Posted by: Viola | July 21, 2017

Finding joy in a world of books

Dear Friends,

After a year’s break from blogging and other social media, I am sharing this update with my readers to let you all know that… I AM HAPPY. The year has flown by in a joyful whirl. I now live in a flurry of library things. I work in two extraordinary libraries. I love it! I love my library studies, as well. I am fortunate to have phenomenal coworkers and brilliant librarian-mentors. And, as always, I love books. Love reading. Love that I am a poet/writer now immersed in the world of libraries. What a dream! What a very *bookish* book lover’s dream come true for me! I will extend my break from social media, in order to focus on my library work and studies. I so appreciate all the messages from readers inquiring about this poet Viola and her Letters to Cameroon. I am still writing, still in love with words, still a poet, now a library staffer, always a book lover and now forever a library lover!

With love and light!  ~Viola

 

While I am away, check out this lovely review of my BIRD FROM AFRICA chapbook. The author of this amazing review, Kangsen Feka Wakai, is a gifted Cameroonian poet, and his words bring tears to my eyes. I feel that this brings my poetry full-circle in a magical way, because when I first began to write my poems for Cameroon (back in 2008), I received much support and encouragement from two Cameroonian poets, Kangsen Wakai and Dibussi Tande. I get emotional reading this review–it’s absolutely perfect in so many ways. ❤

 

Posted by: Viola | June 21, 2016

Have a great summer!

Dear Friends and Readers,

Today is the first day of summer! It’s promising to be a busy season for me! I will be taking a break from blogging this summer, as I prepare for my return to academia. I will begin my master’s program in library science very soon, and the summer is a great time of preparation for my first classes. I am so excited to begin the program, so thrilled to be on the path to becoming a librarian, and I am giving it my all. Thank you so much for reading and following my journey with poetry, and I wish you all a wonderful summer filled with lots of fun and beautiful sunshine. ❤

With Love and light,

Viola ~ Poet and Future Librarian

Posted by: Viola | June 14, 2016

Poet’s Plea for Love in Orlando

We talk of love. But let us talk of light. Let us talk of the light that we can see, because sometimes we cannot see love. But always we can open our eyes and see light, and even in being blind, we can feel the sun on our skin. Love is this way. Love must be this way. Love must be something that we can always see, always feel on our skin, always know. We could never doubt the presence of the sun, even in the darkest night. We could never doubt the light it gives, the moon reflecting that light, the glow of everything the sun touches. Love must be this way. Something we do not doubt. Something we always reflect. Something we trust will touch everything and make it glow, make it bright, make it shine. Let’s say we start today. Let’s say we make it all okay, as best we can. We begin again. Let’s let go of hate and anger and cruelty. Let’s love one another. Let’s forgive but also make sure we begin a new way, a new path that takes us far from this kind of cruelty, this kind of violence, any kind of violence. Let’s put a stop to it. Let’s change the way we view our lives. Let’s cultivate a deep sense of safety. Let’s not make guns, or sell guns, or buy guns, or cherish these terrible weapons. Let’s not make or sell or buy ideas that speak of hate. Let’s only look for ways to grow in loving and supporting each other. Let’s learn compassion. Let’s put religion and extremism in their place and tell them to back-off when they advocate anything but peace and compassion. Let’s talk of unconditional love. Let’s talk of acceptance and celebration of all of our human ways of being and loving. Let’s talk of love. Let’s talk of light. Let’s start right now. Let’s be that love. Let’s be that light. Let’s begin today. ❤

Posted by: Viola | June 8, 2016

A Poet’s Blessing by Viola Allo

A Poet’s Blessing

by Viola Allo

*

May all that is filled with light and beauty bless you.

May your footsteps upon the Earth be light and your smile be beautiful.

May your heart be light and your love be beautiful.

May your hands be light and your healing be beautiful.

May your thoughts be light and your words be beautiful.

***

By Viola Allo. All rights reserved. Please contact the poet for permission to share or use this poem.

Posted by: Viola | June 7, 2016

When love comes…

When Love Comes…

by Viola Allo

When Love comes, what do you do? Do you say: Go away! Not now! I’m not ready! Come back later, come next year, come in two years, come in three!

Or do you say: Go away and don’t come back at all! Don’t come looking for me! Leave me be! Don’t you dare touch me! Don’t you dare!

