Wild Women in Art, Poetry and Community featuring Gretchen Del Rio’s Art and Victoria Bennett’s “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be”

Spirit of the Wolf

‘The spirit of the wolf resides in my heart
Mostly peacefully, but ever wild
Running in time to the blowing wind,
Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens
The spirit of the wolf resides in my soul.”
– Gretchen Del Rio

The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be

by Victoria Bennett

Snow Owl by Gretchen Del Rio

At twenty-six, I met an owl. It turned out to be one of the axis moments on which my life pivoted. It was a cold January day where frost lingered in the shade but the sun was shining, the kind of day where things seems possible because you have survived the darkness of winter. The trees stood bare of leaves, branch-fingers stretched out expectantly, waiting for Spring. I was waiting too, holding a sense of change quietly behind my eyes. I watched the crows fly, black wings against blue sky, looking for carrion, listened only to the sound of water and wind and some crow caw above. This was what I was trying to remember – the feel of my touch, the scent of the sky, the hopeful warmth of sun just after the midwinter. My life had become so much darkness, so much noise and pollution and not seeing. This was the counterbalance and so far, it was working. Slow, slow days, allowing the words to surface and sound and where words could not come, allowing the brush to paint or the body to move. All was changing. I was changing. The woman I was underneath was beginning to take shape, and to my surprise, I liked her.

But first, the owl. I was stood beside the ash, eyes closed, when I heard a scratch from above. I opened my eyes and saw the owl, white feathers thick for winter, watching me. Awake. Not daring to move, I simply looked and allowed it to look at me, until after a few moments, it flew away. The owl came, and I was listening because I was ready to hear, and I was ready, it seemed, to shift shape again.

One week after the owl and I met, I had a dream. In this dream, I was with a woman walking along the river. She told me I was to call the Wild Women together. This did not seem strange or unusually prophetic. I had found a deep resonance with the stories I had found in the Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book Women Who Run with the Wolves and so the archetype of the Wild Woman was something I was familiar with, but the sense of purpose was surprising, and so, the next morning I got up and started to write the posters for what was to be the very first of the Wild Women workshops.

“The reason that people awaken is because they finally stop agreeing to things that insult their soul.” Gretchen Del Rio

Six weeks later, I stood in my living room, the fire in the stove burning and the tea hot in the pot. Before me sat twelve women, very different in ages and styles, but all sharing something special: they had all responded to the call. And so it came to be, the Wild Women group was born and I was to be their mother-wolf for this journey. As I stood there, faced with women whose individual and collective ages outstripped my own, I felt petrified. Who was I to stand here and say “this is the way of being woman”? Yet, that is exactly what I was to do. I did not know where it would take us, take me. I was just willing to begin, brave enough to speak out and hopeful enough to believe.


… and in that one word, I started something that would sustain me through my twenties, thirties and into my forties. I had met my clan. Together, we found the courage to stand up and say, “This is who I am…”.

That was nearly twenty years ago. Since then, working with the Wild Women, I have gone on to set up Wild Women Press, published several books of poetry from the group, worked with over 2000 women (and some brave men) on a number of amazing projects, hosted the (in)famous Wild Women Salons, made creative connections around the globe, and performed live at events around the UK and USA. It is a space of celebration and activism. There is no business plan or professional career path. It can lie dormant, hibernating as we nuzzle down and grow our ideas in the dark, or it can awake with passion and create for change on a global scale. We have used our creativity to create positive change, to be part of the world we want to live in andleave for those who follow. Sometimes we act on a very local level, sometimes on a global one.

Recently, I have been collaborating with the creators of the #MeToo poetry anthology. This is a very important movement for me personally, and for us as a group. As soon as I heard Deborah Alma was wanting to put together an anthology of poems from this movement, I offered my support, and the platform of Wild Women Press. It was obvious from the very beginning that there would be many more poems than there were pages in the book, and so #UsTogether was created, to give a platform for some of these other voices. Alongside the launch of the book, Wild Women Press are hosting a selection of these poems, in honour and celebration of the courage and sisterhood of all those who have spoken out as part of the #MeToo movement.

