Category Archives: poetry

still i rise

still-i-rise-tattoo

 

poem by Maya Angelou

 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

 

 

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july

I love you like a woman
pinned to a carnival wheel

blindfolded, I spin
taut against splintered wood

my body is a temporal thing
skin, blood, bone

you throw knives
at the negative spaces

between my fingers, along
the line of neck and jaw

I hold my breath. I do not
speak. I don’t want to break

your concentration
and risk a slip in direction

the sweat on your brow
is glistening in the hot sun.

 

 

 

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“July” is one of the poems in My Mother’s Daughter, a collection of poems I wrote between 1998-2002 and published in 2012.

 


spring book giveaway

Persephone's Affliction by Michelle Augello-Page

 

In honor of Spring, I’m giving away a copy of my illustrated poetry chapbook, Persephone’s Affliction!

This giveaway is sponsored by amazon.com. It is completely free to enter, and if you win, the cost of the book + shipping is all taken care of.

Click here to access the giveaway. All you need to do is sign in at amazon, then click on the box, and it will automatically let you know if you are a winner.

Thank you for participating, and good luck!!

 

x


persephone’s affliction

Persephone's Affliction by Michelle Augello-Page

 

I’m so happy to announce that Persephone’s Affliction is now available!!!

Persephone’s Affliction is a collective arc of poems and illustrations, a journey into the dark landscape of the heart, illuminated and inspired by mythology, psychology, the life/death/life cycle of love relationships, and the Tarot.

The chapbook includes 17 poems and 17 illustrations created by me. I am awaiting full distribution, and right now the chapbook is only available to purchase online through Lulu. A digital copy is forthcoming. To celebrate this release, I am also offering a direct purchasing option for a limited time.

(Edit: Thank you to all who celebrated this release with me! I hope you enjoyed your signed copy of Persephone’s Affliction, the mixed CD, and all the surprise gifts. It was a pleasure to send these packages out to you, and it made the release of this book very personal and special to me.)

I’ve been working on this collection for a few years, and it is wonderful to see it all come together. This became a unique project for me when I decided to illustrate the chapbook alongside my poems. Drawing was my first love and something I do regularly, but it is usually something I keep to myself.

The creation of this book has been truly a labor of love, and I almost can’t believe this project has finally come to fruition. Knowing that people were waiting for the book to arrive is so humbling to me. I hope that you feel how special this book is to me, and love it as much as I loved creating it.

Your support means everything to me, and I am so grateful to have been blessed in my life with people who believe in me and my art. Offering a direct purchase is a small way that I can say thank you, extend some appreciative gifts, and engage personally with you all. Thank you all so much. x

 

http://static.lulu.com/browse/product_thumbnail.php?productId=22241851&resolution=320

 

Persephone’s Affliction by Michelle Augello-Page

 

Product Details

ISBN: 9781329209473
Edition: First Edition
Publisher: Michelle Augello-Page
Published: July 6, 2015
Language: English
Pages: 42
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink: Black & white
Weight: 0.24 lbs.
Dimensions (inches): 6 wide x 9 tall

 

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my writing process blog tour

Many thanks to Kirsten Imani Kasai for inviting me to participate in the “My Writing Process Blog Tour.” Please click here to read Kirsten’s articulate and thoughtful Q&A last week, and to find out more about her amazing work.

 

Q&A with Michelle Augello-Page

michelle augello-page

 

1) What am I working on?

I am currently working on a poetry chapbook which I plan to submit for publication, so my primary focus recently has been creating and revising poems which form a collective arc, a journey, as inspired by the myth of Persephone, the Tarot, and the life/death/life cycle of love relationships. Once the chapbook is completed, I plan on immersing myself in writing short fiction. I have at least a dozen ideas for stories that I put on hold in order to complete the chapbook, and many other stories that are in various states of completion. After the publication of my book Into the Woods a few months ago, I knew that I wanted to move forward and expand even more in my fiction writing. In many ways, a collected publication of one’s work is the end of something. However, I know that the end of one cycle is only the beginning of another. I wanted to take some space from storytelling to wrestle and fall in love with language again in its purest, most distilled form. Poetry was my first love, and it’s the place I instinctively turn for reawakening, renewal, and regeneration. Poetry is the essence, the heart, of all my writing. I’m really happy with the way the chapbook is coming together, and I will be sad when it is completed. But it’s a great feeling to know that after it is completed, there are so many other things  waiting to be written. As much as I love the project I’m working on, I’m always very excited to begin a new writing cycle.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Because I write and publish in different genres, I don’t fit neatly into a box. There are both benefits and drawbacks to labeling oneself in a certain way and keeping within a specific genre. Some of the benefits include fitting into a group or a community who will support your work, keeping a specific focus in your writing, and being able to reach readers who look for new work based on the genre they like to read. Some of the drawbacks to identifying with a certain genre include stagnation, limitation, subscribing to stereotypes, and furthering the hierarchy and misappropriation of all writers through genre.

