I wrote much of “Can I Be Candid?” in a fever dream in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I turned to poetry when the lights were out and I needed a lantern to guide me back home.
I wrote from grief. I wrote from loss. I wrote from curiosity. I wrote from love. I wrote from wonder in order to find my way back to a place filled with illumination and healing.
When I wrote these poems, some of them filled napkins written quickly when I ran out of paper. I wandered through the corridors of my psyche in order to understand what it means to be candid — to hold space for another in the earnest desire to be vulnerable.
What does it mean to illuminate our shadows and truly witness the aspects of ourselves we fear? What does it mean to raise a lantern at a supposed beast and realize he is the most charming individual you’ve ever seen?
Along the way, I found solace in the myth of Cupid and Psyche, which carried me to this place of understanding I like to call home.
Now, one year later, I think I finally understand why I asked the question which initiated this chapbook. In the quest for understanding imposed in this question, I discovered connection within myself through illuminating my shadows.
Thank you for reading my words and sharing them. “Can I Be Candid?” the post-anniversary edition with seven new poems from the archive will be out October 28th. ✨
I think I’ve always defined myself as an artist above all else and expression has been the one umbrella, which defines all the work I do.
When I decided to make a custom candle and collaborate with @wildblackthorn to bring all these ideas into reality, I remembered thinking to myself how can I add another layer to the stories I’ve created, how can I contemplate the scents I’ve layered in naturally as a writer and bring another touch of the ephemeral and physical for you as you read The Council of Amara.
As an artist, one of my favorite endeavors is to bring all ideas from the ether and into the physical. It’s my favorite part of what I do and it’s why I love the muse.
I wanted to capture the unseen in this candle. I wanted to capture the scent of enlightenment in this candle — of coffee shops where intellectuals wrote, of horses on a dirty, dusty bustling road, of a kind offering being made to a young, wide-eyed girl: a pair of old ladies gloves.
I wanted to trace the scent between intellectual and find the rough, heady undertones, which marked it all.
Perhaps, above all else, I wanted to follow Isla’s footsteps in the place between it all as she strived to follow the scents she had grown up with and find her way home to the nature of enlightenment as she understood it to be.
Mark your calendars. The Nature of Enlightenment will be yours on January 14th.
In less than a week, my book will be in your hands. In one way or another, I’ve been working on these stories for at least three years now, but I’d like to say in theory I’ve been working on them since the day I was born. For me, these characters came in traces, captured in recollection.
Some of these stories began in a dream — in a woman’s voice; in a woman I wrote to understand. During my senior year of college, I wrote and defended a creative honors thesis, which included the linked short stories you will have in your hands soon. I spoke about the women I’ve always desired to see on the page — strong, flawed, and feminine heroines who didn’t always get everything right, but still persevered despite their limitations. I sought to seek strength in vulnerability and in the type of traits often characterized as weak. After years of witnessing hyper-masculinized and over-sexualized women on my television, I became fed up with the narrative currently surrounding strong female characters.
So, I wrote these stories. I wrote about women who weren’t necessarily strong in the masculine sense of the word, but were strong nevertheless in all their femininity. I never imagined I’d publish these stories once I completed my thesis, but something in me told me to release them like paper airplanes onto the world.
You won’t have to wait that much longer until these stories are yours, too.
I hope in this shared, liminal space you find exactly what you need to in the words I’ve written to this page.
The Council of Amara will be yours on December 31st.
I’ve been contemplating this tarot reading I did for a quick glance at the year ahead and how when I arrived at these cards they made no sense. In December, I was confused in many regards. The future appeared uncertain and insurmountable to me. I felt like it had power over me — a restless wind and I was a Paper sail to be spun about by its whims. I stared at these cards, asking what meaning they had to impart to me. Who was I? And what power did these cards have over me in my life and endeavor for meaning? Months later, I arrived at a new understanding of meaning for myself and my soul as we arrive at the conclusion of 2021 in nearly three months. Crazy to believe, isn’t it? Every decision I made has led me to this moment of unfolding. This moment of courage. This moment of creativity — to say, ah yes, here I am. This time, I can be Candid with you.
I’ve been contemplating the place the stranger occupies and our relation to it.
Who is the stranger? When does someone cease being the stranger, or the specter, in our eyes?
How did we come to calling the stranger our enemy? I suppose my spirituality predicates many of my views on the stranger as the one who is truly the familiar and it has informed my belief that we are all connected in our uniqueness — all divine expressions of the same source no matter what you want to call it.
In my first poetry collection, I consider the stranger my familiar — my lover, my beloved, and my dearest friend.
Today, my Dad asked me why I sign books for someone I’ve never met and left it there with no clue who may be receiving it.
And as I’ve told you now, I communicated the same message in kind to him.
I believe no one is truly a stranger.
I believe we share this moment and all the ones which came prior.
And if you greeted me on the road, asking for my solace and my embrace, would I not give it?
I’ve been pretty cryptic for a couple weeks now, dropping hints and mementos of lines on my socials from my first linked collection of short stories, which I’ve decided to publish. The Council of Amara, for me, was a project, which began in a dream, and in the nature of the muse we must listen to all our dreams and treat them with a kind of devotional care. During my senior year of college, I wrote and defended a linked collection of short stories, which spoke to the strength of femininity and the nature of seeing female as strong. Prior to this point, all I had witnessed within film and media was constant caricatures of women as hyper masculinized — cold, frigid, and ready to battle the world with an AK-47 and a bold red lip. As you might imagine, this deeply disturbed me on several levels. In my stories and the stories I saw painted on the page, I longed to see a woman like me: strong and feminine, vulnerable, brave, sometimes uncertain of her path, but strong despite it all. So, I wrote these stories as I contemplated desire and what decisions we are forced to succumb to in the nature of our desire as its magical enchantment grabs us with its silken golden threads and never lets go. I wrote for the women who cry and about the men who watch women cry and do not know how to properly witness it and care for it. I wrote for the men who do not know how to cry. I wrote for the women who long to see themselves in their own stories. And I wrote for myself. The Council of Amara, in its completed form, will be out on December 31st. Preorder is available now.
Today marks the official release of my Dad’s novel: Retrieval. I feel honored to hold space for my Dad and have been incredibly honored to make my Dad’s lifelong dream a reality.
In July, I decided to publish my first full-length poetry collection. This action, in turn, inspired my Dad to pursue his dreams and make them a reality. With my help with digital know-how and formatting, I helped my Dad finally hit that publish button yesterday and I can’t tell you how humbling that feels.
I’ve been mulling over these feelings for quite some time, so I thought I’d put them to the page now. I can’t tell you how honored I feel to have inspired another to go after their dreams after years of conceding to the whims of the traditional publishing industry who deemed my Dad’s manuscript not worthy.
For many years, I was in a similar boat as my father. I thought I would never publish if I couldn’t walk through the golden gates of traditional publishing.
And yet, here we both are now, victorious, with our words written on the page and now in your hands.
This morning, as I made my way to the airport, I was in a rush, surrounded by metallic drab grays and blues with insincere faces and the imminent will of the clock speeding me up.
I reached for my great grandmother’s gold necklace and fixed it onto my neck, combatting a headache and a sleepy daze, which I hadn’t been able to shake since last night.
I’m going home, I kept thinking.
As I rifled through my pockets at the TSA station, I discovered this memento I stowed away days ago from Yosemite Park. Instantly, it brought a smile to my face and made me remember, just like that, the divinity of this moment.
I’ll close off this note by wishing you well on your journey. Make sure you pack spare leaves and mementos as you traverse the darkest corners and emerge brilliant and golden with everything to show for it.