Friday, June 26, 2015

The Thrill of Making a Difference: From an Interview With Julie Prentice

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'! 

Today we introduce you to the lovely Julie Prentice, a wife of 42 years and mother to three sons who assists persons with mental health challenges to find their own paths to wellness and recovery.

I had a high school English teacher, Mr. Morse, who began to encourage writing what you were feeling rather than what you thought people would want to hear. I was part of a literary magazine, which published poetry and prose for the high school and families to read. Recently I discovered a few copies and found some lost poetry written during my late teens. Some I remembered and they formed a bridge between my younger self and the one I am today. Others are like another’s writing, no memory of creation still exists, but they were my words then and remain today

Writing about things that cause heartache, but result in the spirit growing and evolving are the easiest for me to write about. Spiritual, mystical and connections to those things attract me. Of course, people I know and things I have experienced cause poems to bubble up from the depths of who knows what?

Soul, spirit, self or the all and unknowable inspire me. Naturally, nature is a great inspiration and I feel a deep connection with plants, animals and the wonderful expressions of life that make up our world.

It is hard to write things that reflect negatively on people I love, though sometimes there is a necessary catharsis that results when old hurts or injustices are explored. Having dealt with demons from the past, they do become less powerful, less damaging and more understandable.

I draw inspiration from words and phrases I hear from others or from inside my own mind (though that might be an illusion). These phrases urge me to put things on paper, and work through me to convey what I think they mean to me, and might mean to others too.

I read poetry, and am inspired by the power of other writer’s words, which often spark a piece.

Everything by Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Rumi and from Khalil Gibran and from Mary Oliver. My first book of poetry/prose that I can remember being in love with was called  ‘The Blue Fairy Book” and had a playful choice of words in children’s poetry. A.A. Milne wrote about characters that became my imaginary friends. First poem I memorized was “Jabberwocky”, an assignment for 4th grade that my teacher rejected as not a real poem, causing me much pain. Fortunately that didn’t stop me from reading more ‘unacceptable’ works. Shel Silverstein, e.e. cummings and Sylvia Plath are others whose words influenced me greatly, with humorous, playful and sorrowful candor. I also worked with a group using ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, a book I would highly recommend.

Other’s words often sink in deeply, replay in my mind. They can bring comfort or a shock of recognition that other people have experienced what I have.

When deciding to share one of my own poems, the main fear that would prevent me fro doing so is the fear that someone will hate it, or be hurt by it, or not accept the spirit in which the poem was written, as fiction not fact. The poems are always my interpretation of the way things happened. Self-doubt is an issue that wars with creative expression inside me constantly. Yet, I gulp down fear and write and share anyway.

To imagine that my message could make a difference for someone else thrills me…sometimes driving the urge to put pen to paper. I have also discovered myself inside the words, a self-awakening that I don’t think would happen without writing. Self-knowledge is powerful, without it we often repeat old patterns without understanding why.

Poetry is a lens through which I examine myself to learn more about the me I was, and the me I am, and the me I might become!

Writing a poem, for me, is very akin to a birth process to bring a poem to paper…and I believe birth is spiritually initiated. No creation exists without creator, and whatever that creator is lives inside me and causes words to spill out.

Writing is a release of what is often pent up inside, crying to get out, but that has no other outlet. 

I love words, playing with words and get great satisfaction when words flow out or sputter onto page, unedited and raw, or are painstakingly crafted, worked and reworked. Poetry has been a loyal friend, to which I can pour out the poison, the glory and struggle of life, and rejoice in the beauty of it. The blank page always listened, often when I couldn’t speak to anyone else.

I took a writing course ‘Writing the Womb’ by Isabel Faith Abbot that led me to the Women’s Spiritual Poetry website and eventually to this project. This group of generous, creative, loving women has rocked me in its cradle of warmth and respect. I have made new friends, ‘virtual’ though they may be, and feel connected to others in a new way. To know that others write because it is a need, not just a want, has been refreshing and validating.

