Portal to Your Own Path
A review by Xill Fessenden of Poems for Flourishing by Susa Silvermarie
In these times of chaos and suspense, when our minds are cluttered with uncertainties, there is a need to untangle the onslaught of information, to rest within our being, and to flourish in the essence of who we are. Reading the newly published book, Poems for Flourishing by Susa Silvermarie, I experience her ability to vacate and transcend the negativity of everyday life and to encounter joy. In the end of her poem “Public Bliss,” she says: “Ebullience is me.” This identity remains at the heart of her poetry.
In the introduction, Susa draws upon an impressive list of influences: feminist writers, ecologists, musicians, black social activists, healers, Zen masters, and Shamanic teachers; her 101-year-old mother, and also Conchita, our local TriquI weaver from the Mixteca Baja de Oaxaca. Silvermarie dedicates a photographic insert in her book honoring Conchita. All these influences draw Susa Silvermarie to a unique spirituality, culminating in this most recent selection of poetry. The almost 200-page book is divided into three sections: Selected Poems 2019-2020; Selected Poems 2015-2018, and Earlier Poems. I shall not draw conclusions but suggest that when reading, you dip back and forth from her table of contents to view the evolution of the work presented, and draw upon her inspirations with a personal understanding of your own encountered experience.
I would like to contrast two poems, “Labyrinth” and “Cemetery in Italy,” with my personal responses and thoughts. The metaphor of weeds in the cemetery is an identification of self-exaltation and joy, and is related to the “walking” metaphor in the “Labyrinth” poem. Both these poems draw on experiences close to the heart of my own personal experiences. In “Labyrinth,” she refers to a Sipapu of transformation. Sipapu is the Hopi word for a small hole in the floor of a kiva from which the first peoples of this world entered. It is the portal of human evolution. In this center we peel off our costumes and realize we actually wear the entire world. This apparel is too heavy for any one individual to wear, yet it is real. We each wear some of this apparel in our own way. Though the author does not enter the portal of the labyrinth, she returns through the labyrinth of her life. This is how the mind of the poet can capture or conjure identification with all life. Her identification with weeds in the “Cemetery in Italy” poem is similar. Trusting life as a weed, she wants us to exalt like a “stunning common weed.”
As an artist, I confront the issues of my life and the world in my unique way. We each find our distinctive conduit. Yet to read her exaltation of life, free of the burdens that confront us today, is to excite a longing to experience our own awe. Poems for Flourishing by Susa Silvermarie is at once a guide though these difficult times, and a portal to our own path.
by Xill Fessenden http://www.xillspace.com
Available locally for 250 pesos from the author (susasilvermarie.com) and at Diane Pearl Colecciones; and online in both paperback and eBook via Amazon for your north-of-the-border friends.