Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, a librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & nine chapbooks, including the forthcoming trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.
Gratitude to Robert Hansen aka the mastermind behind Poems-For-All for inviting me to write a poem for Ukraine. It was an honor to accept the invitation to be part of this important series of works, and a learning opportunity to do a deep study of both Ukraine & the sunflower. Many thanks for these little books that sing & delight in their form & rigor. How they remind me of a child’s game we once played on the sidewalks of Bensonhurst, telling fortunes, & cackling secrets.
Publishing poems is such an odd business. So much time & energy & correspondence, so many waiting games. And then, once the poem is finally accepted for publication, it can take months or even years to appear in that lit journal or book. So, it was atypical, but not wholly surprising that my poems appeared in three different journals this week, despite all having been accepted months ago. Naturally, I also had a slew of rejections along with the publications, which is how it all goes.
Nevertheless, I’m proud of this poem that I wrote during one of our weekly women’s writing & tarot workshops on Zoom that I started facilitating during the early stages of COVID. It’s been a balm to learn tarot during this destabilizing time, and even more grounding to use tarot as a daily practice; as a thermometer to gauge expectations, and to feel the weather shift.
My poem about losing yourself in a first love that doesn’t honor you is up at The Hunger. Self-Esteem has a long history – this poem has been declined over 30 times by numerous journals; this poem has been plagiarized by a former friend & classmate who betrayed, lied, & gaslit me about it, even after their publisher sided with me; this poem has finally found a home in a journal among beautiful, brave, strong work who honor one another in proximity & solidarity.
Three new tarot poems about trauma, insects, and the fens (Two of Cups reversed, Knight of Wands, & Justice) are up at Hot Pink Magazine today. Grateful to the editors for understanding these strange beings that chose me.
Excited to have two collages in this upcoming show at MEDIUM! It’s my first time showing mixed-media work, and ten years since I last showed my photography.
Maybe this will motivate me to finally finish some of the random wip projects on my art table. There’s something about the fear of getting lost in art that keeps me away, but I suppose there’s no rational sense in fearing being swallowed by art when I am swallowed by work & capitalism & my phone otherwise. Art always spits me up, anyway.
Transformation is the great life integer. As discomfiting and tenuous as it sounds, we move through phases & changes as we become & become again. During this unique life cycle where we are being invited/forced to stretch & grow more than usual, I wondered how/if poets were getting through, & what it might look like to cohere these visions.
I reached out to various poets & writers to submit work on the theme of transformation, some of whom I did not know at all, and in doing so, developed & deepened a few relationships with poets I had long admired. This too became an opportunity for stretching outside my own comfort zones.
Each of these works takes as its fulcrum the concept of transformation. In each of these poems, there is a turning; a decisive pivot of the will to consider or become something other than human; some process by which we might transmogrify into a greater understanding; by which we might at once be immersed and immerse our cells & light into a great organism. Might this be a homecoming, might this signal at last a belonging?
So, gentle reader – transform with us, eat “serviceberries fresh from the shrub”, visit “white skulls resting on the sage-covered desert”, “learn to communicate those languages. Breathe this all in. Hrim: seed mantra.”, “the songs of abolitionists & those bold enough to dream”, “to make wings out of no thing but air and steel”, “here is a wish and the wish is love”, “…to admit that I just wanted to go somewhere and be if not normal then in context”, “We will wear the agates Their inscriptions Cracked from Wildfire”, “may we fall into mouths that devour us.”