Monday, August 28, 2017

BLOG OF THE WEEK - ELIZABETH AND HER DRAGONS

We have chatted with Elizabeth Crawford, of Soul's Music, earlier (here is the link),  about the development of her personal mythology, that infuses so much of her wonderful poetry. Recently she wrote a poem about her dragons, and I thought it would be interesting to ask her to talk a bit about them. Happily, she said yes. Follow me, wayfarer: this way there be dragons!






Sherry: Elizabeth, I am so looking forward to you telling us about your dragons. We are all ears!





Am learning to speak myself
into being. With a word, a phrase,
can change where I’ve been, what
I might become.
Chart a course by inner compass
locked onto stars only I know
the names of.  Sail seas of inmost soul
pulled by currents of peculiar knowing
Traverse plains of tall grass
on padded paws, moving over
continents wrapped round
this spinning globe of spanned seasons.
Split darkness of interior canyons
on silent wings, seeking that life
which hides in deepening shadow.
Pen in hand, create a map of fine blue
lines, conquering worlds built by other
people’s definitions.
Make myth from these moments of owned
existence, confident in knowing that all
these dragons be mine.
Elizabeth Crawford  1999

Sherry: I love the phrase about speaking oneself into being. I think that must be what we do as poets, especially when we first begin to write.

Elizabeth: This is the first time I put the dragons into my poetry. It is the title piece of a small chapbook I created, which was all about writing poetry. The image is a pen and ink drawing I put on the back cover. I knew, from my History classes, that when the first explorers returned to their home ports, they had numerous maps that were then turned over to cartographers. After assembling the explored areas, the map maker would write in those areas that hadn’t been explored, here there be dragons (or monsters).

I was playing on those words. By that time, I was long out of school, and had begun tutoring certain individuals about writing, believing I had conquered my own fear of being vocal about my truths. In the poem, I claimed the dragons as mine. I guess they took me seriously, because they began to appear in dreams and spontaneous imagery. There were several of them, like 




Neosafalus



He flew out of the deeper
mists of my inner world.
Thumped his way into
my living space, got up
into my face, and told me
that his name
is Neosafalus.
Whatever that might mean.
He’s a bit on the lean side,
certainly can’t hide the fact
that he is a dragon. Smells
somewhat of smoke, but
I didn’t choke at his
sudden appearance.
Have met his kind before,
know something of their lore,
and understand that he comes
with at least one lesson. They
are a superior breed, have
developed a need to help we
humans to be better
at being human.
He will take his time
and I’m willing to wait
on his discretion, because
whatever that lesson might be,
I already know it is needed.
Dragons live forever, so he
can afford to be patient
with me. We will learn how
to co-exist and when he
is finished teaching, he will
fly once again into those deep
blue mists, but will never
be forgotten.
Elizabeth Crawford  3/22/09

Sherry: One has to love a purple dragon. I love that the dragons come with a lesson. In our chat in 2015, we spoke about the development of your personal mythology. Did the dragons come later?

Elizabeth: I saw the dragons as a natural outgrowth of my Personal Mythology, which had been in place since before my years in College. The story of that creation may be found here:  https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/a-tiger-named-pain/.


I began to deal with them in a like manner. Their particular physical appearance and their names were clues as to their purposes and meaning.

The color of the dragon is important because it identifies the lessons she/he has come to teach. The image of Neosafalus is a free coloring page, found online. I colored it with India Ink. He was purple, and for me, that means personal power.

The name is also important because it speaks to the dragon’s purpose. I didn’t have to go beyond that first prefix, because neo means newly arrived. I had been involved in a Grammy Nomination that had brought me into the spotlight on a local level, and had opened the doors that allowed me to give one-day workshops, and the tutoring experiences, and eventually to teach at two local colleges.

Sherry: Wow, that must have been a rewarding time in your life! A Grammy nomination! Congratulations! I love the story of the Tiger Named Pain. And I encourage our readers to read the more in-depth story about the emergence of your dragons which can be found here.

