I’m participating in The Library Looter and Anniek’s Library Blogtober challenge.
During the week, my days begin very early (6am), for me to prepare for work. I’m currently subbing at a school in Central NJ, but I begin a permanent job next week (yay!).
I go to work, and my phone goes off until 3:30pm!
I get home around 4, then I check email and do some bookish things (read a couple chapters from a current book, book blogging, writing poetry)
During October I’ve been venturing to New York City once a week. One of the good things about subbing is that you can make your own schedule, so I make sure I take one day a week to spend time with books, and explore. The photos above were from a recent trip to Poets House! Of course my schedule will shift next week, but I’ll make sure that I still make time to venture into New York on a regular basis!
My passion for writing and poetry stems from my years in training as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner in iaPOETRY, based in New York City. iaPOETRY (International Academy for Poetry Therapy) is a strong and supportive network of teachers and clinicians founded by Lila Weisberger (now headed by Jill Teague and Geraldine Campbell). I trained as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner from 2004-2011. Since my start in the organization 15 years ago, Lila and her supportive community paved my way in becoming a strong writer and poet. They’ve shared some valuable reading material throughout my journey in Poetry Therapy. These are just some of the books that hold a special place in my heart.
My first conversation with Lila Weisberger was over the phone in early 2004. During that first discussion, she shared with me the value of John Fox’s book for implementing poetry as a creative healing tool. Fox describes many ways to build your words with creativity and expression. There are many exercises in the book that allows people to use everyday items in your home and work setting to express your thoughts.
This book serves as a useful tool for writers/poets who wish to learn new techniques on their craft. Using her own experiences in the writing process, Lamott provides the reader multiple exercises in applying brainstorming and free writing in order to flesh out a first draft for a book and/or a collection of poetry. I appreciated the advice that a draft is a document that can always be edited later. I could greatly relate to the advice in marketing yourself…that the process of marketing is a job in itself. My first collection of poetry (A Blossoming Journey) was through a self-publishing company, and getting your work out there is truly a process you must take on yourself. As overwhelming as it seems, I continue to push along and create. The most important thing to do, first and foremost, is to write!
Many of my poetry therapy colleagues apply Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom in achieving peace and mindfulness, yet I picked up one of his books for the first time 5 years ago. During this time, I lost my job in New York, then my apartment a couple months later (no money=no lease renewal). I moved back to New Jersey with relatives, feeling very frustrated about my life journey at that stage. It was at that point when I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh and took in his valuable advice for the soul. The words in Anger served as a soothing balm for my soul. My hurt feelings didn’t dissipate overnight, yet Thich Nhat Hanh allowed me to breathe, to think about what I really needed to guide my soul to heal.
10 years ago, my mother passed away from heart failure. This was no doubt the darkest moment of my life. Along with my family, my poetry therapy community was there to guide me through this difficult time. While working my way through the grieving process, some dear colleagues recommended that I read Motherless Daughters as a healing tool. This book was just what I needed in that rough time, as Edelman shared story after story of women enduring the heartbreak of losing their mothers. The pain from losing my mother never truly fades, yet reading Motherless Daughters (along with a strong support system) helped me move through this difficult stage in my life.
Still I Rise is part of this memorable poetry collection by Maya Angelou. I first became aware of its powerful message while training in Poetry Therapy. Maya Angelou is a powerful poet and storyteller. She endured so much trauma throughout her life, yet she persevered in sharing her story with an unflinching voice as an African-American woman who created rich tales and poems to empower others. I came across Still I Rise in my studies several years ago, and I loved the strong voice it contains. Angelou’s message comes from triumph in the midst of chaos. Despite slander and hate, Maya Angelou kept moving forward in her life. I turned to Still I Rise last year, since I was going through a very rough period in my life. This particular poem helped me out in life immensely.
There are many more books that I discovered in my studies as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner, but these few were instrumental in my creative growth. Along with the guidance of my wonderful community, these books helped shine a light in my journey as a poet and writer. I will forever be thankful to my iaPOETRY community.
