The publication of my second anthology, ‘Encomia’, kicks off today with the first English poem I wrote this year.

“Roaming”
by Conrad Schwellnus

She wandered the earth, an angel,
Broken by a spirit of trust — 
Commanding the masses,
But carry her family, she absolutely must.

In her meandering, she fumbles, she’s done —
But where were the coin smugglers in your troubled days?
I weep for you, Ms. Houston, roaming even in death,
A legacy of a ghost, but a human being like the rest.

Sing for me Nippy, lament the pop monster —
When did the people start to let you down?
Did you need to be held, need to be fed —
Your emotions on fire, sacrificed for what others did and said.

I will extend myself inward,
I will always love me… 
You remind me of my pitfalls,
Drawn into the ashes by a wave of echoed calls.

You remind me to be gentle,
You encourage me to be kind —
Rest easy, beautiful.
You’ve left a lesson or two behind.

Back in March, I submitted a poem written in tribute of the late musical icon Whitney Houston to a competition, and managed to place third in the poetry category. I gave it a lot of thought in recent weeks, and came to the conclusion that I wanted to re-publish it, as part of the next anthology and body of work I’m sharing, titled Encomia.

This felt like a good starting point for the anthology, setting the tone for the eleven other poems to come, which are in tribute of people (dead or alive) who have inspired my creative process in some or other way.

Each time I read the poem again, my attention is drawn to something new, and I guess that because it was the first English poem I wrote this year (literally), it will always have a special place in my heart. Now it has an official home as part of a body of work, and in a way it also inspired me to start writing more in the general direction of tribute poetry.

To learn more about the poem and the story behind it, see the original published article over here. You can also learn more about Encomia by reading the announcement post I made earlier this week. The anthology will be rolled out weekly between now and the end of September, and I look forward to welcoming you along with me during the journey. 

– Conrad was here.

‘Encomia’, my second anthology of poems, will be published starting this week.

Now that ‘Autumn Haze‘ has been published in full, it’s time to prepare for the release of a brand new anthology, namely a collection of encomia written in reference to a select few people who have inspired me creatively over my lifetime.

Encomia, you ask? Well, an encomium is a speech or a piece of writing that praises someone or something highly. I felt that this would be a fitting title for the collection of poems I have written using particular people as a reference point, and in a way I get to honor these people by publishing some work inspired by the way they live(d) their lives. I’d also like to look back at this time of my life and have a guide for the influences that inspired my creative expression in this particular phase of my life.

So, starting on Friday the 5th of July, a new poem from ‘Encomia‘ will be released each week, until the series concludes at the end of September.

For the first poem in the new series, I will be revisiting a piece I wrote for a competition recently, which placed third, and received some great feedback. I wanted to share it with more people as it was a particularly important piece of work, considering it guided me in more of a storytelling direction with my poetry, rather than writing from a purely emotional standpoint.

Where ‘Autumn Haze‘ was very personal and a snapshot of my life at a particular moment, ‘Encomia‘ has personal references, highlighted through others, which in a way is written in tribute and appreciation of these people. It won’t all be rainbows and butterflies, I promise. I have been influenced by a range of people, some wildly popular, and others not so much. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing the poems, and look forward to hearing your feedback once we kickstart this new chapter of my writing journey.

– Conrad was here.

‘The Gentle Collective’ — our exclusive online community encouraging joy, belonging and acceptance — is here!

I’ve been toying with the idea of building an online community through Conrad was here, primarily because I’ve received so many wonderful, kind and compassionate e-mails from people who have been able to relate to some of my articles, poems and podcast episodes. I’d love to be able to connect more closely with the followers of the blog and I’m thrilled to say, that starting today, we’ve officially launched this very community!

The Gentle Collective is a space for a community of people who share similar value systems, and are united by a sense of joy, belonging and acceptance. A collective working towards growing a network that is focused on gratitude, nurturing and paying it forward. You ready to be a part of something special?

By joining, you not only get exclusive access to my writing, podcasts, photography and more, but you also receive an invitation to be part of our brand new, private online group.

If this sounds interesting, and you would like to be a part of this exclusive Conrad was here. online community, sign up over here and wait for an e-mail from me. Looking forward to connecting with you!

– Conrad was here.

The ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology officially draws to a close with the final poem in the series, “The Ledge”.

“The Ledge”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Bare my soul, I am exposed,
My mind and body widely predisposed.
To management standards, alive in a dream,
Stoic and passive as a wave crashes over me.

