Ever since I first met writer, curator, and Queens powerhouse Wendy Angulo when I was organizing my Queens Literary Town Hall last October – I admired her strength, fire, and drive. One year since then, I’m so thrilled to announce that I am a featured poet in the lineup of Wendy’s next Canvas of Words show: PRESERVING OUR ROOTS!
On its third installment, Canvas of Words hits Queens, New York also known as “The Melting Pot” with CULTURE, HISTORY and IDENTITY.
Distinguished and Emerging Performance Poets will share their ROOTS as they take on a journey of filled with TRADITION & HISTORY. The journey will include “the American Dream” and the importance of preserving CULTURE, HISTORY and IDENTITY when achieving it.
A graffiti exhibition by visual artist Lawrence Hossanah Myse follows the themed show and will surround the stage and audience. Musicians and dancers will also join the arts and through their craft show the importance of preserving ROOTS to keep history alive.
The night will be a celebration of cultural diversity.
Hosted by “Advocate of Wordz”
Featuring: Bonafide Rojas, Annette Estevez, Rafael Landron, Roya Marsh, Modesto “Flako” Jimenez, Audrey Dimola, Cindy “Black Angel” Peralta, Carmen Taveras Molina and Nefertiti Asanti.
Produced by Wendy Angulo Productions & Robleswrites
Saturday October 11, 2014 from 7:30pm to 10:30pm
at the Victoria Congregational Church, 144-64 87th Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11435.
Tickets available at Eventbrite.com
**SPECIAL 2 TICKETS FOR $20 Fri Oct 3rd – Sun Oct 5th**!!
Advance Tix $12 (thru Oct 10), $20 at the door
Giving yourself SPACE.
S P A C E.
Today’s lunchtime meditation at Three Jewels in NYC reminded me.
Laying on the floor, focusing on the breath, for half an hour. In my work clothes, no less.
Not asking anything of yourself but to EXIST. And experience the marvel of your existence.. But just laying. And breathing. Not judging. Coming back and back and back.. To the breath.
Taking a hit off your natural energy.. I haven’t felt this in so long. My mind has been absolutely RUTHLESS lately. I am feeling the effects of all my aforementioned issues in addition to distraction and internet addiction.
But that’s not what this is about.
This is about a dedication to myself and to BEING. Just – being.
And that meditation made me realize that it is still – and always will be – POSSIBLE. To float out of yourself, your body, your constrictions, restrictions, obligations, obsessions, fixations, crippling fears, and exhaustion.
Just float. Away.
This is my journey. Back to the jewel in the center of the lotus.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
now the day has dawned and the lamp that lit my dark corner is out. a summons has come and i am ready for my journey.
- w.b. yeats’ intro to rabindranath tagore’s gitanjali
preorders & info can be found here; OFFICIAL RELEASE 11/3/14
Last weekend and this week have been difficult – for subversive reasons.. But I am realizing yet again how important it is to recognize that although we make grand, sweeping gestures about the “REST OF OUR LIVES!” and get enthusiastic about “FINALLY FIGURING IT OUT!” it doesn’t mean it sticks forever.. But that’s totally and absolutely okay.
My anxieties crept in – even worse than they have in awhile. Same with the fixation, the guilt. And the fear that I have, over and over again – that “this feeling” will never go away.. So subtle – how it changes your perspective of everything.. As you think, so shall you be. Fear the world? Yes, that world shall be fearsome. Open yourself to the world? And it will follow suit.
It has been so hard.. I have been so hard on myself. But it makes the rise that much sweeter. And I realized:
This is the place I create from. The place that knows the feeling of pain and dually comforts the world and myself. I would not be able to do otherwise. It is inherent in the art – the authenticity of the anguish or triumph. Not one without the other. One day this week I saw a poetry graffiti piece I forgot I did – I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t missed my stop on the bus. “& though you find yourself grounded, trust that you will fly again.”
We are falling into place to heal ourselves, to heal others – even when we don’t realize it.. The universe will present the signs to you if you keep walking.
As always and forever and ever.. This is the pattern. The push and tug. The ebb and flow. The natural order.. We cannot create, we cannot relate, we cannot truly live – if we do not keep moving onward through the dark.
ONLY BECAUSE WE SUFFER CAN WE LEARN HOW TO BE STRONG.
