Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase PDF versions of the 4 books of poetry and photography from the residency. The files will be emailed to you upon purchase and you will receive a subscription to https://lelapin.substack.com which has readings of the poems recorded in the Poetry Garrett in Paris.
Details, oh, the glory of details while going your own way despite the words people say. Words like: poetry is out of fashion. The fashion today is governed or dictated by whose values, and moreover, by which virtues?
Many people have asked how all this came to be, and so I can tell you: magic; kidding, (sort of). The main ingredients were a considerable number of practical and coincidental circumstances driven by following my heart. I learned about the †Trélex Residency during the Praksis Oslo Residency, where I met Nina Rodin. I was floored by her vibrancy and felt reverence for the confidence she emoted while she spoke. After several arduous years in Norway and a near miss on a marketing job, at a private school in Half Moon Bay, California, I was invited to do the Trélex Residency at a farm called Angelot, at the foothills of the Jura Mountains. In jest, I called the residency my consolation prize for losing the stability I sought. The experience turned out to be more of what Dr. Life prescribed for deeper understanding. There I pulled out paint brushes, studied psychology and social psychology, color, and medical journals.
While at Angelot-Trélex, I learned about the Paris Poetry Garrett. Part of me thought I could never do a residency in an urban environment. Quite obviously by this juncture, wonder won over fear. I had stashed essays and poems I was afraid to expose for various reasons. Those fears don’t matter much now they’re getting out on Le Lapin. Quite literally, in a different life, notepad and pen, books and camera, always in tow going to-and-fro on the Blue Line train in Chicago, hopping to the copywriting and creative jobs I could find right before the early 2000’s recession which made coming into adulthood a bit like building a beaver’s home: damned. I threw, not my caution, but the rules people said would define success or failure, to the wind, to see if I could make a life different from the waves of what felt like intersectional-fill-in-the-blanks of hate-filled justification. My mission, as I felt since childhood, is to innovate by adding beauty to an already beautiful world. The waters have been choppy at times, for awhile tragically weighty and while sadness is part of happiness, the levels of divine comedy awareness seem to be increasing. Retrospectively, the belief the state of the world was somehow my fault IS funny as it denies the the science-fiction novels and histories of civilisations I read as a youth were authored long before me. The humor in carrying the weight of the world around habit may not seem enlighting-up to social-justice warriors, but from the hefty lessons in my life: my personal choices are weighty enough to content reconciliation with. While not all have read Adorno, that’s quite alright, because riding a sail of: why, why not, what for? sort of curiosity delivers all kinds of knowing alleviating the tyranny of trying to “save the world.” Instead of controlling others in the name of such grandiose ideals as “saving the world”…we can save ourselves and that may prove to do more good than controlling others.
Paris is said to be for lovers. Given my recent history, I seriously wondered if anyone else in the world values love and beauty. While I’m not certain I found love in writing poetry, I did find patterns of noticing what is or our today, was formed from movements, many of which are on repeat, from a long ago. Historically, that seems to be the way things go. Repeating the past might be described as the definition of insanity, so what has changed that goes unnoticed was a theme running throughout Poetry, Prose &Suche Volumes 1 through 4. For a present-day reality example: Boulevard des Invalides runs through one of the most posh arrondissements in Paris. I noticed a similarity in parts of Norway, where an area deemed formerly ‘insane’ housed the most financially successful people. Was Deleuze right about commerce, or is this more of a boundary issue asking the benefactor of plenty to mitigate desire through the virtue of service? As so often with the creative process of life itself, the intention and outcomes are not always congruent. While the aim was to make something meaningful for myself and others out of this time, the doubt I often wrote about as part of my practice was quieted by time, both the perception of plenty and the reality that writing and editing my writing is much harder than working on a team.
Paris reserves no qualms about embracing the poetics of life and the gamut of historical patterning. This gap was protected under the principles The Trélex Residency is founded on: free-will and creative agency. Again, two ideals or virtues, people often speak of as a luxury. In the Parisian style, I could stand to never argue but simply hold the line. Quite obviously the formality of the French and the people of Paris have the structured sense to keep bookshops alive. Nearly every corner can be found someplace to purchase fruits and vegetables as well as books. While time gets ascribed as the agent of change, in Paris, the version of reality I see seems more widely shared, it is up to the people to give power or hold it within themselves.
In another part of my life, ignorance might have felt more like courage. Alas, the grinder of cultural crashes tempered such ignorance that transformed to be a choice of understanding naivety into a choice to live in constant discovery mode with the trust in being able to navigate a world with caution. Does it sound like I’ve lived under a rock or cave? On one hand, it felt like committing to completing this work was opposing the life I also wanted to create. While some say, traveling the world solo might be a dream, to create whatever you want, the freedom also comes with a great responsibility and anxiety built into the value I have for creating to be of value to others.
