would seek out later in life. I am still to this day looking for poems that turn the volume up on the little things and down on the big ones. Because poetry is a meditation for me. A grounding ritual. A deep, slow breath when my mind is gasping for air.


What should we know about you that will help us understand your work?


It’s no fun to admit, but anxiety and loneliness are a large part of my life. I’ve had more panic attacks than I care to admit and the only thing that truly calms my nerves is reading and writing poetry. Completing a poem I’m proud of gives me a sense of purpose and belonging I can’t find at work or anywhere else.


I’ve always had a lot of trouble communicating and poetry/art is where I can say what I really mean to say and you won’t hear it until it’s ready to be said. (Except for my 2011 poems… they weren’t ready haha.) Poetry has always been a form of long-distance communication. I can communicate with poets who have been dead for years, some hundreds of years, just by flipping through the pages of a book. Those conversations transform my life, right here and now.


And of course, the long-distance thing is quite literal now that most poets are sharing their work on the internet. We’re calling lots of random numbers and hoping someone answers.


What brought you joy this week?


When a fellow poet and artist living in a country I’ve never even visited showed enough interest in my poetry to want to know more about me… Also, I drank a beer on the beach yesterday. Under the shade of a palm tree. There were crows stealing people’s food and retreating to my palm tree. They didn’t work for me, but I pretended that they did.

Out now: Anthropocene Hymnal

This beautifully presented anthology collects poems from around the world and together they form a poetic response to the joint crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

The anthology is the brainchild of Ingrid Wilson, a poet and writer whose passion for natural conservation is evident in her work.

I was lucky enough to have one of my poems chosen to be a part of this collection. And I’m proud to announce that all the proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to WWF!

You can pre-order The Anthropocene Hymnal Kindle Edition on Amazon. The official release date is 24 July 2021. A paperback version is coming soon and you will also be able to purchase an e-book from Ingrid herself on her website.

In the guest room: Uchechukwu Nwafor

I have built a cozy annex to my little corner of the web. It will house some of my favourite poets from the Instagram poetry community. These poets inspire me every day, and I hope that they will inspire you too.


The first poet to sojourn in my little guest room is a poet who has also become a dear friend, Uchechukwu Nwafor. I have asked him three questions and you can read his answers below. But first, two stunning poems:

Three questions to Uche

What does reading/writing poetry do for you?

art has always been about enlivening the senses. personally, it’s a passageway & the destination for a higher thought level. poetry is no different, whether i’m reading or writing, i’m always flooded with a sense of self-awareness. a moment is frozen in time (one that i can always revisit) & that has a way of shaping my past, present & future; it changes how i’ve seen things, how i see it & how i’ll see it. reading poetry allows room for me to be satiated with the thought that others feel the same way as i do, that i’m not alone. it’s only a matter of who bleeds it on paper first. rumi said it best, “inspirations aren’t from us, but descend upon us. and if not expressed through one, it finds another”. writing is more than an expression, it’s the sustenance & preservation of life as we know it. 

What should we know about you that will help us understand your work?

i grew up in a religious family & coupled with the human inquisition to ‘see’ more than the physical, my writings gravitate towards the divine. i love to observe creation so nature is a must-have, must-feature facet of my writing. being a tailor/fashion designer has affected my writing greatly, even though i started wielding a pen before i knew how to wield a needle, both rub off on each other in the most artful way. i’m a huge fan of rap lyricism, the puns, the metaphors, the wordplay, the imagery winged on the human voice most especially to create a positive impact on the listener is a source of great inspiration. poetical lyrics move me. 

What brought you joy this week?

ahh, some question! i read poetry every day, from any source i can find, and two poems really stuck out to me; “window” by Forough Farrokhzad & Tracie Morris’ ”401 requiem”. having their words flip a switch was more than a joyful moment, it was an experience i’ll not quickly forget.

Find Uche on Instagram: @notesfromhim

Poetry reading: 2 golden shovels

I recorded another poetry reading earlier this week. This time of two golden shovel poems. The poems use lines from Sylvia Plath’s poems ‘On the plethora of Dryads’ and ‘Childless woman’.

I accidentally deleted the video I made last week, but this one did make it on to YouTube. Unfortunately I’m no longer able to embed videos straight into this blog, so I have posted a screenshot here as an image. If you click the image or the link below it, you can view the video on the YouTube website.

If clicking the image doesn’t work for, try clicking here 🙂