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.