I’ve learned and grown so much in the Journey of the Heart community, and have so much gratitude for my fellow poets.

Also, my deep respect and hats off to Catherine Ghosh and for her tremendous vision to have this group co-create something I feel is extremely valuable and timely: Women, writing about Women, for Women and for the World.

How would I describe myself? Well, I am wife of my life partner (together 42 years) and the mother of three fantastic sons. I have had successful careers in teaching/tutoring children and interpretation in sign language. My current vocation is assisting persons with mental health challenges to find their own paths to wellness and recovery, by working with them and sharing my own recovery journey. 

I enjoy writing, singing, crafting and engaging in a spiritual quest for connection with the universe. I love spending quality time with family and friends and making new ones as I travel through life. You can read my works here or on my blog here. 

Julia W. Prentice: A deeply feeling Cancer, Julia has been writing since her teenage years. She is the mother of three sons, has successful careers in teaching children, interpretation in sign language and assisting persons with mental health challenges to find their own paths to recovery. Living with her love and partner of over forty years has brought contentment and much fulfillment. She writes like she breathes: incessantly, some in ragged gasps, some in whispering sighs, some in mighty shouts. Always she is driven to write. Recently after taking a women’s online writing course she has heard the universe telling her to share her writings. You may find them on her blog "A Shooting Star" here


~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~

~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission -guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Open to Revelation: From an Interview with Tammy T. Stone

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'! 

Today we introduce you to Canadian writer and photographer Tammy T. Stone: a mindful and compassionate explorer of the world and the psyche.

Poetry was one of my earliest forms of writing, along with my very first, fledgling diaries! 

When I a little girl, I became fascinated by how language was not just functional, but beautiful and flexible, and by the ways words were also sounds, and could be placed into combinations that had rhythm and were pleasing to the ear. Also, apparently, when I was a toddler, and my sister was just learning to speak, I was the only one who could understand her, so I’d translate her needs to my parents! I guess I’ve always been in love with words, and communication!

My poetry used to be expressions of the more difficult experiences and emotions I was dealing with at any given time, but lately I’ve also been gravitating toward writing about more ecstatic and exalting experiences, about the wondrousness of life and my growing awareness of my place in it, which is an ongoing process.

I write about everything that passes through my consciousness. It’s one of the key tools I use to understand the world and my experience of it.

So, if I find there’s something I’m not writing about, it’s a clue to me that there’s something going on in my psyche I need to tend to and nurture more. Generally though, writing about all forms of experience is something I embrace. Making some of the poetry public is another story, though!

For inspiration I draw from nature, nature, nature! Nature is where everything lies, where our deepest, most sacred and most profound aspects find their mirror and expression.

I love writing poetry in nature, and I love how much the awe of being in nature seeps under the skin and reignites the passions in so many guises when I cannot be there.

I’m a very expressive person, but I often shy away from sharing my deepest traumas and emotions. I’m often more comfortable listening and being there for others. I can be very fearful when it comes to exposing myself and being vulnerable, even though I so admire this quality and strength in others. More and more, I’m trying to share the poems that I’m most scared to put out there in the world.

I love those moments when you realize that you are not only writing poetry to express or give outlet to your feelings, but to find those magic moments where you fall into the zone, and the writing process is actually helping you awaken to the discoveries of your inner being. What a joy that brings, to be able to self-heal in this way!

Writing poetry is a beautiful spiritual experience in every way!

For me, it’s a sacred act of aligning my best self and best intentions with a deep desire to find the words that will connect with others, so that we can exist in a shared space of communion and hopeful understanding.

Writing poetry is being totally open to revelation moving through the psyche, and my job is to grab hold if it, and translate it to the best of my ability, and to learn from the heart-opening event of sharing through the written word.

Writing poems has been deeply healing for me. When I feel isolated from others and ultimately myself, I turn to this sacred act of writing in order to deepen my connection to the universe.

