I was reawakened in Erik Ehn's 30 day virtual silent playwriting retreat last July.
I'm craving that kind of submersion again, especially of the in-person variety. We did much much much that month, making/reading/writing intentionally TOO much, with big pockets of stillness, silence invited throughout. We created in all disciplines and I often felt back at my MFA Program at CIIS, the first academic environment where I felt at home. Here are a few remnants, scrappy poem cut-ups/blackouts that helped me move forward in my process toward a larger thing.
Oh you green and luscious
peat moss, fruit of my hips
hair in mouth
light in eyes
my unaligned posture
form pressing me down
small breeze, nuthatch on elm
I'll one day stop making up for lost time
and the death of everyone I love
I threw up twice from the heat
and cookie dough ice cream
squeezed my eyes tight
A big emptying out
rotting cold astroturf
we slept in oceans of smoke
my upper half went numb
What is the color of sun?
A family escaping
overloaded raft made of scrap wood, piles
House on fire, they lost everything
Drifting apart into Pacific
A choke pulsed up
My heart sparks
me in their folds, their kingdom
Clouds pressed on through the wind
I hope inside you are bright
Once upon a time, I had a little rabbit.
I found it on the side of the road one winter night on my walk.
It didn’t move, munching on stiff grass, looking up at me as I approached.
I knelt close to its face and whispered hi.
Its eyes glowed red. Then flashed back again.
I watched a while and continued on.
Close to home I looked back. It was following me.
I knew it was just a rabbit but I walked faster
and even jogged my last blocks, ducking fast around two bends.
At my front lawn I turned and saw it still following, eyes flashing red to black.
I dashed in my front door and locked it,
scolding myself for how silly I was to run from a rabbit.
I decided to call her a she.
I decided it was a gift to see her out in my lawn munching grass.
I looked out my peephole and then out my window.
I saw how cute her hazel ears laid against her back.
Her eyes no longer red.
I decided I made up my fears.
I started to fall for her bushy tail, hunched walk, big back feet.
She caught me staring. I waved.
She returned to her dinner.
She had been on a long winding journey.
She lost three litters to poison.
She smelled something trustworthy on me
and decided to try trusting me for a while.
I needed to trust someone too.
I needed to feel trustworthy.
I needed someone to believe in me.
Every day had felt so alone that year.
I decided she was a good omen, the start of a lucky break.
In the previous year, I lost too many people.
Sometimes tragedy comes in threes.
For me that year it came in 30s. In 300s.
I couldn’t remember what it was like to not feel completely alone in the world.
Everyone leaves or dies.
This rabbit, let her stay.
Let me let her stay.
In the gracious benevolence of the gods,
I besought them with all wild display,
hands to air to ceiling,
mouth to lips and prayer of my heart,
I needed their boon now,
to look out for me and this creature.
I decided to go out. Give her a proper greeting.
Out the front door, she looked up at me.
Her red and black eyes flashing again.
She looked more like an it now, not a she.
I kept my heart still. I had to trust it. I needed this.
I breathed and knelt down, my fingers to the earth, a gesture of welcome, coaxing.
She/it bounded slow toward me. Eyes transfixing me.
I heard her/its thoughts. Becoming my thoughts.
I heard instructions to pick her/it up, bring her/it inside.
To care for her/it.
To give her/it a home.
To shelter her/it.
To let her/it into my body.
To let her/it into my brain.
To let her/its spirit out of this rabbit and into my body.
I saw myself feel her/its power, soon to be her/my power.
I had no more willpower.
I soon would have no more me.
Her/its eyes and fur against my skin paralyzed me, broke me.
I picked her/it up, I no longer I.
On my bed we laid ourselves down, my no longer my.
I let her/it hold me, climb me, peeking head inside my mouth.
Between my teeth, through those red eyes,
she/it breathed her/its/my spirit,
consuming/becoming me, l
eaving this rabbit shell,
this body corpse on my/its/her/their bed.
The shell soon to be eaten, discarded,
as this human body would be, once we finished.
Another being taken,
our one-by-one assemblage for our mother planet,
as we consume this earth with our brainwaves.
Once upon a time, we had a little rabbit/little woman/little planet.
Happy. New. Year. (The more we say it, the more it's true?)
As challenging times continue for many/all(?) of us, I'm finding it even more important to reflect on wins, losses, missed opportunities and new connections. There are a lot more highlights than I expected from 2021 -- maybe if you look back, you'll find the same? I hope so. Here are some from my end:
I did make progress on my 2021/2022 goals, but I notice my goals for the next two years do look similar to last year's (and the year before). As Andrew Simonet encourages, I'm trying to think more in terms of decades now, rather than years or days, so that's okay. Progress is progress. These are big goals for me. These days still aren't usual. I'm grateful to be healthy, have work, have a home to live in, be able to afford groceries, rent, bills and small luxuries, and be *relatively* mentally stable.
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
As I've found it challenging to make bold steps in these days of continued uncertainty, finding myself occasionally paralyzed by the unknowns aided by past trauma festering in my ribs, I want to make this a year of more bravery, more stepping forward into what I know I need, letting go of what no longer serves me, more courageous joy, more openhearted rejuvenation, more grounding reflection. May 2022 be my year of claiming space for what I know I need.
Thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts about my 500-word artist statement in process. Below is the 250-word version. They'll both live in the "About" section of my website shortly. Feel free to again share observations, what feels like the strongest pieces of language, how it makes you see/invites you into my work and questions, if you like. Regardless, thanks for taking an early glimpse.
