Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Found My Spiritual Awakening in Poetry by Alise Versella

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

Today,we give you a glimpse into the theme you'll encounter in our new book, courtesy of Alise Versella:  
My spirituality lies in a different kind of verse
You cannot find it in the numbered psalms at Sunday morning church
It lies in wild stanzas, fluttering sparrows, bleeding ink on a blue veined perch…

I have never been a very religious person. Although I am Catholic, I have never found spirituality in the walls of their churches, their songs never made me want to exalt in praise, and I found no comfort in the tissue paper pages of their bibles.

History class had taught me of the wars fought over a god, the blood spilled in his name. There seems to be a hierarchy in being a "good" Christian, as opposed to just being a good person and spiteful eyes are always looking down at those who sin differently than they do.

No, I am not very religious, but I have found spirituality in that open expanse of wild nature, it calls out to the wildness inside of me. 

The soothing salt of the sea, the verdant green and smell of pine, the warmth and cleansing sweat of golden, pulsating sun, the gentle lullaby sung by that man in the moon while I lay awake writing under his light.

And how quickly it can call to arms its forces and ravish me. The roiling sea can wreck the ship of me, the earth can quake beneath my feet and set to fire the roots of my trees, the sun can burn through a false visage and the moon can bleed red into my howling lungs.

There is also the kind of spirituality from songs found in records' dusty grains, hidden tightly in a milk crate. Songs that have made me sing out through my tears: “Gimme, gimme shelter, oh before I fade away,” I've found my saviors in Lennon and the Lizard King, felt pure ecstasy in the voice of Janis and Mr. Fogarty. And I have exalted at the first few chords of that song they say had pleased the lord, Hallelujah.

I have found those same saviors in the fiction books that held my prayers more closely than any bible, Torah, or Koran.  I have written my bleeding heart into their margins, my lonely tears often blurred the ink poked words. Those stories hold more of my faith than any sermon delivered could ever preach.  Because while both proclaim demons exist, only those stories say it is I who has the power to defeat them.

Haven't we all once felt like that heavenly host? Like that rebel angel cast out for wanting too much? Wasn't Eve always hungry for more than just an apple? I am starved for something Catholicism cannot give me. I am only satiated when I am writing.

I found my spiritual awakening in poetry.

I have found my camerado in the open road with Whitman, found salvation in Eliot's Wasteland. I saw the light "burn, burn, burn[ing] like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars" in Big Sur with Kerouac. My soul howled alongside Ginsberg and his "hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night." It is in poetry I have found my connection to this world, this vast yet contradictorily small world.

I have found the power of my own voice. Seen my dreams turned reality in the push of ink into paper flesh.

I have learned to further understand my flesh. The subway lines stitched across my palms; how my lungs cushion a crevice deep and dark, protect the fragile heart locked in its curio cabinet of rib bones woven together like the wicker of a basket.

There is something of the confessional in professing my sins in metaphor and simile proclaiming it in stanzas, setting it free. Within the slant of my lettering I find myself, embrace my darkness and free myself. The waters of poetry baptize me anew and in those waters I am cleansed.  My spirit freed from its crown of thorns, inside a poem I am blessed.

My spirituality lies in wild stanzas, fluttering sparrows, bleeding ink on a blue veined perch and I rise and I fly on long forgotten wings and I soar between the tolling of the bells in the towers of your church and my heart converges with the stars in my eyes and what emerges from my soul is holy.

Alise Versella is a 24 year old poet living in the pinelands of New Jersey. Poetry has always been the ether in her veins and the oxygen she breathes. It is her Five Foot Voice, her Onion Heart, as she peels back the layers of herself like a lotus unfurling its petals in order to grow fully in the waters that can sometimes weigh her down. She writes poetry to find herself and save the world. Her hope it that her poetry saves someone’s world from crumbling. Alise believes art has the power to hold us up when we can’t find the legs to stand. You can visit Alise on her Facebook page here or her website here. Her third volume of poetry, A Few Wild Stanzas, 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!~