This has made me feel less alone, or has allowed me to dwell more mindfully in the space of aloneness to see what’s going on there. I can’t imagine my life without writing poetry!

Some of my favorite poets are Allen Ginsberg (Howl), Jack Kerouac (Pomes all Sizes), Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Rilke, E. E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou.

Reading the poems of others has a magical effect one me; one that is so hard to explain! As I read I feel immensely privileged to have this access to someone’s most sacred self.

I feel like I’m crossing the boundaries of space and time and cutting right into the eternal space of the Heart in its infinite forms, and like I’ve been given the gift of emerging from this space to see and experience the day-to-day world differently. It’s so bright and beautiful!

I’ve been lucky enough to have found an online community of writers, as I live in Japan and have fewer opportunities right now to write or publish locally. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I’ve been able to both write (columns, poetry, and so on), and to follow the brilliant writings of others, which led me to first discover Journey of The Heart Poetry Project! I believe many synchronicities led me to this amazing group of people.

I’ve been publishing poems in newspapers and magazines, and also online for a number of years, and I’ve recently published my first poetry collection.

I feel intensely lucky to have found this gorgeous project, and to become a part of this community of writers and poetesses, more so than I can express.

Sharing my poetry on Journey of The Heart has been overwhelmingly bright and positive. There is so much support from Catherine, our fearless and boundlessly creative guide, who brings out so much in all of us, and also from my fellow poetesses. I feel like I’ve found a home that is safe, and that provides such inspiration and support. It makes me want to become a better writer each and every day.

It’s been such a blessing to have the opportunity to become involved with the project both as a writer and as collaborator in putting the book together, under Catherine’s incredibly inspiring leadership. I’ve learned so much about the book-making process, and as a newly published author of a poetry book, it has really deepened my understanding of what it means to put your words into the world in a mindful way. I’m just so profoundly grateful.

I would encourage anyone who feels that poem brewing inside to give it a chance to come into being!

Lastly, in response to how I would describe myself: I try to be a mindful and compassionate explorer of the world and the psyche. In my ideal state, I am under a tree, holding hands with and looking deeply into the eyes and heart of life. I love love love the challenge of being human, of being a woman, of being here on Earth, living this one small, but grand existence. For me, finding expression for this love, and for Love in general, is a huge part of my life mission to be in this world in a way that is of benefit to others, so that we can awaken to joy together. 


Tammy T. Stone is a Canadian writer, photographer and chronicler of life as it passes through us. A wanderer at heart, she’s mesmerized by people, places and all of our wildest dreams; the world is somehow so vast and so small. She feels incredibly lucky to have been able to work, learn and live abroad, writing, photographing and wellness-practicing along the way. She invites you to see her photography here and to connect with her on her writer’s page, Twitter and her blog, There’s No War in World, here. Her first book, “Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again”, published by Prolific Press, is available here. 

~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~

~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Something Money Can’t Buy: From an Interview with Kim Buskala

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'! 

Today we introduce you to the free-spirited Kim Buskala, a mother of two daughters who loves nature and whose heart beats in synch with African drums. 

I first dabbled in poetry a bit, prior to the loss of my mother. After my mother had passed and my father had fallen ill I had many sleepless nights. I started paying attention to words that would come to me at early morning hours and began to write them down. They were poetic, very healing and revealing.

The themes that most effortlessly appear in my poems are those that illuminate our humanness, and the similarities between nature and us.

Nature, conscious music and drawing inspire me to write poetry. Lyricists also provide me with much inspiration when poetic words come through in a song. I know a good song when I hear it and there are so many great song writers/poets who inspire me. To be a lyricist: that is a dream I may follow one day!

The subject that is the hardest for me to write about is inequality and my biggest fear or hesitation when deciding to share a poem with the public is whether or not I will offend someone. To counter this, I often tell myself:

 “If this piece touches my heart, arousing something within me, then it is bound to have that same effect on another, and that is all that matters.” 