Or do you say: Welcome! I am so glad you’ve come! I’ve been waiting for you! I’ve been hoping you would show up, sooner rather than later! And here you are! Thank heavens!

Or do you say nothing. Do you say nothing but fall to your knees and kiss Love’s feet, bathe its toes in an ocean of your tears and study them like a surprise of seashells.

Will you say nothing and be found in the liquid sand with a treasure of minerals as your hand, long after the waves of every sound have died down and you have drowned in them.

***

By Viola Allo. All rights reserved. Please contact the poet for permission to use or share this poem.

Posted by: Viola | June 7, 2016

How to Publish Your Poetry: A Beginners Workshop

Letters to Cameroon

How to Publish Your Poetry: A Beginners Workshop

My poetry workshop today just ended, and this is a quick recap for those who were not able to attend. I wanted to share with readers a little bit of what I covered, as far as publishing poetry goes. It was wonderful sharing my experiences and thoughts on publishing poetry, and I want to encourage any aspiring poets and writers out there to believe that their work is worth sharing, if they choose to publish it. Here are my tips for working toward publishing your poetry.

1. Write, write, write. Write as much as you can, and write about the topics you love and feel passionate about. Write about your interests and memories and personal stories. Write about the themes you like. Explore what you know deeply and write from your core. This makes you stand out, when it comes to sharing…

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Posted by: Viola | June 5, 2016

Finding the heart to say “I love you”

“I love you” can be one of the hardest things to say. So I have heard. So I am told. But what is so hard about saying “I love you” and what about those three words causes people to quiver with fear, afraid of admitting such a beautiful emotion?

I–this is a word, but it is also one letter. It is one letter. What could be hard about saying “I” in the context of love? We use “I” all day long. We use it so much that we dare not even bother counting. And yet, pair it with loving another person, and that very same “I” gets stuck in the throat, lodged there, unable to flow and fly from the lips.

LOVE–this is a word, a small word. There are much bigger words out there. Longer words. Heavier words. Scarier words. Terrifying words. But LOVE, ought to be light, ought to be soft and feathery, like dove or clove. Instead, when it comes to using this word to say how we feel about a person, the word becomes thick, scratchy, hard to say. Stuck.

YOU–this is also a word, also a small word. And we use it all the time, we use it to say you-this and you-that and you and and you and you. It is the less dangerous, more impersonal “second person” when you write a story out. But when that you becomes the subject of that emotion called love, the you becomes dangerous, becomes a risk, a liability. I can lose you, I can get hurt by you.

Maybe these three small words are words we have to repeat often, so that we grow more accustomed to letting them flow off our tongues. Would saying “I love you” all day long somehow cheapen the phrase? Would saying it to too many people lessen its meaning, dilute its emotional significance? Or have we been hurt by way too many “yous” that we have felt “love” for, and now the “I” that we are is simply weary? So weary that it cannot find its own heart. So burned out that it cannot find the heart to say “I love you.” ❤

 

Posted by: Viola | May 30, 2016

A natural *high*–SummerWords!

I am buzzing with positive energy. I am jumping with joy. I am having a natural “high” thanks to SummerWords. It was a great weekend, so awesome to be around like-minded people, artists and writers, creators and innovators, mentors and supporters, friends. The ability to move among these people who love the things I love–words, books, poems, stories–and just absorb all their love for their artistic work and mirror that love back to them, what an incredible experience!

I shared with people that I’d worked on a manuscript and that the project had been a finalist for a poetry prize, but I needed to take a break from it. They encouraged me to return to my project and not give up on it. Keep working at it. Keep sending it out. Keep opening up chances for it to get published. Their encouragement made a difference because I feel more open to the idea of going back to my manuscript (perhaps in the summer or fall) and taking another look at it.

I also shared with people that I am job searching and working toward becoming a librarian. I shared with them my story of applying to an MFA program and getting turned down. I shared with them my recent decision to go to grad school for library science and follow my new-found desire to be a librarian (and my not-so-new passion for libraries, places I’ve loved for as long as I knew they existed). I received many words of encouragement and tips for my job searching and career journey. I felt very much loved and supported, at times by complete strangers.

