My Etsy shop is fully updated now. With 49 items and new listings coming up every week for the next few weeks. It's been dormant for many months, because I had to do dayjob work and because I could never be sure how to go about selling my work, or what it is I'm selling. And I realise I am not just selling but that I am also telling a story, and every artwork is a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter. A poem is possibly a whole short story in itself. And every bit ties together into the Impossible Garden and the Wildforest.
The poems have returned. And have come back changed in many ways and still changing. I can feel them shift even as I pen the words onto paper. They have made friends with the paintings and both are often whispering to each other now, throwing my sly side glances. At night they run around my bed, urging the shadows of the trees on the walls to stop playing pretend and become themselves. They wait for me to fall asleep so they can slip into my dreams, sometimes coaxing the night mares to allow a gallop over the ocean.
The 100-day project has slept for a month and woke up reformed into the 100-painting project. It is allowed. Because I choose the weight of making good pieces over the count of a contest with time. Here is the 54th piece, with its own poem.
Wild spring tree wove a wind,
It is almost a given now. That a painting will have a poem. That a poem will have a painting. That maybe both can be in a single tangible piece, all tangled up like lovers.
I wait for my sketchbook from the Brooklyn Library to arrive. It is going to be a love letter.
Yesterday was not a good day. Especially towards the afternoon. I was listless, restless, bothered, irritable, exhausted. Mostly I was exhausted. And I wanted to sleep but couldn't sleep. I was agitated, anxious, angry for many reasons.
For a moment I thought about stepping out, with a list of errands, to force the energy of the seemingly irrational mood into something functional. But I stopped myself. I knew I would likely end up spending more money than I should, after the errands were done, too unhappy to care, only wanting to find any means of solace, any hint of solution to the chafing, choking feeling thrumming somewhere in the core of myself. A discomfort like something stuck in the passageways of thought and heart and tongue and hand.
I stayed with it instead. That sharp-edged cloud of sadness wrapped around me, the weight of unnamed sorrows, unacknowledged longings.
This is how it was like. Like staying in a dark room despite the noises that smelled of danger, even when the exit door is ajar and street noises beckon with their oblivion. Like staying still and silent while burning, long enough to realise that the fire was coming from your heart, and that becoming ash and cinder was optional. Like not running away as the hissing and growling approached from the shadows, even when you begin to feel a hot cold breath drip down your spine, to keep your own breathing calm, to keep your eyes open.
In the darkness and the stillness, in the staying instead of going and running away, in the space I have made of woven sighs and simmering discontent, the words started to arrive.
Old words, new words, strange words. Familiar words. Changed words. They were tentative at first, unsure of whether I wished to be helped or rescued, or if I, perhaps, would like to swim back into paint. To avoid words because they peel the truths more finely and sting more exquisitely. Because when the words come even the paintings are made to account for themselves, to not be tricky with meanings but to be clear even in playful obscurity.
So the words came. And when I allowed myself to write them despite my sense of inadequacy and foolishness, I started to feel better. The sharp-edged cloud softened. The heaviness flowed from my core to my hand and into the page.
There have been Things happening beneath the surface but even while I have been painting a lot, my language is more than colours on canvas. I don't know why I have been keeping the words at bay. Or maybe I do know, that naming Things confirms the Thing's existence, and existence require responsibility, presence, attention. Particularly when it is love. Particularly when love itself arrives in a story even more difficult than the ones you've had to tell before. Ever more fantastical. Ever more impossible.
But at least the words got me out of the moods, took me back to the heart of things, the heart of me.
So the poems are coming back, and intentioned writing (no longer the sideways offhand manner I've been doing for many months now, playing it safe and only scratching surfaces). I think it's time for the painting to work with the words, as well as the other way around, with the words working with the painting.
Twitter turned out to be a wonderful space for poems. An open sketchbook for my words. Anonymous and known at the same time, secret and brave.
In case you are new to this blog or have already forgotten, I started an illustrated poetry book in April. It's very work-intensive and somewhat elaborate. Each page is painted and handwritten. My plan was to scan and then layout and then print -- but have it done by professionals because of the colours and textures that I want to keep from original to print, and I have no Photoshop skills, and I know that colour printing is more complex than plain black & white printing.
