Planet, a Prehensile Body




“Has the earth always mourned?” (Akilah Oliver)

When I contemplate home, Earth, planet, my first thought was to look to The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, but my research and study of Bachelard has lead me to the work of Karen Martin’s article: “The House (of Memory) on Mango Street and Sandra Cisneros’s Counter-Poetics of Space.” Martin’s reading of Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, a Latina writer who gives voice to marginalized women, demonstrates the illusion of stability that Bachelard’s work emphasizes. While Bachelard’s “poetics of space” calls space “home,” a (bourgeois) refuge, a space for rest and contemplation, Cisneros’s work calls us to question, What about the homes/space of lower-class, persons of color that are destabilized and unprotected? I think about how “bodyfulspace” practices can provide the context for the (counter)poetics of space.

When we practice ways to connect ourselves, our bodies to the Earthbody, our physical/emotional/energetic environment, we are given the opportunity to learn and teach collaboratively—to experiment and imagine the voice of space. Would the Earth’s lesions from global warming scream or cry out? How does the crash of ocean waves speak to or reflect our body? Can we craft space open long enough to consider how a (counter)poetics of space influences sound poetics?

I consider sound poetics as a site to enter the space of healing—memory/Earth memory, cultivating compassion and transformation.

Words work as release—well-oiled doors opening and closing between intention, gesture….
Occasionally it is interesting to think about the outburst if you would just cry out—
To know what you’ll sound like is worth noting—(Claudia Rankine, Citizen)

Can we keep the door open long enough to (re)connect to the Earthbody to glimpse “infinite open space.” Open space is realized through practice—as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche writes in Dharma Art, “Before we produce anything at all, we have to have a sense of free and open space with no obstacles of any kind…[in order to produce art that has the] quality of wakefulness, the quality of delight, and the quality of brilliance.”

I also look to CA Conrad’s A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon and teachings of somatic poetics to connect bodyfully.

I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality has required me to FIND MY BODY in order to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry.

Notes on Open Space/ The (Counter)Poetics of Space

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche writes in “The Development of Ego,” “Fundamentally there is just open space, the basic ground, what we really are. Our most fundamental state of mind, before the creation of ego is such that there is basic openness, basic freedom, a spacious quality; and we have now and have always had this openness.” With this in mind, I consider counter-poetics: writing that speaks to humanity’s common ground. Counter-poetics goes further as it “decenters authority” and disrupts the “normative myth” through the telling of the “disappointment in the myth” (Martin).

There is no telling this story; it must be told. (M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!)

May we all find ways to recover our(true)selves on this planet of poetry.