This is what helps me overcome that fear. I also recite my poems to myself before I am willing to share them. When I do, I need my poems to make me feel something. I’ve found some of my writing to be so heart wrenching to me that it keeps me from sharing it verbally. Maybe someday, as time heals some of my pain, that will change.

The thing that has amazed me most while writing is that I even have the ability to write poetically, consistently. Words just fall out of me expressing what need to be exposed.  My writing never ceases to amaze me and tells me things I didn’t even know I knew! For this reason I sometimes feel that there is a spiritual element to my poems, as if the words were beautifully arranging themselves, orchestrating a dance of sorts that give meaning to my thoughts.

Reading the poems of others gives me a sense of self, and reminds me that we are not alone: we all feel and we all have feelings.

I first discovered the Journey of the Heart Poetry Project through a suggestion from an acquaintance, who had previously published work with this project. Thank you Carolyn! The first piece I saw published on Journey of the Heart poetry gave me a sense of accomplishment, acceptance and made me feel great to think that someone other than myself enjoyed my writing.

Sharing my poems in this project has been an awesome experience for me! Catherine does a beautiful job of arranging photos that match with the written words giving them even more meaning.

I am so thrilled to be included in this community of wonderful women writers. They all give me permission to share my work.

The positive feedback and all the encouragement I receive from the women in this project makes me want to put more of my thoughts into words and let them be heard.  If I can help others do the same, and see their life’s worth, than I feel I would have accomplished something worth sharing, something money can’t buy: a journey into our hearts.

Kim Buskala: I consider myself a free spirit, I fly by the seat of my pants. I have always known that I was going to be married and raise some awesome kids. That I have done. Married to a most forgiving, funny, loving man for thirty-one years and counting. I have also been privileged to stay home and raise two gorgeous daughters ages twenty-four and sixteen. I love nature and all it has to offer. To travel the seven seas from coast to coast, becoming one with culture is always a dream. Jamaica is my happy place where I feel most accepted and at home with myself and others. Africa is a place my heart longs to be, some day I will return and dance to the beat of their drums.” You may connect with Kim via Facebook here, or e-mail her:

~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~

~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Whispers of the Earth: From an Interview with Sally MacKinnon

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'!  

Today we introduce you to Sally Mackinnon who comes to us from Australia where she nourishes her lifelong love of the ocean; surfing though both the sea, and her own oceanic soul. 

In 2006-07, when working frantically as an environmental activist and consultant, I had a major episode of burnout. I decided to work part time for a while to recover my equilibrium and it was when I slowed down and began sitting on my front verandah drinking tea that I began to hear the whispers of the earth. And so I began writing them down as poetry.

I write about the mountains and the ocean of South East Queensland and Northern NSW in Australia where I live, work and surf. Mother Nature inspires me: the infinite sky…mountains standing like blue truth in the ether…forests and trees and soil and mist…messenger birds who scrawl symbols across the sky…oceanic depths…paddling into the sun and the waves…home…

I never want to sound clichéd or trite to others. So I always let a poem flow first, then I review it many times and let it sit for a while too. Then I come back to it with fresh eyes to check on things and cut away clichés. I also try to feel out poems with my body, heart and soul and try to find the words that speak from these visceral and vast places.

Through writing poetry I can make sense of the world and how to live truthfully and open-heartedly in the world, in this time and space.

Writing poetry is a spiritual process for me because it allows me to hear the earth speak in her quiet, beautiful, outrageously tender whispers…in the act of listening, hearing, translating and writing I have an opportunity to connect my breath and my soul to the earth; to align my pulse to hers and to celebrate Oneness. And in all of that entirely internal, deeply personal process, poetry also becomes a vehicle to share that connection.

Poetry enables me to live vulnerably in the world: To open my heart to everything.

