Are you weary of repetitive thought patterns, habits of old, stale insights, or even a genuine lack of inspiration for the routines of daily life? Poetry, fortunately, is like hitting the refresh button. A poem that touches the heart and mind instantly creates a bit of inner space by providing that empowering moment when you finally start to notice your own breathing again. I hope you enjoy reading Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time.
Time’s powerful dictates are often unchallenged, even unnoticed, so I decided to face the clock, the calendar, the joy and the pain that “time” has delivered, to see what was hiding behind those insistent hands of time.
Of the books I’ve written so far, this one feels the most like a gift from another realm; the words seem to speak to anyone who wants to probe the unexplored … the unspoken … and the mysterious nature of each moment.
“Yet, the questions dance around us, and only poetry can find the rhythm.”
―D.A. (Daisy) Hickman, ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH: Poems of Time
Each poem, a story of its own, but also part of a much bigger story.
What will you glean from each poem? Will you discover the story of time?
“Poems are small moments of enlightenment.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
From a reader …
“To me, it is a masterwork, from the beautiful front cover to the impressive blurbs on the back. It is obvious that so much thought went into each word, each chapter heading, each title. I am thoroughly humbled by your reach and grasp of subjects which many would never attempt to address through poetry.”
A progressive six-part story, ANCIENTS explores how we navigate time as our awareness expands and deepens.
ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH searches for the story of time in a way you’ve never encountered it before. Each poem is a reflection of time, the many ways we experience it during our lifetimes. Sometimes we notice its influence, but too often, we don’t, as time is a mysterious and complicated facet of daily life. But once we are more aware of its curious dictates, we can transcend its boundaries in ways never thought possible. While time seems to have a steely grip on our lives, we can discover its secrets, and we can even begin to “find” time.
Now available on AMAZON and most other book sites.
I hope you enjoy these “poems of time.” I promise you they will encourage you to think about time in fascinating new ways.
“This compendium of elegant poems will both root you firmly in the earth’s rich soil, and give you wings to soar to other dimensions.” —Matthew Peters, PhD, novelist, teacher
“A powerfully evocative exploration of humanity and the journey through time that we all share, if not always comfortably. Finally, a deeply insightful book of poetry that leads me to myself.”
—Mark David Gerson, author, The Voice of the Muse
“D.A. Hickman’s poems brilliantly illuminate a subject that eludes us all–time. A vivid and intimate examination of time’s boundaries, time’s passage, this beautifully curated collection will change the way you think about the past, experience the present, and meet the future. Spellbinding and provocative, ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH will fill you with wonder, time and time again.” —Laurie Buchanan, PhD, author, Note to Self
Thanks so much for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. See you again soon!
“Yet, the questions dance around us, and only poetry can find the rhythm.”
―D.A. (Daisy) Hickman, ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH: Poems of Time
However you feel about poetry, whether or not you love it or not exactly, I have just published a new collection that might pique your interest. Why? It’s about a mysterious subject we all must contend with. It’s about the limits and the luxuries of time, and how it quietly manipulates our lives in the background. Wanting to probe this mystery for insights, I explored time’s powerful dictates via poetry, and came up with a collection that, much like a timepiece, moves along quickly, persistently, and confidently, while allowing ample space for personal (and subjective) interpretation.
How do you experience time? How has come to impact your life? Do you often wish it away, or clamor for more?
Where did the title come from, you ask?
It was a wonderful, last-minute discovery. I already had a title. One I really liked.
But … when I began searching for an intriguing line of poetry, a quote, an epigraph, to open the book, I turned to Alfred Lord Tennyson‘s work. He was a favorite of my grandmother’s, and I try to weave him into whatever book I’m working on. In my memoir, THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of Time Undone, I had a chance to mention his 1850 collection, “In Memoriam.” As many of you know, when Tennyson was only 24, his very good friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, died. Alfred then spent some ten years writing over a hundred poems dedicated to his dear friend, Arthur.
