I sit here deep in thought, continuing to unravel as I write this piece, my book release marks a beginning. First, I want to thank you…. I want you to know how humbled and honored to have a completed book in my hands.
On Saturday Feb 3rd, 2018… after two full years, my poetry book, Flowerbook ~ An Undeniable Force of Nature was released. February marked an exact two-year completion, and I am just thrilled to finally be done.
I took sometime thereafter to be silent, to think about every moment, but after this past Chinese New year celebration of the Dog. I felt it was time to share this letter I had written for the party.
Friends of Flowerbook arrived at the beautiful showroom in Culver City, Communion by Joy. Although I wanted to invite everyone, this was really a party for those who were part of the book as a Thank you, those who pre-ordered a book and a small handful of friends who have supported my work in every step of the way.
I wanted to share here my ‘actually’ notes for the Book party…. The intention was to read it aloud, knowing that I would feel nervous and perhaps back out, as it would be my very first public speaking engagement about my own work.
Foreword: Noted I wanted to share a little bit of my story, my process in writing this poetry book, Flowerbook, An Undeniable Force of Nature, and to give a special thank YOU to all of you for helping me making this happen. Just know, public speaking is very new, so I’ll be reading aloud my notes.... so I can feel clear on my intentions.
(Feeling surprisingly comfortable, I wound up improving some of the words, and so, I wanted to share what I might have forgotten here.)
After my little story, I’ll share a few poems, and then we will hear some acoustic music from the luminous Brianna Falcone, then a few more poems, and the endearing Jennifer Paskow with play a few songs... then a couple more poems, ending with a little creature art video showing by Shanna Yates. I also wanted thank Tabitha Rose for the yummy cupcakes… Tabitha graces the cover. The book cover design wonderfully done by Designer Felix and Kira of By Associates located in Taiwan. A special thank you to Cici for this beautiful gift.
Thank you to my dearest souls sister Kirsty for making her Bitters potions, Flourish… Everyone must try one! She made her special Triple Goddess Bitters evanescent especially for this event.
My sweet Sophia for the flowers, Melissa (my honeybee) and Chris for helping me prep this party, Joy and (Courtney) for having me in this incredibly feminine jewelry showroom.
Here we go…
in late part of Feb 2016, I was shooting nature photos in Topanga state park and came across a bunch of hummingbird sage flowers, for those of you who don’t know, they are my spirit flower. A few days after that, Ally and Erin came up for tea and we went on a hike. While hiking I took a few snaps of them, I thought to write some poetry of their photos. It became an after thought every time I would shoot photos, adding poetry. Perhaps this was a brief segue from my novel; the idea started forming, manifesting, and taking shape. It would be about women, nature, flowers... the idea to interpret each photo to poetry. So when you see these images... you’ll understand, where I was coming from. It’s my interpretation of what I saw in the photo, sometimes my relationship with that person created a verse, but connecting mostly about nature.
I decided then to ask all my women friends to who took photos to send me photos... ones that weren’t going to be used on social media, trusting to give it up for a certain amount of time.
A couple weeks later, now March, I was invited to Katherina’s birthday... An afternoon filled with women, tea, flowers... during which time she and I connected over photography, she sent me a handful of photos; with ideas to shoot some original photos too. I was thankful for her clear willingness to collaborate, opening up a blossoming co-creation. From that point on, I learned of Katherina’s insatiable eye for beauty. She shot both the cover of the book... and the very last photo. The very last photo was the most serendipitous one of all, and it became clear this book needed to be published. I have fond memories of Jaclyn Desantis who runs the Ojai Raptor Center and a female red tail hawk captured with her wings opened in perfect alignment, one of the first photos that made the Flowerbook come to life. It was an idea I explored and Katherina was able to execute my vision. The timing was remarkable and exciting... What we gathered from Jaclyn to give you an idea, these bird releases can be very tricky; rehabilitated birds can easily be disoriented because they don’t actually know they are being released. What direction they will be flying is unknown until that moment, so to have that kind of shot in just a few minutes was an Ahhhhh ha moment. The female hawk was also one of three birds Jaclyn was releasing for our shoot; the other two were males and falcons. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect shot... I named that poem, “RELEASE", dedicated to that hawk. And for my poetry book being released into the world in tangible form. The shot was nothing short of perfection. Special Thank you to Jaclyn DeSantis!
By the summer, I collected around 30 photos and 10 were shot for the book itself.... but by fall, looking at the collection, my first gut feeling was that it wasn’t ready, so I used that time to shop the idea around to a few publishing companies... One publisher told me it might be hard to publish it as a poetry book, because of the all the color photos and rather it be a photography book. I don’t want to go in detail over the business handlings that also involved this process, but I will share it wasn’t easy for me emotionally.
When Chris and I went to Malaysia in Dec 2016, we met a Feng Shui master who did a reading for us, I asked about my book, He explained... I should not publish my book until the fall of 2017? I remarked, What! That’s so long... I am ready, I'm ready. He was firm and added…, That based on my personality, it won’t matter I’ll do it anyway... that made me laugh at that very thought, he read me right. I remember coming home feeling bit sad and disappointed, certainly contemplative.... but I decided to listen to his advice... what’s another 10mos?