After work on Friday, Andy and I traveled to Frenchtown, NJ so I can take part of First Friday Poetry. I attended this poetry event last month when it at The Book Garden, and it was very memorable. I had the courage to share one of my poems from my blog Poetic Threading, and it was received warmly.
While this month’s poetry event was being held in a space more public to the neighborhood, I was looking forward to gather and meet others who were also into poetry. I didn’t know what to expect, and while that would ordinarily make me very nervous, I was perfectly fine with being at one with everything around me.
The event was at an small art studio, with a DJ playing a eclectic mix of classic rock and 90s hip hop. The outdoor space was filled with several acres of grass to roam freely, a bonfire, and a mulberry tree where some children happily shook branches, eagerly partaking in sweet prizes. When I arrived I didn’t recognize anyone I knew from last month, so I did what any poet would do when surrounded by rich greenery and lovely music: I sat down near the bonfire and wrote a poem!
After about 10 minutes, a couple people from last month arrived at the location. It was decided that it would be a public, open-mic style reading. There was a decent sized crowd to watch the event, and a beautiful sunset served as a lovely backdrop as the poetry reading came to a close. First Friday Poetry will be held at the same location next month, and I’m looking forward to it!
Along with attending the poetry event, I read more of Lisa Grunwald’s ‘Time After Time’. I’m about nearly halfway through the story. It’s such a touch love story, as Joe and Nora learn a bit more about one another as the years pass. The story of Nora’s predicament comes to light near the closing of Part One. I also enjoy to immerse myself in Grand Central Terminal lore, as well as life in NYC during the height of the Great Depression.
Six years ago, Superstorm Sandy ripped through the NY/NJ area. I was living in NYC at the time, and we didn’t think it was going to make a huge impact. Especially after Irene came through the year before, and minimal damage took place. During the day, it was just rain, and we all commented that it was just another storm passing through the area.
And then, Monday night came, followed by a powerful high tide along the coastline. Many areas of the Jersey Shore were battered. Parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island were crippled (There may have been damage in the Bronx as well, but it wasn’t reported widely). Lower Manhattan flooded, and suffered a terrible blackout that lasted for days. The subway system was shut down for at least two days.
I lived in uptown Manhattan at the time, and chose to stay during the storm while my roommate went to Long Island to be with family. I felt that since we weren’t asked to evacuate, we would be fine. That night, as the wind howled and lights flickered, I stayed by my laptop and talked to my college friends online, thankful that I had people to reach out to. The following morning, I was relieved that my power was still on.
Since most of NYC suffered blackouts and severe flooding, many of us were home for the rest of that week. I spent that time maintaining contact with my friends living in NJ, who were also handling blackouts and gas rationing in their neighborhoods. It was such a crazy time for everyone living in Sandy’s aftermath.
I would like to think that it brought people closer. Friends were reaching out to others, offering shelter while their home was out of power. Unfortunately, the situation caused tension with some of my friendships as well. It was truly a learning experience for me, and I saw how people can grow apart and come together through harrowing circumstances. I surely will never forget it.
It’s the weekend before Halloween, but I’m not in the mood to go out anywhere, for once. As much as I enjoy this time of year, there are some things I need to attend to first. So it’s a night of watching the World Series. There’s always Halloween weekend 2019 to look forward to!
There are fun photos on my Timehop app looking back on past Halloween weekend excursions. The 2012 memories were exciting to look back on. That was the year when I shared an apartment in Manhattan, and I went downtown to party with good friends. I came home after 3am that night. It was very memorable.
That was also the weekend before Sandy hit the area. The weeks that followed carries its own special memories.
Today was a day spent in relaxation. Aside from the daily errands, I didn’t push myself to do anything, and I was perfectly okay with that. I enjoyed looking at the photos I took of last night’s show that Andy and I attended in New York City.