I especially love the motherly dragon in your following poem.



Marananthaheth


Zzo, little one, you have come
to my lair bearing questionz?
Not exactly…more for
inspiration. This poem a day
thing can be exhausting. Tired
doesn’t make good poetry.
But, I am a dragon child, and know
little of making poemz. Zzmoke and fire,
yez, wingz and dragon thingz, I may
zzpeak of, but poemz are zzomesing you give birth to.
Not without your help. You deepen
my awareness of all that surrounds me,
set a course, create a path through
this labyrinth of words and definitions.
Show me how to defend soul against
doubts and fears that would conquer me,
would stop me from expressing thoughts,
ideas, that you breathe fire into.
(She arches her neck, peers down at me
with a coy smile of pride) Yez, theze are thingz
I come to teach you. But, you had to chooze to learn them.

(Now it’s my turn to grin and preen with her).
Perhapz, az you are want to zzay,
thiz could be

your poem for today?
Don’t know if it is a poem,
but it sure makes
one hell of a story,
yesss?
And thank you.
(She smiles, then goes all serious,
leaning down so that one whirling eye
is level with my own),
Little one? Doez thiz
mean that I too
can make
poemz?


Elizabeth Crawford  4/26/14

Elizabeth: This poem was written toward the end of an April poem-a-day challenge. I was tired, as I was also giving word prompts based in some of my old pieces. Marananthaheth was in my head, as the words for that day had come from the here, but for me… poem. I had done internal dialogue pieces before and they were well received. So, I typed in the first lines, and then stalled. Same old, same old…people would think I’m nuts, gone round the bend, etc. My daughter stepped in and gave me focus and that is in the notes that follow the poem.


I wanted to express how much her presence means to me, and how important our relationship has been, even though it is imaginary. Dragons have gotten a bad wrap in Western culture. They seem to be seen as the Ultimate snake in the Garden, needing to be destroyed. A dreaded part of the human shadow within the psyche. But, in Oriental culture they are seen as benevolent beings, bringing gifts and prosperity to the human race. When you destroy a piece of self, you destroy the possibilities for further growth.
I got to my sense of the dragons through several avenues. 1. The Anne McCaffrey series about the Dragon Riders of Pern. 2. The movie Dragonheart, starring Dennis Quaid, with Sean Connery as the voice and personality of the dragon. 3. The Dragon Tarot, with the express purpose of self-exploration, not divination. 4. My continuing personal study of human behavior and how it develops.

That last one is, perhaps, the most important one. We develop a world view, a sense of the world, how it works, and our own role within that world by the time we are five years old. Rudimentary at best, but it remains the filter through which we develop our responses, including our coping mechanisms, to deal with whatever frightens or threatens our well being. They are the dragons, come to protect us as children. However, they remain in place and can prevent further growth, unless we make friends with them, and allow them to teach us how to grow beyond mere reaction, and into our full potential. 

So, Marananthaheth has a sibilant lisp to remind me of her origins. But, she also has a loving and nurturing nature, wrapped up in a need to see me prosper. She is red, the color of Creative Fire. She is my imagination, that which allows me (and her) to continue to grow. My desire, when writing the poem, was to make her as genuine and as likable as possible. 

Sherry: She is my favourite of your dragons. I can see her leaning down with her kind whirling eye.  I am also especially fond of  “13 Ways I See My Dragon,” which gave me the idea for this chat. Let’s read:



Digital painting titled Dragon's Lair



Call her Heth, short for Marananthaheth
which, in her language, means nurturer.
She tells me that all Dragon names
end in that brief, breathed out syllable,
which means Home and all things
Dragon.