I was not familiar, however, with his famous poem that was published as an actual book in 1842: “The Day-Dream.” Scanning the book I soon ran across these intriguing lines: “For we are Ancients of the earth, And in the morning of the times.” Immediately, I knew that was my title. Historically, as I mentioned in my new collection, as a continuation of all that has come before us, we are all “ancients of the earth.” And since I was focusing on time in my poems, Tennyson’s reference to time via “ancients of the earth” seemed like the perfect fit for my first book of poetry. I guess we never know how our literary efforts will be resurrected by others with the passage of years. Alfred probably never imagined that someone publishing in 2017 would decide to use a line from his work for their title.
At any rate, here is the lovely book cover … there is another story behind the cover art. I found the photograph by Jon Firskr Larsen (Spearfish, SD, photographer) in 2015 and decided to buy it, knowing I would need cover art for the books I was writing. So when my collection began to take shape, I remembered his photo, Sunrise Goose, and knew, like the Tennyson quote, it was the perfect fit.
Probing experience and knowledge through the hypnotic lens of time, Ancients of the Earth penetrates the haziness of existence.
Where does time hide? Can we ever really “find” time? Without a doubt.
Poems that weave a captivating story, that spotlight a persistent wondering, invite readers to explore,
personally and symbolically, the powerful dictates of time anew.
The collection is available on various popular book sites. As you read, I hope you find it compelling and memorable. Please share a reader comment on amazon once you read the book, as other readers, and, certainly authors, depend on your keen impressions.
Poetry grew on me very slowly over the years … but now, it seems perfect for our harried, chaotic world … a slice of brevity that manages to convey real emotion, fruitful contemplation. I know we are all too busy, but I try to read at least one poem a day, because I can always “find time” for that. It’s not a bad way to go either. A strong poem can sustain me throughout the day … often longer.
What do you think, ever had this experience? How do you like to read poetry, large chunks at a time … or more slowly, deliberately?
August is the bridge to autumn, and though I’m reluctant to step onto that bridge sometimes, “time” continues to demand it. That alone is a fascinating thought … so back to the keyboard. Another collection of poetry is already taking shape. It won’t be about time, per se, but it will be something you’ll definitely want to read! More details … 2018!
“This compendium of elegant poems will both root you firmly in the earth’s rich soil, and give you wings to soar to other dimensions.” —Matthew Peters, PhD, novelist
“A powerfully evocative exploration of humanity and the journey through time that we all share, if not always comfortably. Finally, a deeply insightful book of poetry that leads me to myself.” —Mark David Gerson, author, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write
“D.A. Hickman’s poems brilliantly illuminate a subject that eludes us all—time. A vivid and intimate examination of time’s boundaries, time’s passage, this beautifully curated collection will change the way you think about the past, experience the present, and meet the future. Spellbinding and provocative, ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH will fill you with wonder, time and time again.” —Laurie Buchanan, PhD, author, Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth
Thanks so much for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. See you again soon!
WE all wonder how authors find their material, their voice, and the insight to turn meaningful concepts and words into books. So it’s a real pleasure to have Heidi Barr as my Studio Guest in SunnyRoomStudio this week. Heidi’s guest post tackles author inspiration and sustaining a career of words when it’s also completely normal to worry about “ideas,” and where the next one will come from. If at all, right? Regardless of your creative focus, I think you will enjoy Heidi’s perspective on this. She also poses some great questions at the close of her piece. We all need a meaningful prompt now and then, don’t we?
Heidi Barr lives near the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota with her husband and daughter where they tend a large organic vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply. She authored Prairie Grown: Stories and Recipes from a South Dakota Hillside and will soon release Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth. Heidi’s book is forthcoming (September 19, 2017), so I’ve shared the pre-order link in case you prefer a head start.