That spring of 2017 the rains came pouring in, which gave way for new kind of Super Flower Bloom. Everyone was going crazy for this flower bloom… The energy felt different than the dry year of 2016, and in some ways that time period made me appreciate the steady incline and progression of creation... mysteriously unfolding before my eyes. I had wild expectations of finding a publisher, but that didn’t appear, I learned this was no small feat, but kept at it.
I kept writing and submitting to various publishers but the response was dim. part of me wanted to give up, but I just couldn’t… I felt responsbile, collecting so many beautiful photos that I wanted to share and support everyone's work for supporting mine.
What evolved was a growing vision; one that allowed myself to contribute my own photos... I really did not plan on shooting, but it was just going in that direction. My intuition kept nudging me to shoot the Flower Blooms. I remember sharing ideas with Melissa Park Rousseau, happily she jumped in and was willing to take a few photos… It felt like a revival of some sort. Melissa shot these gorgeous photos of Melissa McConnell, Caitlin Deane, Lindsay Mack. I just adored her sincere approach, those photos were the more spontaneous “ an actual flower shooting” photos, and so, I decided to add “An Undeniable Force of Nature”.... as a verse to honor listening to your intuition and knowing the magnetic force and pull that naturally happens in nature and with us, we are nature.
That spring sprung up so many incredible flowers, sages, poppies, and mariposas... 2017 was an incredibly Year of flowers, actually... Mijanou, Allie Buckley, Michele Capra, Brianna Falcone, Kristen Flores, Erin Rico, Emily Camdenhead and Julia Corbet were shot with the spring flowers... It was a beautiful time with each and everyone of these beautiful souls.
Those moments I understood so clearly the words of the Feng Shui Master and for divine timing. By June, I had collected 40 more photos… I did a test print and just felt relieved, I knew this book would be very special, very beautiful. Not too long after that, I had the feeling of completion. I knew I had every photo I visioned, a variety of women… Moms to be, babies, young friends, models, musicians, artist, chefs, renowned photographers, a shaman elder, healers, birds, insects, nudity, tons of flowers, water, sun, earth… I was ready for the next phase.
By now I accepted the objective. Knowing this was going to be a self-published book. Feeling into my old school ways of thinking, I concentrated in the present moment, having complete acceptance to the unfolding, it was time to find the editor. With the unexpected decision to self-published meant a lot of figuring out, decisions that I really didn’t expected to do on my own. I am certainly a person who needs to have my grammar checked, a second pair of eyes, let alone someone very knowledgeable on design... How was this book going to happen? I mean, I really and genuinely thought I was just going to write poems, nothing else... but that wasn’t the calling for this book, I guess.
I met with a few people but no one felt right, I was a little bummed but continued to put one foot in front of the other, emailing once again for help, but that didn’t seem to fall into place as quickly as I thought, I had limited resources, questioning over and over my process. I didn’t want to make mistakes I’ve made in the past, spending too much money and not getting the quality of production this book deserved. A month went by and that person still did not manifest… I thought for sure everyone was sick of me.... Then my sweet friend Talia came to my rescue and offered her support. She had some knowledge on the design program from working on her own book a few years earlier. Within our first couple meetings, the pages started to align and the tone of the book started having a voice.... pieces of the puzzle came together within just a week. In all honestly, it was completely unexpected which was the beauty to our connection. Hearing her ideas, reflections and opinions on my work, offered none of which I tapped into myself, which also meant so much. My time with Talia started to feel nostalgic to my days as a shortlived script supervisor in my twenties... a job that was part of camera dept and editorial. I forgot how much I love editorial; it all felt so reminiscent, looking at the photos on the screen and figuring out the continuity to give it a story. She had the awesome idea to press flowers and also creating a time line whether a photo was shot in that season... We decided to start with the feeling of autumn... grabbing the darker photos first and as spring and summer approached became ones that were brighter with more flowers. Of course this was riding on the assumption that this would be printed by the fall and that I would have the book out by then. Obviously that didn’t happen. But I still liked that assumption and feel of a time-line.
When it came time for printing the difficulties on finding an affordable one out weighted any challenges I had experience this far, while I will spare you the long arduous details on printing, I will say I nearly gave up. Printing was in fact a big deal because I was particular to not having it printed in China for various reasons of this being a book with women and nature. The quality was crucial to what I could afford so there was no denying this wasn’t going to be easy.
One day in late Oct when visiting my friend Prema in Ojai, it shifted like a portal opening... that conversation led me to find a printer in Minnesota and completely in line with my ethos and budget. Once again, I was on the mission to get funds and support for this book, which is why I am standing here with you tonight just to say Thank you to those who pre-bought the book.
Every process has been so meaningful but if it weren’t for the presales and the fundraisers… that made the book tangible.
Through this journey, I’ve understood that publishing your own book is some sort of Rite of Passage for every writer who has a vision. The outside world could never truly know how emotional it can be… At least in my humble experience, know this is not a one-person job, it does take a village…. And so the village came together for me slowly but surely.
Lastly, I could not have done any of this without my truest fan, my soul mate that inspires and teaches me so much. Chris was the last and final part to the poetry and printing editorial, and while I honestly felt this was going to be an all women creation, in the end a few divine masculines came forth...
Chris a poet in his own right helped me understand flow and consistency of each verse, I wound up rewriting a handful of poems after the final edit was done. I am amazed at the layers and layer this process took and know the outcome can be very different that what was originally imagined, but I am all the better for it.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of my journey… Everyone who came to the party. I love you.
Party Photos by Kalish Makepeace