Tag Archives: Writing

Finding the Poetic Voice.

During my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, with Voluntary Service Overseas, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, eventually accumulating trunks full of poems that reminded me of the experiences, particularly those later in India.  My extensive shamanic training with incredible First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged, and those notes were a sign post to always be authentic, even when it was difficult to re-read. As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were somewhat stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous. I gave up on footnotes!

My challenging journey through life navigated shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. From this vast range of experience I developed an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. My life as a global traveller certainly stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. Expansion of mind was inescapable. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. My approach to life comes through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. To the best of my ability, I endeavor to follow Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa and the teachings on mindfulness. I live very simply as a planetary activist. As a Zen teacher my initial task was to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge.

My book – Redemption – was first written in 1975. I wrote it as an extended prose poem. It became a lost manuscript as I did not know how to get published at that time. When I rediscovered it forty years later I could scarcely believe my eyes. Anita Rizvi had this to say….  “Redemption is a riveting chronicle of one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . When the main character’s journey takes him ever closer to the abyss, the author refuses to ‘sanitize’ his experiences.

It is important for me to remain true in telling the grittier and more difficult aspects of a poem or story, also to touch the mystical elements that led to it being transposed to written form. Yet in 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. The book was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014, as the time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how I could have written such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind. The themes of mental illness and alcoholism are writ large in this deep and turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. Redemption is an allegory for the depression and life difficulties I once experienced, though I did not realize it at that time.

From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then to a state of awakening – I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to “Redemption.” The poetic voice in the book is a lyrical and moving tale of struggle, love, loss, transformation and hope. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. Its rich cast of characters offers numerous gripping interludes that brim with complex interpersonal drama. Relationships with people, land and sea skilfully brings the poetry out.

In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary aboriginal medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring, I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place, consciousness, and re-write some of Carl Jung’s psychology. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in-between times to do research and edit. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

My books are screenplay-worthy epic tales that weave together seamlessly to create inspiration. Global citizens are staring into the abyss. Instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them – “Awaken spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform. All of this funnels back into my writing.

The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.

Books at http://www.ianprattis.com 

Redemption: The Movie

Redemption: The Movie

My book – Redemption – has caught the interest of an American filmmaker. The screenplay script has been commissioned to bring the epic character of Callum Mor to the widescreen. http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html  This is the first book in a trilogy – Chronicles of Awakening. Book Two is Trailing Sky Six Feathers, Book Three is New Planet, New World. All available through my website www.ianprattis.com

Here is a brief overview.

About Book One: Redemption

Redemption was a lost manuscript first written in 1975.  It was soon forgotten, as back then, I did not know how to get published. This heartfelt novel was rediscovered by accident in 2011. I found it in an old filing cabinet where it was gathering dust. I went through it and could scarcely believe it was such a good read. I requested my wife and friends with critical eyes to read it, just in case I was dreaming. One friend cried all the way through, the other mused about the film to be made. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer-ready document. The narrative was vivified from my writer’s eye some forty years later, yet still stands pristine as when first written. The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time, forty years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book about Awakening while in a desperate state of mind? I was a total mess with a failing marriage in the Hebrides, Scotland, and trying to create a career at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either.

Redemption is set in The Hebrides, islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, with startling cycles of maturing and downfall of the epic character, Callum Mor. He was a gifted child, master mariner and derelict drunk, who eventually gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. He enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society. With only his animals keeping him this side of sanity, he survives in a bleak solitude. Laced with grim humor, the novel has nature’s harsh and beautiful rhapsody as the background for tragic human failings; violence, power, murder, rape and madness. The failings are ultimately topped by the triumph of the human spirit. A family with a young girl seeks refuge from a storm at his house and slowly Callum Mor steps away from self-destruction to an astonishing awareness that triumphs over his tragedies. He saves the girl’s life in a blizzard and the glimmer of awakening dawns in him to set the stage for the final drama that illustrates the resilience of the human spirit.

Redemption is a deeply moving tale of desolation, love, loss, transformation and hope. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and of human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. The rich cast of characters offers numerous gripping interludes that brim with interpersonal drama. The story centers on and is always connected to Callum Mor, but he is surrounded and influenced by a fantastic cast of family and fellow islanders. They provide a deep well of material as their conflicts and intrigues move the plot forward and offer a vast array of powerfully emotional moments. The story arcs of other characters in the novel offer intriguing counterpoints to one another and to Callum Mor. Their hopes, desires and difficulties intermingle in a tumultuous tapestry of human existence.

