WRITING (and a bit of ART)
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of words. To heal, and to hurt. To connect, and detach. To mesmerize. To startle.
As a child, one of the first books I learned to read was a collection of illustrated poems. From Blake to Dickinson to Sandburg, many of them were nature and animal themed, all of them were enchanting. I soon began to create my own versions, a more acceptable form of self-expression than my usual outlets—crayoning the kitchen walls and carving up the headboard of my bed. These poems were often gifts to friends, favorites teachers, and close family members.
I still enjoy that kind of giving by sending my work into the world, more often now touching strangers. And as a sometime editor and book designer, I also enjoy midwifing the work of others. One of my recent projects was Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements, a collaboration between American poet Jeffery Beam and Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins. You can learn more about that collaboration here.
I’m a fan of blending genres, too. My epistolary poetry-novella, Night Flying, was first published in 2015, with a second edition released in 2020. And I’ve just begun a project integrating text and texture within images of the human body, exploring the tensions of trauma vs. safety and illness vs. health. There will be updates to come!
Writing in her diary, Mae questions God as she and her husband receive heartbreaking news about her pregnancy. Agonizing over the path ahead, the decisions they face soon threaten their marriage—is it right to bring a child into the world who they’ve been told might suffer?
Pressured to end the pregnancy, Mae escapes to her hometown and visits her grandmother. There, she also reconnects with Will, a childhood friend who was born deaf. She confides her despair to Will as he shares his own struggle to help his dying father, who has asked for his suffering to end.
After her visit, Mae and Will write to each other as they continue their heartbreaking journeys. While Mae navigates the decisions she must make, including the possibly of forging ahead alone, Will must reconcile the promise he has made to his father and his mother’s reluctance to let go.
Mae and Will’s story weaves an intimate narrative of love and hope, as Night Flying explores the difficult choices we encounter, both in life and in death.
A review from Tony Connor, poet, playwright, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature:
“Night Flying navigates darkness using only the instruments of the author’s finely tuned imagination. The work defies classification—poem, novella, epistolary meditation—while engaging many literary modes and amply fulfilling Ezra Pound’s famous dictum, Make it new.
Audacious and original, it fuses Job-like questioning of God’s goodness with the colloquial exchange of emails, touching, as it does so, upon religious heritage, the flawed human flesh, childhood hopes, death’s certainty, the limits of language and truths to be apprehended only in silence. At the same time, the work embodies a powerful dialogue between the certainties of tradition and the dislocations of post-modernism, which in no way obscures its simpler and grander purpose.
Night Flying is, above all else, a touching evocation of physical and spiritual suffering and love.”
Featured art: Not Right, charcoal