I think you’ll really enjoy getting to know Heidi. I love the quote she posted with this picture on her Facebook author page. “Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.” ―Thoreau
I asked her about this picture, how it came to be … because I thought it captured something important about her and her work as an author in today’s frenzied world. She replied that the picture was taken “out on the little lake we live on” … she was with a friend (in another canoe, hence the photo), and that it was “one of those days to just paddle around slowly, taking in the energy of the afternoon.”
The importance of time like this can’t be stressed enough. And reading a book by someone who “gets this” … could change your life perspective, or confirm it. Either way, I’m happy to share Heidi’s guest post here in SunnyRoomStudio. Welcome, Heidi!
Heidi is a mother, spouse, gardener, and writer; she is committed to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities and the planet. She loves putting words together to paint pictures of ideas, as well as walking with others as they explore what it means to live well on a finite planet. Hiking through forests and across prairies, wading in streams, digging in the soil and surrounding herself with natural wonder help her stay grounded in reality.
“Trust that in your head, in your heart, in your skill, there are more ideas, hundreds, thousands of them.
Some of them are half-finished on the page; some of them are hiding under the weight of that
thing you feel obligated to finish. Let it go.” ~ Allison K Williams
THE LENS OF GRATITUDE
by Heidi C. Barr
On good days, I call myself a writer. I wake up feeling like I have something to say, and I figure out a way to put words together in a way that makes sense to other people. I enjoy the work, and if it’s hard, it’s hard in a way that makes me want to keep at it. On less good days, I wake up feeling like I have run out of ideas, that my well of words has run dry, and that calling myself a writer just isn’t accurate anymore. I wonder how I ever thought of all of those sentences and ideas and posts and books, and I imagine what life will be like now that I no longer have anything to say.
Fortunately, those little negative voices on the less good days always get overshadowed by a new idea, even if it’s writing about how I can’t think of anything else to write about. Life has a way of providing material, whether I like it or not. As Annie Dillard writes, “Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.”
I see my work as a writer to be that of giving voice to the beauty that can be found in the ordinary, and that of telling the truth as I see it unfolding in my own life. Many of the other writers I know have said something along the lines of “I write because I can’t not write.” I can claim the same sentiment: I write because it’s a way of wrestling with what’s going on in my own head, in my community, and on the planet. It’s a way of figuring out how I truly feel about something and putting my introverted and often soft-spoken voice out into the world.
Part of my story is writing about what I notice and sharing it.
We are all on a journey – a journey of present moments that really has no end point – to figure out what it means to exist in our fullest version of truth. We all have a unique way of being that is life-giving for ourselves, our communities, and this planet that we all call home. We all have the capacity to live in a way that feels right, even though we are born into a life situation over which we have little control. Some of us have a much easier time of it than others — privilege is a very real phenomenon in our world and one that must be considered constantly. But maybe we all, somewhere inside when everything external is stripped away, have the capacity to look at the world through a lens of abundance and beauty, rather than one of scarcity and lack. Those who have little and can find the joy in what they have are some of our greatest teachers. Gratitude has saved more than one life on this earth.
Turning to Annie Dillard’s wisdom again, “We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—even of silence—by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.”
When I can stop fighting with myself and just let the words come when they come, I find myself living in a way that feels right because I am able to be fully in my life, instead of trying to force an outcome that I think I should want. Yielding to what wants to speak through me has allowed me to plug into that pulse and tell the stories that want to be told.
How about you?
Whatever your creative practice might be, from writing to sketching to gardening to caring for children, how do you stay present to what your life wants to speak through you? How do you ‘stalk your calling’ and yield to it? What helps you stay in the conversation (with yourself), while avoiding the fight?
Here is the beautiful cover to Heidi’s forthcoming September release. When asked to read the manuscript for a possible cover quote, I was happy to do so. My first book,Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place, was written straight from the heart about the prairie landscape and lifestyle I’d grown up with. I sensed we were moving away from the wisdom of our hearts when I published the first edition of this book in 1999 (William Morrow, Eagle Brook imprint), and when I noticed that this trend was merely intensifying over time, I decided to publish a second edition in 2014. As a 15th Anniversary edition, the ideas still ring true, even more so with the passage of time. Long story short, Heidi’s new book immediately resonated with me.
