I have been writing poems since 1968, but in 2001 I left poetry. Or should I say she had left me. I had been struggling with writing a collection of poems based on Beatles’ songs. Being the biggest fan the world has ever seen, I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t.
And then I watched TV one morning before going to the office. People were jumping from the Twin Towers. I watched them falling. That was it. I couldn’t write a thing after that. The muse had quit whispering in my ear.
I bought a jembe—an African drum—and went to drum circles. I went to Reiki circles, wore lavender and patchouli essential oil, hung out with people who practiced angel therapy and bellydancing, who twirled fire sticks, rain sticks, played zils and didgeridoos, and chanted while swirling a finger around a singing bowl.
A lady who called herself Wisteria—I had lots of friends who changed their names— Amber, Ram, Lavender, Energy, Spiral—made annual trips to Brazil where she attended the rituals of “indigenous tribes”, learned what the dances, chants and drumming were about, and brought them back to teach Americans these expressions of worship. We gathered in a large circle in the sand at the beach. Pretty interesting. And fun. Cost only 10 bucks.
But after 10 years of chakra alignments and spending far too much money on crystals, stones, smudge pots, costumes for Renaissance festivals, incense, soul journeys, pot luck dinners for pagan ceremonies, Peruvian fire circles, Enlightenment conferences and tai chi lessons, I quit. It was my version of John Lennon’s experience with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Only without Mia Farrow.
After lunch with an old friend who’d caught me up on the latest poetry gossip in South Florida (who published a book, won an award, a grant, got divorced, died) the muse started to whisper in my ear again. I wrote the first poem I had written in 10 years when I got home. It was the leak in the dam. It started to flow, and then the levy broke.
What began as a collection of poetry fables morphed into my new collection, Festival of Dangerous Ideas forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2019. Some of the imagery and fantastical settings of the New Age years I had spent with all sorts of characters ended up in the book.
While not about drum circles and Reiki sessions I attended along with all the other colorful events (I never did make it to the all-nude drum circle at a nudist colony) the residual side effects of the time I lived in a fabulist landscape certainly lent its chi to my muse. The lost decade was seemingly the equal to spending a few days in a sweat lodge.
Ten years in Oz did me good.