What I Do: Vision Statement #makered

Leave a comment

My friend Stephanie challenged me to write a marketing plan for my business (Watermountain Studios), in sonnets.  I don’t know that I can write a marketing plan in sonnets, but I can write two that qualify as a vision statement, I suppose.

The human hand used to shape all our needs
and make all our wants from creche to casket;
the old factory is now choked with weeds,
and we mock those who can make a basket.
Robots build cars, machines sew our raiment
and the sweat of slaves dapples our plastic toys…
our children sit idle, workshops vacant —
we test to exhaustion both girls and boys.
Yet numbers and letters can still be learned
through artisan’s arts of loom, forge, and press.
By hand and eye’s labor are truth discerned
and concrete order made from abstract mess.
Children learn best when their hands learn to make,
for artistry helps our minds to awake.

To start a MakerSpace right now is hard:
we sold off the shop tools and burned the scrap,
put abstract thought on every student’s card,
and put computers in each student’s lap.
We tested for phonics and random facts,
and jumped for joy at every new reform —
yet abstraction has been a kind of trap
to make a man who thinks instead of acts.
Ask me — I’ll guide you through these thickets,
to where your students thrive with tools in hand
making theater props, posters and tickets,
costumes, the stage — instruments for a band.
When children make, they become more adept
at fixing the world that broke while we slept.

 

Poetry for April?

3 Comments

[This post is pinned to the top of my blog for April. Scroll down to read other stuff.]

Looking for some poetry to read during April? Consider buying the ebook of one of my collections of poetry:

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-3-59-28-pmThe Mansions of the Moon

In this collection are a series of poems celebrating the twenty-eight angels and traditional astrological images of the positions that the Moon cycles through every month. In this collection, you receive twenty-eight poems in the traditional ode format.

Based in part on a close reading of Christopher Warnock’s Mansions of the Moon (a remarkable book in and of itself, with brilliant illustrations by Nigel Jackson), this is effectively a collection of hymns or prayers to the angels of the Mansions, asking for their assistance and focus in the life of the reader.  It can be read aloud as part of a magical and spiritual practice, or simply as a way of reflecting on the ways in which the Moon spoke to ancient and medieval peoples, and told them stories based on the sky.

I’ve found that this collection has been quite useful to me, personally, and not just because people have bought it.  It’s spoken to me personally, even though I wrote the poems — and part of it had to do with the process by which they were written. I waited until the Moon was in the part of the sky associated with the particular Mansion, and then wrote the poem while ‘listening’ to what the Moon seemed to say; I also made an effort to write each poem when the Moon was waxing or full, and depressed the particular power of the moon at that time of each month.

510f0dXWciLThe Sun’s Paces: Poems for the Decans

This is another collection of astrological poetry.  At least since ancient Egypt, the sky has been divided into twelve signs of the Zodiac… but also into thirty-six sub-signs called Faces or Decans (because they’re each ten degrees of arc across the sky).  The Sun’s Paces is a collection of thirty-six poems to the thirty-six Decans or faces of the Zodiac. About every ten days, the Sun passes from one of these decans to the next. More refined and subtle than the Zodiac, the Decans can help zero in more clearly and particularly on the elements of a horoscope; and they also demonstrate that some times of year are better for working on particular problems or issues than others.

And, of course, each planet is also in each Decan at some point during its ambulation around the Sun. Each planet also gets reflected through the powers and capacities of each Decan, and these are explored in gentle ways through the poems in this book.

Based in part on Austin Coppock’s elegant book, Thirty-Six Faces, you’ll find that this is a great collection of poetry to round out your poetic, magical or spiritual library.
51carqhtbl

The Tai Chi Poem

Although you can download a copy of this for free, here, you can also also buy one for your Kindle reader. You’ll also be supporting my work as a poet.

