Have I Told You Lately…that I love this book

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You can love someone without ever touching their skin, seeing the whites of their eyes (as my grandmother would say), or sharing tea, coffee or wine in the corner of your favorite cafe. And you can grow to respect and care deeply for someone whom you have never had the pleasure of “meeting in the flesh.”

You can long after a place you’ve never been or seen. Dream of a one day or a right now. Long for a place called home that you know in your soul can exist, does exist and more importantly will be embraced. In time. At the “just right time”. And dream that love and life will thrive and grow. When tended and nourished through every season of a year. This is the power of hope.

Christie and I have never met. At least not yet. And yet I call her friend. We share a love of words and of old homes, good food, chickens, gardens and of family. We both have the honor of contributing as monthly writers at GraceTable.Org. A community that fosters the friendships of its writers.

Here are the words I used  in my Amazon review to describe “Roots and Sky”, her soulful book just published by Revell Books:

From the earliest places of this book, through the thoughtful middle and up until the final page, there exists a beautiful and poetic enveloping. Writer of reader. Loosely held was I, within every page and every line. A masterful and authentic storyteller, Purifoy covers us with her rich lyrical prose. With artful subtlety and nuance, she is at once gifted as a story-teller and as a contemplative writer. Purifoy achieves a gathering up of the reader to herself with this memoir. We are held tenderly as we listen. And somehow we discover our own stories as she tells her own. Purifoy’s writing bares her individual journey and yet touches on universal themes that draw us in. The rhythms of life, love and of seeking God in every crack and crevice of Maplehurst are unveiled with a richness that rings authentic and poetically throughout.

Upon my completion of “Roots and Sky,” I was hungry to go back and read through again. Pen in hand. Ready again for the exquisite voice of Purifoy. (And I wanted to go dig in the dirt of my own old Victorian home. To explore and grow. Uncover and plant.) Purifoy’s passions of place and for home and family are contagious, indeed. And now I eagerly await her second book.

 

Since this review, I have spent additional time within the pages of “Roots and Sky.” I’ve revisited some of my favorite lines. Flipped around and stumbled on new gems from Christie. I have read lines aloud on Instagram (@graceappears). And now I am sharing here. Sharing the goodness of “Roots and Sky” because I believe this is a book that seeps into the soul. Lyrically and honestly.

And, truly, what more can we ask from a book than to be authentic, honest, lovely and real.

One day I know I will have tea with Christie. But if this certainty of mine never comes to pass, I know her well through her writing. And what more can we ask from a writer but to reveal the honest places of her life, her very soul. Her triumphs, her tragedies and her dreams. This is the beauty of “Roots and Sky.”

While following Christie through four seasons at her beloved Maplehurst, we are invited to dream and hope, always hope, as we discover the beauty of simplicity and the joy of finding our place in the world.

This weekend I will be giving a couple of copies away over at my other writing home “A Quiet Place For Words.” Once weekly-ish I mail a little letter to subscribers. Join me there?

I hope you win. I wish I had a box the size of all outdoors to give to all my people. I love this book that much.

peace and grace,

e

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Scenes From A Day In The Life Of A Woman Longing For Christmas Joy

Titles should be short, pithy and easy to skim. Oh well. I grant myself grace in the area of this rule, this day. And I am hoping you will too. (Says the poet to herself and to her patient readers).

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The birds come to the feeder late. I know how they feel. Hunger strikes out of the shadows of the gray. And there is comfort by the window sill. I watch them feed as they befriend me on the warm side of the cool pane. I wonder if I bring them even an ounce of the comfort they bring me.

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I am unpacking boxes. They come, thrown my way like confetti. That which is left for the street cleaners at the end of a seemingly unending parade. I cannot not look. I cannot not clean. I press on. Each box a memory. A yearbook from 1944. War was. War is. Change comes. And we still hunger after peace. I open the musty navy blue leather and peek. It is all I can do. My skin and bones and flesh and soul can only feel so much of the memories I must unravel. How can I not honor the dead. How can I bear the stories that are only half way laid to rest. How can I hurry by the legacy of the buried. The dead. Pausing I nod. Pausing I acknowledge. The pages are a hiding place for more. Someone has tucked a dozen black and white photographs inside. And I must look all the way back. It is 1940 something. It is 2014 or something.

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The music plays loud. Then dolce. Then deafening. I do not dare go without. It is my mana, my sustenance, my companion. It mirrors the wait. It echos the longing. It speaks for me. It whispers, even loudly, the reminders of hope. I pluck songs out of the airstream and swallow them. Hungry for the phraseology of hymn and song and poetry of each tune. Without the music these days, I feel I may starve my soul. Hungry am I for the notes to wash over me. Hungry for Christmas in every line. Hope rides on the backs of the black and white sharps and flats. And I find comfort. While I wait for the joy.

