Petals fall lush to ground,
not yet dried or decayed,
unsullied by wind, sun, rain,
handfuls of spring snow
tethered still to this life,
where we train our eyes
on what comes before
the last, the spectre of this
dancing alongside our joy.
Beauty gathers everywhere
before we have a chance
to discriminate and fear,
pierces though every want
we might begin to have
for things to be different.
Imbibe before pleasure
divides into pain.
It is here in this space
that miracles are born,
that the ways of seeing,
ways of our sacred being,
we could possibly know.
I will meet you where
water turns to air
where body meets shadow
I will meet you where
dawn’s grey brightens
and flatness finds contour
I will come meet you
where our worldly view
bleeds into the horizon
And even sooner,
where it’s all coming
into sweet soft being
I will honour the way
you have found to grow
from bud to blossom
And make yourself known
and seen, and I’ll try to always
meet you where you are. – TS
Sometimes I think writing is the only thing that keeps me sane (however we define this word). That probably means that I’m just not doing enough of the other stuff out there designed to keep everything in balance, but this still doesn’t take away from my love affair with words.
So … I’ve done it again and make a book! Inspired by both my experience of the famed Japanese seasons, and Zen poetry, I’ve written a little book of pomes that also reflects what my diary process can look like (after considerable editing and reformulation).
Preview the first few pages, share, like, gift the poetically-inclined, support … and as always, I’d love to hear from you! Writing is for sharing is for connection!
Great news! My publisher, Prolific Press, is hosting a free giveaway of “Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again”!
Click HERE to win!
A DANCE WITH ONENESS
A secret rises to our lips, beguiling and unnamable, lush and mysterious, alive with the potential to liberate us in a beautiful act of revelation.
One of the most special qualities we possess as humans is that we can explore the hidden and bring it to light; we can know the illumined from the shadowed, and we can seek out those deepest secrets without and within. These are the secrets of nature and the cosmos, which are only obscured from us as long as we have not yet found our pathway there.
These are the secrets and truths of our very own souls, and we have the power to bring them into the fiery brightness of day.
It is our birthright to dive with full abandon into the life we have been given, and to thrive amid the most intimate communions, where secrets have no need for conception. Yet in many ways, we are still a world divided, and so secrets are made, and forged deep within our crevasses, along the fabric of our collective being.
Perhaps our secrets originate in forces of suppression vast and deep, or maybe we’ve been taught to believe that we are not free to acknowledge and express what blooms within. We may have come to take this as Truth, and found ways to live around the promise of our souls’ deepest wishes.
But then, the time comes when a burning need overtakes, a calling, and we are humbled and ecstatic before the urge to lay our secrets bare, so that they transform into beautiful manifestations of the fierce uniqueness of our being. We discover that secrets burn holes where wholeness should dwell. We find the words to convey the reservoir of creativity we’ve been harboring since the beginning of all there is.
The unleashing of our souls’ secrets is nothing less than an act of divinity coursing through us, a dance with sparkling oneness within pristine and eternal Time, as we find true homes in our bodies, on Earth and beyond.
Who among us doesn’t walk the earth with the songs of our souls waiting to emerge? And so we carve a space for silence, and we remember what has been forgotten. We surrender so that enchantment may come. We take refuge in Mother Earth, under the moon, in the stars above. We revel before the sun as it casts its last embers of the day, in the bud of a seed bursting into new life, in the ineffable moments of life that flow within us like cosmic breath. The mysteries do not only inspire questions, but penetrate on levels we cannot glimpse with our conscious minds; they hint to us in our dreams, and gently evoke our expressive powers.
With this, our gift of expression, we hold space for the dreams and stories our soul secrets reveal, and awaken as a life unified and divine.
May these beautiful poems voicing soul secrets illumine us all.
This is the introduction I wrote for Chapter 7: Voicing Soul Secrets, featured in our new poetry book: Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry, edited by the brilliant Catherine Ghosh and published by Golden Dragonfly Press. I’m also thrilled to have five poems published in the book! You can purchase your copy at Amazon.com, here. All proceeds go to WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization empowering girls to find their voice through creativity and the written word. It’s been a true honour to be a part of this project!
As dawn crept in on my 40th year, I shivered with excitement – and trepidation, and oddly, a feeling of peace.
I’d already created a card from a photo of mine, so I could send my sincerest gratitude to so many people I love and hold dear. In this age of Internet, living as far away as Japan still feels, well … far, but I’m also able to stay connected in so many ways that fill my heart.
Less than two months after my birthday, I heard from Prolific Press that they were interested in publishing my travel-based poems that became my very first published collection, “Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again.” I was flummoxed, elated, terrified, bedazzled, and mostly, filled with wonder.
Over the coming months, as I hunkered down daily to work on a new novel I’d started, Prolific Press and I selected, revised, formatted, compiled some more, and eventually, came up with the title and beautiful cover image for the book!