For example, many people feel that “literary fiction” writers are somehow smarter and more relevant than “erotic romance” writers. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. Truly the only distinction between the two genres lies in the way that sex is represented. Some people say that erotica’s biggest crime is that, in this genre, the characters actually enjoy sex. Though I feel there is some truth to that joke, I think that erotica writers are generally much more cognizant about the power sex holds and how this power manifests in our relationships, and they consciously use sex as a lens to explore how we relate deeply to ourselves and others.

Nevertheless, inherent in this bias is the fact that “literary fiction” writers tend to be published in “respectable” (i.e. academic, scholarly, traditional, high paying) journals and receive book deals from more traditional publishing houses (which are able to promote to the public more successfully, giving wider distribution and more money to the writer). They are also more likely to receive associate and tenured professorships, giving them a monetary cushion in academia while they pursue their writing. This is only one example. In some genres, only one gender or race dominates the scene, making it harder for writers in the minimized role to be seen and heard because of the stereotype. This can also apply to writers who are marginalized in the dominant culture, where their “otherness” is directed into genres which only serve to reinforce their outsider status. I see this prejudice and inequality among writers as a problem that seems based directly in genre.

My philosophy has always been to write first, and try to find the “fit” later, because genre really only comes into play when one is trying to publish his/her work and needs to find a way to present it to the world. I have never set out to write a genre-specific story or poem. During the process of writing, I am only interested in the act of creation and bringing ideas, concepts, and images to light through language.

One of the reasons I started Siren is because I wanted to create the type of publication that didn’t exist for me, a place where I would have loved to send my work, a place for writers and artists who were interested in pursing their craft in edgy and experimental ways that didn’t necessarily fit into the mainstream or subscribe to a genre box. My book, Into the Woods, is a collection of dark erotic fiction stories that could have been labeled in a number of different ways. Upon publication, the book was labeled “fiction and literature” because that is a general, all encompassing term. One of the reasons why I was so happy to work with Onerios Books is because they are a genre-less specific publishing collective, interested in quality writing and art that both explores and expands our traditional views about the kind of art we create, the meaningfulness of what we write without regard to finding a box to put it in, and how we publish and share work through new and non-traditional paths.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I feel that this question is really asking, “who are you?” I write the things I do because of who I am, and I’m aware that this answer is both simple and complex. I write to explore my interests, my obsessions, my questions, my world. I write about the things that drive me to write.

There seems to be a very high level of control assumed in this question that I don’t think writers necessarily have. Writers channel dreams and visions into language. It is true that they sublimate real experiences into their work because no writer lives in a vacuum. But when you are dealing with creative and imaginative writing, it is necessary to open yourself up to many things that none of us, and that includes the writer, truly understands. I often say that writing is a type of seeing, more than anything else. I think of “revision” is a literal re-vision, a re-seeing. Writers develop a kind of inner-vision, and in the process of writing they are touching upon something very real that is also very magical and mysterious.

In her Q&A last week, Kirsten Imani Kasai said something that really resonated with me. She said, “Storytelling is a collaborative effort between me and the characters who need to speak – I act as an interpreter of dreams and the hidden world.” Yes.

The way we engage this process is dependent on who we are, and the results are specific to who we are. Throughout my life, I’ve been intrigued and drawn to certain aspects of the world. I have always been drawn to reading. I have always felt a great love for books. This was something within me that I nurtured, but one might also say that it was nurtured because it was within me. I’ve always loved fairy tales, mythology, folk tales – stories of deep archetypal truths that have been carried down from generation to generation. I’ve always been drawn to art that is sensual and erotic, surreal and dark, because I recognize something in myself there. As a woman and a mother, I have a deep feminine consciousness. I am also drawn to writing that is not typically considered “creative” and I love learning and exploring psychology, philosophy, science, history, and religion. All of these things contribute to who I am and what I write.

I know that my entire life has prepared me for the path of being a writer. Yet, I still can’t truly explain why when I walk into a bookstore or a library, or any place where books dominate the space, my entire being goes “ah” … I’m home. This is how I’ve felt from the time I was a child.

4) How does my writing process work?

There are many different ways that I engage my writing process. Probably the first and most important way is by reading. Reading good work by other writers is a great way to immerse yourself in the craft, and to expand and grow in your own work. Reading can inspire and challenge you. Reading teaches you how writing has been done and it shows you the potential that has been reached so far. When I read good work, I am excited, enthralled, invigorated. I am invested in learning. What I get from reading, I bring into my own work, with one eye on what’s been done and the other eye in the realm of what’s next. I am not interested in doing what has been done before or what I already know works. I want to explore further and to push myself further, and reading helps me find inspiration from those who have (or had) similar motivations.