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The books can entangle me the most. We have hidden things within the pages. We have used them as a repository for our lives. We have documented our living with their titles. There are series and seasons of titles that remind. Of craving organization and longing to steward well. Of birding and birthing and boating and raising our children. Preparing them for flight, on the other side. To the other side. Away. There are books we read. And books we never did. I grieve. And among them a book from a friend. Written in french. I look for room. I am running out. Of ideas and room. Of patience and space.

But I crack the spine and find her words written in 1978 to me. I cannot weep. For if I start, I may not stop. I am battling emotions which come and go. My heart, it longs for Christmas. It is 1970 something. I went to Paris without her. I remember it well. I cannot weep.

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I cannot escape the banging. The clamoring. The sounds of nails driving into the wood. And I remember the time, 33 years, from my creche with the baby in the manger. Until the cross. And I wonder if the people building this home, know the cost. They do. Monetarily. But every day the nails are hammered. Hundreds. And I hear nearly every one. The work. The patience. The hours. The noise. The sacrifice. Why do they need a home so grand. It looms. And is large. Maybe they, like me, have memories to house. To store. And the books. With no where to go.

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I go back to my unpacking, my music, turning up my favorite carols and hymns. They help buffer the hammers and nails. And I excavate. And unpack. And long, really hunger for Christmas. And pray that the old cravings for more subside. Pray that simplicity will invade my living space. And hope that this weary world will prepare Him room, as Heaven and nature sing.

And I trust with all that I am and all that I have, that Love will come down at Christmas.
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Joining Beth at just be beth dot com for Unforced Rythms

The Winter Of A Potential Malcontent

wpid-20140212_145037.jpgFor a long and frozen moment
Moments of dark and cold fall over us
Weapons of malcontent
I might have known
War zone trauma
Traumatized by Pax
So close to peace, its wretched name
Trees break, grunt, moan
Fall from the sky, war wounded
Like bombs extinguishing
Life from the day
Exploding
Last week’s tulips bow in mourning
My shoulders
Rise to my ears in fear
A mortar of pine and oak, ice and pine
Will land on this
World of mine
Repetition of a death march
Battle weary are we

The talking head said
To fight cabin fever
Stay hydrated, move,
Stimulate your mind
All creativity is drying up
Going up in smoke with the fire
That is now our world, hovering round
The hearth of the home
2014 reeks of 1814

No power no water
No light
Disconnection sets in
Dirty and cold

The piano, frozen
As am I
Spoiled by Pandora and Spotify
Times like this we wish
We could remember to play
Ebony and ivory

The winter will not be a victor
I refuse to bow down and give in
Lonely and cold
Dark and restlessness
Quiet and routine bully my soul
My white flag, were I to raise it
Would not be seen

We are adrift in a sea of white
And grays color the soul

Though I know Spring, like the tide will rise
And the sun will burn
Ice will melt
And yes
We will dance and feast, warm our souls
On the heat of the earth
The tyranny of the urgent is ruling the day
Heavy handed and cruel
I will not lie down in defeat

For these are the days
The right here times
When the battle is on
And in full swing
I armor up with
Flashlight in hand
And the words
Always
Words will shift the balance of power
Ravenous and hungry
I devour her words.

At first I sat with “Booked”
In my hands
Propped in the threshold of the front door
Squeezing the light out of the day
As the earth stood nearly still
When an early visitor came to call
Nightfall
And darkness
And I like a child rolled up in a ball
Fought hard against tears
Formed from the  words
As they lept from the page

I battle-scarred

Seeking solace
I remain
Held captive, nearly numb
Frozen in place

Now thawed by Prior
And her words
Held
In a warm embrace
Safe from Pax, seeking
Peace
Inside the pages

Of “Booked”

Taking “Spin” To The Nth Degree – An Interview With Author Claire Burge

I am not a professional interviewer. I am a poet, writer, noticer. And I love stories, people and getting to the soul of a person. To dig deep, to ask questions, and to uncover things that are buried. To mine for more.

So really, as you will see, I am not terribly adept at interviewing authors. But I so love finding the poetic soul of a project.

I first met Claire Burge, or rather I have only met Claire, virtually, through the community  at Tweetspeak Poetry. Her book “Spin: Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree”  was recently published by TS Poetry Press and a group of us are having a delightful time discussing “Spin” in a Tweetspeak Poetry bookclub.

I think that Claire would be more than okay with my beginning this post by saying I have not thought of myself as being creative until very very recently. And I imagine the author of “Spin: Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree” would be thrilled to know that she inspires me, encourages me and challenges me. This is certainly not about me. But I, like many, saw other people, especially family members as the “creatives”. And I lived on the outskirts. Defining myself not as a poet, writer, noticer, as I do today. I was void, by self-definition of anything  creative. Operating out of other parts of my brain and heart but not self-identifying as creative.

