kernpoetry.com

Month: May 2017

Visions of Words: Art and Poetry

Licet Romero stands behind her painting she created for the Visions of Words poetry event.

Licet Romero stands behind her painting she created for the Visions of Words poetry event.

Story by Portia Choi

Photographs by Ezekiel Espanola

It was a celebration of the arts in the sculpture garden of The Arts Council of Kern on April 21, 2017.  There was art inspired by poems, and a poem inspired by art.  There were two poets who displayed their art work.

Danny Martinez wrote a poem about feeling deserted.  The artist Licet Romero said she was inspired by the words to paint a large fetus.  Towards the end of the poem, Martinez writes of wars and how we are connected at the human level.

The lines from the poem reads,

“Same heart,

Same blood,

And all from an egg.”

 

Untitled

By Danny Martinez

Welcome to this special presentation,
Locked within a cell without prison inhalation,
Deception facing black curtain drop mind erasing,
To the zombie apocalypse of which mankind is pleased to choose,
Phones, IPads and TVs to form our views,
Thoughts outside the box are shot down and resisted,
Every soul in four corners are expert politicians and gifted,
Only shown what they want,
Not from the puppet we see,
The man behind the curtain let loose and deceive,
Never stand down!
Load up the REVOLUTION!!
To see the real clear depth of the sky,
And wipe out the pollution,
Institutionalized without bars in our face,
Back and forth on wars on depictions of race,
Same heart,
Same blood,
And all from an egg,
United as one is correct spawn as a pledge,
Our thoughts must be found and not pulled from the clown,
Resuscitate the brain and don’t let it be drowned,
Brenda’s baby is where we can never be found…
DESERTED!

 

Shanna O’Brien, who has entertained internationally, performed her songs at the event.  She is also an artist.  She is pictured standing between two of her paintings.  One of the songs she sang was “We are One.”

Musician and poet Shanna O’Brien stands between two of her pieces at the Vision of Words poetry event.

We Are One

Lyrics by Shanna O’Brien ©2015

We are one light, one heart, one love.

We are one.

Everybody’s different

Everyone’s unique

Some considered normal

Some considered freak

One thing we have in common

I think you will agree

We’re each a drop of water in a never-ending sea

We are one light, one heart, one love.

We are one.

Even though we’re different

The truth is we’re the same

Cause deep inside each beating heart burns a little flame

A flame that’s been ignited by a spark from something higher

We’re all just little flames in this great ball of fire

We are one light, one heart, one love.

We are one.

Every day’s a journey to the limitless unknown

We’re on this road together, no one is alone

Some of us are running some are walking slow

But in the end we all get there and then we know

We are one light, one heart one love

We Are One.

 

 Greg Stanley is a poet and an artist.  He said, “I began writing poetry, limericks, in high school.”  He began painting after receiving a paint set from his mother who also painted.   Here are two examples of his poems and art.  More of his poems can be found on PoetrySoup.com.

 Green Eyes and Pigments

Greg Stanley created a poem and painting inspired by the green color of his cat's eyes. He read the poem and showed the painting at the Visions of Words event.

Greg Stanley created a poem and painting inspired by the green color of his cat’s eyes. He read the poem and showed the painting at the Visions of Words event.

By Greg Stanley

Look in my green eyes, what do you see?

Is it something before or after me?

If only you could understand what I have to say.

All of you are the same… acting in the same play.

Not so different from one another.

But simply blends of the same color.

You are sienna, whether from Africa

China, Russia, North and South America.

Borders are division created through arrogance,

Thus, so many not given the chance.

All have the same goals… the same dreams,

But using the same damn machines.

How I know this, you ponder why?

Does it really matter, must I clarify?

Evolution has built you over millions of years,

Over that time, independent thought disappears.

No one is better… no one is worse

Every one of you is on the same course.

So please understand to make it safely to the end

A mix of Love and Kindness is the perfect blend.