Living deeply maybe isn’t for everyone … but those of us who value it and find a way to manifest it … can’t imagine living any other way. Thank you so much, Heidi, for being my guest here in SunnyRoomStudio.
Here, by the way, is the cover quote I had the opportunity to write, along with a brief excerpt from Heidi’s book.
“To the extent it is ever possible to make sense of the human condition, Heidi Barr has done an incredible job within the illuminating pages of Woodland Manitou. The search for life meaning is never simple but, in adopting a seasonal theme, Barr provides a context that will enliven your search. Her heartfelt perspective about the challenges of the human story bridges moments, days, and years in a beautiful and compelling way. With nature as her touchstone, the author sheds a timely light on issues and dilemmas we are destined to encounter. A dynamic and inspiring book for today’s world!” –D.A. Hickman, author of Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place
“Ah, summer. The time of the year when the days are long and life seems to somehow speed up and slow down at the same time. The work around the land and garden is demanding, but the days are long and support our efforts with the grace of lingering light and warmth. There is time to play and rest amidst the needs of caring for the garden and household. The cool rush of water over bare skin in the evening, the feel of the warm wind whistling the scent of hot pine down into the valley, the way a tomato tastes like a burst of sunlight straight off the vine…these details bring out the color of the days and remind me that the earth does indeed laugh in flowers, as Emerson wrote all those years ago. Summer is paddling and running through forests, sleeping outside and slapping at mosquitoes. It is finding ticks and going back outside anyway. It is the neighborhood buzzing with activity because everyone is outside more than any other time of the year. It is feeling bone weary at the end of a long hot day in the sun and collapsing in gratitude for the opportunity to be alive. It is thunderstorms and picnics, nurturing and sowing, and giving and taking in the dance of abundance.” –Heidi Barr, Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth.
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Thanks so much for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits.
I’ll be back soon with more about my summer poetry release: ANCIENTS OF THE EARTH — Poems of Time.
Until then, please check out Heidi’s blog and leave a comment for her … whatever comes to mind or offer your thoughts on the questions she posed. Thanks again, Heidi. Best of luck with your September release!
SPECIAL NOTE: Heidi’s guest post will always be easy to find … just visit the Studio Guest tab above.
She is my 46th guest in SunnyRoomSudio!
WE all do some things a bit too quickly. Our timing is “off” … we rush to complete something, to get somewhere, or maybe we speak so fast a genuine conversation is impossible. Examples abound; it’s not difficult to see this dynamic at work, is it? I notice myself doing this when I’m overly focused on getting to the “next moment,” as Eckhart Tolle often calls this subconscious rush to the future. Once you pause to consider how this subtle force works in your life, you may decide to slow things down.
Consider the moments you don’t really “see” because you’re already halfway to the next moment. How about the people you don’t actually “hear” because you are locked in your own mind, pushing the moment to complete itself so you can rush forward … once more?
Going to an art museum or spending time with nature are great ways to test yourself on this dynamic. Feel uncomfortable with a slower pace, running to-do lists through your head at the same time, checking your phone? Looking for a few brief seconds then “moving on” or skipping entire sections of the museum or the garden so you can quickly get to the next thing you want to say or do?
But … you may wonder … what’s the real harm in this? Isn’t life a race that requires selective attention and effective time management? Sometimes, yes, we simply have to hurry. No way around that. However, accessing the deeper side of life (the very mysteries of existence) and possessing an ability to reflect, meditate, and contemplate are linked to the ability to stay in the moment. FULLY.
While haste can feel natural to us because of the world around us, dare to challenge this. Dare to walk a path that creates an opening in your awareness, allowing for fresh insights to emerge. Otherwise, the race we’re quietly running may end badly. Otherwise, and probably. There is no medal for getting through life more quickly than the next guy. There is only a final breath waiting for all of us. That’s it.