One of the core aspects of the group is the respect and celebration of each individual woman. Although in the beginning it was me who stood at the front of the room, every woman in the group was to go on to inspire and lead, using their own experiences, passions, talents, and knowledge to guide them in how they would to do that. In a similar vein, we will be launching an online Wild Women Press blog later in 2018, sharing our ideas and perspectives. Over the next year, we will be gathering Wild Women from around the globe to contribute, extending our circle of clan further. We would love to hear from other women, who would like to be part of a clan of contributors. If you are passionate about something, and would like to be part of a global group of Wild Women writing, creating, and being part of a positive change, please do get in touch.

In 2019, it will be our 20th Anniversary, and 20 years since we published our first book, Howl at the Moon: Writings By Wild Women. To celebrate this, we will be publishing a new book of poems by Wild Women – and this time, we are extending the howl out to others. We will be putting out the call for submissions soon, on our website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

For now, we continue to meet as a group every couple of months, and once a year, we spend four days at our Wild Women Gathering, celebrating, creating, and sharing our stories (and eating way too much food). We have witnessed births, marriages, divorces, unemployment, career changes, graduations, new beginnings, and painful goodbyes. What began as a workshop group, has become a place we now call home, and a wild family. You can sometimes find us on the fells or beside fires. We howl often, laugh lots, and when prompted, bare our teeth. Our coats are all a little more silver, and our eyes a little more wise, but we are still discovering. We are the Wild Women, and we welcome you.

Victoria Bennett
Founder, Wild Women Press


© 2018, “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be” and the wild-women word-heart illustration, Victoria Bennett, All rights reserved; 2011 and 2018, water color paintings, Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved

Poet, publisher, activist and wild woman, Victoria Bennet

VICTORIA BENNET (Wild Woman Press) is an award-winning poet, creative activist and full-time home-educating Wild Mama to her son, Django. Originating from the borderlands below Scotland, she is the Founder of Wild Women Press and has spent the last quarter of a century instigating creative experiences in her community. Her poetry has appeared in print, online and even in the popular video game, Minecraft. She has published four collections and performed live across the UK, from Glastonbury Festival to a Franciscan Convent.

Poetry publications include:
Anchoring the Light
Fragile Bodies
Byron Makes His Bed
My Mother’s House – a Poetry & Minecraft Collaboration with Adam Clarke, that explores grief and letting go

What We Now Know – digital VR music collaboration with Adam Clarke and The Bookshop Band, inspired by the #MeToo anthology

angel300-c12182011© Gretchen Del Rio


she’s present

returned to bite through the umbilical of tradition,
to flick her tongue
and cut loose the animus-god of our parents,
like a panther she roams the earth, she is eve wild in the night,
freeing minds from hard shells
and hearts from the confines of their cages,
she’s entwined in the woodlands of our psyches
and offers her silken locks to the sacred forests of our souls ~
naked but for her righteousness,
she stands in primal light,
in the untrammeled river of dreams
the yin to balance yang
the cup of peace to uncross the swords of war ~
through the eons she’s been waiting for her time
her quiet numinosity hiding in the phenomenal world,
in the cyclical renewal of mother earth,
whispering to us in the silver intuition of grandmother moon
watching us as the loving vigilance of a warming sun ~
she, omen of peace birthed out of the dark,
even as tradition tries to block her return,
her power leaps from the cleavage of time

© Jamie Dedes

Gretchen Del Rio

Illustration ~ the lovely watercolor painting by Gretchen Del Rio with its girl-tree, panther and other spirit animals was the inspiration for my poem, Her Power Leaps, on the return of the divine feminine. The back-story on the painting is interesting. Gretchen says, “I painted this for a fourteen year old Navaho girl. It is for her protection and her power. She sees auras and is very disturbed by this. She is just amazing. Beauty beyond any words. You can see into the soul of the universe when you look at her eyes. She has no idea. I loved her the moment I saw her. My blessings for her well being are woven into the art.” Such a delightful piece. I purposely posted it full-size so that everyone can enjoy the detail. Bravo, Gretchen, and thank you. / Jamie Dedes

©2011, water color painting; Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved; 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved.



