For Songs of Survival, I am reading two poems, “Peer Counselor,” and “Opossum,” for the celebration of the anniversary of the MeToo movement at Awakenings Gallery in Chicago this coming Thursday, October 18, 2018 (go here for tickets). In making postcards to share, I wanted to contrast the intensity of the topic with an offering towards light and hope. I chose four lines from “Peer Counselor” to put across images by my poetry movie collaborator Robyn Beattie, the lines meant to show the healing power of the counselor’s presence:
her little voice encircling us both like a cocoon
or some indigo dusk moon ring or crystal astral pod
feathered white like Midwest windows in winter
in which I could suddenly see the holographic self
Through more than thirty of Robyn’s beautiful photographs I rummaged, looking for something that would convey the intensity as well as possible joy or healing point. Ultimately, I couldn’t just choose just one image.
“Cambrian layer,” a detail from a sculpture by Carol Setterlund, spoke to me for its vibrant reds and blues–the enchanting play of color—the complex layers of a self and undisturbed vitality.
The second image, “Thrice Light,” a detail from a sculpture by Raymond Barnhart, with its masks in descending shells could easily stand for the way counselors and helpers and friends have the ability to help us emerge, closer to the surface of living, like that second face, closer to us, the one behind us encouraging us to risk again.
What I love about the shell sculpture image is that only after I chose it did I learn that it was a variation on the original sculpture, as in the photos here. In the first picture, see how the two masks are in fact positioned at completely different levels, one on the base of the sculpture platform, and one raised up on a glass stand?
The one shell had come loose and it was resting up against the other, and Robyn happened to snap a photo of it in its state of disrepair, sister shells temporarily in closer proximity. Happy accident: I love the image.
And if you look closely, you’ll notice the masks in the original sculpture do not have delineated mouths. I mentioned to Robyn that I felt having a mouth, and thus a voice, was an important metaphor to convey visually. So she went in to the photo and added mouth outlines, and there we are, the finished image! I also didn’t know the title of the Barnhart piece until after I selected it. I love “Thrice Light” for its bounty of light, not just one kind of light or two, but three…I think of layers or rings of light. That’s what comes to mind just hearing the title.
I’d love to know your thoughts in relation to the postcards, what they inspire for you. And if you are in Chicago this Thursday, doors open at 7 for a night of dance, poetry, and music.
Join me Tuesdays for Tarot for Joy
I’d love to see you in my drop in Tarot writing group. We meet every Tuesday to journal to the Tarot for an hour at 11 am PST. Tomorrow we are writing to the Two of Cups. We are working our way through the deck, one card per week. We show up, write, and share over video call. You can even wear your pajamas! Details here, Tarot Tuesdays Returns with Tarot for Joy.
“Peer Counselor” was originally published by Chaparral (thank you Kim Young) and appears in November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014). We are hoping to make a recording of the performance in Chicago so I can share my father’s keyboard accompaniments to the poems on my site here.
In the Press Democrat, an article about Genevieve Barnhart:
A Pilgrimage: The Sculpture & Photography of Genevieve Wilson Barnhart
Thursday, October 25 through Dec 2
Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High Street