15OCT12 . Monday . Sun in Libra/Moon in Libra . New Moon
Cante Jondo Post: What Nourishes You?
The moon is new today in Libra. It’s seed planting time; time to renew. Thinking of the Canto Jondo and what nourishes me, I am reminded of my sophomore year in high school. As a thirteen year old, I made the life altering decision to leave the public school arena and attend an all-girl’s Catholic high school, which later merged with the all-boy’s high school at the end of the block. A funny aside is that the girl’s school and the boy’s school were separated by the children’s grammar school and the Church, meaning that the boys had to pass our school after getting off the bus to walk the block to get to their school. In 1963, as a new freshman, my best friend and I got detention because we stood on the rock wall and leaned against the wire fence on top of it to flirt with the boys. Really; the Age Of Aquarius had not quite shown up yet. When it did in my junior year, the boy’s high school and the girl’s high school were merged. We could talk to any hunk we wanted to then…riiiiiight!
Anyway, as a sophomore I discovered poetry. I had been writing as a member of the Aunt Elsie Club since I was eight years old, loved grammar and sentence construction and reading rocked my world, but I didn’t discover poetry til that year. What a revelation! I still shiver with the thrill of reading the Highwayman and a few years ago the version of it sung by Loreena McKennitt expressed all of my romantic longings it encompasses in song. I was bubbling over with enthusiasm in English class and couldn’t wait to give my opinion about what the poems meant when asked by the instructor. Poetry saved my life. However, I was very much alone in my devotion. Aside from the English teacher, the other girls were bored and disdainful of poetry, emotions and thinking in general. In the manner of high school girls, they were also snarky towards me. Look up the definition of mean girls and you will find Catholic school girls right there at the top of the page. I learned in high school to keep my mouth shut and write in private.
During the next forty years or so I read Rainier Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Mary Oliver in particular and poetry from other cultures and parts of the world, and I worked on writing my own. It was still a solitary pastime, and even when asked by palmists if I was a writer for a living, I would always answer no. Even though I answered no, poetry still kept me sane and focused during difficult times.
It was disappointing to see the general lack of interest in poetry in our culture, unchanged even by the wonderful openness and creativity that permeated everything in the 1960s and 1970s. Poetry was a passion in South American countries and was highly valued all over the world, but not in the United States. Still, poets continued to write and fortunately, for all of us, times have changed! I love watching the poetry slams and contests that are now regularly on HBO. It is so exciting to see that so many of the youth of our culture are jazzed about poetry and have discovered that ART SAVES LIVES and especially poetry! It certainly has saved mine and continues to nourish me.
One of the things I love most about being part of the Cosmic Cowgirls/The Red Thread Vision Quest-Raven and Rose cycle is the opportunity to hone my skills in the craft of poetry by following Jenafer’s lead with her daily prompts. I didn’t think I would like the daily prompts chafing against my rebellious “don’t tell me what to do!” nature, but as it turns out the container elicits a deeper practice and discipline for word crafting. Knowing that I will be essentially publishing the poems on The Poetry Pile Up page engages my critical thinking as well as plumbing the depths of my emotions, because I know that I will have a chance to be read and heard. As a result of this daily experience, I have also ventured out into the world of open mike readings and did my first one a couple of weeks ago to a very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd at Sacred Grounds in San Francisco. Stay tuned for videos of me reading my work. Now when a palmist reads my palm and asks if I am a writer for a living, I can smile and say a most definite YES! Poetry nourishes my life as I sing my Cante Jondo.
Thanks so much for reading this post,