Words As… The Space Between

Words as The Space Between

There’s a saying, rendered unto jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.” In drumming parlance, it’s the space between the strokes you play that can be as important as the hits you make on the drum or cymbal.

This song has one of my favourite drum grooves where space holds the song in the interplay between hi-hats, snare and bass drum. That tension exists between groove and bombast, which kicks in for the chorus.

We inhabit the spaces of our world.

We hold space for others.

We’re quick to grasp it.

We’re slow to release it.

Our mass is made up of indescribable particles that inhabit the space within the framework of an atom.

We are dependent on space.

And within that void we hold the power of story.

We all remember stories that have an impact on our lives, the books we read or the movies we saw from our childhood, adolescence and adulthood. We internalise the characters, their dialogue, their idiosyncrasies, their hopes and dreams as if they were our own.

But beyond the story are the bigger ideas, the deeper questions nestled within the text and wrapped up in the books on our shelf or in the pockets of our favourite jacket. We take them, often unconsciously, and slip them between the pages of our notebooks or hide them under our pillows or tuck them into the folds of our shirt sleeves. Into the quiet spaces.

The power of the story lies within the big ideas or questions revealed in the narrative. These big ideas and questions find their expression and meaning in the actions and emotions of individual characters going about their day-to-day business.

We, as reader, understand the narrative as a microscopic view of a telescopic realm. The narrative is a parable of meaning expressed in the actions of fictional characters we believe to be real because we understand their lives as if they were ours.

This is the power of story.

And we weave a story from a single thought.

A single word.

This is one reason why I like blackout, or erasure, poetry. I aim to find the story within the words given to me on the page, bring them to the front and then erase those words which no longer serve a purpose. Blackout poetry serves as a place of rest and quiet, of fun and enjoyment.

Words invite us to the table. To make conversation with one another. To make space in our lives for each other.

Writing creates a space for you as the individual to explore who you are, to understand what shapes and forms you, to appreciate the silences midst the noise.

Words hold that tension of calling words into being from eternity against the silence of contemplation and thought.


Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity #5

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.


Make it accessible for yourself. Easeful. Invite yourself into a place and a space free from the pressure of overwhelm. Pressure to perform. Keep it simple. Small is not subjugation. Small is not less than. Small carries a power all of its own. Gift yourself 5 minutes. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be anything more.


Rebel against apathy, procrastination, perfection, self contempt, self doubt, lack of confidence, lack of time, other people’s antagonism, lack of belief, the voice of the inner critic, and anything else that wants to tell you ‘no’. Flip the bird at your Imposter Complex. Interrogate. Innovate. Initiate. This is a space for saying yes.

Act Of

Do. Doable. Doing. Done. Even if it’s five bed-headed minutes, on a Wednesday morning, with your first infusion of caffeine for the day, tapping a list of ten things into your phone. Make a space. Fill it.


Make something from nothing. Anything. The possibilities are endless. Draw. Paint. Build. Dance in the shower. Play. Howl. Doodle. Bake. Cut up poetry. Block out text. Collage magazine pictures. Snap a photograph. Garden. Read something aloud. Send someone a card. Make a digital mash-up. Create a playlist. Hum a song. Journal. Daybook. Write a list. Instagram a favourite quote. Play the instrument you have buried away in your cupboard.

This week’s invitation is…

We will be back Sunday to share our meanderings and renderings and to see where ‘the strength in fragility’ took you during the week.

SRAOC #4 The Strength of Fragility

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was: The Strength of Fragility


What I am discovering with these prompts is the thinking, exploration and creative wandering that happens in my head is perhaps richer and more pertinent than anything tangible that comes of them. Each prompt is an invitation to go somewhere new, or to consider from a different perspective, somewhere old.

This week’s prompt created a juxtaposition of opposites –  strength and fragility — and as it turns out I misplaced the ‘of’ for ‘in’.  And fragility kept bringing to mind, vulnerability.

The first clip I have to offer came from a google search (as I attempted to quantify ‘what’ had strength and fragility) and then on the eve of this post, a second idea came organically, somewhere around the fridge precinct of the kitchen.


The first thing I think of is that of a paper crane and the story of Sadako. I folded this from a 3″ square piece of newspaper. It’s uneven and messy but it captures for me the essence of strength and fragility.

I’ve heard this quote repeatedly, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” And I believe it is an apt summation of me as a person. I am not your stereotypical male; I don’t fit the model of masculinity put forward by advertising, film, etc. I write, I (attempt to) draw, I play drums, I read books.
And so, the symbol of the crane is one that I have come to see as one of enduring strength in the midst of fragility.

I mean, I thought
would be best
you shrugged


I captured this image as I was turning around on Holly Beach Farm Road after doing some research about Chesapeake Bay. Although the photo shoot I was attempting to do was a bust, this photo was the blessing in disguise – literally. It has always served as a metaphor for strength in fragility for me; the doe is practically invisible as it takes great risks at sunrise to feed on early spring shoots. In the risks she takes, she is vulnerable. For me, there is great beauty within the pastels of this early morning. Her strength leads to fragility; and in her fragility, I am provided strength. 

I am struck with the paradoxical box we creatives find ourselves in. I am immediately reminded of the oft-used quote by Red Smith: Writing is easy; just open your veins, and bleed.