You will see in Claire’s own words that it was for someone a bit like me, well maybe a lot like me that she penned this unique book So I am grateful to have her take me and all of us on a journey of exploration into creativity. If you are trying to maximize your own God-given creative potential, if you are hoping to organize your ideas for a dream book into something manageable, or even if you just love people, interesting and passionate people, then pull up a cup of hot cooca, Claire would, and join me.

This really is about Claire, in her own words. And it is really especially about “Spin”. What a joy to sit in my home and have this woman described as “part chaos” allow me to ask her questions. To dig much deeper into her book. And to have her, there in Dublin, respond so graciously. Her answers are so in depth and thought provoking that I simply cannot edit her.Well, I can’t edit myself or anyone very well for that matter. Well maybe my mother’s book which I helped edit. But that’s another story.  I do love stories, detailed, nuanced and intriguing.

Maybe that is why I loved “Spin”. Claire’s words and Brian Dixon’s whimsical and wonderful illustrations make the pages of this book perfect for doodling on, dreaming within and digging into. And send you  out on the other side knowing more about who and what you are as a creative being.

Elizabeth: 

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Claire, I love the way in which you weave your unique life thread of your story, of your journey, throughout this book. It speaks to me particularly well because it is not a prescriptive for creativity, but shows us through the art of story how everything, every part of our lives feeds into the creative “us”. What a beautiful picture you paint throughout. There could be a tendency to see, on the surface, a story,  as seemingly “unrelated” to a book on the creative process. But boy is it lovely how you show us the connectedness of these tender places, chapters, in our lives. How everything is related to who we are as creatives.

Elizabeth:

I am interested in the birth of the book, how the concept came about. It is so unique. Did you start with the concept of memoir? Did you look back on your life and story and see the places and times of your life which imprinted your creative self the most? And then go from there. Can you speak to how the book was “born”. I would love to know more of its genesis. And as a part of that, did you set out to write a blueprint for the creative process, or did it just grow organically out of memoir writing?

Claire:

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The Genesis
The genesis of the book is an interesting question because it speaks to the creative process in and of itself. Now that you have asked the question, I see the genesis of the book happening in three stages spanning many years.

The first started way before I even realised that I would ever write a book on the topic of creativity: I dated a very talented creative. He was musically gifted. He won numerous awards for his drawing, sketching and painting work. He could sculpt like few could. He was an all-rounder creative if you will and it simply emanated from every fibre of his being. I never created around him. I retreated completely into the left hemisphere of my brain and only emerged many years after our break up. I turned to business and figures because that was one area where he was weak. I never realised this at the time but I did many years later when I had to confront my own creative-in-hiding.

I believe we’re all creative. I really do. We sometimes make choices that either nurture or dampen that creative inside of us. This relates to the genesis of the book because the reader I had in mind when I wrote the book was not the accomplished creative who feels that they are at the pinnacle of it all but rather the person who feels inadequate enough to even have a dialogue with that creative inside of them.

I also did four things:

1. I categorised broadly the lessons in my life book that I have been keeping since I was 15. Creativity emerged as a category in which I had penned many lessons.

2. I sent a Facebook message to a number of people who I would deem creative with the following questions:

a. What would make you buy a book on creativity?
b. if you did buy one, what would you like to find inside?

3. I considered why people have called me creative over the years. I recalled conversations and I jotted down at a high level the words that had been used in them.

4. I looked at various self-help books for their structures and then chose a blended approach from all of them that I felt would meet my audience and the material itself.

Now the above is what I would call the conception of the book but it morphed radically as the writing got under way. Brian and I decided to work alongside one another rather than work in two separate phases. So, I would write a few chapters and send them on to him. He would then illustrate and I would give feedback. During conception, the vision had very much been to keep the illustrations as a “support” to the book itself but by chapter 10, I realised that the illustrations were more important than that. For me, Brian and I are very much co-authors rather than illustrator and author.  Without his work, the book becomes rather prescriptive and that is the last thing I want it to be.

You asked about memoir and whether I set out to write a blueprint for creativity: it was never planned as memoir but I realised very early on in the process that I am in no way the go-to expert on creativity and I never intend on being that. I definitely did not want to write the blueprint. I did not want to write a self-help book.  I wanted to share a story with the hopes of uncovering other stories. I want my story to ultimately fade into the background as the reader’s story becomes their compass back to their inner creative.

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Join me here tomorrow for Part Two of my interview with Claire.  I will share with you some more of Claire’s responses to my “digging in” questions, my favorite part of the book, and an excerpt from the pages of “Spin.” I have also written a review on Amazon. Click on the link below to order your  own copy of  “Spin” or to send it as a Christmas gift. And check out my review while you’re there.

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Claire’s book Spin is available here on Amazon

Her websight may be found here at Claire Burge dot com. And follow her on Twitter at @claireburge

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