The Due in Create

by daniellestemarie Email

The Due in Create
Danielle Sainte-Marie

Here, a river, amaurotic moil,
Not proud, but serving the village toil--
To make it whole, the river with no dip,
Carries on, the duets life, singular
Bringing it back in, flowing back out,
The Divine Gift, The Muse, The River,
For villages refreshed and washed,
Annointing quill oil, masked head,
What's inside and devout
The only thing worth writing about.

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Act Your Age, Look Your Age? WHAT?

by daniellestemarie Email

Let's get right to the point, shall we? There is no such thing as 'not looking your age,' or 'not acting your age.' It's a fallacy.

So get it straight: any age you are, whether you have had cosmetic surgery or not, is how your particular brand of a certain age looks. WE ALWAYS LOOK OUR AGE. We also always act our age too, which means, if you are deeply serious, reading a book with a heating pad on your neck, or fun and wearing real tight short-shorts while dancing at a club, you are still acting your age, which is whatever age you happen to be. Just be yourself, and stop listening to these inane comments from others, and quit hearing the remarks of those who would put you in THEIR category for what some age is supposed to look like.

These two actors are the same age. They both look their age! This is what each of their ages LOOKS LIKE!

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Kavindra's Heartache and Loss

by daniellestemarie Email

This is one of the poems that Kavindra Sharma, Pulitzer Prize winner in my novelette, The Poetess, wrote about the car accident she and her best friend Morgan had, wherein Morgan immediately died.
There was a place that I thought, ‘sorrow must know this not,’ for no one has grief such as I.
Into your sparkling last eye, I saw you smile before ‘bye-bye,’ was forever a word just formed on my tongue.
My hand had not even begun, to reach for you at our end-run; the reluctant flyer, I was pulled away.
I couldn’t move from where I lay, on the side of that awful highway, In direst pain, I only thought of you.
I think I moved an inch or two in your direction, but I knew, I knew; my heart was becoming a closed space.
I cried out your name in silent embrace, and pleaded with the sun to erase, my memory, so unwanted but still mine.
And then men stood over me with eyes as signs, they dared not define, my grief at being without you.
But, radios the silence broke-through, and I screamed inside from the picture they drew: D.O.A., my friend, I would never see you again.

The Poetess is available here: The Poetess By Danielle Sainte-Marie, for a mere $15.75

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What is Pefection, Really?

by daniellestemarie Email

A lot of people think that perfection means the absence of mistakes. But that is a thinking error, and not to be indulged in as 'truth' for those seeking the enlightenment of the jewel.

I once wrote, "The road ahead is curved, and that is what makes it straight." This is a great starting point for us to begin our research into what makes anything 'perfect' in our eyes.

The fact is, if the curve hadn't existed, no one would know what a straight road would be, what it would look like, or how it would come about. Why? Well, for starters, it wouldn't be called a straight road, it would just be called a 'road' because it would be the only type of directional road that exists. And, if only the straight road existed, then you wouldn't generally get very far, because without curves, you can't get to most destinations from point A to point B. Ask the Romans. They knew this. Sometimes, curves are necessary, even if you don't want them.

Do you understand that any sense you may have of something you do or once did, that you believe is perfect, is actually something that comes from a long line of mistakes? And, it's those very mistakes you carry with you in your mind--like splinters in the brain--that help guide you to this 'perfection'? It's the curves that make the straight road, and it's the mistakes in life that are building blocks, indeed, are the very foundation of 'perfection'. So, if you don't see that perfection was built by folly and miscalculations, then you don't understand perfection. Perfection is not pristine; it's very dirty, muddy, hard to witness, and it comes at a mighty cost.

I love the way a great and humble Japanese philosopher, who came to America to give a lecture, once displayed these ideas. He seemed to fumble with his notes, and made a few speaking errors. But everyone who knew him also knew that he wasn't actually that way. He was an extremely gifted man whose lectures to (other peoples) mostly were razor-sharp. When Joseph Campbell, our esteemed and greatest mythologist, who was in attendance at the lecture, asked him, "How did you feel the lecture went?" The Japanese man (and Zen master) looked at him and said, "Well, to do too well in front of a new audience, is not very nice."

