Life is a Stage

Today, before reading my poem, I invite you to read my post over @ Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. In it, I share musings on poetry, writing & metaphor. The use of metaphor in language increases not only its beauty, but also its depth and power. It is no wonder to me that poetry is where we find metaphor in droves, whether concrete or abstract – it is the associations of words with images, sounds, smells & textures that makes it rich. Indeed, metaphor makes us aware of our own unique experiences. Suffice to say, I could write endlessly & perhaps complete a dissertation on the subject. While my post is unapologetically academic in tone, it isn’t for students alone – it’s for all humans who seek to know the world, what it means to them, and the myriad of ways in which we can express understanding through language.

My poem is also published in Space to Dream: Poems. I wrote it as a young woman, when I was embarking on the beginning of my journey in higher education as a music major. It is perhaps the largest metaphor that has shaped my life, for much of my experience has been either onstage or offstage in preparation for a performance. The stage, which may be a frightening space for some – has always been a place of refuge & safety to me. I close my eyes & feel a deep comfort in remembering the scent & feel of the curtains, that creaky spot in the backstage floorboards, the heat of the lights, the frenetic sounds of the orchestra tuning their instruments, the dust clouds in the prop room & the pitter-patter of dancers in soft shoe warming up.


Oliver, Hayden Auditorium, circa 1987
Show choir performance, Hayden Auditorium, circa 1989
ISU Madrigal Dinner Performance, 1999

ISU Madrigals concert, Center for the Performing Arts, 2000

Meet Me in St. Louis, Players Theatre, 2004
Greenville Chamber Singers concert, Biltmore Estate, 2007
Northshore Performing Arts concert, Fuhrmann Auditorium, 2013

These are some of the many performance memories I carry with me. I often joke that I could chart my life by the choirs that I’ve sung in and the theatres I’ve performed in, but there is truth in that jest. The time spent preparing for, as well as the performances themselves  – have become metaphors for my life just as the stage itself has, even at a time in my life when the offstage days of motherhood and writing have become my focus, with onstage performances becoming fewer.

My stage will always be there, all I have to do is look out into the light to see it.

Kiss me Kate, Little Theatre, 2014

Life is a Stage 

On my stage, time runs

unidentified

as I stand alone, content

to be with my music

It hold me with strong arms

that never let go.

On my stage, bright lights

blind me from seeing

those I know, and

I may be imperfect

but I am never wrong.

On my stage, I make the

decisions of who I want to be

and where I will go.

No one disagrees

and no one questions me.

On my stage

there is a foundation that holds me

when I doubt myself.

My music gives me confidence

it will never let me fall.

Who Killed the Kilt, La Fleur De Lis, 2015

On my stage, I can only

go forward, I can only

become brighter

until I reach perfection

only then does the applause come.

On my stage, I will smile

my heart fulfilled

then the lights will dim

and I will walk from my stage,

happy.

Kiss Me Kate, Little Theatre, 2014

Blithe Spirit, Playmakers Theatre, 2015

Here’s to the Ones Who Dream

Yesterday, I took myself to the movies. Yes, in the middle of the day, all by myself. And yes, I bought popcorn. After all, if I’m going, I might as well go big. Why did I go? you might ask. Why did I go on a random Thursday, when I could have been working, writing, getting my tires rotated, my laundry done or my mail file cleaned out?  Well, why does anyone go to the movies?

The answer is simple. To escape. To dream. To turn off our cell phones and sit in a theatre and forget about all the to do’s. Some of us will leave the theatre, still dreaming in daylight. At least, when we see a film that leaves us with a story, a song, and ideas worth dreaming on.

And what I saw left me with all three, plus a dance in my step. So yes, if you’re wondering – it was a musical. To be specific, a jazz musical. I know, I know – this is where many of you may stop reading, where you might say “I don’t like jazz” or you will decide you don’t want to hear about a sugar-coated schmaltzy song-and-dance confection.

La La Land isn’t that. It’s a story about artists, who, by their very nature, do live in their heads and in the stars most of the time. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t continue to be artists, to strive for their near-impossible seeming dreams. But this is also a story of two people falling in love in the real world, where young people (played by Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling) have complex emotions and tough choices to make.

Set in modern day LA but also within a movie studio lot, the film is a nod to actors & musicians of both today and yesterday. Fans of the old movie musicals of the 30s and 40s will be drawn to the nostalgia, as will fans of the jazz music from that era. The soundtrack is a gorgeous mix of solo piano, acoustic guitar & jazz band. The emphasis of the lyrics is not on beautiful (or perfect) singing but instead, telling the emotional stories of these two young artists in a uniquely human way. Of how two young artists came to a city of stars – with big dreams.


Here’s to ones who dream 

foolish as they may seem

here’s to the hearts that ache

here’s to the mess we make

***

A bit of madness is key

to give us new colors to see

who knows where it will lead us

and that’s why they need us

***

So, bring on the rebels, the ripples from pebbles

the painters and poets and plays

and here’s to the fools who dream

crazy as they may seem

here’s to the hearts that break

here’s to the mess we make 


And yes, after I left the theatre, I sang this song in my head and then out loud a few times – and wrote a poem.

They were artists, dreamers, poets, musicians, lovers – 

their passions carrying them through the night sky,

dancing a waltz to jazz rhythms,

stars born to fly!  

May we all keep singing, acting, writing, dancing, painting, playing, creating, loving and dreaming. For life. 

January’s Romance – Winter Inspired

The dawn of 2017 has so far been a cold one; here in Louisiana we’ve felt the chill of January, though we aren’t likely to see any snow. As a romantic who has always loved the snow (though not, admittedly, driving in it or shoveling it) – I long for the Winter of my childhood, and the beauty of a January sun shining on glittering white fields. If you’ve read my book, Space to Dream, you know that nature & the seasons – and in particular, Winter, inspires my writing. Indeed, I am a child born of this season and find its sights, smells & chills continue to inspire me even while I live in the south. I hope you enjoy some of my new Winter poems, and that despite the chill – you are warm.


I lie under pink swirls of sky,

enveloped in sparkling snow blankets,

awaiting the chill of night,

her stark beauty, Winter’s kiss.

In a silent night of solstice moon,

we watch twinkling lights glisten,

Winter’s hush broken by angels,

voices beyond the stars.

She dreamt of a wild, free love,

Stars tangled in her hair on a moonlit winter night,

Snow melting on her skin in a fiery glow.

May Winter’s fairy kiss you,

By her snowfall may you dream,

Her heart-fire keeping you warm,

Whilst stories in your soul gleam.

Safe within this Fireside fantasy hold me tight,

Whisper sonnets of love to my delight,

Recite Keats & Shelley, Romantics bright.


For more of my romantic, Winter inspired poems, visit: https://www.instagram.com/spacetodreampoetry/