Saturday, April 27, 2013

Making My Mark

Vegan eating aside for the moment,  do you know we're in National Poetry Month?  Have you found a poem in your pocket, discovered a new poet, or been to a poetry slam this month?  If not, get busy!  You have four more days!

Here in Peachtree City, the poetry revelry continues with my illustrious writers group, which gathers in the library each month, or in between for various Atlanta poetry events.  Or our own.  

This morning, it was a poetry workshop facilitated by Alexa Selph, freelance editor and creative writing instructor at Emory University.  Alexa went over the elements of poetry and its forms, and launched us into an exercise while munching on decidely un-vegan sandwiches and chips from the local sandwich shop.  She also introduced us to a number of new (to me) poems--my favorite of the day: Under the Vulture-Tree.  I will never view vultures in the same way.

The exercise was on musicality; Alexa gave us each a word, from which we were to develop a list of words, from which we were to write a poem.  In about 10 min.  Or at least that's how it felt.

My word was 'extricate,' from which I extricated a page of words, from which I extricated "The Text"--which I offer you here raw because I am secure :)

The Text

Though we lived next door in the multiplex,
our preferred method of communication was text.

The first perplexed--the next even more--
a proliferation of expletives I could not ignore.

So I flexed my fingers and finalized thought--
one can't be gregarious after all--the reflex

is more like a trilogy to say
DUH or HUH or LOL.

I trimmed even more--
no extras, no bait, just a question, a shape,

I made my mark without a mate:

Brilliance aside, it was really astonishing to hear what folks came up with so quickly.

From there, many of us migrated over to city hall, one short stairwell to the next building.  The Friends of the PTC Library association, sponsored not only this workshop, but an annual poetry competition.  Today was awards day, with readings by the winners.  This year, I scored first place, earning me the highest paycheck I have ever received for poetry, and an honorable mention. I was also delighted to discover that the association had produced a new chapbook, Peachtree Poets 2013, which included four of my poems.  (Available on Amazon for $10.)

I still can't quit the day job, nor would I want to, but it is fun to have a respectable check in hand to contemplate spending.  And meet some new poets.  And find some of the usual suspects here in the Southern Arc, chipping away at this quirkiest of art forms, pushing words around a page.  Congratulations, winners, and thanks to the PTC patrons of poetry!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Atonement with the Father

Peter described the ending of the novel he's been writing.  Ironically, the major theme emerging is Atonement with the Father, a term from Hollywood and mythic structure, which allowed us to segue easily back and forth into its theological siblings, and the major theme of my two poetry chapbooks.

And where does veganism fit in?  Atonement with the Father--moving into further harmony--body, mind, soul and spirit--according to what we eat, physically or spiritually.

Do you hear the click of the circle closing on this conversation?!  We are psychically exhausted but eminently satisfied.  And almost to our next destination. The lobster rolls are in the back seat.

"Veganism interferes with victimization, laziness and passivity.  It calls for responsible eating,"  Peter concluded.

"What about the lobsters?"

"Um....can we make an exception?"

"Only for sustainable aquaculture."

"Whew--I can't give up seafood!"

"I'm not sure I can matter...Jesus interferes too, and calls us to responsible living.  The one who made us surely knows how to guide us past lobster traps, high fructose corn syrup, and GMOs!"

The Vegan Jesus…an apt metaphor for the journey we have embarked on for the last couple of years, writing, eating vegan, discovering the spiritual impact it's having on us.  Or maybe the spiritual impact of recent years is changing the way we eat?  Whatever, I'm delighted to finally be sharing Peter's passion for cooking and eating, while he enjoys mine of writing.

Till the next car ride...  

PS: I'd hyperlink "Atonement with the Father," but you would have to wade through many mythological paragraphs you might not enjoy--so, from, I give you this:

Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Peter and I were on our way to visit family members, in what we affectionately call Graceland—for the beauty of the landscape, the proximity to beach, boat and bay, and a deck on which to enjoy the afterglow of it all with a beer or gin and tonic

Fishing through the depths of the spirituality of a plant-based diet, we were talking about the resistance and passivity of a victim mentality; of laziness, greed and gluttony—and the resistance to reading labels and Scriptures.  Just some light conversation between gasps of awe at a river crossing, or daffodil against a stone wall.  And decisions about what clam bar to stop at for lunch; or should we pick up lobster rolls and bring them in for Mom? (Lobster rolls.)

"Why do people resist things that are good for them?"

“It takes time to read labels.  Convenience rules."  

"But it's just a learning curve.  How do you rouse people out of their torpor to read the label!?”
“Torpor!!!  Now there’s a good word!”  (note to iphone.)   

“How do you get Christians to read their Bible?”  

“I've given up!  I don’t know…it takes discipline…motivation…there's resistance...You just have to let people come to things in their own time.” 
“What is that resistance?  People don’t care what crap their eating as long as they can eat whatever they want!”
“People don’t like to be told what to do.  Some want the miracle with the Miracle Whip and don't want to work for it.  But God needs collaborators.  He can't work with passivity.  Read the label.”  

Peter sighed and pulled into a scenic overlook.  
“Couch potato or spiritual slouch…faced with that big juicy cheeseburger, you just gotta call on the Vegan Jesus to resist!” 

The Vegan Jesus.  Watch for it in bookstores...