Dear Poets, Seekers, Rebels & Healers,
I hope this letter finds you well, and that these electronic carrier pigeons land in your mailbox like bright flags, saying something sensuous has been delivered. It's been a while since I've written. I'm in the process of crossing the threshold of another completion cycle--having just submitted my thesis (though there is still more work to be done before it finds its home in the world) and having also just completed my first semester of tutoring in Berklee's Writing Center.
One of the gifts of teaching there, in addition to becoming part of a wider community of creative individuals and humanistic creationists, has been the use of my yoga "skills" in this "secular" setting, the deeper embodied understandings of myself that allow me to bring more compassion, curiosity, creativity and contemplation to the world, my life, and to each session I have with a student to midwife their writing. One of the biggest surprises, and learning curves along the way has been the art of translation--80% of the students I work with are ESL learners; something I hadn't anticipated.
In helping a student translate interviews with families of children with autism from Chinese to English, I've discovered how things we might describe in the West with more clinical language are spoken in Chinese through sensual metaphor.
I've learned that I could help a brilliant student with learning disabilities who usually writes in computer code write a narrative essay--how he really already knew how to place one word after another in a sentence to build a full syntactical unit of meaning, and how, in using the metaphor of computer code living like a sentence, both being ways of communication, he could understanding how to build an essay, sentence by sentence, word by word.
A student from Israel who I've helped with his assignments for the class "The Art of Losing" has taught me more about the poetry of loss.
There have been times too where I've been frustrated, or even, in reverence to poetry and the English language, offended when a student is uninspired, blasé and doesn't know what a period is. Doesn't know their Professor's name, or is building the belief that white America is only oppressive, while I sit there within my whiteness, and my own encounters with patriarchal familial oppression. The opportunity in all of these experiences has been for both of us--student and teacher, teacher and student--to stay, in the midst of discomfort, and see what renewed understanding is possible within and between, for us both.
As for my own on-going embodied learning, I'm continuing to explore performance poetry weekly at Lizard Lounge, and just completed a 6 week guitar class. For the past 8 months, I have been slowly exploring Gregory Orr's book Poetry as Survival (I myself am a slow reader, partially because I like to consider, marinate in meaning, take notes, and digest). So much of what Orr says resonates, and him mirroring back to me my belief in the ways poetry can alchemize experience, allow us to make order out of disorder, and create value and meaning when the structures we've lived in continue to crumble, is a welcome comfort in life's ongoing cycles, completions, and transitions. That way we're always re-membering ourselves, and how the events of our secular lives are not separate from our writing, but exactly what gives rise to it. From here, our poetry becomes more than just how we singularly survive, but how we connect more deeply with ourselves and community, through humanness, resiliency and tenderness, and thrive.
I'm in the process of developing a few embodied poetics offerings for GrubStreet, Lesley University, and a poetry-tribe retreat that echo of Orr's sentiment: Romanticism urges us to have faith in imagination and its power to incarnate and consolidate meanings in the sensuous bodies of poems. I'll keep you posted as these offerings develop. In the meantime, feel free to hit "reply" and let me know if this resonates, and if you're interested in alchemizing your own myriad experiences of head and heart into the meaningful mosaics of poetry and art.
As always, I love hearing from you, so also feel free to drop me a line just to say "hi."
To Your Own Unique Poetry & Forever Flowing Ink,