Step 1. Write word-centos of poetry by John
Guzlowski, Lauren Camp, Clif Mason and
Jayanta Bhaumik. In the background, listen to
Deux Filles, “Silence & Wisdom” (1982);
Robert Turman, “Flux” (1981); and
Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (1959).
(a word-cento of John Guzlowski’s
“Our Silence” *)
Long ago, silence flew everywhere
and moved people
into a prayer.
People speak your silence,
part the waves into my eyes.
And my eyes speak a prayer:
And my eyes open the world
into open fields,
fields of silence,
a language of open eyes.
Hello connecting love,
a language of open eyes
to the woods.
Hello… Words we learned
to whisper in our fields, a long silence.
Waves and waves of silence.
And where everything is spoken,
silence waves and whispers.
* Original poem by John Guzlowski
published in Atunis Galaxy Poetry.
Dec. 18, 2020.
(a word-cento of Lauren Camp’s
“Excessive Negative Ambition” *)
How could you be forgetting
bloom and buzz
in the wind of light
along topographies in the sky?
You shiver light, forgetting
of your body.
How could you sit, shiver
in the trail of light
along the columbines
in the sky?
You compose a meadow of something. —
Something frayed in the wind.
Something white without attention.
And you turn toward the trees
that rest in gullies,
in salt saplings’ autumn switchbacks
Something you sit in,
a hole you need.
* Original poem by Lauren Camp
published in Escape into Life.
EMERGENCE FROM MY COCOON
(a word-cento of Clif Mason’s
“The Changes” *)
Abandoned, I run
my real, incinerate
into the gravel of snakeskins silk
fiery sliding skin,
shredded yellow winds
painted shadows white,
gloaming molten, muted
gloaming molten, muted
paper, thin flickers of a husk
halfshell I discovered
dried clouds’ spiky quills
tatting dusty blood brittle & mortal—
Mortal as the curling dying
a life that isn’t here,
that hatched a dead day
curling hairs white
as clouds fiery flash,
& in one flash flattened grass,
still yellow from the winds,
& the icy rays
above clouds where
the wet edge
of the egg,
where I see my sleeping,
in the dark
* Original poem by Clif Mason
published in The Bellwether,
Issue #3 (1991).
BUTTERFLIES OF FREEDOM
(a word-cento of Jayanta Bhaumik’s
“In this Christmas of 2020” *)
Butterflies of freedom celebrate this year’s
freedom in the soil of change.
Butterflies of freedom slow the shadow
running mirrors in the soil of samsara,
so we can unmask the charades,
and still decorate our mirrors of skin
and breathe butterflies of freedom
unperturbed by the net
and its shadow
on the soil.
*Original poem by Jayanta Bhaumik
published in Mad Swirl. Dec. 22, 2020.
2020 is the year I emerged and blossomed as a writer. May 2019 I had graduated from Pitzer College with a B.A. in mathematics, a minor in philosophy and an emphasis in Consciousness Studies (at the intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive neuroscience).
January 2020 I started a podcast, Assiduous Dust, because I was going to be interviewed on a podcast and about 15 to 20 minutes before the recording, the show was canceled. I meditated for the remaining time before the would-be recording time, and called the individual up. This is why I recommend meditation—it helps you start podcasts, but also for another reasons. Back to the rhapsody rant… He said I should start my own, so I did; about half hour after I got off the phone with him. The episode was fun, and an actual format developed around Episode 2.
I also came up with a few of my own invented poem forms, one of which is a word-cento, meditative insert, the incentovising/combine process (read this weekly column, every Tuesday) for more information about that and enjoy. I also came up with a collaborative form called an OTSCP, which you can find out more about by watching/listening to my podcast (audio and video versions, depending on guests’ preferences) available on YouTube and the usual audio podcast listening platforms as well as my website www.joshuacorwin.com. (You can also check out the Assiduous Dust official Facebook page as well as join the Friends of Assiduous Dust Facebook group dedicated for former guests on the show to share their work as well as for individuals to share their OTSCPs. I also plan to put emphasis on people using Facebook rooms as scheduled events and ways for people to collaborate on breathing into life their own OTSCPs in 2021).
I also met so many groovy poets this year, you know how you are, and I’m sending you love and a big hug from afar.
I also started organizing an Assiduous Dust anthology, using the OTSCPs from the end segment of each show in the Assiduous Dust podcast, which will be out April 5, 2021.
In March I created my website www.joshuacorwin.com. In April I had my first book Becoming Vulnerable about my experience with autism, addiction, sobriety and spirituality. The Miracle Project, an autism nonprofit for which I started working as a teacher for a class I brought to them, sponsored the virtual launch event for Becoming Vulnerable. It was a success. Over 100 people showed up, and I sold lots of books. By the way, if you want a groovy gift, by my book Becoming Vulnerable from my website www.joshuacorwin.com, not Amazon—Amazon is the devil and there really ought to be an anthology called Amazon Killed the Rainforest—and you’ll also get a signed copy that way… Apologies for my shameless plug, back to the spiel… I was in my local newspaper a couple times in print and online, which is pretty groovy.
