Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Celebrating 20 Years of National Poetry Month from Around The Globe: 127 Poets on Sacred Spaces, Sacred Places . . .


Christal Cooper

National Poetry Month April 2016
SACRED SPACES, SACRED PLACES

To celebrate National Poetry Month, poets were asked to submit the following pieces of information:
1.                       describe his/her sacred space, sacred place where he/she writes
2.                       submit a photograph of that sacred space, sacred place
3.                       submit a photograph of him/her inhabiting that sacred space, sacred place.
4.                       submit two lines of a poem written from that sacred space, sacred place.
5.                       submit contact information 

         Thus far 127 poets have participated in this article.  These poets represent every state of the union except for Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Vermont. 
Poets living in these states can still participate by simply contacting me via Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/christalann.ricecooper or email caccoop@aol.com
Other poets who participated come from countries across the globe: Canada, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Morocco, Norway, Russia, and Switzerland.  I am looking for more poets to represent all other parts of the world and the poet can contact me via Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/christalann.ricecooper or email caccoop@aol.com
       A big shout of THANK YOU to each and every single poet who participated, including those who supported this article but were not able to participate due to time constraints and schedules.  Each of you as a poet and human being has encouraged me and wished me well and as a result I have been embraced by the poetry community. 
       Some poets varied in their pieces of information he or she sent:  some sent a complete poem, more that two pictures, and some no photographs at all.  I’ve included all the pieces of information that was received.  Thus there is a bit of variety in the way each poet is being presented in this piece.     
       Each poet is presented in alphabetical order.  The poets who participated and the states and countries he/she represent are:

       Kellie Allen, Missouri
       Kim Baker, Rhode Island
       Tony Barnstone, California
       Ellen Bass, Massachusetts
       Lisa Begin-Kruysman, New Jersey 
       Francesca Bell, California
       Nina Bennett, Delaware 
       John Berry, Virginia
       Bruce Bond, Texas
       Patrick Boozer, Alabama
       Allison Brackenbury, England  
       Charles Clifford Brooks III, Georgia
       Wendy Brown-Baez, Minnesota
       Mandy Lunsford Burbank, Alabama
       John Burroughs, Ohio
       Patricia Carragon, New York
       Roy Castleberry, Texas
       Cara Chamberlain, Montana 
       Anne Champion, Massachusetts  
       Sarah Chavez, West Virginia
       Lorraine Cipriano, Ohio
       Christie Cochrell, California
       Kai Coggin, Arkansas 
       Alfred Corn, Rhode Island
       Robert Craven, Ireland
       Curtis Crisler, Indiana  
       Jenny Yang Cropp, Oklahoma 
       Carol V Davis, California
       Heather Dearmon, South Carolina  
       Darren Demaree, Ohio
       Eugene Dubnov, Israel
       Antoy Dunn, England
       Pat Bland Durmo, Arkansas
       Shawntineal Hughes Edwards, Georgia
       Terri Kirby Erickson, North Carolina
       Dennis Etzel Jr, Kansas
       Alexis Rhone Fancher, California
       Anas Filali, Morocco
       Mitzi Lee Fleming, Alabama 
       Rebecca Foust, California
       Gabriele Glang, Germany
       Bill Glose, Virginia
       Julia Gordo-Bramer Missouri
       Robert Gray, Norway
       Joseph Greif, Washington
       S.A. Griffin, California 
       Ali Hasan, Colorado 
       Faleeha Hassan, New Jersey
       Gordon Hilgers, Texas
       Harvey Hix, Wyoming
       Ibrahim Honjo, Canada
       Erin Hollowell, Alaska
       Lynn Houston, Connecticut
       T.R. Hummer, New York
       Larry Jaffe, Florida
       Chris Jarmick, Washington
       Arya F. Jenkins, Ohio
       Kimberly Johnson, Utah 
       Jennifer Juneau, Switzerland
       Marilyn Kallet, Tennessee 
       Ami Kaye, Illinois
       Tricia Knoll, Oregon
       Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Virginia
       Yahia Lababidi, Washington D.C. 
       Joy Ladin, Massachusetts
       Sarah Leavesley James, United Kingdom
       Sharra Lessley, Virginia 
       Stacia Levy, California
       Lynn Lifshin, Texas
       Helen Losse, North Carolina
       Janice Lowe, New York 
       Robby M, Canada
       Michael Mark, California      
       Gill McEvoy, United Kingdom  
       Leslie McGrath, Connecticut 
       Corey Mesler, Tennessee
       Tiffany Midge, Idaho
       Gloria Mindock, Massachusetts  
       Jeannetta Calhoun Mish, New Mexico
       Thylias Moss, Michigan
       David Mura, Minnesota
       Eric Nelson, North Carolina
       Leslea Newman, Massachusetts
       Alice Osborn North Carolina
       Molly Ouellette, Montana
       Cheryl Pallant, Virginia
       Richard Peabody, Virginia
       Seth Pennington, Arkansas
       Jennifer Perrine, Iowa 
       Jawanza Phoenix, New Jersey
       Wang Ping, Minnesota
       Bethany Pope, England
       Connie Post, California
       Dianna Marquise Raab, California
       Dean Radar, California
       Gary Rainford, Maine
       Jonathan Kevin Rice, North Carolina
       Katie Riegel, Tennessee
       Joseph Ross, Maryland
       Kayla Sargerson, Pennsylvania 
       Mary Harwell Sayler, Tennessee
       Larissa Shmailo, New York
       Kalpna Singh-Chitnis 
       Claudia Serea, New Jersey
       Dr. Ram Sharma, India
       Jan Steckel, California
       Francine Sterle, Minnesota
       Christine Stewart-Nunez, South Dakota 
       Mary Imo Stike, West Virginia
       David Sullivan, California
       Feodor Swarovsky, Russia 
       Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, New York 
       Pam Thompson, United Kingdom
       Angela Narciso Torres, Illinois
       Jonathan Travelstead, Illinois
       Jacqueline Trimble, Alabama
       Pamela Uschuk, Arizona
       Julie Marie Wade, Florida
       Michael Dylan Welch, Washington
       Monica Wendell, New York
       Laura Madeline Wiseman, Nebraska
       Amy Wright, Tennessee
       Sheri Wright, Kentucky
       Don Yorty, New York
       Dana Yost, Iowa
       Lora Horman Zill, Pennsylvania 
             
Madison, Wisconsin


“Generally speaking, a yellow pad and a pencil or my laptop computer. Could be the kitchen table or the desk in my office or wherever I happen to be. The sacred space is in my head.”

There’s about an inch of snow on the ground,
and as dusk falls the snow holds the last daylight,
and offers it back to the sky.

Kellie Allen
www.kellie-allen.com
St. Louis, Missouri


“My sacred space is not one I access easily. It is a tiny stretch of sand and sea in the Bahamas called Gold Rock Beach. Without this specificity, I may also expand and include –all- turquoise water and its attendant shore as –sacred-. I am never more –home- than when close to brine and silver scales.

As my work is concerned with the body’s experience of the world first, and the fluidity of the mythic second, the sea is a natural fit for both my intention and the words’ manifestations as more than what they might initially signify.”

 

Nothing whorls up in a shock
the way a name does, when its ours, all peacock and hiss, all vowel and cinnamon.

(-from “Here Are The Instructions for Removing the Scissors”)



www.wordsoup.weebly.com (Word Soup End Hunger Poetry Journal donates 100% of submission fees to food banks)
Warwick, Rhode Island


“My sacred place to write poetry is an art gallery or museum. I specialize in ekphrasis, poetry inspired by art.  There is something sacred about being surrounded by art and looking for, listening for the story told by the artist.  I enter into conversation with the artist, not just describe what I see.  I try to flesh out the deeper meaning, the narrative, the joy and pain there.             

This is my photo of a sign down a public pathway to the beach off Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Something about the sign amidst the open sacred space of sea and sand and sky moves me deeply.  Provincetown is a spectacularly sacred place to write. 
This is a photo of me on the left with my friend Jane Anderson on the right.  It is October 2013 at the Larkin Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. 

Jane's great aunt, Edith Lake Wilkinson, was a wonderful artist at the turn of the 20th century.  She never had the chance of a gallery exhibit because she was committed to an insane asylum in 1925 at the age of 57 by her lawyer who took all her money.

Her work was packed into a trunk and discovered decades later by Jane's mother in a family attic.

Jane worked tirelessly for years to find a gallery that would mount an exhibit of Edith's work.  And the Larkin Gallery agreed.  I was blessed to write four poems to Edith's work and read at the opening. 

We got a chance to tell Edith's story, show her beautiful artwork finally, and raise awareness of how easy it was to commit women against their wills.

You can read about Edith at www.edithlakewilkinson.com and read about the award-winning documentary about her life, Packed in a Trunk.                                                www.packedinatrunk.com
 Maybe you would have painted late into the night in this marigold abode
while your lover hovered over the oven or leaned into autumn
amidst rows of butternut squash and rows of late tomatoes waiting to become supper."

(-from "Painting in the Latch" inspired by a painting of a cottage by Edith Lake Wilkinson.)  

Tony Barnstone
Redondo Beach, California


       We are not wealthy enough to rent a place with an office for me, so I work at a mid-century modern desk leaf-piled with books and papers and facing a wall in our dining room.  I don’t look at the wall, though.  I face a large computer monitor where I usually have 30 widows open at a time – each widow a project, an email, a responsibility, a website I’m using for research and inspiration, or a game of Facebook Scrabble, which is how I reward myself when I complete a task, however small.   To the right is a fireplace and the entry to our patio, in case I need to escape my mid and let the sun sandblast me with photons for a while.  To my left is a window to the parking lot, but I focus on the green screen of leaves of the tree that grows so near our apartment that the branches whip-crack the windowpanes when the Santa Ana winds blow hard.  On a bookcase to my left are small wooden statues of Buddha ad a bodhisattva that I brought back with me from Chia 30 years ago.  They are blackened from age and from being buried during the Cultural Revolution so they wouldn’t be destroyed by the Red Guards, but I’ve lightly washed them so the gold beneath glimmers through.  They have false backs, within which are a small treasure trove of holy objects and prayers.”
  
Music on the turntable whirlwinds like a paper bag,
then stops. Buddha watches him with painted eyes.

Ellen Bass
ellen@ellenbass.com
www.ellenbass.com
Santa Cruz, California


“I write mostly in my little office which my wife made for me out of the garage. My window looks out on the back yard and I can see the bamboo swaying in the breeze (my wife would like to pull it out because it shades some of the garden, but I love to watch it ). The datura almost touches my window and when I’m here at night or in the early morning, the perfume is intoxicating. I can hear birds singing now. We have a couple gorgeous Townsend warblers that visit a lot. Inside, it’s cozy. And cluttered. I fantasize clean lines, Zen-like spaces, but my office is often the waiting room for things we don’t know where else to put. Right now there’s a keyboard that I thought I’d try to learn to play when I thought I had free time. How there ever was a space of time when I imagined that, I have no idea, but there it sits, waiting to go to a friend’s house. And there’s a wooden bench my wife is making as a memorial for her mother, three-quarters finished, waiting for the rain to let up so she can work on it again. But I don’t need a lot of space.


Writing poetry doesn’t take much room, especially since there’s a  big absence in it these days. My dear dog, Zeke, used to come to the office with me every morning and keep me company. He loved poetry and poets and was beloved by many poets. He died at the old age of fifteen and a half the night before Thanksgiving and there’s a 90 pound space where his large heart and soul used to doze.”



Who would believe in reincarnation
if she thought she would return as
an oyster? 

Lisa Begin-Kruysman
https://www.facebook.com/lisa.beginkruysman
@dogweek (Twitter)
Brick, New Jersey


“I complete my drafts on my Mac Notebook and when they go to serious edit, I work on my old computer located in a beautiful loft space on the second floor of my saltbox style home in Brick, NJ, at the Jersey Shore. 
I love how the space is flooded with beautiful light from the room's skylights
On spring days, the air is infused with refreshing scent of the salt water of the creek across the street and on winter evenings, scents from the kitchen below
Birds sing and call from the protected sanctuaries in my neighborhood's wooded areas
When I need a break, I can always reach down and pat the soft coat of my dog, Teddy. He often sits at my feet
If writing in the morning, I am inspired by the flavor a strong cup of coffee, with evening writing complimented by the taste of a good oaky Merlot.”


My lofty studio space,
where words and thoughts fall into place

Francesca Bell
Novato, California



“My sacred writing space is a corner of my bedroom I made into an “office” four years ago. I’d been raising various children for twenty years by then and had never had a space of my own, a space devoted to my writing. Finally, my youngest was starting first grade, and I wanted to claim some time and some physical real estate for myself. I wanted to begin to take my own work seriously, and it’s harder to do that when your work has no address.
Because I’ve been a housewife for so much of my life, I find I work best at a kitchen table, and that is what I chose for my work surface. A local designer, Eileen Walsh, handcrafted this table using wood reclaimed from the rafters of a 150-year old, nearby barn. It’s beautiful—in a sturdy, worn sort of way—and it’s long enough to hold my clutter: stacks of books and papers, a tea warmer from Germany where I was once an exchange student, the piles of rocks I gathered from the beach in Port Townsend on a walk with my parents. On my bulletin boards and walls are hung friends’ poems; artwork by my children, and Kate Peper, and Sulamith Wülfing; family photographs; and my favorite New Yorker cartoons. From my window, I watch hawks and vultures circle in the afternoons and owls swoop low at dusk. I see my garden make and unmake itself, month by month by month. Some days, my dogs nestle, soft and warm, at my feet, and when I’m lucky, I’ve started something for dinner, and its scent wafts up the stairs to me as I work.” 



I remember that heavy winter, sleep like a pillow held over my face. Even now, it’s hard to be this close to so clear an answer, to the sound the spanned air makes.

(—from “Field Trips,” which first appeared in Zone 3)


Nina Bennett
www.transcanalwriters.com (author of Forgotten Tears A Grandmother's Journey Through Grief Sound Effects)
Newark, Delaware


“My sacred space is in my head. Most of my poems begin as a stray lyric from the car radio settles in me and won’t let go. The words flirt and tease until I am seduced, at which point I write in a notebook with a colored pen. Eventually I make my way to my laptop, which is on a desk in what I refer to as the music room. My bookshelves are overflowing with rock bios and memoirs, hundreds of CDs, and a huge poster of Jim Morrison. Music and poetry are so entwined that I can’t imagine one without the other. The most sacred place for me is Boulder Colorado. Although I live on the East Coast, my soul is in the Rockies. The only time I truly feel at peace is when I am in the mountains.”



This is what it sounds like

when my mother is told
she has metastatic pancreatic cancer.

(-from the opening lines of a poem that started after hearing “When Doves Cry” on the radio.)
(Published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Vol 9/3 fall 2014)

John Berry
Winchester, Virginia
       
       “My sacred space for writing is far more about where I am inside than out, but I will say I hear the words coming like a far-away train often when I am driving.  Luckily I am rarely in a hurry so pulling over to capture a line or two takes a little encouragement. 
       Mostly though, poetry clings to the hem of the morning for me with a word or phrase and a feeling.  While most of the writing is done from the chair at my desk, the inspiration almost always begins under stars giving way to the sun, with the arousal of birds in the boxwood, numb of the cold, grass on my feet—the inspiration, whatever it is, does not necessarily become the poem, it is paper and kindling for the fire warming the walls of my space.  Whatever, whenever that may be.   
       Meditating in this chair at this desk I the morning aligns me to infinite possibilities.  Stepping away for a minute onto the porch drawing sacred tobacco, sipping strong black coffee, empty of longing for outcomes and the possibilities slips into gear.”



I fancied I was the I
of immutable change.

(--from the poem “Source”)

Bruce Bond
Denton, Texas 


“Truth is, I write in numerous spaces and enjoy the productively disruptive tables of my town’s coffee shops (full of friends) in addition to the solitude of my office in my back yard at home.  The idea of the sacred is for me most useful when challenged for its exclusionary connotations, when it, despite its troubled history of ego-transference, transfigures the way one might relate to those outside what we chose to call sacred.  The sacred remains a notion fraught with paradox and elusiveness for me, since, in its more profound relation to love versus idolatry, it is always looking beyond spaces we regard as ours.  My space out back, as solitary, faces a wall of foliage in what would otherwise remain a neglected part of our yard.  I have windows on all four walls to bring the scent of magnolia, in its season, through. Sunlight heats the window at my back in the morning, where I sit with my thermos of coffee and sort through whatever it is in whatever I am reading, be it by me or otherwise, that feels unrealized.  The solitude allows for a deepening sense of priorities, a sense not only what remains unspoken but also what must remain so and what must not.  The summons of solitude is one of inclusion then, just as the summons of the coffee shop might be the inwardness and solitude that finds its place in spite and in light of the company of others.”



…everywhere the fury of confused glare
that scorched the eye of its imagined savior.