This collection of poetry is not actually a collection — it’s a single poem, where each verse is a sonnet, running to some sixty-three poems describing the sixty-three movements of the Tai Chi form I learned at Star Farm in the late 1990s. I attempted to create a guide to the postures and positions based on my own practice of the form for four years.  I don’t know that you could learn Tai Chi by reading this poem and then doing it, but my goal was to create and celebrate the way in which martial arts manuals celebrate movement and spirituality through poetic language.  This book was an attempt to capture and realize that mindset in a standard form so celebrated in English-language poetry.

51zuU7LxzcL.jpg Festae: Poetry for the Roman Calendar

This is a collection of hymns or odes for deities associated with the Greco-Roman pagan calendar. Here you’ll find celebrations of Neptune and Salacia (the goddess of brine wells, used in ancient and medieval Italy for curing cheeses and making Parma hams, among other things).  There is a hymn for the Feast of All the Heras, and festivals for the three weeks in June dedicated to Vesta as the keeper of the hearth-flame.

The collection of poems is organized by month — Each of the twelve months of the year is marked with at least three festival dates that more or less match up with our own calendar.  There are several dates for Dionysius/Bacchus, both as the wine-god and as the patron of the theater; here are poems for Artemis as the goddess of the Moon, and as the patroness of trance-states achieved through music.

As with nearly all of the poetry in these collections, these are composed as odes: three-stanza poems of thirty lines in length, that speak to the gods and goddesses of old with an awareness of their traditional imagery, and their modern relevance.

51j6AYSu8zL-1.jpgPoems for the Behenian Stars

The last collection of astrological poetry I intend to create for a while, this was the first to be published in 2017 (this year!).

The Behenian (or ‘root’) Stars are a list of fifteen traditional stars from Arabic and European astrological and astronomical lore dating back at least a thousand years. Mostly, they’re the brightest and most distinctive stars in the northern hemisphere, all through the year: the terrifying Caput Algol, the head of Medusa; Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull; Sirius the Dog Star; Regulus the heart of the Lion; Algorab in the Crow’s wing; and many others.  In astrological lore, the presence of a planet in close conjunction with one of these stars signified a particular eminence in the person born at that hour.

Yet I’ve found that knowing and naming and celebrating these stars is a way of connecting to the sky above us, and a way of becoming both more human, and more humane.  The lore of the stars has extraordinary things to teach us about how ancient and medieval peoples saw the sky above their heads, and the world around them.  This collection of poems speaks to those truths.  As a special for April, I’m reducing the price of this collection from $9.99 to $2.99… You can also buy it in a printable format through my website at Etsy.com.

And thank you, always, for your support!

New eBook: Festae

1 Comment

I’m pleased to report that Festae, a book of poetry with hymns to deities from the Greco-Roman pagan calendar, is now available on Amazon.com.Festae Cover.jpg

Festae includes four odes called the “Seasonal Greetings”, dedicated to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It also contains forty-three additional odes in a traditional three-stanza form, dedicated to:

  • Poseidon, god of the wild sea
  • Neptune and Salacia in their roles as providers of salt for food preservation
  • Hecate as a goddess of magic and artistry
  • Hephaestus and the Nymphs, the teachers of technology and craft
  • Pallas Athena
  • Artemis of the Moon, and of Music
  • Apollo
  • The Nine Muses
  • Vesta three festivals of June
  • All the Heras
  • The year-end celebrations of the Roman sacred year in February
  • and numerous others…

This collection joins four other of my poetry on Amazon, including The Sun’s Paces: hymns for the Decans of the Zodiacand the Poems for the Behenian Starsand Hymns for the Mansions of the Moon.  You can also find The Tai Chi PoemIn all, these five collections now present one very long poem about tai chi, and nearly 130 other poems on subjects related to astronomy, ancient history, the better angels of our nature, and our relationship to the sky and each other.

It’s been my great pleasure to write and share these poems with you, and I hope you enjoy them.  These materials are also listed on my publications page.

New Book on Amazon!

1 Comment

I have a new book on Amazon.com.

The Mansions of the Moon

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-3-59-28-pmThe Mansions of the Moon, a collection of twenty-eight poems celebrating the angels of the Mansions of the Moon, and their images and lore, as described in Picatrix and other sources like Christopher Warnock’s book, The Mansions of the Moon, is available in Kindle format  here.