Ten Bloggers Blogging, a poem

One blogger talks to herself

Two bloggers are friendly

Three bloggers are musketeers

Four bloggers rock

Five bloggers roll

Six bloggers laugh together

Seven bloggers seriously debate

Eight bloggers start awarding

Nine bloggers advocate

Ten bloggers, a virtual community

Community: a beautiful thing, a force for change

Blog on …Pass it on …

Just a bit of light fun today. I love the whole-world living that blogging and other social networking offers us. Look forward to tomorrow’s post featuring wild women: Artist Gretchen Del Rio and Poet and Activist Victoria Bennett, founder of Wild Women Press. It includes a potential opportunity for publication that will open soon.

© 2018, poem, Jamie Dedes ; Photo credit ~ morgueFile


after the injera, the wat, the niter kibby – a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt



his hands flutter over and on the kebero
a world constructed in the moments of sound
a world razed in the moments of silence
a rhythm of birth and rebirth
of heartbeat and life-blood

he’d gone to Africa, this young man
to chase down his roots
to buy exotic drums
to make rhythms with his brothers
to sing with his sisters
to learn, to grow, to come home and teach

he was full of grace, brimming with jazz
just rocking his universe, rolling with spirit
alight with green and gold,
the breath of wild savannas and
wilder cheetahs, monkey pranks
and elephantine tuskedness

what, i had to ask, was the take-away
after the safaris and the drumming
after the injera, the wat, the niter kibby
and berbere spices, the many fine meals
downed with ambo wuhteh

I met a sister as i was driving a forlorn road. She was walking alongside, carrying a bundle of wood and I stopped, offered her a lift. No, she said, NO! If I ride today, I’ll want to ride tomorrow. It’s a recipe for unhappiness. She’s right, you know, he said, from wanting comes despair …

and so i drum, just drum, he said
his hands fluttering over and on the kebero
a world constructed in the moments of sound
a world razed in the moments of silence
a rhythm of birth and rebirth and peace of heart

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes; photograph by Karl Heinrich and generously released into the public domain; Kebero, a conical hand drum, for the traditional music of Ethiopia and Eritrea  


Tell us in poem about the most important take-aways you experienced from a vacation or other travel. Leave your poem/s or a link to it in the comments section below. All poems shared on theme will be published next Tuesday. The deadline for response is Monday evening, 8:30 p.m. PDT. All are welcome – encouraged – to join in: novice, emerging or pro. It’s about getting to connecting with other poets, showcasing your talent and having your say. If it’s your first time sharing a poem for Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photograph to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. These are posted with the work of first participants by way of introduction.



The BeZine, March 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 1 – Waging Peace

“We carry the world in our hearts: the oppression of all peoples, the suffering of our friends, the burdens of our enemies, the raping of the Earth, the hunger of the starving, the joy of every laughing child.”
—Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B (b. 1936), Benedictine nun, author, and speaker

As we wage peace in this quarter’s The BeZine you’ll find exquisitely confirmed what you already know: that while the psychopaths and sociopaths will always be with us, so will the sane and sensible who are able to sit in contemplation, to recognize insanity and injustice, to frame the questions and outline issues, to open dialog and take action that will help to keep or generate the calm and rational, all first steps to a more peaceable H. sapiens kingdom.

Thank you to the contributors to this edition of The BeZine and to the twelve-member  Bardo Group Beguines core team. Special thanks also to Mike Stone and Terri Stewart for writing introductions to this quarter’s two subsections: Migration (Mike) and March on Guns (Terri).  Much much appreciation to Michael Dickel for his technical assistance and innovation.  And always, thanks to readers for their time, energy, comments and shares. You are an important part of this peace-loving collective.

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
—Author and counselor, L.R. Knost

On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,

—Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
The BeZine


How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:

Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.