(--from “The Burning Cross")

Patrick Boozer
Boozerp12@gmail.com
Springville, Alabama 


I wrote this poem for you God.--------------------------Shadows that are in the light,---------------------------------- show me where my possessions go.-------------------------- So much more than a simple pint, -----------------------------you have the capability to grow.----------------------------- More than anyone knows~----------------------------------------But any army will provoke you, ----------------------------------the majestic angels that deplete hell. -----------------------The very reason I know this truth, --------------------------------is because God will always prevail.----------------------------the day awaits its darkness, --------------------------------------the crows feed upon the side roads.------------------------- Someone more sturdy than the Arctic, -----------------------he awaits with a biblical code. -------------------------------More than anyone knows~



A inspiring and extraordinary face,
left behind with an emotional trace.
The heart keeps burning with fire,
a scent left behind of rolling tire. ----
as if there is a terrestrial presence,
calling me to ponder about her.
Even the feeling of her pleasance, can't practically portray everything in words ----
all my collected thoughts include sublime,
in my mind, she is a perfected hime.
She has this vibrant, fine tune.
It causes me to stick like glue.
Hopefully enough to prevent the blues.

Alison Brakenbury
Gloucestershire, UK
“My sacred space and sacred place is a Victorian desk salvaged from a farm my grandmother’s family had to sell.  It is made of dark elm wood. It smells of the beeswax polish I lavish on it. It rattles and creaks when I open drawers.  It is grained to touch, with gouges in the wood and sharp brass edges. It reminds me of the taste of coffee.”

                         Still dark

Three a.m.  The water strokes your chin.
Now tell yourself – and firmly – you can swim.

(--from Skies published by Carcanet Press.


Charles Clifford Brooks III

North Georgia



Since I began writing in earnest, my study has been the apex of steady composition.  I see my books that line me on all sides, and a print by Jackson Pollock in front of me.  I hear Beethoven who reminds me that all sorrow, joy, and the grey array in-between are essential to a clear head.  I smell the sandalwood incense swirling behind me from my altar unto the Universe.  I taste the tang of oranges.  I touch the smooth keys of my laptop where I act as a conduit to a Greater Good.  What I wholly feel is a comfort only this room, and the loving hands of she who adores me, can ever swell in my heart.”


I choose the font, the sequence, and pray for a line with merit.
Truth is up to the Ether, the songs of a bird, and my Spirit. 

Wendy Brown-Baez
Columbia Heights, Minnesota 


“My sacred space smells like rosemary and thyme or like garlic and peppers since I write, read, entertain, and cook in one open space. My sacred space is filled with light, even though it is a ¾ basement, cozy in winter, cool in summer. My sacred space shimmers with color and folders and files, with silence and world beat music, with books and cups stuffed with pens. My own poetry on fabric scrolls and oil paintings decorate the walls, a flying girl made of paper mache reminds me to look up, "Shalom" in gold letters says good-bye when I leave. My space is salty as my tears, sweet as a child’s smile, spicy as flirtation, calm as a lull-a-bye, pungent as memories, lively as a garden, shiny as my heart, embracing like a hug. All my own after years of sharing.”



Love is coming home to myself,
the wick of my candled soul lit by a flame.

Mandy Lunsford Burbank
mandyburbank on Instagram
Mandy Lunsford Burbank on Spotify
Wetumpka, Alabama


“The orange room has walls the color of pumpkin cheesecake with a marshmallow sour-cream ceiling and gingersnap doors. It smells like rising sourdough bread and daffodils and strong coffee... and at the moment moth balls that my husband threw under the house to discourage snakes from taking up residence in our crawl space. The gallery walls have a doorknocker that has no door behind it but it holds promises of shelter for those who dwell (as long as they aren't snakes) and sconces with no candles and trivets with no hot plates nor tables to keep safe and so many pieces of art with stories I want to tell. There are books from my mother's childhood and ones I borrowed from friends. Vintage typewriters and afghans and a spam can I found in the remnants of my granddaddy's garden. I absently mindedly pet the frayed fabric of the estate sale chair as I write, a pillow squished in between my elbows, up under my chin, soft and pliable. I eat nibbles of 86% cacao and sip coffee from a Japanese nesting coffee mug from the seventies. I balance my laptop on my folded knees and when I've written so long I need to stretch, I put my heels up on the peeling splintered wooden chest full of board games and move the warm computer to my thighs and sigh. I can hear the soft rumble of traffic on the highway outside muffled by bamboo forest. I can hear the tumble of the dryer hard at work in the adjacent room. 



I can hear a kitty climbing the door behind my head like a tree and dangling from the window pane peeking in at me mewing. I turn and smile into her curious eyes. My little friend can't come in just yet because Mizu, the budgie, is perched on the top edge of the laptop screen preening and singing along to Saint-Saens.”

John Burroughs


“My sacred space is full of books and music, art and creativity.  In it you’ll see Buddhas and Shiva, Ganesha and candles. You’ll hear rock, rap, reggae and ragas. Often you’ll smell sandalwood, jasmine, patchouli or nag champa incense.”

There is no disharmony, only harmonies
to which our ears and our fears are unaccustomed.

Patricia Carragon
Brooklyn, NY, USA



“The Living Room/ Dining Area.”



gray-white paints the living room
         to match my mood.

(--from "Gray-White," to be published in Nomad's Choir 2017.)

Roy Castleberry
Houston, Texas



“My "Sacred Space" isn't terribly sacred. It's what would normally be the breakfast nook of a one-bedroom apartment. Fortunately for me, my dining table is too long for the space and instead acts as my phone/answering machine/drop the mail table. The breakfast nook is my writing office, where I have my desk, PC and printer, various files and a bookcase filled with reference books, quote books and magazines I've had work published in. It also holds various pieces of art, like three small scorpions made from colored wire (personal totems) and two small, oblong canvases I bought from a cigarette machine turned art vending machine. A boll of raw cotton gifted in reference to a very Southern poem a reader enjoyed. A voodoo doll kit. A birthday collage made up of lines taken from my poetry. 
The work area/sacred space is hung with framed photos, collages, "found" art and a couple of certificates--one from a contest I placed in, another from a poetry group I did a performance for. It also has a hand-crocheted piece a now ex-girlfriend did. It says "Flying Dutchman," which is a performance group I helped found back in the early Nineties. 
So it's here, surrounded by art and text, the magic happens.” 


Cara Chamberlain
Billings, Montana


“Location in the lower valley of the Yellowstone River, the city of Billings, Montana, would seem a unlikely sacred place.  Sugar beet and oil refineries crowd the shore, traffic on I-90 and along the Burlington Northern tracks shouts and wails all day (and night), and, when the wind is right (or wrong), the town reeks of refinery emissions.  People here can be artistic and loving, but they can also ignore gross injustices and eve talk about evicting the homeless from downtown.  At a recent event to honor the Muslims in our community, an armed and masked self- appointed vigilante showed up “to keep an eye on things.
       What ennobles this place, for me, is geological process, the evidence of tens of millions of years of change that is not and probably will never be finished until the earth itself disappears.  The valley that cradles Billings was carved by the great river (the Crow Indian nation named it Elk River) and its even greater predecessor, and is defined on the north and east by what we call “the rims,” a wall of pale Eagle sandstone that glows at sunrise and sunset as if with the light of the ancient sea that formed it.  My house, where I work and write, looks out from the backyard toward the now barren and petrified shoreline.   
       As I sit at my desk, I can see, first the wild cottonwood just outside my door that some previous owner “let grow,” its bark scarred and ridged, the home of squirrels that do insist on teasing my dog.  The end of my yard abuts a major city street, Rimrock Road, which was widened a few years ago and now vibrates with traffic most of the day.  Beyond the cottonwood and busy Rimrock Road and the neighbor’s house across the street rises “my” section of the rims, a solid rock wall topped by a few straggly cottonwoods.  “Solid,” I write, but occasionally boulders break off and throttle anything in the path of their fall.  When this happens, as it did two years ago, the crack of divorcing rock shakes even my basement.
       Occasionally, a bald eagle cruises the rims.  Or a raven rattles his discontent from their contours.  Or fog gives depth and dimension to the rock.  Or, as today, a bouffant cloud flares above. The airport is up there, too, but I can’t see it from my house.  Occasionally, I taste the chemical exhaust and hear the planes taking off or landing.
       Billings reminds me that “pure nature,” which I think I find in the Beartooth Mountains (a snowy white line on the southwestern horizon) or Yellowstone National Park (some 50 miles farther) is an illusion.  Humans are nature, are embedded in nature, and the interplay of human and biological/geological creativity – good or bad – informs my works as I write below the rims, which the sun is now striking with a mid-day glow, polishing them whiter and cleaner than they really are, reminding me that permanence and ego are illusions, too.”


Essential five main branches climb toward a blue so pale
it might not exist but for some persistence unknown.
      
(-- from “Winter Cottonwood” (published in Canary) about the tree outside my window.)

Anne Champion
http://anne-champion.com
https://www.facebook.com/anne.champion1
Boston, MA
“Just this year, I moved into an apartment alone—it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve lived without roommates. The move inspired me to create what I cherish as my reading and writing nest.
My space is in my living room, a giant bag made of foam propped against the wall. It has the playful allure of the beanbags of my childhood, but softer; I sink into it and it transforms into a chair made perfectly for the curvatures of my body. It has a velvety texture, and this soft, snuggle factor means that I often have to kick my cats off of it in order to enjoy it. I wake up in the morning and make myself a coffee and a hot water bottle (a habit I recently picked up from a trip to Dublin in which the heat just never seemed to provide warmth). I bring both to my foam bag and sink into it to begin the day with my books—always one novel and one book of poetry. I can never write until I’ve done some reading that day, and I must be surrounded by books I love in order to write. I put the hot water bottle on my lap under a blanket; the aroma and flavor of coffee gently perk up my senses to focus on the words on the page. Next to my foam bag is a shelf in which I have various knick knacks and good luck charms. They are collected as souvenirs from places I’ve traveled as well as gifts from friends who’ve traveled and brought me things back. There’s hand painted jewelry boxes, a red Buddha statue, a golden statue of Ganesh, a lion made of beads from South Africa, a voodoo doll from Salem, a colorful fan with lacework from Puerto Rico. These trinkets remind me to stay humble—I’m such a tiny gear in such a large world, and there’s still so much to learn, witness, and experience. They also remind me of the love I have in my life, the tender generosity of those close to me. It’s in this space, in complete silence, with only the hum of the heater, that I’m able to be most productive in my writing. Two full drafts of poetry collections are currently being created in this space.”

The wildness of women can’t be plucked like papery moth wings.
Your police batons are a firebrand, and only our bones will obey by breaking.
(--from my tribute poem, “For Meena Kamal,” an assassinated Afghani political activist and feminist.)

Sara A. Chavez
Blog/website: www.sarahachavez.com 
Twitter handle: sa_chavez7
Huntington, West Virginia



“When I was meditating on this question, for some reason I was having a hard time coming up with an answer, until I separated revising and drafting from writing. The sacred space/place I do most of my writing is a bit unorthodox since it is a state of mind I enter when I’m in motion, but particularly when I am riding my bike. Especially on the days where traffic is light or I have the time to meander through quiet neighborhood streets, I slip into my body a bit deeper – feel the wind, damp or dry on my face, smell the dull tang of dirt or the bright drafts of pollen from a newly blossoming tree.
I think this space is sacred for me largely because it is both pleasant and uncomfortable. Some rides, are easy and lovely and I can look around at squirrels jumping from branch to branch or at dusk look into the lit-windows of neighbors setting about their evening routine, but other rides are difficult. My depth perception is thrown off by the resonating drum of traffic, my muscles ache and tighten trying to not to get hit on a busy road or a car passes too close and the muck of engine fluids and mud speckle my face. I’ve accidentally swallowed more bugs than I care to admit.
This duality is what feeds my poetry though. It’s a distilled reflection of life’s experiences, some good, some bad: all of them our transformative. These observations often force me off the road onto a sidewalk or an empty lot where I stop, take out my notebook (or recently, phone memo app) and write a few lines or sometimes multiple stanzas.”


I imagined myself a dragon and waited
until I felt scales sprout alongside my spine,

(--from the poem, “Dear Carole, Only now, I remember what ‘burning in effigy’ means”)

Lorraine Cipriano
Toledo, Ohio


“My sacred place is in the corner of my bedroom which has been converted into my writing area. While sitting in it, if the window is open I can hear birds chirping and dogs barking since it faces our backyard. Also, it is relatively quiet since it a two-story home.
Sometimes, I listen to Tibetan Buddhist monks chanting to make it even more peaceful. Or, you can find me jamming out to Saul Williams or other high-energy music for motivation.
Visually, I have a bookshelf right near my computer that only contains books that I am published in. It keeps me motivated to write more so that I can fill up the space. Also, there is bright and cheery art work hanging on the walls, all done by family and friends, which helps keep me focused on being in a positive mood when I write.
As far as touch, I am usually constantly interrupted by one of my four cats either jumping on my desk or lap. Therefore, I am usually petting a cat right before writing a poem or article. With that in mind, it does not smell like cats in my bedroom. Rather, it usually smells like fresh air because I am always cracking the windows open. Sometimes, it smells like lavender because I have a lavender oil infuser in my bedroom.
When in the midst of writing, I am usually either drinking Pellegrino sparkling water, green tea or coffee. Rarely do I eat at my desk because it is my work-space and I do not want it to be messy."

women are not valued enough
in our society, it has to end"

(--from the poem "Combat Zone" which is published in my chapbook Unbound by Writing Knights Press, 2014)


Christie Cochrell
http://writingwithlight-bonnard3.blogspot.com
Los Altos Hills, California



“Late afternoon sunlight dapples the long farmhouse table and whatever I am working on here at the dead-end of this pine-hushed lane named for a meeting place of the Algonquin Indians, and graces the glazed turquoise vase that was a gift from my best friend, knowing I'd love the color, roundness, texture.  I'm probably drinking cold tea in one of my favorite Italian mugs, Spring Cherry or Lavender White, hearing the juncoes or the wistful downwards triad of a golden-crowned sparrow out in the tangled oak, and goats beyond the little orchard and back fence bleating ill-manneredly about some latest gripe.  The worn-out dictionary that I brought from Santa Fe lies open to "verve" or "vervain"; the lucent hundred-year-old catsup bottle on the windowsill offers something harder to express, something elusive about time and loss and bubbles caught in glass.  And soon the fragrance of the chicken roasting with sage for our supper in the kitchen down the hall will show words to be inadequate.”


I feel the owls gathering with the dark,
and holy words beyond translation

Kai Coggin
@skailight on Instragram and Twitter 
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas


“My sacred space is small desk in the corner of a corner room in our house, with a window that overlooks a mountain and a valley, that nestles a small lake teeming with minnows, and bass, and a turtle named Salvador.  A chipmunk considers black sunflower seeds that the cardinals and finches drop from the feeder onto the deck.  The sky is blue again after yesterday’s storms. 


From this small corner of my world, I wake in the morning with the sun, and I write while my love ones stay sleeping.  In the winter, the frost nips at the windowsill and it chills my fingers and bones as they chatter across the keyboard. Now, in the spring of another year, everything outside is budding and green, the promises of the naked trees are being kept to my wandering eyes. 


This space is my vantage point of the world, my space to consider, to think. to question, to observe, to love, to miss, to want, to dream, to write, to write, to write.  This space is the anchor by which the creative muses find their way to me.” 


I remember becoming a phoenix in your eyes,
and how much you put your fingers in the fire, telling me to burn.

Kai Coggin’s brand new full-length poetry collection, Wingspan, published by Golden Dragonfly Press, will be available for purchase on April 22nd, Earth Day.


Alfred Corn
https://www.facebook.com/alfred.corn.1?fref=ts

Hopkinton, Rhode Island


“I pondered your word “sacred,” and while I see your point I’d have to say the word “scared” is just as apt. Writing is maddeningly difficult and just for that reason totally engages one’s attention. It happens at the confluence of passion and fear and trembling.

Almost all my writing is done at home in my small apartment in Rhode Island. The official workspace is the vintage school desk pictured here, with a window opening toward a view of the woods. When autumn leaves are down you see a ridge line in the distance.

I keep my dictionaries handy, English, French, and German. My notebooks, too, like this one with Doré’s Don Quixote printed on the cover, the gift of a good friend.  

But I sometimes sit up in bed to write, and from there you see the living room and a window with southern exposure.  What looks like clutter is actually a series of objects or artworks I found while traveling or that were given to me over the years, each one with memories attached.    

Another place where I like to work is the breakfast corner of the kitchen, especially if there’s typing to be done.  It’s informal and has a lot of light, though I also use the folk-art lamp with its base made to look like a lighthouse. So where I work partly depends on what mood I’m in or what mood I want to be in.

The selfie is also taken in the breakfast corner, this time showing a repro of Van Eyck’s great painting, the one known as the Arnolfini Marriage.” 

Spring rains pounding on

Our roof speed up the heartbeat.

Then slow it toward sleep.
 