I realize this is my calling. In the dark I reach for the pen. The chalk. The words. I write these messages because I need them, too.. Not because I am always operating from a place of perfect peace and security. I am afraid. I am crippled by fears. I am lost. I am fighting against the dark.. But doing this makes me feel better. And every time someone tells me that it helped them, too – that they needed to see it, that I played some small part in letting a message from the universe be delivered.. The circle is unbroken. Gratitude. Because without the pain, the words would not exist.
I shall go on marching,/ opening broad roads against the shadow, making/ the earth smooth, spreading/ the star for those who come. -Neruda
PS: You can find more images like the ones above on my Instagram @audreyleopard :)
PPS: I would be absolutely remiss not to mention that today is the birthday of my greatest hero.. MR. FREDDIE MERCURY. The man who taught me so much about what I know of bravery, of creativity, of living your destiny, living beyond boundaries, making your legend REAL. Since I was forged as a true Queen fan at 12 years old – there are no words to describe what this man has helped me to realize, what he has taught me, the heights of emotion he has pulled from me.. Pure and complete adoration, forever and ever. Cheers, my darling – my fire will always be linked to yours, my heart bursting with color because yours showed me how.. THANK YOU. FOR YOU. XXXOOO
Strangely, as a writer.. I am always after the wordless.
Especially after chasing words and meaning your whole life – expressing it in poetry, in prose, in speech, on paper, with a pen, with computer keys – tangible.. There is something so interesting in taking it OFF the page. In making it move.
In going forward in my work I am so excited about playing more with this.. This spirit of freedom, of movement, of cross-genre collaboration – of how the arts inform each other and each express something the other can’t. They fill in the cracks. Inspire the other to break open a little more. Breathe a little more. STRETCH a little more..
I am reminded of this every time I move away from pen and page, from computer keys and screen – my time at The Yoga Room brought this to my field of vision and since then I have never been the same. One of my favorite yoga teachers (who is also an amazing friend) paraphrased Martha Graham and said – the body in motion reveals all. I came back to the mat to practice yesterday and felt it immediately. After weeks and weeks of not doing an actual yoga class – I slipped back into this realm. This LANGUAGE. That doesn’t require any planning or pretense or anything besides – showing up.
So much of life is like that, I realize.
‘Daring Greatly’ is inspiring me again this morning. The author has an amazing vulnerability prayer: Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen. SHOWING UP. LETTING YOURSELF be seen.. The incredible experience of being involved in the local literary community has taught me this, and hosting/performing at Inspired Word especially, every couple weeks.. Having the ability to see performers at work, being vulnerable, letting themselves be seen, trying new things, freely collaborating, being open – it has a direct effect on me. I recommend it to EVERYONE – to put yourself in situations surrounded by open-hearted, brave, creative people.. Even if you yourself are terrified, or don’t want to perform – there is so much to be said – as I always discuss with my lovely friend and fellow poet Valerie Keane – for just showing up. Being there. EXPERIENCING..
Back to the wordless: REMEMBER that this exists. That there is a whole other realm for you to tap into, especially if you are usually creating in a medium that “doesn’t work that way.” Inspire yourself to step out of the box we always find ourselves in.. Most of the time, we make the box ourselves. WHY do we have to do it this way? WHY can’t we do it differently from everyone else? WHY can’t we change the course of our own history? Be inspired by the work around you and in your surrounding culture, whether mainstream or local – be inspired, but not dictated by it. All it takes is ONE person to do it differently. It always works this way.. Who says we need to stay in the usual forms, and follow suit?
Ntozake Shange has an incredible book that pushes the boundaries called ‘Lost in Language & Sound’ that has been inspiring me so much. Even the way her words look on the page, even the way she spells things – are so different. Her ideas of the “choreopoem” fall in line with things I started to experiment with – the meeting of words and dance is pure POETRY to me.. She writes: & yes/ in order to think n communicate the thoughts n feelings i want to think n communicate/ i haveta fix my tool to my needs/ i have to take it apart to the bone/ so that the malignancies/ fall away/ leaving us space to literally create our own image.