This Much I Know | Vandana Shiva
The Roots of Bombs | Thich Nhát Hanh
Something Helpless | Rainer Maria Rilke
Jung Drops in for Tea | Michael Watson


Flowers (are like people) | Naomi Baltuck

Special Feature

A Defense of Activist Poetry | Michael Dickel


Moon Child | John Anstie
Sunday | John Anstie

Obligations | Wendy Brown-Baez
A Taste of Honey | Wendy Brown-Baez
A Poem for Oliver | Wendy Brown-Baez

Finding | Paul Brookes
Luck, Blind and Veiled | Paul Brookes
Yon Dream Cross Had | Paul Brookes

time for the temple whores to sleep with insanity | Jamie Dedes

Peace in the House | Michael Dickel
Peace Conceit | Michael Dickel

A Friend Speaks of Tibet | Sam Hamill

She Was So Pretty When We Were Young | Joseph Hesch
Dreams of Wolf Creek, Kansas | Joseph Hesch

Why Do You Love to Hate Me | Agufa Kivuya

Rest Now, Rest | Edward Lee
The Never Ending Fall | Edward Lee
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programing | Edward Lee

catalyst | Charles W. Martin
anthem | Charles W. Martin

A Regiment of Leaves | Osama Massarwa

Bloody Revolutions | Joshua Medsker

The Edge After | Corina Ravenscraft

Peace | Sravani Singampalli

Gesture | Phillip T. Stephens

III | Pleasant Street

A Tale of Two Cities | Mike Stone
On a Passage from the Mishna | Mike Stone

News from the Front: Guernica is Drapped | John Sullivan

A Taste for Juicy Zobo-Blood | Martins Tomisin
Steal a Glance at the Sky | Martins Tomisin


by Mike Stone

I’m both a third-generation American and a first-generation Israeli. My immediate roots are English-Scotch-Irish and Russian. That said, except those born in a narrow region of Africa, we are all immigrants who came from Africa (and most Africans probably are immigrants within Africa), our motherland, and we come from all men (and women) and our descendants will go to all men and women.

We have all tasted the double-edged sword of fear and hope upon entering a new land, a new life, carrying our hungry children and our infirm parents on our backs, only some of us have forgotten or cannot see through the thick mists of time. When we think about it, we must realize just how lucky we are to be immigrants and to be able to contemplate our roots.

Being an immigrant confers on us huge advantages, like those of being able to speak two or more languages or to be able to consider two or more points of view. I’m reminded of the well-known lines of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” Immigrants carry their homes on their backs. They never quite leave the homes of their old country but, as soon as they set foot on new shores, they must build new homes and new lives, because they can no longer live in the old ones.

When an immigrant walks alone in a strange new land, he walks with the ghosts of friends and loved ones he left behind. If you came to this land before the newly arrived immigrant, it’s not enough to welcome him. You should also show him empathy by listening to the stories and the ghosts he carries on his back. Yes, an immigrant might need your help, especially in the beginning when everything is brand spanking new to him. Yes, in an attempt to provide for his family and be less dependent on your charity, he may be willing to work for less than you’d be willing to work for, just to get out from under the guillotine of abject poverty. Yes, if he works beside you, he may work longer hours or do better work than you, but consider whether you would rather pull him down or have him lift you up, which he would gladly do to return your generosity.

It’s been said that new immigrants, like new religious converts, see their new country through rose-colored glasses. That’s not completely true. They see through eyes of hope. They want to see the good. The not-so-good frightens and pains them, but being an immigrant doesn’t mean they see their adopted motherland only through rose-colored glasses, as though all is great when it isn’t so great. Sometimes, when you love something so much and you see it coming to harm, you lash out at the thing harming it and want to protect what is innocent and good in your new country with your body and soul. If you want to feel what it’s like to be an immigrant in a new country like yours, to be a stranger in a strange land, read the poems and a story by Anjum Wasim Dar (links below, in the Table of Contents).

