The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

January 1, 2010

The New Year, Cassie Premo Steele, The Poemgranate, & my favorite poem from Ruin

Educator, author, creativity coach, and poet, Cassie Premo Steele has a multitude of gifts that she generously shares with her community, near and far.  Next Thursday night, January 7th, Cassie will be the featured poet reading a selection of her poetry as part of the entertainment component of the FOM series on Main Street.  Her work will focus on relationships and intimate issues — such as parenthood, marriage, and family & work struggles — and she’ll be reading and signing her books at 7:30 pm.  Poets Melissa Buckner, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Chris McCormick will be reading at 6:30 and 8:30 pm, as well.

Cassie’s poem, The Poemgranate, was recently nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. The first time I heard this poem, the author was standing on the front porch at Muddy Ford on a cold and drizzly autumn day, speaking the words intimately to our group of 8 women who were participants in the first Women Writing Naturally Workshop.  The day was all crisp and spicy and promising despite the gray dormancy of the woods around us.  After the reading, Cassie broke apart a pomegranate and shared seeds with all of us, then invited us each to commit our seeds to the ground with our own personal wishes and blessings.  If you can imagine how special that moment in time was for our small group, you’ll know how important it is that you come and hear Cassie read next week.  Here is the poem below.

~~~

The Poemgranate
By Cassie Premo Steele

It is fall, the time after the beginning.
Not spring, not one thing in its infancy.
No fantasy of pregnancy or baby again.

I am in a hotel room, far from home.
Next door a baby cries. The mama
Coos her sweet southern comfort.

I did this with you, when you were young.
I ran like Persephone, but with a baby,
Smoky Mountains, New Mexico plains,

Boston, and beaches—we’ve seen the insides
Of hotel rooms turned tombs as I tried
To get what all mothers want, peace

And quiet. I would put you on the floor,
My lily, my orchid, my crocus, let you
Play with plastic cups, suck from multiple

Bottles, anything for one moment
When I could look away without fear
Of falling or choking or hurt.

It is fall, the time after the beginning.
Not spring, not one thing in its infancy.
No fantasy of pregnancy or baby again.

You are no baby anymore, at eight
You have fallen from grace
Many times—not from your mother

But from yourself, which is worse.
I mourn like Demeter, even though
You are still here. You inherited

More than my eyes: my vision,
My moods, my hungers, my cycles
And sins. They live in your skin.

You told me last week you had waited
For thousands of years in the sky
For a mother who would take you in.

Me, I said, smiling, I was the best one.
And then you stuck in the pin: No,
You were the only one to be so dumb.

It is fall, the time after the beginning.
Not spring, not one thing in its infancy.
No fantasy of pregnancy or baby again.

I have no flowers to welcome you back,
No seeds to plant, no chants to make
You whole again. I am human.

Not a goddess with magic or power
To create seasons that mirror
My immense sorrow, your great need.

All I can do is to feed my desire
For solitude, find a way back
To myself through these words

That I harvest like fruits, plucked
From my head, cut open in bed,
And eaten, forbidden or not.

Seeds and core, peel and stem, entire.
It is with this poemgranate that I might
Make myself, mother, whole again.

~~~

Cassie is also the author of five books, one if which is Ruin. Here is my favorite poem from that collection.

~

What Woods

by Cassie Premo Steele

~

What woods are these, that would begin

with this bitchy little seed, so ferocious?

What good is this mean tree that tries

to cut my fingers until they bleed?

Podlike I crawl back into the earth’s

prehistoric sandied shore, and let her take these

teeth from me, let her keep me

from biting back, or biting more.

There I listen, earlike, for the crowned

dawn so I can emerge from this

horrible beginning, so I can split

from my nightmare heritage

and learn to stand where I belong.

~~~

For more information on Cassie, to follow her blog, listen to her radio show, or order books that you may have signed at the FOM event, visit the following link:  http://www.cassiepremosteele.com


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December 22, 2009

Reflections brought to you by Susan Lenz and FOM, with Cassie Premo Steele, Melissa Buckner, Kristine Hartvigsen, & Chris McCormick plus Treadmill Trackstar’s Heidi Carey

If you’re like me, it’s hard to think about anything but Christmas these days — wrapping, eating, unwrapping, eating some more.  But the calendar does go on after Christmas Eve, and just two weeks beyond today, there’s an arts event you want to go ahead and mark on your calendars.  I’m particularly partial to this event because I got to help put it together and, consequently, I get to show off some of my favorite people whose works help make your city such a great place to live.

I’m talking about the January edition of Mark Plessinger’s FOM series — titled for this month only, Reflections.

(I know it’s a little trite and constructed to always make January the month for contemplation, assessment, and resolutions.  But given that our culture is, in so many ways, devoid of these very necessary components to a healthy and happy life, I say, take it where and when you can find it.)

Frame of Mind’s  featured artist for the month of January is Columbia’s own internationally renowned fiber artist, Susan Lenz.  Susan, who references herself as a contemporary embroiderer (a term which seems too limiting for the magic this woman comes up with to me), brings us creations like art quilts, amazingly symmetrical bowls made from acorn caps and moss, embellished images of graves she has hand rubbed onto silken cloths, beautiful found objects captured onto unique canvasses — the kind of thing that puts the art into artifact.

In the days to come, I’ll be writing more about this upcoming event — telling you more about what to expect from Susan’s show, and offering a bit of information about the performance art scheduled for that evening.  But here’s a preview — Cassie Premo Steele reading her poetry and signing and selling books, with additional poetry readings by Melissa Buckner, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Christopher McCormick.  And when these guys aren’t enlightening you, Treadmill Trackstar’s own Heidi Carey will be serenading us with her sweet cello sounds, persuading us all to look inward a little — to reflect.

Sounds like a lovely night — and a wonderful way to start the new year in Columbia arts.

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