This is exactly how it felt for me to work on “MIRRORS” with my beautiful friend Kym Nolden, who choreographed this piece for debut at my WORLD OF WORDS: QUEENS show at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center this past April. The whole process was an exercise in vulnerability and trusting.. Being so inspired and humbled and shaken up by the openness of the dancers, the craft of dance itself, the hugeness of the show, the fact that I hadn’t even written “MIRRORS” when we started, hadn’t performed with memorization in many moons, never worked with dancers before, and was struck with emotion every time I performed because the subject of the piece was still raw in my heart and mind..
I remember – in the midst of a solid block of other shows and curating craziness, putting together the show, my own jobs and life happenings, exhaustion, stress, nerves, on and on and on.. Finally getting the piece down in my apartment, practicing it over and over, THEN going to the theatre at LaGuardia, performing it with the dancers for the first time – and absolutely falling apart. I couldn’t remember the words or the cues. Here I was – the curator of the show, the author of the piece – the dancers had their choreography down and were so patient and beautiful and open.. And I was screwing it up! Oh, ego. So much I learned.. I had to get out of my own way. I pushed the ego out. I tried hard to let it go. And I went back the next day, a day or so before the show, and stayed in that theatre by myself for a few hours, running it and running it onstage, all alone in front of 300 empty seats. TRUSTING.. In the beauty of the vulnerability. Of the rawness. Of the uncertainty..
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable. -Madeleine L’Engle
And at the show – this is what happened. The piece I am most proud of. The style that – god willing – you will see more of. Thank you endlessly to Handan at LaGuardia for giving me space for the show, and to Kym, Jacob, and Sarah for creating this unforgettable experience with me. My heart is eternally bursting with gratitude for your beautiful energies bringing these words to life..
More to come.
“The colossal vitality of his illusion” – this phrase has always stood out to me in my favorite book since 8th grade, ‘The Great Gatsby.’ It’s becoming more and more clear to me – the colossal vitality of OUR illusion. I feel very lucky each time I’m led to a quote or book or piece of literature/music/art/LIFE that triggers that all-important A-HA! moment that helps to clean my metaphorical lens of this illusion.. And I want to share them with you.
An effort to post more, reflect more, learn more, retain more.
I just started a new job which is strangely forcing – er, emphatically nudging me – to face a host of my fears. I just turned twenty-eight and the past year has been incredible, beautiful, insane, stressful, painful, amazing. And I’m realizing – as the author of this fantastic book, ‘Daring Greatly,’ realized – that so much of it comes down to VULNERABILITY. WORTHINESS. And this culture of SCARCITY – this culture of NEVER ENOUGH.
I didn’t even realize it.. How pervasive it all is. Now all of us in this rapidly paced, overly connected yet staggeringly disconnected social media/instantly updated/strangely voyeuristic society are constantly putting up boundaries and appearances, even when we don’t realize it. Should I share with people the fact that I get overwhelmed even though I’m an organizer and curator? That even though I’m a poet I deal with vulnerability or expression issues? That I’m a positive, emotional, love-filled person but am near-constantly living with familial guilt and separation anxiety? Anxiety in general? Fears of taking trains and elevators? Habits of manipulating my life, lifestyle, and opportunities due to FEAR? What about my… REPUTATION?!?!? What about how people see me? What about how I want to be seen, who I want to be, who I know I AM? How does it all get so MUDDLED?
There are so many causes we need to take the time to uncover with kindness, grace, and intelligence. ‘Daring Greatly’ illustrated this to me in such a crystal clear way this morning.. HOW can we heal? HOW can we open up? HOW can we appreciate the NOW? HOW can we ever embrace ourselves and THIS moment if we are constantly feeling we are not enough? It’s why we feel like we can never get ahead, aren’t ready, are inadequate in comparison with our peers, our sense of self, pop culture, where society says we should “be” at any given moment.. Author Brené Brown quotes a passage from Lynne Twist:
For me, and for many of us, our first waking though of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something…
The “REVERIE OF LACK.”
ILLUSION! That’s what it is! We are writing this script – all the while not realizing WE’RE pressing the keys or holding the pen.. Brown herself says: Scarcity doesn’t take hold in a culture overnight. But the feeling of scarcity does thrive in shame-prone cultures that are deeply steeped in comparison and fractured by disengagement. [...] The greatest casualties of a scarcity culture are our willingness to own our vulnerabilities and our ability to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.
This, for me, is huge. We are constantly trying to kill the sound in our heads. Muffle it. Medicate it. Ignore it. Sweat it out. Burn it up. But we have to look deeper into the root sometimes. And this to me was so illuminating..
