Can you start by telling us what inspired you to write “Epicedium – 50 experimental poetic journeys through awakening, alchemy, and other worlds”?
I began exploring automatic and “stream of consciousness” writing during a dark time, mainly as a songwriter. At first, what came out seemed relatively ordinary, but as time went on and I wrote these pieces daily as a way to process, they began to express scenarios and points of view that
seemed far beyond my regular life experiences and were really intriguing. The language was rich and very different from my daily life vocabulary. It was like some different part of me was expressing itself, you could call it the “soul” or the unconscious. And as I started opening to these pieces, I realised they related to my waking life experiences but in a very different way, bringing in mythology and spiritual perspectives that were captivating to me. I realized that they together weaved into a story reflecting my own journey of the dark night of the soul into awakening. That’s when I realised that as well as being interesting pieces of experimental poetry, they were telling a larger story.
The title suggests a blend of various themes. Could you elaborate on the central themes and ideas explored in the book?
The book is almost like 50 angles into existence. Some are from the dark perspective of depression and looking for answers to why we’re here, and some come from a completely different bird’s eye, view of transcendence and peace. But at the core the pieces all deal with making sense of existence, and working through the challenges that so many of us face. A big theme in the book, as it has been my experience personally, was dealing with the challenges of depression.
What motivated you to use an experimental approach in your poetry for this collection?
Although I value minimalistic poetry, I really enjoyed how these pieces were like going on a dizzying ride each time through the expansiveness of the words. In this longer format, experimental short stories in poetic form, the language can weave and spin the reader around and become hypnotic, and open doors and bring to mind visuals and evoke feelings in a way that really appealed to me. I guess it kind of mirrors a shamanic trance state, almost. That’s how it felt to me at times. The stream of consciousness style was something I had enjoyed in others’ writing, such as “On the road” by Jack Kerouac and some of the other beat writers, but I had never explored it before in my own work. As a songwriter, your lyrics are most often confined to a very concise format, with verse, chorus and maybe pre-choruses and a bridge. And it most often ties together into a story that makes sense, or one cohesive theme. So this was very liberating, to let the flow of words take me (and now the reader of the published book) on a journey. For anyone who knows my music, it’s as if the story of the songs is fully revealed in these pieces. It goes deeper.
Can you describe the process of creating these 50 poetic journeys? Did you have any specific rituals or practices that helped you tap into your creative flow?
Yes, I set the intention to write for 10 minutes or to fill a page in my A4 Moleskin notebook every single day for a long time. I did this daily, and it seemed to open up the depth of expression
more and more over time – not only for these pieces but for songwriting and creative projects in general. Getting in touch with the soul, or deeper unconscious self, you could say. These final 50 pieces were the ones I found the most moving or interesting, but there were many others as well. Sometimes they didn’t have the resonance or “specialness”, but the 50 I ended up choosing for this collection are very vivid, and all weave into the overarching story of awakening, dark nights of the soul and transformation.
How do you view the relationship between awakening and alchemy in your work? How do these concepts intersect and influence each other in your poems?
I feel that the experiences of awakening and alchemy, meaning some kind of evolution of self, is something we often don’t realise we’re going through until we look back in retrospect. For me, I was writing and expressing what was going on unconsciously in myself or maybe even tapping into what C. G. Jung called the “collective unconscious”, and expressing the strong emotions that came up. At their most vivid these pieces would really surprise me, like the piece “Santeria”, which was a tradition I was not familiar with in advance but realised was much more on point than I had thought.
Can you share a few examples of the different worlds readers can expect to explore within the pages of your book?
There are strong themes that relate to the story of Psyche and Eros from Greek mythology, which is about a god who falls in love with and courts a mortal girl in mysterious romantic ways from the “other side”… Then, awakening and evolving, and the frustration we experience when we face seemingly impossible challenges in life is another theme, the existential questions I think humans have asked since the dawn of time, like “why are things like this?” Moving between embracing the darkness, and the occult, and rising toward the light. In a sense you could say that the book explores both the devil and the angel on our shoulders, as human beings. Or you could say it’s a story about a girl who goes through a dizzying love affair with someone who passes away, and the rollercoaster of a journey to try to understand and come to terms with it.