Crazy, but it’s true. Authentic creativity, where we go beyond the superficiality of creating products for the masses by skimming the surface of our emotions and experiences, takes great risk and great strength. To reach those deeper emotions and the core of those experiences, we are required to “go deep” and open a vein, as Red Smith suggests.

It’s not easy, and with that strength, we find ourselves terribly exposed, vulnerable, fragile. But it’s the only way to create pieces that leave a mark, make a difference, change a moment or two in this world.

And, if we are lucky, bring a little strength and courage to others.

Paradoxical. Cyclical. Strength leads to fragility; fragility leads to strength.

Which validates every risk we take. Be strong in your fragility. And for those who have risked their fragility for me in the past, I thank you for your strength.

SRAOC #3 When Stars Collide

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity #sraoc is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or a phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.


When you shoot
     two elements
     at each other
     with enough force
     their collision creates
     a new understanding
When you hurl
     two words
     at each other
     with enough force
     syllables fracture
     at the foundation


When this prompt was pulled from the JAR, I immediately thought of the collision of ideas and experiences that allow us to create our artwork, our writing, our music, our everything. I asked other creatives what words best describe their collision of ideas, and here’s what I received.

So to all of our creatives out there, Thank you. Your stars are now colliding, providing us all with this meditative collection of collisions.



My offering this week is more akin to the love child of a digital shoe box and my journal than any one tangible obvious item. A meandering of collisions and synchronicity.


The Big Bang and how things begin (11.03.19)

It started with a photo – as the three of us were joking around about all the possible directions the prompt could take. On a different week, I might have actually tried to write about two jaded starlets having red carpet fisticuffs, or something like that. Sadly, this week was not that week.

But it is always nice to start with a visual (when it comes to the three of us, it’s usually a well sourced gif!) I’ll be honest, the only thing colliding in this photo was my intent to find something space-related and my enchantment with the ease of pexels.com.

The Star

On House Fires and Hope (mental wanderings 12.03.19, while escaping the heat in the pool).

The Star from the Ostara Tarot – one of my favourite renderings.

The Star is my favourite of the tarot’s major arcana. It embodies guidance, hope and the new possibilities which open out of the catastrophic demolition of The Tower. This is where my thread of ‘hope’ begun as my exploration of ‘when stars collide’.

When I was thinking of the place the The Star holds in the major arcana it brought to mind a lady I met about a decade ago, who in the course of delivering a workshop told us how her house had burnt down several years before, in the time that it had taken to do the school run. A lap top had set a couch cushion alight and they lost everything. Her story invoked a communal sense of horror. Then she told us how they discovered their house insurance had not been paid, in a complete oversight, when the renewal arrived the month previous. It was at that point that someone commented how it must have been the worst thing to ever have happened. She smiled and said simply: no actually, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us.


From Kim Falconer’s Astro-LOA Flash (13.03.19)

As the story goes, Pandora came with a carved chest full of gifts from the gods, and she wasn’t meant to open it. Of course, she did so anyway, unleashing unimaginable ‘evil’ on earth, but that’s not all. In the box stayed the greatest blessing, the Star of Hope.

Writing As An Act of Hope

From Krista Tippet’s Interview with Teju Cole for the On Being podcast (listened to on 12.03.19)

Well, Virginia Woolf talks about the future being dark. Rebecca Solnit cited this. The future is dark, and that’s the best thing it can be. “The future is dark” doesn’t mean that it’s bad. “The future is dark” means we don’t know. And that, itself, is a consolation. It probably is not going to be our very worst fear. And John Berger talks about the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is “Oh, well, it’s all gonna be fine.”

Wishful thinking, impractical; but hope is this kind of — it’s an arm you extend out into the dark on behalf of others. To go back to the idea that in a moment like this, we all have different strengths — with all the privilege I have and all that is working out for me and all the access I have to certain forms of concentration, how dare I be hopeless? There are people who need the hope that I can convey. Even if I’m writing about something very dark, to take it through eight drafts, to take it through ten drafts is an act of hope, because you’re saying, even in this moment, a well-shaped sentence matters — because somebody could say, “We’re facing the apocalypse. Who gives a shit how well it’s written?” And my hope is that if it’s written well, it might catch somebody’s attention and be a balm for something that they’re going through, if it’s written well. And so I try to write it well.

Poeting As An Act of Hope

Quickly thrown together, but ended up being too big, to got on Adam’s poet tree for Open Day. (12.03.19)

You were told

To be one was to be two
To be nothing was to be something
To be small was the biggest you deserved

And for a time you drank it down
But now you dig your own well
Drink of your own waters

You know the difference between
the nothing that precedes the something
and the nothing that holds you down
That small is not smallness
but smallness always asks for less than
and half is not the whole of anything
much less you

And you tend the well
You tend the flame
You tend yourself
And you tend the truth:
you are always
in every moment
in every breath

Using the mantras “I am okay; I am enough” was a massive source of strength and hope for me through the hardest parts of 2017, when I had found my way to the bottom of despair.

Movin Up

And finally music… this song is my go-to feel-good song.

May you always find hope in the darkness and and allow it to guide you into the best kind of collisions.