So drag your feet a bit more. Don’t let subtle pressures to hurry impact your peace of mind, your sense of purpose. Imagine a world that isn’t half-crazy with visions of “getting to the future” just as quickly as possible. Experiment a little, see what happens. When I’m writing I can feel myself wanting, for example, the “complete the project.” The book, the article, the story, the poem. But I try to catch myself. Remind myself that a belief in time is at the root of this strange dynamic.
Spring is a good opportunity to let go of false notions. To see what life feels like without time calling all the shots. It is an illusion. And there is much to be discovered right here, right now. Thanks for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. See you again in a few weeks!
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
― Albert Einstein, The World As I See It
I’ve always been drawn to visual images. Photographs. Paintings. Sketches. Even doodles that take on a life of their own. The collaboration of images and words … well, it’s pure magic, of course. And since we all could use a dose of inspiration in January, why not focus on this very combination? Here’s a photograph by Mary T. Hercher, for instance. I love the color contrast, the “electric blue,” as she put it, against the steadfast evergreen. The picture points to many things: the bounty of nature, the insistence of creation itself, the importance of protecting and appreciating the environment, awareness of the natural beauty that readily flows from something organic and lasting.
What do you see in Hercher’s photograph?
“Feeling a little blue in January is normal.”
~ Marilu Henner
MANY great poets have written about the poetry of nature. Trees, in particular. Personally, I can’t imagine a yard without plenty of trees. I grew up seeing plenty of cottonwood trees along the Missouri River, and scattered elsewhere on the prairie like afterthoughts. But the evergreen, it’s year-round beauty, is especially rewarding to gaze upon. Most, tall and stately, seem oblivious to everything going on around them, as they insistently stretch skyward … with a touch of inspiration for anyone who cares to notice.
I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
~ e. e. cummings
THEN there is the phenomenal artist, Paul C. Jackson. I couldn’t mention inspiration without mentioning Jackson (AWS, NWS American Watercolorist) in the same breath. A prolific artist and ambitious world traveler, he is one of today’s most versatile and visible contemporary watercolorists. Whether his subject is landscape, cityscape, portrait, architecture, still life or abstract, Jackson captivates his audience with genuine emotion, intensity and finesse that energize each of his creations.
Music is often the focus of Paul’s art. Here, for instance, is “Lovesong” (20 x 26 watercolor), a new painting from Jackson.
Inspired by a series of Adele performances that Paul and friends enjoyed at Madison Square Garden in New York in September 2016,
this painting was selected for inclusion in the American Watercolor Society’s 150th Annual International Exhibition (Salmagundi Club,
New York City April 3-22, 2017). Paul notes that “this is the most prestigious exhibition for a watercolorist.”
PAUL was also the artist behind my recent book cover for The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone. I needed artwork that depicted a depth of emotion for my memoir that studies the dynamics of sudden loss while seriously venturing into the spiritual realm of life’s deepest mysteries. After looking at several of Jackson’s paintings, I knew the one he also decided to name “Silence of Morning” was a perfect choice. The words, the overall sentiment of the book, truly could be “seen” in Paul’s painting. Not only was the artwork beautiful, but Jackson has always valued collaboration with other artists and can find a viable creative edge for nearly any project no matter how far afield it may seem from the world of watercolors. When words and images come together … the possibilities are endless.
I must mention, however, that Paul may come by his tremendous creative spirit somewhat naturally. Nancy Jackson, his mother, recently completed a handmade quilt that features the names of authors she’s followed or admired or read. Included: William Least Heat-Moon (of Blue Highways fame), Paul Jackson (as he is also an author), and my name, as well. Nancy gathered the individual quilt blocks over a span of years; each author personally signing his or her name on each block for inclusion in her project. I was honored to be asked. The end result is outstanding! Amazing! Following the work of Jennie Doan, the quilt pattern author, Nancy has created a true work of art. I hope it is displayed in a prominent place one day soon. Here then is the Nancy Jackson piece that beautifully illustrates that expansive and magical merger of words and images.
