Synergy–Song Lyrics are Poems

Synergy definition:
“the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

When I discover something I appreciate or admire, I like to share it with others.  So today, I share Bedouine’s Solitary Daughter.

Recently, I heard this song, this artist, Bedouine, on the radio.  I marveled over the synergy of her voice, the lyrics, the music–all coming together to create this work of art–a song.  As the words take me into the story of her song, her hypnotic voice entrances while the music gives the song wings.

Synergy is an interesting concept…reminiscent of the old adage “…the whole is greater than the sum of its parts…”  While Bedouine has a beautiful voice, while the music itself is lovely, while the words (story) are engaging…their effect when combined feels whole and inextricably bound to create the perfect effect.

The whole is then, greater than the sum of its parts.  What do you think?

Enjoy!

“Creativity is not Comfortable”

Awhile ago, I jotted down this quote from Billy Wilder,  “an Austro-Hungarian born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist….”  He is long gone from this earth plane…however, as you know, quotes live on.

Creative beings who’ve been practicing their art, know this quote–“Creativity is not comfortable”–in a deeply experiential way.  They understand the edges, precipices, walls; the angst, internal subterfuge and the pushing through.  They understand the daring and the doing despite doubts, fears and/or internal or external pressure to halt!

Why is creating so uncomfortable?  I think it is partly because when you are fully in the creative process, you, yourself go through changes as you create.

TRANSFORMATION could be a synonym for creativity.

Webster’s Dictionary, in defining transformation says “…to change a thing into a different thing.  Transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function…”

mandala.2017ITS

On the canvas, I resist because things are going to be disrupted and perhaps even “ugly” for awhile.  If I am attached to what is on the canvas, it’s going to be hard to let it go.  When I’m backed into a creative corner, I have to make a move that can feel forced upon me in some way.  There is a risk as I leave my comfort zone and engage the unknown. This whole process brings to my awareness the stuck places inside of me, the resistance and lack of daring.  It’s complex, right?

Ultimately, I love my creations, whether poetry, prose, painting or crafting.  And I often surprise myself with what comes.

Writing Prompt:
Do you prefer your “comfort zone” when it comes to writing or making art?  Or do you enjoy the adventure beyond comfort?  When you venture past the borders of the familiar, do you experience doubt as to whether or not you can create something that is “successful”?  Is that a fair requirement of yourself as you are in this process?  And, do you care about what others are going to think?  Do you make that more important than staying true to your artist’s journey?

Write your answers to these questions in your writer’s journal.  Be truthful with yourself.

 

 

Conversing with your Creation

Whether it’s painting, poetry, writing, sculpting, woodworking…you name it, what is your relationship with your creation in process?  Is there an ongoing conversation as you work with a piece?

When, for instance, you are crafting your poem, are you aware of a subtle dialogue going on between the parts of yourself that demand expression and the you that witnesses what has been said, written?  With poetry, I think the dialogue comes in when crafting the poem, less than in the initial stages of “getting it down.”

When you are painting, do you impose your design and/or desire on a piece or really step back from the canvas and ask “what’s next?” or “what do you want?”

Yes, creating art is typically a solitary expedition.  However, there is definitely a relationship that is being cultivated.  The language of creativity can be expressed with words–often hunches, instincts, intuition, images, symbols, thrusts or bents that have no logical explanation and aren’t couched in words.

I love it when this conversation induces the creative flow.  Ordinary time is left behind and I enter “the zone.”  And the guidance for what’s next is in place, because basically I have surrendered myself to a process in flow, to the creative conversation.

When you awaken from this trance-like state, you are often surprised to find how long you’ve been so occupied.

What is created while in this zone can be something quite surprising to the artist or writer.

Writing Prompt:
Have you had such an experience?  Write about what it feels like for you to be in conversation with your work of art, poetry, or prose.  Look for metaphors to describe both your creative process while in the zone and the passage of time.

cropped-abstract-a.jpg

Lanterns & Fans

A life-long artist and teacher critiqued my
painting (above).  He noted the daring in my abstractions,
designs, color choices and composition.
I remember being deep in creative conversation
with this painting and the art critic recognized
this.