Mike Stone  (Uncollected Works)

Special Feature

Song of Kashmir | Anjum Wasim Dar


Reluctant Immigrant | Lisa Ashley

Refugee | Paul Brookes
Refugees Rule Each | Paul Brookes
Our Edge | Paul Brookes
My Daddy | Paul Brookes

..wouldst thou be pm, an abbreviation.. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
#russian | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.shopping in town. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.the questionnaire. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.another country. | Sonja Benskin Mesher

The Visitor | Mike Stone
Call of the Whippoorwill | Mike Stone
The Old Colossus | Mike Stone

The Partition | Anjum Wasim Dar


by Terri Stewart

Gun violence is at the center of our attention for the current moment. The shooting in Parkland, Florida where seventeen people were killed by a mass shooting. [I am intentionally leaving the shooter’s name out of the conversation.] We have been riveted by this moment since 2013, that is in the last five years, 291 times. 291 times. And we have not taken meaningful action. Granted, some shootings are more grandiose than other school shootings. But does the number of people killed make a difference? Is there a magical tipping point of the number of folks murdered that will suddenly create a call to action?

I don’t think so. The United States embodies a culture of violence that is rooted in our inability to create meaningful reform. What may be different this time is that the youth are rising up with a clear and steady message:

Sensible reform now.

Republican or Democrat, if you take money from the NRA, we will hold you accountable.

We are registering to vote.

This is #NotJustParkland.

This has spread across the United States. Here, in Washington state, nearly as far away from Parkland as possible, students are organizing. Adults are joining in. There is a forming March For Our Lives (or March on Guns) movement. The dates of marches are:

It is not enough that we sit in our safety and support others to do the hard work of creating change. It is time for action.

I teach Bystander Intervention Training. In that training, I talk about discernment as part of the process of knowing what to do. What to risk. Can you put your body on the line? Do it! Can you risk arrest? Do it! Can you write persuasive testimony? Do it! Can you talk to your neighbor about common sense gun reform? Do it! Do what you can do. Risk what you can risk.

In many ways, there are two things that I think are very important. Showing up and being thoughtful. If you can show up to one of the walkouts or marches, then please do. The more our bodies are counted as standing against the culture of violence, the better. Numbers matter.

Second, have that difficult conversation. Do not descend into a shouting match. Here’s your task before you have a real dialogue with that person in your life who is wedded to the idea of no need for gun reform.

1-Reflect on your position. Become informed. Know what a bump stock is. Use the internet to help you.

2-Encounter the skeptic and ask some questions. Be curious not judgmental. Listen to their story.

3-Here’s the hard part. Find a place in their story to connect. Relate a personal story that connects in some way to their story. Maybe it is a concern about safety – For example, “I understand that protecting your family is important. My house was burglarized. I lived with fear of other people for a while after that happened.” Empathy is important.

4-Find a way to expand their thinking. Finish the story. Use different language – this isn’t about gun control but about gun reform. We put limits on most of our rights, such as limits on a free press, limits on free speech.

  • We definitely need mental health reform in the United States. Currently our best mental health treatment is prisons. That is unhelpful for all of us!
  • We know that there is a correlation between domestic violence and mass shooters. Tightening up access to guns for known domestic violence offenders would be a big step.
  • We know that people start out with a regular gun and buy bits and pieces, like bump stocks, that enable them to be created into killing machines. We can regulate bump stocks.
  • We need to study violence with guns in order to really know what the problem is. We can fund the CDC doing research rather than blindly shooting at unknown targets. (see what I did there?!)
  • We need to make sure our databases that do background checks are fully operational and work at capacity.
  • And we need to make sure every person that buys a gun should have a gun. Keeping guns in the hands of legal, careful gun owners.

If you can get one person to move towards one of these positions, you will have succeeded. But you must keep calm and keep curious and not take up too much space in your own opinion.

I hope that you are successful in creating a space where you can move into doing what is right for you as we march together in response to violence with guns.


Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again, The BeZine, Youth Chaplaincy Coalition)

PS: I want to recognize Dr. David Campt for the outline of the method of communication above.

Eds. Note: Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, founders of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) organization, have been working with poet-activists to organize 100TPC anti-gun / memorial readings throughout Florida for March and April. More information here.

Please scroll down for features and poems on this topic.

we can be heroes



From the Desk of a Gunshot Survivor | Evelyn Augusto

Sex and the Second Amendment | James R. Cowles

A Moral Failure | Jamie Dedes

A Letter from Vermont: A Near Miss | Michael Watson


Two Lamentations | Michael Dickel

The No Peace Piece | Corina Ravenscraft



The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines


Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.