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.
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.
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
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.
I have been taking part in some of the collage challenges that are going around on Instagram. Yes, I have been mentioning this particular platform quite a bit lately. I actually really like Instagram. I (almost) never seen dubious selfies or food porn shots there, because I mostly follow other poets and (collage) artists. I also like to follow museums and other inspiring accounts. Instagram is mostly very good at showing you what you want to see, except for the increasing number of ads that are plaguing the platform. But still, I save a lot of money on magazines. I never buy them anymore, and they are mostly filler nowadays anyway. So… collage art. Here are three pieces I made recently.