Robert Craven
#cravenrobert (contact)
Dublin, Ireland


“This is my ‘Sacred space’; it’s a settee in the living room that looks out over the back garden. I usually rise at 5.30am & sit here drafting, writing, correcting. As I live near the coast, there’s little light pollution, so when the skies are clear, the stars, especially Mars, burn brightly.
In spring and summer, the blackbirds, Robin, finches and sparrows flit in and around our holly, apple and plum trees. They tease the cat by bouncing up to the window.
The throw is a Native American blanket, we bought outside of Seattle in Portland. It was worth the extra charge for flying back with it to Dublin. On cold mornings, I wrap it around my legs and place the laptop on top of it. We think of it as a lucky charm.
       On quiet days, when the doors are open, we can hear the sea. The week before St Patrick’s Day, we can hear the St. Maurs Pipe Band practising for the parade.”  


It’s a silent place first thing in the mornnig.

A few lines for Mr. Bowie

Stardust from a funeral Pyre;
A life fully examined.
Ashes to ashes, the thin white smoke,
Is dancing with Blue Jean again…

Curtis L. Crisler
Fort Wayne, Indiana


“Now, I can write anywhere. I think you have to be mobile, and with our new technology, I can wake up out of the night and text myself on my phone when I get one of those images or lines of words that bombards my subconscious. I’d just like to state that first. 
I do have a favorite place to write. My favorite sacred space is laying on my couch. I’ve always wanted a couch where I can relax or fall to sleep on after a long day of work, after a good workout and shower, a couch that accepted my body and wanted me there. I have that with this couch. When writing, I am adorned with my fantabulous throw cover and a myriad of pillows holding up my head and my legs for the most comforting experience I can have while writing. This way, my circulation doesn’t get cut off like when I’m sitting in a chair at my desk. 


I am enamored by the noise of the wind moving the trees to the left of me, as I hear birds, squirrels, cars, and voices in the distance, or just the moaning of my abode when the snow, rain, and sun encroach and play upon it. The environment around me plays heavily on my writing experience, for I know when I need something, and I can’t see it or hear it, I open my senses to where I am, and my environment comes rushing in with answers. But there is the ultimate experience, like when I’m in the zone. I have completely become one with my couch and my stirring for a more comfortable position as I type and type with a madness and the words that I will fuss with like a wife and husband fussing over finances. When in the zone, all sound is lost, and there is a whiteness around me (as best as I can express/explain it), and the couch is the foundation of where this takes place. 


For example: I always tell my students, and audiences now, that Black Achilles (Accents Publishing: an independent press for brilliant voices) was written while I was laying on my back, with my left leg on top of the back of my couch since I had to have it elevated to control the swelling after my Achilles tear, and surgery. My mother was in one of my comfy rocking chairs to my right, talking to me, talking on the phone, talking to the television, eating, snoring, and caring—the music of the chapbook, and a once in a lifetime experience.
Also, there’s nothing like waking up out of the zone, or a needed nap, with the imprint of decorative pillows or couch on my face. Somehow, when I do come back to life, it’s the smell and feel of the couch, and the requisite markings on my face, arms, and legs that let me know I’ve put the work in. I then sigh, and murmur about into the day, or night. I need to write an ode to my couch—give my couch a name.”  


Here, I was placed, like a matchbox child
      with a face of soot and lungs on fire

(--from a poem entitled, “Born into Chaos.”)


Jenny Yang Cropp


Lawton, Oklahoma
 


“I don’t think I’d call my space sacred. More chaotic, messy, and mine. This is my office at work. When I have a project, I write here every weekday morning. The older I get, the less I feel I have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. Instead, I go back to this place at the same time each day and do the work that needs doing. On the walls are mementos, and on the shelves are the books I turn to when I’m stuck. That’s Facebook opened up on the PC so that I can reward myself when the day’s writing is done.”








The things we love do not belong to us, to people who grew up in low brick houses with storm windows that never opened and yards kept neat and empty, whose brothers and fathers labor with their bodies, whose mothers and sisters labor with their bodies.

Carol V Davis
Los Angeles, California


“A place that is clear of distractions. It’s not that it responds to the five senses, it’s that it can block out senses. Yes I like a view, but mostly it’s the quiet that I need. The best sacred space for me is when I am on an arts residency as I am away from home and jobs.”


Swamped by sirens, leaf blowers, the incessant honking of
impatient drivers in the city, I have escaped all that,

Heather Dearmon
Columbia, South Carolina

                       Image attributed to Jonah Dearmon

“My sacred space is my Inspiration Well.  We have an ugly back patio. It needs pressure washing and sealing, the wrought iron fence around it is wanting a coat of new paint, and our two dogs who like to sit out there with me, turn sticks into mulch.  A daily sweeping would be good, but such tasks are for people (who) don't suffer from chronic pain in their lower backs and joints as my husband and I do. Ugly as it may be, it's become my favorite place to spend my time, to pray, to write, to just be. The patio is especially nice in the spring when nature’s beauty blooms on the patio on all sides. 

                        Image attributed to Jonah Dearmon
The previous owners of our home were gardeners, and blessed us with their endeavors.  For instance, to the right of the patio is a huge fig tree that produces dozens of figs twice a year, giving us the pleasure of savoring delicate, sweet fruit. 

In front of the patio is a half dead peach tree, and when in bloom, the most delicate pink­purple blossoms on her able side (you bet I've used her as a metaphor in many poems) and the blossoms turn into peaches with wonderful, juicy flavor. 


The majority of figs and peaches are also enjoyed by birds, squirrels and even possums, but as an animal lover, that brings me joy. I once witnessed a robin, blue jay, crow and wren all dining in the fig tree at once. What a sight! 

To the left of the patio is a dogwood, and an azalea bush with brilliant red­orange blooms, and my favorite, a rose bush, who blooms bright salmon­pink roses in the summer.
Now, smack dab in the back, in the center of the patio is a very odd construction, which at first I considered an eyesore. It wants to look like a covered brick well, and placed over its three feet deep opening that is filled with ash, was a rusty grill rack. The roof over the well is falling apart, as shingles have loosened and broken off in certain places. Well aware that I was not able to renovate my entire patio, and tear down the ugly structure, I decided I would make the most of the want­to­be well, and create what I have named my inspiration well, which is no longer an eyesore, but the prettiest part of the back patio. 

                             Image attributed to Jonah Dearmon
 
I replaced (the) grill rack over the hole with a large, plastic lid that my husband spray-painted black for me. Then I decorated it with items that inspire me. On a plant stand is my ever­enlarging patchouli plant, which was a gift from a friend. The plant is fragrant with my favorite scent. Just gently rubbing one of her leaves releases more of her earthy, musk scent.
Above her I hung a birthday gift from my younger sister: a sun catcher, which at the top has a bronze colored smiling face.  It hangs in the leaves of the patchouli plant, which makes the plant look like she’s smiling, and has a sun­catcher clear white jewel, like a necklace among the patchouli branches. 

Then there are the bright colors of bohemian style glass lanterns and a vase: a mosaic of reds, greens and blues that light up beautifully on a sunny day. 

Beside the plant there are two birdhouses, one white with a yellow design and roof, and the other a bright orange birdhouse that resembles a teapot. 

Colorful wind chimes sound like a music box gone rogue is hung on the end, and opposite the wind chimes is a green hanging plant that I cannot remember the name of for the life of me, but with it came, quite surprisingly, two little tree frogs who have taken up residence in the birdhouses. 

Every item on my inspiration well has a texture of it's own, from the glass mosaic lanterns with sharp and smooth glass pieces, the rough, patina looking design on the vintage pot the patchouli plant resides in, as well as brick of the well.
To make up for the decaying roof shingles, I hung on either side two intricately wood­carved pieces from India, which give the appearance that the well is a shrine. 

In the center of all the decor I placed a weighty metal cross that I have had for ages. I placed it there as a reminder of the faith I try to keep at my own center.  Because the cross looks like it belongs in an old church graveyard, it inspires me to ponder upon life, death, and the hope of resurrection. 

I sit here as often as I can, sometimes from the moment I wake up until the sun has gone down, but even in the darkness of a warm evening, my inspiration well is dazzling with her lanterns.
Beside our house runs a creek, which is difficult to see through the wild brush growing upon the bank, but it is easily heard from the back patio. 

                        Image attributed to Jonah Dearmon
The sound of the gentle, moving water inspired me to write a poem
called Water Unto Light, which became the title of my first chapbook and ends with these lines:” 


my young hand cast in stone, cups the various tones of light, The drops of wet feet, on the path from water.

Darren Demaree
Twitter: d_c_demaree  
https://www.facebook.com /darren.demaree 
http://www.darrencdemaree.com/
Columbus, Ohio.


“My writing place is in the basement.  It's quiet, unless I want it to be loud.  It's still, unless my kids are with me.  It's filled with the scent of pie and coffee on a good day.”  



I kept the promise
of the pear

(--from “Alumni #30”)


Eugene Dubnov
Jerusalem, Israel


“I do most of my writing in my bedroom on my computer. When it’s warm, the French doors giving onto the porch are open, and the pale-green light and verdant air enter from the little garden outside. My three cats come in and go out again. Behind the computer and on my left are books on shelves and in stacks. Occasionally I get up to get a book to check something (first I stroke it and smell its old-age fragrance) or feed the cats. The most immediate books are on the computer table and on a table to my right.”  


There’s a hint of the sea in the rain,
Of the sea that clears everything away

Antony Dunn
www.antonydunn.org
@AntonyDunnPoet
Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK


“My sacred space is one of the two goose-huts at the Arvon Foundation’s Totleigh Barton, where I’ve taught several residential writing courses. It’s in Devon, a 45-minute drive out of Exeter. It’s spartan – a desk, a chair, a bed, a wardrobe. 


The magic is that window, though, and its view across the fields to the trees along the distant river banks. It smells of weather and sounds of nothing but bird-song and, more often than not, rain. After six years of visits to the goose-hut it feels like home, and something in me unlocks the minutes I push the door open. Fourteen of the poems in my next book have been written at that desk, and the goose-hut is now completely bound up with my sense of myself as a poet.”


and all you know of love and all of pain
is falling from you. All you know is rain.

(--from “It has rained all week” (2011), a poem inspired by Totleigh Barton itself)

Pat Bland Durmon
Norfork, Arkansas 


“My sacred space, sacred place:

Today, fragrant daffodils overtake the room.
Seated on the blue couch midst laptop and papers,
I warm my hands around a cup of lemon tea. 
The lamp light welcomes me, but I do not miss
the bird flutter at the window or long river
running by.  Ah, ah, and ah. .  . .”


He can’t think what to do or say,
so he puts a hand against his heart. 

(--from Push Mountain Road.)

Shawntineal Edwards
www.dcreativesolutions.com
Facebook: Diverse CreativeSolutions
Atlanta, Georgia



“My bedroom is the sacred place where my thoughts begin to unravel and reveal its passion for writing. A cold or warm beverage, depending on the season, is usually on the nightstand. I relax as I feel the comfortable pillow resting against my back. The fragrance of a candle fills the air. The clock on the wall goes tick tock tick tock, as I drift into a peaceful world where only I, my paper, and pen exist. Then there it is – what began as mere thoughts have now turned into words; poetry that will hopefully enlighten others.”


Continue to Trust in the Lord
The devil had me, at least that's what I thought.
But my God came to my rescue once again and said, “No I think NOT!"


Terri Kirby Erickson
Lewisville, North Carolina


“I do most of my writing in my home office.  The photograph and art-covered walls are lemon-yellow and everywhere I turn, there are books and more books--many of them written by personal friends of mine.  I particularly cherish them!  I sit in a hard-backed chair because it makes me feel more disciplined.  The air smells like lavender and rosewater, my favorite "perfumes."  The most prevalent sounds are my fingers striking the keyboard, the electric heater I often keep at my feet, birdsong, and the occasional buzz of airplanes flying many miles overhead because our house is on a flight path.  And since I can't have much caffeine, I'm usually drinking water, decaf green tea, or Sanka.  Also, I love Dove dark chocolates, so there might be one or two of them nearby for a little energy boost when necessary!”


"Blink
and you'll miss it twitch like a sleeping dog
the rise and fall of its rust-covered ribs
when it rolls at last, into a dream of wheat.

(--from Excerpt, "Red Tractor," from A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53, 2014).)


Dennis Etzel Jr
dennisetzeljr.com
Topeka, Kansas



“It is actually a coffeehouse called PT’s at College Hill in Topeka, Kansas. It is just off of campus where I teach at Washburn University and it symbolizes where community and writing meet for me. (I returned to Washburn to earn a second degree in English, left the corporate world, and never looked back.)
If I think about why it is sacred to me, I think about it as a place of centering ritual. I know that I am going there to get work done: grading papers, finishing a project, or just to write. I order my coffee, plug in my laptop, and begin the ritual.

Coffee smells like edible earth, like the plant it came from, like a tangy place. It is one thing being shared around the world, like poetry. The regulars like to joke with me, that I am sitting in my office. I take part in the reenergizing energy that comes from being in a room of conversation, of others doing their own work, or people just reading and relaxing. The playlist is often the same, songs I enjoy, too: Lykke Li, death cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Florence + the Machine. 

I enter my space within the space. I allow both internal and external rooms to empty, so I may fill them again. The words are waiting for me.”
There is a waterfall on campus, seen across the street from PT’s. It inspired this:”

In the waterfall, the water demands
falling, the mind's scattered
tornadoes that carried my fairy worlds
Alexis Rhone Fancher                          https://www.facebook.com/alexis.fancher alexisrhonefancher.com                 alexis@lapoetrix.com                                                                  Los Angeles, California


"I write at the computer in my studio, a high-ceilinged, 900 square foot space attached to my 8th floor, loft apartment in downtown Los Angeles.  It doubles as a photo studio, complete with seamless (backdrops) and soft boxes (lighting).  Usually up by 5:30 a.m., I make a cup of French Roast coffee, light my ever-present gardenia candle, and begin to write.  Sometimes I write in 'silence,' although the sounds of the awakening city bleed into my room; the hum of traffic on the 110 Freeway, close by, the ever-present sirens from ambulances and patrol cars that pierce dogs' ears and start them howling.  If it gets too intense, I put on Glenn Gould's exquisite version of Bach's 'The Goldberg Variations.'  For me, that particular piece of music always tempts the poetry muses into the light."    



The stiletto boots in the back of my closet
want to walk all over you..."
(from "Walk All Over You.")

Fancher’s books, How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen & other heart stab poems, and State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies are available on amazon.com


Anas Filali
Ksar El kebir, Morocco



“This is the room where I live, sleep, read and write. It is not only my private space of inspiration, it is the only place which accepts me with all my defects and virtues. That’s why I feel it is a basic part of my life and my future dreams and projects.
I think that the real writer has to get away from the barriers of his language, not only through the translation of his works, but mainly through building a direct contact with different voices of the different cultures in the world. Literature has no religion, no nationality, because it does not depend only on geography. We need to live outside time and space to create a new perspective for our mutual existence on this earth.”

AN INSTANCE

Walking with the dead like a seaman ashamed
Of a sweeping current
For he is crazy about diving without water and deep wars
As a yellow worm dressed in white to bid farewell to the snakes
In pursuit, sure, of the white poison
To burry its hidden whoop in joy
And take its last yellowish iris
In a scene that is not appropriate for the snakes
Which do not follow in the steps of their eternal murder

A DESIRE

To go in a brief walk with the dead
And drink coffee in a deserted street
We need much coffee to wait someone
For dead do wait only their jealous victims
We also need to tear all the papers of the strange
Who wear the shoes of Jorge Luis Borges
Just to spite His nudity
For sure, we have to expel Adam‘s Apple from Hell
This time to spite the gardens of grape and almond in Heaven
All this to kidnap the rest of life _
In their dead bodies

FOLLY

In its walk with the dead, the town wears its colourless coat
To discover the femininity the stones of the streets hide
Not to let the dead put on their pale victories
To breed more ones of us who suffer the hereditary death
Women have embraced the religion of waves
Language moves away from us steps no more
To attend our forbidden congregations
The disguised secretly wear their old shoes
Escaping these and those who inhabit a poem‘s veranda
Alone with the rebels ‘hostages whom they slowly exchange
For the ancient prisoners dressed in their attractions
Take your time!
To walk in disguise, you need some old-fashioned cosmetics
And some chips to provoke women
Not to perceived as beauty in the face of beauties
And marry twenty women in one maze
And neighbor, a bit, vampires who march in daylight
In a festive funeral of the ancient passers-by
Who keep moving, a bit, with the dead

(--from WALKING WITH THE DEAD
translated into English by Youssef El Harrak)

Anas Filali, born on November 23, 1986, started as a correspondent of the Moroccan newspaper “Al Hayat Achamaliya” before he became correspondent of “Al Mouhajir”, an Arabic newspaper, published in Australia; then a member of the editorial board in the same newspaper since 2011.
He published a number of poems, studies, literary letters in many Arab and international newspapers and magazines.
Many of his poems have been translated and published in anthologies (in France, Belgium, the US) including the American Anthology of The African Poetry conducted by the Chicago University, USA , 2012


Mitzi Fleming
Montgomery, Alabama



From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs,
There's nothing like the feeling of being equalized.


