Monthly Archives: March 2012

persephone’s affliction

“Persephone” by Patricia Ariel

“The soul sees by means of affliction … the wound and the eye are one and the same.” ~ James Hillman

I’ve been working on a collection of poetry titled “Persephone’s Affliction.” I am so happy to say that I have finished the collection!!! I worked tremendously hard putting it all together, and I am so in love with this collection ~

Tonight, after reading through the finished manuscript again, I just held it against my chest and cried.

It’s difficult to express the feeling I have upon finishing and sending the manuscript out into the world. It’s different from the experience of submitting a single poem or a story. In many senses, this collection is a movement across my life. I just can’t express right now what that means to me. I’ve been writing poems since I was a child. I’ve been writing seriously for nearly twenty years.

I finished the final draft of “Persephone’s Affliction” several months ago, and then I set it aside. Since then, I focused more on my story writing, and have been writing and submitting dark fiction and erotica stories for publication. My plan was to look towards publishing the manuscript in the Spring. This past week, I dug up the manuscript and completely revamped and reorganized it. What was once a draft of poems together truly became a collection of work. I fell into it, and worked on it fervently until I felt that it was complete.

The day before I finished the manuscript, I discovered that Adrienne Rich had died. For those of you who may not know of her, Adrienne Rich was a brilliant thinker, writer, and activist. She was also the first poet I fell in love with, and has influenced my writing and my life in a myriad of ways.

When I was in high school, I used to read my English Textbook on the school bus. I had come across Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” and was just blown away. I was about 14 at the time and just devouring literature, open to everything, wanting to learn everything I possibly could.

I remember going to Barnes & Noble and seeing a book by Adrienne Rich in the “bargain book” area. It was her “Collected Early Poems.” I practically begged my father to buy it for me, and I have treasured that book for almost 25 years. Over the years, I have read numerous other books by Adrienne Rich – Diving into the Wreck is another one of my overall favorite poetry books. Besides being a prolific poet, she also wrote many profound and interesting essays.

Finding out about her death made me feel a true sense of loss. Even though I never met Adrienne Rich, I felt so close to her work, I couldn’t help but feel sad at her passing. But then I started to think … I am so grateful that she lived! I am so grateful that she existed in this world, and wrote such provocative work. Her life-work is an incredible inspiration; she had an extraordinary journey in this world.

I was left with a bittersweet gift, a reminder of the impact that poetry had on me in such a fundamental, visceral way. Reading her “Collected Early Poems” opened poetry to me – and was the first time I felt that poetry had a real and contemporary relevance in the world. It was the first glimpse I had that maybe I, too, might someday be able to be a poet, a writer. That maybe I, too, would be able to publish my work.

The next day, I finished the manuscript and began submitting “Persephone’s Affliction” for publication. It’s been a highly emotional past few days! I feel overwhelming gratitude again towards Adrienne Rich, for sharing her love of language and of life, for helping me come full circle, and for reminding me:

“The moment of change is the only poem.” ~ Adrienne Rich


best erotic romance

Best Erotic Romance (Cleis Press, 2012) offers a sampling of work from some of the best authors writing in the erotic romance genre today. Editor Kristina Wright introduces Best Erotic Romance by saying, “These are the stories that touched my heart and ignited my libido, that made me think about the nature of desire and the unpredictability of the human heart. Each of these seventeen stories weaves love and passion so tightly that one cannot be separated from the other. And isn’t that what a lasting relationship is all about?”

Well written and provocative, the stories in Best Erotic Romance touch upon many different aspects of our sexuality and our expressions of sex within the context of our most intimate relationships. This is a book that celebrates the role of sex in our lives, and the need we have for intimacy, love, and passion. As a whole, the collection supports conversation, communication, and self-reflection. In the foreword, Shayla Black encourages readers to “embrace these stories for what they are: a true mirror of our inner needs, our longing to combine souls, to discover our truest selves. Explore. Fantasize. Wonder.”