 

Greg Stanley performs at the Visions of Words event.

Mother Earth (Re-Birth)

By Greg Stanley

While standing in a field gazing the sky above

I pondered all the things we are made of.

Then a bright light flashed through the sky

How did we begin, what is the reason why?

Four and a half billion years objects fall to earth

Some believe seeded life or created its birth.

By placing amino acids in the primordial ooze

The building blocks of life… but who’s?

We find these black stones… hold in our hands

Put on our shelves and display on our stands,

Mother Earth (Rebirth) by Greg Stanley

Mother Earth (Re-birth) by Greg Stanley

Each has an attraction one cannot explain

To desire and study the minerals they contain.

Do you ever wonder if we’re here for a purpose?

Or is someone watching us performing in a circus?

And did they shower us with all this matter?

Letting it dissipate in such random scatter.

Perhaps it was planned or just an… “oops”

As he never meant to send in the troops.

If that is so perhaps more will fall

Beginning a re-birth and destroying us all

I see another flash and many more still

Then a blinding glow just behind the hill

I remember nothing, nothing at all after that

As I lay in the grass still on my back

Then a bright light flashed through the sky

How did we begin, what is the reason why?

 

 

Mateo Lara performs.

Mateo Lara performs at the Visions of Words event.

Mateo Lara’s poem “Neon Candles” inspired Jesse Lemus’ to paint “A Whispered Summoning.”  Lara is author of two books of poetry, Keta-Miha and La Futura Tuga.  Lara said, “Tuga is sadness in Croatian.”

Neon Candle

By Mateo Lara
you’re staining the room with your electric blue sadness,
and last night around 4 in the morning,
You rustled around with maroon stained hands,
and told me to turn on the lights,
so I could see the silver tips you wore.
you kissed the angel of bitterness,
and I sat in the darkness for weeks.
I guess this was the last of it,
these candles, these bleeding memories,
on my shoulders and the burning of this bed,
the one where you laid out all your secrets,
on the white sheets that glistened in violet lust filled ink stains,
of the past, of yesteryear, you tell me not to come here or else there will be agony,
you took me in with your golden fingertips,
and told me to pretend the universe was way bigger than any of this,
so don’t dwell,
but I do dwell,
and we’re just as big as the splitting of the stars,
and the death and crash and burn of something,
being sucked into the black hole.
I am oblivion from every piece of me you stole and were unaware of,
I am chaos on your fury tongue, every dripping name,
has stretched before me like a carpet of rage,
and I stain you with tundra blue and midnight red,
I see the orange nova of the end and the pink sweet gin,
I am in place for you, when you leave,
You show me all the blazing glory of the neon soul,
before you go and I am without you now.
I lit the match of aftermath and shed my skin to sleep,
I whispered your name once or twice for a summoning,
and lit candles as the yellow embers led you out of my dying light.
When you blew me up into crackling purple smoke.

 

Diana Ramirez performs at the Visions of Words event.

Diana Ramirez is the co-planner for the “Visions of Words” event.  She also imagined then produced “Words Come to Life,” an event where art inspired by poetry was displayed at The Metro Galleries in Bakersfield.  Poets recited their work at the event.  Ramirez’s poem, “I Am Frowned Upon,” inspired Cuca Montoya to create a photographic collage.

I Am Frowned Upon

By Diana Ramirez

(an excerpt from poem)

I am frowned upon,
My choices are frowned upon,
My actions are frowned upon,
All because I have a vagina,
A birth canal to which life is born,
And a moist admission to which you moan,
Entrance accessed,
Perhaps entranced
by my rapture,
Yet I am the one captured
By the whispers,
By the faces that stare with disdain,

. . .

Frown upon me you might,
But I have been created to create,
And you were born to see the light,
In me,
In her,
Strong,
Stronger,
Strongest,
And our story
Is the longest
Ever told,
And I refuse to be a mold,
Molded in the image that man has sold.

