Which of your needs are being met by the creative projects you take on?

I’m starting to think about this question a lot. Like, losing sleep a lot.

Over the last few months, I’ve embarked on a creative journey involving publishing my first anthology of poems, entering my first short story competition, writing more regular pieces for the website, starting a podcast and generally focusing on my creative expression. But why? Not why as in “what do you want to get out of it”, but rather why do you do it, or “what needs of yours are being met by the creative projects you take on”?

Many people find reassurance for or stimulation from personal projects through the very notion that they are creating something, they are learning something (about themselves and others), they are embarking on a process of introspection, or even just that it is helping them to develop their craft (“cultivate your competencies”, as I’ve said before). This seems rational and a logical explanation, that seems to have slipped my mind over the last few weeks.

Lately, I’ve felt a little lost with the intention behind my creativity, and feel like it is a good time to take stock of the needs being met by these projects, rather than continuing to do them for something as meager as validation, or attention, which are easy to be consumed by. It’s very easy to create something with the intention for it to be consumed, with the idea that it will bring you some kind of personal validation, but quite frankly, this can be rather hollow and meaningless, if you’re not sure about why you’re creating something to begin with. I don’t want my creativity to feel like “high churn”, I don’t want it to feel like something I have to do on a specific timeline. I’d like to create and express myself with fluidity and as we go.

I wish I had a more concrete answer to the question I am posing for you today, but I will be taking some time to reflect and write, intending to draw some new conclusions about this. All I know, is that there was very little celebration around me completing a short story for an international competition, something which, in anyone’s books, would be an achievement itself. I’m very proud of the story and proud of myself for doing so, but I didn’t stop for one second to acknowledge this and I’m not happy about that. I’ll be thinking about this, and will circle back to this topic on the blog or podcast in the coming weeks.

– Conrad was here.

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.

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.

“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.

This is “Flourish”, the the next piece of the ‘Autumn Haze’ puzzle.

“Flourish”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Clear is kind, like the depths of your sorrow,
A heart of steel, you will surely need to borrow.
Perhaps you can lend it to feed your hungry soul?
A lifetime of lies, no longer taking their toll.

Bested by those who loved their own reflections,
Using their kin in resolution of their imperfections.
Seemingly damaged to a point of no return,
A reality to ponder, but your memories start to burn.

Widening of shallow, subsiding anger in your mind,
Honesty and truth will always pay you back in kind.
Creative you will be, creative you will flourish,
A journey to build on, a past to demolish.

This poem is one of the pieces that went through the most edits from the first draft, simply because it had a lot going on (there was an additional stanza in the original version that didn’t quite fit, and I may use elsewhere in the future). It’s fairly dark, and tells a story of sorrow, but ultimately redeems itself in the last stanza, providing a glimmer of hope in the process.

Next week, I’ll be publishing a very special poem, influenced by ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. The piece, which was written while I was listening to her sing, is simply titled “Turunen” and it will be live on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 10th of May.

We’re five poems into the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology already, with seven to go in the series. You can learn more about the anthology over here, but if you’re curious about the other poems in the series, have a look at this nifty page displaying all the poems in a batch right over here. Have a wonderful rest of your week.

– Conrad was here.

The next chapter in the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology is here — read “Knife Party” now.

“Knife Party”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Let’s throw a knife party,
Our highs take on a new life,
When you’re done sipping on the Bacardi,
Will you start to let go of your wife?

Take away the pressure, we dance intimately,
Stroke my hair as I begin to feel you in a dream,
Shake your body, the contours slowly enchant me.
Pass through me, as I float somewhere far beyond my being.

Sensual in all of my remembrance,
Illustrious as I take my space,
Love in the monotonous, head up in the clouds,
Manic as we avoid a tender embrace.

Let’s throw a knife party,
Aim for the neck but keep hitting the board.
Everything is slow, a near set of sorry,
Discourse in heaven, we put down the chord.

Many of us have experienced falling in love with someone who is unavailable, and this poem tries to pack that into a few sentences, eight years after I started what would be the defining romance of my twenties. I reference a ‘wife’ in the poem in a non literal sense; it merely implies a person that is otherwise committed, be that through being with another partner, or just as a result of a lack of self acceptance. For me, the poem is a symbol of letting go and moving on, and I hope it brings you some comfort too if you’ve ever experienced something similar.

The next poem in the series (which I might add, goes straight for the jugular) is called “I Dream in Black and White” and will be published on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 26th of April. Catch you back here then?

You can learn more about the ‘Autumn Haze‘ anthology over here and if you’re curious about the first two poems in the series, head over to the home page to check them out. Thank you for your support!

– Conrad was here.

Here is the second poem from ‘Autumn Haze’ — this is “Hearts at Half Mast”.

“Hearts at Half Mast”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Let’s bond as a family, with our smartphones in check,
Eyes fixed on the television, in public we shall forget.
The elders converse with their hearts at half mast,
Exhausted from keeping the week afloat — now with some freedom at last.

Sit by yourself sweet miss, your loneliness is palpable,
Can I give you a hug or will that make me culpable?
Do you believe I feel sorrow in the wake of your solace,
How charmed or lonely I am, awake in my empty bodice.

Bond, bond, and bond, we must,
We despise each other, but in blood we must love.
Sing to me child, show me your prowess,
Other than that, be gone, but remember to stay the dourest.

I wrote this poem after seeing a family having breakfast in a restaurant, and adjacent to their table was a woman having a meal on her own. Both “parties” seemed equally isolated in that specific moment, though ironically, I only felt sorry for the woman, irrespective of whether my intuition told me that everyone at the group table was alone too.

I really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to read some of my work. The next poem in the series, which is quite possibly the most sensual poem in the series, is called “Knife Party” and will be published on the site at 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 19th of April.

You can learn more about the ‘Autumn Haze‘ anthology over here and if you’re curious about the first poem in the series, you can read it over here. I welcome your feedback via social media or the contact section anytime you feel like reaching out.

– Conrad was here.