Happy September….there are so many things happening in the world at large and in our individual words! Storms, injustices, great loves, new births, first days back to school, illness, death, art, sleep, food, threats of unthinkable magnitude, and the incredible mystery and wonder of a single flower.
In this email I want to share with you some of my upcoming events and also, at the end this email, a beautiful poem by John Ashbery, a poet of the large, unfathomable, not-quite-translatable multiplicity of the human experience, perhaps the most original and influential American poet of the past 50 years, who died at 90 earlier this week. (And the subject of a large part of my own PhD dissertation) So please keep reading, because it’s a really beautiful poem 🙂
Saturday, September 9th, is the last day to sign up for Align Your Story with the discounted early bird registration price ($100 dollar discount)
Align Your Story is my signature online writing class, and once you enroll you have lifetime access, so there is no falling behind and you can come back again and again—not just to the course materials, but also to the live conference calls and the support of the private Facebook community.
Align Your Story gives you the tools to
- Commit to a regular, easeful writing practice
- Start or deepen home meditation and writing and yoga practices
- Be able to understand your core messages and goals as a writer
- Have clarity around the sticky points of your own story
- Have specific tools to get you out of self criticism and self judgment mode
- Come into greater creative freedom
- Take models from great pieces of literature and learn from writers and teachers about what has worked (and sometimes what hasn’t worked) in the past
- Learn how to revise and create a unifed piece
- Have specific tools to connect mind and body
- Be part of a strong, supportive community of writers
- Come back to and re-align yourself
Here are what some students have said about the course:
Around the seventh week of AYS I noticed I could sit, stand and walk without any thoughts passing through my mind, except the awareness that my mind is blank in that moment.
Writing was essentially the path of my self-discovery; AYS was my guide. It led me to a place where I could sit with myself and just be—no stirring thoughts, no questions, just peaceful contentedness. That was the most precious gift of Align Your Story—Emily H
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that taking my first workshop with Nadia was a life- changing event. I had been struggling to get back into my writing, and stuck in some old challenging patterns that I couldn’t break out of. The yoga and writing workshop was the first way of breaking that pattern, and then Align Your Story was like going from making a drawing with colored pencils to oil painting. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to come back to myself fully as a writer had it not been for this course. —Tyler P
I’d love to have you in the course and in the community. See more and sign up here or reach out to me with questions.
Join me for FREE online meditation and writing times, the next three Fridays at noon.
All you need to do is show up and you’ll be guided in a supported community of meditation and writing.
If you’ve never done this, I invite you to join us and notice the shifts that happen when you quiet your mind and connect to your breath before beginning to write.
The first starts TOMORROW. Sign up here to get the call/video code.
I’m also teaching a variety of one-day and ongoing in- person workshops, including my small poetry and prose workshops on Mondays from my house, a yoga and writing workshop this Saturday at Om Namo Studio in Cambridge, and a number of upcoming classes at Grub Street. If you’re local I’d love to see you at any of these! (See more below)
I want to share with you John Ashbery’s poem, “Summer,” published in The Double Dream of Spring (1970).
The poem seems to speaks to us now in this moment, at the end of summer, and also almost seems to reach through time to speak of Ashbery’s own death.
If you experience an alternating sense of recognition and confusion as you read the poem, this is, I think, purposely being orchestrated by Ashbery; his poems remind us the ways in which our minds and our language come in and out of perfect understanding, in and out of recognition, in and out of being able to translate our experiences. We seem to see something and understand something more clearly for a moment, and then fall back again into uncertainty.
What exactly is happening in the poem? We have the sense that we both do and do not understand at the same time.
And isn’t that largely our experience of life and consciousness itself?
At the end, the poem makes explicit that it is talking about all of our experiences, and all of our experiences not only of knowing the world, but also of coming to know ourselves: it’s a constant and imperfect, but rewarding, necessary and magical process in a world larger than ourselves.
Summer by John Ashbery
There is that sound like the wind
Forgetting in the branches that means something
Nobody can translate. And there is the sobering “later on,”
When you consider what a thing meant, and put it down.
For the time being the shadow is ample.
And hardly seen, divided among the twigs of a tree,
The tress of a forest, just as life is divided up
Between you and me, and among all the others out there.
And the thinning-out phase follows
The period of reflection. And suddenly, to be dying
Is not a little or mean or cheap thing,
Only wearying, the heat unbearable,
And also the little mindless constructions put upon
Our fantasies of what we did: summer, the ball of pine needles,
The loose fates serving our acts, with token smiles,
Carrying our their instructions too accurately–
Too late to cancel them now—and winter, the twitter
Of cold stars at the pane, that describes with broad gestures
This state of being that is not so big after all.
Summer involves going down as a steep flight of steps
To a narrow ledge over the water. Is this it, then
This iron comfort, these reasonable taboos,
Or did you mean it when you stopped? And the face
Resembles yours, the one reflected in the water.
May you all recognize yourself, your own incredible images wherever you go, and may you be safe and free.
As always, please pass this on to any friends who may be interested. And reach out to with any questions or just to say hi. I love to hear from you.