 

Thomas Lucero painted this painting of Budda for the Visions of Words event.

Thomas Lucero painted this painting of Budda.

A painting by Thomas Lucero was displayed at the event.  Portia Choi, one of the planners of the event, was inspired to write a poem.  Choi had asked Lucero if he had a painting of the Buddha.  This inspired Lucero to do the painting.   An earlier version of the following poem was recited at the event.

Siddhartha Transformed

            By Portia Choi

Siddhartha in lotus repose,

palms touching in mind and heart,

soles raised in gratitude.

He was grooving with his brother, the Bodhi tree.

 

The past was a mist-the castle, wife, feasts.

He lived the rock years of self-denial and hunger.

 

Now sitting and breathing,

no thinking, no eating.

 

An orange cloth loosely covering a being of light.

The energy oozing from all pores.

Effulgence flowing, the cosmic Om.

 

Buddha sat in silence, in nonattachment,

of oneness to serve all beings.

 

 

Writing Poems of Awe and Wonder

The taste of a grape and the fragrance of a crushed mint leaf, help writers to compose poems.

On April 10, Portia Choi facilitated a workshop on “Writing Poems of Awe and Wonder” at the Art and Spirituality Center of Dignity Health, 2215 Truxtun Avenue.

Choi had the participants connect with their creativity through touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.

Choi started the workshop having the writers breathe slowly, feeling the air entering the nose, then gently exiting through the lips.

Then she recited poems by Don Thompson and Helen Shanley.

Then, Choi asked the participants to taste a grape or a chocolate candy bar.  She had the writers roll the grape in the mouth, then bite on the fruit to release its juice.

Another exercise was to crush a mint leaf and inhale its fragrance.

The writers were also asked to look at one spot in the room.  It could be part of a painting or the stained glass, or any other object in the room.

The participants commented on the workshop.

Annis Cassells said that it “was very worthwhile.  It stimulated creativity by use of the senses.  It reminded me to take time.  I was able to write . . . reconnecting with sensory images by slowing down.”

Another participant, Diane Lobre said the workshop “encouraged creativity. . . with ways to challenge the senses into poems.”

Ron McGowan thought the workshop was informative.  It “got my creative juices flowing,” said McGowan.

Barbara Burress said the workshop was “enlightening, fun and challenging.”  Burress said that she “found out that she can still write poetry, and will continue to do so outside of the workshop.”

One of the participants, Stephanie Gibson completed two poems during the workshop.  Gibson said, “It was special to voluntarily come together to write.  Usually writing poetry is a solitary endeavor.  It was refreshing and enjoyable being able to be in a place for writing in a group.”

The two poems that Gibson wrote at the workshop are “Fragility of a Poet” and “Primal Greetings.”

 

 

The Fragility of the Poet

By Stephanie Gibson

 

Cracker.  Chipped.  Dented & Scraped is Poet

Nursing old wounds

Caring for them daily, gently is Poet

Poet sees what others do not

Eye sight is really heart sight

There is silent weeping

The paper absorbs what pen pours out

Sensitive is Poet

Fragile is Poet

Ever transforming pain into meaning,

Mundane into significant,

Beauty into wonder

Already cracked, Chipped.  Dented & Scraped is Poet

So new injury is substance

To be consumed, digested, and re-crrated

As an offering of grace

Ever listening

Ever sensing

Fragile is Poet

Delicate and beautiful is she

Cracked.  Chipped.  Dented & Scraped.

 

Primal Greetings

By Stephanie Gibson

 

Dogs approach each other and sniff

They’re checking each others’ scent

Trying to know who they’re dealing with

 

What gift to humanity is your scent?

What’s your vibe?

Your attitude?

Your spirit?

Your bent?

Just give us a hint.

 

Is your energy that you exude

Love, acceptance, and a good mood?