In other words, perfect. He knew the real value of perfection was always found in mistakes. Remember that, and keep seeking the jewel, my friends.

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Masterclass for Reading and Understanding Poetry.

by daniellestemarie Email

(There is a level above this class, which I just call 'Artist's Class,' but you need to read, live with, and seek to understand this 'Masterclass,' for at least three years before asking me for the next installment.)

Reading Poetry and Returning to Zero

“A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.”
~Jean Cocteau

“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”
~Robert Frost

“He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”
~Oscar Wilde
Poetry, by actual definition is, “a literary work in metrical form; verse, poetic qualities however manifested.” However, the experience of poetry is much different than having a basic understanding of what poetry is. You can know all about the various forms of poetry, such as how the sonnet is a closed form, or how quatrains and couplets work in Shakespeare’s writings. You can know all this and more and still not be able to experience poetry. It’s a bit like having religion with lots of faith that something transcendent exists, but never having the religious experience of that transcendent mystery. Of course, it may help to deepen your appreciation of impassioned verse by being able to comprehend its structure, but to feel poetry come alive you must get beyond the technical aspects and take it into your being so that it resonates with force, instituting profound realizations that segue into emotional, intellectual, and even physical change. I will expound on that at the end of this piece.

In literature classes at university, you will study several different poets, poems and stories, and dissect them for their lives, structures and supposed meanings, respectively. I have done those things many times before, and it’s true that my level of appreciation always deepened more as I read with rapt interest the biographies of the writers and learned a bit about where they might have been coming from emotionally, geographically, and era-wise.

However, my ability to read poetry and break down its verses skillfully increased because I applied myself to the readings with a sense of wonder and joyful passion. I have always loved reading and analyzing anything, but poetry especially interests me, as I have always been a poetess actively living a poetic life. It was something I was simply born into. Now, you certainly do not have to think like I do in order to feel and apply my—or any others—poetry to your fuller, real life. In fact, thinking differently from me may be one of your greatest assets to seeing what lies beyond these concretized words! However, since some readers may appreciate a glimpse inside how my mind works, I offer the following… I have never been a visual person in the sense of seeing static imagery in my mind that arises from reading poetry. My mind doesn’t work like that. I see everything and nothing in written form, here, there and nowhere. When I see a tree in my mind, I literally see a collage of words that make up its image, not the tree itself. I see descriptive words of the tree and string together along sentences that describe it, and these words are all laced with metaphorical interpretations of my life through strong emotions. That is partially how my writing ability developed, and I have been like this all my life. I write emotions in my head, I write images, I write ideas. One such poem I wrote, called Complete another Time, illustrates this for people in a way that easily facilitates understanding of how my mind works in regards to poetry and indeed, my life (that poem was written in the pattern of a tree). So yes, I see images, but they are not in the same way others I have spoken with seem to see them. I concentrate on the writing of the image and produce my own emotion-drenched words through the experience of it.

When I watch a movie, I watch words more than pictures. This is a difficult notion to explain precisely, as it is all found inside a constant relationship I experience with words, images, and feelings. To describe the relationship to you I must accept a sense of loss of information in the transfer, as the experience has always run far deeper than words are capable of expressing. So yes, words and images, among many other things, move me deeply often to tears of happiness or sadness. This is also an explanation for why I don’t need answers, and I don’t need faith; I have experience of mystery, and that—not answers—is what I, personally, have sought all along. When one has experience, one no longer needs faith. When one has poetry, one no longer needs to seek to understand it.

Some poets use line breaks in poems that startle the reader, jostling them out of their comfort zone and projecting them into the actual feeling of the poem, even if it is just for a second. When I write a poem, I am trying to convey a feeling without ever saying what the feeling is. For instance, I rarely ever use the word “anger” to write an angry, frustrated poem. I don’t often say the emotion, I describe it. (Note: If I want to illustrate what frustration feels like in me, this may take the form of deliberately writing a poem that seems poorly constructed, as I know that may frustrate the reader). It is much more thrilling and real that way, in my opinion. I do the same when writing a story. For instance, consider the following example that I will make up on the spot right now: Saying how the reader should feel about a character: “The woman was sad.” (This is boring; it tells you, the reader, that you should be sad because the woman in the tale is sad. But, does it truly effect any emotional change in you?)

