The full Preface for my poetry book(s)

15 Jul


As I was going through editing my 600 odd poems, I began wondering how to best present them in a book. I had decided to keep them in chronological order, however, on mass that made heavy going for even the most ardent poetry reader.

I also discovered that the free self-publishing software I was using would only let me make a book as thick as 200 or so pages. It seemed necessary therefore, to come up with a way of separating my poetry out into multiple books. But how would I break it up? How would I structure it?

It dawned on me one afternoon while I was out walking, the integrity I was trying to protect in keeping my poetry in chronological order, was an attempt to illustrate the progression of my soul. I began wondering if there were significant enough milestones in my life (and soul) that would herald the end of one chapter and the start of another.

There was.

Only it was a little obscure.

But I had a strategy. When I got home, I dug out a book by a favourite author of mine, Caroline Myss; “Anatomy of the Spirit” and read again how she mapped the physical and emotional needs and complaints of our mind-body experience into the seven chakra system.

Root Chakra Painting by Billy McGrath

I made notes and then compared the qualities of what she described with what I had written about. Without being too neat about it, I found that specific spans of my life had a certain resonance with a particular chakra energy.

In an attempt to validate my theory of structuring my poetry this way, I wrote a poem for each chakra that sought to sum up me and my world view at that stage in my life. At the end, I declared; it works! Well, it works well enough. It doesn’t account for how messy life is; there were many poems within each section that could easily be resonating with another chakra quality, but in context to the whole journey, those oscillations took place within the process of learning a lesson that ultimately allowed me to grow and emerge into a new way of seeing the world. Therefore; it worked.

Thus I settled on a seven book series, called Resonance, with each book in turn charting the emotional and physical landscape of my journey through a particular chakra. In full, the journey (and books), go something like this:

(nb: I haven’t decided on the book titles yet…)

Root chakra or Finding resonance or Perfecting honesty

The poems in this book explore the me that fits in and ultimately breaks out of my tribe and learned-beliefs. I do not break easily, or gracefully, for I am comfortably settled with my long term boyfriend and fulfilling profession. These poems explore this stubborn, and often confused, root chakra space as I answer an unsettling call in my soul to travel on my own, and where loyalty, honesty and integrity are all put to the test. The poems take from the land, as I travel from New Zealand to South America.

Sacral chakra or Creating resonance or Perfecting destiny

In this book, the poems explore my emotional entanglements and desires as I end a profound relationship and begin a new. In the golden light of answered prayers, my shadow crawls out and I enact out the age old pain of self-rejection and unworthiness. It’s subtle, but it succeeds to undermine my peace, and in the knowledge of separation, my fears find a voice. So here I am, exploring the sacral chakra space in a journey of creation, rejection, acceptance, love and (dare I say it) destiny and hoping all the while, that the love found in Brazil can sustain the distance of a heart stretching between Europe and New Zealand.

Solar plexus chakra or Personal resonance or Perfecting me

The poems in this book explore the death of a dream and how I cope with the loss of God and being single for the first time in over a decade. For so long, I defined myself as a reflection of my other, never believing I could be my own sun, nor indeed, my own protagonist. It’s a bumbly journey littered with fantasies and illusive saviours, yet I start feeling hopeful I can step into this role and honour myself. And boy do the sisters in my life help me through this. With my esteem and heart on the mend, I challenge myself to leave my job, friends and community, and go where nobody knows me. So this is me, exploring my personal power of the solar plexus charka back home in New Zealand.

Heart chakra or Sympathetic resonance or Perfecting death and love

In this book, my poems explore the healing land and community of Byron Bay in the hope that my broken heart can be turned into an open heart. I practice saying ‘yes’ to life and living spontaneously. I find myself bewilderingly sustained by Grace, touching a layer of my self never yet known and even less defined. With little direction, following only the synchronicities of daily life, I haphazardly fall into a love triangle that threatens to steal my peace. Devoting my attention to living in the heart, I am able to meet my perplexing emotions with much more honesty. This is the space of the heart chakra.

Throat chakra or Sounding resonance or Perfecting the selfless

The poems in this book ask the age old question; who am I? And the even sharper question; what am I? Responding to an invitation, I travel to an ashram in India, in a cliché ‘search of self’. Finding this too disappearing, I gather instead my own intuitive council and spontaneous offerings, and challenge my existence and role on earth. This is the space of the throat chakra which inadvertently catapults me into months of disorientation with my self, my motivations, and the nature of writing all this down. Not an easy ask on someone accustomed to breathing poetry.

Third eye chakra or Mysterious resonance or Perfecting truth

In this book my poems traverse the best and worst of life. To be intimate with another, and commit to them in marriage, is the greatest surrender of the self I have ever known. Simultaneously I am shining in my own light, and utterly desperate to not expose my shadows. I am hyped in sensitivity that is both beautiful and ugly to live with. Only someone who loves me as much as his own unfolding enlightenment can hold the space for me to unwrap the psyche and personalities that are stopping me from living gracefully. Five months into our marriage, we travel to Brazil, to the healing and meditation centre that sits on a crystal quartz plateau; a place that amplifies our thoughts and emotions. In doing so, I am convinced, we shave years of heart wrestling off our relationship. Facing everything, whatever arises, we weather the first year of our marriage together, committing to meet in truth. This is the space of the third eye chakra.