When others are in your presence and they’re trying to get a whiff

Of who they’re dealing with

Is Kindness your special scent?

Is your attitude heaven-scent?

Is it communicating what you really meant?

 

 

“Snow on Elk Hills” by Don Thompson and “Lilacs” by Helen Shanley were featured at the workshop because they elicit awe and wonder.  

 

SNOW ON ELK HILLS

By Don Thompson

 

Once in a decade maybe, the snow

falls here too, even here

on scrub ugly slopes where oil birds feed.

 

Not much.  Just a dusting,

but sufficient to cool slightly

the overheated mind

 

of anyone who stops to look

long enough to see

that everything barren will be blessed.

 

From Everything Barren Will Be Blessed by Don Thompson.  Pinyon Publishing

 

 

LILACS

By Helen Shanley

 

I remember that lilacs enfolded the night

in a soft, June kiss,

a never-never land

of love in a candy store.

They floated like clouds of stingless bees

in mesmeric rivers of honey

around your tender face.

There was a sound like water falling

or clusters of little bells

or birds about to sing.

 

Sometimes I touch that lilac night

when your grave opens,

when dreams take us deep, deep

to love without time, without loss.

 

 

 

 

Nancy Edwards’ Mother Remembered

 Nancy Edwards’ Beloved Mother

story by Portia Choi 

       

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards’ mother is remembered today on Mother’s Day.

She often spoke of her mother’s Southern background, her gentility and graciousness.  It was during our lunches while planning poetry events that Nancy spoke of her mother.

Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., was a Professor of English at B.C. from 1968-2009.  She was a well-known poet in Kern County.  She was a vital and integral organizer of poetry events.

I knew that Nancy was fond of music.  She had collaborated with Howard Quilling, the former Professor of Music at Bakersfield College (B.C.)  She provided the poetry which inspired him to compose his music.

At the memorial celebration for Nancy, John Gerhold sang the compositions of Quilling and Edwards.  Gerhold is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at B.C.  and the chairperson of Fenlinson Endowment Committee.  Gerhold said, “Nancy’s mother was a music teacher.  Nancy made a scholarship honoring her mother.  Nancy was a generous person, and helped students and future generataions.  Many of the students went on to be music teachers.”  The scholarship is named Frances Edwards Music Scholarship.

Nancy also collaborated with Rosa Garza, a Professor of Social Studies at B.C.  They published a chapbook, Beloved Mother, Querida Madre.   In the book Nancy wrote the poem “Beloved Mother” and Rosa translated the poem into Spanish.  At the memorial service, Rosa recited the Spanish translation.  Sheena Bhogal, a professor of English at B.C. recited the poem in English.

 

Beloved Mother

By Nancy Edwards

 

In the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow

In these layers of tender skin

I am born once more

When you hold me,

Beloved Mother

 

When you hold me

I want to return

To the perfume of

Your vanity table

And douse myself

In Mother’s love powder

Cake flour fine

Only mother has it

 

I am in the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow Mother,

You are my cradle,

My beloved mother,

I live in the fragrance

Of your loose powder

And flower perfume

 

You are always

The place inside

You hold me forever

In the stream of my birth

When I am in your arms

You are my beloved Mother.

 

 

Querida Madre (Beloved Mother)

Translated by Rosa Garza

 

En la tela de tu codo

En esas capas de tierna piel

He nacido otra vez

Cuando me acaricias otra vez

Querida Madre

 

Cuando me acaricias

Quiero volver

Al perfume de

Tu tocador

Y ponerme polvo

Polvo de amor materno

Harina fina

Que solo la madre tiene

 

Estoy en la tela de tu codo

Tu eres mi cuna

Mi querida madre

Vivo en el polvo

Y perfume de flor

 

Siempre eres

El Lugar adentro

Donde me abrazas para siempre

En la corriente de mi nacer

Cuando estoy en tus brazos

Tue eres mi querida madre

 

Source:  Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE, 1992