Here are snapshots of a couple of pages I've finished so far (I've done almost a dozen poems already) :
But as in my previous post, the expected inflow of potential funds from employment did not happen. So I've had to park the elaborate book for a while and do more work on designs and products that I can sell on Etsy and Society6 on the short-term (such as the 100-day project). I've also had to do a full re-plotting of my creative journey in an attempt to make it more sustainable.
But I want to push through with a (self)published book this year. Especially since I've been repeatedly promising it to myself for the past five years. Yet I also don't want to compromise for the sake of simply having something published. Then recently an idea came to me --
-- A chapbook that I can self-print and self-publish. Simpler in the sense that I won't be using my usual wild-coloured palettes but instead I'll be using sumi ink with which I have recently fallen intensely in love with (with inky strings attached to a hundred associated scenes and stories in my head and which led into a series of red-sunned paintings). I may use one to two other colours for accent but the paintings will be mostly of the black petrichor-scented ink.
A few poems may overlap with the original book but I will use mostly recent and new poems. If fortunate, I may even be able to launch it simultaneously with the art exhibit, and thus hit the proverbial two birds with one stone. We'll see. I will certainly try to make it so. I'm thinking maybe a dozen or so printed books -- home-made and hand-stitched. Or I can do it like a boxed set of loose-paged poems that can be kept or given away. Hmmm.
Let me end this post with a poem I will include in the collection. This one was written in early July, and very much tangled up with the seeds of the Red Sun painting series and a new painting series still brewing in the background.
In one of my forays into my recently compiled Life Library, I found this poem. It has not yet been included in my poem collection because it was part of a blog post from a long-dead blog site and the file was saved in my hard drive in html format.
i tap my feet in rhythm with the clock's tiny hands
I have forgotten already what I was thinking about when I wrote this poem, but I suspect it was triggered by a love un-story. Possibly I was going through a period of keeping myself away from falling into another false fairy tale. Possibly I was already on the brink of falling. Reading through it now, I feel that the image of myself as a fence-sitter has been true, for I have been a fence-sitter on my very own life for many years.
I thought that to define myself I only had to have one opinion for every thing. I have heard it said so often that one should always have an answer, and always choose a side. Also, that the sides and answers are by multiple choice — that I could only pick the answers from what were already presented to me. And that changing answers is frowned upon and discouraged (unless it favoured the popular trend where most of everyone stood, or it favoured an unpopular, but "cool", trend). Also, that the questions I answer have to be those put upon me by others.
It took me many years to learn that the answers and the sides can be something new and something else. That the questions can be made open-ended instead of close-ended. That what if is a real option, not just either/or. Also, that the questions I choose to answer can be the questions that I ask myself, and that these questions are more important to my own growth than what others dictate I should answer.
Re-reading the poem I also saw that in some cases there is something to be learned from momentarily doing that balancing act along the fence, a temporary distancing of the self to survey all options. To understand what is at stake, and what really matters to me. See that I say temporary. Because yes, at some point I have to take a stand, make a choice, and hopefully be strong enough to act according to those choices.
Dream-traveler, Cartographer of Missing Worlds, Finder of Ways.
I am a seed of Hope, rising from ashes.
I am the exception to every broken rule.
I am Story Teller, Magic Wielder,
Wanderer and Wonderer.
Collector of Coincidences, Seeker of Serendipities.
I am a lover of Thresholds and Portals,
of Parallel Possibilities, of Diverging Paths (I took the one less traveled by...)
of Long Courtships and Labyrinths.
I have a penchant for patterns,
and distorted circles, dizzying spirals (Fibonacci-flavoured), and of course,
the symmetry of honeycombs (something queenly about it).
I can be lured by ephemera, especially those still carrying
the ghosts of bygone times, and by pretty glittering, shiny,
shimmering Things (but not that which is every girl's best friend -- how utterly...common).
