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by Christine Celise

 

I’m up at 2 a.m. on the last day of August 2010. I tossed and turned for an hour or so, awakened by my mind racing about life and some things ahead: whether or not I am going back to school, transitioning to a new career, my budget, creating a home for myself, upcoming writing deadlines, starting my business again … I could not resist the desire to get out of bed and be active so here I am tapping on the keys.

 

 

My thoughts also went to a photo I shot of a little girl at the 2009 Folk Festival in DC that radiates happiness so I had to share it. I also revisited a poem that I began a few months back temporarily titled “To Moby’s Whispering Winds”. The poem is very rough and I have no idea if I will ever finish it but it speaks to a time, not so long ago, that life was quite heavy for me and lasting smiles were few and far between. I suppose the poem ties into the randomness of the thoughts that stirred me this early morning.

Everything speaks to change and shifting in my life, from months passed until now, and in the months to come as I determine the look and feel of my new skin. While an exciting time, I realize there will be many nights of lost sleep where I will find myself in this very position – thinking and writing it out.  Mr. Coffee will be my BFF for sure.

Thank you Tidal Basin Review for the opportunity to share myself with your readers for the month of August. It has been a pleasure and unexpected gift.

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by Christine Celise

to Janis Joplin’s “Try”

 

Janis Joplin

 

I’m a rock star! … These were the eloquent words echoing in my head yesterday. It all started with a kind rejection email from an organization I submitted my manuscript to for consideration. [Sidebar: I love that I have a manuscript.]

 

“Thank you for submitting poems for the reading series. Although your manuscript for this program was not selected, the review committee asked that I inform you we enjoyed reading your poems and hope you will submit poems again next year.”

 

I smiled on the inside like the flower child that I can be and was grateful that they enjoyed reading my work, at least. Later I realized that it was very possible the email was merely a canned response.  But that notion came and went, and I continued feeling like a kid at Christmas. The reading series was pretty prestigious so I felt honored to even receive a response.

More than anything I was proud of myself for submitting in the first place. In the end it truly was not about the acceptance or rejection. The point was that I jumped off a ledge; I did it. Isn’t that what life is about, particularly as an artist?

Risk is essential for creatives. We take risks daily when crossing the street, driving, flying, and more. So, why is it such a stretch to take risks when it comes to throwing our thoughts out into the world for others to experience?

I am saving the rejection email, though I am opting to call it a “note of regret” because my work was not rejected, I was not rejected, and my thoughts were not rejected. In my world I’m a Rock Star for even having the cajones to submit…No, better yet, I am a Rock Star for having the AUDACITY to submit.

In fact, I will have the AUDACITY to resubmit next year. And, I will have the AUDACITY to submit more of my work to others for consideration. And, I will celebrate regardless of the outcome because that’s what Rock Stars do – they take a deep breath then JUMP!

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by Christine Celise

 

 
This summer was about more than sunning on the beach or even racing to the nearest BBQ. I really wanted to immerse myself in the craft of writing. I sought out any and every workshop I could find, hungry to smooth some apparent rough edges, discover the not-so-apparent jagged edges, continue to hone my voice and fellowship with peers.

Tara Betts and Derrick Harriell, Aquarius Press Authors, Idlewild Writers Conference, 8/2010

The past couple of years, I have worked on redefining myself as a writer – moving beyond the emotional purging solely for spirit’s sake. I am deliberately weaving myself into that artist that takes the reader on a ride with letters that create words that become lines that write the story.

I have transformed into that person that writes a piece then walks away, and revisits it a dozen or more times before finally saying that I have finished it sufficiently.  The process can be somewhat long and take patience but how sweet it is to hit the end and be in awe of not only the final product, but the commitment in getting there.  

As artists, as people, the path to growth cannot be explored without guidance. I think of it as a shared experience and had the pleasure of sharing space with respected writers these few months, from late spring at the Split this Rock writing workshop to mid-August’s Idlewild Writers Conference in historic Idlewild, Michigan where I had the honor to rub elbows with notables such as Aurora Harris, Detroit educator and poet advocate, and be introduced to Aquarius Press’ newest poet, Derrick Harriell, the author of Cotton.

