Today, 20 August, marks a special anniversary for me. One year ago today I started writing poetry again. I didn’t know it would come back again, after a 20-year hiatus. I’d recently been going through a hard divorce, starting my life over, working a low-paying, stressful job, doing every hard thing at once, and feeling drowned in anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.
That night, one year ago, I reconnected with music in a deeply meaningful way. A band I’d followed in my youth, and lost touch with, had just performed in its hometown of Seattle, where I’d gone to college and been introduced to their music, and all the other bands coming up in the early 90s there. I had listened to and enjoyed all the native grunge bands in those days, but Pearl Jam was my favorite. One year ago, they performed a special two-night set they dubbed The Home Shows, designed to raise money to support infrastructure and services for the local homeless community, to help eradicate it. They raised $11 million in two nights. This is a band with both heart and soul!
One year ago, on this night, some clips from those shows just nights before were shown on one of their facebook pages I had recently begun to follow (after a cousin shared a pic of Eddie Vedder with me— HELLO! Why yes, I will be following that page now!). Listening to their live performance of songs from my past woke something in me. They reminded me of earlier days when I was initially moving out on my own and setting forth into a new life, and the excitement and empowerment of that time. Their soulful performance worked its way down into the dark parts of me, where it blew on and fed a flame only flickering and guttering after so much trauma, past and recent. And as the flame began coming back to life, something within me stirred.
As soon as the clips ended, I wrote a poem.
I marveled that I still had the ability to do so after so much time had passed from regular poetry writing. I equally marveled at what I had expressed, that something inside me clearly was struggling to come back up to the surface, to be seen and heard. It was agitated, disturbed, and roused.
The next night, I wrote another poem, and the next night, another again. And I’ve been writing steadily since, with now over 100 poems across several notebooks.
I learned that music is a fuel I cannot deny myself, so have fed on a steady daily diet for the last year. And that need has brought me into an incredible local community of artists and performers, to which I now humbly, proudly, and happily belong. I began attending open mic events to listen and write, but was noticed, and invited to read. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging, and urged me to come back and read more, and so I have been doing so since November. I’m grateful for their making room for me, for appreciating my words, and uplifting my voice, even with their musical accompaniment! I’ve even been fortunate enough to have performed in a few shows with friends.
I’ve also become part of the Jamily, that special group of Pearl Jam fans, and made friends all over the globe, and especially regionally, with whom I have forged close bonds. I got to see my first Eddie Vedder solo performance with an entire group of close-knit fans, including a new PJ bestie, and next month I will be seeing him with fellow fans and besties again!
Music truly heals, and is a medicine best taken daily.
I am so grateful for everything this year has brought me, and for everyone who’s come into my life since then. While I still have some things to figure out in my new life, I have amazing communities behind me, and so much love in my life. I feel hope and optimism for my future, and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring me, and what I will bring to it. Tonight, I am feeling blessed.
To commemorate and celebrate, I want to share that first poem I wrote. PJ fans, keep in mind I hadn’t even known of PJ’s work past the late 90s, so was delighted to learn some of the themes here were actually present in later albums I finally heard, and now love. Music crosses so many boundaries, even time and space!
To the Vancouver Open Mic Family, to the Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Community, and to the Jamily, thank you all for seeing me, hearing me, and valuing me. For those who read me here, thank you for witnessing my unfolding journey back to myself and into the world again through my writing. There will be more to come! Much love!
Thunder under cover
Rage caught in lungs
Lightning shot through veins
Tasting bitter sulfurous sounds
Rumbling, rambling under my breath
Chewing on charcoal, smoking
To the skies
So much lost
So much to gain
Right here, there is a silent storm
Only drums and growls can quell
Beating it out of me
Beating it into me
Beat by beat
Measure by measure
Tearing, rendering, furying
Plunging into fecund soil like heaven’s bolt—
Charging barren land
Stirring electrons into froth
Light eaten by darkness—
What will grow here?
Will it finally scream?
20 aug 2018