Pour into the depths, greet the tall dark stranger,
I might do better searching for a crib and a manger.
Stroking my ego while a downfall does begin,
Raise myself, as I mourn the depths of things.

Bare my soul, yet I do feel more exposed,
A hand with a tingle, a finger yearns to know the toes.
This came to me, like a series of latent dreams,
A wishful reminder, that nothing is as it seems.

Raise my hand to the sky, give a joyful inflection,
Listen to my beating heart, expressing bountiful introspection.
Am I in a haze, am I falling off the edge?
Hopefully hopeless, as I step back from the ledge.

“The Ledge” was the final poem I wrote for Autumn Haze, and it is a blessing to be able to share it with you today. Initially written in the third person, the final version of the poem ended up being first person, as it is something I wanted to share as a snapshot of my mental state when I finished the anthology back in March of this year. To me, it summarizes what felt like a rather dark headspace at the time, but also indicates a renewal in the last stanza, with my mind “hopeful” and “stepping back from the ledge”. There is a progression from some of the earlier poems in the anthology and I hope readers will experience this poem as something that vividly describes the depths of my mind during this particular point of my life.

Autumn Haze has now been published in full and is available for you to read from start to finish over here. It has been special to be able to share my first anthology with you, and I will have some news about Encomia, my new anthology, which will take a bit of a different direction, very soon.

– Conrad was here.

What do you know with absolute certainty?

Do you have an answer to the question on hand? If not, let’s take stock together.

In the latest episode of Wellness with the Schwellnus, I discuss this topic in particular, highlighting the things that I inherently believe and how that has changed over the last year. I also encourage you to take some time to reflect on what you believe with absolute certainty and why these things are important to you.

That’s not all though. I also touch on the benefits of ASMR vs. traditional meditation, as well as reflecting on on #pridemonth and the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, reminding us of the importance of embracing minority groups with empathy and compassion.

Have a listen to the latest episode of the show, or the four episodes that came before it, over here.

– Conrad was here.

“Feins” — the second last poem from the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology — was particularly difficult to publish, but it’s here.

“Feins”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Silently quiet, silently curious,
A depth you imagine as the crux of notorious.
Look past the creation, a gaze brings you more trouble,
As you feed your temperance, heeding a life within a bubble.

Sip from the glass, the lemon bitters your palate,
As far removed as the time of Sir Mallet.
Did you forget how to breathe, do you dream of others now?
Higher and lower, as we plunge, a reaping bow.

You see me there, I find you somewhat endearing,
A judgement based on a deafening bearing.
Are you still bloody, morose, a vastly wild hunt,
Forgiven for you vapidity, as you stay ever so blunt.

The journey still matters, feel the music in your core,
Decipher this true moment, as you quit keeping score.
Troubled chalice, time to let go of the reigns.
Hidden from my view, yet a memory still feins.

“Feins” is the only poem in the anthology that I struggled to put my finger on 100% and questioned whether I should publish it, due to its deeply personal nature. It contains many layers, and there is a lot going on, but ultimately, the first stanza drives home the point of the story, which is meant to represent an emancipation from a perceived life of living in a bubble. I explored a few titles for this one, and it went through only a few slight tweaks before publication. If you’re curious about the original, feel free to reach out to me in the contact section and I’ll give you a heads up about the changes.

Next week, thirteen weeks since starting to publish, the final poem from Autumn Haze will be released, and my first full body of work will be out there to enjoy as a unit. The last poem is a favourite of mine, titled “The Ledge”.

If you’d like to read the other poems (“Yanked”, “Hearts at Half Mast”, “Knife Party”, “I Dream in Black and White”, “Flourish”, “Turunen”, “Pink Scarf”, “Safely in My Heart”, “A Fever Poetry” & “Dorian”) in preparation, head on over here to find them in one place, and I’ll catch you back here next week.

– Conrad was here.

It seems that the universe would like me to stay in Brazil for a little while longer than planned.

I had very little to do with the airline going bust and my flight to South Africa being cancelled. I had even less to do with the fact that one way tickets are suddenly three times the price of the return ticket I bought initially, and that the refunds will take up to eight weeks to process.

I did, however, put it out there to the universe that all I needed for these six months of my “flow experiment” was a place to write, a place to type and a place to sleep. Hell, I even wrote these things in permanent marker on the front cover of my diary. Well, I have all three of these things over here, and it seems that it is something I have to explore a little further on my journey towards a career as a writer, and wanting to connect with people from all walks of life (one of the other things I wrote down back in December).

