CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (33): Renee Robinson, Shadows of the Heart

Renee Robinson, American She-Poet and writer

“I find myself “Dancing With Cancer”, problem is…I can’t dance. I stumble, bumble, and get pulled along. To keep my sanity, (humor me), I write short stories, a journal, musings and poetry….just about anything goes.” Renee Robinson



I’ve spent some time recently in hospitals and specialty clinics.  It’s always heartening to witness how remarkably resilient some folks are, how they deal with their trials in good spirit. They remind me of one special person, a blogger and poet you might remember. With utter grace, she dealt with the fallout from a devastating disease. She was Renee Robinson.

A few years ago, I’m not sure why or how the impulse came to me, I suddenly had to see if Renee’s blog was still up. I discovered her WordPress domain had expired. Her other blog and Twitter account hadn’t seen posts since August 2014. It also appeared that no books were published after that date. Finally I searched for and found an obituary. Renee died in September 2014.

For about four years many of us watched this young woman produce a staggering amount of work, taking refuge in poetry as she struggled with metastatic colon cancer.

“Life is ever-changing. It is what we make of it. Though I have no control of when my life will end, I can paint my words out on a canvas. I can show my love for my family with each stroke.” 

shadows-of-the-heart-cover

Renee’s love of writing combined with the knowledge that her life was on the wane. In this last thing, she was only different from her readers in that she was no longer in denial and was using her time consciously to do what she wanted most to do and to leave behind her own special blessings.

Renee self-published several poetry collections. The one I selected to read some years ago was Shadows of the Heart, which is still on my Kindle. The operative word here is not “shadow,” it’s “heart” . . . a collection of poems from a big heart evolved from a deeply prolific rhizome of courage. In that book were the young shoots and the adventitious roots of an old soul.

Renee’s poetry was that of someone with a passion and talent for writing and not enough time on this earth to refine either. Having said that, the collection is notable for its unbearably naked emotion: pain, fear, remorse, courage, gratitude, and for the intense feelings arising out of her unshakable affection and appreciation for her husband.

In 2013 and 2014, Renee self-published a series of Captain Chemo books for children. According to Amazon, they’re in Amazon’s Top 100 in Children’s Book Sales. Brava, Renee! 

A magickal night
When death is life
And dark is light
Time stands still
Hail! The Samhain Night!
Two Souls, One Life

© 2013 Renee Robinson estate, Shadows of the Heart

Words © Jamie Dedes; Photo credits (portrait and cover art), ©Renee Robinson estate


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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

THE ARTIST’S CREED:”YOU ARE HERE TO CO-CREATE THE WORLD”

All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. Eckhart Tolle



A little something to keep us on our toes while I work on Sunday Announcements, which will post late this evening. If you are viewing this post from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the site to view the video. Worth you time.

Illustration courtesy of Public Domain Clipart.


ABOUT

Testimonials

Disclosure

Facebook

Twitter

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

A writer is so like a spider ….

On Facebook, there’s a video making its way around Facebook that gives us a view of a spider at work on his web. As I was watching it just now – fascinated, though spiders are not my most favorite creatures – I thought how like a writer this little guy is. He starts to spin his web without a thread in sight. In effect he spins on faith. It’s a faith very much like ours when we pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard. Often we don’t know what the words will be, how the story will end, or what is the best cadence and flow for each subject we chose to address or the story we are inspired to tell through poetry or fiction. We proceed in the faith that the perfect word, the perfect ending, the perfect cadence will come to us. We have confidence (perhaps a shaky confidence at times, but confidence all the same) that our writerly thread will be there as needed.

Note: Given a message on this post received elsewhere, this is NOT about writer’s block, something I never had. In fact, if anything, this is the antidote to potential block.

If you are viewing this post from an email, you’ll likely have to link through to The Poet by Day to watch the video.

The spider collection is under CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Details on each photo are HERE.

THE ART BEAT: Kudos to Dutch Nature Artist Paula Kuitenbrouwer on her newest book

8103372-9c1f4a2a29abdb8bf0d1c7398b7d8cabPAULA KUITENBOUWER is a Dutch nature artist. Her particular special gift is to help us appreciate the beauty of the natural world. I’m pleased that she’s compiled a portfolio of her art into a book that includes twenty-four of her drawings along with thirteen short explanations. This master of the tools of her trade shares with us the kind of beauty that can only be found through sustained observation and a meditative approach to art. Paula’s work has inspired a number of my poems but the poem featured below was really fun to write.

Several years ago Paula wrote an explaination to go with a colored sketch that featured a beetle.  Since Paula is a good writer as well as a fine artist, the first line was both an homage to her unutterable respect for life and absolute poetry filled with the promise of story.

“I found a Carabidae beetle in a bucket with water and regretted its death by drowning… “

The line put me in mind of Isak Dinesen‘s unforgettable opening for Out of Africa,

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . . “

Something about those evocative sentences lets you know there’s a good story to come. And there was.

“It lay there for at least an hour and I hoped so much it would give a sign of life. Then I did the most crazy thing imaginable; I turned it on its back, squeezed it gently, and gave it heart massage (don’t ask). Three drops of water came out. I have no clue why I did such a weird thing. Would somebody tell me he or she had given cardiac massage to a beetle, I would have laughed out loud.” [Paula Kuitenbrouwer]

Check out Paula’s fine art at Mindful Drawing.

I REGRETTED ITS DEATH BY  DROWNING

after Paula Kuitenbrouwer

the garden floating in violet and ruby hues,
by the side of the house, a beetle floats too,
so jewel-like, amethyst and brilliant against
the dull gray water, it does not move

it lies there still as the dead of noon across
a bone-colored desert, and her hand so white,
wing-like flutters against its rigor, laying it
on the table, by a pad to sketch with pencils

that minuscule life, no will to release it
into whatever beetle heaven there might be,
laying tender finger to knead a tube-like heart
holding her breath, willing air into spiracles

wishful thinking? a flicker from the antennae?
slight movement of a leg? perhaps, perhaps
some healing pressure, one gentle push,
three drops of water, success in late hours

to savel a beetle, to sketch in varied colors
with time to hug the child and sip hot tea …
a creature rescued from death by drowning
and cherish the mindful drawing for a memory

– Jamie Dedes

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ David Wagner, Public Domain Pictures.net

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