Forging new identity

If you did not hear or read about my opportunity to partner with painter ZsuZsanna Donnell in a gallery opening at First Friday in SoWa, you may not know that I have formally and publicly shared my poetry for the first time. In a show titled Powerful Pairings, ZsuZsanna’s breathtaking large paintings were all paired with my poems. As people entered the gallery, many asked who was the artist and who the poet. And so I found myself saying, “I am the poet.”

It was an amazing — and surprising — feeling to call myself a poet. This is an identity I never imagined for myself. But, as with many new things I have explored and made a focus in my life in the last few years, a new part of my creative spirit has emerged and taken shape.

I believe that most of us have hidden gifts that are waiting to emerge. I have always loved words, so it’s not really surprising that I started playing with words as a way to channel emotion and express ideas. What is surprising is that it took until this stage in my life to explore the possibility of writing poetry.

What do you love that could be a form of new creative expression — and maybe could become a new dimension of your identity? Whether you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, keeping a sketchbook, writing song lyrics, becoming a dancer, playing an instrument, being an inventor, building furniture, teaching what you know and love, pursuing a sport, or anything else, I hope you’ll devote a little time for your heart and spirit to explore the possibilities.

And, if you have begun something new and exciting in your life, I’d love for you to share your story.

Oh, what a night!

Do you remember the old hit song by the Four Seasons? If so, you’ll get an idea of what a marvelous night I had on November 9. I made my debut as a poet on this First Friday at SoWa in Boston!

Poetry may sound funny in terms of First Fridays, as they are all about galleries and studios welcoming people to visit and view the latest art on exhibit. Let me explain.

A brilliant artist, ZsuZsanna Donnell, has attended two of my workshops. After both workshops, I emailed a poem to the people who’d attended — and both times, ZsuZsanna wrote back to me to say she’d done a painting with the same title as my poem. This was too much of a coincidence to ignore, and so we decided we’d collaborate. And, since ZsuZsanna had a gallery show scheduled in her SoWa studio for the November First Friday, we made that our focus.

Another great coincidence is that ZsuZsanna came to my first workshop seeking inspiration to continue her work making large-scale paintings. And, my work is all about teaching people to live big. So, “big” was a theme for both of us.

Having made our plan, ZsuZsanna sent me a photo of her magnificent painting titled, “Oh My”. It’s 6' wide and 7' tall, and even in jpeg form it took my breath away! The poem for that painting poured out onto my keyboard, and I couldn’t wait for her to send more images of her paintings and their titles. As they arrived, I wrote poems for each. Poems for “Continuum”, “Common Ground”, “More”, and “Zero to Infinity” soon followed.

I printed the poems out large, to hang next to the canvases. We spent a great day hanging the show. We also wanted the opening to be a time for people to get creative themselves, so I brought strips with phrases from my poems and ZsuZsanna brought color prints of lots of her art. We set up a worktable, provided scissors, glue sticks, tape and markers, and devoted one of the gallery walls for people post their collaged creations. 

Rochelle and ZsuZsanna.

Rochelle and ZsuZsanna.

"Zero to Infinity" on the left; "Common Ground" in the middle; "Oh My" on the right.

"Zero to Infinity" on the left; "Common Ground" in the middle; "Oh My" on the right.

ZsuZsanna in front of "Continuum".

ZsuZsanna in front of "Continuum".

Watching people enter the gallery, read the poems and ponder the paintings, then spend time creating with the words and images that touched them, was truly a thrill. ZsuZsanna and I had amazing conversations and delighted in the fantastic energy and enthusiasm all around us.

In particular, I loved that we enabled people to create, not just observe. Seeing the wall become a growing collage of words and colors was fantastic. But seeing the emotional dimension — in the content of the collaged pieces and the connections that people made as they assembled their pieces — was even more special.

You can read the poems that were written for ZsuZsanna's paintings, as well as others I had on hand for people to take home, on the new Poetry page I have added to the site.