I stole a book and I liked it.

Sing it to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”

 

Of COURSE I didn’t really STEAL it; well, I kinda did. While I was visiting Angel Boy 2.0, I found an intriguing book that belonged to my son and it sorta made its way into my carryon.

By CAConrad, Ecodeviance (Soma)tics for the Future Wildnerness is a book of poetry and essays that demands attention. This is not a quicky beach read.

There’s humor, pathos, despair; references to Reiki and crystals. There is love and death.This is a polar shift diversion from my usual reading fare of romance novels and vegan cookbooks. It’s like this…it’s as if you’re driving down the highway on your regular commute and all of a sudden you slam on the brakes, and while they’re squealing and smoking, you completely turn around and speed 100mph in the opposite direction.

Not only is that an apt description of me and this book; it’s a metaphor for my life right about now.

Conrad has become known for his “(Soma)tic” poetry — works that are part map of his process, part writing exercises, part final product, and that emphasize doing and living in a body. In an interview in the film, Conrad calls the (Soma)tics “ritualized structures where being anything but present was next to impossible.” [From http://www.notey.com/@hyperallergic_unofficial/external/8647290/the-ritualized-anger-of-a-queer-poet.html]

“What would you wear for camouflage if you were hiding in a gingerbread house?
I’m NOT hiding, I WANT the witch to eat me!”

From the Poetry Foundation website:

Poet CAConrad grew up in Pennsylvania, where he helped to support his single mother during his difficult youth. Influenced by Eileen Myles,Audre Lorde, Alice Notley, and Emily Dickinson, he writes poems in which stark images of sex, violence, and defiance build a bridge between fable and confession. In a 2010 interview with Luke Degnan for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBlog, Conrad discussed his approach to poetry, which focuses on process and on engaging the permeability of the border between self and other. “Ultimately, I want my (Soma)tic poetry and poetics to help us realize at least two things. That everything around us has a creative viability with the potential to spur new thinking and imaginative output and that the most necessary ingredient to bringing the sustainable, humane changes we need and want for our world requires creativity in all lives, every single day.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/c-a-conrad

CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift.  He is the author of eight books of poetry and essays. A Pew Fellow , he has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, and Ucross.

For his books and details on the documentary The Book of Conrad (Delinquent Films, 2016), visit http://CAConrad.blogspot.com

Two of my favorites:

PRETERNATURAL CONVERSATIONS

for Dana Ward

Every once in awhile I think something about a stranger on the sidewalk and they dart a glance at me and I get it—I GET IT—we are one! Allow seven consecutive days for this exercise. DAY ONE, think about a woman you know, think about experiences you have had with her. Think about conversations you have had, think about the things she wears, eats, her way of walking, her laugh. Think about every detail you can imagine. See if she calls you or emails you. Take notes about this attempt at psychic connection.

DAY TWO, do everything you did in DAY ONE, but for a man you know. DAY THREE, go out to the streets and follow someone walking a dog. Look closely at the dog, study the dog’s movements. Whistle in your head, bark in your head. Imagine throwing a stick, yelling “GOOD DOG! GOOD DOG! YOU ARE A VERY GOOD DOG!” Does the dog respond to this? If so, how? Take notes.

DAYS FOUR, FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN are for strangers. In cafes or restaurants, or followed briefly on the sidewalk. Try to connect with two women and two men, complete strangers out in the world. Study them in cafes, museums, going up escalators, or maybe standing in line at the bank. Aim your attention at the clothing they wear, or the way they chew food. Envision saying HELLO, and tugging their sleeve. TUG IT with your mind, punctuated with putting an imaginary hand on their shoulder and saying, “Don’t I know you?” Imagine clapping and shouting “HEY! HEY! HEY YOU!” Did they look at you WHILE you were walking behind them? Communicating beyond the auditory is our goal. What are their reactions? How do you feel about it? Take these seven days of notes and form your poem(s).

