Written by Charlotte Stark
Each year Pride comes around, it feels natural to be retrospective and consider how far our writing practice and collective human journey has brought us towards justice for all. Depending on where you stand, you could feel we have never been closer, or that we are leagues away from the utopia many of us hoped to age into as adults. Longing for progress leaves your creativity well dry and can make all creative endeavors feel futile, even as the importance of art is doubly underscored when moving towards change. As we face the coming month and the perspective it brings annually, here are a few ways to keep your spirit whole and your pen busy.
This is my personal favorite for breaking down the barriers around production burnout. If you feel stuck in your own skin, try to access another population’s point of view. This can be as simple or as in-depth as you choose to make it. You might choose to research a cause that’s you know very little about, like sustainability, or activism. You may find that looking to experts, people on each end of the event spectrum, or even the voices of those most effected by pressing issues inspires you to create meaningful art.
Sometimes the best works are meaningful collaborations of a group of people. If you’re feeling like the art you’re making is aimless, using websites like Meetup to join writers in your area may be exactly what you need. New friends bring new perspectives and make a great sounding board when your workflow feels stagnant. Additionally, hearing about the projects of others can lead to inspiration in ways you may not foresee. It may also help to join support communities related to causes that are central to you. Having others to lean on who can guide and support you through the specific distress you feel can make all the difference between feeling passion for your work and going through the motions of productivity.
This advice can seem counter-intuitive – after all, if you feel you’re under performing when it comes to your writing practice, it seems like stepping away from your craft will only make matters worse. Taking a conscious, much needed, recharging break is a bit different from the inability to create when actively trying. During this time, you should seek out mediums that inspire you and use their practice to fulfill your usual practice times. Listen to music, play videogames, take long walks around your neighborhood and take in fresh details – whatever you know will fill the creative voids in your life. Set a concrete beginning and end date for your break, and resolve to attempt to create when the deadline comes. You will have a whole host of brand new experiences to bring to your desk with you.
When trying to keep tabs on the world as it turns, sensory overload can take over and paralyze our ability to assert ourselves and how we feel through art. It can be crushing to see fires burning on every corner and feel we’re holding a child’s beach pail to put it out with. When these moments come, consider looking at yourself rather than out at the world. This is not to say it’s best to disengage from reality or a society that needs us and our closely-held convictions, but that unhooking the connections to large events and taking time to look at ourselves, our writing practice, and what we hope to do with it can ground us. Consider what makes you write:
When you understand where your writing comes from, you can understand how best to reignite a lost spark directly at the source. Take time to ask yourself why you write and take note of your responses. It may be exactly what you need to decide which path to take next.
There is no substitute for you – not for your perspective, your voice, your experience, and your work. Burnout can kill the flow of creative process but it doesn’t have to stay that way. The world needs your art, and social progress only comes when society joins hands and steps out of the dark together. As we navigate the corporate pulls and cash grabs that can turn Pride from a relieving opportunity to see your community stand tall to a sales opportunity, use your art to remain un-jaded and continue to push forward. The world is waiting for you.
Poetry was all around at the festival and it inspired poetry in turn. Here are some of their writings, inspired by the festival surroundings and the workshops they went to.
The muse walks the meadow
bare feet scraping through the dew
sky blue as a loved one’s eyes
in the wren’s song
the voice lost
into the light.
Sun sparkles on river’s rushing beck
swallows circle the dark cliffs
and a cardinal sings.
Suddenly the day
falls into a present
of a sky blue as wonder.
The river rushes away
as Jack wades back to us.
I left my blood on Buffalo Mountain –
washed the wound in the spring
as swallows chased yellow butterflies
across the road.
It’s all good.
Wandering down the dim aisles
of the antique store,
I find a collection of cobalt stemware
he would have loved,
and a book of photos –
Margaret would have opened
the minute it was put in her hands.
I leave the items on their shelves –
their new houses need no possessions.
Summer is here,
the grass is green,
(and this field is equipped
with a high-tech latrine!)
Birding with Sarah
Bidental voiceless fricative
labiodental voiced fricative
bilabial voiceless stop
Thank you, Sarah!
(from the Rondelet Workshop)
That’s who you are!
A relaxing wave from the heart.
That’s who you are!
An endless poem written down,
a world that needs to speak it.
