Monday, August 19, 2019

Creative Energy: Collaborations & Balance

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 Springswhere 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. 

Terrior Dark
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.

Shore's collection is a series of word sketches, of "almost-stories" that build upon each other. Therefore, starting at the blog's beginning and rolling forward, will give you that experience of linear time and a narrative arc (barely).

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 ! 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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Wilderness of Sleep: Poetry of Dreams

she is ill / she is well 
collage by Renee Podunovich

dream lure

morning is fresh wind in bones, monsoons,
a hope that gestated all night: to feel ease,
easy all summer, eating flowers
for breakfast, becoming their colors
(only in the sunshine) skin
like peacock feathers, prismatic, dressed
to enter the pageantry of being awake

            night eyes— weighty rubies that finally close,
            receive instruction on how to arrange letters
            made of electricity and silk threads
            in a geometric pattern only understood in sleep

waking again (endless) all of it gone,
La Platas at Dusk
photo by Renee Podunovich
disappearing night lands,
enchanted nocturnal wilderness
that daily commotion eclipses

            all day long- business,
            aware that I left many soul tasks
            undone in the dreamtime,
            in daylight I am a sunflower,
            must follow that solar gaze
            all the way to its descent in the far west

then darkness (released) slip
into mysteries, freedom within ever-
unfolding, belong in the shadows,
lightless flight, the dream-maker is my
courtesan, let her take me dancing, follow
her lead, fluently, limber, willing
to let go, my daytime costume
unbuttoned, persona undone—
            exposing my nocturnal essence,
            a perfume of self
            unbound: saline, willow bark, roses,
            top notes of lemon and still, surprisingly

-Renee Podunovich, Late Summer 2019

Banquet at Coyote Rock
mural by Sonja Horoshko @ 30 N Beech

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Eclipses of Summer: Poetry for the Lunatic Moon

Summer Lunacy

Spinning out into sunshine
the way it pulls us all toward
its glowing, heat, desire
on skin, sweat, buzzing
insects, cricket hum, songs of self
unsleeping, the outermost expression
of all that was imagined in dream ice.

I sway with the delight of sap,
pollen, swollen motion of wind
in petals, the land lush beneath
bare feet. I am open,
I am going mad, losing grip
on what I thought I was,
letting myself disrobe, that old skin—       
            the one I didn’t choose,
            I wore it to survive,
            a covering that no longer serves me.

Valerian flowers, unadorned, praise a sliver of moon,
that goddess, crescent and disappearing,
stripping off the lacy slip of shine
she wore all month, now
she is unknown, even to herself,
there is no establishing dominance
or control over her hidden countenance.

Dark moon and overshadow: kneel before her,
            — empty —
inside the panicked heart, she rubs
her chaos into my fear,
a balm that finally soothes
            the not knowing,
            the beyond logic,
            the trying not to see
            anything but that darkness,
giving way to senses unbound, swirl stars,
hushed breath, shimmer deep, liberated
in nectar of night and eclipsed light.

- Renee Podunovich, July 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Creating Art Space in Montezuma County & Summer Solstice Love Poem

Summer of Love / Garden Party
Creating venues for art exhibits is a creative challenge here in the rural underground. I am excited to be involved with a group of local artists and thinkers who are trying to leap this barrier. Several exciting venues are being born this very summer!

Movable Modern Exhibit Walls at Sharehouse
designed by Sam Lyons
You can donate money now to Montezuma Food Coalition whose mission is to enhance food equity in Montezuma County by partnering local growers with streamlined avenues for distributing food and addressing hunger. As part of that vision, equity around distributing art and supporting artists was identified, and the Sharehouse warehouse space will be hosting arts workshops all summer. Local artist, Sam Lyons just finished these sleek, movable exhibition walls and several shows are in the works. 

I will be hosting a poetry workshop at the Sharehouse on Aug. 3rd- details at my website

Calla Lily Language, fused collage on wood
by Renee Podunovich
Local restaurants are also hosting exhibits. Currently, a Calla Lily themed show is at Gustavo's Cantina in Cortez, CO. Show runs 6/15-7/30 and all works are for sale. I am happy to have a piece in the show titled "Calla Lily Language" (Fused Collage, 12"x12" on wood). 

I continue to find that this corner of the world feeds me, literally and artistically. In this corner of the world, the sidewalk ended approximately 36 miles to the east, and there is a freedom, a wildness that I relish in such isolation. Yes, there is a lack of certain pleasures that I loved in the city, but there is another hunger in me that only this open space and the cracks in the sidewalk seem nourish. 


Sago Lilies
by Renee Podunovich

Flowers for Poets

I wake to Sago Lilies—
two stems of elegantly pale flowers
he picked for me in the field
                        he was irrigating,
                        setting water loose onto land,
                        guiding its flow, letting it move
                        to the places that thirst the most.

He knows how to handle precious things:
with care, caressed, soothed, the lightest touch,
steady, invited, never forced or coerced.
Last night, he took my hand,
showed me how he had placed them
in a blue glass on my writing desk.
                        “They are closed tonight,” he said,
                        holding me next to his warmth
                        under the gentle Strawberry Full Moon.
                        He assures me, “They will open again tomorrow.”

Every morning, I write poems to heal fragments,
and the lilies open their subtle bodies as dawn ripens.
With him, it is always safe to open—
                        his heart is the core of these blossoms,
                        the yellow and amethyst,
                        the sepal and stamens.
                        I fall in, again and again,
                        to the perfection of this design,
                        into a love that invites me
                        toward my own healed center.

This is how he loves me:
                        Sago Lilies offered to my heartwords

-Renee Podunovich, 2019