Rebecca Foust 
Website: http://rebeccafoust.com/
Women’s Voices for Change columns: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/category/the-arts/poetry 
Facebook, Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.foust.52,  @FoustRebecca 
Kentfield, California

 

       “Most writing happens at my desk in an office that looks out over a tiny, fenced yard that is mostly garden: four raised beds planted with vegetables, old fruit trees along the fence, lots of flowers and birds everywhere else.  
But the ideas for my writing tend to happen elsewhere, while I’m on the move—walking, driving, etc. and that is why I try always to carry pen and paper anywhere I go.”

the same siren nights pierced with stars seeping light,
all that gorgeous, pitiless song

 
Gabriele Glang
Geislingen-Türkheim, Germany


“I do most of my writing in my home office. The most striking thing about this workspace is that I made it myself: I applied clay to the walls myself, then painted these first with a layer of alum and low-fat curd (yes, you read that right), followed by another layer containing chalk from the Champagne, France, region, and finally a glaze with a rich, earthy red pigment mixture I hand-picked from Kramer Pigmente in Stuttgart. Kramer, by the way is the only manufacturer of pigments left in Germany. When we were building our house, our friends used to joke: If we run out of money, our walls are - theoretically - edible. The first time he saw the finished room, my father-in-law dropped his jaw and said, "Oh. My. God. What the heck ist that?" Ok, he didn't quite use those terms, but you get the idea.
My office is not very "sacred"; the word quotidian comes to mind - because I do everything in it: write, prepare my creative writing classes for the University of Esslingen, translate for the film industry, correspond, and sometimes just sit and think.
(As an artist, I also have two studios - one on the top floor of the house, where I frame and store paintings, and another one 15 kilometers away, a former mill. This latter space feels more sacred to me because a stream originating only a few kilometers from there flows directly beneath my windows and the sound accompanies my days working there.”




WRITING HAIKUS

Blue silence abounds,
opens my vespertine heart.
Syllables flock.


Bill Glose
Yorktown, Virginia

“I call my sacred space “Bill’s Book Nook.” I converted the dining area in my apartment into a home office, using the dining table as my desk and surrounding it with bookshelves. When I’m in the apartment, I spend more of my waking hours at this table than anywhere else.
I come to my nook in the early morning hours while it is still dark outside and the only light comes from the bulb burning over my head. That is the most conducive time for my writing, when the world is still and all I can hear are my thoughts. I wash away the cottony taste in my mouth with a cold can of Dr Pepper, and after a few sips I feel the caffeinated sugar race through my system. I open up whatever document I’m working on and let my fingers rest on the keyboard as I read the last page. As I’m reading, my mind gets into the flow of the story (or poem or article or essay) and my fingers start to jitter lightly atop the keys of their own accord, engaging muscle memories burned into my neural pathways. And then I dive into the screen and disappear. How long I’m gone from this world varies, but generally I come back after sunlight lances through the blinds and the rumble of daily life announces itself with the thumping steps of my upstairs neighbor, the firing of car engines, and the laughter of children playing in the street. That is when I take my first pause to go for a walk. Walking is great for deep thought, and by the time I return I am eager to get back to my nook and jot down whatever ideas joined me during my stroll. 



I wrote a poem about my apartment titled “Single Dwelling.” It appears in my new book, Personal Geography. Compressing the final stanza to two lines results in the following:”

I scan the murmuring books on my shelves, searching
for one that can hold up its end of a conversation.

Julia Gordon-Bramer
@jgordonbramer (Twitter)
@fixedstarsgov (Twitter)
Facebook: julia.gordonbramer1
St. Louis Missouri


“I wish that I could say my sacred writing space was a salty, wind-swept beach; or a colorful, bird-filled garden; or a quaint Parisian café. That would be much more glamorous than the truth, which is that my sanctuary is a practical study at home. My desk here is functional:  chipped cherry wood, overstuffed drawers, and a surface with dust and fingerprints. There is a bit of cat hair in my keyboard, as I notice it now. Stacks of books (my own book, Plath’s poems, and a journal) keep company beside a baked berry scented candle, and in front of me are a line of crystals, figurines of a goddess and the Hawaiian god Ku, set beneath my monitor. A model hand diagraming the lines on the palm holds a marble-sized globe, a reminder to pray for peace. A pack of tarot cards is ever-ready, and there is almost always also a cup of hot tea. Many pieces of paper are shuffled around and sorted, containing To-Do lists, notes, records of dreams, and the next idea to get down in poem or prose. On my walls are old black and white photographs of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and a diagram of the Qabalah Tree of Life, and a framed poster of the 2006 Lollapalooza line-up. Tacked on my walls are pictures of my sons, complimentary notes from readers, directions from a shaman, and words of motivation. Sometimes there is a warm cat on my lap. To my left are my over-flowing bookcases, and to the right is a sunny bay window looking out to my front yard garden, bare now, in winter. My office is perhaps not beautiful, but it is my writing place, and most important to me.”

Isn’t it funny how we circle ‘round:
Learn what we leave might not have left us.

(--From “Class Reunion” by Julia Gordon-Bramer)


Robert Gray
Bergen, Norge (i.e., Norway)


“This is a difficult question for me because I moved to Norway about eight months ago and haven’t really found a “sacred space” here for writing yet, although I’ve never really had one anywhere I’ve lived.  My writing doesn’t typically work like that.  Most of my writing happens in my head, in the car, on the way to work, in the shower, or just walking along.  Then, after letting things stew for awhile, I find a spot to sit down and type it out.  Often this is in my living room or even in my office.  When something is really good, I might pull over my car and jot something down on anything I can find to write on. 
I’ve really only written one poem since I’ve been in Norway (and that was actually “written” in the Charlotte airport when I was flying back to Alabama to get my family…), but I have been putting some ideas together in my head lately.  Driving (and especially parking) a car is very expensive here, so we do a lot of walking just about every day, and if I were to name a sacred place, it would be some of the beautiful places I get to walk on a regular basis.  There is a bit of me that feels like Wordsworth or Wallace Stevens, composing poems in my head while I walk along, but I’m still waiting for a real poem to come out of these walks.”


it is not possible simply to see this alchemy

in ice and stone that gave glaciers godlike skill

never cease to hear the blue in green

like when miles used to play it on his horn

Joseph Greif
greif@msn.com
Seattle, Washington


“My sacred space is in the back of my mind in the Wilderness Area of Idaho.  Growing up on the edge of the Salmon River, in Idaho. On the edge of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. At the foothill of Cottonwood Butte, which was one of the three mountains in the Nez Perce’s ‘Heart of the Monster’ creation legend. On the edge of the Wilderness Area in Idaho all combined into one place is my sacred space.
       Now that I am away from these edges, just knowing that they are there means everything. I use the example of the Wilderness area in Idaho as an example of a place that I will never visit, but knowing that it is there gives me a place in the back of my mind to go to with all of my common and physical senses to write from.”

As above is as below we are all here ... in between …
Our first breath and the “in due time” of our departing

(--This is the first two lines of from the first poem from my book, The Architecture of Cottonwoods)
… in-between …
our first breath
and the “in due time” of our departing


S.A. Griffin
Los Angeles, CA

                     Photo credit:  Aaron Farley

The Sacred Place

The sacred space walks the high wire between the lines without a net.

The sacred place lives and breathes process.
The sacred place ticks every miraculous moment.

It is a quickening that transports me into a lucid dream of flight
when all my creative cylinders are firing at once,
soaring in the wake of rippling shadows while
drifting thru magic canyons of still thought.

The sacred place is footprint daydreams
fading in the flux of an abandoned beach during a rough storm,
ideas surfing the wild hair of its manic wake.

Sacred places live behind the wheel of my old world Cadillac
chasing vanishing points on some hillbilly highway,
all the windows rolled down,
the meditative music of endless vistas
rushing thru my ears like a
restless river with a recycled head
full of ancient rain.

It is the flowering fist in my heart that unfolds
while walking down the street with my wife
holding hands.

The sacred place can be found in the
tempering fire that names my son.

It is in the quietude of sleeping cats and
the boundless energy of giddy canines.

The sacred place is yes in chaos.
Blind luck betting everything on a
nervous imagination.

It is hands at a computer keyboard
occupying a room inside a rent controlled apartment
in Silver Lake overlooking the reservoir,
downtown Los Angeles and Chavez Ravine,
where if you give it a little effort you can see
fireworks light up the sky above Dodger Stadium
from the third floor balcony on the 4th of July,
and every day is the 4th on the sacred calendar,
all you have to do is whistle.

                      Collage by S.A. Griffin 

                     Collage by S.A. Griffin

As Bacall said to Bogey on a big screen reeling in the dark,
"You do know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?

You just put your lips together,
and blow."

I hear anyone can whistle.

Ali Hasan
Boulder, Colorado


“My sacred space is the living room and its couch. I have written many sonnets (my fingers abuzz on the keypad) on that couch.  I can look at my poetry collections on the bookshelf. And I can smell if anything on the stove is about to burn.”



Once more boosts our faith in the age of Victorian science
with its mania for pinning down fluttering things.

(--lines from "Lepidopterology" in Sorrows of the Warrior Class--Sheep Meadow Press)



Faleeha Hassan
Newark, New Jersey 



“I was born in " Najaf" is a city in Iraq about ( 100 miles) south of Baghdad. It is widely considered the third holiest city of Shi'a Islam, the Shia world’s spiritual capital and the center of Shi'a political power in Iraq. The city is home to the Imam Ali Shrine, and hosts millions of pilgrims yearly.”




My city is the violated
Streets torn by desires
of the kingdom,
Despite our numbers
That surmount gold bullions
In the prince’s room,
We fall as we walk
While our sheikh*
- God save his soul -
Thrived on our blood,
He spread the skins
To perform his prayers.

By Faleeha Hassan

.................................................
*Sheikh: is a revered old man, an Islamic scholar, an elder or the Wiseman of a tribe.
Translated by Dikra Ridha


Gordon Hilgers
Dallas, Texas

“My sacred space, if it can be called a sacred space, is a computer desk situated southeastwards near a sliding glass doorway which opens into a courtyard, a gray stucco retaining wall, and higher, the gated swimming pool. In reality, my sacred space is all inside me, a solid core that cannot be broken, broken-into or disrupted, no matter the noise. I smell some dust and insect spray, I am listening to the So So Glos 2013 "best album", "Blowout": They're an NYC band, part of the nationwide neo-punk explosion, I feel sleepy because I just woke-up from a nice early afternoon nap, and my nose itches. I see a stack of books on my computer printer: Corey Robin's "The Reactionary Mind", Butler and Athanasiou's "Dispossession: The Performative In The Political", and Peter Gizzi's wonderful poetry collection, "Threshold Songs".
I have a salt lamp on top of my Internet modum, and this provides light when I am writing at night, usually ripping around FB and schmoozing with my buddies.”

This is the requisite wall within such minds / when troops of chickadees bivouac, worrying cats" smile emoticon

Harvy Hix,
Laramie, Wyoming 

“I do most of my writing in my studio, a renovated barn.  I write early in the morning, so it is dark when I go over from the house to the studio.  I grind coffee the evening before, so it smells of fresh coffee when I enter it, and I taste fresh coffee once it's brewed.  There are mice in the walls, and I hear them scratching and scurrying, doing their work while I work.  I write with a fountain pen my partner gave me, so the satisfying feeling of nib across paper accompanies the act of writing.”


All our eyes saw, we saw as god sees it.
Not the glow that is god, but all it lit.

(--from my book Legible Heavens:  Light)

Erin Hollowell
Homer, Alaska

“From the corner of my couch, I can see the mountain range on the other side of Kachemak Bay and the shifting light on three glaciers. In the mornings, there is only the tick of the woodstove, the sound of the dogs breathing in their sleep and my words scrolling out.”


Of the way each day becomes itself, each sky a sudden
parachute of light. Of refraction and reflection

Ibrahim Honjo
Vancouver, Canada


“My sacred place where I do my writing is my living room which is also my art studio. I can see my private library, my writing space and the beautiful paintings along my walls that I have painted.
I can smell whatever it is that I am cooking. If I’m not cooking that day my sacred place smells of apple cinnamon. I hear silence. Occasionally I can hear the birds chirping or the stomping of my neighbors upstairs. I can taste the mint of my gum when I write.
When I’m writing I feel the cushion of the seat underneath me. I feel the pen in my hand and desk where my arms rest. Sometimes I can hear the pitter – patter of the rain outside or the gushes of the wind on cloudy day. I feel the beauty of life.”


is it easier to be a stranger to a brother than to be brother to  
a  stranger
wake up blood brother from your delusions 

Lynn Houston
New Haven, Connecticut


“The place where I wrote most of my first book, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press), was a 1968 Airstream camper which I retrofitted with solar panels and a waterless, composting toilet and parked in the woods. I’ve nicknamed it Henry David (Thoreau), and it’s about 24-feet by 7, with lots of windows, two skylights on either end, and a state-of-the-art propane heater for winter. Despite the musty smell of summer heat that’s been trapped for many years no matter how long I air it out, it’s a fantastic place to write because it insulates from sound like a womb. Part of the ambiance for my writing is the images I conjure in my mind’s eye of the camping trips taken by the families who owned the Airstream before I did. In cleaning it out, I’ve stumbled on remnants of their lives: old army figures, birthday balloons, a decaying calendar from 1969. All of these glimpses into the past inspire my poetry, as does the upkeep and renovation of the camper. Some of my best inspiration came from ripping out part of the old bathroom to install the composting toilet and then replacing a section of the torn underbelly. Whenever I re-read the poems in The Clever Dream of Man, I recall the taste of metallic dust from drilling rivet holes and the weight and vibration of the drill. I felt like the process of dissembling that section of the camper and putting it back to together was very much the same process as my poetry writing.” 


the only future that matters—how you find your way
back, welcomed into the tented animal skins of others.

(From “Don’t Expect the Sun Until Next Thursday,” published in Hermes)

T.R. Hummer
Cold Spring, NY

“Sacred work space? HAH! I lost any kind of dedicated work space years ago. Now I have a chair and a rolling laptop "desk" stuck in the corner of a spare bedroom.”


...my heart in its bone crate safe from the rat in steerage,
brilliant pilgrim, beloved plaything, destroyer of worlds.

Larry Jaffe
Clearwater, Florida


“My sacred space is my own universe. I have no special physical space in which I write. Since all my poetry comes from the soul that is where I reside. Poets are the doctors of the soul therefore that is from where I write. In this habitation, there are more than five senses. One of the most important is degree of affinity. This affinity is what I feel for people and things. I can sense how close I am to someone or something.” This is very important to me, and probably the most useful of all my senses. 

The next sense for me is empathy. It may sound similar to affinity and it is related but very different for me. I may have a closeness with someone and often times that leads to empathy but empathy for me is my ability to completely understand and feel for that being or creature. I can sense what that person feels and thus duplicate their emotions in my work. It has to do with emotions and thus emotional impact when I write.
In my universe I can conjure up any visual that I like any olfactory sense and tactile and any sound. The beauty of one’s own universe is that your imagination simply takes you wherever you wish to go or want to be. It is a beautiful thing.”


It is a sudden rush
of bursting chains

It is an exhilaration
of memory in one breath

It is a torrent of freedom
from an eternity of subjugation

This is life

Chris Jarmick
Kenmore Washington 


“My sacred place is emotional and spiritual not physical.  I often write on my laptop but also have notebooks and love to sit in a place surrounded by nature (green, running water, bird song, children’s voices playing). Sometimes I take a long walk with a friend and when we finish we sit and improvise a prompt, give ourselves 30 minutes and see what happens.  I learned years ago that my life is out of balance if I am not writing and creating several times per week (if not every day).  I am meant to creatively write, often poetry.  I do it surrounded by people, I do it alone.  It is the process that is sacred for me.  The word poetry derives from the Greek poesis which means to create.  It is the process of creating that is sacred to me; not a place, but the intention and action of creation itself.  My muse is generous and usually kind and compassionate.   There was a time in my life that I was working over 70 hours per week and being very creative but not writing for myself or writing poetry.  I was making a lot of money but was unhappy and depressed.  I realized I had not written anything outside of my work for months and I was not doing daily writing exercises.   As I started writing again, I was more grounded, a little happier and slept better too.  It tasted like a perfectly cooked medium rare aged steak.  It tastes like organic dark chocolate.  It tastes like cool water after hours walking or gardening.  As I write, I feel my pores open, I taste the air, colors are deeper, the moment feels precious, and important.” 

“I’m sending a photograph of a beautiful place that inspired many words and I can instantly see when I close my eyes.  It was taken in Tokeland, Washington.  A sunset caught in a huge piece of driftwood.   I first visited there with my family in 1994 and made an annual weekend vacation there every year for a dozen years.  This picture wound up on the cover of my 2010 poetry collection:  Ignition: Poem Starters, Septolets, Statements and Double Dog Dares.”  


Poem Starter 235

When we go
to where we want to go,
we may need
to turn around
and come back to
where we started.