A list of the workshops I participated in this summer follow:

  • Taking Risks
    hosted by Split this Rock, facilitated by John Murillo
  • Metaphor, (re)vision, and the Ode

hosted by Split this Rock, facilitated by Aracelis Girmay

  • Resistance Poetry
    hosted by The Emergence Community Arts Collective, facilitated by Dominic Moulden of ONE DC
  • Fantastic Voyage: Infusing Rhythm and Music into Writing and Performance
    facilitated by Holly Bass
  • Spiritual Memoir
    hosted by All Souls Church, facilitated by Kimberly Washington and Martha Ertman
  • Idlewild Writers Conference
    hosted by Broadside Press and Aquarius Press, facilitated by various instructors

 

I have pages of notes in my handy notebook and mounds of new connections (FB friends) from my summer of workshopping, including quotes from facilitators and participants that resonated with me … It’s all about the wordz.

Here are some wordz I picked up along the way. We will see what is ahead in the Fall!

–          Trust the language and move towards strangeness. (John Murillo, poet)

–          Creativity is a form of transportation for me and a vehicle I’d like to pass on to others as well. (Christon Bacon, musician)

–          There are clues about ourselves through metaphors. (Aracelis Girmay, poet)

–          I am dark so therefore I hold infinite light. (Sylvia , Emergence Community Arts Collective)

–          Organize out of love for ourselves to create a new world (Resistance Poetry workshop participant)

–          Focus on organizing a world where our humanity and history are respected. (Dominic Moulden, ONE DC)

–          Travel is the most revolutionary thing you can do for yourself. (Lisa Pegram, Taking Risks workshop participant)

–          You have to do what’s truly your spirit. (Christine Rhone, actress/dancer)

–          You have permission to take up time and space and energy. (Holly Bass, poet/performance artist)

–          Spirituality is a very internal experience. (Davina Renee, Spiritual Memoir workshop participant)

–          I taste in my natural appetite. (a reference from Lucille Clifton, poet)

–          …it’s a blessing however you get there. (Kimberly Washington, radio producer/educator)

–          Art should move us to think not tell us what to think. (Quraysh Ali Lansana, poet/educator)

–          Anything that stops you from getting what you want is the devil. (Carolyn AKA Diamond Dancer, performance artist)

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by Christine Celise

 

Blogging for this month was a decision I labored over a great deal. After the loss of my father to prostate cancer, he has become the topic most at the forefront of my mind. I spend so much time revisiting how the events of those months played out, wishing I had the courage to ask him questions while he still had breath. Hoping I cared for him sufficiently. Wondering if he knew how much I loved him. Wondering what his wishes were for me in his absence. Wondering.

 

Those are the thoughts that rock my world these days. They are the thoughts I feared would slip onto the blank page of the blog revealing how my heart still swims in sadness. In fact, tonight is one of those moments where I am overwhelmed, unable to turn my creative attention to another subject for this week’s blog. But through these words, I am fighting the impulse to retreat.

 

So often I do not face my stored-up emotion, especially anger. There are many missed opportunities to write the perfect gut wrenching “fuck you, cancer!” poem. One of the pieces I cannot dig deep enough to complete is “Sue Tha Mothafukkahs,” a gouge at the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Then there is that unfinished piece where I could not resist a bevy of hateful profanities in the ultimate rant of disrespect towards her – cancer.
 

 

I imagine cancer as an enraged woman. For only a mighty creature could wreak such havoc.

 

Once he departed, I found myself in the hot seat of test after test after test.  I was the one with ailments, getting blood work, and juggling appointments for many months. However, in my case, no causes were found. To this day, I am so thankful to friends, old and new, that stood beside me with love and compassion as they observed my mourning affecting my health.

 

Those that loved me would gently, and consistently, advise me to write-it-out but I could not face the empty page knowing a surge of emotion would erupt. Then there came the day when I found myself at the laptop following a restless night’s sleep. The flood gates opened. With each word, all the pain, visions and emotions were released. I found that with every passing week of writing again, my body would unclench, relax, and begin to stabilize bit by bit.

