Methods & Muses Vol. 17
I’m thrilled to share that our trio, Half Wild, has released a single! Yay!
As Half Wild, Kelly Smith-Campbell, Benjamin Dauer and I write songs inspired by our dreams, past lives and passions for nature. Blending spoken and sung vocals, layers of low harmonies, bass and guitar, we write Earth Hymns and Echo Poems.
Our album, “Give Them Archer,” invites listeners into a shared imagination, a mystic place to gather questions and find empowerment. You can listen to the single and pre-order the album here. Thank you so much for supporting us!
It was challenging to write, practice and record during a pandemic and with one of our members living miles away. I am comfortable composing poetry alone, but the performer-musician in me craves making sounds with others. Of course, I am deeply grateful that one of my collaborators is my groovy husband, but I miss my girl Kelly too. Making art with her is a privilege, not only because she rocks as singer, writer and film maker, but because she and I share years, lifetimes of collaboration. As it is with any longer-term friendship, we connect on mystic levels. We share a magic language, a holy alphabet.
Here are some words from that alphabet: Always, Blue, Cycle, Darlin’, Evolve, Friend, Gift, Home, Instinct, Joy, Kiss, Leap, Music, Nest, Olives, Poetry, Question, Rest, Serendipity, Trust, Unify, Vow, Witch, Xylophone, Yes & Zephyr.
For this issue of M&M, I pluck the word serendipity from our letter list.
The synonyms for this word are amusing and confusing–fluke, happenstance, blessing, break, luck, dumb luck, good luck, happy chance, lucky break, stumbling upon and tripping over. I choose to align with the optimistic synonyms, because I can testify that many good things do indeed connect. You simply need to pay attention.
Allow me to elaborate with another list, because lists are vertical, like poems.
1. For one of Half Wild’s songs, “Wolves Again,” I wrote:
Scaling up a city fence, we were animal and element.
Because Kelly and I began our artistic adventures fifteen years ago in Chicago, where we felt wild, where we first performed together, sharing breath and microphone, I channeled our city time to write this line. I also needed to write this in the beginning of the pandemic, to lean on my art as a vehicle of joy and hope.
More recently, I met a new poet-friend, Naila. She’s never met Kelly, hasn’t read our lyrics, hasn’t heard our song. Naila does know that I love wolves, and I am a tomboy, so she sent me the video, “Bros” by Wolf Alice. And what does this video feature? An image of two girls climbing a chain link fence. Happy chance!
2. This fall, in my Kingdom Animalia poetry class, I focused on wolves and dogs. To describe the color of a wolf’s eyes, I wrote:
wet green-gold & brown-speckled like the skin of a purring tree frog
Meanwhile, Kelly finished a video to accompany another of our songs, “Lost in the Pines.” Obviously, Kelly knows I love wolves, but she hadn’t read my poem, and there are no lyrics within “Lost in the Pines” about tree frogs. But what does her video show? An image of a wolf, followed immediately by a tree frog. Lucky good!
3. One morning this month, I woke up to work on a poem about metals, specifically metal things that have been important for my physical movement, like my bike and my cane. As I scribbled, I remembered a conversation I’d had years ago with my friend Mercedes. She is a jewelry artist with a deep, sensory attraction to metals. During that chat, she described how silver tasted (yes, tasted) different than brass, how certain metals made specific sounds, etc.
I called Mercedes to ask if we could revisit this subject. She laughed and said, “That’s so funny that you’re bringing this up. Just yesterday I was washing a new copper tea pot, and as I wondered what it might taste like, I thought about that same conversation.” Hurray for Happenstance!
4. Also this month, I woke up to work on a poem about petunias. I researched, jotted ideas and played with finding the voice and line breaks for one of my closing stanzas. Then, later that day, I opened the lovely poetry collection edited by Camile Dungy called Black Nature, and there were Marilyn Nelson’s lines to inspire me:
Ruellia Noctiflora, the night-blossoming petunia…a blaring star of frilly, tongue-like petals.
5. Last, but not least, just this week, I was working on another poem that included an image of my childhood piano, a Wurlitzer spinet. I took a break to scroll Instagram, and what does my friend Nick post? Yup. A picture of a Wurlitzer spinet. Trippy Kismet!
So, to counter winter blues, Covid fear and fatigue, or anything else that’s challenging you, look for creative connections. Trust your art instinct and welcome joyful magic.
Thank you, readers.
May 2021 close gently for all of you, and here’s to more love in 2022!