Arya F. Jenkins
McDonald, Ohio


“This is the sacred space, where I renew myself daily through meditation, which prepares me for life. Both the practices of meditation and that of writing have led me to my deepest truth. As I see it, my job both as a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and as a writer is to let my essential truth arise without judgment or interference. It’s a challenge I embrace daily in both practices.
My meditation space is in the modest bedroom I inhabit in a house in McDonald, Ohio, where I have found solace and quietude, both requisites for me as both a writer. I sit on a cushion and do my practice on a daily basis in order to achieve clarity and focus. On my altar, alongside Buddha, are offerings representing the elements--earth, air, fire, water and space. Sometimes I light frankincense or Tara incense, both of which have a musky perfume I prefer. In the spring and summer, flowers decorate my altar too. And sometimes in the evenings, I bring a candle and light it as an offering.
What remains constant is the attitude with which I approach the cushion and sitting before my altar—openness, receptivity, the desire to benefit others by my practice. These are the same attitudes that I try to bring to writing as well. Practice and life become one.
I have on occasion written in my bedroom, but it is essentially the place where I rest and renew.
I write mostly in cafes. This allows me to feel both anonymous and connected to others. The espressos I drink and the surrounding conversation stimulate me, while my work keeps me inwardly focused. The setting and my work create my balance.”

“Here is a photo taken at The Daily Grind, a café in Girard where I often spend my free time writing and transcribing teachings by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and friend who has started several very worthwhile projects for nuns in her lineage and for women in India and whose work I support as a volunteer.”


“This is the final poem in my second published poetry chapbook collection, Silence Has A Name, just published by Finishing Line Press. The inspiration for this poem came while I was meditating:”

ODE TO THE RAINBOW

Beyond the obstacles and intemperance
The silence and regret
Beyond the terror of
Death herself circumcising
Colors arise in transcendent flavor
Tagging the absolving sky.


Kimberly Johnson


Salt Lake City, Utah






“I write while I'm running, and I run at night.  The streets are quiet.  The smells of things in bloom move on the wind.”  




Unhobble your hardscrabble horses, soul—
The night before us is steep and long...

Jennifer Juneau
https://jenniferjuneau.wordpress.com/
Auth, Switzerland


“The sacred place I do most of my writing is my living room/library. The sight of books from classic literature to current writers is inspiring. To feel the aura of influential ghosts, to hear the tapping of keys as I write and the taste of strong coffee, the luxury of a comfortable couch, because I spend up to nine hours here, all contribute to my dedication and my passion to my craft.”




Floor swept with synergy, veneer decorated walls
And nightly one of us (or you) paced the vacant halls.

(-- two lines from "Home Study" (published in Yemassee Journal)

Marilyn Kallet
Knoxville, Tennessee


“There are two places where I go most often to write, and have created 17 books over the years. One is Mount St. Francis, in Southern Indiana. And the other is Auvillar, France, to the site owned by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. For the purpose of your blog, I'll pick the one in France.
I write poetry in Auvillar, France, where I go thanks to VCCA-France. There I teach a poetry workshop, "O Taste & See: Writing the Senses in Deep France." I also take time for myself and write there.
“This is the view from the path down to the studio in Auvillar; you can see the bridge over the Garonne. The photo was taken in November, when I was on leave from the University of Tennessee, and went to Auvillar as a writing fellow with VCCA-France.” 


“The second photo is of me in the doorway of the studio owned by VCCA-France (called Moulin a Nef); it was taken by Christine Parkhurst, one of my workshop participants. Poets who might want to come and study with me might find this link useful.  I can help arrange discounts for our poets.”

One of the poems I wrote there became the opening poem of my last book, The Love That Moves Me (Black Widow Press, 2015). The poem calls upon all the senses.”

I Want You Here

So badly my fingertips ache
roses droop against the thorns

the green light of the Garonne
stuns my eyes

I talk to dogs   to my chair
listen at the neighbor’s door

The old stones of the village are too smooth
The stubble of your chin would do

I want you here so badly
I can taste your salt

I’ll save a place or two for your mouth
listen hard to your tongue

we’ll coo like mad doves
become ballads   legends
      
climb to the centre ville
devour the first May cherries

pilgrims
at home in each other

beneath the blue sheet
of sky.

(Marilyn Kallet, The Love That Moves Me, Black Widow Press, 2013.) 



Ami Kaye 

www.amikaye.com

Glenview, Illinois 


      "What I love most about my study is the quality

of light.  Even in winter, two tall windows 

overlooking the front lawn allow plenty of light to 

brighten the room.  Once I enter it, I am shut off 

from the rest of the world, cocooned and cozy, a 

space where I can suspend time and relax, yet 

suddenly free to roam the wild and forbidden 

places of my imagination, and create.  I write at a 

small white desk next to one of the windows, while

listening to music.  Across from the windows is a 

reading couch, which comes in handy when 

having tea with a visitor.  A large bookcase holds 

an eclectic collection of poetry books and three 

narrow shelves above the sofa display our latest 

publications.  The neutral colors are calming, and 

the soft patina of the wood floor imparts a 

natural warmth.  In summer when I open the 

windows I often smell roses and almond 

blossoms,  but most of the time, it is the scent of 

books and magic that fills that air."


Enter the day with no limit save the one you set yourself;

freed of gravity your mind flies and becomes the wind.



Tricia Knoll
Twitter: @triciaknollwind
Portland, Oregon


“I have a room of my own, not a large room of my own, but adequate to contain my reference and poetry books, stacks of yet unsold copies of my chapbook Urban Wild and Ocean's Laughter. The walls hold a Navajo rug, a print of William Blake's "The Ancient of Days," a traditional hat from Malawi, and pictures of my daughter, dogs, and husband. A large window overlooks my garden where I plant for butterflies and pollinators, have a birdbath, a poetry box for walkers to look at, feed a family of four crows, and grow an array of vegetables from basil to beans. Color rests in the Tibetan rug of orange, red, green, and yellow on the floor where my dog hangs out, content to be a poet's dog until it's dinner time. This is a place I visit in comfort even at 3 am. A place of blessing and quiet. 
I'm not a tidy writer. Magazines and paper stack up. I suppose there is the scent of dog fur, dust, and peppermint tea.” 

“At my back is a painting of the Rulachs, my German ancestors circa 1850. This painting has followed me through my life -- never a favorite with the men in my life, but I'm grateful my daughter finds them as interesting as I do. This is where I came from on my father's side. My newest manuscript How I Learned to Be White includes a poem about this painting.” 

The best of us have studied how
to untie knots
without tugging. 

(-- from "One of the Cronettes" which is up on Trivia: Voices of Feminism in the March 2016 issue


Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Hardyville, Virginia
 


“My sacred space where I compose all of my writings from poems to letters, reviews, and interviews is the Morning Room.  Well-lit, even on rainy days, the room comes alive at sunrise with a variety of bird calls emanating from our backyard wildlife retreat.  The fragrance of coffee brewing on the counter fills the air. I reflect on the colorful paintings, handmade ceramic cats, and pieces of sculpture that decorate this inspirational setting. As I put pen to paper, the room’s ambiance soothes the spirit.  I take that first sip of coffee, and the words begin to flow.”


Paint me flying through saffron skies:
a hummingbird, wavering like a supple leaf.

(--Excerpt from “The Two Fridas (VII):  Paint Me Flying”
The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo)
San Francisco Bay Press, ©2013


Yahia Lababidi
My Twitter handle is : @YahiaLababidi
Washington D.C. and Fort Lauderdale, Florida


“The sacred space where I do my writing is an inner space, a state of stillness, when I can overhear myself. Eavesdropping on nature's silence helps take me There...” 


Beneath the intricate network of noise there’s a still more persistent tapestry woven of whispers, murmurs and chants It’s the heaving breath of the very earth carrying along the prayer of all things: trees, ants, stones, creeks and mountains alike All giving silent thanks and remembrance each moment, as a tug on a rosary bead Meanwhile we hurry past, heedless of the mysteries And, yet, every secret wants to be told every shy creature to approach and trust us if we patiently listen, with all our senses.

(--Excerpt from New And Selected Poems (Press 53))




Joy Ladin
www.joyladin.com
joyladin@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/joy.ladin
Hadley, MA 

     "For me, writing has always been an escape from space, from physicality, from a world in which for most of my life I, as a transgender person, was unthinkable. Since I learned to write, writing itself has been my sacred space, a place beyond place where I can feel alive regardless of my body and situation. In that sacred space, consonants and vowels rubbing against one another, bursting into flame or opening into fountains. Time stretches and thickens as verbs vibrate among their conjugations, nouns like germinating seeds stretch hair-thin roots toward the worlds they imply. I hover among them, a voice, a point of view, a human need for meaning that enables them to mean."  



Learn to love the awkward silence 
You are going to be

(from "Survival Guide")

Sarah Leavesley James
www.sarah-james.co.uk
Twitter: @Sarah_James 
Droitwich Spa, Worcs, U.K.



Upstairs study – cosy, light, quiet but not empty as it has the soft sounds of the house like water in the pipes, various scented candles, view of sky and trees.”


 
the world became a well – its water so deep,
there was nothing near enough to glisten

--(Notebook extract, poem not yet finished.)


Shara Lessley
Trading northern Virginia for England mid-summer.


“I sacrificed my office when my daughter was born. The room where I once kept my desk and books now holds a toddler bed. Like many parents of young children, I write where and when I can (most often in the master bedroom). When I look back on the number of spaces I’ve drafted and read poetry, however, when I think about what makes a place “sacred,” the days and nights I spent in Elizabeth Bishop’s childhood home in Nova Scotia immediately rush to mind.
Although the white clapboard house off Highway 2 in Grea Village wasn’t what I expected, I’d studied enough photographs to recognize the building’s face. Moving into the interior, however, was something else entirely—to take tea in the kitchen where Bishop’s grandmother busied herself at "the Little Marvel Stove;" to occupy "the cold, cold parlor" where, peering into a coffin Bishop characterized as "a little frosted cake," she said goodbye to her "little cousin Arthur" awaiting burial, laid out "beneath the chromographs."
The steel grate bridge beside the house howls each time cars wheeze past—more like moans than howls. Along the curve of road: air swept then whipped uphill across the valley’s meadows. I couldn’t bring myself to choose "the large front bedroom with sloping walls on either side," the one where it’s thought Bishop’s mother had her final psychic break, the room so hauntingly narrated in "In the Village." Nor dared I choose the poet’s room—so narrow it barely holds a bed, but deep (it is deep!)—with its slanted glass square cut into the old tin roof, the skylight’s latch held shut by a pair of scissors. Instead, I slept where Aunt Mary’s bed might have been.
Scattered throughout the house are artifacts from Bishop’s history. An February 1918 issue of National Geographic. Vassorium—Bishop’s velvet-covered 1934 college yearbook. Among its pages, secretarial schools’ advertisements, instructions for swimming, the "perfect" design for constructing a smoking cap. Between photos of undergraduates Ann Billingsley and Elizabeth Blake, I discovered Bishop’s senior portrait, an image I’d seen but out of context. While almost all of her classmates confronted the camera straight on, Bishop’s decision to reveal only her profile seems telling. Toward what or whom is she gazing? What do any of us, I wonder, seek in the distance out of frame?”  

(Parts of the above are adapted from "One Cluster, Bright, Astringent," which originally appeared in The Southern Review).

A man rounds the corner at Main & State. Not
only the owl watches the cold world wake.

(couplet from "Sleeper Cell")


Stacia Levy
Sacramento California


“My sacred space for writing is my home office. Its most notable feature is its crazy quilt of books, magazines, and file folders. It is also very quiet, located on the second story of my house. The silence of my office is only broken by the clatter of a keyboard and the distant cacophony of the TV. It has a musty smell of old books and papers, sometimes overpowered by the pungent scent of coffee. The taste associated most with my office is also of coffee: rich and mellow. The feel of my office is the smooth warmth of a keyboard and the cool silk of paper.” 


My office is not much in looks,
But it compensates in the books!
                                                   
Lyn Lifshin
Austin, Texas 


“My special places vary from time to time.  My place has changed drastically : from my cluttered desk, to the metro, to the pond to the kitchen table.”

explodes into the wildest flame that finishes off everything that has come before it perfect


Helen Losse

“I write at my computer. My computer has an old keyboard that clicks with each keystroke. I love the way it sounds; the feedback gives me confidence that my computer has recorded what I intended. When I raise my eyes from my monitor, I see my back yard through a window. The yard is shaped like a bowl and has a number of various kinds of trees, evergreen and deciduous. Birds twitter as they fly to and from three feeders, hanging from the railing of the deck. My cat Rosie has a stool, off to my left, where she too can watch birds. Between Rosie and me is a printer cart with two printers.  On the floor is an upended concrete block with a coaster for my coffee.  Ah, the smell! The taste. I’m trying—but mostly failing—to learn to drink coffee black. I keep a mug or a water bottle on that coaster all the time.
To the right of my monitor (and me) is my actual computer.  On top of it is a small white lamp and a pewter nativity scene my sister Pam gave me.  The lamp has a Christmas ornament that used to belong to my Aunt Fern on its shade. The ornament remains year round, a reminder of how much I love Christmas. On my desk in front of the computer is a small lamp that changes color, a gift from my son Victor. It sits in a ceramic dish, made by my husband’s niece Gabe. There is also a rosary from my friend Sue and a couple of medals. Just behind it is a small statue of Mary, holding the Infant Jesus. The statue is in a different ceramic dish, one made by Val MacEwan, the editor of the Dead Mule, where I am Poetry Editor Emeritus
Also to my right is a metal cabinet, remnants of a 1970s computer, built by husband Bill, that used eight-inch floppy disks to store data.  I use the side of the cabinet as a bulletin board, where various items—including a calendar, a photo of the cover of my forthcoming book, Every Tender Reed, a few birthday cards, and a photo of Kyle Busch, my favorite NASCAR driver—are attached with magnets from my collection. To my right, in front of the desk, is an old kitchen stool that holds papers on three levels and, often, something to eat: a sandwich, fruit, chips. I sit in a comfortable office chair that no one else likes, due to its low height. A pad that provides heart and vibration for tired muscles and old bones is permanently attached.
Who says the sacred can’t also be practical? This is where my body sits as my mind takes journey after journey; this is where I work:  These windows are the Windows Toward the World from which my blog got its name. This is where I eat my lunch and sometimes fall asleep. This is where I look up facts, send messages, post articles, make comments, play solitaire, dream the impossible, write bad drafts, revise my words, plot to make things happen, pray that God will guide me, seek inspiration, and chase the ever-elusive mystery of truth.” 

 

…God whispered words, just for me,
through the mouth of a priest.

(from “Through the Mouth of a Priest,” Every Tender Reed (forthcoming from Main Street Rag, May 2016)


Janice Lowe


Twitter @namaroonmuse

New York, New York




“My Kitchen (is my sacred space):

Books rest where cook pots should be.

Cinnamon notes, hints of hibiscus or dust

jump up red as linoleum. Radiator out boom baps

a tea kettle song boil.  Sweet purplish dregs strain for 


beat-juicy meaning.

This is home for smoothies and the unsmooth.”



In the dark slippery country called “Upstate”

Head shrinking auto mechanics traffic behind you


Roby M
Ontario, Canada


“While physically, I mostly write at home, the sacred space I enter into is the philosophical side of my own thoughts, and, of late, I have found nature to be a sacred place for me, writing wise, and in other ways, too. I live in a green neighborhood, and take many walks around it, taking in the beauty and doing macro photography while I do so, as well. That is very much a part of me when I connect to nature as a sacred space in my writing these days.”


“I find the below concluding couplet to the poem “Emergence” to be one of my most philosophical ones. It reflects the different, very metaphysical space that the sacred space in my thoughts tends to be like.”

 
..and I wait for her,
in the shadow of eternities smile


Michael Mark
San Diego, California, USA 


“I write in many places - hunting around  to catch different voices, energies. I love fast food places. The bright light and the vibe is good - Motown often playing; and people are happy eating fries. Lately it’s been good hunting in our garage. The birds, people mowing their lawns, the gurgle of the water heater. Smells dusty of course and grassy from my gardening tools - but I like those, brings me to the everyday, real stuff. I crack the door open a bit if it gets too earthy. In summer and spring I open the door all the way.”



Monuments to nothing I can name.
Were they even trees anymore?

(--from the poem “For Me It Was The Trees”)


Gill McEvoy
Chester, England

“The place where I have written a great deal of my poems is The Oak Barn, near Ludlow, Shropshire, England.
It was once a potting shed so plants are very much associated with it. But later converted to a building for the purpose of retreats, healing, singing and music making, all beautiful things! So it holds a very special atmosphere of serenity and joy. It’s built of wide planks of oak, with oak doors, and oak floors. Spending time there is like living inside the quiet organic space of a tree, it smells of wood and everywhere you go in the house you touch wood, sturdy and smooth under your hand. Climbing roses smother the windows and the views from the house are of endlessly unfolding green and distant blue hills. The sunset is fiery beyond them. Days are signified by buzzard mew and raven croak, nights by owl call. And thickly-starred night skies. The bedroom has a large skylight so you can lie and watch the stars at night. I find it very peaceful to work there and since there is no phone or WIFI signal, no TV, there are few distractions other than the beauty of both its interior and its setting.”


Frost-bitten air is feathered by our breath, our skin dimpled with cold.
A pheasant melts its wax into the hoar-frost of the hedge.

