Above is a sneak-peek of my retelling of The Walled-Up Wife,
as presented by the amazing Manor House Quarterly. (If you really really really like what you see, leave a comment.
I have one extra copy to share with some lucky person, so if you really really really do love it, I’ll send it to you.)
Happy last day of poetry month everyone!
First, I would like to apologize for not posting more “Living Poetry Projects” this month. My computer died, is dead, and may never live again. This isn’t the first time my laptop has caught on fire, but it is still difficult to lose EVERYTHING—baby photos, contacts, and every word written. (I really need to get in the practice of backing up my files.)
It might take me awhile to scrape together enough nickels and dimes to buy a replacement laptop, but when I do, I promise more Living Poetry for everyone.
Along with the fatality of my beloved laptop, I was buried alive this weekend. That’s right. Buried alive. And surprisingly, it felt great.
Students, teachers, and artist gathered at Antelope Valley College to immure me within 500 pounds of cider block while I read from The Walled-Up Wife: A Casebook edited by Alan Dundes. Alan Dundes brings together eighteen essays on this classic ballad. This poem is about the tragic sacrifice of a female victim to ensure the successful completion of a building. Dundes concludes the collection with his own feminist and psychoanalytic interpretations of the ballad, followed by suggestions for further reading. This is a great read.
I first read this book after giving birth to my son; it has haunted me ever since. I couldn’t help myself; I had to know this poem—had to become this poem. After writing my own retelling, it seemed important to put myself “in” the wall. With the help of a videographer, photographer, students, painters, dancers, even a sandwich maker, I was buried alive!
What I learned from the experience is, if I’m surrounded by people whome I love and trust, I can face even my greatest fear—death and burial. With love, I can find joy hiding behind the mask that terrifies–a grave, becomes a womb. The most difficult part of this experience was not being able to see the color, dance, and light that were building upon my tomb.
I will be very excited to share the footage once we have edited the event into a short film. Photographs should be ready to share in the next few weeks. But for now, I thought I would just mention that the event didn’t kill me—in many ways the project re(birthed) me.
Poetry is life.
Along with a fun poetry project, I had the privilege of meeting Dane Cardiel (editor of Manor House Quarterly) and his friend Jeff Umphres. They drove from San Diego to help bury me. These gentlemen renew my faith in imagination and inspire me to do more for the arts. Art finds its roots in friendship.
For more information about the project, read Antelope Valley Arts blog.