Tuesday, January 10, 2012

poetry in motion

I could be in the thick of asana practice. I feel hot all over. Beads of sweat form along my hairline. I take a deep inhale and exhale as I focus my eyes on the words before me. No, this is more intense than practice, I think to myself, as I prepare to dig deep within and share.

At least that's how I felt last Saturday, January 7 when I read out my poems at a special themed kirtan. The theme was "love" and I dug out my most recent love poems to share with--luckily--an intimate gathering.

Ok, so... I write poetry. I don't know why, but admitting it always feels like I'm revealing a dirty little secret. I've even been debating in my head the blog-worthiness of the event, which sort of says a lot about my own sense of self-worth, especially when it comes to my writing. Beyond all else, I get nervous sharing my poems, they're windows to who I am, they reveal me at my most vulnerable. Through them, I am all exposed nerve--ironically, much like what the practice is doing to me presently.

It was the first time I'd shared my work in Mysore to an audience. And it couldn't be more perfect. It was a small group, they were open and receptive, they'd come for kirtan after all at James' in Saraswathipuram, they'd come to sing their hearts out, they'd come knowing that "love" was on the table.

It's beautiful to read to a receptive audience. I always feel that I get as much I give, that there is this beautiful exchange when you speak your truth and someone is there listening, receiving it, making it their own, finding their own truth in the words I've strung together. In that way, writing poetry and performing spoken word has always drawn me, it has so much power to shift perspective, to share emotion, to describe the indescribable.

As I read, I feel absorbed in the moment. In between words and stanzas, there is some understanding of the way the world works, of the complexities of love, that I don't always recognize in the life outside the page--and the sphere off the mat, as this expression is so much like the process of yoga, of incredible discovery. Yoga and poetry feel linked to me and I guess that's why the kirtan worked so well with the reading of poetry. James shared "If" by Rudyard Kipling and Paul Millage read a couple of Rumi verses.

I wish I could live the way I write, just as much as I wish I could live the way I practice. Ultimately, I think whatever we engage in, whatever the thing we love to do whether it's yoga or writing or teaching or cooking or building or being parent, we should do it fully and with purpose. And as we do, our lives become more and more like poetry in motion.

One of the poems I shared:

The Miracle

Aspens quake and we pause,
fingers twined, ears attentive.
We listen to the forest chime,
leaves aquiver in soft symphony.
We think they honor us
as they clap leaf to leaf and
we take in the trail, the trees, the
dome of blue swathed in cotton,
walls of endless mountain ranges,
nearby gurgling water, all of which
we inevitably associate with
the miracle of us. We are
encouraged as applause
travels in waves across
a frothing sea of green.
The tree line glitters
and we kiss, once again,
slowing our progress
down the mountain.

Later, we are informed
that their synchronicity is not
our good luck or great timing,
neither can it be attributed
to the magic of our love—
as much as we might contest this.
Rather, their song is older than
time, instruments so finely
tuned, so precisely selected;
they are designed for life,
efficient bathing in sunlight,
dancing foliage throwing
off mite-sized predators,
seeds carried by wind,
aspens growing a landscape.

We will not see this, but
when time comes and the last
of our summer sets on these hills,
the trees will change together.
Miles will turn golden, as if
their gentle cooing triggers
the very moment in which they
harmonize their autumn robes,
in that inconceivable act of
solidarity, love among trees,
miracle of miracles.

The real secret is this:
Aspens stand autonomously, but
each is an echo of an original tree.
The whir of woods starts deep below,
where the mightiest of roots do grow,
and from each root hundreds and
thousands of saplings spring
with leaves already trained to sing.
Like us, a colony of trees is one force,
drawing strength from one true source,
this is where the miracle starts,
it is a song sung straight from the heart.

--Karen Castillo

I'd like to thank everyone who came, listened and shared energy that kirtan. The two poems were very personal and I felt very safe and loved sharing them. I'd like to especially thank James Boag for his constant encouragement with my poetry and writing. I'm blessed to have such friends and supporters. There will hopefully be another poetry-kirtan event while I'm still here. In the meantime, the singing continues at Saraswathipuram Wednesday 2-4pm and Sunday 1:30-3:10pm (yellow house, behind Palace Honda Showroom).


  1. it is wonderfull to have this time for writting, i also write a lot in mysore, may be it is coming from yoga, changes of way of living

  2. Love and Light always in all ways!