(From a poem about Hunters (horses))



Leslie McGrath
My website: lesliemcgrath.com
Essex, Connecticut

    

      "For me, writing has two distinct phases:  the "playing in my imagination" phase, in which I latch onto phrases and rhythms, not caring about meaning, and the "sitting down to write the poem" phase, in which I draw on my knowledge of poetic craft and tradition.  I have a separate space for each of them, both in my circa 1800 house on a little street near the Connecticut River.



      My imagination space is a very small sewing room, probably 8 by 8, off a front bedroom.  It's warm and sunny during the day, a swaddling space at night when I turn the lamp on.  There are two comfortable chairs and a needlepoint footstool.  My two cats settle on one of the chairs and curl up with each other.  There's an old rug I bought at a church thrift store, photos of my daughters and grandmother, and the kind of benign quiet that reminds me that I'm only the most recent of many women who have sat there to work, away from everything but our own thoughts.




     I write in another small space off the living room.  I type with one finger on a laptop.  In this part of the house, the floor is so warped and tilted that I often have to grab a hold of the desk to prevent my desk chair from rolling away.  I've surrounded myself with totems:  family photos, my grandmother's diary, a few small toys, a piece of teak left over from one of my husband's boatbuilding projects.  I like the familiar textures of these things.  This space is next to the kitchen and I love the smell of a pot of broth on the stove or cinnamon cookies baking while I'm writing."



    It takes
a winter impulse:  work together to get through.
What if it had been that way with you?     



Corey Mesler 
www.coreymesler.wordpress.com 
Memphis, Tennessee 


“My very own bedroom which
looks as cluttered as a madman’s chaos,
which sounds like 60s psych-pop,
which feels like the inside of a dream,
which smells like teen spirit,
but which tastes like Amrita” 


I forget sometimes that what I do is write. 
Sometimes I forget in the middle of writing. 


Tiffany Midge
Moscow, Idaho


“I love to write in coffee shops. There are several in the town I live. They differ by size, seating, coffees, and clientele. One World Café, or as my boyfriend jokingly calls it, First World Café, is distinguished by echoes, high wooden beams, a loft, and a concrete floor. Sunlight floods and warms the seating pushed up against the windows, and if you want a darker area in which to brood, there’s couches and tables near the back of the shop, far away from sunlight, far away from the distracting views of the bustling foot traffic.
Café Artista will remind you of your grandmother’s house. Pulling up a wooden chair to an antique oak table, scones and biscuits baking in a nearby oven, chandeliers overhead catching prisms in the light. There is a giant glass water dispenser filled with strawberries or cucumbers for the thirsty—complimentary bliss, cold and aromatic. 
Bucers has a smoke room where the heady scents of cigars waft through the double glass doors; where micro brews are sold alongside gourmet espresso, teas, along with a chicken pot pie to die for. There’s a twenty-foot wooden table in the main room and patrons nest around it like boarders in a rooming house, intent on their laptop computers, and books.”

Think of it as a shawl dance, think of smoke.
Think of sweetgrass and rain. Count your toes, sing ten little Indians.


Gloria Mindock
Somerville, Massachussetts


“I write mostly in the Cervena Barva Press studio, which is in the basement of the Arts for the Armory building in Somerville, MA. The building has numerous studios and events happening.
Across from my studio, is a dance studio and next door is a sheet music store where they give music lessons. Upstairs, right above my studio is a performance hall where there are concerts and various events. I constantly hear music from all the different events. Early afternoons, it is quiet. I love that my studio is surrounded by activity and artists of all genres.
The studio has two brick walls and a cement floor painted blue. I hung white lights on the brick walls to make it cozy for when I hold readings and events in my space. It also serves as a bookstore, The Lost Bookshelf, so I am surrounded by books. There are more books than the picture provides here.
I write on blank white loose paper or blank writing books. I love the touch of the paper and the ink pen I use all the time. There is a small refrigerator where I keep drinks and some snacks. I also have a coffee pot and love the smell of the coffee brewing. The caffeine is great to the taste while writing. It is the best!”


Darkness covers my eyes.
I play hide and seek with black shadows, light.

(--from a poem called “End.”)

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
Web: tonguetiedwoman.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Jeanetta-Calhoun-Mish- 63791258407/ 

Albuquerque, New Mexico



      “My sacred space is a light-filled room ensconced in the foothills of Sandia Mountain. 
     I am surrounded by books on shelves and in project stacks and mementos from around the world. 



     The walls are covered with a thirty-year collection of framed posters and paintings. The ancient, soft perfume of a piñon tree and the earthy-sharp scent of a Russian sage, its glorious lavender-blue bloom-spikes above feathery silver-grey leaves, wafts through windows, accompanied by birdsong: the enthusiastic whistles, burrs, and mimicry of the curved-bill thrasher; the almost frog-like char of the cactus wren; the eerie screams of the zone-tailed hawk, the scratchy coos of palomas, their wings whistling as they fly by. 



At night, the hoots of a great horned owl haunt the sky. The mountain is ever-present, sometimes red with alpenglow, sometimes white with snow. 



I read poetry cradled by the velvety, garnet arms
of my mother’s Queen Anne chair; I imagine that, seven years
after her death, I can still smell her Opium perfume.”




.................. We return
to the uphill trail, following scent of 

yarrow and yammering of jays. 

(from “Arroyo Piño”, published in What I Learned at the War (West End Press, 2016).)


Thylias Moss
Ypsilanti Township, Michigan


“My sacred space in writng is my deck; I get to feel atmosphere flowing through me; a conduit for the world that touches me as I sit out there.  Love taste of air, feel of  air creeping along my skin... Sound of air cracking the icy barrier of my skin, flesh that begins to walk as if all insects inside it find life, spring striders with many legs and as colorful as I feel.”

I find myself in a precarious position
listening to January (though it's now April)
Fool's Day and still I persist in loving

being taken advantage of by lengthening hair of day
out here in this ongoing dance of with tetraquarks

not even real just some  water in the pond moving in crinkles
cut with enormous pinking shears of wind, those tetraquarks

replacing my eyes: I see their invisibility
melting through me: millions of hugs



David Mura
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Once a white boy fell in love with my aunt.
Slipped to the camps she never saw him again.

(from "My Son in Ninth Grade")



Eric Nelson
Asheville, NC.


“I do most of my writing in my small home office—a 10x10 square with dill-colored walls.  Soft light from the north-facing window slants across my desk in the mornings, which is mostly when I write.  I live close to downtown Asheville, but the window looks out at the mountains. It’s probably a good thing that I have to stand up to see the mountains, otherwise I would spend way too much time staring at them. 
On the walls beside and behind my desk are bookcases—tall, short, and medium—crammed with books—almost entirely poetry. If I’m not at my desk writing, or standing at the window, I’m sitting in the chair reading, waiting for an image or phrase or subject to jolt me toward writing something of my own.
Dog Jesse (and his earthy doggie aroma), is often stretched out on the area rug in the middle of the room, sleeping soundly, sometimes yipping his way through a dream of chasing squirrels in the nearby woods where we walk three times a day.
My desk is a mess. Surrounding my computer monitor: scattered pens and pencils on the desk top, more pens and pencils in cups, an old blue chamber pot where I stash bills, scratch paper filled with to-do lists, drafts of poems, my bottomless coffee cup (black Café Bustelo, please), a framed photo of my son and daughter, a buried-beneath-paper printer, a stapler and a desk lamp. A mess, yes, but I know exactly where everything is. The only time I lose something is when I attempt to organize my desk. 
I don’t know that I would call my office a sacred space—it looks and feels pretty workaday ordinary to me. But it’s where I spend a lot of time going through rituals—of writing and reading and looking out the window. And when I’m in this space, time disappears, which is a kind of transcendence. And even though I’m often filled with doubt about my writing, I have put all my faith in the power of words, so in that sense, my little box of a room is sacred space for sure.”  


All day and night snow fell and rose—over a foot and still
Coming down and building up—a vast, silent occurrence.


Leslea Newman
Twitter: @lesleanewman
Holyoke, Massachusetts 


“Any space I write in becomes sacred space. I write in many places: at home, on buses, trains, planes, in my studio (outside my home) in hotel rooms, in coffee shops. In my studio (pictured) I smell and taste hazelnut coffee, I hear blissful silence, I feel held in the soft plush arms of the chair, and I see the patient, expectant, non-judgmental blank page of the notebook on my lap before me.”



PRAYER
Go gentle, Mother, into that good night,
Embrace, embrace the dying of the light
(“Prayer” copyright © 2015 by Lesléa Newman from I CARRY MY MOTHER (Headmistress Press,2015). Used by permission of the author.)




Alice Osborn 

https://www.facebook.com/AliceOsborn Twitter: @alice_osborn 


Raleigh, North Carolina 


     “My sacred place is the Café Carolina in Cameron Village—in between meal times you hear light chatter and music—it’s wonderful white noise, but during the breakfast and lunch hours, you will be awarded with “Janie, your lunch is ready.” “Mike, please come to the counter,” for over an hour or so. I also love to eavesdrop on conversations with realtors, insurance agents, moms and retirees. It’s a constant source of stimulation and ideas. I can taste the lightly salted chips I just finished and feel their grease I wiped on my laptop’s keyboard. I’ll need to alcohol that mess when I get home. If I’m in the back of the Café, I will sometimes smell bleach by the bathrooms, but if I’m in the front by the sun- drenched windows, I smell sweet potato biscuits (the featured item), crisply toasted paninis and dark roasted coffee.  Last of all, I see a warm inviting place with booths, semi-hard chairs, friendly staff, colorful abstract art and only a few outlets along the back booth wall and sun- drenched windows.”


Time is a flat orbit,

so give me new expectations.

(from “Plutonic Theory”)
 
Molly Ouellette
Twitter. @mollymollyoh
Billings, Montana


“I write everywhere honestly. I am 22 and I am a very unconventional poet. Most of my poetry is written in the “Notes” section of my iPhone and I find myself most inspired when I am outside. I am lucky enough to live in a place where I am constantly surrounded by beauty, so I find myself writing poetry all the time and I always have my phone with me. Occasionally, I have a Moleskine notebook with me to record poetry, but that happens infrequently. I do poetry slams and I generally read my “phone poetry” anyway, so people are starting to recognize that as something that I do that is relatively unique to me.” 


Guys, we are alive and we are on top of a super volcano right now
A year does remarkable things to a person

(--from "You ever forget you're alive")



Cheryl Pallant
Richmond Virginia



“Sacred space: My writing room faces the street. I have a choice for where to sit: two black chairs and a gray couch. They position my body at a forward or a relaxed angle and provide views of various wall hangings or a glimpse out the window. Colors surround me in utilitarian items like a red pen holder and gifts like an orange lacquer egg from Korea and creamsicle wall paint. My room is large enough for me to do yoga and dance which are among several practices that support my writing.”


She walks across grass and down the corridor, struts in rhythmic balance in ethereal laugh,
a restorative planetary sigh. Unlike a convulsion. Unlike hate locking doors in trigger unhappiness.

(Above lines are from “Let Pretense Go,” a recent publication in Bourgeononline,  



Richard Peabody
Arlington, Virginia



“My two-room basement office is a bookish refuge about 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house. A couple of windows that prism daylight and soften the rows of books into a hallucinatory wallpaper, which reeks of fish tanks. The only sounds the drone of washing machine, dryer, heater/ac, or the constant drumming of the sump pump expelling water through 40’ of plastic pipe, out through the brick of the house, the clicking of the MacBook keys, and internet tunes. My small haven where oranges and coffee balance on my tongue.”


Poe’s allegory on the inevitability of death
lost in a tsunami of Disney costumes and sugar.



Seth Pennington
sethpennington.tumblr.com
Little Rock, Arkansas 


“I write in two different chairs, two different rooms. Mornings I’m off the bedroom, in a small nook filled with sunrise and coffee. My dogs outside wrestle, devastate iris and rosemary. There are portraits of them my husband and I found on a recent trip to Austin. This chair is a flea market find, a replica of my Grandma Price’s from her old dining set. White vinyl with gold and two severe slashes in the cushion. It is armless and holds me while I play poems into songs and my feet and legs twist and dance to the music on their own accord.
After work, in the living room in the chair that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. Brown wood frame, blue-striped cushion, severe blue ink stain. The dogs sleep at my feet under the table that was also his grandmother’s. I’m listening to music he doesn’t care for before he gets home, except I forget to turn it down or off when he does get here. I heat up left-over coffee. The three cats all huddle and purr, and the asthmatic one named after a drag queen wheezes and snores. I write in black ink now. Read with red ink. I type everything up because more often than not, I write things out of sequence, out of memory, so I puzzle the story back into place.”


Outside, the pear is sighing with melt and is less chandelier, more bare than the slush-slicked streets where falling seems as imperative as the dogs’ will to explore what brief arctic left.


Jennifer Perrine
Iowa


“My body is the sacred space in which I write, the place I'm fortunate enough to inhabit at all hours, whenever the words want to come. I suspect the writing happens in the messy viscera, the mysterious spaces that I can't see, can't photograph. So, as a substitute for all that blood and breath and bone within, I offer instead this small patch of skin. There's no good description for this place, except perhaps for the poems themselves.

I do have another space where the words most often meet the page, and this place is made sacred by the fact that I know I'll be leaving it soon, when I move from Iowa to the Pacific Northwest. For the last eight years, this butter-colored room is where I've most often drafted and cursed and read and drafted again. I perch on the tall chair, usually squatting like a gargoyle, a position that seems improbable for the sustained work of writing, but making poems is itself an improbable act, so perhaps its appropriate.

On the desk are various office supplies, a cigar box full of CDs, and some books--and there are more books on shelves behind me, out of frame. That terra cotta pot contains an avocado plant, grown from a pit scaffolded by toothpicks in a cup of water, just like in grade school science classes. I wanted to see if I could grow a tree from a seed, and it turns out I could, but the plant can't survive outside in Iowa winters, so there it sits on my desk. I suspect the experiment was an early hint that I wanted to leave this sacred space for another, one where I could put that tree in the ground, let it thrive.  I come to this space every morning, for the view as much as to write. Just outside the window is a crabapple tree, now coming into its magnificent fuchsia blooms. There's the long ridge of the cedar fence that keeps the backyard from creeping into the front. And beyond all of that are the baseball fields, just starting to wake up at this point in the year.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the pig that flies above my head when I'm sitting in this space. When the voices of doubt get too loud, I send them up to the pig, who carries them away or eats them or laughs at me. (He's a fickle pig, and his habits change depending on the day.) The pig will come with me, with my body, when I seek out the next sacred space.”


Pastoral for Our Uncharted Territories

When we came to this place, I whispered, Here
be dragons,
             but saw in the field only
dragonflies, ancient flitting creatures plucked
from some absinthe dream.
          We walked out, barefoot,
and I could feel the green
        beneath, my skin
stippled by those slender blades, and later,
my knees dyed, stained.
      This is the home we make,
cherries left for birds to suck, small apples
we pocket or let drop and rot.
   Far off,
houses fill the whole horizon, windows
dark, but here I watch
  our sleek black dog glide
over the garden fence, the rabbits flushed
from their burrows, darting across the grass.

This is the spot where you taught me
   birds’ names—
starlings roosting in the hedges, common
grackle whose title belies
       its feathers,
iridescent, its song a creaky hinge.

In winter I note their cupped nests,
empty,
just below where the sun crests, crimson haze
spooled out behind; across the way,
vacant
baseball diamonds, the flagpole stripped, rattling
its rope in the wind.
In that cold sometimes
I forget this grin, this you, tanned, sweat-slick,
tilling earth and clearing weeds.
      I forget
to marvel at our cellar doors, rust-red
handles always raised, as if tugged by ghosts
seeking shelter;
   I welcome them, remind
myself we’re never alone, remember
when we arrived you said,
         nothing stays owned.

("Pastoral for Our Uncharted Territories" from my book, No Confession, No Mass). 



Jawanza Phoenix
Passaic, New Jersey


“The only sacred space or place where I do all my writing is in my head.  I can write anywhere and everywhere.  Whenever and wherever the inspiration hits me, I start writing.  It could be on the side of the road after I pull my car over in a fit of inspiration, in the middle of the night after I am shaken awake by a burning idea, on an airplane, in a bathroom, on a beach, in the woods or on a mountaintop.” 

Yesterday, I saw green trees smiling
and I smiled back. 

Jawanza Phoenix is the author of two collections of poems: The Intersection of Beauty and Crime and I Need an Assignment.  Both are available on amazon.com.



Wang Ping
Professor of English Macalester College
St. Paul, Minnessotta



“Rivers and mountains and my kitchen and study surrounded by water, air, food, books.”


