March Library Excitement

My family has been involved with Mary Meuser Memorial Library for most of my daughter’s life.

From her preschool days to 2014 I served on the library’s board of trustees, including a couple years as president.

The Pennsylvania state library board urged libraries to enforce term limits on their boards and so I left after my second term, but my husband filled my post for the next six years. He also served as president.

Now his seat is open. So I reapplied. I will be rejoining the board of trustees this month.

In addition, my daughter (with her father’s support) hosts a writing workshop and open mic at the library on the third Thursday of the month. They have asked me to lead the workshop.

To promote myself, I submitted to their weekly poetry blog. See it here: Angel Ackerman featured on Stick Figure Poetry.

I will be hosting an interactive workshop on editing for word count, specifically on how to convey the most meaning with the least words.

The workshop begins at 6 pm, March 19, at Mary Meuser Memorial Library, 1803 Northampton Street, Easton, PA. In the annex.

For more about our library visit: Mary Meuser Memorial Library

21st Century Witchcraft: Books

Originally I had intended to include “personal space” in this section with books, but I know myself and I’m going to babble enough to make that an upcoming entry.

For part one of my “Witchcraft in the 21rst Century” series: 21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

For part two: 21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the Everyday

Welcome to my bookshelf.

During two decades of book-hunting, I have amassed (and given away) a lot of books. I also have a fairly extensive collection of tarot cards but that is another topic for another day.

I gave a large amount of books by Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolf. Before the Internet was readily available and put the universe at our fingertips I used to comb used bookstores and new age shops looking for spiritual ideas.

Then I finally ended up on Llewelyn Publishing’s mailing list.

My daughter now has a lot of the Classics, like Buckland’s Book of Witchcraft.

But I kept some in my vintage Crayola stock box that stands beside my bed.

Everything in this photo is precious to me, except the Celtic Myth book. That one was a disappointment though a good reference. I have some characters who worship ancient Celtic gods.

  • The white book on the bottom is the manual to my 2005 Altima. I loved that car. Having the manual close brings back good memories, nostalgia and longing.
  • Solitary Witch by Silver Ravenwolf is the only one of her books I kept for myself.
  • Wicca: A Year and a Day is a fantastic way to study Wicca and a lot of the meditative daily exercises help find your unique connection to your spirituality. That said, I have never finished the whole book.
  • The faded book lying horizontally on top of those books is my personal book of shadows. Yes, I have one.
  • The two books on top of those are pocket guides to graphology and palmistry. I never found anything else as concise and easy to follow.
  • On top of those are two antique prayer books, both more than 100 years old. One is Catholic. I love Catholic rituals.
  • The Oxford Annotated Bible. This was the Bible from my college Bible classes. We wrote in it. It has extensive footnotes and historical context. I take it with me to church services and still take notes in it. With dates. So over time, I can see my travels through the Bible.
  • The United Methodist Hymnal. My childhood church closed. And one of my peers from those days got me one of the hymnals at the last service.
  • The Book of Centering. An influential pastor once told me about the practice of centering. We were discussing prayer, and this is a type of meditative prayer that also focuses on relaxing the body and pulling prayer into yourself.
  • The Way of Chuang Tzu. This book of Taoist poetry radically altered my perspective of my place in the universe.
  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. My favorite book. I even have an image from it tattooed above my breast. This book, by an amazing man, is all the life lessons you need. It looks like a children’s book, but it’s not. It’s happy and tragic.
  • Walden. This book is meaningful to me from a spiritual and a family perspective. This copy belonged to my great-grandmother’s little brother.
  • Dirty Pretty Things. Sexy, beautiful poetry. Because our sexuality is key to our power.
  • Bloodletting by my friend William Prystauk. Kinky, dark, violent, but the most sincere love story. (For my review of Bill’s book: Review of Bloodletting)
  • My first “novels” that I ever wrote
  • Go the Fuck to Sleep. The last book my husband bought me.

30 words

As a newspaper writer, I learned to write tight. A recent call for 30-word poems from Right Hand Pointing got me thinking super tight. The deadline for submissions is the end of the month, but I got mine in tonight and had to write a 30-word bio…

This is what I wrote:

Angel Ackerman left the dying newspaper industry, suspended her master’s program to raise a daughter, has traveled diversely through multiple continents and lives zealously riding waves of passion and agony.

‘This Paris’ in StepAway Magazine

It thrills me to share with you my first official creative byline, a milestone despite my fifteen years as a professional print journalist.

My friend Nancy and I were reviewing markets in September when we discovered StepAway, an online literary journal honoring flâneur style poetry. I submitted what I call “my Paris poem,” which captures a walk through multi-cultural, post-colonial influenced Paris. The poem comes from my return to Paris, fifteen years after I first met her.

We had both changed.

I see Paris as a bewitching, urine-stained whore and the details in the poem are real. They had put us in our room before housekeeping cleaned it. They did have 85 pink and brown stairs. We were sandwiched between Gare de Nord and Gare de l’Est.

The man in dreadlocks really existed. And my tears were also real.

I will find myself in Paris again Jan. 8, on my way to East Africa (Djibouti and Somalia). It’s a common stop-over for me now, but in 2010 I wasn’t sure I would ever see Paris again.

When I submitted the poem in late September, I didn’t know what would happen November 13. I think my poem speaks to inclusion, and if I wrote it now perhaps Paris herself would cry and the man in dreads would soothe her. 