I
Bright, shiny metallic-like, crimson scales
that glint in the poorest of light.
Warm dancing sparks of a bonfire,
or another bloody sunrise.
11
Whirling eyes that miss nothing,
especially rapid fire mood swings
of this puny human she calls,
“Little One,” with deepest affection,
that can be felt like a soft woolen shawl
draped over old woman’s shoulders.
III
Crooning an ancient dragon lullaby
that sounds like gentle bells
calling a soul home from distant
indigo blue horizon.
IV
Personal patient Instructor
asking hard as stone questions,
yet willing to wait for months
for a stammering, unclear
thick as fog response.
V
On foot, slow and ponderous as an elephant
crossing a dry river bed,
but in the air, better than any bald eagle
I have ever seen. And far swifter.
VI
Wisdom as deep and turbulent
as an ocean, breathing fire
of life into all that surrounds her.
VII
Unknowing sense of humor
which results in laughter
that bounces off the walls
of her lair and moves
like a fresh spring breeze
to clear the air.
VIII
Restless shape-shifter, able to become
small enough to rest in palm
of hand or, in an instant, grow
to height of a towering skyscraper.
IX
Keeper of the Keys, and Guardian
of The Book of Dragons.
X
Knowing all other dragons
by name, past, present,
and future.
XI
Bends to welcome weight
of this puny human on her back
in order to fly her to distant stars
and other galaxies.
XII
Lover of Light and Enlightenment.
XIII
Protector of all things Elizabeth,
but especially of imagination.
Elizabeth Crawford  6/15/2017

Elizabeth: I don’t think this one needs an explanation. I like the 13 ways form and thought it was time to use it for the dragons, but especially Heth. 

Sherry: It is wonderful. Especially wonderful to have a “protector of all things Elizabeth”. How cool! Thank you, Elizabeth, for allowing us to make acquaintance with your dragons on a deeper level. We will enjoy watching them re-emerge in new poems as the months go on.

Wasn't this wonderful, my friends? Like being told a magical tale by someone who knows dragons personally, which Elizabeth does. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


45 comments:

  1. Both wonderful and magical - I love your work Elizabeth

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  2. Thank you Jae Rose, but the real thanks must go to Sherry. She asked me if I'd talk about the dragons, and although I was a bit curious as to how it might be perceived, I decided to go with it. While I was still teaching, I had a group of young people (ages 19-24), approach me and ask me if they might somehow meet their own dragons. After some thought, I said yes, and we spent several delightful hours meeting their dragons. It was quite an eye-opening experience for me. And yes, I do agree about the magical nature of the experience.

    Elizabeth

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more, Jae. We are, most often, our worse enemy. The dragons can and do help us to resolve that particular issue.

      Elizabeth

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  3. Splendid how they link with your writing and boldness. My favorite is the 13 Ways, but I love the sounds of all your writing. In Western Lit, historically, the dragon has been something for a hero to kill--think King George and Sigurd and others. It turns out that the true way to conquer is to become friends and love each for where you go with them. Thank you! (If you have never met the dragon in SHREK, you have something to look forward to. She's not deep, but she is loving.)

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  4. I have long been fascinated, Elizabeth, with your discovery and creation of your own personal mythology. It is fascinating. You are also a very skilled teacher in all things mythological. Thanks for saying yes, as I knew this would be interesting to many in our community. We are so lucky to have you among us.

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    1. The thanks must go to you, my friend. And thank you, as always, for your continued support and encouragement. I haven't done much writing over the past weeks, as I've been really busy getting ready for an Art Show. Once that is behind me, I will be back to writing on a more frequent basis. And you know that this community is a bit like home to me.

      Elizabeth

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    2. To me as well. Your Art Show sounds very exciting!

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  5. Hello Susan. And yes, in Western Lit, the hero-knight had to kill the dragon to prove his worth. Much like the "call" of the big-game hunter. But, then there is the legend of "The Fifty-first Dragon". I found it online, after I read it in print. In the past century, there have been many attempts to redeem the dragon character, and I agree with that movement. Anne McCaffrey and Sean Connery did good work in that arena, as well as many others. Myth serves a genuine purpose, in that it has always been the story of the development of the human psyche (Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Tolkien,etc.). Our current political scene only confirms that we are far from finished and need some new concepts to tell that story. How better to do that than to make friends with that which once was our enemy? And because that change always begins within the individual's imagination, it seems necessary to utilize that instrument for further development. Myth, no matter how old, always holds a bit of truth at its core. And thank you for reminding me of Shrek. It's been a while, but I will definitely have to take a fresh look at it.

    Elizabeth

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    1. I like how you put this.: Using the human imagination as an "instrument for further development."

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    2. Susan, change doesn't occur unless we see the possibilities. The saying goes: "If you can see it, visualize it, it is possible." Imagination is the instrument through which we see those possibilities. And the first dragon we meet is that one concerning our own belief and trust in the workings of our own minds. If you read the notes about my first meeting with a dragon, it is there in that story. The name Peter means "rock". Peter's name was changed to Simon, and the name Simon means "listens with empathy, understanding." I still own the heart of a child and am always captivated and delighted when my thoughts carry that wonderful element of synchronicity. Thanks Susan,

      Elizabeth

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    3. And thank you again, Elizabeth. For the feature, your notes to me and for "The Fifty-first Dragon"!

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  6. Thank you Sherry and Elizabeth for this fascination.

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    1. Thank you, Martin, for reading and commenting. Fascination is a good word,

      Elizabeth

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  7. What a wonderful read! I too have a tribe of dragons who hang around with me and are my friends, but I only ever wrote one poem about them. This post inspires me to the idea of writing more. Many thanks to you both for sharing this fabulous subject matter and the fascinating poems arising from it.

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    1. PS Is your chapbook about writing poetry still available, and if so where can I get it?

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    2. Thank you, Rosemary. Glad you found inspiration and would really enjoy reading what you create on the subject of dragons. I have always felt a bit "out there" for my interest in them, and how I view them. Seeing them as another piece of my Personal Mythology makes a lot of sense to me.

      As far as the Chapbook is concerned, yes, I still have some of them. Please keep in mind that they are completely hand made by me. If you are interested, get in touch by email, okay?

      Elizabeth

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  8. Wow i was mesmerised and enjoyed the poems and thank you for the links to the amazing story of the tiger named pain. Very insightful as well as the story Behind the house. So beautifully written.
    Thank you so much Sherry thank you so much Elizabeth for all these pearls

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    1. Thank you, Marja for your interest and enthusiasm. I really enjoy these chats with Sherry, because they give me the opportunity to express the ongoing story that is me, unfolding and becoming, whatever I am to be. I truly believe that our story is the best medicine we have to share with the world around us.

      Elizabeth

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  9. I've greatly enjoyed the chat Elizabeth and Sherry. Love the dragons created with the essence of humaneness. Elizabeth, I am a bit curious about 'the meeting of one's own dragon' with your students. Today's feature is such a fascinating read!

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    1. Hello Sumana, and thank you for reading and leaving your comment. That particular group of young people came together when I was managing the Bookstore. They came as individuals, but as will happen, they had shared interests. We began to meet informally in my home. I had just begun meeting and writing about the dragons and they were curious. So, I told them what, and how, I had become involved in the subject. They asked if they might do the same.

      I was, at that time, involved in some teaching, so took them through a spontaneous imaging exercise, letting them know that the color and name were very important. Then sat back and watched the surprise and even delight that came to their faces. During the following week, each of them came back separately to ask for more information. Their responses to my questions were very individual, and uniquely suited to the person. I was surprised when they began to call me The Dragon Woman. Although, I eventually left the store to pursue more teaching experiences, I continued to hear from them for several years afterward.

      Elizabeth

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    2. That was a wonderful and interesting rapport with the group of young people. They definitely felt that this empathy was needed.

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    3. Hmmmm.....am contemplating how much fun a prompt might be, writing a poem about our own personal dragon............wouldnt it?

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    4. Although I've never done the imaging exercise in written form, I don't think it would be all that difficult to do. I'd certainly be willing to try it though. If others are willing, I'm game.

      Elizabeth

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  10. I enjoyed this feature very much, Sherry and Elizabeth. I will never look at dragons again in the same way!

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  11. Thank you, so much, Mary. I think that is exactly what both Sherry and I were hoping to accomplish.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Absolutely. Heth's kind eye and maternal voice.........I love her!

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  12. Elizabeth,what a lovely way of exploring your inner being. I loved reading about your dragons. Each one brings you a gift to examine and use. I am focusing on the idea that dragons tend to be huge, though I suppose some may become invisible or very small. There's so much to learn from this symbolism. Brilliant Elizabeth.
    Thank you Sherry for this magical read.

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    1. Dear Myrna, Beverly was responding while I was answering your comment. My response to you ended up under her comment. Thanks for taking time to read.

      Elizabeth

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  13. What a wonderful journey into your personal dragonology, Elizabeth ... and thank you, Sherry for bringing her to us!

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    1. Hello Beverly. I really like your word 'dragonology', as in the study of dragons. At the time it was going on, I didn't think of it as studying. I was just playing, along the path of my own inclinations. Because of a severe head injury, as a child, it took me a long time to trust what was going on in my head. When Sherry first asked me to do this, all those old fears came rushing back in, but Heth stepped into the midst of all of that and simply said, "It iz time, little one, there iz nothing to fear. I will be right here with you." And she has been.

      Elizabeth

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    2. Love, love, love 'dragonology', Bev :)

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  14. Hi Myrna. Thanks for taking the time to read the chat. And you are so correct, it is an excellent means of exploring ones inner reality. As I wrote, in the poem about Heth, dragons are shape-shifters, able to make themselves small or large, depending on the situation. I have a small green and gold dragon by the name of Tui, short for intuition. She reminds me a lot of Tinkerbell, swooping around and giggling a great deal. She is a delight and more often than not, makes me smile and grin, with her antics. And you are also right about the symbolism in all of this. It is rich for exploring and explaining so much that often remains hidden.

    Elizabeth

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  15. This is such a lovely discussion.........we need myth, stories, dragons, and magic in our lives now more than ever. Maybe we should all write fairy tale poems for a while to escape our political and global reality. LOL.

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    1. I certainly wouldn't argue with that, my friend. And thank you, again, for inviting me to do this.

      Elizabeth

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  16. Sherry and Elizabeth this was such fun and fascinating. I have always had a deep love for dragons and believe in their help and benevolence, not in the myths of them being destructive. They are greatly misunderstood creatures. And I have been told they are part of my essential totem animals guiding me. So I study them and allow them to guide me....I have toyed with the idea of writing about them....perhaps now I will!

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    1. Donna, I would most certainly urge you to do so. Anything that alters our perceptions of bad to good is worth the effort. It is good to know that there are others out there who see things differently. As writers, our story is the medicine we own that is meant to be shared with the world in which we live. Thank you much for sharing,

      Elizabeth

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  17. I had a very busy day yesterday, so I am late to comment, but I found this interview fascinating. In particular, I was really drawn to way that Elizabeth creates and weaves her dragons into her work, as a kind of signature image. That to me, is very intriguing and compelling. The poems - themselves - are wonderful. 'Here, but for me, there be dragons': brilliant. Great job on this poets!

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    1. Thank you Wendy. The dragons are an important aspect of my story. As such, I would be remiss not to include them. Glad you enjoyed the chat and thank you for your kind and generous words,

      Elizabeth

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  18. Wasn't this fun? And opens the doors to so many possibilities........dragons, myth, tales of olde..........escape from our reality, which is rather Grimm right now. Smiles.

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  20. Love that one can speak oneself into being and singlehandedly build a myth... that's poetry!!! Thanks a ton Elizabeth and Sherry.

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  21. Thanks Thotpurge, and I couldn't agree with you more. It is poetry, as well as prophecy and myth-making with the tools of sense imagery. And, if nothing else, we are keeping good company with the likes of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

    Elizabeth

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  22. This was quite interesting to read. I do love dragons and I have a personal favorite.

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  23. What fun that was! I love dragons and this told me all kinds of things about them. Lovely imagery and poetry. Wonderful artwork too.

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