[Starting something new this year; let’s see if you dig it.]
November 2014, I received a Facebook message from the founder of Keep St. Pete Lit, soliciting submissions for their event, Fantastic Ekphrastic! Ekphrastic poetry is my favorite format, so I felt it was a good fit. I immediately thanked Maureen McDole for including me, then selected Mark Aeling’s piece for my reaction. I remember feeling very proud, having solidified what I intended to do three years ago: participate in and contribute to the local literary arts scene.
With a few weeks to play in, I set out to visit the piece in person. I met with Mark at his studio, then we both walked over to Soft Water Studios where his sculpture, Arc Angel, was displayed.
Practiced at information gathering, I asked him open-ended questions and limited my reactions so as to register the artistic frequency Mark was rocking out on. We chatted a bit more, then he dismissed himself while I remained with Arc Angel. I switched from data collection to reflection, and in that reflection, The Muse played with ideas and themes; me, noting them in my Darth Vader notebook. Once done, I took the notes home and let them sit. Marinate, I call it. Let the phenomenon of the interaction-reaction-reflection solidify in itself. Later, when in a creative space, infuse it with emotion, then shape it with technique.
Close to the submission due date, an unexpected event cast doubt on my budding romantic relationship. The situation was unfamiliar, dredging up foreign feelings, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared to manage it. I rapidly slid from overly ecstatic to completely overwhelmed to abject hatred to true despair. I imagine I was difficult to experience, but he remained with me, which I found rather brave of him.
The next morning, as he slept in, I went back to my Darth Vader pseudocodes and began to develop. “Use the pain,” I’ll always remember the creative advice from my childhood, and I did, quite a few versions. My body trembling, feeling rejected and fatalistic, I surrendered to my headphones and the musical selections chosen to exorcise the tempo of the piece.
The next thing I remember, he’s standing over me, looking deeply concerned. I realize I’ve been crying hard in my sleep. We both were startled by my outburst, “I FEEL SO UNLOVED!”
What a retarded thing to say, I remember thinking as he comforted me.
We talked and apologized and the roller coaster we were on came to an abrupt halt. He let me be while I finished my piece. About the thirteenth edit, I felt it was right. Treats of honesty, jubilation, and hope dipped in the vinegar of melancholy.
I submitted the completed piece to Maureen, and she passed it on to The Studio@620 for their performing artists to interpret.
While I got an opportunity to visit with Mark, I did not have an opportunity to visit with Bob Devin Jones or the talent at his studio. Therefore, my experience of the performance was phenomenological. I allowed myself to be thrown into the uncertain place, accepting the studio’s intentionality as my own, letting the wonderful ensemble take me away…