To say this year has been creatively abundant for me is an understatement. I left Salt Lake City, UT about a year ago, with the intention of inviting my creativity to reside more fully in my day-to-day life, to come front and center after it dwelled underground in the city. That particular city was not creatively generative for me. For some reason, the muse escaped me there. Now, back in a landscape of such bewildering scale, with few distractions, and a lifestyle of greater ease on many levels, well- let’s just say all that was swirling in the underground for 6 years has come rushing to the surface.
Creative mania is something I have struggled with throughout my creative life. Too many good ideas, coming all at once and always a hand (or two) in multiple projects and collaborations. In my 20s, I would stay up late into the night, writing, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, designing, then would often wander out at 2am to the all night Kinkos print shop. There I would work on zines, chapbooks and whatever else I had dreamed up into the early hours before dawn. In my 30s, this trend of weeks of writing all night and too many projects continued. I was clear that in moving back to CO and reinventing my life, I would need to temper this tendency. I am not 20 (or 30!) any more, and I have a full private practice, a partnership, and a social life to uphold. I have my health to consider, my hard earned fondness for being centered, rested and calm.
I am reveling in the luxury of time to myself, of giving myself the gift of listening to my own voice over that of others, and prioritizing my own needs currently. This is a new pattern for me. I am blossoming within it. Collaborative works have been meaningful and fulfilling to me this year as well. The joint dreaming up of projects, the inspiration shared between artists, overcoming the challenges of creating a final product- all of this I love.
Mancos Common Press
The joint endeavor with visual Artist, Sonja Horoshko is evolving in a manner I never imagined. We are pairing my current poetry collection with her visual art and printing on an antique platen press. We are 5 prints in to a 12 print endeavor. I have been pretty public about this project and we are finding the public is quite fascinated by our undertaking. Mancos Common Press, as well as the parent program Common Press through U of Penn School of Design, have been so supportive of us as the first “artists in residence” at the renovated location in Mancos, CO. Each print run produces a limited edition of 10 signed artist prints. These are available for sale individually at my website (except for the first print which sold out already). Once all 12 are complete, we look forward to a winter residency at Willow Tail Springs, where we plan to hand-bind, in a traditional Italian method, 6 “livre d’artiste” or manuscripts, which will contain all 12 prints with an embossed cover.
I have been less vocal, but equally intrigued, by a collaboration with writer R. Ellis Shore. We have long followed and admired each other’s work, and it seems naturally so as we both have a fascination with depth psychology, dream work and writing as an exploratory pathway.
Unlike myself, Shore is a most reclusive and shy writer. And while my writing is often concerned with a healing direction and a certain hopefulness, Shore is willing to hang out in the chaos and dark, is not so concerned with fixing any of it, or turning the light on for that matter. We have paired up over the winter to produce the writer’s newest flash fiction collection, “Terroir Dark: Shadow Writings from the Midnight Psyche”. I have been editing the work and helping to conceptualize the blog layout. We are producing a small but full color chapbook and maybe an e-book version as well.
However, you can dive in anywhere, truly. This is equally an exploration of time unbound, of disintegration and dissociation, of utter falling apart and re-emergence.
While informed slightly by an autobiographical sensibility, the work is purely fictional with spatters of magical realism and fantasy throughout, giving it a sense of strangeness, an otherworldly quality that explores something akin to the dark, luscious, swank, perhaps a bit dangerous side of life.
At the same time, Shore's exploration is heavy and intensely frank: the theme of one person’s journey through abuse recovery transcends to embrace the larger issue of a culture struggling to shift away from the confines of patriarchal terror.
Shore talks often of a frustration with the language of gender itself; of having to use “she” and “he” when these might easily be reversed, and when the truth is, we are all “whole beings” affected by a lopsided and violent system that loathes and punishes what is feminine, “weak”, mysterious, magical, illogical, irrational, and dark…. because it is truly powerful, and not controllable.
There is still deeply rooted fear toward this Great Mystery, that void that births the best poems, dreams, imaginings, visions, intuitions, notes of music, steps in a dance, trance states, altered states of mind and non-ordinary reality.
Shore states, “When I say “she”, I am speaking to women, and also to men whose feminine aspects have been sequestered. I am speaking to both women and men who have internalized a hatred or fear of the inner/outer feminine. I am speaking to all of us, of any gender, who wish to thrive.
At the most personal and interior level, the characters might be the resilient self and the traumatized self. At the social level, these characters may be a woman and a man. And because both of these levels are influenced by the political context they are formed within, the characters might be the Earth and a violent culture that devalues life and life-giving principles. At the most abstract level, perhaps the interplay between the personal conscious mind and the collective unconscious is at play here.”
Check it out if you dare at terroirdark.blogspot.com ! But before you do, first read Shore’s intro to the work:
Achtung! enter at your own risk into the depths of a psyche torn down to bone, reconstructed from the shards and ashes left after the pyre burns completely.
If you dare listen, if you can bear to look, I show you my struggle to be free from mental, emotional, social ties that constrict what is feminine in both matter and spirit, male or female. This is my struggle to heal from that which fell upon me, uninvited. I will grow and heal in its wake. This is a treacherous exploration: the conditions of the times make it just safe enough to contemplate, as a meta-awareness about the patriarchal scar upon us all, upon our living Earth, has intensified.
how far will you dive to be free and unbound — which is your natural human birthright? how violently can you defend what has been stolen from your nature, abducted from your freewill?
we shall see. I don’t care if you succeed or not. I am just a messenger.
-R. Elis Shore, 2019