Syntax

She walks to a table
She walk to table

She is walking to a table
She walk to table now

What difference does it make
What difference it make

In Nature, no completeness
No sentence really complete thought

Language, like woman
Look best when free, undressed


Bethany Pope
Bethanywpope.com
Swindonian, England



“My sacred space is in the crux of the willow tree that grows a few metres from my flat. We live in the centre of a city, but just outside our door there is this small circle of quiet where birds nest; it's a very small park, but it's as perfect as a jewel. The willow hangs above a small pond where there are usually frogs and a few ducks. On the other side of the park, there is a Norman church where my husband's great-grandparents are buried. When I'm sitting in the highest branches of the tree I can hear the church bells ringing and, if the carillon is silent, the sound of the wind gathered in the branches soothes me like a hand running through my hair. It's a good place to pray, a good place to think, and I am strong enough, there, to face my demons. The poetry that I write there is formally complex and terribly dark. Double-acrostic sonnets exploring my abandonment and the psychology of various people that I've met (including my rapist) are prevelant. But the point of writing in a safe place is not to master easy subjects, it's to tackle difficulty from a position of strength. I am grateful to have such a place within a few brief steps.”

our family had a knack for forging masks to
quiet our voices and silence our hearts.



Connie Post
San Francisco Bay Area 


“My Sacred space is the den in my house.  This is where I do most of my writing. I put on music or simply listen to the dogs breathe. I like the way the window in front of me faces the front yard. It is quiet and there are several trees and the cobble stone driveway. I often have an ice coffee with me or something else that is soothing.”

look for the deliberate indentations,
in spite of the stolen light

Connie Post served as the first Poet Laureate of Livermore, California from 2005 - 2009. Her work has appeared in The Big Muddy, Calyx, Cold Mountain Review, Crab Creek Review, Comstock Review, The Pedestal Magazine,  Slipstream, Spoon River Poetry Review and The Valparaiso Poetry Review  Her awards include the Dirty Napkin Cover Prize, The Caesura Poetry Award and the Montclair Poetry Contest. Her chapbook “And When the Sun Drops” was the 2012 Fall Aurorean’s Editors Choice Award. Her work has received praise from Al Young, Ursula LeGuin and Ellen Bass.  She has been short listed for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize, The Muriel Craft Bailey awards (Comstock Review) Lois Cranston Memorial Awards (Calyx), Blood Root Literary Magazine and the Gary Gildner Award (I 70 Review).  Her first full length book “Floodwater” was released by Glass Lyre Press in 2014 and won the Lyrebird award.

Dr. Diana Raab Ph.D.
Diana Raab Ph.D.
diana@dianaraab.com
www.dianaraab.com
Twitter @dianaraab
Instagram @dianaraab
https://www.facebook.com/DianaRaab.Author

Blogs:
Psychology Today 

Santa Barbara, California



       “Currently, my sacred space is a wonderful, open 650 square foot studio with high beamed ceilings of cedar wood.  There is plenty of natural light if I choose and French doors that open to a luscious, green garden.  At my desk, sits a Buddha statue holding a stone with the word, “Serenity.”  Right beside are two hand book holding my “Writer’s Thesaurus.”  I also have a hazelnut coffee candle which is lit often, bringing in a lively, sweet fragrance, plus the coffee scent is said to increase concentration!  Close and in-view of my desk is my collection of antique typewriters, which was inspired by grandmother teaching me how to type many years ago.  I sometimes listen to spiritual music when writing, but when in the mood for lyrics, I listen to Leonard Cohen.  Outside my studio is a writing table nestled in the trees, I find by changing my writing space I am offered a different perspective and renewed sense of inspiration!”



empty coffee-imbued mugs, a dimly lit purple lamp, dusty
antique typewriters, a purple orchid crowded by a crooked
pile of books laden with stickers.  



Dean Rader 
@deanrader
San Francisco, California


“I have two spaces I think of as sacred or at least nominally sacred—one is institutional and one is private. One is the law library at the University of San Francisco. No one knows me there. It’s quiet, and the atmosphere promotes concentration and focus. The library smells like books and law student desperation, which is a good motivator. The east wall is all windows, so the views are gorgeous. There are also comfortable chairs.
But, the more common place I write is what we refer to, almost jokingly, as my office, which is located downstairs in our house in San Francisco. That room can smell like anything ranging from my 7 year old’s stinky socks to the grass outside to coffee. I get to see green when I look to my left and many of my favorite books when I look to my right. I love listening to the birds who flock to our yard, and I like hearing the cars and pedestrians as they go by out front. One reason I enjoy working in this space is that it is both homey and industrial. We have exposed beams and hardwood floors. My chair is an ergonomic chair suitable for someone tall, which I am. It is the most comfortable place in the house—and the quietist.”



Give me the flash drive of your tongue:
I want to save everything.

(from “American Self-Portrait” in Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry) (forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press)



Gary Rainford
facebook.com/gary.rainford.3
Swan’s Island, Maine


“My sacred place is a state of mind, an internal calm, a peace within that I did not know before moving to Swan’s Island, six miles off the northeast coast of Maine.  It took living here several years—digging toes into the seaweed tinged, sand beaches; lugging stones from the grey granite quarry pond, quiet as a thought; giving up trying to memorize the ferry schedule; volunteering; and renovating a 200+ year old sprawling island cape--before this wild, maverick place adopted me.  As a state of mind, this island, like the brackish tides and punishing, salt-howling winds, forms every word I compose.  Many writers dream of that perfect place for writing, a perfect time carved out during a short residency or summer break, but I’ve been blessed with Here, eighty square-miles of Here, of which twelve square-miles is land and sixty-eight square-miles is saltwater-blood in my veins, a state of being, a remote Island life written down.”

 
The Captain Henry Lee, our ferry, grinds to a stop
in the ferry-slip, a moment of bliss.  And groceries



Katie Riegel




Memphis, Tennessee




“First of all, any space or place that is sacred to me would be outside, and I can’t write outside. I find the light, the wind, the smells, the sounds, too distracting. Probably my most sacred place right now is the north side of my sister’s house in Pesotum, Illinois, where I have spent a great deal of time meditating. It’s unmowed, so the seed-heads of prairie grass brush my cheeks when I’m sitting down, even on a chair. Behind me, horses wander in the pasture, their tails swishing away flies. Huge apple trees shade me, and huge flat fields of corn and soybeans leave lot of room for the sky to the west. 
Unfortunately, I don’t live at my sister’s, and in the winter, this place is too cold for meditating anyway. So the place where I write is at home, in a chair my friends gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago. It’s super comfortable, supporting my back just right, and printed with colorful splotchy flowers on green stems, and whenever I sit in it, I think of them—beloved close friends, writers, who came over to my apartment when I lived alone and played games every week.” 
Once the smooth fur of the dark
might open to teeth.

Jonathan Kevin Rice
Charlotte, North Carolina


“I used to do most of my writing in coffee shops and art museums, but I find more that I take notes at those places and elsewhere and do most of my writing at home.
        From my desk I can see my guitar in a corner, art on the walls & books stacked around me. When I’m working, I like the quiet so I can hear birds and wind chimes outside my window during the day. Sometimes in the evening I can work while listening to a little jazz or classical music. I’m usually at the desk with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, so the tastes and aromas of coffee or wine are almost always wafting through and around me. I am not a fast or heavy typist, so as I work I lightly type the computer keyboard as if I am quietly playing a piano, or I am grasping a favorite pen while writing or marking up a poem in the revision process.



She tosses her kite into the wind that skips
off the crests of waves unfurling upon the shore.

(--“Girl Flying a Kite” from Rice’s latest collection Killing Time.)


Joseph Ross
www.JosephRoss.net
Silver Spring, Maryland and Washington D.C.

I do most of my writing on my laptop. I usually just have it on my desk but I often take it other places. I write often, during the spring and summer, in Rock Creek Park, a huge urban park in Washington, D.C. where I live. It's quiet there, though it's in the middle of the city. It's forested, filled with birds, so the sounds are beautiful. During the spring and summer, it's wildly green but I like it in the winter too. It's bare in the winter. The shades of grey and brown have their own beauty, at least to me.
When I write at home, I often play music in the background-- either John Coltrane or Bach's "Suite for Solo Cello." Somehow instrumental music, without words, helps me write.”

Ross wrote much his second book, Gospel of Dust, at that table in Rock Creek. 



If Mamie Till was the mother
of God

one of the ten commandments
would forbid whistling.

(--from "If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God")


Kayla Sargeson
Facebook: Kayla Sargeson
Instagram: xxaskraylaxx
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 


“My sacred space is the house I rent in the South Side of Pittsburgh. It used to be a barber shop, so the layout is a little weird: it has three rooms, one bathroom, and a loft. I sleep in the loft, so I use what is supposed to be the bedroom as a dressing area. The space is so sacred to me I don’t really let people inside, except for a few friends and lovers.
I live alone, so I make the rules: I smoke inside, so the house always smells a little bar-y. I burin incense, though, and right now I’m hooked on the coconut incense I get from the punk store up the street. My house (also known as the Cottage Deluxe) is covered in art, knick knacks, books, and make-up. I used to have a lover who’d fiddle with these stuffed dogs I keep on the bookshelf. Another lover used to say my house has menopause because it’s either too hot or too cold.
When I’m working, the house is silent. Otherwise, the TV is always on, with Law & Order SVU as background noise.  I guess you can’t really taste a home, but I’ll try: I don’t cook, so I don’t keep food in the house other than snacks. I do drink a lot of coffee, so I’ll make some of that for you. My dad brought me up a case of expired ginger ale, so that’s in the fridge.”

 “I liked the flame, watched it burn my skull painting
until I had to put it out.”

(from the poem “Frying Pierogies on a Monday Night” featured in the collection First Red, forthcoming, Main Street Rag)




Mary Harwell Sayler
Lake Como, Florida


“My office in our rural home no longer has the fragrance of its knotty pine paneling, but the wrap-around windows on three sides of my writing space look out onto clusters of pines and oaks with a glimpse of our small lake and a choir of birdsong from the woods and water. On the fourth wall, tiers of bookshelves open mid-way in the desktop spot for my computer.”



When you see stars, catch them.
Put them in vintage bottles of sparkling wine.

(from the poem “Post Script to a Weary Egg-Head” in my book Living in the Nature Poem)

Why did I think my God would love me less than you?
He had me at hello. He held me when your arms tired.

(two lines from the poem, “re: pair,” in my book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden)


Larissa Shmailo
New York, New York 

“Near my bookshelf with red and embossed reference books, with the smell of iced coffee and lemon Pellegrino, with the shoom of muffled street noise from the quiet of a back Manhattan apartment, on my computer with keys that resist the touch just enough to register my thought for the  next #graph.”




My husband lost his shirt at cards; insolvent, he then drowned
slick Cancun on our honeymoon; years now, it still astounds  


Claudia Serea
My contact information:
Blog: http://cserea.tumblr.com/
National Translation Month:
http://nationaltranslationmonth.org/
Collaboration blog: http://twoxism.com/
Rutherford, New Jersey



“My sacred writing space is on the bus. I write, edit, and translate on my commute between NJ and NY on the 190 line of NJ Transit. I like to sit by the window first row in the front so I can see everything far away. Most pleasant rides are the fast ones, flying at high speed on Rt 3 by the Meadowlands or over the Hackensack River and noticing birds, boats, and the beautiful sky. I always have a seat, it's warm in winter and cool in the summer, and never get bored. I made many friends on the bus and without this commute I probably would write a lot less.”


Desperate times call for
great lingerie."

(From my new book "Nothing Important Happened Today" http://broadstonebooks.com/Claudia_Serea_Page.html))




Dr. Ram Sharma
Uttarakhand, India 


“MY sacred space is VASHISHTHA CAVE near Rishikesh , UK .I usually do my meditation near the Holy Ganges and in the cave . This sacred space is full of divine energy to rejuvinate me . I usually go there to feel divine bliss and joy . This sacred space is situated in the state
UTTARAKHAND in INDIA.”

Life is for each and everyone too,
with fullest breaths we are made for giving.


Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
Irvine, California

“My sacred place is to write is anywhere without any distractions, preferably in a sunny, warm corner of my house, or overlooking nature and landscapes. I must have a quite corner, light, and uncluttered environment to write, as I'm sensitive to noise and dust.” 
                     Kalpna's favorite monestary

RIVER OF SONGS

I opened my eyes and found poetry before me.
I turned my back on it to face reality,
ever since I’m transformed into a river of songs!



Jan Steckel
Twitter: @horizontalpoet
Oakland, California 


“I lie flat on my bed with my laptop suspended over me in a contraption my husband Hew made for me out of a hospital table, cotton rope, wire hangers, blue painter’s tape and twisty ties. On the wall above my head hangs a nude painting my friend Deborah Vinograd did of me one birthday. It’s on the cover of my book The Horizontal Poet. My left elbow and both wrists ache, and sometimes some of my fingers go numb and tingly. All my joints crackle and crunch when I stretch. I need four pillows under my knees to keep my left leg from spazzing up. The soles of my feet burn.
       If the window is open, I can hear the rooster crowing in the yard of the Hmong family that lives behind us, cats fighting, mockingbirds scolding the cats, a mourning dove, a hummingbird’s chitter, all the dogs on the street telling me when a stranger approaches, or the faint roar of the freeway like a distant river. If the window is closed: the white noise of the air conditioner or the intermittent revving up of the furnace, the washing machine, the dishwasher, Hew chopping garlic like a jackhammer. I taste sour brash, my last meal, Maalox, Crest or orange Listerine. The cannabis cream I rub into painful parts fills the space around me with the scent of lavender and pot. None of the circumstances matter as long as I can still write.”


Love lights a cigarette.
Cherub cheeks glow in the fag-end’s sparkle.

(from “Carnal Barker,” first appeared in Assaracus: Lady Business)


Francine Sterle
in Cherry, Minnesota on the West Two River.  


“I am rooted to the landscape of northern Minnesota—its lakes and stunted pines, its wildlife and wildflowers.  I am not simply in this landscape but of it so when I sit down to write, this is the world that enters me—its streams and rivers and cattail marshes, its sedge meadows and shrub swamps, its ghostly owls and its grassy fields.  In a single day, I can watch a red-capped woodpecker feed on a seed block I set swinging from an iron pole, listen to a songbird nesting in a saucer of moss, see a deer’s milky tail brighten the underbrush, and walk a path hemmed by hemlock and cedar and boreal spruce.  When I speak of nature, I am also speaking of myself in an attempt not to erase the boundaries between inner and outer but rather to harmonize the conscious and unconscious meanings that flow between the two.”  

“This is the river on which I live and a photo of me against our 115-year-old barn which is in the process of being torn down as we speak.  It started to sag and is considered a fire and collapse hazard.  I love that barn.”


              Against a leaden sky
                      a filigree of leafless branches.

                                    from What Thread? 



Christina Stewart-Nunez
http://christinestewartnunez.com
Brookings, South Dakota 


“In South Dakota, where winter can present itself from October to April, I go where the sun is to write: my home office or my kitchen table, usually the latter. With windows on two sides, I can adjust for the light and warm up as I sip a cup of Earl Grey or chai and get down to writing for the session. Traditionally, the work of women in my family happens in the kitchen; for my mom, it was cooking or sewing; in mine, it’s cooking, writing, organizing, grading, prepping for classes, etc. Our kitchen area is a lovely blend of antique hutches and a modernist tulip table—very conducive to writing.”

On the stone of my body, I drew you
and the ink of the world rolled over us.

(--the first two lines from  “Lithography”)



Mary Imo Stike
Facebook: Mary Imo Stike
Email: marystike327@gmail.com
Scott Depot, West Virginia, US



“My poetry work is informed by what I have come to call “the poetic opening”, a sensual event that allows me access to my creative self.  Today, walking in my space, the surprise slap of cold air on my face took me to imagining the life of a minnow, learning to navigate within the flow of his creek water world.
The dying pungent scent of a neighbor’s yard burn of sticks last night grounded me to the carbon truth of life.  And the sharp newness of just-cut grass left me tasting mint and lime.

The crescendo of sparrow calls and the murmur of doves put me in expectation of the raucous crows.
And the sight of the sky, always the sky, above with no end.
These occurrences are for me the fantastic, they precede the work, are the seeds of my poems.
Writers, as artists, seek to live in this fantastic, in this continual creative opening that sparks their work.
It is my goal as a writer to continually exist in this opening, engaging of all my qualities, being fully attuned to my creativity.”


I always try to swim upstream with him,
into his bigger space of being.


David Sullivan
Santa Cruz, CA



       Up in the redwoods just north of the small, beach-side city of Santa Cruz where I live, lies the Quaker Center, a place for organized retreats or quiet meditation. It nestles into tree-covered hills at the end of long road. I often rent a cabin there for a week so I can walk on the fragrant, piney trails, catch the light piercing the towering trunks, and write. One of my favorite spots is what I call the Holy Forest. From the sawed log benches at its base a steep slope rises up, and thin long fingers of redwoods rise. I often peel a Satsuma I brought, spooling it off in one long, spiraling snake of orange. Then I let the crescents punctuate my mouth and the juices dissolve. I speak poems to the woods while I'm there, and let my iPhone record them, later to be transcribed back in my fire-warmed cabin.”

     Photo credited and attributed to JULES BARIVAN

How light the world becomes when you choose to stop carrying it, let it
carry you. Flooded trail gives, its springy greenery diamonded by dew.