The narrative tone is generally quiet and introspective, but it is frequently punctuated by storms both literal and metaphorical. Loaded with the symbolism often found in parables, Redemption alludes to more than what is openly stated. Every scene provides a striking visual clarity that mystically slips into the realm of timeless storytelling. All of this provokes the tapestry for deeper, more subtle messages of compassion and faith to carefully unfold. From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then a state of awakening, I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to Redemption.

Dr. Tom Hagen, his wife Sian and daughter Catriona comprise the family taking refuge at Callum Mor’s house. They are writ large in the final book. I place them in New Planet, New World in the near future of 2080. Dr. Hagen becomes the chef-de-mission of the International Space Agency mission to settle on a planet in a nearby galaxy. Tom, Sian and Catriona move from a minor key in Book One to a massive symphony in Book Three, as their characters fill New Planet, New World to the brim.

 

 

 

2015 TIFERET INTERVIEW WITH MELISSA STUDDARD: PART THREE

Tiferet Journal is at the nexus of literature and spirituality. It publishes high-quality poetry, prose and art that further meaningful dialogue about what it is to be human and conscious in today’s often divisive world. The entire interview is in Tiferet Journal, Summer 2015 http://tiferetjournal.com/ 

MS: I think that writing changes us – it brings things out in a person that were either dormant or not there before. What would you say it brings out in you?

IP: In a word – authenticity. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in between times to do research, edit and look for spelling mistakes and typos. When the energy is sparkling – the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others – it is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

MS: What gifts do you hope others will receive from your writings?

 IP: Courage to believe that they can take steps to transform internally then make a difference externally. The stories I tell in my books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth.  My books deliver a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. I’d like to consider Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the real life version of James Redfield’s best-selling fictional book The Celestine Prophecy. I have nine chapters – loaded with Insights and adventure, plus shamanic training over a period of three decades. Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Redemption are super unique, as they are drawn from my actual lived experience.  Reality based information is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for this project to become a fresh, new icon for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

MS: Can you tell us about the beginning of your writing career? When did you start writing, and what drew you to it in the first place?

 IP: In my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I kept journals wherever I went. I eventually had trunks full of journals that reminded me of the experiences I went through, particularly in India.  My extensive shamanic training with incredible First Nations medicine people was carefully logged. The journals were a sign post to me – to be always authentic, even when it was awful and hard to re-read. I do my best to maintain that.  As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were somewhat stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous, to be mindful of what the reader could take in. I also gave up on footnotes! In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many Native American story tellers across North America – Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few.  Their recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I now take all of this into my blog “Awakening – Spiritual Relationship with Self and Mother Earth” on WordPress – a great place to tell stories in an authentic voice.

MS: Do you have any advice for beginning writers and/or spiritual practitioners, something you wish you had known earlier on?

IP: I come back to “Authenticity” once more. That is something that took a while to register in my career as an academic. It is always essential to find your own authentic voice and do not be afraid to express it. At the same time find good mentors and guides to kindly assess what you create. Wise eyes on your manuscript, poem, spiritual path can gently encourage you to be authentic – for with that comes balance, mindfulness and clarity. Do the “thing” because it is in you, expressing your deepest self and be less concerned about reviews and results. In a recent conversation about craft with my cousin Lynn, a gifted photographer, she remarked that “Writing is like other creative activities – we are driven internally to do it regardless of the outcomes – like doodling on a notepad, singing in the shower or dancing while doing housework….but if one is lucky enough to have a talent and an audience that appreciates the art, the pleasure can be even greater in the sharing.” That says it all for me.

MS: Do you have any other publications or events coming up soon that you’d like to announce? What are you currently working on?

IP:. My latest book New Planet, New World is the final bookend of a trilogy. Redemption is the first book in this trilogy that has Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the second book. The final tome takes characters from the prior two books, placing them in the future on a new planet. Life on the new planet permits a beginning anew for our species – a communal Hero’s Journey to reconstruct a society based on ecology, sharing and caring. The reader will find in this futuristic novel three distinct love stories, the establishment of ethical settlements with a paradigm that echoes Tolstoy’s “people of the twenty fifth century” and wise resolution for severe setbacks. The novel moves from dark to liberating chapters with action, fear, resolution, death, rape, bravery, exile in this futuristic opportunity for humanity. This action packed book ends on a philosophical note concerning our place in the centuries to come.

I have a number of book signings in Ottawa over the summer in Ottawa.

Available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com   Autographed Book – Order Through: www.ianprattis.com

 

Melissa Studdard

Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Melissa Studdard is an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, hosts Tiferet Talk radio, and judges the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pleiades, Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, and Connecticut Review. Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com

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