Writing poetry is my authentic voice in the world. It is where I feel most honest and honorable.  I can speak my truth through poetry.

I have so many favorite poems, poets or poetry books! I feel that Rumi is perhaps the greatest poet of all. Hafiz too. Then there are contemporary poets including Mary Oliver, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Heathcote Williams (Whale Nation and Falling for a Dolphin) and Drew Dellinger (Love Letter to the Milky Way).

When I take in the poetry of others, I don’t feel nearly so alone in the way I see and experience life.

 I realize I am a member of the poetic community, which throughout human history has felt the storms and sunshine of life with unusual sensitivity and tenderness.

I first discovered the Journey of the Heart Poetry Project through an extraordinary poem of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s which randomly crossed my path on Facebook. I was moved to my very core and followed it through to find the Journey of the Heart Project. It was such a delight to discover this secret garden of women spiritual poets.

Prior to discovering this project I had shared my poetry a little through collaborative arts projects in my local and regional communities.

But to share some of my poems through the project in an international online community has taken things to a whole new level and connected me to such incredible, creative, caring people. It’s been a completely joyful and validating experience!

For a long, long time I was frantic trying to ‘save the earth’. It was my life’s mission for over half of my life. In the last few years as I deepen my practices of yoga, meditation, surfing and as I continue to write and connect with other women writers and surfers, I am finding my place at last as a sacred ecologist…seeing, hearing, loving, celebrating this broken-open time and place on the blue planet…glimpsing sometimes the connection between the microcosm of me and the macrocosm of Big Spirit and the cosmos through my breath.

After all those years of desperate, grief-driven activism I simply love and infinitely appreciate my second chance as a poet and soul surfer of life. Peace…

Sally MacKinnon: Sally struggles with biographical descriptions and labels for herself these days (apologies!) She lives in a small rainforested mountain community in South East Queensland Australia on a family property with her son, sisters and mother, a flock of chooks and ducks, and a trio of hilarious dogs of varying ages. She is a soul surfer (ha, a label!) with a grand and lifelong love of the ocean, the beach, the sand, the sun, the sky. Her authentic voice emerges through poetry. You may connect with Sally on Facebook here, or e-mail her 


~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~

~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Interview with Jesse James

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'!  

Today we introduce you to 24 year old Jesse James: a Storyteller & Creatrix of many things; an equal blend of mystical, myth & science. The owner of Artemisian Artes and a member/founder of The Creating Conscious Arts Collective, they use their voice to promote holistic wellness and inclusive activism and advocacy for the many causes they care about.

When and how did you first begin writing poetry?

As soon as I could spell, I was writing poetry, and this is no exaggeration. From the time that I was four, even before my writing was legible, I was speaking my poems into existence. When I was really young, my Mom would fill out cards for our family and friends during the holidays and special occasions; she would ask me what she should write. Once my printing was legible enough however, I began to fill out the cards myself.

Which subjects are easiest for you to write poems on?

Anything that touches on raw emotion. The things that others might find hard to dissect and write into being, are the things that spark me to create. I write from my own experience and understanding, and while they are emotionally charged and potent for me, I write about them with ease because the release of it is healing for me; these stories want to come out.

Mental health, sexuality, gender identity, anti-oppression and activism, poverty, suicide, racism, abuse and other forms of violence; these are just a few of the things I make a point of writing about. Because these cracked wide open raw and whole truths, these are what bring me to life; they offer a purpose. These are the things I feel need to be spoken and written about more. Because holding back helps no one and only further feeds the stigma surrounding each.

Which subjects are the hardest for you to write about?

Honestly, I think it’s love. Because too often love written is flouncy and detached from my own experience of it. When I was younger, I think I could relate to love written that way. But now I am more interested in what lays beyond that point of view. It’s hard to write about love that way when you’re in it though; especially with new love. How do you write objectively the reality of something, when what you are experiencing is so surreal?   