In the summer, my book was included in a course at UCLA, and I was bestowed the opportunity to be an invited guest lecturer, which was very fun. I also am doing lectures now and am available for birthday parties—just joshing—but I am available for speaking engagements, if you’re interested. I had a number of publications this year. I think over 50. I stopped keeping track… I also started this column, which I hope you come back to read the non-awkward and regular groovy version. (Also, check out past Incentovise issues.) Thank you so much for Jason Wright for the platform space and for believing in me. Jason is a badass and he has a sequel to his Train of Thought: Poems from the Red Line book, which I’ve been reading and it’s groovy, and I can’t wait to share with y’all my groovy thoughts about it.
I also co-authored A Double Meaning, with David Dephy, poetry collection about a blind sailor who is a seer of visions and gets caught in a storm and has to accept himself and find out who he really is in order to transcend the storm, his own falling bombs. David and I started this book around the end of April, and we just sent the manuscript into the internet void yesterday, because you’re reading this in the future relative to when I wrote this.
I also wrote a collaborative collection Ghosts Sing into the World’s Ear and more with Ellyn Maybe, who is groovalicious—and yes, David is groovalicious, too; and if you’re reading this… all right, you are too—and we recently began editing the full-length version of the collection. (By the way, Zoom is a great platform to edit with someone, using the Screenshare function.)
I also spent a lot of time, though I probably could have spent much more, outside getting some California sunshine in Hotchkiss Park (Santa Monica, CA). I composed and edited an entire poetry collection Under A Tree in Hotchkiss Park while walking in a circle in Hotchkiss Park. I am in the contractual process spiel, with a groovy publisher. Fingers crossed.
In addition to all this and starting up AutAdd Poet, teaching neurodiverse individuals and autistic addicts in recovery poetry through self-exploration, I also wrote a ton more than what I just mentioned above.
I have mountain loads of unpublished work. I now have over 750 pages of new unpublished work, which means I’m starting to work on a novel in addition to a few collections, as well as started to have my place look like J. D. Salinger (just joshing) and my printer is very angry at me and so are the trees. (Maybe, I’ll work on this as part of my New Year’s Resolution for 2021.)
There’s a lot more I did, and I’m probably forgetting something pretty big (oy vey) but what’s more important than any of this is that I stayed alive, I introspected, I was of service and I stayed sober. I had many challenging times this year including suicidal ideation episodes and more.
But I got to share so much through poetry and the written word, and I am so grateful for my life. Perhaps the most important take away is the following: Don’t set your New Year’s Resolution too high, and remember that success is a feeling, not an externalization of worthiness through checking things off your list, though that might bring about a feeling of success; it is prior to, what I at least am working toward seeing as success: being enough.
And guess what… We’re all enough.
P.S. I didn’t have a New Year Resolution for 2020. Instead, I had a catch phrase which I came up with December 30 or 31 of 2019. “2020 better be good, else I want my money back.”
So, I’m cashing it all in with experience, strength and hope, ways to be of service, and to learn and grow in a new year. A great, grateful, productive—and groovy new year!
* Credit to Chad Parenteau for the term “Incentospective.”
Joshua Corwin, a Los Angeles native, is a neurodiverse, 2-time Pushcart Prize-nominated, 1-time Best of the Net-nominated poet and Spillwords Press Publication of the Month winner. His debut poetry collection Becoming Vulnerable (2020) details his experience with autism, addiction, sobriety and spirituality. He has lectured at UCLA, performed at the 2020 National Beat Poetry Festival and Mystic Boxing Commission Festival of Sound and Vision, read with 2013 US Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, Michael C. Ford, S.A. Griffin, Ellyn Maybe, among others. His Beat poetry is to be anthologized alongside Ferlinghetti, Hirschman, Ford, Coleman and Weiss late this year (Sparring Omnibus, Mystic Boxing Commission). He hosts the poetry podcast “Assiduous Dust,” writes the weekly Incentovise column for Oddball Magazine and teaches poetry to neurodiverse individuals and autistic addicts in recovery at The Miracle Project, an autism nonprofit. Corwin’s collaborative collection A Double Meaning, with David Dephy, is currently seeking publication. He also has forthcoming collaborative poetry projects with Ellyn Maybe including Ghosts Sing into the World’s Ear (Ghost Accordion series 1st Wave, Mystic Boxing Commission). Corwin is editing and compiling Assiduous Dust: Home of the OTSCP, Vol. 1 (forthcoming April 2021, TBD) featuring 36 award-winning poets, all demonstrating a new type of found poem (OTSCP) he invented.