National Poetry Month Celebration
Deanna Nikaido is the author of two collections of poetry, Voice Like Water and Vibrating With Silence and holds a degree in Illustration from Art Center College of Design. Voice Like Water was selected in the Small Press Bookwatch July 2009 by Midwest Book Review. Her poems have appeared in several anthologies and journals and in 2006 she was a guest poet for Rumi’s 800th Birthday Celebration at the Visionary Art Museum.
She continues as a senior coach and design consultant for Bookinday(www.bookinaday.org), a non-profit hands-on literacy project that teaches students the fundamentals of creative writing, through poetry and book publication and is in her third year as Maryland’s North and Western Regional Coordinator for the national recitation program, Poetry Out Loud(www.poetryoutloud.org. She also freelances doing book layout and cover design as well as other design layout needs.
For more info or to contact: Visit www.deannanikaido.com
What exciting things have you accomplished in 2013:
This year, actually the last two years have been about diversification. I continue to write poems mostly on small scraps of paper which I am trying to make some semblance out of into a third book of poems. Thematically I am not sure where these words are taking me just yet or what they are wanting me to hear so I continue to listen. It is always an interesting unforced process that I love watching unfold.
In the area of navigating uncharted waters I am currently working on a childrens book that I was challenged to write 2 years ago by my colleague and friend Kwame Alexander during a writing retreat in Brazil. At the time it was stressful and uncomfortable and I didn’t know where to begin. I’ve never written a poem much less a prose work on demand—and after many days of blank paper meditations Kwame said to me, “Think of it as one long poem with breaks.” I could wrap my head around that and at the end of last year I had two sets of serious eyes review the manuscript and give me some encouraging feedback. The book is a novel in verse titled, Kintsugi-A Golden Tale of Friendship that I see as a picture book. I am quite encouraged and at the same time know the patience it will require to see it to fruition. It has been exciting to see my writing stretched in a new way.
One of my most treasured highlights this year was with my work as coordinator for Poetry Out Loud. It is such an important program particularly at this time in the world where communication particularly with our young people is becoming mostly virtual with face to face interaction becoming nearly optional. The generation behind this will barely if at all know the difference—or care. This program reinforces the vibrational quality of being in the same space, real time with the person you are communicating with. This year I’ve had the opportunity to work with some exceptionally talented high school students that completely took this notion to heart. They rivaled any peer I’ve ever heard recite in the poetry world and I am so proud and completely excited to say that the young man from my region took first place at the Maryland state competition this past Saturday! Akash Menon from Frederick County will advance to the National competition next April 29-30 at George Washington University/Lizner Auditorium. TIf you can’t make it to DC the program will be live-streamed and I strongly encourage everyone to watch it. (Recitations are divided into 3 grouped regions. MD is in the first grouping which begins promptly at 9am) For more info visit: www.poetryoutloud.org.
And last but not least, I became a certified practitioner for a Japanese healing art called Jin Shin Jyutsu. I have been studying for over 2 years and am quite excited about this! For me it is poetry for my hands. A listening art. If you are interested in learning more about this contact me on my website (a new page will be up shortly but I will still get the message).
Wow, it’s funny how you don’t realize what you’ve done over the year until someone asks you to write it down. Thank you Yvonne!
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
Doing what I love. Whether it be with words, voice, hands or any other means through the heart that is where I’ll be funneling my energy. With the projects I have in the works, there is plenty to keep me happily busy. I am very grateful to work with people and on projects where I am able to utilize my gifts.
A Favorite passage:
Until We Live
We come with all these parts and no instruction how they go together.
It is so tempting to want the answers before we begin the journey. We like to know our way. We like to have maps. We like to have guides. But we are more like a breathing puzzle, a living bag of pieces and each day shows us what a piece or two is for, where it might go, how it might fit. Over time, a picture starts to emerge by which we begin to understand our place in the world.
Unfortunately, we waste a lot of time seeking someone to tell us what life will be like once we live it. We drain ourselves of vital inner fortitude by asking others to map our way. At the end of all this stalling, though, we each have to venture out and simply see what happens.
The instructions are in the living, and I confess that of all the times I thought I like this or didn’t care for that, not one was of my choosing or yours. For as the Earth was begun like a dish breaking, eternity is that scene slowly reversing, and you and I and the things we’re drawn to are merely the pieces of God unbreaking back together.