spoke to me: Continue reading
Ntozake Shange did the same work of redemption when she created her choreopoem in the San Francisco Bay area: For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Performing her sacred rite in bars, cafes, galleries, women’s studies departments and other spots, this modern-day ritual would eventually emerge on Broadway in 1976 at the Booth Theater produced by Joe Papp. Seven women dressed in rainbow colors shared their stories, their loves, music and some of the grief of black women in a wilderness of human relationships where friends are capable of rape and husbands of murdering their children. Continue reading
When I first arrived in Abiquiu the Pedernal stood out above the other mountains with its imposing triangular shape and flattened top. Initially this mesa fascinated me because Georgia O’Keeffe painted it so often, but after a while, although I liked the Pedernal it became one mountain amongst many others… However, I also knew that the Navajo’s mythical Changing Woman was born on this flat – topped mesa and that story continued to intrigue me.
I wrote this poem, which includes the commentary by the character Curatrix, after visiting Malta in 2013. An extraordinary island nation filled with the most amazing places, archaeological sites and remains of prehistory. To anyone with eyes it is clear that women’s bodies were the basis of the architecture. Unfortunately, the site has been got at by Colin Renfrew and his followers in the Cambridge School. They are in the process of distorting prehistory and pretending that women played no part. The poem is written in two voices. In three lines the speaker is experiencing the site, the silence and stillness of stones. In four lines, Curatrix is challenging the ideas being pushed by the museum’s interpreters and in her commentary Curatrix reflects on the different ways of seeing.
Poet as Initiate: A Rebirth of the Goddess & The Darkmother in Women’s Poetry in the 70’s[i]
(for my mother Rosa)
“She is you, she is me, she is our mother’s murmurings, chantings, hummings all her days”[ii]
Rites of Isis
When I first wrote those lines in the early 1970’s, I hadn’t yet named the process going on within me, nor had I discovered the works of Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, which would link the dark mother to my own Sicilian and Neapolitan heritage, as well as our collective African roots. I had seen my life undergoing major transitions, a divorce, job loss, a descent, as well as explorations into new and submerged territories of learning, a “remembering” of African culture and religion as well as a reconnection to people from Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Continue reading
This morning I hiked up the mountain of St. Baume, through the beautiful, ancient Druid forest, to Mary Magdalene’s cave where she spent the last 30 years of her life as a contemplative. The hike was wonderful, good for my soul to be in such an old forest. The view from the cave was sublime. As was the sheer rock face that rises from where forest meets ancient stone stairs, winding up to the cave entrance.
Poet as Initiate: A Rebirth of the Goddess In Contemporary Women Poets of the Spirit- I
THERE IS SOMETHING wonderful happening. One could call it a reclamation of something lost or forgotten, certainly something distorted and suppressed. It comes by many names: Moon Goddess or Divine Mother, the feminine consciousness and yin spirit. It is the half of divine consciousness omitted in traditional worship of the Father God. SHE is reemerging today as the result of the inner work of a growing number of women artists who, while in search of themselves, amid confusion of masculine and feminine roles in their own time, came upon a larger vision for all time – a mystical feminine revelation. Continue reading
At the base of the inspirations for this seasonal rite as I have scripted it, is Robin Morgan’s poem “The Network of the Imaginary Mother”, and some portions of the script are directly her words. This whole poem had moved me for years, and I had dramatized parts of it in ceremony before, but the particular passage that was now finding a place in the celebration of Samhain is this one:
Drawn from the first by what I would become,
I did not know how simple this secret could be.
The carapace is split, Continue reading
Amazing, I am holed up (as in: a refuge, a cave) for three days in St. Maximin, an ancient little village holding the gothic basilica of Mary Magdalene. Her relics, especially her skull, are on display in the crypt, sheathed in gold, and held by golden angels. The small stone entrance to this crypt is inviting, a quiet place to dwell underground with her mysteries. Horseshoe carvings, all over the walls that go down into the crypt, are inscribed into the stone by pilgrims past.
This cathedral housing her mortal remains is run down, in need of repair. It is like a relic itself, with its crumbling stone facade. But there is the beauty of what is falling down, the ancient feeling of such a place.
In fairy stories a forest is the site of transformation. Unexpected encounters with shadow and benign figures take the protagonist from one state of being to a state of wholeness so a marriage can take place – ultimately giving birth to a golden child. The story of The Handless Maiden is one such story. It is a tale of endurance over a lifetime through repetitions of loss, sacrifice and renewal. Her father is tricked into selling her to the devil for riches and plenty. When the devil comes to take her, her purity of heart throws him across the yard. The devil threatens her father with ruin and tells him to cut off her hands and to not let her bathe. But the girl and the father both cried so many tears that the stumps of her arms were clean and again when the devil tried to seize her, he was thrown across the yard. Continue reading