Another part of my process is thinking. I am not the type of writer who does a lot of preliminary writing. I do a lot of preliminary thinking. I’ve noticed that often when I am thinking of a story or a character or a poem or an idea, I tend to draw. Oftentimes, these drawings are very strange maps of my thoughts, almost like a blueprint from the non-verbal side of my mind. Art is essential to my creative process, and I am constantly inspired by visual art, music, and the natural world of the environment. I also write in a journal nearly every day, and I find it both necessary and important. I need the tangible act of writing and drawing with a pen and paper as much as I need the sensory stimulation of typing on a keyboard. Journal writing helps me try to figure out what I am doing with my life and my work, and it is the place where I practice deep, stream of consciousness thinking.

Beyond that, my writing process is simply finding long stretches of time to write. I use short stretches of time for revising, refining, editing, and sending out work. But as far as creating and generating work, there is really nothing like sheer unaccounted-for time to write. Between working for money and carrying the responsibilities of a family, I have to find time to write.  Sometimes I steal time to write. Sometimes I will stay up all night writing, knowing that I will suffer the next day. Sometimes I will ask my kids to give me space, and I’ll be at the computer typing frantically all day on a saturday afternoon. But no matter how I get there, when I am there, I am there. I allow myself to fall into it, whatever “it” is. I am still amazed that I will be working on something and then look at the clock to see that hours have passed. Where was I during this time? What experience has moved through me? Though I am very interested in why and how this happens, I think at this stage I have just completely given myself over to it. I am open and receptive. I am there to discover, to learn. I am there because I have no choice but to be there. It is beyond me. Long ago, I accepted this gift, and it has both blessed and cursed my life. Every day, I accept the gift; I am so grateful for it.

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Next week, June 23, 2014, the “My Writing Process Blog Tour” continues with writers Eric Nash and Lucy Taylor, who will answer these same questions from their own unique perspectives. Be sure to visit the sites below to read their insight into the writing process.

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Eric Nash lives amid chaos in the south-west of England. On occasion, he escapes to his laptop and writes something dark or wicked. He has discovered that he rather enjoys editing and is looking to attend a self-help group to address this issue. Eric’s short fiction has been published in various digital and print anthologies. He is currently writing his first novel. Read Eric’s interview at eanash.wordpress.com

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Lucy Taylor  is the author of seven nov­els, includ­ing Danc­ing with Demons, Spree, Nailed, Sav­ing Souls, Eter­nal Hearts, and the Stoker-​award win­ning The Safety of Unknown Cities. Her sto­ries have appeared in over a hun­dred mag­a­zines and antholo­gies, includ­ing The Mam­moth Book of His­tor­i­cal Erot­ica, The Best of Ceme­tery Dance, Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Gothic, The Year’s Best Fan­tasy and Hor­ror, and the Century’s Best Hor­ror Fiction. Lucy lives in Pismo Beach, CA, where she vol­un­teers with cat res­cue orga­ni­za­tion, attends Bud­dhist retreats, and plots dar­ing escapes to exotic and fan­tas­ti­cal places. Read Lucy’s interview at darkfantasy.us

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Astronavigation

Astronavigation by Michelle Augello-Page by barehandspoetry

This is an audio recording of my poem “Astronavigation”, which was published in Issue Six of Bare Hands Poetry. Be sure to check out Bare Hands Poetry on SoundCloud to hear the voices of poets from all over the world reading their work!

 

Astronaviagation

Only he can soothe this wild
loneliness that has grown within me
I want to fall down, down
the black hole of this desire, explore
the heavenly body, that arcane map,
navigate with only breath, hands
fingers and mouth, savor the touch of
wind, skin, devour the hungry night.

Eyes burn and mouths disappear. There
is no scent, there is no time. I reach out
to touch him, his image is solid shadow.
He moves through me, his hands do not
lay upon me. I call out his name, he is
known by many names; he turns, he has
several different faces. he looks at me
as if into an enchanted mirror, fear
entwined with desire, he does not see me,
he sees his reflection in the convex, his
mouth upon mine is an implosion,
shattering glass. I love you, I want to
say, the stars are dying above us.

I place a gift in each hand, and take
off my dress. It has been raining for days
in my mind, his skin is hard bones, soft
depressions. I lick his face, tasting
the moon behind his eyes, the words we
speak are not words. come closer, he says
walk away. this dance is magick, it is
spelled in ways I can barely whisper. I fix
my gaze on the stars, trying to elucidate
the secret; patterns and signs spill across
the open sky; still the world is burning.


first, body

The scar is blue-black, ink stained
into her skin. He holds her wrist like paper
thin parchment, rubs his thumb over the
kanji as if feeling for a pulse, and says
tell me about this one.
She does not name it; she knows he can see
the vertical mark running up her vein.
She tells him it was her fifth, and took
the longest to heal; the wound scabbed
twice before the skin accepted it
as part of her body.

She watches him in the soft light,
standing before her without a shirt, sleeved
in kaleidoscopic colour. She imagines
his sun against her tree, her ankh against
his krishna, the canvas of their bodies
a landscape of hollows, flesh and bone, light
and dark, blood brain heart.
Touching his shoulder blade gently, now
she will ask and he will answer
reading the map of each other’s body
this is how they begin.

 

Originally published in Copper Nickel