cut and paste

this is my voice. there are many like it. but this one is mine.

sabrina ward harrison

sabrina ward harrison

for the last 6 weeks or so, i’ve been spending my Thursday mornings with the brave art makers at Green Wood Coalition writing poems. we put down paints and brushes for a while, and picked up paper and pens. and we’ve been writing our way down courageous roads, opening new doors inside ourselves, and unleashing our honest-loving-wounded-hearts.

it’s been nothing short of amazing.

we decided at the start that it wasn’t about writing poems that rhymed (though some of them do), or that even necessarily followed any sort of form (though some of them did). it wasn’t going to be about proper spelling, or vast vocabulary, or even being very good at reading.

poems didn’t have to be long. they didn’t need to be succinct.
they just needed to be true. to be honest.

we just needed to start to believe that we all had something worth saying, and we were all worthy of being heard.

and i think we’ve done that.
at least i hope we have.

this Thursday night, at Harry\’s Little City of Bricks in Port Hope, at 7pm, this brave group of new writers is going to be host to an Open Mic poetry night. we want everyone to come, armed with some words to share. we’re going to try our best to share some of what we’ve been working on, including a self-published poetry Zine of some of our selected writing,  that will be for sale that night.

we’d love to see you there with poems in hand. you don’t have to have it perfect. you can even do it afraid. you’ll be in good company.

you’ve got something worth saying, and we’d love to hear it.

come join us. it’s gonna be great.

……

there are things to write about every time i blink my eyes

the ever wonderful Tanya Davis has long held a place of honor in this Blackbird nest. she writes words and sings songs that touch the most shadowy and tender of places…they linger long in my lungs…they curl up inside me and make themselves at home. both her poems and her person have become so very important to my wanderings in this world.

Photo Credit: Mark Maryanovitch

Photo Credit: Mark Maryanovitch

today Tanya posted this link to an interview with her and CBC, about poems and words and how she does what she does. it’s well worth the read. i’m pretty sure you could ask her questions about anything and the answers would come out sounding like poems.

speaking of poems, if you haven’t heard one recently, you should give this one a listen.

a found poem, or something like it.

...

...

It’s Saturday afternoon, the end of March. There was snow on the rooftops this morning, but that didn’t last long. I saw two crows fight it out in an eavestrough, while at another house, the hyacinth bloomed. By noon the sun was so hot coming through the window of the Mexican restaurant that our skin was feeling parched. My legs are stretched out on the brown striped couch in front of me. For a couple of hours they sat cross-legged on a carpeted floor. A live version of Such Great Heights is floating up to my window from a car speaker a few stories below. Today those kids really sang the blues.

I made the hot chocolate a bit too hot, but the almond milk was a nice touch. That cactus salad sure is hard to beat. Where does cancer come from and why does it happen and why did they have to die so soon? If you sang the song of your past it sure would be a heartbreaker.

That guy on the rollerblades must have been in the military. Lightening bolts on his head and all. As soon as you took off your glasses, I remembered everything. Fireflies don’t always bring light to dark places. It was 2 years yesterday, I wish I’d remembered.

You want to bring her back to life to make your future bright. That monster still sleeps in your sweater pocket. I wish it was easier for all of us to live with our losses. What should we do when our fears keep us up at night? It’s tradition now, you know. I could tell by your face that I’d lost you. I’m just not sure why you left.  I want to change my address too. Damn knocking.  You asked the question we’ve all been dying to know, little sage: If God is real, why doesn’t she answer?

……

spent a lot of time…

palm full of pebbles

palm full of pebbles

it’s Sunday evening, winding down. i’m sipping on some tea brew that has chocolate and mint in it, and it’s going down smooth. Amos Lee has been crooning around this nook for the last few weeks, and this song more than any of the others gets put on regular repeat. tonight is no exception.

there’s granola, still warm, sitting on the stove. the kitchen table is strewn with shrunken sweaters. i’m practicing the art of making good stuff come from what i’ve already got. stop looking for more when chances are, all i need is already right here. easier said than done sometimes. the grass is always greener…you know. yeah, we know.

there have been thresholds crossed this week. days dreaded, days anticipated, days survived. there have been long walks in all sorts of weather. there have been sweet moments and sad moments. there has been creation…there has been letting go. there has been the tender joy of a little babe; laughter of old friends; silence of celebrations no longer shared. there have been moments of honesty in the produce aisle, the barbers chair, the neighbourhood diner, the kitchen table.  there has been snow and sun and ice and rain and wind so powerful it all but took my breath away.

and what does any of this have to do with a blackbird and a studio and a woman wandering her way through what it means to make art, to be an artist? i ask myself that sometimes. even though i always know that i already know the answer. it has everything to do with everything.

i’ve got a palm full of pebbles. bits of things, scavenged shards. beaten down by waves and wind and time. mountains in the small of my hand.

i’ve learned a lot. i’ve really learned a lot. broken down on the bedroom floor… nobody told me that living was easy, but i’m not living in fear anymore.

peace for the journey, little birds. may we all keep finding ways to make something good come from what we’ve got. may we each have the patience to watch the mountains become pebbles in our hands…

……

instructions from the bird man.

...

...

Grab a word and just

start writing. You’ll make mistakes.

Think less. Just begin.

……

there are no dirty words.

