Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Via Negativa, from “Pitcher of Moon”

June 25, 2013


I have been thinking of this issue of creativity, where it comes from and where it goes. Some have this concept that artists, poets, etc. construct their work in isolation, but I think that is only part of the picture of creation. We breathe in the environment, we grab color from the cosmos. But also, those periods of Silence, Stillness, embracing the Dark of our souls, are important to our creativity, those fallow places…as much as when we are in full drive. Perhaps more important. Perhaps our work is born from a nothingness, a void, where we struggle to make it ‘real’…to bring it to some life, to expose it to air and light, to present it to the cosmos, to grab color and air by doing so. I don’t know. Perhaps we don’t really think of this process of creativity, and perhaps we don’t need to. There are too many words that get in the way of it.

“Via Negativa” is a poem from the soon-to-be-published Pitcher Of Moon.

Lady Nyo


Winter is the perfect channel
To carry Via Negativa,
No static
Just Silence, Stillness
And the embracing Dark.

On this path,
We sit in contemplation,
relish the early dusks,
No answers,
No struggle,
We are as empty as eggshells.

This time is filled by little outside;
A flash of darting cardinal
Like a stream of blood
racing past our eyes,
The sound of a falling limb
makes us search the skies,
The moaning of the wind
bustling around eaves,
soothes us,
The rattle of skeleton- bones
Of attic haunts
does not disturb us.

And yes, Death,
As Winter brings
To those who succumb to frigid winds,
And those lost from shelter.

These things are part of this path,
This dark quietude of a particular season.

We spiral into the Darkness,
Where we barely need breathe,
Conserve our energy,
And stare outside at such
A severe palette.

Stilling ourselves,
Stilling our hearts and thoughts,
We draw closer to low fires,
Scratch our dried skin
Like a monk in a hair shirt,
And, with time and patience–
Spiral back into the light of Spring.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012-2013

Royalty Checks…..

May 20, 2010

"The Zar Tales"

I  want to thank all  who have bought “A Seasoning of Lust” and the new “The Zar Tales”.  I just got a first quarter royalty check and was pleasantly surprised.

Wow!  Baby’s got new shoes!

Last year was a  challenge.  I was growing as a writer and had to pick carefully what influences came into my life.   I had to learn to ignore the bad, tempting though it could be.   Especially the dangerous.  There usually is more than a touch of madness  in this last category.

It was difficult but I learned discernment.  It was not an easy battle.  Some people exist  as human potholes.  They need to be avoided but sometimes you see the hole too late.  You can fall in, but the point is to climb out of the muck.  Shake yourself off and go on.

I had to readjust my sites and purpose as a writer.  I moved away from erotica in the main. There is good erotica….and then there is the horrendous.  Mostly fanciful literature of the bdsm nature.  But too inhuman by far.  At least for my nature.

Writing isn’t something I started out to do, but over the past 5 years it has taken a big part of my life.  I have met some absolutely marvelous people who helped me in too many ways to count.

I think being a writer is in  part about influences.  I have had the great guidance and friendship of really good writers. Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Steve Isaaks and others have helped and encouraged in ways I didn’t foresee.  I had the support of people who were dedicated READERS and that made all the difference to me.  I could chart what worked and what didn’t through their eyes and opinions.  It all went into the mix of becoming a writer.

Readers of this blog know  I have been writing a novel about feudal Japan.   “The Kimono” is also a time- warp story and the research for the 16th century parts (which is 90% of the novel) has been all consuming.  It’s thrown my life, and my husband’s…into new territory. With a novel like this, it should.  We are planning a trip to northern Japan for next year and to do some observations of the Yamabushi cult somewhere around Gassan (Moon) Mountain.  Yamabushi figures in strongly in this book.

