Wild Threads 2019

0

Written during the Wild Threads Writing Symposium 2019 in Charlottetown, PE, for the participants’ open mic on August 25th. The pièce de résistance.

walking into the bar at Peake’s Quay
slight trepidation
wondering
who?
how?
what?
i find a few people
a friend, and another, and another

connecting

then strangers pour in

still shy
sitting in a corner
feeling awkward
a high school kid
at her first dance

leaving at first chance

knowing it would get better
it had to get better

coffee
cookies
a good sign

then the lounge
strange faces
again feeling alone
awkward
shy
unsure what to say
why?

until he sweeps into the room
takes over
fills the void
no need for other talk
no room for other talk
George Elliott Clarke
loves to talk
we basked
in the presence of literary god
venturing minuscule offerings
lapping up momentary patting
atta girl! good boy!
we intellectuals we!

listening
half hearing
half understanding
non-threatening chatter
over lunch
quickly munched
played a guessing game
too many strange titles
feeling ancient
in the presence of
exclusive elusive agent
Hilary McMahon
dangling bacon
atta boy! good girl!

a short walk
jars bones awake
trotting to the Carriage House
more talk
publishing trends
are dead ends
with Hilary and Craig
but Laurie Brinklow
twinkled and glowed

art gallery
faculty reading
luscious words gushing
from godly gullets
that barely reached
limp mike
thank you, Keith

early morning coffee
muffin
cinnamon roll
thank you Liza-with-a-Zay
hello Brent Taylor-who-works-in-VA

Pauline Dakin’s on today
Julie P-Lush won’t play
Anne Simpson ramps on
a saggy mattress
ramps off
extending the metaphor
until George (still on Toronto time)
sweeps in on golden sandals
Craig Pyette does play it cool
stretching the hour

Anne’s hour
quick sixty Simpson minutes
reinventing
reshaping
revising
radicalizing
reciting
renewal
relief.

processing outlines
with Patti at lunch
pop thoughts on cards
rainbow story arcs
paranormal (L)arsen mystery
did the ghost do it?
poof! typing magic fingers
poof!

Julie P-Lush came out to play
Julie P-Lush did end the day
all of her listeners in awe of her art
shared all their big dreams and opened their hearts

and so over lobsters and oysters and steaks
down at the Row House the writers partake
of laughter and cheer and chatter and make
new friendships and memories to keep them awake
all night as they slave for their open mic takes.

Advertisements

Homecoming

0

Poem written during the Wild Threads Writing Symposium 2019 in Charlottetown, PE, during a workshop session with Anne Simpson on August 24th, and delivered at the participants’ open mic on August 25th. Also with a great suggestion from George Elliott Clarke!

Dishes.                                                     

All in place.

Dinner.

                   Bell rings.

                            Rings.

                                     Rings. Rings. Rings.

Spotless.    House dust fears.

                            Mop and broom.

Spotless house.

No.             Spoken dissent.

         No.

                   No.

                            No.

Empty.                 House staring

           Out.

Staring house.     Empty.

         black          black

         black          black

         window      sockets

Will they?

                            Come.                                     

Home.       

Can they?         

Five thousand fires and counting

0

This poem was written during the 2019 Wild Threads Writing Symposium, Charlottetown, PEI, in one of George Elliott Clarke’s sessions on August 23rd, and read during the participants’ open mic on August 25th. With some really great advice from George and some techniques from Anne Simpson’s workshop on the 24th.

Five thousand fires blazing

Maybe more

children of the jungles fleeing

Into the world

Down from the north  running

Feet burning on ice

Up from the south  crawling

Hair dripping with fire

Ten years is five is one counting

Marking time

Giants out-shout giants mouthing

Words will not rhyme

people of the world stand watching

Beneath the shadow of hate

Millions of shards of colors reflecting

Black, brown, red, yellow, white

Is this the beginning of human destruction?