Without feedback or encouragement, I’m not sure if I would have ever taken care of the poems or felt worthy to share. I have to thank the women of the residency (Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Nina) as well as the encouragement of friends and family for nudging me here. What else was I going to do to find a way forward through what seemed like incessant dead ends and no? Give up? Quit creating? No. There is energy in ‘no,’ that is just as creative in its divine guidance. And that seems to be the force driving my life more than “I” or other constructs of identity.
What kind of signal does giving up or apathy do to the human spirit, aside from obviously extinguishing will? Through a type of relational magic, I mustered the nerve to dive into poetry I began writing 14 years ago, and into a city, I only knew of through the plethora of passions I still hold dear: fashion, interior design, dance, philosophy, history and photography, art and history. Embracing the sense of not-knowing, I received my first shell-shock by riding the Metro; meeting the first of many truths to be uncovered: Parisians are helpful. I found rude people in other places of the world, but not in Paris. I met frank, up-front, people who had healthy boundaries, were kind, and willing to discuss their life and aspirations if they had the time but otherwise kept on their way. I met a version of life and myself I dreamed of and found surprising ways to reconcile challenging spiritual, mental, emotional, and philosophical questions. I noticed just heading out the door in all black one day, I became the cliché I joked about in grad school: ‘le artiste’. Intention and following my heart and nose revealed itself as more congruent in Paris than in other cultures I had grown accustomed to.
Every little thing counts in the presence of time constraints around an ambitious goal. As I learned the meaning of poet (according to the dictionary means ‘to make’), turned out to not be a big deal, but the deal, the whole pie: Four books of poems; I went with because humans chose to discern 4 seasons per annum, and within every 4 books, 4 sections as the seasons also have subtle shifts. These sorts of relational metaphors are what I buttress creative choices in. So much began to open up and pour through me as I worked through the material, for a place within bookends, as well as bookend a season of life and offer a personal tribunal in service of giving my all to anyone seeking self-understanding.
Poetry, whether metered or not, is under the laws of sound language as forms of thought resonances vibrating in relational memory. Universally deemed division schemes for relating arbitrary structures of civilization with notions of nature assigned mathematical reasoning provides structure. This organizational setup allowed me to land in a fantasy of foreign land as less of a tourist and more of the secret cultural worker, a ghost amongst the people I overheard noticing the future as realized now was not all it was promised to be. Instead of more freedom, more control has been accepted and we have some serious cultural roots to tend, soil to nurture, and streets to mend. I caught a whiff of the call for sanctity amongst the piles of rubbish and riots. How much chaos can anyone tolerate was a question put to test this Spring in Paris.
While the Trélex Residency and other residencies, such as Kjerringøy Land Art, involved a great deal of time in nature or in un-selfing practices, I’ve noticed such practices pose the risk as forms of escapism. Writing poetry felt like the total opposite, confronting everything within and around. The grand illuminating feeling of no identity and belonging to life in contrast with the reality of being inside a body, requires some form of germination to grow or risk becoming some form of friendly ghost; Paris offered all kinds of opportunities for such ripening. I felt my internal galaxy spinning with sounds, smells, and memories of impressions of people who are passing through. The wholly unpredictable meteorology of Paris made my love for scarves and made them right at home. Facing both demands to write AND live for two months in a city, meant coming to terms with the thoughts that brought me to the situation I am in my life, and taking even more responsibility for how things are while finding a way forward. Despite the weight of the lessons, accountability is the heftiest message I recall receiving from an artist in Trondheim who looked through me and said: it has to be you, it is all up to you. Now that experience I will never forget. When someone looks into your eyes as if they’re reading the bottom of your soul and tells you to go, go make your life after you’ve been living in denial or fear, the weight of that message goes with you. And weight will either break a body down or be what you strengthen yourself with <– the choice is up to ‘you’.