Recently I exchanged correspondence with Lucia St. Clair Robson, the author of “The Tokaido Road”.  She published this novel in 1991.  It is a heavily-detailed and researched book.  Having some of the same issues in writing, research, we have a lot to talk about.  Lucia has been very open and encouraging on “The Kimono”.  We find that we also have a lot of opinions in common about writing.  That really helps because sometimes writing historical fiction seems like the most lonely thing one can attempt in life.  Research, the foundation for these kind of books….is never ending.  You just settle in and hope  what you read doesn’t contradict what you read before- but it usually does.  You learn about different cultures, and you learn  there are no “Chinese Walls” between people or cultures.

This is a really exciting period for me.  I’ve shaken the restricting and ridiculous influences of the past and feel  I have grown in my potential: as a writer but more as a woman, a human being.  I expect more of myself, and forgiving folly and fools is on the list.  I am also on that list.  And like “Earl”….I have a list.

I have received so many emails and phone calls of encouragement and congrats on the publication of the first two books.  That people are buying them and LIKING them! is a source of amazement to me.

“The Kimono” will take time to finish and rewrite.  There is always the necessary rewrite of things.  But “White Cranes of Heaven” is piecing together nicely and hopefully by this fall it will be published.  Though “A Seasoning of Lust” was an ‘adult’ book, and I learned a hard way it wasn’t suited to rabbis/nuns/and 90/92/97 year old readers,…. I am toying with the idea of a section in “Cranes” called “Bad Cranes of Heaven” for those poems which are mostly erotica.  Perhaps a ‘tear-away’ section that could cover it’s tracks???

Lady Nyo

“Musings on a Closing Day”, from “A Seasoning of Lust ” and Comments on Growth in Writing

July 19, 2009

Jesus Christ! Where did all these poems come from?  Not the ones already published in “Seasoning- Lust”, but these new poems I must have been writing in my sleep.  I promised I would post some pieces from the book, but I was looking over a pile of new poems written since and right before the publish date.  They appeared like mushrooms after the rain and probably have a shelf life as such.

It’s funny, I have been working on finishing up a novel, “Devil’s Revenge” something I have posted here in bits and pieces, but I think the new poetry, which I hastily grouped together under the WIP name:  “White Cranes of Heaven”, were really detours, maybe a cleansing of the palette because they have nothing at all to do with the subjects and issues of “Devil”.   They are as random and disjointed as they can be as a collection.  And, most of the have nothing to do with erotica.  Which I think is fine and a nod to growth.  I do think that there will soon come a time where I just will have to post a few, like a test drive, because I need to know whether they, or these, ‘connect’ with readers.

And that is my rant over the past few months:  connection in poetry.  We all have read ‘personal statements in poetry, but does it really connect, speak somewhat to our own condition?

And that’s the rub.  Years ago I remember someone, another painter saying that ‘if a painting didn’t have some resonance elsewhere,  didn’t spark something of the universal in viewers, hang it on your bathroom wall.’

I think that applies even more to poetry.  We can get tied up in the issue of “personal statement”, and that’s ok, but is it an ‘interesting’ personal statement?  Does it or can it strike a flame in another?

We sometimes are so tied up as to our ‘originality’, our ‘uniqueness’ (and this is part of the madness of narcissism that seems to be ‘ok’ in our society) that we bystep the part of  our humanity that seeks to make connections through our creativity.

And on this issue of growth?  It should never stop.  Oh, I do know a few fellows who pat themselves on the back and talk how balanced they are, and come off as ‘wise’ and worldly.  But under the surface I detect insecurity, fear and something that leads to ossicification of the spirit.  No sense of growth or adventure in them at all.

I do more the ‘blinding walk out into the world’ and get creamed with mistakes, miss steps and misadventures.  But I learn.  More, I grow, and that is the point of life.  Up till death.  You want to squeeze out all possibilities until they place the coins on your eyes.

Lady Nyo


I move my chair
to observe Mt. Fuji-
monstrous  perfection
with the cooling crust
of spring snows.

Languid movements
of  a branch
like a geisha
unfurling her arm
from a gray kimono
makes petals fall,
a scented, pink snow
covering my upturned face
with careless kisses.

