Yes, I know. I’ve been on hiatus for so long hiatus may not be the most precise word. Vacation or the British term “holiday” might be better choices! No matter…it is lovely to be back. I remember writing a Facebook post once that essentially read: I’m going away to come again better than I was before. Yes, that’s it. I’m there once more, and I know it’s okay. Still. Perhaps it’s ongoing, actually. Every part of me sings out for repose. A Siren’s song. The older I get, the more I pause to heed it.
Last September, my blue lady, my Dell, slipped to her knees and beeped seven times before fainting and passing away. My heart sank but I woman-ed up. Remember? I blogged about it…somewhere. Anyway, the update is after waiting patiently for five months, my laptop returned with a busted keyboard, a missing delete key and a functioning mouse pad. Despite it all, I was grateful. My blue lady was elderly and heading, faster than I expected, straight to that great PC haven in the sky.
In acceptance, I eventually purchased this Lenovo and a nice Vlogging camera. Who-dee-whooo! You can imagine I’m tickled inside and very much proud of myself. Right about now, I’m reminding Claudia that tomorrow is another day, and if I want to be as fresh as a tulip come tomorrow, I should click the X, close this lid and dance straight into slumber.
Truth be told, my writing/web furlough cloaked me in newness. In a deep-seated appreciation. I see things I didn’t see before or things I was beginning not to want to see anymore. For example, I was questioning myself, “Why blog, Claudia?” I pondered the time it cajoled from my “real” writing, the writing that just might, prayerfully, pay the bills and send me on round-the-world trips into Eat Love Pray print and footage. But now that I am Present, I can answer myself. Hurling myself into a future moment causes pain, mental and physical. Fact is, last time I looked, I wasn’t tossing bills into the air and running under them in glee. I wasn’t packing my luggage—no, someone else wasn’t packing my bags, so that I could broad the jet, along with my traveling crew, as we set off on a New York Times-worthy adventure.
I’m right where I am. Doing what I’m doing, and from this very seat before these singing Lenovo keys, I will write my runway to wherever the next moment will be. Oh yes. The reprieve from writing and the web took me by the hand and walked me back to my prior practice of meditation. After this post, I’m heading to the sofa, where I’ll sit cross legged, thumb to forefinger, eyes closed and meditate, emptying my mind. It’s perspective for me. The more Light and Consciousness I welcome, as I’ve been reminding myself and my Twitter Family, the more I can better breathe in “Wanting for nothing…attracts everything,” as Russell Simmons said on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday, last Sunday. I’m not living in a mindset of lack. I’m remembering to daydream and visualize. Period.
So thank you for continuing to join me on this journey! I appreciate all of us, known and undisclosed, who follow this blog. You help to make my circle complete. C’mon. You know us writers gotta write. And readers gotta read. And we must learn to bow to reading one another, regardless of our backgrounds and other lines of demarcation. We are one.
Wait. What am I up to?
I’m editing my narrative for my anthology, TO HONOR THE HEART. The English teacher within just won’t allow me to release my words after the fourth or fifth edit. A taskmistress, she demands that I comb and rack, brush and style, flip and dip, and heat and repeat. I don’t mind really. I’m charmed the submissions continue to trickle in. Like I wrote before, it’s a ponderous topic and survivors learn to stand tall, strong and invincible under its yoke, until it is no longer a yoke but a platform.
I’m returning to fiction that has long awaited my loving stroke. Thus I must give it, for it is my “sweet work,” as bell hooks writes, “my right livelihood.” I believe. I believe in me. I believe in the healing essence of words.
Therefore, I leave you mine for now. And the music in my smile. Buenas noches!
Oh, I forgot to share a few Alabama scenes of my trip home recently! Enjoy! They don’t call the state Alabama, the Beautiful for nada!
Frida Kahlo’s life has beckoned me a for while now. And here she is again.
As I search, I remember. Salma Hayek, una belleza tambien, portrays Frida in the film, FRIDA.
I find Kahlo fascinating on so many levels. Her paintings fascinating, most of them self-portraits; her notoriety as a bisexual woman who, as James Baldwin said of himself, “I’ve loved a few men and loved a few women;” her unique beauty with the delicate features and that prominent uni brow gracing her small forehead; her cascading sheets of hair that was often swept up in a top bun; her sacred love of animals and lush plants in her paintings; her freedom with herself and others, her fame as being Mexico’s greatest artist, and these are only a few things that I can think of off extemporaneously—Kahlo was a legend in her own time.
I admire her fearlessness to be herself, in whatever version that manifested itself in, in her heart and head.