Best Erotic Romance offers a wide range of stories which explore and reveal our most intimate connections, encompassing a vast array of situations, characters, and settings. The relationships in these stories are mostly heterosexual and vary from long-term marriages to first encounters. The characters range from unattached singles to divorced parents to married couples with children. These stories take place across the world, and are rooted in our relationships with the erotic, body and mind, heart and soul …”

Read the rest of my review at The Happiest Medium!

Best Erotic Romance 2012
Published by Cleis Press
Edited by Kristina Wright

reading series 3.2

The month of March is almost over … Both St. Patrick’s Day and the Vernal Equinox have come and gone. Last week, I was thinking a lot about the idea of “luck”, which made me think more and more about Ireland, the land of leprechauns and four-leaf clovers, a country rich in beautiful myths, legends, and folklore, music, literature and art. Ireland is also a country with deep religious and political beliefs, a long history of conflict, working class poverty, and war.

Here in America, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated mostly by people spilling into bars throughout the day and night, dulling the senses with alcohol, and escaping from reality into drunken reverie. In some ways, it seems that many people find the idea of “the luck of the Irish” somewhat ironic, as past and present intermingle in Ireland’s wild, deep beauties and her devastating realities.

Meditating on the idea of “luck”, I found myself falling into a bit of a depression. Luck seems like an elusive concept to me. I looked up the definition of luck in my dictionary:

Luck (noun)
1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortunate
2. Good fortune or prosperity
3. One’s personal fate or lot
4. To gain success or something desirable by chance

The idea of chance here is giving me pause. I believe in hard work. I believe in being open to different opportunities. And I guess that is where the idea of luck and chance come in – what comes back to you.

The strongest analogy I can draw here is in trying to publish my writing. Publishing is, essentially, based on chance. However, I feel that it the writer’s job to find compatible places for his or her work. This is no easy task, especially considering the subjectivity of readers and the sheer number of publication options available.

Sometimes I find a place that I think will be compatible, but my work is not accepted. Other times, it is. I never considered this luck. I think of it more as casting a net, taking a chance, and seeing what comes back to me. After I send something into the world, it is out of my control, it is no longer mine. And whether it is rejected or accepted, the process is always a result of hard work and effort. Sometimes I feel that the rejections are there to teach me as much as the acceptances.

Where does luck come in? I don’t know. I think about Edgar Allan Poe when I think about writers and luck. And then it all flies out the window.

I think about the concept of following one’s path, trying to find the signs and signals that are pointing the way to a person’s destiny. Here, it may be considered lucky to see the signs. But I feel like it is more a conscious willingness to open oneself up to this kind of awareness.

One of the definitions of “Luck” focuses on the idea of fate, that things in our lives are meant to happen. It’s a strange thing to believe in fate, but I do. I believe that I am here to fulfill something that I don’t even really understand. I can’t question or analyze it, because this idea exists in another language, one that is more primal and spiritual than the written and verbal language we use to communicate with one another. I follow what I feel is right for me; I follow what stirs my passions, and I do this in a reflexive, almost instinctual way.

This can be difficult, especially living in a society that stresses the accepted, normal path of existence in the world: Birth, School, Work, Death. From the time we enter the education system, we are taught a certain way of living in society. Follow the rules. Don’t question authority. Don’t rock the boat.

We are taught that dreams are unreliable, bits of fantasy that belong in our subconscious state. We tell children to “grow up”, to leave their dreams behind and enter the adult world. We fall into line, into our societal system of rules and norms, and forget about the idea of a personal destiny, our gifts and talents. We forget that there is so much more to LIFE.

I have to confess, I sometimes wish that I had a Birth, School, Work, Death mentality. The way I think and feel and live my life puts me a little outside of things. And it is a terrible feeling sometimes to feel that you are not quite part of the world. I can’t count how many times people have asked where I am from, as if I come from another state, another country, another world.

Once, I was at a bar and a man reached out and grabbed my arm after I had ordered a drink. “What are you doing down here?” he said in a very serious, almost demanding voice, “you belong with the stars.” It would have been funny if he was using a pick-up line on me, but he wasn’t. He was very drunk. I tried to be polite, nonchalant. I smiled at him. He stared at me as if my presence unnerved him, then turned back to his conversation.