As this was going on, the words and the poems continued to flow, and by the happiest of serendipitous encounters, I discovered Women’s Spiritual Poetry, a beautiful blog and project that serves as a platform for women’s poetry from all over the world. I submitted my first poem there, and had such a warm, lovely experience that I haven’t looked back! Catherine Ghosh, WSP’s courageous, generous, brilliant and gifted leader, provides such a warm and protective space for her writers, that becoming part of this community has been a truly remarkable gift – yet another in my 40th year!
They say 40 is magical, powerful, special, and I believe this to be true.
A few months ago, Catherine invited us women to become part of a collaborative effort: her second anthology of poetry consisting if poems coming from the blog. I leaped at the chance! I ended up getting involved in the selection process, have five poems included in the book, and I also did a little bit of proofreading, and wrote an introduction for one of the chapters: Voicing Soul Secrets.
There was actually another little serendipity involved here. I live in Japan, as you know, so much of the work that goes on in my co-writers/poets’ lives happens while I’m in the throes of dreamland. I’d noticed late at night (for me), before going to bed, that 13 writers would be needed for chapter introductions. My eye fell immediately to Soul Secrets, but I didn’t want to be pushy – I was fairly new to the group, and didn’t want to overstep, and I for sure didn’t want to take some work that another poetess was dreaming of doing! I told myself that if it was still available in the morning, I’d offer to write it.
When I woke up … it was the only one left!
Being intimately involved in the production process of this book was a privilege and a huge learning experience. I got to watch as one of our poetesses, Shailie Dubois, offered a painting she’d done that was so stunning it ended up on the cover of the book – she also did another for the back cover, and did one of the book’s two trailers (Catherine, a masterful video creator), did the other).
And now, just after my 41st birthday, I am gifted again … with the release of the book! On the day of its release, our new poetry book “Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry” made it to the #1 spot on Amazon’s Bestselling New Releases in Poetry by Women *and* to the #2 spot in Bestselling Poetry by Women (in general) right next to MARY OLIVER, one of my heroines!
What a year, and bookended (!), no less, by two books. For a human like me, who has been dreaming and breathing words her whole life, this is a moment I want to fully dive into with my full appreciation and gratitude.
The work never stops, the words continue to flow, emotions run in every which way … but for now, we are here, and there is a lot of celebrating to do.
Thank YOU for being here to celebrate with me. May we share words and hearts for a long time to come!
I had copies of my book shipped to Canada, where I’m from, for my recent visit there.
It was a strange and beautiful thing, to be in the place – both geographically and emotionally – that inspired the book’s first section of poems, along with the love of my family and friends, whom I hadn’t seen during the span of my Eastern travels.
Here I was, filled with such warmth and intimacy after so many years away, and all of this took me to a space utterly beyond words. We come into the world without words, and words fail us when strong and powerful emotions take over. Somewhere in between, there is the dance of expression, the muse of experience, and there is specifically, for me, the written word, one of the primary ways I have chosen to express my passion for being in this world.
Here were both my words and the wordless commingling in and around the space of love, connection and gratitude. For the first time in years, I spent days on end (three weeks worth!) without writing a single sentence, and yet I had this Formation of words already written, there for the sharing. Life – its cycles, its swirl of emotion and lessons – is wondrous.
We Carve Hearts on Stone
Though I love writing in many different forms and styles, lately I’ve found poetry running through my veins, the poetic framework fitting so seamlessly with my experiences as they weave through my deepest recesses and into expressive emergence.
This year, I felt compelled to write a poem per day during National Poetry Month in April. As I’m currently living in Japan, I decided to write haikus – not the traditional Japanese haiku, but the more standardized version that follows the 5-7-5 syllable count. True in some sense to the Japanese style of haiku, however, I quickly found myself instinctively focusing on the theme of nature.
At the very beginning, I wrote a poem and then found a photo to accompany it, but after a few days, I found myself drawn to the idea of seeking out a photo to draw inspiration from. Imagery and language complement each other so strikingly, intellect and formulation on the one side, and a landscape beyond words and into the realm sensory consciousness on the other; I chose photos that spoke directly to me on a sensual and emotional level, ones that evoked strong memories associated with the moment I captured the image during a long and beautiful journey through Southeast Asia and India, leading to Japan. The haikus that followed were not a “direct result” of the photograph, but very often mirrored its aesthetic and preoccupation, while also remaining very much tethered to my heart on that given day.
One example of this was the day the devastating earthquake hit Nepal. My heart was spilling over in sadness and grief, and the photo I selected – taken in the Himalayan foothills – and the haiku I wrote seemed to find each other before the words were even written.
This video below, entitled “We Carve Hearts on Stone”, is a compilation of the 30 days of poems and photographs, and owes its existence to the unending inspirations of Catherine Ghosh, whose idea it was to make this video, who encouraged me to re-read a month’s worth of work in search of its story – what a cathartic moment, to find it in the search for peace and stillness, and the lessons Earth’s splendors offer! – and who singlehandedly produced and edited the video, and found the brilliant music by the gifted Larry Kutcher to accompany the piece to such evocative effect. Catherine, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Please see the original posting of this video on Women’s Spiritual Poetry: Journey of the Heart.