Current price is $4.99 for twenty-eight poems, greeting the twenty-eight angels of the Moon’s orbit as found in traditional astrological sources like Picatrix.

From the book blurb on Amazon…

In many ancient sources, the Moon is called “The Treasure House of Images” and this book helps explore that name. From at least the classical era, ancient Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian civilizations divided the sky into twenty-eight Mansions, noting that the Moon spent a day in each of these places in the course of a month. As with the night sky divided into constellations, ancient astronomers named these Mansions and gave them images, and celestial rulers. Thus, the Mansions of the Moon are a ‘Zodiac’ of sorts for the Moon — a sequence of twenty-eight positions that the Moon occupies on successive days through her month-long procession across the sky.

In this sequence of twenty-eight poems, Andrew Watt explores what the Mansions have meant for hundreds if not thousands of years — the spiritual rulers said to reign in those palaces, the forces they put to work in human and earthly affairs, and the imagery that is said to adorn these Mansions. Each Mansion, and each poem, is thus a door or a window into a magical way of seeing the world. By following the Moon through each of the Mansions on succeeding days, the reader gains insight into the way the Moon truly is a Treasure House of Images.

Would you also like it as a downloadable PDF available through my store on Etsy.com? Please let me know… In the meantime, you can get my Poetry for the Behenian Stars there, as well as on Amazon.com.

Special thanks to Christopher Warnock.  Without his book, The Mansions of the MoonI would never have become so excited about this subject, or written these poems.

 

Behenian Stars on Amazon.com

Leave a comment

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-7-50-22-pmI’m pleased to report that the Poems for the Behenian Stars poetry book is now available on Etsy as a downloadable PDF (US $10.00) file, and on Amazon.com as a Kindle file (US 9.99).  So you now have a choice of formats.  I earn somewhat more from the Etsy download than from Amazon, which I hope factors into your choice; but either way it should work to your advantage.

What do you get in this collection?

The Behenian Stars are found in the writings of H.C. Agrippa in Book II, Part 4, chapter 47 and in other sources on medieval and Renaissance astrology and astronomy.  No wonder, really: most of them are first-magnitude stars in the northern celestial hemisphere:

  1. Algol in Perseus
  2. the Pleiades in Taurus
  3. Aldebaran in Taurus
  4. Sirius in Canis Major
  5. Procyon in Canis Minor
  6. Regulus in Leo
  7. Arcturus in Bootes
  8. Algorab in Corvus
  9. Spica in Virgo
  10. Polaris in Ursa Minor
  11. Capella in Auriga
  12. Alphecca or Gemma in Corona Borealis
  13. Antares in Scorpio
  14. Vega in Lyra
  15. Deneb Algedi in Capricorn

And to this list I’ve added three other poems, honoring Fomalhaut, the only one of the four royal stars not in the list; Altair in Aquila the eagle, one of the other first-magnitude stars in the northern sky; and Alkaid in Ursa Major, a star whose spectrum helps to classify other stars and which sits somewhere between 1st and 2nd magnitude on that 6-point scale.

The poems are in the traditional formal style called an ode: three stanzas of ten lines each, organized metrically and with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDECDE.  Each poem draws on the traditional lore of both astronomy and astrology, and ends with a call to bring the influence of the star into our lives.  For magic, for poetry, for learning the northern stars, for the purpose of studying the night sky — these poems help get you to the behen (from the Arabic word for ‘root’) of naked-eye astronomy.  Reading the poems while under the night sky will help connect you to your ancestors, and to the timeless mythology that constantly rolls by overhead.

Follow-on to Writing A Sonnet

5 Comments

Sonnet Worksheet

 

I made this worksheet earlier today to help people learn to write sonnets. As you can probably tell from this blog, I’ve written a good many sonnets.  Here’s the process by which I taught myself, made into a worksheet.  You too can learn this possibly-useless art in a weekend. Good luck!