Describing the emotion without saying it, however, will help the reader actually feel the emotion on their own; thus they don’t have to be told what to feel. “She sat on the couch watching shadows creep across the walls, her shoulders drooped and her hair unkempt. She hadn’t showered in three days, having already worn through a box of Kleenex with nothing to show for it but a red nose. She kept stealing glances at the phone, waiting for it to ring but it just stared back at her with an empty silence and reminders of broken promises. As more tears began to fall she thought her partner and best friend just might be gone this time forever, and that she would never hear her soothing voice, nor ever experience true love again.” (Hopefully, you will agree that this way of writing is far more interesting. If you are a woman, you may be reminded of having gone through this exact type of lonely experience yourself; if you are man, you may have your heart strings tugged when you read how deeply a woman can feel at one’s leaving, or you may identify with her emotions as well if you have ever experienced heartbreak.)

The above is a very simple description of what I do with poetry. If I have an emotion I want to describe, well, how do I get that across? If I want to create a feeling of uneasiness in the reader, I may make a nice rhythmic verse that all of a sudden explodes into something you never expected, a line that stands out in a way that makes you feel as though it doesn’t quite fit. It stops you, makes you feel uncertain, and right when you think I (the author) “blew it” because of the strange concoction of words, I know I have accomplished my purpose. I have made you uneasy.

Emily Dickinson is famous for her strange line breaks and punctuation, but rest assured, dear reader, she was getting to your mind in a shamanic way by jarring you out of the act of reading the poem, and bringing you quite deliberately into the experience of it. In this way she helped you become poetry itself, if even for a second. When she wanted you to have an open mind, she sometimes waxed metaphysical reality on you, such as in the following classic poem:

Pain—has an Element of Blank.
Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

See how her poem mixes up concepts of time, here-and-now notions of reality, and things we think we know or understand? She does this a lot. In this poem pain is personified and we get to see what pain is like from a narrative of pain’s point of view! Not even once is the person feeling the pain referred to; not once is his or her point of view presented. Very jarring if you ask me, and certainly quite radical for her day! It is a poem that makes me smile wistfully.

I read poetry I adore several times. I never tire of reading the brilliance of Jim Morrison, such as:

“When men conceived buildings,
And closed themselves in chambers,
first trees and caves.
(Windows work two ways,
mirrors one way.)
You never walk through mirrors
or swim through windows.”

I think of that poem a lot when I write my own works, as it is portraying hidden aspects of the psychology of humans and their efforts to understand what being human is, among many other esoteric ideas. I use it as a mantra in my mind to ask myself about clarity of purpose when creating; what am I feeling and how do I wish to convey it? Am I aware of all, or even any, limitations? If so, are these limitations self-imposed? Must they exist as fundamental laws in the universe? Is it even possible to be aware at all, and finally, are all ideas just illusions? If I cease being aware of them, is there a way they do not exist? What do you, dear reader, think, or feel, about these questions? Do they interest you or not? Your opinion, no matter how long or how brief, is a valid one!

So, now I am going to take a poem I wrote and dissect it just a little, so you can hopefully experience just how beautifully complex even the most simple-appearing poetry in this world can be.

… (Otherwise Known as Ellipsis)
A weary dream on a blistery black
—wayward in the drift—
a shiver, a shake,
a sigh for finale—
and I intrigue the corporeal assent.

Okay, so if we try to simply understand the poem, we might think it is about freezing to death in the snow. That is a superficial understanding, and not what the poem is, indeed about, at all. First of all, why is the poem begun with the ellipsis, or three dots? It was used to indicate a change in the mind, segueing from what thought to another, and yet, also to show that in silence there is something missing yet necessary for growth. It is meant to be a factor of death, and yet a transcendence of temporal reality. Are we segueing from life into death, or death into life?