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
INSPIRATION is also important to another artist I admire a great deal. Canadian contemporary artist,Terrill Welch, is an impressionist painter and photographer who seems to find tremendous joy in her work. A lovely commonality among all of my featured artists, actually. There must be something intrinsic to the artistic soul that moves universe itself.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ― Vincent Van Gogh
WHEN you visit Terrill’s website, you’ll find this: British Columbia artist and photographer Terrill Welch’s quick sure painting strokes, and photographic images capture forest, sandstone, sea and sky. They remind us that there is only one moment – this one. Since 2010, more than 80 of Terrill Welch’s paintings of various sizes and significantly more of her photography prints have found their way into private collections. Many of these paintings have sold while still work-in-progress or resting wet on the easel.
I have been following her work for at least seven years now. Though unsure how I first spotted her artistic hand and upbeat presence, once you gaze at a Welch landscape, it’s not easy to stop thinking about where you would hang a piece of her artwork if you were lucky enough to have such a worry. Artistic work that hangs in our memory like a an endurable feeling, like a source of lasting inspiration, is a sure sign of something authentic and true.
SINCE I was specifically looking for the magic of words and images, I thought this description from the artist was interesting. “There is a brisk northwesterly wind stirring up the Salish Sea in the bright autumn sun. I step carefully down the sandstone trail to the shore below the lighthouse at Georgina Point. Looking out across the Strait of Georgia, it seems that the best thing to do is to catch a few waves. Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada.”
SOMETIMES when I spot a new piece of work from Welch, I have fun playing with words to see what title the image provokes. Inspiration. It’s always there if we are open to it; if we seek it out. I can’t imagine a world without art … can you? But the individuals behind the work are usually equally fascinating. What brought them to the world of art in the first place? How do they sustain their energetic enthusiasm for their work? What do they want to communicate to the world? To you, to me?
If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.
― Émile Zola
Born in the village of Vanderhoof in north-central British Columbia, Terrill’s art training came at an early age and continued more in the European style of mentoring and tutoring. Terrill Welch’s work, in water mixable or walnut oil paints and photographic canvas prints, showcases the beautiful, mysterious and rugged southwest coast of Canada. Though locally appreciated, Terrill Welch is internationally recognized. Her paintings and photographs are sold to art collectors throughout Canada and the United States as well as in Australia, England, Norway and Switzerland.
AND NOW I’d like to return to Mary Hercher, the photographer I began this blog post with … here again is her wonderful red bench that I featured in SunnyRoomStudio last year. It’s an invitation to stop for a moment to gaze out at the world anew. Look at something with the eyes of an artist … how does this vantage point change your overall perception? Can you describe this dynamic or paint it? How do you feel when looking through an artistic lens instead of through the dull eyes of routine and conformity? A whole new world is born in this way, in this context. SO make the shift! Regardless of what you do each day in your life, try opening your eyes to the beauty of whatever is right in front of you. Study the colors, the texture, the expression, the eyes. This alone, I would wager, could change our world.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
― Edgar Degas
“I have one image of myself that I like, but it is a ‘soft’ image, one full of joy.”
— Mary T. Hercher @ Wind Spirit Photography Rapid City, South Dakota
I have a feeling this is going to become one of my favorite blog posts for 2017. Certainly, it’s one way to express my profound gratitude to those who are such bright lights in the universe. As an author, I could never find the words for an entire book without the incredible work of others around me to provoke and guide and inspire. I wish all of these individuals an abundance of creative energy and joy in the upcoming year, and thank them again for their profound contribution to creating a world that looks beyond the surface of things for the deeper meaning. As Mary is doing above, keep looking up and out and around! Do this as often as possible. Seek the unknown, seek to finally see what is just beyond your awareness and grasp. THAT is where the true magic of life can be found. Best wishes to all for January and beyond. ~ dh
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
See you again in a few weeks!
Thanks so much for stopping by this creative sunny space for kindred spirits.