Edgar Degas- Dancer on the Stage, ca. 1877-1880, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton
I've always been drawn to Degas' paintings, so when I saw this canvas at Smith College's Museum of Art, I knew it was the perfect piece on which to practice ekphrasis. The repetition of colors and the disregard by Degas to make the scene believable as a stage immediately captivated me. It was as if the dancer was fading into the forest. And from these observations, this poem was born.
Ballet in the Woods
Is it strange to dance in the woods?
To fouetté through a dense forest,
your spinning arms and legs acting as machetes?
Is it strange to leap rather than run,
to suck in your breath rather than gasp for more?
For in these woods, the flora does the same.
Or, at least, it appears that way.
Ferns flare out like the fans of ladies on the verge of fainting at the hot ballet
The trees stretch into the sky interwoven with one another
like the movement of Tchaikovsky's and Reisinger's swans.
The wind directs the plants like a conductor’s baton
producing orchestral swells, orchestral silences.
So, how could it be strange to dance through this?
To follow the bidding of budding nature?
Would it not be more reprehensible to ignore the music,
feet falling on inappropriate beats,
shoes making too much noise?
Would not it become more difficult to find your way through,
disregarding the cues?
Yes, dancing is the only option.
Besides, if you are lost in a forest,
it would be wise to enjoy your time finding your way back.
causing a misstep
resulting in a stolen flower
A snapped twig
not even the outline your skin provides you with can save you.
You will begin to fade;
your skirt will fray at the hem,
leaving threads that litter the ground like pine needles.
Your skin will become translucent,
absorbing the colors in the sky.
Dance, and dance well,
for though you can point to an exit,
you cannot always make it there.
You cannot always leave.
Is it so strange to dance,
creating continuous momentum,
when only your loneliness and fear would otherwise
No, you must dance.
Dance away before the woods
notice your stardom,
notice how ebulliently you participate
in their performance
and draw you into their ranks
in the night.
All rights reserved.
oil on canvas @1906
George Hitchcock (American, 1850-1913)
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
The following piece was my entry for the Medusa Mythology Creative Writing Contest in which I was tasked to retell a classic Greco-Roman myth from the point of view of a heroic helper. I hope you enjoy.
When he landed on Ogygia, it was dark. Dark enough that I could not see his weathered body worn by years of struggle. Dark enough that I could only see his magnetic brilliance. I immediately decided that like Ogygia, I would be an island of beauty among his ugly waters of trauma and ache. I sang. At the sound of my voice, his eyes met mine. Even behind tears, his eyes shone so intensely that they pierced the darkness and bore into me. I initially believed that my voice, silk like my braided hair, caused his tears— at last! Relief from the turmoil!— but they never stopped. Not in song, not in silence.
We made simple introductions. Calypso. Odysseus. Now, when mortals say my name, it is always in tandem with his. But for seven years, we were the only ones with the power to utter our names. My name, so powerful from his lips. Powerful enough to fell the thickest trees, to brave the wildest storms, to decline immortality, to leave. His name, powerful, but not because I was breathing it. Because that is just who he was: powerful. Brilliant. Odysseus.
second grade writing journal
As soon as I understood what it meant to write your own lyrics, I bragged about Taylor Swift’s songwriting abilities to anyone who would listen. “Did you know Taylor Swift wrote that song all by herself? Not many people do that nowadays.” I was seven and smugly parroting a YouTube comment, but the urge to be one of few people who wrote for themselves was strong. I first rewrote Swift’s songs in my own words, thinking I was clever, while really just making them into unintelligible messes. When I finally felt skilled enough to tackle an original song, it was something completely novel: I rhymed “you” with “blue.” (Five times in a row…. Truly groundbreaking material!) But the more I learned about Swift — she won a poetry contest in fourth grade! She says she wrote a book one summer! — the more I wanted to emulate her, the more I wrote and wrote and wrote. Journals filled with attempts at depth and profundity overflow from my desk, and though I now look back on those pages with cringing hindsight, I think about how they wouldn’t exist at all without Taylor Swift.
Thank you everyone for coming out to support me and local original music!
Growing up, I swore to myself that I would become as distanced from New Jersey as the horizon is from the sea. Maybe that meant California, Ireland, or a never ending string of destinations far away from Cape May County. Winters here are characterized by an oppressive emptiness, and summers are stolen by swarms of tourists. Tourists who take our parking and our beaches and our sun, but tourists who I miss once winter rolls around. Spring and autumn are the only seasons which I feel belong to me, but what is six months of begrudging content compared to a complete year of unbridled happiness elsewhere? And so, I made the vow that I would leave the small world of the shore as soon as possible.
A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being able to "meet" Elsie Callender of Tea and Ink Society. We discussed our mutual love of literature. Check out our conversation over on her blog! Thank you to Elsie for our conversation and for her blog feature!
Enjoy these photos from my performance at End of the Road Theater on November 6, 2021. Thank you to all who came out to support me and my music. You made my night! Thank you, Stevi and John Paul for capturing my event. Thank you especially to Jen Swain for giving me the opportunity to play at End of the Road Theater. "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift featured because as I said, "Who would I be if I didn't play a Taylor Swift song?"
I'd like to thank award-winning author, Jan Sikes for supporting me as a singer/songwriter and indie music artist. I contacted Jan through her blog about a month ago and she was instantly interested in my concept EP, "make it be me." She is helping to spread the word about my literary-inspired music in her Writing and Music blog. I'd love for you to head on over to check out her blog and read all about my music and its inspiration. There's a giveaway included for two lucky winners; if you leave a comment and share her blog post on social media, you can qualify for the prizes too! Two winners will receive a t-shirt, cd, bookmark, pin, and sticker. Thank you to Jan, her readers, and to all who have shown me such amazing support over the past few months!