Getting the work done has been the most fruitful form of war I participated in, against the presence of relentless opportunities to be distracted or delightfully lost in a city built upon worldly pleasures mingling with spiritual beauty. The residency, in practice, was a two-month membership to some type of elite gym. The membership fee: time, energy, and attention. As so often gyms reveal, we are all human with sweat, tears, bones, and yet incredibly different ideals that can be influenced by each other. Since discipline has been a personal savior in times of tribulation, a global perspective is much weightier and more difficult to contend with than the flatness of pages. Creating from my heart and soul amidst destructive values held up in culture these days felt like an act of defiance that ended up being intensely painful. Swimming upstream might, again, break or strengthen, a neck. Surviving torticollis was one of the torsions in working through these projects, and I kept going because I understand the truth about work is it is in service to others. The author, or the being that was there is already a ghost by the time the energy is put into art. It’s ok. That’s the price of love. Perhaps Paris is the best place to be amongst the heartbroken romantics. Paris for lovers perhaps not of people always, but of a way of life that hums of joining cultures in a way LA freeways segregate and the metros and webs of streets catch between parcels straddling the Seine. And while I felt surrounded by new impressions I gravitated toward the sweetest of memories in the pine forests. The ephemeral memories of finding myself through temporality revealed to me the kind of work creating is, simultaneously performing inwardly as outward.
I found myself wondering why anything I loved so much didn’t go well, and I kept finding fear and abjection as the root. These desires and the longest sense of déjà–vu might sound like dangerous psychological harbingers, yet allowed me to rest in the float of acceptance that this is a memory…someone or something already dreamed what is happening before. This sense of Déjà rêvé and spirituality a world much more resplendent than the flatness of AI and screen illumination grew. While everyone is having their unique experience simultaneously given and chosen for oneself, the parting of people through which they engage with each other remains to be seen if it is a technocratic bump, wave, or new resonance field people may refer to as reality someday. Paris is still rooted in the gravitational, the historic patterned, the physical. The union of the social dynamics seems as eloquently mysterious as the weather in Paris; one moment the sun and glory are all yours, and another the hail is pelting down. The people find laughter though, and work out fights without shame in the street. There seems a bit of unbuttoned raw honesty that despite its visibly worn-from-wear appearance, felt fresher than laminated plywood appearing to be something else.
Realness and depth, these among the shared value of love; I have to wonder why on earth has become the more precious and rare form of union in our deluge of plenty. Why does culture seek to put people who are up down? Is this collective unconscious really that terrible to look in the mirror at? or is it that people really do need time alone, within themselves, to commune and not have to pay to do so? The plethora of churches in Paris, and the ease at which they offered sanctity reminded me, no matter if someone has faith or not, their pursuit is there. But the finding is palpably different from a book or in-person walk than from a screen.
I was refreshed to not have to hear any news on a screen, but plenty sure did take place right outside. Chaos, art, beauty, and culture in Paris, I felt like my life might look like some kind of movie. The culture here expressed a sense of agency, confidence, sincerity, and individual authority, unlike any place I’ve lived, even temporarily (Chicago, LA, Japan, Oslo, Trondheim). Though I seek permanence, it seemed to allude to me, until I read in the poems, at one point I was wanting exactly the slice of life I am happening. The adolescent frivolity invited a buoyancy about life that had me wonder if Paris and I were magnetized 14 years ago, and now we met, I see a person can have more than one place they belong to.
While I could go on about mental oscillations, conclusively I can say the residency let me complete things I had tried to do in the structure of every day and was not able to find the energy. The focus required to write was far more than estimated. Having faced decades of doubt and rejection, to create something of spiritual value to others seeking sincerity, filled my lungs with a kind of faith in humanity I sense will be needed to draw upon reserves to face a world adopting A.I. without deeper consideration. The reality of science-fiction novel experience is palpable, even in the beautiful time-warp of Paris.
A great sense of refuge was offered within the poetry garrett itself. While I usually find refuge in forests, I repeat, Paris offered chapels, art, and beautiful parks. My preference for walking made seeing more of the city easier than ever, and I even exposed a few rolls of HP5 film. I look to share those photographs as soon as I can get the film developed. While Paris was overwhelming at first, I have to thank (again and forever) Rebecca for email support, Elizabeth for such a genuinely generous offer, and Nina for keeping Trélex turning. Being creative in a time where people seem confused about the difference between virtual and physical, genuine and phony, and all kinds of other conflations the world is witnessing has felt like an additional burden. Burdens are not bad but require heavy lifting of the mental and physical sort. Mental work is physical work, the layers involved were something I do not think I had noticed as well before doing this residency.
We only get out of life what we put in, is an idea I questioned a lot before leaping into the residency as I wanted to make sure whatever I got out of it was also something others would gain from as well. The idea nothing ours is ever lost feels like utter rubbish; there is always a relationship to loss every day we are living; it’s a beautiful fact of life that still makes little to no rational sense but persists as something that is, and is deeply radiant. The notion that writing poetry in a self-indulgent generation is eventually shed as an exoskeletal shell of cynical thought. Such judgments really are crusts blown off both by spring wind and rain. The atonement through poetry has been the primary focus during this time because it is often that we are wrong first. This kind of personal guilt I cannot really say for sure where it came from, as it was perhaps both bestowed and alleviated by visiting the churches.