It was awesome checking out Imperative Reaction again. I was happy to see them with Andy this time around. Last time they came to the NYC area was six years ago, at the Grammercy Theater. It was around Halloween, and I had a fun time wearing my costume and hanging out with friends. Andy and I weren’t dating at the time, yet we were talking about the upcoming show often. He was supposed to come see Imperative Reaction, but something happened on his end that fell through. So we were both excited to see them again, and see them together. Along with Imperative Reaction, NOIR also performed, and they were also really amazing. They kept both of us moving and singing throughout the night.
This evening, as I was putting laundry away, I glanced out my bedroom window and viewed a beautiful scarlet sunset. I felt like it was a lovely way to end the first weekend of Autumn. I’m very much looking forward to what Autumn 2018 brings.
Autumn is a special time of year. As much as I miss summer, I enjoy the cooler weather. It allows me to wear longer length boots for a few months out of the year. It’s also an exciting time for Halloween season and pumpkins. I’m very much looking forward to going to the local pumpkin patch in a couple weeks.
To begin the Autumn season, Andy and I went to Whippany this afternoon. There was a Ukrainian festival in that area, filled with dance performances and great vendors. I purchased my first Ukrainian-style shirt! I always wanted to buy one, and this year I didn’t want to leave without getting one. I’m very happy with what I found.
In a short while we’re heading to the Imperative Reaction show in New York City. I haven’t seen Imperative Reaction since their last performance in NYC, 6 years ago. I was still living in New York then, and that show took place days before Superstorm Sandy hit the area. That period of time will always be memorable to me, in many ways.
I’m hoping that Autumn will bring many positive moments. This time of year is filled with fun gatherings and gathering with family, and I’m looking forward to many encounters.
I’m so sad about the Village Voice ending publication. When I became a frequent visitor to New York City back in 2001 (and a NYC resident 6 years later), I was excited to grab the Village Voice to read articles on daily city life. Every time I visited Manhattan and passed by those little red boxes, I was curious on what eye-catching story would be featured next.
Although the current owner of the Village Voice is encouraging everyone to view digital archives of this weekly paper, a vibrant piece of New York pop culture is now gone. future generations will never know the joy of picking up a free copy of the Village Voice while wandering around the neighborhood. Each story reflected a piece of the city’s diverse way of living.
It’s very saddening to learn about the demise of the Village Voice. It didn’t have to happen like this. More than ever, we need publications that express free thinking and criticism of local issues, and the Voice was an important outlet in expressing various topics.
Only a couple more days until I share poetry with friends in New York. I’m glad I can come by and be with my community for the weekend. Visiting NYC on a regular basis has not worked out the way I had hoped since moving back to NJ. I miss the moments I had with good friends. I wasn’t able to communicate as much with Johanna while she was still living and working there. While she was still alive. I deeply regret that.
When I visit New York this weekend, I will honor Johanna’s memory while connecting with the group we cherished so dearly. They’ve always been there for me when I needed them the most during my times of need. Now, while looking back on Johanna’s life, we need to be here for each other.
It’s going to get busy with poetry therapy for the next week. Saturday begins ACTIONWEEK, the yearly poetry therapy intensive. My mentor Lila Weisberger used to arrange the schedule, but she passed down the duties to Nessa a couple years ago. Both women have held amazing programs, and I used to attend every workshop, from beginning to end.
Due to me no longer living near NYC, the last four years have been difficult for me to attend the entire week. I’ve only been able to attend one day. My work schedule has made it extremely difficult to take weekdays off during the summer. Fortunately, this year I’ll be able to attend next weekend, both days. It’s such a relief, since I always look forward to ACTIONWEEK every year.
The only thing that’s sad about attending group is that Johanna will not be there with us. I think back to our phone conversations in the past in the weeks leading up to the intensive. We would talk about who we would see, what topics we would cover. Johanna was always someone who gathered so many materials for her workshops, so she would have lots of supplies to share. To not have her confident presence with us will be a bit emotional.
I look forward to attending though, because our poetry therapy is strong, and close knit. We hear each other during times of crisis and joy. It’s time for me to escape life in central NJ and connect with my poetry therapy tribe once again.