What are some of your sources of inspiration in writing poetry?

Communicating with people and with nature. The majority of my most important and personally influential pieces came to me while navigating conversations with others, or, after spending time reconnecting to nature and really listening to what she had to say. Listening is an important tool in learning, without it I could not create and be what I am.

What is your biggest fear or hesitation when deciding to share a poem with the public, and how do you move beyond it?

As someone with anxiety and depression, that constricting state of panic that comes in before sharing any piece publicly is one that I am quite familiar with. I begin to doubt whether it is good enough or interesting enough, or grammatically correct enough for other people to want to read. I question whether what I have written is an accurate enough representation of not only what I am trying to say, but the community it might connect with and the experience itself that I am trying to convey. Finally, I doubt my understanding and place in representing the story. For who am I to speak about the things that I do? And the truth is, these things are not easily overcome. I still struggle with them, but I push myself to publish them anyway. Because letting our voice be heard in our full intention and honest effort, then laying open; listening to what comes back, this is where we are able to learn and grow. So I keep pushing that and stretching myself to open more. Paying attention to that which others have to say. It’s something that has helped immensely, and with each time I begin this process again, it becomes more comfortable for me to exist in that space.

How is writing poetry a spiritual process for you?

Writing is the language of my heart and lungs. I know that sounds whimsical, hyperbolic and to be fair, a bit ridiculous. But it is. It’s how I make communion with my body and spirit. I check in with myself and sort through what I am feeling and experiencing by allowing myself to write. Until I write something out, it has never been fully processed. When I don’t allow myself time for this, these experiences gather and begin to form energetic blocks altering my experience. I am thus firmly rooted and grounded through the extension of my pen or keyboard. Verbal speech does not come nearly as easy to me, and communicating with myself, and beyond that, others, is a process I value greatly. My mind to paper relationship is one that I do my best to support in its growth.

What function or role has writing poems played for you in your life?

Writing has been a life line and community builder for me. If I could not write what I was thinking and feeling I would have suppressed things that needed to come out. I also would not have made the connections that I have and life would be empty without them. For writing has drawn me into a space that holds some of the most purpose driven and inspiring individuals I have ever had the opportunity to connect with. Ones who not only understand the process of being a writer but also, that which goes deeper, too. Through writing I found support, connection, hope, and transparency. A place to be raw and real and completely untamed; where I could come to the page exactly as I am in any given moment. It’s been exactly what I needed and played a variety of supporting roles throughout my life.

What effect does reading the poems of others have on you?

Love. Anger. Sadness. Pain. But mostly love. So often I feel myself completely overwhelmed by the love I feel for the humanity and voice behind the words I am reading. I really feel them in that moment; who they are, what they stand for, what they’ve gone through. This is why sometimes I feel anger, sadness and pain, because words relate those experiences unto others. But I have so much respect for the reflecting and writing of the way they see the world. For the ways they have walked through it, that I can’t help but feel love for who they are beyond their words.

Any suggestions for others who aspire to write?

Honestly, just do it. Put your pen to paper, or fingers to keys, and form words, or sounds, or images. Write until it makes no sense, or maybe, until it does. The only person stopping you from writing is you. There is a lot of fear and doubt and nonsense that we add into the process of writing, but in truth, all that is needed is for you to take that step and decide to write. You may not be good at it at first, or maybe ever, but that’s not the point. The purpose of writing is in the action, not just the delivery and final product. What are you waiting for? I’m sure there are some blank pages waiting to be filled.

Jesse James is an individual of many roles: activist, advocate, writer, creatrix; lover of nature and of people; of adventure, and of raw reality; she is passionate about  life and love itself.  She adores working with herbs in making natural remedies; & concocting up delicious kitchen alchemy is a second nature after breath. She worships the earth, thrives on art, and on forming meaningful connections with others. Their mission is to make that around them more beautiful, or at the very least, to help others see things that already were, in that way."


~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~

~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~