” If you can make what your hand falls on sing, then just do it.”

Leonard Cohen

mr. cohen

mr. cohen

Sunday morning radio has replaced the piano-led choruses that for so many years made up the soundtrack to this time slot, week after week. It’s funny the things you think will always be there. It’s funny the things you find you don’t miss.

Today, the small windows are frosted and the world outside is blanketed in white. The words of the poet replay through my speakers and remind me of moments when I felt myself come alive. He writes about love because it’s so hard to find, so easy to miss.

The visiting cat won’t sit still, every shadow and string a possible playmate. My sitting bones, a perch.

Everything is a muse in this spice box of earth. Sunday morning, outside the temple, I’m finding sanctuary in the ordinariness of it all.

……

refusing to be burst.

the birth of prayer

Not in the ordinary moments, the long line at the supermarket,
a parking spot elusive on a busy weekend night, a baseball game
stretched to its thinnest innings. Not as a card flips over on a wagered bet,
or the frantic rifling through the racks of a final sale, or the flicker of fame
from a novel midwifed through years of hours in a quiet, empty office.
No, prayer begins somewhere even smaller, a millimeter at the back
of the throat at the announcement of hard news, a blood vessel’s little hiss
as it registers the change in the story’s rotation. And from there, a crack
opens in the body, and the flesh and bones surrender to a silent plea versed
in neither language nor boundary. And our heart spills and swells, refusing to be burst.

– Maya Stein

Image by Kevin Feary

Image by Kevin Feary

packing for the future

on Saturday evening, tired after a full weekend of art and shows and good people, i strapped myself in my car and headed south, to the little town on the big lake. the wind was gusty and the skies were heavy and a big part of me just wanted to call it a day and curl up and sleep. but poetry was calling and i couldn’t not answer.

Lorna Crozier

Lorna Crozier

this small little town was having a big little poetry festival, a whole weekend affair, with workshops and readings and discussions. and while most of it i had to miss because i was busy sharing my own art in my own town, i really didn’t want to miss the saturday night event.  because on saturday night Lorna Crozier was coming to visit.

i found my way into poetry at a pretty young age, and when i found it i latched on to it and didn’t let go. it was sort of a matter of life or death for me.  there were a few poets who were introduced to me early on by other poem lovers, like my dad and enthusiastic english teachers. but i was hungry for words and i was in love with the whole idea of poetry, so i spent hours and all of my spare change searching out new voices, new writers, new words to bring into my world.

Lorna Crozier was one of those poets who i happened upon in those early years. i think, looking back, it wasn’t as much her words themselves that resonated with me at the time, as it was the strength and the boldness of her voice. i was a young woman, still a child in so many ways, and i was fighting so hard to find my place in this world. to find my voice. my sea legs. my reason for being here.

to me, Lorna was a brave and gutsy poet. she wrote about bodies and sex and she did it with humor and confidence. her poems didn’t paint pretty pictures, or make things feel really easy. and even though sometimes i didn’t know if i was comfortable there in her words, i was grateful to find someone who didn’t make me feel like i had to pretend that life was easier or simpler than it was to me, even then.

so, on saturday evening i drove my tired bones to sit in a quiet library and listen to Lorna read her work. and i’m glad that i did. i’ve traveled a good many steps since i first found her poetry those years ago…i think i have grown into her words more…i think i have grown into my own more.

i don’t always write poetry with the fervency that i did 16 years ago when i first picked up the pen. but i’ve always held on to it with a firm and relentless grip. i still keep it close to my side/my heart. a poem, for me, can still feel like a matter of life or death.

poets have been lifelines for me in this world…cutting me open…keeping me alive…

……

Packing for the Future – Instructions

Take the thickest socks
Wherever you are going you’ll have to walk
There may be water ~ there may be stones
There might be high places
You cannot go without the hope socks bring you
The way they hold you to the earth
At least one pair must be new, must be blue as you wish
Hand-knit by your mother in her sleep

Take a leather stachel, a velvet bag
And an old tin box – a salamander painted on the lid
This is to carry that small thing you cannot leave
Perhaps the key you’ve kept ~ though it doesn’t fit any lock you know
The photograph that keeps you sane
A ball of string to lead you out though you can’t walk back into that light
In your bag, leave room for sadness, leave room for another language
There may be doors nailed shut ~ there may be painted windows
There may be signs to warn you to be gone
Take the dream you’ve been having since you were a child
The one with the open fields and the wind sounding

Mistrust no one who offers you water from a well, a songbird’s feather
Something that’s been mended twice
Always travel lighter than the heart

– Lorna Crozier

we all have our things that keep us sane

DSCN1509

i take walks and dig in the garden and drink earl grey tea with a bit of milk. i read mary oliver or linford detweiler or listen to shane koyczan rant. i rearrange rooms and purge my house of things. i eat scones or ovaltine biscuits.  i wander through thrift stores. i write words. i sing along with patty griffin and dance to old al. i drive to my favorite beach. i find quiet places where i can catch my breath. i follow the sun with a picnic blanket under my arm. i sift through old things and try to find the stories. i use my hands to  make things. i hold close the people who help hold me feet to the ground.  i root through the chaos and try to find a glimpse of calm. sometimes i have to search really hard.

sometimes i have to search really hard.

i don’t give up.

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Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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