The editor’s note in StepAway offers a great sentiment and lead in to my poem:

StepAway Letter From Editor

And my poem itself:

This Paris in StepAway

Some of my Paris photos:

Angel’s Paris photos

Holiday Upheaval

The events of the last few months have rendered my life unrecognizable, even to me.I have a suspicion that 2016 may come together in ways I never imagined or be the year that leaves me bankrupt, homeless and destitute in more ways than one.

So far I’m leaning toward and working for the former, but the worrier in me can’t help but fear the latter.

Between my broken ankle and the medical bills I incurred (who knew physical therapy was THAT expensive?) and the fact that I paid for graduate school, car repairs and a euphonium on my American Express, I was forced to ponder refinancing the house. The appraiser comes Sunday, but, again, I’m nervous because the appraisers are never generous in my experience. Last time I did this, they wanted to loan me exactly what I need now. So we’ll see. This new mortgage would shorten the length of our current loan, pay off the car and the American Express AND not add to the cost of our monthly payments.

With this and winter and travel looming, I have decided to defer enrollment at West Chester until next semester. I won’t have to commute in the snow. I can get my finances in order and proceed responsibly and not worry about classes interfering with my travel schedule.

Speaking of travel: January 7 I leave for France; I believe it’s January 8 I leave for Djibouti and January 12 I arrive in Mogadishu. Plus a trip to Lebanon may be in the works for spring.

I’m also working on some book reviews in some World War II era memoirs for Hippocampus.

Now the good news…

My poem “This Paris” has been accepted by StepAway magazine. I don’t consider myself a poet, so it’s a tad funny that I’ve placed a poem.

I believe I got an A in my grad school history class and my professor would like to see me continue some of my work, specifically on the Horn of Africa. That’s the topic, not that she wants me to go far, far away.

Paris Rendez-Vous

Quartier Gare de Nord
October 2010 (my photo)

Paris Rendez-Vous

(A poem from my 2010 trip to Paris)

In the initial flurry of dark coats and

Clunking baggage wheels, my harsh accent that

Does not sing gets lost on the platform. The

Acclimated crowds ravage my coveted Gauloise

While I hesitate.

Emerging, damp silk and cotton clinging to

My skin, my body threatens to fail as I

Pray for her acceptance. The station

Breathes mechanical three-tone chimes

Delineating each train.

Simplicity of metal, glass and concrete,

The station does not yield to the sway

Of engines and cars. This canopy

Protects me from the elements and her gaze.

My reluctant shove opens the door.

I cascade into a surreal apertif of

Flowers, perspiration and urine,

Cigarette smoke and inexpensive red wine

Skimming her flesh. The olfactory assault awakens me

And mocks my freshness.

Redolent of yeast, her warm body embraces

Me. My mouth lusts for her breads and her

Sweets, grime overshadowed, but my first

Need is revival brought by strong coffee

In tiny cups.

At the hotel, I climb a vivid pink and

Worn brown spiral of 85 stairs to a

Corner chamber where imperfect sheets

Remain suspiciously mussed from the

Bodies preceding us.

I step to the balcony, fingers of wrought iron

Restraining me as I stand with no destination

Sandwiched between opposing stations.

In this space, I taste her earnest

Poignancy on the breeze.

From this narrow ledge, she dances

Mesmerizing me with her softness, her angles;

Her age versus her timelessness.

Her caress reaches me and transforms the American

Tension that defines me.

Transfixed, I freeze. Every murmur against

Neighboring tracks rocks my core, screaming of my

Transience. Every siren from the streets below

Thrills me, a tremor for each pin-pon that pierces

My overconstructed fugue.

The passersby below my balcony continue their

Departure, trajectory focused on a shortcut to the

Train. Their nonchalance boggles me. Her touch

Forces amnesia, the mundane discarded in her kisses.

We descend into her streets of rapture.

She leads me through her neighborhoods

Into her flavors. She is not the girl I once knew

But nor am I the same. I desire more than I did in youth

So I chase her as I will chase her for days

Begging for our merger.

The ideologists mandate her purity, concocting paltry laws

While she feigns aloofness. The natives ignore her

Everyday charms but bristle when she shares

Her ardor with Africans, Muslims, and other dark faces

As readily as white skins.

She absorbs the choppy resonance of the Arabic

Laid at her feet and stares at the strange letters

She cannot read, because language constantly

Mutates. She can only preserve her heart and not what the

Populace layers upon her.

My feet blister keeping pace, just the endorphins

Propel me. My mood turns uneasy as she continues beneath

Me, urging me onward into her pleasures. With fats from

Her table and easy-flowing wine, she satiates, sullies

And corrupts me.

Under the haze of alcohol with a belly full of frog,

Snails and rabbit, she lures me to the river Seine,

Tourist-laden boats driving its currents,

Its banks flooded with the silhouettes

Of lovers entwined.

When exhaustion lands me in my bed, I never

Close the window. The bugs nip my soiled flesh

But I continue to expose myself to her.

How else could I monitor her nocturnal movements?

Never have I felt so dirty and free.

But finally, I return to that station, with more

Song in my voice. I laugh and weep as the

RER dashes into the suburbs. Tunnels ascend

Into daylight, sun falling on graffiti, the message too real,

Disconcerting.

My tears draw attention from a tall

Black man with dreads whose soft French comforts

My sorrow. I can only pray that he will

Care for her, as I do, and stay with her

With a permanence I cannot.