Poetry often conveys emotions and experiences. What emotions or experiences do you hope readers will connect with through your poems?
I hope that it will make them feel something, and maybe even to get in touch with some deeper part of themselves. The unconscious, or the soul. We live in an era with so much noise and surface “static”, that going on these inner journeys through art or writing offline can feel really nourishing.
Were there any poets, authors, or artistic movements that influenced your writing style and approach in “Epicedium”?
I really love reading, and have always been drawn to the romantic writers and the beat generation in particular. Gothic literature and films is also something that deeply resonates with me, and I’m sure this all has impacted my own inner world and how I express myself – including in these poetic stories.
Do you have a favorite poem or passage from the collection that holds a special significance to you? If so, could you share it with us and explain why it’s meaningful?
One of my favourite titles is “Carpe Noctem” just because it’s such an intriguing counterpoint to the popular “Carpe Diem” which people say to each other.
A piece that really moved me when I first read it back, was “Sacred Bones” because it was like a healing balm for my own pain and dark time back when I wrote it. As if love was emerging from the depths I didn’t know were there – and I hope it can resonate with others too. It goes:
Mother night says, “Quiet now, sit still inside the husk of sleep.”
Says, “Bite your lip, the world is all a dream.
I’ve come to rouse the secrets from your eyes, the sacred in your skin.”
Mother night says,“Stronger now, breathe deeper still.”
Says, “Saints are made from times like these.
It’s the weight of all the ages that make the purest gems, my sweet.
It is the dark that brings the brightest of the stars.”
How do you balance the experimental aspects of your work with the need for accessibility and connection with your readers?
My approach is, that if I find something moving, then there are other people like me out there who will as well. Especially when we tap into the unconscious and the primal self, it expresses emotions and thoughts that relate to what we all experience as humans.
Poetry can be a powerful medium for social commentary. Do you explore any social or cultural themes in your poems, and if so, how do they manifest in your work?
I do, and I definitely agree with that statement. However, the way I express it is through the experience of being human, and going through a challenging journey. Especially as a female. Pieces like “Barium”, “Arcanum” and others can definitely be seen in light of social commentary but it’s not created with that as its primary purpose. The social commentary shines through, I suppose, based on my point of view and experiences in life. Such as the expectations held toward females, and the pressures of society and family, and the enormous questions and frustrations we have as humans living in a complicated world.
Can you discuss your use of language and symbolism in the book? How do these elements contribute to the overall experience for the reader?
Symbolism is a big part of this book, and I find that this is how the soul or the unconscious speaks or deals with information. It’s one of my favourite things about language, art and creativity – symbols. These glyphs or ciphers that can contain a world of information. They are very dense and powerful. Like the symbol of the snake, or the symbol of the key, or the symbol of the river. They all have these worlds of associations that make them larger than life. I feel that symbolism and the mythological inner journey is a powerful way to speak to a deeper part of ourselves. In my life, I’ve felt empty and lacklustre in periods where I was out of touch with this deeper self and what you could call the world of symbolism. And when I open up to it, life becomes richer and more colourful, and experiences take on a greater significance.
In “Epicedium,” you take readers on a journey. What do you hope they will take away from this journey once they’ve finished reading the collection?
I hope that maybe this collection can be cathartic for people, as it was for me when I wrote it.
Poetry often has a transformative impact on readers. Have you received any feedback from readers about how your poems have affected them, or any memorable anecdotes you’d like to share?
I have people, especially in social media, who tell me my work has been a healing presence and companion for them in dark times. That’s been me, many times, with other people’s music and books keeping me company in difficulty, so it’s in many ways the biggest compliment and mark of success I can imagine. That I could repay or pay forward that favour, which writing and music gave to me when I needed it.
What’s next for you as an author? Are there any upcoming projects or themes you’re excited to explore in your future work?
The next project I’ll be releasing is my forthcoming album as Holy Boy, which is due in 2024.