Monday greetings! I’m back to Kalamazoo after four days road-tripping a swath of Michigan: the Bay area, Greater Lansing, and near the borderlands of “Michiana“. I’m feeling especially grateful for the variety of persons — past and present — who are part of what I do in the creative-healing arts. A special shout-out to collage-workshop participants from last week! Teacher and students, you were wonderful. Plus, it was a bonus visiting my alma mater and former employer Lansing Community College.
For newer readers of Dey of the Phoenix — which launched in April 2008, inspired on winter retreat in the Hiawatha forest– my work is informed by grad studies in community literacy (2000-05), and entering community arts through poetry/ spoken-word in Greater Lansing (since 2006). For some of my “back story”, check out this Capital Gains interview from 2011.
Hard to believe, but it’s been two years now simultaneously branching in Southwest Michigan and tending a heart-root in Lansing. But even stranger to realize that in a few weeks I leave these treasured locales for an artist residency in Peru! With this journey nearing, I’ve been plucking a thread in my development as a writer, artist, and community organizer. “Time traveling” to the end of my grad studies, I spent my first year in Belgium. In becoming a speaker at a peace demonstration organized by the Brussells Tribunal (Feb. 2005), I was the sole presenter in English among a host of figures. This advocacy of non-violence while abroad was consistent with my public action Stateside (since 2002) and in my field among other academics via Rhetoricians for Peace (2003-05).
Linking to the present, I’m excited that working from a community base does not limit creative-healing work to a singular geography. “Cycling” between heart-root of Lansing, home-base of Kalamazoo, and spiritual communities across continents is productive. Such “flows” engage community across and between “borders” — divisions invented by politics as well as sub/cultures. And as an intuitive artist, for me these cycles catalyze what comes next while deepening an understanding of what’s come to pass.
Contemplating this flow of coming home and venturing beyond the familiar, the estuary comes to mind: “a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.” This fertile environment is where freshwater and ocean mix — hence “brackish” waters. This “intertidal zone” is extremely biodiverse, as ocean shifts with the moon’s gravitational pull. A personal inspiration for me is the estuary as transitional space between multiple bodies of water:
“Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments and are subject to both marine influences–such as tides, waves, and the influx of saline water–and riverine influences, such as flows of fresh water and sediment.”
In a way, the estuary strikes me as a water bridge between the “in-land” and “at-sea” flow, as well as the element of water in relationship to the moon. I don’t recall these as explicit connections voiced in the work of Gloria Anzaldúa — inspiration for my small press femestiza — yet the likeness is worth exploring. Her essay “now let us shift” (This Bridge We Call Home 2002) is busting with insight about the work of “in-between”, a healing path guided by wisdom of the body and one’s lived experience.
As I just am beginning to hear the estuary as a spirit of nature, I aspire to listen to the voice while in Peru alongside the powerful Amazon! No, I won’t be able to visit the Amazon estuary — the largest in the world — but I will be especially close to the Cumbaza River near the village of San Roque.
All you “water folks” of the Great Lakes, I would love to see you before I leave for eight weeks to Sachaqa Centro de Arte! This experience is unique in my travels up to now, as I’m connecting with a new arts community. Please save one of these dates — or both! — toward the possibility:
*Fri. 12/5, Kalamazoo @Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative. My Art Hop (free) feature “Standing in the Light, Part II” opens @5pm, including a collective-art activity @7pm. Then join First Friday Poetry ($5) open mic @8:30pm and my feature @9pm.
*Sat. 12/6 Lansing @AA Creative Corridor, ¡Vámonos! / Let’s Go!. Doors open @7:30pm for the Gallery and Market; works are for sale and/or exhibition. Programming begins @8:00pm reuniting me with friends and past co-performers: poet Chey Davis (Collection), writer Claire Vallotton, musical guests the headz — a three-brother band! — and more. The sliding scale of $7/ $15 contributes toward my upcoming artist residency.
A special thanks to Quaker artists Elizabeth Warren (Leezard Design) and Sandra Cade for practical and moral support with the Lansing program on Saturday, December 6! And FYI: besides a send-off for my sustainable-arts-in-the-jungle adventure, it’s also an early birthday-bash; I’ll be turning 4-0 while away on travels. I’m also excited to celebrate seven years of sobriety — walking in the Light, through the Shadows, among loved ones and fellow travelers — at this alcohol-free event.