Think I’ll search Google for movies that showcase her life. A good start would be to pan Netflix. As I write, I wonder what she’s written. I can imagine a woman living as she lived in a man’s world, doing all the things she did, sans the thought or need of “asking permission,” was the subject of a few pens.
Corral’s poem in my last post drew me to this image of her unique self-portrait that is rather different from all of her other self-portraits. I feel the fire in her pain, love the sass in the her portrayal of the paneled white dress, the these are breasts directness in her posture, the understanding in her shamelessness that breasts and chests ought to be commonplace…so what is the problem? The steel in her back illustrates strength in her vulnerability. The nails her ability to withstand whatever she needs to endure. Her spine may have been broken but never the woman.
If you click the greeting below, you’ll find a site that offers me a starting point for reading about this phenomenal woman. The site unearthed this marvelous quote: “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best.” Now how can I not admire a woman who painted with these words in her mouth?
Since skipping across Goggle, I’ve read that Frida initially painted herself without the white garment she holds. I’m certain that might have been far too much for some viewers…you know the ones nudity astounds. Between you and me, she should have painted both versions. Now that would’ve been bold, Fridalicious! Nonetheless, the woman is awe inspiring and I’m on my search, intrigued!
Today I read it again, for the “I’ve forgotten the exact number of times,” since the first time I pulled it from its standard yellow mailer. Impressive, la portada del libro boasts a coil of shiny, black serpents, glistening and magical, respected and potent, and sensual and explosive at once…like the unforgettable poems between its dark covers. All over again, I am awed. Humbled. Sorrowful. Joyful. Lightening struck. And lifted.
Below is a picture of Corral reading his work to us, my fellow Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat fellows and me, in Los Angeles, at the American Jewish University, in August 2014. Quietly unassuming and warm, with a flash of mirth in his gaze, Corral wowed me with his flavorful words, meted and measured, it seemed, effortlessly, as if he’d been crafting poetry from the time he could hold a pen. And me, having always bowed to the spell of skillfully crafted words, written or spoken, I simply had to know of what stardust SLOW LIGHTENING was formed.
To read the work is to gift oneself with a poetry-writing workshop. Corral spreads a poetic feast, offering a wide selection of genres. As the eloquently analytic poet Carl Phillips writes in the foreword: “I love the range here—psychologically, emotionally, but also in terms of mode: narrative, lyric, elegy, homage, the anti-ecphrastic ecphrastic.” Phillips’ last mode rushes me to an online dictionary, just to find the term isn’t among its treasures, but I know that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I pause, inhale, then rely on my ability to make an educated guess. I fathom it could possibly mean a poem of words and phrases that seem disconnected in meaning, although they are quite intricately bound by theme and subject, however dovetailed their first glance. That offered, dear reader, if you are willing to elucidate my understanding, please know you are welcome to comment.
SLOW LIGHTENING nourishes my imagination, my pen, my experiential base.
I love what Corral does with creativity, when he sits to delight in a work of art, as he does in several poems in this shimmering volume, and then allows his imagination to capture what he sees in the shapes, forms, colors and meanings surrounding the work. His words are so vivid, so alive, until I feel as if I can recreate OUR COMPLETION: Oil On Wood: Tino Rodriguez: 1999 without going in search of it on Google. Imbibing the poem, I am the thrashing branches, the sleeping dark, the humorous words written in the margin of a book of Dickinson poems. I admire and adore Corral’s dance between his two languages, Spanish and English, in the same line. He takes dichotomy under his quill and suffuses parts into a sweet wholeness, into oneness. It’s like painting a colorful masterpiece, illuminating for the viewer, mentally as well as visually, the beautiful awe in both languages in one sweep of his plumed brush.
I cannot help myself. Excuse me while I traipse off in search of Frida Kahlo’s painting, The Broken Column. Tell me, how am I not to do so with the power in Corral’s opening stanza burning my imagination:
“On a bench, beneath a candle-lit window
whose sheer curtains resemble honey
sliding down a jar, Kahlo lifts her skirts.
There are 1,000 pictures to see. I soak in a few then reread the poem. It takes on more of an enlightened meaning now. In my third eye, I see the lovely Frida, sitting before her easel, La Columna Rota, taking shape before her, even as pain ripples her back, as Corral writes:
“Her spine: a pouring of sand
through an hourglass
I am in awe. Corral feels the artist, the gorgeous dynamo. Well beyond merely phrasing the painting, he culls what it is to be the artist crafting her self-portrait different from her other self-portraits, for Frida is alone in the painting, experiencing her perennial pain without her signature monkeys, parrots, cats and foliage. When I return to Corral’s poem, the work invites me back into its numbered stanzas and I am one with Kahlo, making art through pain, searching for the perfect red.
