Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'!
Ostensibly, it was an assignment from my art teacher. Looking back, I think it was the Universe priming my poetic pumps.
We were asked to write a poem in response to an art film of stampeding horses. The film was a torrent of close-ups of wild eyes, mud spraying, masses of jostling backs and heads and colts falling behind, all to a relentless soundtrack of hooves hitting turf and frightened, excited, squeals, neighs, and grunts. It was visceral. Powerful. Dangerous. I remember my heart thundering nearly as loudly as their hooves.
Then, words pounded out of somewhere deep in my core into my hand with the same torrential rhythm of the hoofbeats I’d just witnessed. I had no idea what was happening, but like the colts, I was swept along on those words, watching as they wrote themselves in my notebook.
Afterwards I wasn’t sure if I was excited, ecstatic, or terrified. All of them, I think. I just knew I wanted to do it again. Even though I didn’t have the words to describe it, some part of me knew I’d touched a resonating strand of the sacred. Since then it feels like every poem I write weaves me more closely into communion with Oneness.
Poems are full body/soul experiences for me. They start as a tingling or humming in my muscles, and usually percolate up through my heart until they burble out of my mouth or hands.
Sometimes, though, they get stuck. That’s a bit like verbal heartburn, honestly. Some never make it beyond their initial tingling hum. I sometimes wonder whimsically if my marrow makes poems as it’s making blood cells and if some future x-ray might reveal a few stray stanzas.
I’m truly inspired by my own experiences, both internal and external.
I pass a few crow feathers standing in the grass and noticing that sends me into wondering….
Who were you
Why did you
While the pain of a turbulent childhood etches itself into...
in my bones.
so they don’t
There are so many holes
some of my bones whistle, now.
I’m a bone-flute woman.
I moan when the wind blows.
While there are definitely some poems I’ll never publish, as long as it feels like sharing the poem will help make the world better for people or our beloved planet, nowadays I usually take a deep breath and do it. Though poems like Bone Flute Woman, (excerpt above) where I’m feeling flayed and infinitely vulnerable, can be hard to share publicly.
Before stumbling on the Journey of The Heart Poetry Project, I had very quietly shared a few poems on a personal blog with a tiny readership. Since Catherine accepted my first poem, though, I’ve found a new confidence in my writing and in myself.
With a background in Transformative Learning I’m fascinated by the rhythmic process of moving through life changes, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common themes underpinning the poetry I write is personal evolution.
Poems help me blaze trails through terrain that both explains and expands the essence of who I am.
I use poetry to help me navigate, and to help make sense of the ebbs and flows of a constantly changing life. Staying curious, looking with eyes and a heart willing to be awed, this is what helps me find a poem in everything from a simple feather to complex relationships.
I firmly believe everyone has poetry flowing through them.
Whether it comes out as words, or in colors, yarn, fabric, HTML or other code, theoretical math, cuisine, inventions, or something else, releasing the poetry humming in our bones helps us explain ourselves to ourselves, and helps us introduce ourselves to the world.
Life flows tidally. It seems we’re always navigating incoming or outgoing waves of change. My poetry weaves a sturdy boat for me to ride those waves with my curiosity and confidence as sails, often shouting “huzzah!” into the wind.
Where does your poetry take you?
Tracie Nichols has written poetry since she was 11 years old. While most of her early works are gone (this is probably a good thing) she continues to scribble poems at odd hours about everything from the state of her soul to the sounds of her kitchen. In truth, though, her poetic heart belongs to the deep green places of our wildly, fiercely, sacred, earth. When she isn’t making poetry with words she’s listening to the whispers of the green world, making alchemy with plants and stones and moonlight wildness. Tracie blogs, shares resources and generally nurtures at her website here. Connect with her also on Twitter or Facebook.