The latest episode of Wellness with the Schwellnus, titled “Where do you feel like you belong”, discusses my first few weeks in a foreign country, and touches on what I’ll be doing for the next few months, which in all likelihood is looking like a longer term stay in Brazil, up until the start of September.

I also talk a bit about the concept of belonging through community rather than country, as well as mentioning a few key points from my journals that will hopefully help both of us, as we embark on the third quarter of 2019. You can listen to the new episode on your platform of choice over here.

– Conrad was here.

“Dorian”— the next poem from ‘Autumn Haze’ — is a tribute to one of literature’s greatest poets and playwrights.

“Dorian”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Dorian’s picture is gray, so faded, I cannot even say —
— what it means to me anymore.
Find what I used to find alluring,
But the brush strokes of your mind demurring.

What lurks behind the picture, a notion ever Wilde,
Selfish and a need to be liked, just like a little child.
There is depth behind you, Dorian, and your heart is powerful,
Staying kind in all of this, but you know yourself doubtful.

Oscar my old friend, I can’t read you like I used to do,
My heart moved on, no romance red, but a gentle, clearer blue.
Floating somewhere between mind, body and the evergreen soul,
Getting through our thoughts, lurking in the reverence of a foal.

You wept for Dorian, he was what you never had — but something you always wanted,
Now people cannot forget, and revisit a lot, the words which you enchanted.
Ensnared and engulfed in a coffin of morbidity,
A paradox so truthful, your writing hides incivility.

Similarly to “Roaming”, this poem can also be considered a eulogy of sorts, and is a writing style I’m starting to get all the more excited about. “Dorian” is a tribute to Oscar Wilde, written after The Picture of Dorian Gray landed back on my desk (so to speak) from a friend who thought I may enjoy reading it. I read it in my early twenties but it has a different meaning to me now. This poem was inspired by the book, Wilde’s career and his writing style, which I find very unique.

If this is the first time you’re reading something from the anthology, why not have a gander over here for the rest of the poems in the series. We are getting awfully close to the end of this anthology, which will wrap up at the end of June. As always, thank you for supporting my writing by reading this poem and sharing in the journey with me.

– Conrad was here.

“A Fever Poetry” may well be the most introspective piece in the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology. Read it now.

“A Fever Poetry”
by Conrad Schwellnus

How are you seen, does it even really matter?
The ingredients gently mixed, into a tumbling sourdough batter.
To be successful you need to be loved, to make it out you should be liked,
A world alone that lingers, where your emotions have been spiked.

Shelf life aside, you’d do well to disregard your feelings,
Love was always what you craved, even in your primary dealings.
A time to make amends, a time to forgive and forget,
You are whole and loved, even without a sliver of regret.

How are you seen, why do you gaze into the mirror?
Never have you seen your flaws, evermore yet clearer.
Dare to coast in subtle mania, but you manage to channel it kindly,
Better to be free of it, than to shelter it benignly.

Carry all your confidence, at times false it may still be,
It’s time to give over, in vulnerability you may see —
The truth behind the glass, a fever poetry,
Did you disregard the power, in the shallow waters of the sea?

This poem poured out of me and at the time it felt like it struck quite a few chords. Initially written from the personal perspective, it was later changed to encompass a more general view of a struggle that so many people go through. I myself can take a lot from these lines, even though I will admit to not being in the most positive of headspaces when I wrote it. And yes, I considered calling it “Shallow Waters, but I didn’t want to pay Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper any subtle dust.

Next week, the third last poem from Autumn Haze will be shared, and I will be publishing it from the town of Alfenas in Brazil. If this is the first time you’re reading something from the anthology, feel free to read all of the poems in one place right over here. Looking forward to having you back next week as we bring autumn to a close and get ready for winter.

– Conrad was here.

A realisation around how we should be closing chapters, and generally try to navigate change in our lives.

My latest podcast episode might be titled like a Game of Thrones episode (it’s called “Winds of Change”), but I promise that it will contain far less theatrics and twists and turns, being dedicated solely to leaving you satisfied (sorry, GOT writers) with a few learnings around how we deal with change.

I felt a pull towards discussing change during this show, ahead of leaving my home in Cape Town and setting my sights on a longer trip to Brazil. Featuring some personal stories and a key learning around the way we deal with others (a total a-ha moment, if you ask me), the show packs a triple punch this week, also highlighting the importance of looking at how we close chapters, rather than why we do.

If you’d like to listen, there are various platforms you can choose from over here. Next episode drops in June and will be recorded in five different cities!

– Conrad was here.