And this is one of the innumerable things an award-winning poet does…sends you spiraling outside of yourself in awe, on the end of melic skill, of a melodic lasso.
His border poems touch me deeply.
In “Border Triptych,” I am Jorge, doing what I must for “fifteen years, six days a week, at half past eight.” I answer the narrator’s questions, watch my bike being defiled, and I remain silent. I am the epitome of calm. Though I do not dishonor the checkpoint station manager, who is on his way out, on retirement, he thinks me a bastard. But I smile and reply, “I smuggle bikes.”
My heart rises, does a couple of flips, when, in the poem’s second section, Sofia heeds her mother’s advice, which she keeps to herself, and joins the others, a group of men and ten women, crossing the Tijuana/San Diego border. The van they are riding in stops on “an isolated road.” Bandits demand the men hit the ground, face down, while the women are raped, at gunpoint. Pero no Sofia. El consejo de su madre la guarda. The rapists have no way of knowing the “reddish brown” stain in her sweaty underwear is gelatin powder. So she is passed over, spit on and slapped.
After I read To A Mojado Who Died Crossing The Desert,” I feel my heart bow. To every soul who ventured the journey across seething sand, ravenously calling “out for more footprints.” I understand how the mirage of a sanctuary in a boulder might have been what my heart might have called out to see under layers and layer of scorching sun. I shake my head, aiming not to imagine being hungry enough to eat a lizard or mouse raw, to survive. To face the leap of a coyote…sometimes “over creosote.” I stop and ponder. What is creosote? I go in search of its meaning to discover it is “a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar and used as a wood preservative.” And I think to myself, maybe Mexicans were using it to ward off coyotes, but being the animals were hungry enough, they chanced the oil spray. Just the mental image saddens me.
There is much to be honored in this esteemed collection, a Yale series of younger poets heavy hitter. I could be here all night, extolling its praises, elucidating the many ways it feeds my writer’s spirit. The poems honor the sensual and the lushness of the sensuous. It culls a fierce picture of the human spirit to survive. It dips its pen into the vibrant paint of the erotic and the filial, and boldly allows us to swan dive into the beauty in how just the concept might terrify the timid. Pause. Think. How else do we learn to love others if we do not learn filial and self-love love, at home, first? Love envelops us and continues to flow from there into the wellsprings of love that we know as romantic, agape, platonic, and friendship, etc.
Corral’s poetry is sharp, soft, heavy, piercing. It is playful, visceral. Mesmerizing. It has garnered a place on my shelf. As I once tweeted, I go to it, like a traveler to water, to run my palm across its varied, velvet, and veritable words, and I am blessed.
Pick it up on Amazon or anywhere books are sold. The POET in you will thank you.
Okay! I admit it. I’m in love with the word. Hairologist! And as a proper self-professed Hairologist, I’m back with a gallery of pictures of Little Lovely Laila’s Locs and Little Nazzie Naz’s curls and coils.
TO HONOR THE HEART is taking on a refreshing vibrancy. It reminds me that once you make a decision, the entire universe moves with you, providing answers to questions, people to join you, and opportunities you didn’t fathom at the outset, etc. I am thankful to all those who are embarking on this journey with me, no matter if you are helping to share the Call for Submissions, writing a submission or guiding me with appreciated suggestions. Thank you.
As for the up-dates, there are four.
1. I changed the DEADLINE.
Currently, it is Tuesday, March 31, 2015. I understand a project of this level of sensitivity requires time and care. Sometimes contributors need to think about whether or not they want to break their silence. They need to ponder how best to tell the story, in what form, narrative, essay or poem.
2. The SUBMISSIONS may now arrive in Google Docs.
Recently, I learned from a wonderful contributor that Google Docs was a sensational method of receiving submissions. Not only could submissions be edited, shared and saved in the drive, but also if writers didn’t have Microsoft, Google Docs remedied this challenge for them.
3. I sent an invitation to Dr. Charlotte Pierce-Baker, the brainchild behind SURVIVING THE SILENCE: black women’s stories of rape, to write a piece for this new anthology.
I invited her to speak to where she is in the healing process now. Prayerfully, she will write about her continued healing and/or write the Preface to this collection. However she chooses to participate, if she participates, will be a benediction.
4. I am experiencing all over again The Power of Asking.
If you don’t speak what you want, if you aren’t brave enough to articulate your passions, you will continue to watch them drift like Arizona tumbleweeds. Ask and it shall be given. Read The Word. Seek and ye shall find. IF YOU CAN OFFER ANY ADVICE TO AID ME ALONG THIS JOURNEY, I WELCOME YOUR VOICE.