The continent lies silently burning

Bonfires march across the world

Sparks and embers leap exploding

Hearts, minds, bodies lying cold

Remnants of reality

Settling ash-like in the frost.

my best friend has died and this is just a nightmare

1
Will somebody please tell me I
just woke up on the wrong
side of the bed and
this
is
not
happening
that I
did not receive the
same
bad
news
over
and over
again
that this is just
a bad nightmare and it
will pass when I
really wake up.
That my dearest and best friend
of 35 years,
the older sister I had wanted
all my life,
my number 1 fan and supporter
in all I did
has died. I am in shock,
in denial,
angry,
depressed,
grieving, and
hurting
so
so
very much.
All my notices on Facebook
say I am wrong
because there will be
a wake
an interment
a mass
a funeral
I am numb as
my fingers type away at
the keyboard
and scroll through
the messages
the photographs
the flowers
the candles
the memories
that all say
you are gone
you are no longer in pain
you are with your brother
and mother
and father
but I am not with you
and I am oh so far away
and I cannot be there
by your side
I was not there
holding your hand
even if I wanted to be
and now you have left us all behind
and all I can ask is
why
and all I can say is
no
and all I can do is
cry
and I know
I will be reading your messages
over
and over
again
and looking at your photos
and posts
even the chain mail
you send me.
I will re-live our last visit together
five years ago
is too long
I will re-live our last phone call together
which was not long enough
you kept me in touch
with news from back home
with the earth
with myself
with life
you
my sister
my friend (5 times on Facebook)
my best of friends
my confidante
you
will always be alive
in my heart
in my head
in my soul
in my life.
When this nightmare
is over
I will awake
open my laptop
and see
another photo
message
sticker
joke
from you
but it will not be new.
The nightmare will never end
and I
will never wake up.

66095768_10156752858988992_1823734639634677760_n

My best friend, Evelyn Marasigan, seated (died July 11, 2019, on Blanche’s birthday); some of my closest circle of friends, L-R, Blanche Arguelles, Vicki Gwen de Leon, Gay Castañeda

To writers, though their pens lie still (a poem)

0

…And though their pens lie still and no new stories unfold
their stories will linger forever and be told and retold
their words will stay alive and leap from every page
forever to regale a reader, no matter what their age,
and while they’ll never leave another footstep on the ground
their words will travel far and wide and circulate around
we’ll always hear their voices whispering softly in our heads
we know they will live on and on as long as they are read.

©cindylapeña, 2016

Because we lost so many writers in 2016…

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/12/in-memoriam-authors-we-lost-in-2016.html

Fort Mac (a poem)

0

underneath the darkened sky
black smoke rolls out in clouds
and fiery tongues lash out in rage
consuming tinder trees and matchbox houses
while ant trails of humans pour out
in droves abandoning
home
life
dreams
as the world watches for days

this is hell but not
in hell no relief remains in sight
in hell no return to the light of a clearing sky
no supplications for rain
only pity from the living
no shelter from the blaze
nor lunch money
nor compassionate letters
from schoolchildren on a remote island
where father
uncle
grandfather
sibling
son spouse
journeyed west
to find a fortune
gone up in fiery haze
dragging Alberta to her knees
long before the oilsands run dry.

©2016, cindy lapeña

Celebrating Shakespeare

1

As far as I’m concerned, April is the Bard’s month. He was born in April and died 400 years ago on the 23rd, and still, his life and writing have been the subject of historians and researchers worldwide since then. He is probably the most studied writer and, as an avid reader, writer, and literature major, I have appreciated his canon and proudly call him my favorite writer of all time when I am made to choose. Shakespeare’s plays have explored the whole range of human emotions and behavior in an wide variety of settings, from the fantastic to the historical. He has left no topic sacred and has delved into the passions and motivations of no less than emperors and kings, but has not ignored the wealthy and educated as well. His works are enquiries into human nature, especially of those who wield power and are leaders of society. In that, he is quite the opposite of Dickens, who explores the lives of the impoverished and downtrodden. While his plays and sonnets have been read and analyzed to no end and students are able to count on set notes and study guides to dissect them according to literary paradigms, you will always be able to find something new with each reading–indeed, this is true for works with incredible depth. Best of all, is how, because of the universal truths we find in his works, we are able to relate to them, no matter what the age or era. There have been several interpretations of many of his works, updating them so that we can relate better to the stories. The fact that his plays lend themselves so easily to adaptations in different eras is proof of their timelessness, one of the characteristics of classical art. While Shakespeare’s works are just over 400 years and certainly, nowhere near the age of Greek and Roman classics, his works have withstood that test of time and, finding relevance even in the present day, will, undoubtedly continue to entertain readers and playgoers, scholars and critics alike, for more centuries to come.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists 410 feature-length films made for both big screen and television all over the world. While a great number are British, with several produced by BBC, there are a good number of American productions. More surprising might be Indian productions–but if you look at it in the light of the British colonization of India and, hence, exposure to Shakespeare, that is not really surprising at all; in fact, you would think there should be more. Among the most critically-acclaimed adaptations were  Japanese filmmaker Akiro Kurosawa’s Ran, an adaptation of King Lear; Throne of Blood (Macbeth), and The Bad Sleep Well (Hamlet). Among the more recent Shakespearean films I particularly enjoy are Kenneth Branagh’s productions, although he hasn’t done any in the last 10 years.