Thus begins this phase. DISCOVERY!
Today (well – yesterday, now) was a new beginning for so many things, and a welcome honoring of where I’ve been. The journey, the journey. Oh, the journey.. Happy Lucky Friday the 13th.
So much wisdom has been popping up everywhere. If we take the time to see the signs..
Amazing articles in the latest Creations Magazine:
“The lesson to be learned here is that when your redefining moments pop up, be prepared to go where you had no plans on going – because that is where your bliss awaits you.” –Dennis Merritt Jones
“Desire directs energy, and when you are clear about your desires, you are more precise in your creative aim. When you know what you want, you can have better boundaries around how you spend your time. [...] There is power in practice.” –Tami Lynn Kent
“Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we are shadows and the light, we are our left-brains and our right. We are the summation of all things and we bring our best into the world when we simultaneously toggle back and forth between it all.” – David M. Howitt
“Recall your childhood: groups of young children playing together, exploring, curious about everything, giggling in wide-eyed wonderment. Compare that picture to a group of typical adults commuting in cars or trains or buses or subways: dull faces gazing unseeingly straight ahead, emotionless. What have they lost? When did they lose it? And can they get it back? Remember that one day, you will be sitting on that proverbial rocking chair on some front porch or veranda, maybe overlooking the ocean, and a stranger will sit down beside you and politely ask: ‘So, what did you do with your life?’ What will you say? The stakes are high. The price of unhappiness is steep. And life is short.” – Henry S. Miller
And a wonderful newsletter email from my talented friend Josh Rivedal, from his BLOGospel According to Josh (my story will be appearing in his Good News Project book soon, too!) with a perfectly apt subject line: WHAT YOU ALLOW IS WHAT WILL CONTINUE. “You may not be as ‘safe’ walking this tightrope toward the change you desire… but you certainly are free (not ‘freer’ but simply ‘free’). Your efforts as a change agent for self, will be regarded and duly noted by others – and will allow them the audacity and courage to become a change agent for their own self. [...] Choose yourself. Nothing is impossible. Slip that little apostrophe in and add a little space: I’m Possible. Damn it, it’s the truth.”
Everything is a sign, a sign. And the smallest movement MATTERS. My sweet partner illustrated this to me so patiently and beautifully.. Here’s some words of my own from last night/this morning:
if you can’t move, let the breath move..
if you can’t be the ship, be the oar.
if you can’t be the oar, be the compass.
if you can’t be the compass, be the slightest stirring
in the voyager’s heart that told him –
i will not waste this day like all the others.
if you can’t be the voyager, be the faintest flickering
of the arrow magnetized towards whatever is greater –
whatever you can see in that last moment,
with your eyes widened and the water in your lungs –
that suddenly makes you forget how to drown.
the smallest movement matters.
one shift toward home is precious,
even if you’re dragging yourself there –
hand over hand, finger over finger,
chipped and bloody – stunned senseless
from the sheer force of your forgetting.
don’t you remember? – reading, writing:
“there is a light that never goes out.”
there is a piece of you that cannot forget
the first bloom of god on man’s tongue
acknowledging himself, too, as infinite.
be courageous in your darkness.
the beginning of becoming took shape
with one pure cry to heaven,
open your mouth and you
will find the words. -ajd
There is always light splitting through the cracks in the darkness. And I give thanks.. So much thanks.
One foot in front of the other,
- Hosting the last Boundless Tales reading of the season 6/19/14 [Facebook]
- Canvas of Words Open Mic Series KICKS OFF! 6/20/14 [Facebook]
- Performing & curating for the Queens Council on the Arts Block Party at Kaufman Arts District 6/21/14 [Website]
- Hosting the new Reading Series at Atlas Park (hopefully on the terrace!) 6/26/14 [Facebook]
- Hosting Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word in Queens 7/2/14 (& 7/30/14) [Facebook]
– Performing at QNSMADE exhibition & launch party at QCA’s 3rd Space 7/18/14 [Website]
– Performing at 3Po3try NYC Presents Hot House: A Summer Poetry Extravaganza 7/31/14 [Facebook]
“In thunderstorms it will arrive. I have the feeling often, meanwhile,
It is better to sleep, since the Guest comes so seldom;
We waste our life waiting, and I haven’t the faintest idea
How to act or talk… in the lean years who needs poets?