 

Never an easy task, I continued to write and share with others in moderation.

 

Taking a deep breath, writing continues to be a process, as I practice putting “it” out into the Universe as a healing tool on my road to recovery. By writing from an honest place I am unveiling myself and accepting this skin, making sense of it all. 

 
I am writing my truth … Taking a pause, then chanting quietly in the immortal words of my father, “it is what it is”, and hitting SUBMIT.

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by Christine Celise

 

If I Don’t Write to Empty My Mind,
I Go Mad.
–Lord Byron

 

Being a writer is one of the most amazing gifts to have, especially when one reaches the station where it is fully integrated into your being, opposed to a “part” of you and compartmentalized. To see life and transcribe happenings, sites, and emotions through words and verse is no ordinary feat and bears a great responsibility. It is one of those callings that lives within your pores, is your sustenance…your H2O …  your B12 shot … your G spot … your … your … [ahhhhh]

The still of night opens creative doors in unimaginable ways. I woke up around 3 a.m. the other day. My mind was reeling with combinations of words and potential enjambment approaches for a poem that haunted me earlier. I learned many years ago that when the horn sounds, I must take heed or risk losing the moment altogether. So, there I sat, with only four hours to go before having to prepare for the office, but energized by the possibility of something awesome about to land on the page. Well, at least the first draft of something awesome.

After completing my creative purge I let out a sigh of relief and stepped away for a moment for personal business correspondence (Codeword:  Facebook), only to revisit the piece again – adding, subtracting, and literally dividing words and text. All I could ask for was to get as close to perfection as the twilight hours would allow before heading back to bed for a nap at that point, but feeling oh so elated by the magnificence of my work – toot toot!

Once one accepts the calling to the world of a scribe, nothing is sacred: time, place, nor space.  There is no such thing as social decorum or etiquette. At points the inspiration from occurrences days prior manifest at the most inopportune times. I have found myself using my Blackberry to peck away, writing poems and notes for pieces while at staff meetings.

Then there are those unusual moments that the right word or line seeps into my consciousness while in conversation. And, there are instances that only my comrades can identify with, when we forego weekend outings to hunker down for an intimate one on one to write until our hearts are content. 

[Cue: Georgia Anne Muldrow, fresh sage, and sweet wine.]

By far the most natural pieces for me are sparked by merely walking on a street and being drawn to people in passing – their laughter, their swaying hips or pimp walk, and even their silence. Without hesitation I scour around in my bag for pen/paper, or seek out a spot to sit with my laptop, to sketch the story that was told. At that serendipitous moment, there is no choice but to concede. This is the life of a writer, both a blessing and a curse, indeed.

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Introducing TBR Blogger for August,
 
Christine Celise!

 

Christine Celise

 

Christine Celise resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with her pen/paper, camera, and feet for dancing. Forty to fifty hours a week she is an event and marketing professional, leaving the remaining hours for writing, enjoying time with her Nikon, and visualizing the possibilities for her life.
 
A Healing Arts Advocate, she has facilitated journaling and therapeutic writing workshops for women, recovering addicts, and youth. Christine is also the architect of both a visual arts education program and a woman’s speaking series.
 
Her poems and essays have been featured at various events, including Nine on the Ninth at the famed Busboys and Poets (DC) and segments of Sophie’s Parlor on 89.3 FM (WPFW). Her talents can be heard on the latest Poem-Cees CD, and were lent to the Harambee organization’s 2007 “Untold Stories” production. Additionally, she was one of the subjects for two emerging photographers’ projects in 2009. Christine was a contributing writer for Flowinsider.com, bluecentric.com, and Baltimore Times Minority Business Supplement. She also actively participates in dance therapy.

Christine has been published in the August 2010 Tidal Basin Review and the upcoming issue of Reverie.
 
She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and has accumulated a number of graduate credits in the area of communications. Her forthcoming project, in dedication to her late father, is due Winter 2010.

Welcome Christine Celise!

Best,

Melanie Henderson,

Managing Editor

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