I mean the flash of sun on water, of raindrops and dewdrops and teardrops,
the sparkle of yet unnamed precious stones, scented with earth and liquid fire,
the flicker of stars in the deep pools of night-sky eyes,
the pinpoints of light caught by a grain of sand,
or stardust on the skin beneath a full silver moon,
and of course, that unmistakable aurora of magic, lingering on the edges
of a breath, of words, of fingertips.
I am kindred to both Shadow and Light,
to both Order and Chaos,
dancing along the eternal tightrope of the Golden Mean.
Queen of Marvels,
a universe being born.
I have finally started a sketchbook. Of sorts. Separate from my daily journal which can contain sketches as well as writings and collages and the other variations of manifestations of my thoughts.
My sketchbook is neat, no matter how I tell myself it's okay to mess it up. No matter how I want to mess it up.
I like how it looks though. I like that it looks "serious". That I am more than merely doodling. That I am serious about practicing.
I don't like that it looks like the sketchbook of a frigid rigid person. Of someone holding back. Of someone scared to make mistakes and afraid of taking full leaps. Believe me, I unlock and loosen up at certain phases of the moon and with the right magic words. It has happened before.
But I have to live with the fact that my default is to be orderly. I like my well-defined lines and clean spaces. I was wondering about this the other day (and my current difficulties at attempting a "wilder" execution of my paintings) when a bit of a poem spilled out:
I need my lines.
I need to see the deliberation of
Than merely assuming intentions
From spillovers claiming abstraction.
I want the clarity of shapes and directions,
More than the supposed free and wild almost-pattern
Splashes of colours and nothing in particular,
That could mean anything, possibly
Whatever seems appropriate or trendy at the moment.
I want definitions, rather than guessing games,
That is why my hands are always ink-stained
From writing down the answers to the riddles of a heart,
Charting maps of possibilities for just-in-cases,
Making notes on the margins of my patience.
The One True North has an invisible line,
But a line nonetheless, unerring, always true,
Like a choice, a commitment, despite inevitabilities,
Despite givens. There are no assumptions, but assurance.
I need my lines. Dark and indelible.
Like tattoos on the soul.
(Poem by Marichit Garcia)
I am ripe for falling in love today
I have put down the book I have been reading
Unable to bear the sharp outline of my loneliness
Against a fairy tale going in a direction I have yet to go
In some vague future, a diverging path from the now
That seems to be going only in circles.
A kindness will easily earn a kiss today,
Assuming, of course, that you are
A believer of magic, better yet, if you
Have it in your blood, and your nursery rhymes were
Chanted spells learned from your mother’s lap.
Assuming, of course, that you are
A lover of art, and of poetry, and of books --
The kind that time-travels to what-ifs more than what-was,
The kind that is comfortable with the greys,
And the other awkward colours in between the blacks and whites.
Assuming, of course, that you are
A king of your own kingdom, no, not a prince,
A queenless king ripe for falling in love,
Who has slain enough of his own monsters,
Who has made some level of uneasy peace with his demons.
Go, send forth your knights, your djinns, your ravens,
Send them to find me, I am waiting.
I am missing a shoe, I have been sleeping too long,
The apple’s poison is seeping through my veins,
I cannot find my voice. I am here, cursed in an old woman’s form,
Running after a moving castle.
- Marichit Garcia
I am pleased to share three poem pieces.
I have no valid excuse not to write -- if I can't write my novel then I will write poems. I have every good writing app installed everywhere and I always have my journal and pen case. There is no excuse. My old typewriter is ready and waiting, willing to work even by candlelight. There is no excuse.
Lately I write in bed, after I wake up, my first action is to write something, with my hands and my head still dewy with dreams. When I am about to fall into a nap in the afternoon I carry my tablet, open to a blank page, ready to write a few lines while I settle my tired body into bed, before I slide completely into sleep.
I write my journal -- by pen or by keyboard. There is no excuse. I have more than enough paper, notebooks, nibs, inks, pens in all shades and shimmer. There is no excuse.
There is always time. I know it because I have done it before, claiming time in moody bursts and deadly determination. All I need to do now, really, is to be constant. To be true. To be committed.
Everything builds up, gathers, forms patterns, makes a whole. Then the whole evolves, transforms, transcends.
There is no excuse, especially if I say that I want it so badly.