 

On Writing: Writing Retreats and Inspiration

0

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Happy Easter to all!

As a teacher in Catholic institutions, certain things were a given, including annual retreats, often held during the Lenten season, which was something I actually welcomed back then. Retreats are a great way to withdraw from the rest of the world to collect your thoughts and, as a writer, retreats are a welcome time to devote to nothing but the creative process. My writing group recently took a one-day write-in, not quite the weekend retreat we take each year, but a whole day to take a break from our daily hustle-and-bustle just to write with a bunch of like-minded individuals. It’s a wonderful break that I look forward to because when I write at home, there are too many distractions. Not to mention, editing jobs that require a different type of attention. It’s wonderful to just share the creative energy that electrifies the air when 10 people are in one place all writing. It’s also wonderful to share a little bit about what you’re doing, what you think, how you write. It’s a great way to connect with fellow writers who understand your little idiosyncrasies because they also have theirs. That is why I look forward to those little writing “retreats.” They break down the stereotype of the solitary writer. What people don’t realize is that, while writers mostly write alone, they are far from solitary. Writers, like any other creative person, need a creative energy that they get from being among people. They might not necessarily interact with those people or even know them well, but it is precisely those people who feed them with ideas and inspiration to write. People are inspiring and people inspire the imagination. While poets can shoot off the most impressive and sensual combination of words and phrases at the sight of a sunset or a flower petal or a leaf floating on a slip of wind, or even a shoe lost in the mud, prose writers, especially fiction writers, need to see and experience people, life, the whole teeming humanity of it in all its splendor or ignominy. That is what writers write about. Life and everything in, about, and around it. And when we know that others also struggle in their writing, we are encouraged and inspired to continue because success does eventually come, albeit in a varying degrees.

All writing comes from life. That is the simple bare truth about it. No matter how wild your imagination, it is and will always be something about life—and yes, death is part of life because any writing about dead people is in reference to their lives, the people they left behind, the people they meet in death or the after-life or whatever you want to call it. Fantasy writing, no matter how otherworldly or fantastic is about life because your creatures and characters are personified—they speak, think, feel, and behave pretty much the way humans do; and even their inhumanity and non-human behavior is based on what you have seen, observed, read, or researched about. Armed with that knowledge, there really is nothing off limits as far as what there is for you to write about. All you need is one little nugget of truth and a lot of imagination. Sometimes, you worry about not having enough imagination or a creative enough imagination. Sometimes, all you need is the power of observation and the ability to put your ideas down in sentences. Writing, in many ways, helps you make sense of what is happening around you. Every single day, you are bombarded with information and sensory input. All you have to do is put it together like a puzzle. Your pieces can come from anywhere. You might have a character with traits from a dozen different people you actually know or just one or two. You might create a setting that’s a little bit of a dozen different places you’ve been or just a one. You might create a history and future for a single event you read about in the news or witnessed at the bus station. It might be the woman in the line-up at the supermarket checkout; it might be the stray kitten in the gutter; it might be the well-dressed man with the fedora at the bookstore; it might be odd plastic bag swirling with an eddy of dried leaves in the middle of an intersection. All you need is one little prompt, a lot of imagination, and the courage to put pen to paper and write away.

Merry May (poem)

2

‘Tis the merry month of May and yet the buds do hide

The ground is soft and mushy brown

In places where the wintry blanket’s thrown

The trees stretch out their knobby hands

The fingertips bulging waiting wanting to bloom

The sun only teasing winking peeking behind the gloom

As the trees stretch out their knobby hands

Waiting to bud in this merry month of May

My balcony blooming while snow still lies on the ground in May 2015

My balcony blooming while snow still lies on the ground in May, ©Cindy Lapeña 2015

©Cindy Lapeña 2015