Beauty really does heal the soul. Even if there were piles of rubbish and people thrashing for their rights in the street for a few weeks, new word sounds, I found the friendliness of people who smile back, the neighbors down the hall, and plenty to find comfort in. The sense of conviviality I felt at home was, as I was told an aspect of Latin culture. Perhaps Paris in the spring settled the internal dichotomy in me, being of North and Southern European ancestry, with a bit of Native American.
Poetry seems to invite personal emancipation, generates as much energy as it spends, and grows a sense of auric joy in responsibility through the duty of freedom of expression. The greatest truth I may have found in this residency: Leaps of faith revive.
I wonder, did the spirits of all the great writers, artists, and musicians seep into the streets and buildings? Are the ghosts of the creators alive in the buildings or in the hearts of the people walking by the streets named after them? Are they orchestrating the clouds or is that the Seine? Paris felt like it moving in flow with the river, but it was hard to tell if that was a real gravitational phenomenon of floating worlds or if my time in Paris moved me. There may never be so much time I get to spend sorting through words or spiritual matters alone. This is the risk of following my heart I suppose…there are proprioceptive senses that started to track some new experiences on the horizon. The access to what feels like the entire world of cultures in one place opened up a well that was buried in me, giving me a bubble of life to “Why not!” Sing on Monmarte, go out to galleries, say yes join kind people for dinner, to be more spontaneous while remaining structures. Beauty and art do heal the soul, and perhaps poetry is not so selfish after all. Everything I said “oui!” to in Paris became ‘we’…I was quickly never alone in Paris. This is a city for people who love the complexity of life, who can accept the seasons, ebbs, and flows, survive cyclical violence and peace, and perhaps may remain in this pattern even as the world continues to change: viva la resistance! it is not futile; it’s fuel.
Poetry might even be less selfish than what motivates some people to go to their jobs in the morning. What motivates and what does motivation have to do with an outcome? Is there any relationship between motivation and outcome? or are such parallels rooted in excessive self-focus? When is self-focus functional or detrimental? These kinds of ruminations motor the open inquiries and meandering thought forms poetry’s gate opens up. Thinking freely seems dangerous to the thought-police (or thinking only positive thoughts) folks posit. The notion that thoughts generate reality itself seemed self-referential more than actual. Humans are not robots, or at least not yet, so while we have biological and spiritual perceptual faculties, I would seek to develop them as much as possible, instead of having damned myself with a narrow way of thought.
As so much of what is written on Trélex’s website, I have to agree and expound: perhaps it is sincerity that makes us human and not robots. And so the value of 2 months of rent, for 4 books of poetry, seems to have a large value in today’s world of commodities, and yet might be beyond the reason of commerce and popularity so believed as the markers of success:
The Studio: In Elizabeth’s own words: it adds more value to the world to let artists use it than the rent is worth. As for Elizabeth’s insistence that it be used exclusively by poets, I think this boils down to two aspects. For one, she saw for herself in Trelex how messy visual artists can be if allowed (!) and she was clear that she didn’t quite dare let just any artist come that might be interested. Secondly, Elizabeth has a huge fascination for poets and poetry. She talks about the economy of means inherent to poetry that seems a natural match to the tightly organized space of the studio. Also of the radical nature, the bare bones of poetry within the wider spectrum of literature and she yearns to support those writing practices that have the least hope of commercial success but are nonetheless genuine, sincere and **therefore just as necessary.”
**At the closure of the residency, all books were completed and exported as PDFs and newsletters on Le Lapin. Your support provides means and justification to send these poems to print. Email me at MariAmmanArt@icloud.com and I will send you payment details via PayPal as a friend or Zelle $28 or you can VIPPS 300nok to +4740056846
Near the end of my stay, I awoke the day after attending Orthodox mass on Sunday 16, April 2023, and felt all the pain, struggling, sorrow, and guilt was forgiven and healed. I realized all the mistakes I made stemmed from misunderstandings, believing words that did not settle well, and that choice, as begins within the heart and soul of spirit, is up to each of us. Those who seek truth, beauty, forgiveness, a way…indeed all are found. I had tried nearly every kind of spiritual pursuit from yoga, fasting, prayer, and meditation, and it was a very familiar experience of mass, tuning in deeply to feeling, here at St. Sulpice. I learned everything is indeed happening for us, not to us, and we choose to be agents for good. This remembering, we have everything, all the time. Keep working with what we have, with where we are…and there is really so much. Alléluia.