Timid winds caress
my limbs,
bringing relief
to old and tired bones
brittle now with life’s argument
and sullen defeat.

Raked sands of garden
waves are hardly disturbed
by feet like two gray stones
and grains  flow
round ankles and
I realize once again
I am no obstacle to
the sands of time.

My heart is quieted
by the passage of nothing
for in this nothing
is revealed the fullness of life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2009

I have been a wild woman for a while,

September 21, 2008

and it’s been for months. I dropped into a specific kind of mentoring relationship a while ago, and never really settled in. I was a rounded object trying to fit into a rigid, square space and mindset. I was impatient and had little discipline. Worked for others, why not me?

But the problems were large, and it wasn’t working. As my friends know, I left that relationship and started to look around. There were other ‘invites’ but I was chary, having learned at least that I was in flux, and to reconsider what I was doing at this point. I didn’t need to jump into anything else, having still to sum up what I had just come out of.

At least I had realized power and control from the outside does not answer to the power and self-control needed from the inside first. When you listen to something outside, sometimes… abdicate what is needed to do inside. I needed to do some serious self-work.

My loving friends told me that everything I needed right now was inside me already. Fine. How to access that when I was a ball of confusion and anxiety? Well, slow down, enter the silence and still my mind. Clarify things through the practice of mediation.

I was a Quaker for 12 years, until 2001. I was used to the practice of sitting in silence, listening, hopefully for the voice of my particular God who rarely showed up. But it was a practice that at least I was familiar with. I forgot a lot of those lessons over the past few years, and especially when I started to write two years ago. Images, words, concepts, all these things whirled around my head and distracted me. Recently I have tried to go back to a particular form of meditation, and I am making a little progress.

I find that I settle into meditation, and my mind instead of stilling it’s thoughts, either throws me back into the recent past, or hurries me up to the future. It is very hard to stay in the present.  All I do is seem to argue with myself when I try to meditate.

But I know now what is happening. My ego is fighting to keep itself in power, it’s trying to direct the workings of my present state…and it’s fighting a hard battle. I was faced with someones powerful ego, and my own rose to do battle just about all the time. It got used to putting on it’s armor and going to war, whether it was openly or covertly. I was always tense and finally got too weary to make good decisions for myself. And my ego got nasty and hurtful, lashing out with abandon. A number of people suffered, and probably didn’t deserve it. Or maybe they did. I shouldn’t say, right?

Ego doesn’t serve you. Its job, I am told, and I am finding out, is to remain in power. It blocks growth and ultimately knowledge that would free you from its tyranny and allow the heart to come in and look around, decide things that are much healthier.

Yep, it’s all inside….the issue is how to unlock it. That was the rub.

I was struggling with the not so simple “Om namah shivaya” mantra , meaning “I honor the divine within me”. I didn’t know how to breathe and internalize the words, get lost of deep within. Then I lay out on my bed, with cats to the left of me, right of me, and sitting on my pelvis. Their warmth and combined comfort seems to propel me into some natural rhythm and it all fell into place.

Om-inhale/namah-exhale/shiva-inhale/yaaaa-exhale. I found myself slowing down, breathing gently and deeply, floating upon the words.

The Sanskrit was nice, but the English is what makes the point. Then I found that my mind split into two parts, and though my voice (or my mind) was saying the Sanskrit, another part of my mind was understanding it in English: “I honor the divine within me.” At the same time.

These all sound like the mechanics of something and not the essence of it all. But it’s coming, it’s developing fruit on the limb and that takes time. I am becoming, finally, more mindful of being mindful. That’s a buzz word with many, this ‘mindfulness’, but it’s something that can be obtained. It goes beyond discipline and straight to the heart.

All these things are brand new and still rather stilted within me. But it beats beating myself up for failure and disobedience to those outside voices.

It has come time to still the mind and listen to that heart, and hopefully the divine someday inside.

Lady Nyo.

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