Below is the revised CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
As a rape survivor shattering years of silence, I am compiling approximately 50 stories to include in an anthology of power, grace and forgiveness entitled, TO HONOR THE HEART: women’s stories of rape.
An anthology of this nature has not been written since Dr. Charlotte Pierce-Baker shared her survivor story along with those of 11 other women and 5 men (men’s stories about the women they loved who were raped) in SURVIVING THE SILENCE: black women’s stories of rape. Dr. Pierce-Baker’s remarkable collection was published June 17, 2000.
This anthology is long overdue.
I am seeking SUBMISSIONS from ALL women (African, Asian, Black, Indian, Latina, Native, White and all other ethnicities; bi, lesbian, pansexual, straight, trans, etc.) who have survived the trauma of rape and molestation.
You are being invited to participate in this ground-breaking anthology, a loving space to embrace all of our voices in telling the unspeakable to unburden and honor the heart. If you have never shared your story with another soul, now is the time to tell. If you have already shared your story as a rape survivor, this is another opportunity for you to connect with a wider audience.
The way forward is the tell. Our telling forms a much-needed community of voices. Telling is an act of courage that may help save a wounded woman screaming inside.
If you are in the surrounding area, in or outside of Atlanta, GA, you can arrange to meet with me, and I will interview you to record your telling, if you prefer.
This Call for Submissions will culminate in a printed and a digital publication. I am open to the following types of submissions: personal narratives/essays and poetry.
* Personal narratives/essays: 800 to 1500 words
* Poetry: 3 poems or no more than 1000 words
* Submissions should be in Microsoft Word, one-inch margins. They are also welcomed in Google Docs.
* You are free to use a pseudonym if anonymity is desired. You may also be included as Anonymous.
The deadline for Submissions is Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
Send your submission to MissClaudiaMoss@gmail.com with the subject line as follows:
To Honor the Heart submission — [First name] and [Last name]
Please direct all questions about your submission to me at MissClaudiaMoss@gmail.com.
Tener una semana dulce.
For those who have been following my natural-hair journey, you know my barber sister, Bernadette, did my Big Chop on my Sisterlocks on October 20, 2014. That Vlog of the whole glorious affair is patiently waiting to be uploaded to my new YouTube channel, and I’d have had it up by now had my Dell been returned from the shop repaired. Instead, it was returned with a busted keyboard and the delete key missing. Yet it powered on. No typing to be done, though, but the mouse was functioning.
Such is life, sometimes. :(
I gave it 15 minutes of sorrow, self pity and snivels. Maybe 15 more for good measure, and then I dusted myself off and carried on. A New Year deserves a new laptop as well. Por que no?
So, anyway, after I sit through my Big Chop facing the wall mirror in my sister’s home shop, I stare at my coily, softly kinky TWA. I haven’t seen her in years, but she’s back with me for another go-around on this fascinating journey called Mi Vida! In the event you don’t know, TWA is an acronym for teeny weeny afro. Years ago, I had my permed tresses snipped to a TWA, after not getting a perm for several months, my transitioning method. This time around it was the same process. I stopped interlocking my Sisterlocks’ new growth six months before my Bug Chop, and VIOLA! There were my coils, patiently waiting.
The TWA is a passage to longer coils, which will come with their unique styling challenges! Braid outs, twist outs, gel styles, Angela Davis Afros, three-strand twist dos, buns, free falls, Afro puffs, and anything my curly-girlmind can imagine. As long as my coils are moisturized, it is on and spiraled!
Upkeep for my TWA is a cinch. My coils adore water, of course, TRESemme Renewal Conditioner with tea tree extract and sunflower seed oil and Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner. So far, my routine is the Curly Girl Method, which entails co-washing my hair with conditioners, leaving one in my hair with generous spurts of water and allowing my coils to air dry. Thus far, it is a divine Wash and Go system that my coils crave!
For the natural divas who may be wondering if I use oil after I moisturize, I don’t. But remember, I’m in experimentation mode. I’m learning if I can maintain the health of my locs without the oil, a thing I haven’t used since I began the CG Method three weeks ago. Take note: there will be updates later! :)
Why did I decide to release my Sisterlocks after years of sporting them? I was embracing new energy, a new chapter, with new possibilities, and a renewed passion for all things CLAUDIA! <3
IF YOU ARE STYLING AND PROFILING YOUR TWA, PLEASE SHARE HOW YOU’RE ENJOYING IT! LET’S CHAT. TALK BACK! HABLAR CONMIGO, AMOR!
Here are a few Pic-Stitched pics to say “Happy New Year 2015, Beloveds! Here I am styling my TWA!”
Have a sweet week! Yeaaaa