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 published in 2015, with a new edition coming out soon. 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!
Have you ever been in that stark and lonely place of having to make a decision you might regret, no matter what you choose? Or fought with God or yourself over having to make a choice, knowing either way it will hurt those you love and change their lives forever?
Writing in her diary, Mae questions God as she and her husband receive devastating news about her pregnancy and agonize over the decisions they face. Needing time away to think, she visits her childhood home and reconnects with Will, a deaf friend who taught her to sign when they were young. After her visit, Mae and Will continue an intimate written exchange in which she confides her despair, while Will shares his own struggle to honor the wishes of his dying father, and reconcile his mother’s reluctance to let go.
Night Flying is a collection of letters and poems that delivers a powerful, nonjudgmental narrative around the difficult choices we make about life and death, and will touch anyone who has suffered through similar heartbreaking circumstances. First published by Port Yonder Press, a new edition will be released in 2018 by Kin Press.
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
Night Flying cover art: Benjamin D. Bailey