Next, why did I put into parenthesis, “Otherwise Known as Ellipsis,”? I did that to make the segueing thought an ellipsis onto itself, like a double negative; so, what do we have? We have nothing, no true ellipsis, no true segue at all. And, being that it is enclosed, it is in reference to life and death—or the living and killing of notions in the enclosed mind, the constant moving from one thought to another. And, when there is constant movement on this continuum of thought, it can be argued that no true thought exists.

So, what does all of the above mean? The title means we are entering a world of the unknown, which is often represented by physical death, but also symbolized by the death of consciousness. We are to let go, to let the mystery in.

Next, the line, “A weary dream on a blistery black,” occurs. The letter A is the beginning of the English alphabet, and in this context, I used it to mean our birth into something new, like embarking on a great, exciting adventure. I am referring to your own birth by the use of that letter at the beginning of the piece. “Weary dream” is a reference to when one grows tired of the mundane, easy answers to life that so many corner-store religious halls try and throw at us. So, “A weary dream,” means that we now are feeling birthed into a fresh, new vision, but that our feeling for the vision only comes about through a tired experience; it can be likened to needing hell to see heaven. However, the words “weary dream,” also have another meaning, and that is the idea that we cannot find reality through our ego’s notion of reality. As Jung postulated, we need our Shadow Selves (our deepest dreams, or true selves), to help us see that the way we are living is simply an illusion of Ego. We need them to wake up to our true nature. Finally, the words, “A weary dream,” have had certain letters italicized; why did I do this? Put together, they spell out, “awe,” which describes how I was feeling as I wrote the piece and how many of us feel when confronting and finally understanding the weary dreams of our true selves (which Jung described as a merging of the Shadow with the Self). This compassionate form of understanding is seen through our shadows, or the elements surrounding our births and early childhoods. In simple language, it’s like the moment when we re-examine our past—possibly a hurtful moment somewhere—and we see that it actually was a positive thing, bringing us great insight that benefits our current way of living. Thus we absorb our beginnings, or our past, into a more cohesive present to become a more fully realized human being. I stated the verb, “Awe,” in the present-tense and at the beginning of the poem, to show it is a state I am not reaching, nor have reached, but a state that I am in, and one that leads to the opening of the lotus of life that I feel we all sit on. Now, I haven’t even got to the parts of “a blistery black,” and what that means, let alone the rest of the poem. This is why poets don’t generally discuss their poetry; it is a very complex art that is meant to be felt. You aren’t meant to study it technically; you are meant to feel the work and simply let it resonate within. In fact, my work comes from such a deep place of Shadows within myself that I often do not feel its quantifiable presence until much later. However, a few clues when reading my poetry are the following: I always work in double, triple, quadruple and more entendres, and everything is metaphorical (even the metaphors), and every single word, punctuation, extra period or italic, is intentional. Nothing in my work is as it seems. Boxed Memories is not simply about divorce (but was intentionally written to sound that way); the use of the word, “to,” instead of “too,” in Shallow’s line of, “If I were to shallow,” is the way I meant it, and Saturday Night, (Alone at Last), is not simply a running euphemism on female masturbation. Physics, just to offer this to you, is really about the Big Bang and returning to the Source. In fact, higher mathematical and scientific principles are in every single piece I write, albeit sometimes unintentionally so. Yes, I am aware that I have very abstract sounding poetry juxtaposed with very simple sounding verse. That is also all quite intentional for the purposes of this manuscript, which is a book designed to be like an extended finger pointing at the moon.

My poems (and my novels) contain many anagrams, chronograms, ideograms, “incorrect” grammar and syntax, etc. I know the rules of language quite well; it was only after learning its correct methods that I taught myself how to break its rules with integrity. Do not make the mistake of getting caught up in examining poetry for “technical expertise.” A great technician knows all the rules and proper, technical responses; he or she knows how to react to every situation correctly; but, that doesn’t mean they know how to lay down their soul onto a page. However, a master or mistress knows how to make any technique work at any given time; he or she knows only how to be vulnerable and connect with the reader who is seeking more than they currently have experienced. They are able to do this because they realize that they and their subject are one.