Making it your own

Do you have a repertoire of poetry that you’ve memorized?  Or, one single poem that you turn to when you need to be reminded of what’s important to you?  Or one that gives you comfort or support in some way?  Or a poem that is solely for your enjoyment?

For me, one poem I memorized and have recited at past poetry readings is Mary Oliver’s “Sleeping in the Forest

“I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.”

Creative Prompt:
If you haven’t memorized a poem, find one–it can be short–and memorize it.  Hold it close and when you’re in a circumstance where you feel it would be appropriate, share it with a friend, family or companion.  Surprise them (and yourself) with a poem!

IMG_4525

Middle Falls, McCloud, CA

Firewood Delivered

There are certain harbingers of a season.
In the mountains, one such winter’s messenger is the delivery of firewood — a cord of oak or lodgepole pine cut to size, left in an unwieldy pile in the driveway near the house.  Below is an unpolished, unedited poem from my writing journal.  I don’t have a woodstove now…I have another type of heat.  But I remember very well that sense of gratitude and a feeling of wealth when the firewood was delivered.  These were my poetic thoughts while stacking wood.

Stacking Wood
© by Christine O’Brien

I don’t know what it is
to witness a tree falling
toppling hard upon the earth
vibrating with a thunderous curse.
Was it ready to give up life,
spirit sap, seamless strife,
surrendering to weapons
which sever, protest unheard.
Who will house that lonely bird
which once kept home within these leaves?
Does the bird fly to another hovel or
descend with the tree in a graceless flutter
like flower petals
though not so gently.
Perhaps they remember
the earth from which they’ve come
and rise again in a new form.

****
Now I stack it in imperfect piles
heat of my hearth
blazing and wild
challenging me
to be so used
The wealth of all that one life can be
standing small am I beside this tree

Writing Prompt:
What is a harbinger of the season in your hemisphere?  Choose one thing and write about it uncensored in poetry or prose.  Be real, be silly,  be serious, be ridiculous, be imperfect, just be.

IMG_9624

Art Journaling

I am relatively new to the arena of Art Journaling.transformation.

Why it works…

An art journal is a haven to practice new techniques.  You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to.  It is your place to play, learn and grow your creative self. It works best if you make a commitment to show up to the pages, regularly.  Within these pages, you have freedom and any theme can be explored.

****

I knew that I wanted to create in an art journal, but I didn’t know how to begin.  There are a multitude of online art journaling classes these days.  YouTube videos galore from different artists, introduce the curious to the world of art journaling.  Taking a few of these classes helped me to create the above journal spread at the top of this blog page.

Sometimes, there is the sense that creating art like this is time wasted.  For me, it is time found.  When I steal away and take a creative moment, I find that I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle what is next on the never-ending to-do list. Plus, I may learn a new technique or two that I can integrate into my painting beyond the journal.

Creative Prompt:
My words alone won’t convince you of the benefits found in art journaling.  I invite you to try it for yourself. Below is a youtube video illustrating Ivy Newports Intuitive Painting Process.  The video is three minutes long.  What do you notice about her color choices, the tools that she uses to paint (i.e. a credit card, stamps, stencils, brushes) and how images emerge from the background?  Are you intrigued by this process?

Art Quilts–Making a Statement

Terese Agnew is one  of the featured artists in the PBS Documentary Series, Craft in America–THREADS.  Agnew is an example of an artist who, on becoming aware of a serious injustice, is called to action–to make a statement through her art of quilting.  Listening to the news on the radio, she hears about the inhumane working conditions of the textile workers in Nicaragua.  As she is walking through a department store, she notices the signs advertising the various fashion designers.  That recognition partners with an idea on how to illustrate this injustice through her art of quilting.  And, it became a community collaboration in a surprising way.  Take two minutes to listen to Agnew relating her process below.

****

As a writer or an artist tuning into these challenging times, you may find the inspiration to make your own artistic statement. In taking some elements of your outer reality, threading them through your art, you draw attention to an injustice.  Sharing your work engages community as you plant the seeds of awareness in those who see your art or read your poem.  As an artist or writer, you cannot fathom what may awaken in another through your writing, poetry or painting.  Your art could be the catalyst for someone else’s call to action!

