Finding Calm in the Anaphora
Updated: Oct 6, 2021
This morning, a sweater-weather, second cup-of-coffee kind of September morning in Maine, I’m thinking about the night sky. I know just enough about astrology to feel excited by the appearance of Venus on the southeast horizon at dusk during this Virgo season. Venus, goddess of love and kindness, beauty and nurturing, fertility and prosperity. And don’t we all need more than a little more of those qualities in our lives right now?
The visibility of a number of planets right now, and all those blinking stars against black sky, has to do partly because we have a new moon out there. New moon energy, for me, is about pause time and fresh starts, but more, it's about the moment before the grand gestures, and more energetic activation. The new moon comes just as many of us are thinking about the post Labor Day “back-to-school” vibe. For some, I know you grieve the end of heat and high jinks of summer, and I’m sorry. For you, the days may feel numbered. I am one of those fall-loving people. I love the cold fronts, the frosty morning wake-up calls. I love settling down again, to forge new structure and routines, and catch more of a regular stride. Meanwhile, the new moon energy pulls me inward.
Yesterday, I spent an hour push-brooming pine needles from the second floor of a cabin we’re building on the lake through the woods where we live. I fell into the peaceful rhythm of a task that was totally unnecessary. We don't have a roof or walls yet. The leaves will return tomorrow and the next day. I had the privilege of not having to show up for work, of not needing to rush home to a pressing chore. I decided to embrace this good fortune. As I did, I was able to breathe a little more intentionally, think a little more kindly on a frenzied world, one that suffers and despair, a world that is also rich with calm and beauty, kindness, and grace.
There was something incredibly soothing about the repetitive nature of my task, the mere ritual of push and pull back, knowing the moon waxes and wanes, tides come in and recede, leaves fall and recharge the soil with nutrients, and the world keeps on spinning as we know it. For a time, we get to experience all of that and more.
Our new moon prompt has to do with the repetition and rhythm of anaphora. In literary terms, anaphora is a device (more often in poetry, but also found in prose) that involves lulling the listener or the reader into a trance and then changing it up to suddenly shine the light on an important image, emotion, or sentiment. The break in pattern is a turn, a fulcrum, a portal. For visual artists, dancers, woodworkers, it’s the same. It’s the repeated marks, motifs, and moves that create a structure within which the painter, performer, maker can experience as freeing, while creating a pattern on which the viewer or consumer can land, and within the moment of shift, can shift with it.
(Sudden Sequence, Jodi Paloni)
This new moon cycle, I invite you to spend time, at least an hour, phones off, with a form of expression of your choice and practice the art of repetition. Here are some ideas…
~ Write an anaphora beginning with the lead line I would like to know why… or I would like to tell you about… or... you make one up. Keep repeating the opening clause to create new lines. At some point, say five lines in, leave out the repetitive lead. Stretch it out. Write anything, whatever comes. Then return to the lead line for a few more lines. Print out your poem and hang it in a place you can see it every day for the next two weeks, as the moon waxes to full.
~ Choose a motif, a little bird, a sunflower, a house, a crescent moon, a shape, and draw it over and over with a Sharpie pen on some watercolor paper, then fill in your shapes with pencils or markers or watercolor, cut them out and set them on a small plate where you can see them, paw through them, pick them up, and be reminded how you felt when you were simply opened to creating without thinking in the weeks to come.
~ Page through a pile of old magazines. Cut out the first image that captures your attention, a pillow or an overstuffed chair, a window, a pie, a beautiful dress. Land on a theme. Next, cut out a series of similar images until you have many pillows or chairs or windows or pies or dresses. Take time to admire your choices. Think about what appeals. Place your image snippets in order of favorites. Land on an absolute favorite. Pin it to your mirror. If you want, write about why you think you may have landed on a particular motif.
~ Take a small sharp knife and a stick from the woods, sit down in the sun or on a porch in the rain, and whittle. Be safe! Let yourself feel the calm settle in. Trust me. It can be addictive.
~ Create a series of those sweet stone sculptures. Choose four stones–––one dark, one light, one lined, one with a splash of color. Stack them up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
~ Create a moon cycle dance. Go outside, alone, at dark, and allow for your intuitive dancer to arrive. We all have one! Dream up a three or four gesture dance that represents the waxing and waning moon cycle. Land on a series of moves you can repeat over and over again. Then dance! See what happens. Is there a move you want that breaks you out of this pattern? Add it to your dance!
If you find this prompt helpful, let me know. I'd love to hear from you.
~ Jodi xo
(Paper Houses, Jodi Paloni)