What a wonderful thing to experience! To meet new people who don’t need to know you well before they offer you great support and kind words. This is what community is all about! ❤

We all lead busy lives with myriad commitments. We don’t have tons of time to get to know each other really well. But when we come together, we know we share a common journey, as humans and as artists and creators–it’s the human story. We are all on that journey, we are all in that story. And we don’t need to know much more in order to encourage each other on that shared journey. We open our hearts and wish each other well and say, “How can I help? How can we help each other journey well?” Then we talk; we give of what we have–we give of our time and words and loving kindness. And it makes all the difference in the world. Because it’s new energy, new light, new wisdom for the road. ❤

“To meet new people who don’t need to know you well before they offer you great support and kind words. This is what community is all about! […] When we come together, we know we share a common journey, as humans and as artists and creators–it’s the human story. We are all on that journey, we are all in that story.” ~Viola Allo

Posted by: Viola | May 30, 2016

Meeting Luis Alberto Urrea at SummerWords 2016

***

The SummerWords 2016 creative writing festival came to a close today, Sunday May 29th. And the festival was filled with magical moments! Far too many to count! SummerWords! As always, it was a great weekend of tons of workshops, wonderful panels/discussions and presenters, and to magnify the wonder of it all, the keynote speaker was author Luis Alberto Urrea. His keynote address was on Saturday evening, just before the gathering of all participants for the second annual barbecue dinner. He introduced himself by sharing a little about his childhood, through stories about him and his family. Then he shared a short story with us, from his award-winning short story collection THE WATER MUSEUM.

Luis Alberto Urrea. This guy is incredible!!! I think what was most amazing about the whole evening of his keynote presentation was the magical nature of his storytelling. His ability to tell story after story after story, without pause (it seemed), was mesmerizing. I’ve never seen anything quite like this–not sure what word to use–skill or gift or talent. I was blown away. Suffice it to say, I was in love with this amazing storyteller and his endless stories. I wanted more stories, and it was a sad moment when the keynote session came to a close.

When I say storytelling talent or gift, and when I call it magical, I am not exaggerating. When it came time for him to share his short story reading with us, he did not whip out a copy of his book or a stack of papers. He did not read from any prompter. He said he wanted to share his short story with us, and out of respect for us, he was not going to read it to us, he was simply going to recite/tell the story. And then he began.

I am not sure how a person writes a short story and shares it out loud, from memory. I was stunned. I am sure my jaw dropped at the beginning of the story and did not return to it’s usual locked position until the entire day came to an end. I still feel baffled. Still shaking my head. But how? Yes, he wrote the story. Yes, he knows it and its characters and plot. He knows it all, very intimately. But still, it is a lot of work to remember and to recite a full short story, even if not verbatim. Wow. Wow. Wow. ❤

I am so glad I got to be present at this wonderful event. And I am also glad and grateful for earlier in the day, when one of the organizers of the event (my mentor, Professor Michael Spurgeon) called me aside and introduced me to Luis Alberto Urrea and Luis’ wife, Cindy. I didn’t quite realize what was happening and who this was that I was being introduced to. It took a minute for it to register. And then, I thought, “OH MY! What an amazing moment! What just happened? Oh yes, I just shook hands with Luis Alberto Urrea and his wife!” What an honor! He encouraged me to keep writing and not give up on my work, that someday I would be very successful and people would come to me, begging for what I have to offer. I thought, “OK, OK then…I better keep at this poetry business.” ❤

Last night, after the keynote, I purchased a copy of one of Luis Alberto Urrea’s novels, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH. And today, after the Q and A session with him, the festival participants were invited to bring their books to Luis Alberto Urrea for signing. I stood in line, chatting with one of my other mentors, Professor Harold Schneider. I felt very much surrounded by lots of light and love and inspiration. Once at the table, Luis Alberto Urrea signed my copy of his book, took several photos with me, and also accepted a small gift I had brought for him–a copy of my very own chapbook, BIRD FROM AFRICA. I was so excited to give it to him. He asked me if I had signed it, and when I said no, he asked me to sign it because it was not fair for him to sign my copy of his book and me not sign a copy of my chapbook. So I signed my chapbook. I signed it, “Luis Alberto, Thank you for your light!”

Thank you… for your light. And thank you to all the SummerWords organizers and sponsors and presenters…thank you for your light. This festival truly brings much light to so many of us humble artists and writers. It fills me up with inspiration when I need it the most. I cannot wait for next year. For the next SummerWords. I cannot wait for more and more light! Bright light like this is something to look for and look forward to. And I live for it! ❤

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