Crown chakra or Subtle resonance or Perfect

There’s nothing I can say about this book. Truly nothing, for there is a place that exists that words can not touch. Least of all, mine. This book unfolds around the crown chakra.


I also describe each book as a love story, because in truth, what has driven or pulled me in all these years are the strings I tied delicately or haphazardly to my heart. And what I learnt from the heart, is that it is not so concerned with moral rights and wrongs. It is far more interested in bringing me into a response of compassionate love. Very often I learnt these lessons at the price of pride or moral high ground.

And more notably, I learnt these lessons because they become so glaringly obvious.

This reminds me of a poetry workshop I participated in several years ago.

The facilitator asked us to imagine, with clairvoyant insight, that we were about to experience deep amnesia whereby we would loose every memory we have held dear or at arms length. We had 20 minutes to write down the things and events in our lives that we would want remembered. And with that the clock started ticking.

I mentally scanned my files and files of memories to assess what I’d be willing to dump, and what must be catalogued for prosperity. I thought of the beautiful backdrops in my life – particular trees, lakes, beaches and how they had come to mean something poignant to me. Should I tell myself how to get back there? Strangely; no one place leapt forward.

I thought of certain people who had carved my life. Should I write their name and the contract they took with my life? I looked at all the accumulated memory banks of files and photo albums, now pulled from their tidy shelves and scattered in desperate attempts of escape.

There’s too many I thought as I flung those imaginary files in to the air; to Hell with it! They can all go! Everything. Everybody.

Wasn’t it happenstance in the first place that allowed us to meet? Didn’t we connect because something deeper in us recognized each other? Who’s to say I won’t reconnect with that quality of person or circumstance again?

It seemed laughable in that moment to hastily scribble down engineered notes that would sound more like the what-I-like list of some distant ancestor. I can look at the carefully researched family tree lines that my brother gives me with the same indifference; who is this name and what motivated them to marry this person or emigrate or give birth or whatever?

My page was still blank as I considered what it was that I would not be prepared to loose. My mind started dancing around; God! I’d HATE to go through that break up again! And I’d hate to have to make peace with myself all over again; I made it so painful!

Oooh, something started dawning on me; it’s the lessons. At certain times in my life, I finally finally altered my behaviour, or way of thinking, that allowed for a little more room in my mind and heart to grow. That’s what it’s about! Lessons and growth.

I started to write down my lessons. And stopped again.

Surely once you’ve learnt a lesson (and responded now to a situation with more compassion than you once had), your soul has kind of… graduated, so to speak. Meaning, those particular lessons aren’t necessary any more. So I figured I didn’t even need to write that down either.

As the facilitator indicated five minutes left, I had only one item penned on my page. It read; be compassionate, trust. I put my pen down and decided I was finished.

It wasn’t what the facilitator was looking for.

Though I knew I’d reached a big headline for myself.

Forget the baggage, just be compassionate and trust that life will unfold to support this growth.

Even though I can map some of my experiences that allowed me to ‘graduate’ to another dimension of expressing love, it doesn’t, and probably will never mean that I’m cured of all the inner gremlins that tripped me up back then. If anything, the road gets more gnarly as I toil the ground back further. All I can do is meet these moments with more compassion and equanimity. Ahhh, it’s a journey alright!

Which is, in essence, what these poetry books are. A journey with no simple answer but with a sprinkling of hindsight and sliced where I can, compassionately.

To bring the reader on this journey; I present at the start of each book, the poem that I wrote for that particular chakra. It offers a segment of life story, and while there is absolutely no expectation that the reader will read any of these book from cover to cover, should you find yourself doing so, there lies within, the subtle coherence of a plot, and character development (and in my case; assassination).

I would like to stress that a coherent story was never intended at the outset; each poem enjoying its own space and existing in its own creative right, and appearing in a moment that didn’t always afford me a wise or compassionate perspective. So read from start to finish, or just open the book up randomly, as I am prone to do, and wonder where this poem sprung from.

So it begins.

And so it continues …

… … … … … … … … … … …

So where to from now?

I’m looking for some intimate-readers.

What is an intimate reader? Someone who resonates with what I’m doing and wants to discuss the poems and the books with me.

Gosh, If you’ve read this far, you’re definitely in the running!!

To get an idea of the type of writing, this blog covers about 80% of the poems in the books, though not all are in the book, and some that I never posted, are (don’t ask me the logic, it just happened that way).

So if you’re in New Zealand, have an affinity for spiritual development and reading poetry (or a poet), have spare time and a critical eye, hey, drop me a line, haha.

much love

  Alys Titchener 🙂


2 Responses to “The full Preface for my poetry book(s)”

  1. Charlotte July 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm #


    this all “resonates” really well with the stuff we were talking about today. Great prose. Can’t wait to read your poetry..



  2. squashedmosquito July 17, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks Charlotte. Can’t wait to share it with you :-p

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