So please, AWAKE, dearest reader, to what lies beyond your human senses; let poetry in! Explaining all my poems would require 1,000’s of pages and defeat the purpose of the poetry, as well as possibly insult the reader. But, I do feel that we, as a society, are not able to immerse ourselves in verse like the days of yore, so I wrote this article to hopefully awaken, or reawaken, one’s passion for poetry. I have incredible compassion for those that crave art in their lives but can’t be around it as often as they’d like due to the harried nature of life today. Still, you just may just find that poetry will “catch you,” as you begin to see its incredible depth; you may find that its value is beyond any nominal amount, especially in a world gone mad. It is truly an art unlike any other, when fortunately composed. I sincerely hope you become moved by this ancient art form, and see its amazing ability to open you up to just a few mysteries of the universe. Explore it with a sense of wonder and an open mind. Let it relax you, motivate you, inspire and help create you anew.

So, as I promised at the beginning of this piece, it is time to plumb what it means to take poetry in—to live within it, and breathe in its verse. I see all the time on the internet and in books, people who give fine forensic analyses of poems but never express how the poem makes them feel. Poets don’t write poetry so you can dissect every phrase and word in a grammatical sense independent of feeling or intention. We write what we do for you to feel or understand something, even if it is just confusion. It isn’t about having the right feelings or the wrong feelings either; it is simply about your feelings. Whatever it is you feel, those feelings are valid. Poetry is malleable in its interpretations because individuals are fluvial in their beautiful diversities as well. Don’t try to figure out what the poem means! Reading poetry is not about trying to understand denotations; rather, it is meant to open you up, so you can go past your image of what is eternal and get a glimpse of the source beyond any notion of source. Poetry is often meant to give you a sense of mystery. So, to do that, simply let it in and let it move you; pay attention to your feelings and/or memories throughout the pieces you read. After reading a poem and taking it in, you will then begin living with it; watch for what arises inside your mind over the next few days, months, or years.

We all bring our own mind’s filters of the world to the reading of anything, and so we interpret poems in the manner in which we will, and that is that. Poets know this, and they often shy from explaining their poetry in detail, much like a musician or a painter. This is for the fact that art can only be interpreted individually, not collectively, which is the biggest reason why I feel that censorship of art should not exist. I know people who think the Mona Lisa is trivial and trite, and others who cry upon viewing its beauty. Both sets of people are correct, and both are wrong. The Mona Lisa is another work of flexible art and that’s that. It just is. That is the essence of all art, and indeed, all of life—from individual spirituality to our beliefs on love. There is no right or wrong answers to anything, in my opinion. There’s only what you feel you should do, no more, no less. If you can learn to let go, as much as possible, of the idea that you must figure something out—like a certain poem for instance—then you may be able to get to the actual experience of it. Just read it, take it in, and then that’s it. Don’t over-analyze it, unless you have to do so for a university class, which is trying to increase your appreciation for literature through understanding.

Just remember that the attempt to understand a poem is a very remedial subject, and not meant to be the end of the matter. If you can just take in poetry with minimal filters then you may find a great value in it, possibly as an ally in your ability to feel as one with the universal scheme of things. When that happens, you may find that you can let go of trying to figure out anything and everything, and understand the esoteric nature of a human being’s true self: we are here to simply exist and not exist, all at the same time. With that you enter into the void, and in that place you realize you are one with the Cosmos and yet separate as well, also all at the same time.

Finally, I shall sum it up like this: you begin with zero at birth, enter into the void with supposedly clear understanding, return to zero with the experience that you know nothing, and then in enlightenment give up the idea of zero altogether. This is the only way I know to express what it is like to live poetically, despite a large vocabulary. This is for the reason that poetry isn’t meant to be just read; it is meant to be experienced, lived and killed, all in the Eternal Unconscious, the Shadowy spaces of the mind that seek union with the Self.

~Danielle Sainte-Marie—12/15/2009

Emily Dickinson
James Douglas Morrison
Danielle Sainte-Marie

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