 

SEVEN

if i had been
there when they
invented the word
chair
things would
be different would sound better
look at this amazing
structure holding
our bodies in place
to write
to quarrel with ourselves and others
to eat and sing
to launch forth new ideas
to comfort the sphincter
chair is a ridiculous word
monosyllabic NONSENSE
i love chairs but remain
annoyed by their name
living in this post vocabulary
chosen without
imagination
chair chair chair CHAIR
nothing less than
seven syllables will do

CAConrad reads “Preternatural Conversations”

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The Beauty and Healing of the Shamanic Experience

According to Awakening to the Spirit World by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, “Shamanism is the first spiritual practice of humankind and dates back tens of thousands of years. The fact that this spiritual practice of working in relationship and in partnership with the helping spirits is being widely used today speaks to the potency of the work.”

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner who reaches altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.

Hold on a sec…yes, you’re on the right blog, I’m still Princess Rosebud, still Enchanted Seashells haha, just doing a little ENCHANTED exploration with the spirit world in addition to gluing seashells to any available surface. With a nature. land, and animal connection, how could it be anything but good, right?

Let me clarify…I’m not a shaman. Did you think I was? Nope, but I met an amazing woman who is a shamanic practitioner,and I’d like to share her story and my experience with you.

I met Carmen in January. I had undergone an emotional and total body 10.0 earthquake, a tsunami of pain that ruled my life so unbearably for a couple of months until I was so devastated that I was literally unable to function (I’ll tell you all about it when I can.)

A very good friend suggested that I seek out the support of a shaman for healing from these deep heart wounds.

Always a skeptic, I was so far out of my mind and spirit and soul that I would have reached up to the sky to pull down a star if that could have helped me work my way out of depths of despair.

Serendipity, divine guidance, luck, coincidence…who knows what it was, but I found Carmen located in my own little town and booked an appointment.

I had no preconceived ideas about what to expect. I didn’t even Google “shamanism”–I don’t remember how I drove to her office.

I walked through the door with shoulders hunched, tears streaming down my face. There was a candle burning and the scent of sage. I don’t remember filling out her information form…why are you here, and later I saw that I had written, “to save my life”.

Between bouts of sobbing, I told her what had happened to my world; it felt like a death but no one had died. I felt like there was something strangely wrong with me; not a medical issue, although I had absolutely suffered some health issues due to this seismic shift-but more internal, cellular, organic. I felt like there was a toxic or malignant entity inhabiting my body, causing me an incredible amount of despondency- I was tormented.

What is a shamanic journey?

In shamanic practice it is believed that part of the soul is free to leave the body. There are various times the soul might leave the body, during dreaming or to protect the soul from trauma. When a shaman is initiated onto the shamanic path, they usually learn how to send their soul forth intentionally, on the soul flight which is commonly called a journey or the shamanic journey. In early shamanic societies, many shamans were initiated because of having a near death experience. Death being an experience when all of your soul leaves the body, the near death experience is thought to teach an individual to travel with the soul.

The shamanic journey occurs by shifting awareness or consciousness in order to allow part of your soul to leave the body. The drum or rattle is frequently used. The slow repetitive rhythm shifts the individuals “rhythm” so that he or she can journey. Just the way a soothing song can help an someone achieve a calmer state. The rhythm of the drum puts you in the right state to journey. The drum beat used is very close to the frequency that is measured from the earth, and has proved effective for the majority of people. [From https://www.shamanlinks.net/shaman-info/about-shamanism/the-shamanic-journey/]

I’ve learned that everyone’s journey is different. Mine involved an out of body and trance-like dreamy experience —  meeting my spirit guides and my spirit animal (a wolf, of course), and a feeling of release of toxins and pain–and a sort of rebirth. I felt as if I was physically still in the room and simultaneously travelled away from my physical body. When Carmen brought me back from the journey and I regained my awareness of the present moment, I felt completely changed from the person who had walked in two hours before. Lighter, less burdened, less desolate, less weighted down by a thousand ton boulder crushing my heart.

Are you asking yourself if I exaggerated or if it was as intense as I’ve shared? Yup, it was, and even more so.

And all I know for sure is that I felt better walking out than I had walking in, and for the most part, that’s stayed with me, along with a renewed sense of purpose, and maybe even healed a bit.