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Women, Art, Life

Women, Art, Life

Tammy May 23, 2006 2 comments

Woman_spirit_rising_1 Hand-sculpted clay, Woman Spirit Rising, by Tammy Vitale of Tam’s Originals

Ever feel the need to switch from one creative project to another?  Like the passion of your life (in my instance, clay) is awesome but some days just aren’t the day for that passion?

I write poetry.  Not as much as I used to, mostly because blogging fills up a huge "need to write" space.  But for about 3 years in my late 40s, poetry was my passion.  It was portable, didn’t cost much (unless I was entering contests and buying the chapbooks for the contest to see what won before, which can be very pricey and not at all helpful….and you live and learn).

Out of those three years came my book, Shift, which you can buy from Amazon.com by clicking on it’s picture to your left in this blog. 

Grace Cavalieri, writing for the on-line Montserrat Review says:  "Tammy Vitale’s first book, Shift,  is a blueprint of her journey through social change to self-actualization.    It is a triumph over dark forces and the internal quarrels that eventually turn into strength.  Women’s self-realizations are surprisingly the same:  Mainstream, women poets live through a sense of isolation, guilt, then the powerful current of hope that uplifts the poem from the page."  She quotes an excerpt from "Epistle" (page 4):

Your sisters sit in a circle, can you see them?

One is dark as night, her eyes are stars; comets

fly from her mouth when she speaks.  One

has fire for hair – she dances among us, lighting our clothes

with red flames.  One sits in the center blind-

folded.  She wishes not to be seen.

We form a wall around her; sing a song whose

meter makes new meaning from old words.

Cavalieri continues:  "If you read this through, you will enter the forest, receive blessings and enchantments, and come out of your own wilderness into light."

On Shift‘s homepage at Amazon.com, Maureen Sherbondy "poetry lover" of Raleigh North Carolina, writes:  "The poet is on a quest for answers, for knowlege, for home.  There is pain, terror and damage.  But Vitale is not afraid to explore scary things that the universe presents in both past and present.  There are gnawed bones and dragons…..One of my favorite poems in the book is "Discourse," where at church ‘black and white began to bleed/and the words became silver mice, tumbling like pearls/beneath a leaden sky."  What incredible images!  Vitale lights a path to find a way out of the unknown.  A journey worth taking with her."

Here’s a poem that’s not in the book.


If white is the presence of all colors,

is silence the sound of all spoken words?

and if the answer is yes,

what exactly does that mean?

I am searching for a way to tell you

about my life and the only voice I can find

is carved into clay in a language

I don’t understand.

(I am not good at this)

I am looking for the original mud, but

know if I submit my own symbols

to its wet waiting

the fire will harden them precisely

like those I hold in my hand

trying to read.

If I do not wish to be silent,

must I learn how not to speak?

That was a time during which I could read the newspaper and find poems forming themselves down the page.  The words came like magic. Now that has been given over to clay (which you will note makes a brief stage appearance in "Gift."  Transition period).

Thought for the day: "…the constancy of the speed of light implies that a moving light clock ticks more slowly than a stationary light clock.  and by the principle of relativity, this must be true not only for light clocks but also for any clock – it must be true of time itself.  Time elapses more slowly for an individual in motion than it does for a stationary individual.  If the fairly simple reasoning that has led us to this conclusion is correct, then, for instance, shouldn’t one be able to live longer by being in motion rather n than staying stationary?"  [I will live to 1,000 if this is true]  Brian Greene, the Elegant Universe:  Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

In Category : The Writing Life


  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    May 23, 2006


    Your poem reminded me of one of my favorite college books — "Silences" by Tillie Olsen. In it she writes about the inner need to create, and how that has been stymied for many women by gender roles and expectations (apropos of our earlier conversation).

    I went to pull the book off my shelf, and here is the page I had bookmarked:

    "The power and the need to create, over and beyond reproduction, is native to both women and men. Where the gifted among women (and men) have remained mute, or have never attained full capacity, it is because of circumstances, inner or outer, which oppose the needs of creation."

    "Wholly surrendered and dedicated lives; time as needed for the work; totality of self. But women are traditionally trained to place others' needs first, to feel those needs as their own (the "infinite capacity"); their sphere, their satisfaction to be in making it possible for others to use their abilities. This is what Virginia Woolf meant when, already a writer of achievement, she wrote in her diary:

    "Father's birthday. He would have been 96, 96, yes, today; and could have been 96, like other people one has known; but mercifully was not. His life would have entirely ended mine. What would have happened? No writing, no books; — inconceivable."

    "It took family deaths to free more than one woman writer into her own development. Emily Dickinson freed herself, denying all the duties expected of a woman of her social position except the closest family ones, and she was fortunate to have a sister, and servants, to share those. How much is revealed of the differing circumstances and fate of their own as-great capacities, in the diearies (and lives) of those female bloodkin of great writers: Dorothy Wordsworth, Alice James, Aunt Mary Moody Emerson." …

    Tammy, I am in awe of your courage and determination to be true to your own vision and creativity, but despite the feminist revolution, I'm not sure most women have freed themselves of the bondage of taking care of others before themselves.

    For myself, I have always yearned to be a writer, and did study creative writing and dance in college, but nver had what Olsen calls the "totality of self" to believe that I could really do it. I was (and still am) much more comfortable in the supporting role. Plus 20+ years as a lawyer has trained a lot of the creativity out of me. But this blogging gig is getting my juices flowing, and who knows where that will lead. I love what you are trying to do here, creating a community of creative women weaving together the strands of life and art. I know there must be a lot of lurkers out there, so please come out of hiding and join the conversation!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    May 24, 2006

    Laurie: "Silences" was one of the most influential books I ever read. There's a shorter version out in a book by Joanna (someone – I can't remember) that tracks the same subject matter – how life can take away the space to follow your creative heart. Just look at Virginia Woolf – who certainly had a room of her own but gave up and committed suicide anyway. And who knows what history may have been like if someone had just given Hitler room to be the artist he seems to have wanted to be! Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful book!

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