But poets as you say are like the holy disciple of the Wild One
Who used to stroll over the fields through the whole divine night.” -Holderlin
PS: Please SUPPORT LOCAL PROJECT.
They are an LIC institution – an accessible, experimental, open-hearted and open-minded art/event/co-working space and haven for artists and awesome people of all sorts, running exhibitions, workshops, shows, concerts, art education programs, and more. They recently had to move out of the 5Pointz building complex (for obvious reasons) and in getting reestablished in their new space, have gotten behind in rent. They’re doing an emergency Kickstarter to start their sustainability plan so they don’t lose their AMAZING and MUCH-NEEDED new home. As things change in Long Island City and supportive/affordable venues in Queens unfortunately remain a rarity, we need to keep the original culture of ART alive and support an organization that has always supported US. Above is my brick on the wall at LP – proudly standing in solidarity.
Check out their Kickstarter and BUY A BRICK! LONG LIVE LP!
Every shard of gratitude you can pull out of the shattered frame – helps.
It’s all in how you see the pieces..
(Thanks for the moment, Diane)
Yesterday, despite the dark – rainbows followed me. It’s all in what you see.. And sometimes it’s just so hard – to see. Rainbow pens from my love. Rainbow letters colored in my notebook as a sweet surprise. And then, during the Taste of LIC on the LIC waterfront – a girl scout runs up to me and says, “There’s a rainbow outside!” for no reason – how did she know? I was inside the tent and would’ve missed it – it was in the sky for such a short time. My hands shot up to my mouth. “How did you know I was waiting to see one?!” I went outside – and there it was.
Sometimes we feel so small – and so poisonously guilty for not being able to peel ourselves back from our own darkness to see the blessings in front of us. Be patient.. Be kind. I sat against a building on the sidewalk in LIC to eat some breakfast/lunch and an old friend randomly passed by and sat with me. He reminded me – you’re not alone. And you’ve been through this before. And you make a lot of people happy. That is its own currency.. The ebbs and flows, he reminded me. The ebbs and flows. This is what it is. And it isn’t forever..
Whenever I read Kabir (or Hafiz, or Rumi) – their eternity leaks into me. Their words so seemingly simple yet so profound. Emanating from somewhere else entirely and yet – directly beside you. Always within reach. Words spawn words, I always say.. They make me write. They come and offer their words – take it or leave it, they take YOU as you are. Simple. Simple..
Here are some words from a crowded G train this morning. Blessings to you, and especially those of you dealing with your dark.
“whenever you fall i will be there to catch you”
curl around that space inside the word.
your face has become so dark, hollow.
the further you slip, drifting in your boat without oars, collecting stars –
still, i can see you.
still, i can reach you.
your pity for yourself feels inextricable.
your crash from the high, your bones made of pieces, somehow still holding in place.
i am holding that place.
i am watching you even through veils of darkness.
i am the breath that moves the curtain as you sleep.
that’s all it is –
a curtain between these two worlds.
your life becomes a strange failure –
and you forget.
you don’t want to be here anymore.
rooted to this pain,
the thickness such that for once –
you can’t cry.
and you still want to cry.
need to cry.
what about – for you?
all these curtains and boats and flowers.
be inside the curl of the word.
it is impossible to make light without shadow.
and so on and so forth –
you know this.
like your next breath – you know this.
i am the golden rim around the edge of asphyxiation.
the moment you see out of the corners of your eyes.
touch it –
just when you think you can’t breathe anymore –
the space in your ribcage opens to a canyon.
call your voice into it.
i need no offering but your unrest.
this moment, just as you are.
call your voice to me,
up into the heavens you don’t feel strong enough to believe in.
still, i can see you.
always – i will answer you.
- Performing at IAM (Immigrant Advancement Matters) Open Sessions at Flushing Town Hall 6/5/14 [Facebook]
- Hosting Mike Geffner’s The Inspired Word at COFFEED 6/11/14 [Website]
- Hosting the last Boundless Tales reading of the season 6/19/14 [Website]
- Performing & curating for the Queens Council on the Arts Block Party at Kaufman Arts District 6/21/14 [Website]
“if my bark sink/ ’tis to another sea.” -dickinson, via emerson