I don’t know how else to live my life. I think part of my depression recently was just thinking … well, I wish I was lucky! I wish I thought that something as simple as luck would push me into a financially stable place. I wish that a touch of luck would lead to more publications, collections of books, a full-time university teaching job! And here I am, not sure if any of those things will ever happen for me.

Sometimes I feel like I am grappling forward with only the next step alight ahead of me. Sometimes I feel tested. Today, I want to share a blog post I had written about The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. Sometimes I feel like I need to revisit these ideas, to remember.

Click here to read my blog post about The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

michelle augello-page

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Before reading The Alchemist, I had heard about it in a number of different ways. But for some reason, I didn’t seek it out. It wasn’t until I saw the book literally in front of me at a library book sale that I picked it up. And I’m so glad I did, because this book is a gift to read. It is radiant, and necessary.

Coelho writes The Alchemist simply, as a fable. Yet, it is one of the most profound and important books I have ever read. What Coelho has to say about dreams, about love, about the very essence of our existence … is illuminating, provocative, and inspiring.

The copy I have is a 10th anniversary edition, with a commemorative introduction by Coelho. I am going to transcribe some of his reflections here:

I remember…

View original post 718 more words

early spring poems

Dreaming of bulbs in winter

Soon it will be spring.
I dream of seeds, flowers, green leaves
I think about the bulbs, always

a surprise after their forgotten placement
their shy emergence from the warmth
of darkness into the naked light

when the weather turns and we
are without coats, they will stretch, and
before it gets too hot, they will die

But their death is only the beginning
of the cycle leading to rebirth, year after
year, they allow me to remember.


Shedding winter

I find him in the darkness, in the damp
desire of night, body pressed against body

we breathe each other in, skin and hair
hands and fingers and mouth, we move slowly

savoring the touch of each others warmth
under the chilly mist from the swirling tide

salt stings our lips, clinging to surface skin
and we explore each other, delighting in

the senses, finding pure pleasure in this
reawakening – shedding winter, as the world

shyly emerges from its dormant house and
turns its face towards the brightening sky.


Still, Here

Mariko sits with her legs crossed
back straight, chest lifted, eyes
closed. She reminds us to return
always to breath, inhale, exhale

She turns up her hands, placing
one on each knee, and tells us the
folk wisdom that palms upturned
are receptive to gifts from the gods

Following her movement, I try
but my hands resist, they are used
to grasping, to clutching, to holding
on so tightly, afraid to let go

Slowly, each palm unfolds like an
early spring flower, outstretched
vulnerable and wanting, the whole
of my heart beats wildly yes

until I am no longer I. Each breath
is shared by the universe, cosmic
energy, all are one in the fabric of
time and space and energy

opening my eyes again, I return
to my body, my legs and arms and
hands. My mind blinks in the soft
light, and I am (still, here)


reading series 3.1

“March is the month of expectation …” ~ Emily Dickinson

Within the past week, I’ve noticed many signs of early Spring. March truly is, as Emily Dickinson says, “the month of expectation.”

Sunday morning, I found myself sitting outside, listening to the lilting music of birdsong under a clear, bright and sunny sky. I love watching the world awaken in early spring, seeing hidden bulbs slowly emerging and flowering, and trees and flowers beginning to bud. Even the shades of green are different in early spring; somehow the color seems more bright and fresh, which deepens as the season progresses into summer.

I love Spring! My other favorite season is Autumn … there is just something about the turning, the movement of change, that appeals to me. The way the world changes seems to be mirrored within me. Recently I’ve also experienced a fresh surge of growth, and I’ve been working on completing a few different projects.

Within the last few days, I finished two dark fiction stories that I’d been working on all winter! Both are being submitted to truly wonderful places, so I am feeling quite hopeful. I’m positively brimming with creative ideas, and have an urgent sense of seeing my seedling concepts, especially those I’ve nursed all winter, grow into blossom.

Today I wanted to share a few poems that I’ve written, inspired by Spring. Click here to read some of my early spring poems.