Contemplation:
Does this statement feel true for you?
“Artists have what I call  an alchemical responsibility–to transform the dross into art (gold) and to offer it to others in a provocative way.” 

 

Quigley on the Klamath

quig1.jpgThis past summer, I decided to explore some new places within proximity to where I live, to take “day trips.”  A friend told me about the Quigley General Store with a little cafe on the Klamath River.  “They make the best pies,” she said.

The Klamath River flows 257 miles through Oregon and Northern California.  Quigley, itself, is about 1-1/2 hours from where I live.  Arriving at the little cafe, I immediately noticed the extreme quiet.  This particular day, there weren’t any exciting pies in the pie case, so I ordered a turkey sandwich.  And a water beverage with quinine?  I had never had quinine before, but my mind dredged up the idea of it being an elixir of sorts.

I wandered out to the back deck, the only customer.  The plants in pots were dead.  The river itself was hidden with overgrowth and there wasn’t the expected sound of flowing water.  I had brought a favorite magazine to read and sat in a chair with a wet pad.  I changed seats and then got comfortable.  It was a warm day.  The type of heat that penetrates and forces welcome relaxation.  Sigh.

One of the scraggly young men in the cafe brought my lunch out to me.  I thanked him.  He and a heavyset fellow seemed to be either wandering around aimlessly or plopped themselves in chairs indoors as the woman, presumed owner, worked busily behind the counter.  I found myself thinking that they should be helping her.

The sandwich was exceptional and so was the coleslaw.  At first, I was disappointed in not having a slice of the “best pie.”  And that I couldn’t hear the river running?  And that the plants on the deck had died because the owner had been away and no one had watered while she was gone.

Then, a sense of deep calm came over me.  A feeling of settling down inside.  And I thought I could sit here all day, reading this magazine and being with this unusual feeling of palpable peace.

Driving home from Quigley on the Klamath, I recognized how much my life lacks this type of peace.  I considered how often I fill my moments with noise, hyperactivity and distraction.  I wondered why I had to go somewhere else to sink into that most beautiful space?

Writing Prompt:
When was the last time you experienced deep quiet?  Is it something that you can invoke by choice?  Or does it, at rare times, take you by surprise? Write about it.

 

What’s It Mean?

You write a poem, paint a painting or sculpt a piece.  You’ve followed your intuitive guidance, the flow.  You stand back from it.  What does it mean?

Is your poetry or art a clue to your own inner experience or process?  Like a dream, does it somehow help with self-understanding and integration?

What do you think?

Why do certain symbols, colors, words, images attract you more than others?

Is there a story or a message for you in the poem you write?  the art you create?

Sometimes, it’s obvious.  Other times, it reveals itself over time or as you sit with it in inquiry or contemplation.

pledge3

Like with this recent painting.  I definitely feel it’s got something to say to me.  Getting quiet, I allow it to reveal itself to me.

Contemplative Prompt:
Have you written a poem or prose recently that has a self-revelation for you?  Or, a painting that you know is trying to tell you something?  Take the time to be with it and stay open to that which wants to be heard or seen by you.

Have a good day.

The wisest thought

bottleLast evening, I had dinner with a friend.  Briefly, we discussed the stories that no longer serve us as we live our lives.  The ones that we stumble over consistently, that don’t elevate us and entrap us in some way.  It reminded me of a poem I wrote many years ago when I was in a philosophical place and perhaps feeling stuck in my own mind’s mire.

The Wisest Thought
© by Christine O’Brien

Everything wants to be dropped
the cleverest line
the wisest thought
the fastest response
the quickest fix
the long, drawn out quest
the poem to end all poems
the holy grail
the golden fleece
my idea of god
the be all religion
the final word

Everything wants to be dropped,
manufactures of the mind
tantalizing illusions
far flung fantasies
my save-the-world plot
reel me in dreams
lies I tell myself
mind games
bullshit
your truth, my truth
their truth

Everything wants to be dropped
The soggy sorrow
the old griefs
the frozen fears
the human foibles
the working on the self
the angry angst
the whole of it, the nothing of it

Everything wants to be dropped.
So, drop it.

Everything wants to be loved.

Writing Prompt:
What is your story that wants to be dropped?
Or, what is your wisest thought?