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I study the distance between us, seeking connection across differences.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible. I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I cook our rawest parts together in hot lava stew.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the brutality of reality. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the shadows inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too.
Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything.
Hello! I'm working on updating my artist statement. Below is a draft of the full 500-word version (that I can cut down as needed for various applications, but would live on this website along with a 250-word version). If you want, feel free to share your first impressions, using the following questions as guideposts:
What is the strongest language -- words/phrases that linger with you?
After reading the statement, is it clear what kind of art I make?
Is it clear why I do it? Why (I hope) it matters in the world? And how I do it?
Does it make you want to see my work?
If you already know my work (a bit or a lot), does it sound like what I make, or more aspirational, something I'm reaching for but doesn't quite fit yet?
Thank you for reading and any help you'd like to give! Observations and questions are welcome, prescriptions less so. No troll remarks needed, either :)
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I examine the gaps dividing genres, people, perspectives and my own disjointed fragments. Studying the distance between us, I seek connection across differences. I write what terrifies me, juxtaposing the rough and the funny, the silken and sharp, the gorgeous and grotesque to catch a glimpse at what it means to exist on this planet.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible for me. Swimming through memories I can't believe happened, I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
Sensory details spark mirror neurons that unite nervous systems. In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. As I exorcise my past, my peripheral vision widens. Disparate pathways coalesce. Through searching research, conversations, surveys and letters shared with me, I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I pour together collected stories, observations and devised collaborations in hot lava stew, cooking our rawest parts together. Cathartic release brings breath.
My play see in the dark: a new myth churns a recurring nightmare from my adolescence with our fears of the other and climate disaster. In a future Juneau, Alaska when all the glaciers have melted, the ice fields have vanished and nothing is recognizable, an isolated community of mutant outsiders must decide what to do with a newcomer: the young girl with a great power that threatens to destroy their village and everyone in it. This play collides environmental collapse, collectivism, poetry, a genocidal shadow beast, radical love and the value of compassion over suspicion.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty flooding with waterfalls, oceans and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the heartbreaking brutality of reality. It's hard being alive today. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the things inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too. I want us to take stock of our hidden monstrosities. Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything. What if we held unconditional friendliness toward all citizens of the multiverse, ourselves included? I want to hold out a hand and sit with you through your struggle.
Together we can get through this thing called life.
Recently I enjoyed listening to this podcast episode "Lost Proof" by Dr. Cindy Shearer, my former professor and advisor in my MFA days, when I studied Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts at California Institute of Integral Studies.
In response to Cindy's invitation at the end of the episode, I went on my own little trip and made a postcard out of the experience. I feel so-so about the results, but found the process awakening, so wanted to share her invitation with you:
"What if you make a commitment to do something that you do every day but to try it on for one day in a new way. What if you try to see it, experience it as travel or as a trip. Don't forget to take your travel -- your traveler -- journal with you. Record words that speak to you...as you travel or images, or pick up small items that appeal or speak to you so that you have them to remind you of the trip when you get back. When you do get back from your trip, feel free to explore definitions or the etymology or the synonyms connected to words that you found...Sit with it all. And then make a postcard of your trip. Don't forget, please, to make your stamp."
I took a walk in the foothills near my neighborhood as I often do. What most struck me was the number of demolition sites in my path. A row of low-income rentals gone for future condos. An old building (perhaps related to the military site that used to be there) torn down in the dusty hills on my route, resulting in new fenced-off locations and detours. I was able to find a different way to my favorite spot -- a pond leading to a little marshy-land in the midst of high-desert surroundings -- but the circuitous directions kept me thinking about how much is continuously disappearing in our cities and natural landscapes.
I think if I spent more time making the postcard, I might enjoy that element more, but going through this short process was a playful way to reenter a larger project I'm returning to this month. I forgot to look up etymologies, synonyms and definitions of words -- definitely something I'll do if I revisit this with another walk and text/image piece in the future. Maybe I will, down the road, or on a break/detour from my current project.
If you go on a journey and make a postcard, I'd love to hear about it. So would Cindy -- you can connect with her via Instagram as she invites at the end of the podcast.
A few images from my trip:
i see you hiding
in your busyness
your lightning bolt
or get comfortable
wavering that hula hoop
burst light pools
poor or not
i am here
the saga a high road
shatter empty smoke
find breathing room
wake from chaos
dance in ocean currents
in your color
stop trying so hard
the grey a mist
a cloud this city lives in
we got swallowed
by a volcano
through wide, tall panes
fragments of cyan
but a ghost blue
less of itself
i squint my eyes
peering at bright
but an overcast lid
traps muggy dry
the sleepy light
ducking back in bed sight
a bronze tongue that makes me
fold in on my ribs
air punishes lungs
days like this
might as well stay inside
watch the months go by
dig the garden
push into heat
tick tick tick at keys
one idea, another
rake past garbage
writing is composting
churning one thought, another
spidery grasses, tough weeds
sew hope, prune sentences, enrich soil
all the waiting
daily in the dirt
vigils on chair, by seedlings
fight critics, aphids, slugs
sometimes the sun
sometimes a frost
and everything wastes
50 pages pumped
but the harvest
after mind numbing stuck
to make something of this land
is it even fertile?
the chance of leaves, blooms, a whole tomato
a feast, a draft
a completed work
something to dream on
to return for
tick tick tick
Crunch up foothills
Swelter sweat, dust
Birch leaves rattle
Brief moments of clouds, paralyzed in blue
Feet ache, my poor bunion toe
Heart starts to slow
Thighs sting, the climb
The path by the pond
A sign sticks out
ice isn't safe
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: