Sometimes I Teach

A little over ten years ago I was employed in one of my favorite jobs to date- school library manager.

Through my position, I was able to encourage more young readers, and on occasion, worked on collaborative story creation with them.  We created shared worlds inspired by what they were learning in class, and after school, I led a small shared world writing workshop (as well as a kids’ NaNoWriMo and other book-connected events, but that’s a story for another time).

It’s the collaborative and shared writing times that I enjoy most.  Working with the group on a shared theme, or simply writing at the same time, modelling the practice of writing- including stumbling blocks and changing my mind (or is it the story leading me elsewhere?) gives me great joy, and sometimes leads to stronger writing.

In the last few years, I have been able to bring that love of writing to a new group of kids through after school workshops at our local school (my own pay-it-forward project, I never charge a fee for this group).  I dubbed the most recent incarnation “Stone Soup Storytellers”, and we created an All-School play with adapted folktales, including Stone Soup, of course.

Most recently, I brought back the theme of Stone Soup and adaptation for a POV workshop with our Uppers students (grade 4-6, some of whom happened to have originally worked on the Stone Soup adaptation), and with our school adaptation of Into the Woods coming up, we’ve been focusing on fairy tales as our inspiration.  With our Middles (grade 2-3) I simply chose randomizers- but since this is me, my writing took a bit of a folktale path.

I present below *my* stories- may they entertain and inspire your own words.

(Feel free to use the images and links in this post as inspiration and share your own tales in the comments!)

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There is a beautiful tradition at my son’s school involving the gift of a stone that everyone has held and put their loving thoughts into. This is my Stone, gifted to me after our production of Stone Soup Stranger. I carry it with me always, and I always shall.

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Words from the well…

And so I’m back…

Words have not been flowing so easily, yet the old well is full.  Perhaps a draught, a draft, a 17 year old vintage to slake our thirst…

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We are the music makers,

We are the dreamers of dreams

— Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Colors, costumes and castles– my life as a ceremony, a celebration.  Endless images imbued with the water– a fountain of fantasy, a seductive spring in a real realm- of myth and man, magic & meniality, marvels & mediocrity.  Two worlds as one, but broken by boundaries.  The sane & the sleeping, awake and dreaming, haunted by heaven– a heavy hell indeed.  Dreams draped in orchid organza and olive organdy, as empty as the o’s that they begin with, or the notes that rise from an organ–there, but not; full of feeling, but not tangible.  A story with no end, a journey with no bend– always new beginnings, always reaching that point that was beyond sight, beyond reach– never settling down at a destination– that is our destiny.  Simple Solutions Slip from our sight, from our fingers– difficult to grasp.  Stars soften to swirling snowflakes, descending as dancing dust particles, perhaps persons on another plane.  These pearls of poetry & prose, word building upon word, images form, dimensions unfold, kingdoms land at my feet– each gem raw & radiant, waiting to show their worth– some are cast aside, some forgotten.  Prizes for a princess, memories for a maid.  Colors muted as they struggle to shout their sagas; stones with stories silenced when there is sight, but no vision; beauty lies in details, seen and unseen.  Truth is subject to who, wealth, & whimsy- fact just is.  With all the whimsy of my world, there is winter in a walnut, streets in a seashell, gold in a grape, all true for a moment, for me, no more.  Moment means milenium, month, and microsecond, as time is relative as it relates to me– a manchild to mold, a parent to provide, a crone to chronicle all I cast off– a family given to me, though often not what I need, but there when I do.  Ah, solitude, not silent, but screaming– things to do, though still I sit.  Too much time tempts me, halts me, holds me– no longer the parent, but the paramour– presenting pleasantries a plenty, too many to pick from that I lose my place– where am I?  What to do?  The words don’t come as easily now, not for randomness.  Images return, organized stories wish to be heard.  Shall I listen, shall I look, shall I restrain them by writing them in a book?

Golden verse, flowing from a fountain pen,

Jeweled words, smooth, faceted, each stone letter placed in its own finding,

Finding its place in a piece,

Finding harmony in a whole

The color fades

Here

There

Only a hint of glimmer as stones drop from their settings,

Stars sleeping in the skies, blinking as the light of day dawns,

And the orb outshines her adornments

(c)  2000  Kerrie Colantonio (not yet McNay)

Rings…

11 Years…

…that’s how long it’s been since a ring was placed on the finger of this dryad, binding her with metal,  her fate sealed with symbols, capturing her in her form with a name…

…but not to be lost in the shapes that were to come, to grow, to branch-out, to evolve…

…ever-more…

The woodcutter needs his trees, the dryad needs her tree, bits are cut away, new seeds are planted, growth and decay must occur…

…both…

…together…

…ever-after…

…to be continued…

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Today is the eleventh anniversary of the day my husband and I were married- same day, even!- surrounded by willow branches & ferns, by family and friends.  Some have gone, some have been born, some have been lost, some have been found.  New names have been given, new shapes have been slipped into… and old ones left behind.  I still don’t know “who I may some day be.”  We are still together- eleven years married, almost eighteen years since we first met.  A bit worn, a bit tired, a bit bent, and a bit overwhelmed with Life’s Challenges.  But together.

We’ve come this far…

…and there’s still far to go…

In Love and Life, my Deer-Hart…

…I’ll meet you in the Dark Woods…

…let’s count some rings…

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My dearest love, my gull, my bard,

Today I am declaring to the world my true devotion to you.  As a personal sign of this, I am taking your surname, McNay.  I know that you have felt uneasy about this, about taking away a name that I have had my whole life, a name that others know me by; in a way, my identity thus far.

In some cultures, a person takes many names in his or her life, as a sign that they have left a part of their life behind them, and are moving on to the next part of their life.

In Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, Maggie Black and Crow, a Trickster spirit from the Rincons of Arizona, have the following discourse:

“Then tell me who you are,” Crow said, “and why you have come to this land of mine.”

“That’s two questions,” Maggie pointed out. 

He ignored this.  “Quick now.  Who are you?”

Maggie shrugged.  “I’m many different people,” she said.  “So I guess I’m a bit of a shape-shifter too.  In West Virginia, I’m Emil Black’s granddaughter.  In L.A., I’m Nigel Vanderlin’s ex-wife; in London, I’m Tatiana Ludvik’s crazy friend.  I’m a vagabond writer to my friends in Holland; a sweet summer affair to a sculptor in Florence; a hopeless klutz to every gym teacher I’ve ever had-do you want me to go on?”

“Those are just the shapes.  What’s underneath?  The essence, that doesn’t change from shape to shape.  That’s what a shape-shifter has to know or you lose yourself.  You can’t get back.  You’re trapped in one shape, and you can’t get out.”

She frowned, thinking about this.

“What are you at the core, Black Maggie?”  He smiled viciously.  “I don’t believe you know.”

To many of the people in this room, and to others who could not be here today, I too am many different people, with many different names:  I was Chicken to my grandfather, Leo; Kerrie-Anna-Banana and Kerrie-the-Strawberry to my aunts Joan and Jane, respectively; Marie to the Roman Catholic Church; Diana to my Anne-girl, Sheila; Angel, Doc, and KC to my family from Wheelock; Perrina to the virtual world; Fairy-girl to the musical spirits of Arizona; and kerriefairy and Princess Kerrie to you, my Deer Hart, my Little Prince.  I am all of these people, and none of them.  I am myself, though, not a name or a title.

When I went to Arizona last year, I did not yet know the steps to the dance I was to perform.  I found my dance on the paths of Thumb Butte, alone with Nature and Time to guide my arms and feet.  When I met you, I did not yet know who I was, or what role I was to perform in your life.  Since then, I have found my words, I have found my self, I have found my role.  I was a bit afraid of becoming “wife” and how that word, the simple change of my name, would affect my life.   I am still curious, though no longer afraid.

I may know who I am, but not who I may some day be.  But I know that with you by my side, we may discover these, and many other things, together.  May that journey last forever and a day, longer if possible.

 

 

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May 31, 2003 – May 31, 2014

 

“Page fright, Dancer’s block…”

I’ve had a lot of “writer’s block” lately (not for lack of ideas- I have too many to complete in my lifetime!), so I thought I would share with you a few of my poems about writing.  They will be included in Cracking the Nut, a collection of poems inspired by ballet stories and dance in general, as well as a revised edition of my first self-published chapbook, Twisting the Glass.  May these hands of silver move across the page again soon.

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“You are dancing for us…”

Rustling what remains of their skirts, veils,
Juniper and pinion/sycamore show me how
to finish my dance.
Raising my arms, the wind molds me
as it does the trees,
Just so.
You are dancing for us, not them.
Follow us, this way.
If you travel down this path,
we’ll show you how you appear to others,
what you really are,
inside,
to us.
Come back tomorrow, once you’ve passed
through (the mirror of) Tonight,
shimmering twilight lifting the veil
for you to pass,
a little of its magic coming to rest upon
your shoulders.
You can never return home,
but you will find it,
changed,
on the other side.

(c) March 2002

Between Earth and Aerie: A Night in the Land of Faerie

I wrote this after my trip to Prescott, Arizona in March 2002.  I had been asked by Kelly Miller-Lopez of the musical group Woodland to dance at the first Faerieworlds Festival.  I don’t know if there is any archive footage of the performance, but I will always remember every detail in my heart.  I can see Thumb Butte where I finished my choreography the day of the performance.  I can hear the laughter of the children of all ages.  I can feel the smooth stage under my bare feet.  I can taste the salt as I perspired in the heat of the day & stage lights at night, trying hard to convey Grace.  I smell the damp earth when I returned to Thumb Butte, to give thanks for the Dance.  Another journey, another time, all part of the path.

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