 

Tai Chi Y3D146: Twist

4 Comments

It’s been a complicated day.  Christine, I’m very much enjoying the Kathleen Norris book on Accidie, and more on that when I’ve finished it. Right now I’m at about the half-way point, but I keep getting distracted or pulled away from it by various prep-work for the start of school, which is approaching like a freight train faster than I’d like.

This morning Dad took me to visit the pool nearby before I’d even gotten out of bed fully.  I did 20 lengths (10 laps) in the pool again, followed by my two qi gong forms and my tai chi form on the pool deck afterward.  And then, when I got back to mom and dad’s house after that, things got very crazy for the rest of the day.  I realized that tomorrow is the self-imposed deadline, as well, for an upcoming project, so I’ve been working on that, too. When did my life shift into overdrive as I got ready for school?  Something like six days ago, I think, except that it should have been two weeks ago.  Yikes.

There’s this little flip at the end of False Close, from yesterday, that really should have been included in that poem, rather than in today’s.  It’s not a separate movement, really, just a step behind, followed by a Roll Back.

So, think of it this way, as I’m trying to… first, False Close.

Withdraw the left foot and pull back both hands.
For now, keep your weight latent on the right.
Hands protect the face; beware shifting sands
underfoot, for now. Keep open a slight
distance between arms and line of the chest.
Fill this ‘balloon’ with chi for your defense.
Yet remember that left foot! Stand light, lest
you brace too heavily: be as a fence,
able to let the windy words blow by,
but strong and sure to keep the bulls away.
Yet stand softly, for your hands must deny
any strike that comes. For now, this is play —
imagine the foe coming from behind,
step back left and twist: defeat what you find.

From this ending position, which I’ve actually described incorrectly — note the part highlighted in red, where it says “Step back left and twist.” There’s a weight-shift in there, from right leg to left leg, and it’s actually the right leg that steps back.  When I think about it, I realize that the part in blue is wrong, too — it’s important to note that this is where the weight is supposed to shift from one foot to the other.  The twist doesn’t happen counterclockwise, from right to left; but left to right, clockwise. The step that gets taken backward is taken with the right foot, not the left.  How to fix this?

We need to take an editing pen to the mess:

Withdraw the left foot and pull back both hands.
For now, keep your weight latent on the right.
Hands protect the face; beware shifting sands
underfoot, for now. Keep open a slight
distance between arms and line of the chest.
Fill this ‘balloon’ with chi for your defense.
Yet remember that left foot: Switch weight, lest
you be caught off guard: left leg’s post of fence,
able to let the windy words blow by,
while strongly standing to keep bulls at bay.
Bend knees softly, for your hands must deny
any strike that comes. For now, this is play:
imagine the foe coming from behind,
step back with right, so twist comes as designed.

And now I look at my poem for ‘tomorrow’, namely the poem from a couple of weeks ago for the Roll Back movement.  A couple of small changes here, reveal that the motion of the right hand in the first line is upward, and the left hand’s motion is sidewise in line 3.  I read today that repetition prevents the build-up of gunk, so I think I’m going to review and edit a few small changes in the poems for the repeated movements, and then continue on.

From this braced posture, the right hand retreats, (swings high)
but right elbow remains just in its place
The left hand rises toomoves also, and it entreats (cuts by)
the opponent as it travels side-swipes through space
until fingertips graze the bent right arm.
Thus a right angle is ordered — and stands
between the forearms on the right and left:
This is a posture of defensive hands,
for the arms can shift with movement so deft
to deflect the strike.  Once the hands are firm,
weight can shift away from the front right foot;
the left leg can carry the weight a term —
but neither leg should move from where it’s put
Sweep both hands down and sideways to the left,
to guard the flank that in this move’s bereft.

So this holds up pretty well.  I can discern the movement intended in these two poems much more effectively now, and I feel that they’re right, despite the hiccups.  This process is not going as smoothly or as cleanly as I originally anticipated; but on the other hand maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t get through 20 poems without needing to make major corrections.

Sleep well, everybody. See you tomorrow.

Older Entries