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the wanderer

Writing poetry is what I consider to be my spiritual practice. For the past five years, on Tuesdays and Fridays upon waking, I make tea, sit with a book of wisdom and my poetry notebook. On these mornings I neither open the computer nor answer the phone. I read from this book — usually only a page or two — till something moves me, and I begin to write. My aim is not to write “good poetry,” it is to connect to something larger than myself. It is a call to my muse to tell her I am here; I am ready for her to flow through me. It’s a doorway into that special place where the unknown happens.

On New Year’s Day, 2010, I began a blog to publish my poetry, with the stipulation that every poem that goes online has to have a painting with it. My goal is to bring the ease of writing poetry into my art. With hundreds of poems written, I have a lot of paintings to do! After writing the poem I ask for two things: a title and a sketch. This drawing may be a circle, wavy lines in different directions, a figure made from calligraphic gestures. It becomes my entry point to do the corresponding art. This practice has pushed me to painting with a purpose I’ve never had before. It’s been a wonderful process of expanding the poem into visual form. And most of the seventy paintings posted on my blog would not exist without the poem coming first.

There is a little book I have owned for years called Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf. It’s a collection of Zen Poems by Ryokan, who was born in 1758 in Japan. The book opens with

Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
When you know that my poems are not poems,
Then we can speak of poetry!

Something about these words have stuck with me for twenty years and unknowingly has allowed me to present my poems to the public. So whether my poems are poems or liked or not, they are wanting to be out there, and so I have given them this opportunity.

To see a few selected poems along with the art that is inspired by them, go to poems.