Birth of a Poet?


SearchingforHummingbirdsI’ve been feeling a bit estranged from myself for awhile.  This might seem odd coming from one who’s made a profession of self-discovery. Yet, the fact is that since my last book came out, I’ve been beset by a restless discomfort and confounding dreams.

A part of me is not surprised.  I can’t count the times I’ve undergone similar transitions after leaving an outworn psychological house behind. And I know I’ll experience more as long as I’m alive and growing. But another part of me expected this move to be shorter and easier.  Shouldn’t I be getting better at adjusting to change?

Actually, I am getting better.  I trust the processes of my psyche. I know my yearning for closure comes from an impatient ego longing for an end to the questions:  What’s going on with me?  What next?  And I know closure will come when I’ve stayed present with the questions for as long as it takes.

Nonetheless, to give my unconscious a little nudge, last year during a ritual at Maeve’s tomb on the summit of a limestone hill in Ireland I asked the Celtic Queen of the fairies for a clearer understanding of the recurring symbolism of excrement in my dreams.  Then last month in Greece, after a year of numerous dreams featuring the color orange, new babies, and feelings of being helpless and overwhelmed, I asked the Oracle at Delphi for direction in my life and writing.

So yesterday morning I wrote what may be my first real poem!

I’ve tried poetry off and on for years, but even the published few wouldn’t get air time on Amateur Hour.  This is not false humility but an honest assessment of my limitations. I’m wordy. I tend to ramble. I have lacked a proper appreciation for subtlety; a true understanding of the power of imagery;  and the patience to condense wimpy words and loose thoughts into a coherent idea with emotional impact.

This summer I received a book of poetry titled “Searching for Hummingbirds” from Betsy Holleman. I met her years ago at a writing conference led by novelist Rosellen Brown and poetess Dorianne Laux.  I hadn’t written any poems since the conference, but Betsy’s book inspired me to write a memorial poem for my mother.  I’m not happy with the result, but the process filled several enormously pleasurable hours.

SkinfulofDustI think that’s what motivated me to order “A Skinful of Dust” by Brian Carlin, an award-winning poet from Glasgow.  We’ve followed and commented on each other’s blog posts for a few years and often find inspiration in each others’ writing.  His book is a treasury of sturdy words and startling images that sparked a deeper resonance with poetry than I’ve ever felt before. And a book he recommended, Gaston Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” is opening my mind to creative depths I never knew existed.

Then yesterday morning I was blown away by the latest post from poet/artist Steven McCabe.  His post “Autumn Morning,” is based on a poem by Pablo Neruda and complemented with original art and a vintage-looking video. It evoked such an unusually rich reverie that I set aside my morning Sudoku ritual to write a poem about it.

I’m not prepared to share it here yet.  The poem is too fresh, my emotions are too raw, and my baby is too vulnerable for mass exposure.  But I feel like I’m standing at the threshold of an exciting new adventure in creativity and I wanted to celebrate with you.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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0 Responses

  1. So excited to hear about this new adventure Jean, all the very best wishes for an enjoyable and fruitful journey there. Poetry is such a cathartic and transformational passion and a great vehicle for the Hero’s journey – and thanks for the leads to these lovely poets. I hope you too will be posting and publishing your poems at some stage – I know they’ll be wonderful 🙂

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Roberta. I love the way you describe poetry: “such a cathartic and transformational passion and a great vehicle for the Hero’s journey”. It truly is. I think the reason this “craft” is such an apt vehicle is that it forces you to stop your habitual behavior and look around you and within yourself for the truths that move you. It’s a practice and expression of mindfulness which leads to heightened consciousness and living.

  2. Thank you Jeanie for sharing your creative personal response to this post, and for sharing the post. There is something about Neruda I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on…the way he transmits what he has received & perceived. I tried to present this poem within an ‘atmosphere’ expressing how it resonated within me. Feelings. Neruda exists in a field of feelings. How he perhaps arrives at just the right time. And seems to have for you as a touchstone in the phenomenal journey you describe above. I have a story about yesterday afternoon and Poema 20 anticipating synchronicity I’ll share at some point. I’m rather amazed at the ‘force field’ that has led you to this moment.

    1. It was the atmosphere you created around that poem that got to me. Yes, amazing feelings, the awareness and power of which held me spellbound! Such a magical gift you have! It felt so new and different from the way I normally perceive and process life, like a stranger who had suddenly and inexplicably entered my house. Of course it isn’t new at all. It’s just that I’ve relied so heavily on words for so long that I haven’t been sufficiently aware of this ‘force field’ of feelings to this extent before now. I can’t wait to hear your story. If you’d like to e-mail it to me I’m at

  3. Brian Carlin (whose comments still don’t show up here) wrote to say:
    I felt that estrangement after the publishing of “Healing the Sacred Divide”,
    when you took some time off, then seemed to be questioning yourself, the purpose
    of the blog for you etc. I presumed you would come up with an answer for
    yourself and will be delighted wherever that leads , but even more so if it
    involves you exploring your own world of poetry. If I could say a couple of
    things to you Jeanie… Don’t be too hard on yourself…you say you can ramble,
    GOOD! so you know that. Of the poem I suppose my main thing is get the kernel or
    phrase that kicks it off and let the poem write itself I.e. Where IT wants to
    Am looking forward to seeing something when the time is right!
    Hope you get as much out of the waking dreams of poetry as you do the sleeping

    1. Yes, it’s sort of like a mild post-partum depression, not that I was conscious of feeling depressed, (with the exception of some occasional “blues,”) nor do I now. But when a very long and emotionally satisfying project ends, it can take a while to adjust. I experienced the same thing when I finished writing my doctoral dissertation and graduated back in 1982. That summer I was feeling lost and depressed and instinctively started writing poetry. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made: the hours flew by and meeting the creative challenge was so satisfying and empowering. That fall I returned to teaching refreshed and renewed.
      Of course, this time, I’m also in a sort of retirement phase and don’t have any particular job or creative project to turn to except for my blog. Luckily I’ve had that, and it’s been enormously satisfying, but I still feel the need for something more. So maybe poetry will fill the gap.
      Thank you for the helpful advice, Brian. And for your good wishes. Love “the waking dreams of poetry…!” And as you surely know by now, I greatly admire your work and respect your thoughts. Please keep ’em coming!
      My best,

  4. This is exciting – thank you for sharing your joy as well as your sense of vulnerability. I honor this in you and join you in celebration!

  5. How wonderful Jean of you to share your rawness. In my experience Poetry is special visitor that I have no clue how to entice! but when it visits I do try to clear the decks and listen and appreciate because those visitations are always RICH. Enjoy, I loved hearing about your experience.

    1. Many thanks, Ky. I suppose “rawness” is not something one generally advertises to the world, but I think it’s something we have all experienced! I love your, “Poetry is a special visitor that I have no clue how to entice!” I don’t either, but like you, when it decides to visit, I listen! I appreciate your interest and enthusiasm. 🙂

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