Day 75: A Beautiful Day

It has been pretty dreary the past few days that I am ecstatic to see blue skies again. There is nothing I love more than green trees with the bright blue sky behind it. Below is the view from my room at the office that I am getting to enjoy while doing computer work.

In fact, I love sites like this so much, I even wrote a poem about it years ago. It will be appearing in my upcoming chapbook,

As Light Ascends

, from

Beauty is Beauty Press

. Here's a preview:

Messages from the Sky

There is something to say

The view from my office window today

...makes work seem less like work somehow

about the contrast of colors

that occurs with sky and trees–

how that buoyant blue

is somehow made brighter

behind branches bursting

with green so graciously. 

Same with the shadowed

egg-shell shade of clouds

that slides with ease of water,

and the airplane in the distance,

disguised as a diamond

perched among peach petals

gently cascading on some

celestial scenery.

Above these sky-scenes

Heaven is sure to prove its transparency;

but from this terrestrial position

the impression is a perpetual fluctuation

between Eden and perfection.

Day 64: A New Chapbook

Even though I already have 1 million things to do, I am so excited about this new project. Almost exactly, 1 month from today, I will be coming out with my first collection of poetry in over 10 years!

I got a call today from someone I met last Friday at the poetry event for YellowJacket Press.  He has his own independent local press and is hosting an event next month. One of the featured poets is not going to be able to make it and so he thought of me. Part of the deal is they will publish my book!

I have never been a writer seeking publication; my craft is performance. But I have thought in the past few years that it would be good to get some of my work out there on paper, that it would help expose my words to more readers. I just don't take the initiative. I've even had the editors of an literary magazines, upon hearing me recite somewhere (no doubt at a YellowJacket Press event) request me to submit work to their magazines. Have I, ever? NO.

So I take this opportunity as a divine request to get my literary ass in gear and put some work on paper.  I write because I want to share and as much as I talk about how we need to share at open mic, blah, blah, blah, I need not to be myopic in my sharing.  Yes, poetry is powerful when read out loud, but it can be just as powerful in the hands of another while they ponder your words in the silence of their heart. I see now that I need not to deny my words their power.

Day 61: Gianna Russo

One day while I was working at Sam Ash, many years ago, a guy came in to buy some things and we got to talking. He told me about this open mic near USF at what used to be Holiday Cafe. That guy probably has no idea that tip changed my life forever.

I started attending this regular Sunday night open mic and met my first poetry mentor, Charles Kory. Charles was in his first few years at USF and had graduated from the creative writing program at Blake High School.  Having listened to my poems for a few weeks, he said to me, "You know, you should go to Blake." I was already in my sophomore year at my neighborhood high school, but he told me that I can still get in my remaining years. So I took his advise and applied, a few months later I got accepted. 

My last two years of high school, I studied poetry with the teacher there, Gianna Russo. Gianna has been a staple of the poetry scene in Tampa for probably longer than I have been alive.  She helped me to write more, to write better, to help others become better writers through workshops. She took us to the Writer's Conference and guided us in the creation of chapbooks (small collections of poetry) our senior year.  My life was ever changed by those two years with her. I understood how the application of techniques to my self-expression created well-crafted poems, which often contained more truth than I was even aware of. It was through this process of creation that I felt a connection to something deeper. I would say in a small way, I felt like a mystic. Gianna was my experienced guide through these inner realms; she gave me the map to the intersection of my individual and the collective unconscious. She may not see herself this way, but for me, she was a shaman. 

Lucky for me, our relationship continued after high school. Almost 10 years later, I am a longstanding board member in her non-profit

YellowJacket Press

.  YJP publishes new chapbooks by Florida poets every year through two annual contests as well as hosts some of the best poetry events in Tampa. 

Though Gianna admirably hands credit over to her poets and students for their part in their creative work, but I will state right here that our love for our craft is no doubt infused with her belief in us. Though Gianna is not officially in the role of teacher for me, she still teaches me about community, dedication, and love of the arts. It is because of her the I KNOW that poetry can make the world a better place because I experience it.  She is just following her heart, but look at what beauty emerges from that. It's something that we all can learn from.   


Last night I went to see "The Hunger Games" - though I think I need to let my thoughts on the film settle a bit more before I reflect on it, I was reminded of one of my favorite Billy Collins poems. We used to have to on the fridge, but I notice it has disappeared. Maybe someone got hungry?


The fox you lug over your shoulder
in a dark sack
has cut a hole with a knife
and escaped.

The sudden lightness makes you think
you are stronger
as you walk back to your small cottage
through a forest that covers the world.

-Billy Collins


Yesterday I participated in a local elementary school's "Poetry Cafe" event.  All the forth grade classes had been working on writing their own poetry and each student composed a small book of their poems.  The teachers organized an event where all the classes got together for each student to share a poem from their book.  They asked a few local poets to also come in and share their work. I felt honored to be among the poets there - and I'm not just talking about the others who were asked to come, thought they were great too.    

Those forth graders really know what's up.  The honesty in their poetry is something I strive for.  I so love that these kids have the opportunity to learn value of sharing their words and I hope their inherent wisdom is affirmed for them. 

After we shared, we got to mingle with the kids a bit and here is what this one kid shared with me.  He was showing me the book he made, called, "A Poem in Every One." At the end, he wrote a little bit about himself which ended with something like, "...and don't forget, there is a poem in a every one." He made "everyone" two words, but we can just call that poetic license. I got what he meant and also told him that he is right and so so wise. 

Its not everyday that I am blown away by a 10-year-old, but I think that is more a fact of not being around them rather than their being a lack of amazing kids. Sometimes I think they know more than we do and that our knowledge is really us just trying to remember what we already knew then. 


Since it is going to be Mother's day on Sunday, I thought I'd share my poem about the divine mother. Here it is:

She is like an egg
all round and wobbly,
ceaselessly performing 
that silly dance, making 
sense of space surrounding her.
She is rooted in her own navel,
soil pregnant with possibilities. 
Her trunk, with rings infinite,
is proud to see the fruition of time;
when the wind picks up,
she sways smiling. 
Her limbs stretch through creation
so that she may playfully place
crowns on all her children,
with no exception.
And        when        we        fall

whether it be from floor fifteen,
from fascination, or from grace,
she is that perfect      permanent      pillow,
who swallows us whole
into her linen and feathers,
and then gently eases us 
back to the surface
so that we may again take a look 
at this bright, revolving world
that we had somehow forgotten how to see.

-Nyssa Rhiannon