A full universe opens up.
That’s who you are.
We come together
in the blue-striped tent where
kindness, poetry rule.
Float down the river,
mind your p’s and q’s, but write
a good kayak poem.
There is magic here!
See how love and poetry
knits us together.
The skunk on Route Eight
for the stink rebate!
cook the books,
armed to the teeth
with anger issues.
My wife and I
are on either ends
of the house,
When tent is empty,
field is dark.
Jack takes over the electric thoughts
who, he himself, has had a few –
like remembrances of black vulture wings
(knowing they are a couple,
though might not kiss as much as we),
and though the peepers have given
false signals in the constricted Spring,
it bodes well for a romantic walk.
in the cacophony of slimy things,
ourselves not included,
but hey, it’s only just begun,
and since the woods will always remember us,
we will return, united, excited, and all the rest…
There was a lot of poetry reading at the Little River Poetry Festival, but there was also plenty of writing as well…
Check out the poems left on the poetry board in the tent!
Haiku on the River by Dave King
With wind-shaped branches,
from afar, tranquility,
how fond illusion!
Untitled by James Bane
Capture scenes as they happen
with ink, before the sound
and colors flit away.
Meadow Haiku by Judith Stevens
Mown grass beckons me.
A gathering of poets
and the river waits…
Two Haiku by Eva Poggi
Little rivers make
big reflections of free souls.
Songs of life for free –
making music from the trees
Living through all birds!
Hollywood Geography by Brian Magill
Pine barrens a mile from A.C.
Jersey devil waltzes into town
Norfolk only hour from D.C.
Virginia Beach full of palms
and cliffs overlooking waves.
Odd how everywhere
resembles B.C. or L. A.
Poem by Eileen Niemi
You can’t hide your heart
Because living water washes
Until everything is clear.
Flapping Towards Freedom by Emagery
More simple, the more
nature heals me.
Poetry fest is an escape for me.
Already more free,
in these mountains
working towards stress-free.
Today, it doesn’t matter who
did what to me,
like these birds taking in
the breeze under lifted wings.
I lift my wings,
I sing the song of Maya’s caged bird.
Flapping is freedom.
Lifted wings, flapping towards freedom.
Protest Poem by Jack Callan
As my hike descended
to the lower hills of farm,
before the light faded,
I felt a presence.
Blackberry radar told me
dark, subtle would follow me
further down, if I went,
and I might now make it out.
So I stopped
to record my poem
before I could be eaten, so that
my last words, penned in tribute,
to the lord of this realm, would remain.
I ate no blackberries, walked out backwards,
made my retreat without incident,
grateful to have met my silent assassin
on his terms, yet live.
He was dead in a week:
one arrow from a strong bow
meant for a deer in bow-hunting season. Three hundred fifty pounds.
He was beautiful, pure, worthy of eating me,
For months, his magnificent pelt haunted me,
casually covering my friend’s front porch floor.
Something in me protested
a taking I could not fully understand, and
I found I missed my fear and all its dimensions,
from childhood time in dream: nightmare,
pursued, but never caught –
Then, finally free, one day,
to eat blackberries.
Poetry on the River by Judith Stevens
(an Ekphrastic poem, written while paddling down The Little River)
Turtle rock slumbers; morning birdsong beckons.
The river burbles an invitation.
Goodbye, tent. Goodbye, meadow.
Our sturdy kayaks dot the wide expanse of water –
bright, multicolored petals floating downstream,
poet-paddlers hunched over their notebooks.
Butterfly hops the bank – a splotch of yellow, trimmed in black.
Mud swallows dart into grasses lining riverbank.
Who lives in these intricate burrows? (Muskrat and otter)
Prehistoric rocks jut forward, taking huge bites of river.
Holy silence envelopes us, folds us close
as seven poets negotiate notebooks, pens, paddles.
An occasional boulder startles us from our reverie.
Mourning dove tolls the hour; tiny bugs skate beside us.
Queen Anne’s Lace nods encouragement as we pass.
The sounds of the river –
whispering, chanting,murmuring –
healing songs of praise steal inside us
Rhododendron forest tiptoes to the water, dips its toes.
We follow a sky-blue trail
to the ancient glacier overhang,
ride the rope to completion.
Queen Anne bows her head in silent benediction.KEEP READING