Feodor Swarovskiy
Moscow, Russia
Akhtopol, Bulgaria

                     Feodor is in green in the middle

When the Ice Fields Melt

When the Antarctic ice fields melt
we will be happy
days and days of rain will pass
and the dry bones moisten
gardens will bloom
on the continent of Queen Maud

on the peninsula of Queen Victoria—

white tents whipping on the winds
meadows from sea to sea—

the bird will snatch fish and bread from your hands
everything will be just swell

the dead will awaken
all who were good

except the bad
oh, cities of glass
oh, earth risen from beneath the ice
and along the green coast
walking waddling toward us

just like any emperor

ankle-deep in lukewarm water

the lord and Emperor
 Penguin

—Feodor Swarovskiy (Alex Cigale, translator)



РЫБА
рыбак сидит на берегу
ему не мешают
ни слепни
ни цыгане
ни отдыхающие

рыба выбрасывает себя
посередине реки
и рядом — небольшая зелёная бросается
с берега в прозрачную
коричневую воду

но
внимание на поплавок

для тех кто мал
у кого на шортах написано алоха алоха
у кого порвались вьетнамки
для тех у кого ихтиоз
кто не соображает
с детства

огромная рыба
подходит
к берегу
неожиданно близко

рывок

и потом
за миг до Вечного Царства
пред очи Владыки
когда Он спросит каждого:
что ты сделал?

Димитр
Костадинов

мокрый
довольный
на вытянутых руках
дрожащих от напряжения
принесёт —



Feodor Swarovskiy (1971–) received refugee status in Denmark in 1990. He returned to Moscow in 1997 and continues to work there as a journalist. Author of three books, his poems have appeared in Novyi Mir and, in English translation, in Jacket Magazine, Two Lines, and World Literature Today. In 2011, Svarovsky participated in PEN’s New Voices reading series in NYC through CEC ArtsLink. 



Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Twitter handle @sageekere
Queens, New York, United States 



     “I write almost anywhere. My life dictates that I be able to do this. If I needed a specific space to get my work done, nothing would ever get written. 


     I write in my favorite restaurant where the chocolate cake is decadent and the air is heavy with rose incense and cinnamon. I write to the screeching soundtrack of metal on tracks on the F train.  I write in bed while my two older daughters read books, dance, and argue. Or I write in the dining room where there is a tumble of books and papers and clothes and photography equipment strewn across the floor and the table. I slip my hands around a cup of warm tea and revise, revise, revise, and revise. And when I have a deadline, I can be sure that a flight will help me make it. I’ve written poems, blog pieces, essays, and fiction on airplanes and in airports. Most times on a plane, I am responsible for no one but myself and even then, in the air, the pilot has more responsibility for what happens to me than than I do. In the air, complete surrender. Quiet.  Thoughts come quickly there.” 



tasting unwritten poems, 
salt between thighs 

(From "After The Ansel Adams Exhibit")




tried to mediate her boyfriend’s hands 
stagger his tongue

(from “Unheeled”) 

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (flipped eye).

 
Pam Thompson
poetry.wordpress.com
pamthompsonpoetry.wordpress.com
Leicester, United Kingdom



“I find it difficult to identify one sacred space where I do most of my writing. I don't move have a room of my own as such and I write in many different places. The most sacred space is the mental space of feeling relaxed and receptive to creative ideas. If if I had to choose an actual place I would identify my study, cluttered as it. It is my main workspace and sacred because it is full of books. I gather books as a stockade against the outside world; I can dip in and out of their worlds and take treasures I can find there back into my writing. It's perfume is Peony and Blush Suede from a scented candle. Eye-clutter, certainly those books, I can always reach out and touch one, find words at random, like now, with the football commentary from the TV droning away in the next room, 'Snow arrives and then it leaves', words, snatched by sight from a poem opened at random. The poem asks, 'Does it ring, the world?'  Strong black coffee in the morning or red wine late at night. Lost in a book, or trying my own words in daylight or by candlelight. It looks chaotic. It probably is.” 


the trick to balancing a crown of candles
without spilling wax
Is to rise up and down very slowly

(Lines from 'Diorama' )


Angela Narciso Torres
Glenview, Illinois


       Any space where a poem gets birthed is sacred to me, but when I really need to focus, I go down to our basement, where I’ve carved out a little writing studio from what used to be storage space.  There’s something about descending, getting as close to the earth as possible, that seems to bring me nearer to the source of energy, generativity, and absorption writing a poem requires.  I’m always surprised by the almost-perfect quiet that greets me as soon as I close the door.  The only sounds are water trickling through pipelines when someone runs a faucet upstairs, or an occasional groan from the furnace, sounds that have grown strangely soothing to me.  In Jungian psychology, going underground suggests diving into the unconscious – that place of dreams, of symbols, and consequently, of metaphor.  The lines from Yeats’s, The Circus Animals’ Desertion come to mind: 

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

       Compared to the rest of the house, my basement writing room is very spare.  The walls are painted a pale sky blue.  This makes for an open, airy feeling, which compensates for the fact that there is only one window well.  Beside it, I’ve placed a secretary desk I bought at a garage sale from a retired, and apparently well-loved, history teacher.  The fold-out desk has just enough room for my laptop, a notebook, a cup of tea, and a lavender candle, the lighting of which begins my writing ritual.
       Almost every other room in the house is lined with books – on shelves, stacked against walls, or piled on tables.  But not here.  Here I have vowed not to take any books.  I plunge into the blackness as one plunges into a cold pool, alone with my naked words, my questions, my unknowing, my unvoiced thoughts.  It takes courage to face the blank page, but this womblike space makes it seem possible.  Surrounded by talismans, my little genii – a lifelong collection of miniature owls, seashells, and other oddities shelved in a printers’ letter box;  a grouping of postcards from favourite people and places, and framed pictures of two beloved dogs – I seldom feel alone.
       There’s also this painting by my son that hangs above the well-worn two-seater couch.  It’s a portrait of me writing at my desk late at night which he entitled, Mother at Work.  The fact that he considers writing my work means the world to me.



When I returned from Manila, the peonies I’d left
in half-blossom were stunted by summer storms.
A bud that will not bloom is called a bullet.

(Excerpt from “What I Learned This Week,” a poem I wrote about my mother who is currently struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease.)  (Printed in Spoon River Poetry Review, Winter 2015.)


Jonathan Travelstead
https://www.facebook.com/writerjonathantravelstead/?ref=hl
Carbondale, Illinois


“My sacred place is my tiny, 6' x 10' dayroom-slash-office. I have a rocker there with a floating desk I built as an end table, & am surrounded by windows on two walls. Admittedly, to get any writing done the bottom halves of the windows have to have the blinds drawn. When I sit there I can smell the natural naphtha of the cedar walls, & the sounds of birds come through, muffled, which is how I prefer it.”


Knowing then that sometimes the only kindness left to give is in suffering yourself, I wept as beneath my sneaker's heel I crushed the cardinal' skull, and its life like a puffball gasped into the air.

(From "Mercy, Like a Muscle", forthcoming in Quiddity)


Jacqueline Trimble
Montgomery, Alabama


“Most often I write at a desk in my guest bedroom.  (Though I often compose in my head in the car.)  The chair is hard and uncomfortable, but because the desk is partially hidden behind a door, it feels enclosed and nurturing when I'm sitting there.  The room has daffodil colored walls.  Maybe Wordsworth is there with his spontaneous feelings overflowing. It smells often like whatever is cooking in the kitchen.  And because it's at the front of the house, it sometimes smells like mowed grass and sometimes like magnolia blossoms from the tree right outside the window.  The taste is always. . .?  What does a sacred place taste like? The taste of something delicious like chocolate cake.  Not the dense fudge chocolate, but the milk chocolate cocoa buttercream.  That's the taste of finishing a poem.”


Say Bergman had walked down a landing strip in
Cleveland, would we still remember this,



Pamela Uschuk

pamuschuk@mac.com
Tucson, Arizona


 "Just outside of Tucson city limits, my sacred space is a tiny writing house, where I write poems and prose and visions, where I dream.    It looks over an arroyo where javelinas, bobcats, coyotes and the occasional mountain lion hunt.  Desert with its nations of doves, reptilian-eyed road runners, hummingbirds, vermillion fly catchers, raucous Bendaire's thrashers, rattlesnakes, swift lizards and scorpions inspires me.  Everything in desert is armed for protection.  To live in the desert is to learn alertness, to be aware of each moment as the beginning and the end.
The eucalyptus tree out front shades my house and gives me advice. 

Here are a few lines from the poem, "Meteoric," that I wrote just after I finished my last round of chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer:”
I listen for morning birds. A goldfinch can break
my heart with its song alone, the wheeze
so plaintive, it charms the rain.


Julie Marie Wade,
Hollywood, Florida


“I do much of my composing on the shores of Dania Beach and Hollywood Beach in South Florida. Sometimes I am just trying out new ideas in my head or walking along in conversation with my spouse Angie or my friend John. Other times I am sitting and jotting more purposefully with my notebook in hand.  Raised as I was on the Pacific Coast, I find the seasonal warmth of the Atlantic, the cerulean, shallow tide, and the varieties of sea wrack endlessly surprising and inspiring.   


I live in tourist country now, yet I am not a tourist. I am free to hang back, to blend in, to watch and linger on the outskirts of more frenetic activities.  The sand swallows my feet.  The pelicans graze the surface of the water, their bellies and wings barely touching each wave.  Palm trees are always gently susurrating in the background, but sometimes they shake and wail.  A palm tree in a storm can sound like a woman’s voice.  This surprises me, too.  Coconuts thump or thud, depending on the force of the wind.  Salt laces my skin forming a white lattice and smells almost sweet after an hour in the sun.  My elbows and knees are often decorated with salt as if with doilies.  I probably taste like pretzels.”
   

 
I ask the lifeguard not to hang the purple flag
For jellyfish and sting rays and the floating terror

Imagine if that were your name!

Also answers to: bluebottle, Physalia physalis, man-of-war

(from an elegy written for C.D. Wright on Hollywood Beach in January 2016)


Michael Dylan Welch
Sammamish, Washington

“I've never felt that I've needed a sacred space or place for writing. When a place is special or sacred to me, it's not usually somewhere where I would do any writing, anyway. I carry a notebook with me so I can write whenever that so-called inspiration hits. Or I write at my computer in my home office, or on my laptop if I'm away somewhere, and sometimes I write longhand on notepads in bed. I wouldn't consider any of these places more "sacred" then anywhere else, though. The "space" where I write is really in my head, and thus not readily photographed! Writing isn't mystical, at least not for me. You sit down and write.”

scattered petals . . .
the thud of my books
in the book drop

Monica Wendell
Brooklyn, New York


“I crave different stimuli when writing, and so I end up in lots of different spaces -- my office at work, the subway, the couch, the coffee shop downstairs, the coffee shop down the street... How to describe it? When I write before the sun comes up, my Brooklyn neighborhood feels quiet and dark as velvet. I smell and taste the coffee I made (writing essential)! I listen for ghosts.
I write on the subway because there's no distractions -- no dog begging for attention, no cell phone service or Internet. In the most public place, I feel invisible. The subway screeches and rolls, the conductor announces the next stop and if you see something say something -- say what? See what? I'm already seeing and saying. I look out the dark windows, at the faces of people around me, at my own feet. I smell the damp underground air and taste my own mouth.”


If my child is already dead
this was the dream to tell it


Laura Madeline Wiseman
@DrMadWiseman
Lincoln, Nebraska 



“I write in my home office. It’s warm in the winter and bright with sunlight from two large windows. I keep a kettle in the room to brew tea. The floors have thick, soft carpeted. Somewhere, usually by my fear, my chow-mutt, Echo, sleeps.” 


Our eyes flash with the light of dying city, vengeful love, how the work we have yet to do is unknown. We say as we reach the shore, Apples—apples just sound so good. We climb from the shore to the edge of the plains, carrying what we have between us. There’s no money for food here, no adventure but this.

( Except from “Outside the Plains of Delight” from An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books], 2016)


Amy Wright
awrightawright.com
Nashville, Tennnessee



“In August I bought my first house, which has a sunroom that is a very inspiring writing space. It is quiet enough that I can hear the robins just outside, bright enough to see whatever books I’ve brought in to prompt me, and airy enough to encourage a free-ranging imagination. It’s a very stimulating and multi-textured environment, but the most important aspect of any writing space is that one goes to it daily, developing a practice that is integral to one’s life.
I haven’t been here long enough for a poem, as I've been busy conducting interviews, but I have excerpted a few lines from an essay that seem resonant with the concept of protected space:”

 

We are Appalachian. Privacy and independence are the way we show others we care, by protecting them as best we can and managing what we can alone. This form of respect stems from willingness to lend a hand when someone needs it no questions asked, knowing they would do the same for you and are beyond themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize this particular breed of person is akin to the Blue Ridge two-lined salamander and equally subject to the health of her surrounding habitat.


Sheri Wright
www.scribblingsandsuch.com
Louisville, Kentucky

“My sacred space is wherever I happen to be. For me, poetry isn't tied to any one place or time. It's more a matter of spontanaity.”


if we only think to linger in the air long enough to feel the space of one moment


Don Yorty
donyorty.com/blog
New York, New York



“Well, I like to begin the morning in bed drinking coffee, feeling both sun and pen on my hand, hearing the morning outside—folks going to work, NYC sounds, listening for the right words in my head hopefully so real that readers can see, smell, feel, hear and taste them. I also like to walk and write in different parks in the city, walk and write in the mountains in Pennsylvania, and wherever I happen to be traveling.”


No one answers the question
what is it like to be dead? Very soon
those we love are and we do follow them
going where love goes though it be the end.




Dana Yost

Forest City, Iowa


“I tend to write in fairly mundane places, but the sacred place that both fuels my writing and is a restful and restorative place for my spirit is Pilot Knob State Park, five miles east of where I live in Forest City, Iowa.

The wonderful trails through the woods, sloping hills and a quartet of small lakes and ponds provide a quietness, and also bring me close to wildlife and flora. There is also a Works Progress Administration stone observation tower atop the knob (which is the second-highest point in Iowa!). From its deck, I can seen 15 to 20 miles in all directions -- the towns, the farmland, and, of course, the open skies of north Iowa. Time slows for me in the park, and it is stirring to come face to face with a doe, neither of us moving for five or ten minutes, to watch turtles sunning themselves, or a heron, gracefully folding like a knife, stand in tall grass at the shore of a pond. It's essential, I think, for writers to let their brains relax and the unconscious do its magic, freeing the ideas and thoughts we otherwise might churn and grind so hard in our minds. This park is a place where I can go and have that happen.”

"whatever deeds define my life,
I know finding this place
is one of the good."

(-last three lines from my poem "The Three Bridges Trail," about one of my favorite trails at Pilot Knob)


Lora Homan Zill
lora@thebluecollarartist.com
Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania 


“What is my sacred space where I do most of my writing?  The art and craft of my poetry begins when I kayak or sail on Pymatuning Lake in NW Pennsylvania or camp along its shoreline. Long before I put pen to paper or sit down with my laptop I have immersed my senses in, on, and around the largest lake in Pennsylvania, my favorite spot on earth.
       Here are the sounds, rhythms, and images essential to my work. On windy days I sail my little dinghy into the whitecaps. They slap the boat, spray my sunglasses and soak my hair. Wind creates their driving rhythms, and smart is the sailor who learns to understand and submit to their gifts. After a lusty day the boat grinds to a halt on the sandy beach. I crawl out stiff and sore and stretch my aching muscles. My hair has dried in a disheveled mop. It has been a good day.
       I create my own rhythms when I kayak along the shoreline, a regular forward thrust of the paddle then a pull back, a splash on one side then the other.  I spy the wake of a muskrat heading home or bald eagles gliding or perched in the treetops.  Kingfishers chide me chrrr chrrr and beavers complain with a slap of their tail. Flustered blue herons protest gak gak gak and stretch pencil thin necks to begin their launch. Gangly wings lift them from shore and away. Swamp roses perfume the air.
Camping on the shoreline, I fall asleep and awake to the lake water lapping on the shore. The morning dew soaks the grass and chill air freshens my tent. I build a little fire outside and boil water for tea.  I pull out my journal and write, and write, and write.”


The rain began as a mist, voiceless in the twilight.
The lake kept its glass-face on, grey, closed in.

(from “Vision”)

5 comments:

  1. What a great idea, Christal. Honored to be here. Must have been a huge job collating all these descriptions and photos. Thank for doing it!

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  2. Dear Jan,

    It was a job of passion to collect all of these descriptions ad photos. But it was just collecting you and the other poets shared his/her soul in words and photographs and I am so grateful.

    Thank you
    Chris

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  3. Brava! Thanks for wrangling the poetry cats! I'll share this with my students, colleagues, friends.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the compliment. And I couldn't have done it without you!

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  4. Hi, Ellen Bass - Thanks for sharing such great blog with us. I love your table and the sitting Buddha is so nice on your table. I would like to suggest for a beautiful buddha wall hanging in your room. Please have a look - http://www.fairdecor.com/_blue-buddha-tapestry-buddhist-tapestry-buddha-tapestry-wall-hangings

    ReplyDelete