Being Offensive

Standard

There are standout moments in my life as a community engaged creative being. Most are good. Some are, well, not.

For example, I try to be like water off a duck’s back when it comes to rejection letters from publishers. I thank some publishers because their rejection letters are kind, and personal. Others I skim read and move on. There are so many flavours in rejection letters that can be condensed down to one word: NO! It’s all part of the game of writing and putting yourself out there. You won’t always land favourably.

Being a poetry busker for a few years, I’ve also experienced being called out, and I don’t mean for a standing ovation! Still the positive far outweighs the nay sayers, and though I don’t busk anymore, it was a formational experience for me and I think of those times fondly.

Since 2012, I’ve played in the communities I live in and visit. I say “play” because Pop-Up Poetry installation is that to me (if playing is being brave.) Sometimes I hear back from folk who’ve found a little poem bit and liked it. You’ll find some comments here on this website that speak to what has resonated, what has touched someone’s heart specifically and meaningfully, what has been a bright spark. I feel lucky when that happens. I feel privileged too.

Mostly I follow my heart, and trust I’m doing something for the common good. PUP isn’t a money maker, an ego builder, an advertisement…it’s a gift. A small gift of words on a tiny slip of paper for taking…if you find one, please keep it!

So this might sound altruistic and wonderful, but it’s also complex. Truth is I don’t know what reception I’ll get if any, or who might be offended:

Kindly remove all the pieces of litter and metal from wherever you placed them in Tofino.
It is totally disrespectful to do such a thing.
If I find any more of them you will be reported to bylaws for littering.
We work so hard to keep this place natural and then you come along and put out garbage.
Clean it up please.

When I received this email last night upon returning home, I was initially hurt. Then I was gobsmacked when I found out the author was a local artist! But I do see their perspective. Who am I to presume my art is appealing, or fitting, or nothing more than trash? One human’s treasure…

Back to the play (bravery) part. And the cost. I will bear the cost of these words because that’s who I am, and I will also continue to play.

I just want to be honest and say Pop-Up Poetry is not all happy shiny creative fun. It can be disheartening, and adds to the angst of being me: an artist/poet who is never entirely sure, never brave enough to put myself out there, is sometimes offensive, and does it anyway.

Cue the bylaw officer. Cue the poem I write in response.

Onward,

Lesley-Anne

Poems, like prayer flags

Standard

This week I was reminded that not all is good, and not all is good for me. I want to un-see what I saw, erase forever the images that popped up on my computer screen immediately after an opera video I was watching on Youtube. No warning, and there it was, cruel, shocking, and cutting through my soul like a knife. I didn’t know what to do. I gasped. I turned it off. But my mind played the images over and over again. I was hooked into darkness for a time.

And then, serendipitously and providentially, I was invited into a soul healing activity that is beginning to help me forget what I saw, not that I saw it, but take the edge of pain of it away.

A friend invited me to join a social media love challenge, posting only good messages. I’ve always tried to be that kind of person, but this week I’m being more intentional.

And then yesterday, as I sat alone on my porch on Canada Day and began to feel a little sad about that, I read this,

…become more conscious of the ways everyday acts and objects are inherently sacred when performed and regarded with intention. When we focus on whatever we are doing, we discover that God is in the midst of our work.

The Artist’s Rule, by Christine Valters Paintner

And then, maybe because of my soul pain and somewhat forced solitude, my heart turned to the thought of hanging up some poems, like little flags, like little prayers, and joining others in their space of being, for a time. Silently walking in their midst and offering my small blessings to them all. So I went, and I pinned PUP around the busy and quiet spaces, and I felt new life welling up in me. I didn’t feel so alone. I didn’t feel so dark and cut off. I performed a sacred act, just as the person who finds a poem will perform the sacred act of reading.

And I thank you God for showing me another way of you in the midst, of everything.

Rotary Centre, Kelowna

Rotary Centre, Kelowna

How the poems felt about it…

Standard

It was a blue bird day, and the poems were alert in their lively cling to the wire, their flutter of twos and threes. The wind cleared their heads of winter, and they soon realized the grape vines clinging beside them were similarly inspired, weathered arms held up to the sun, green ideas budding out in the warmth and light. And then the moment came when a woman reached out and touched one of the poems. How it felt to be chosen and held like that, the woman’s eyes intent on each lettered scar, the nakedness of lines. How the women read, gently, to last letter of last word. DSC_0040 DSC_0041 DSC_0039 DSC_0037 DSC_0036 DSC_0035