Poet and producer of Idyllwild Storytellers, Brian Michael Tracy. Photo by Kris DeLano

Wordsmiths — poetic and lyrical — rejoice! Forums for your work are expanding to include Idyllwild Storytellers, a monthly series hosted by performing poet Brian Michael Tracy. This time-honored tradition places storytelling in all forms squarely in the center of an eclectic gallery at a time when spoken word and song craft have much to offer a world in transition. Each month will feature renowned storytellers from multiplicities of genre, an open-mic session will follow and, of course, spirits will flow.

Following the guest speaker, Idyllwild Storytellers invite artists of all meter and measure to the open mic, as long as the selected work inspires and tells a story. Lyrics accompanied by acoustic instrumentation also are summoned to add their unique mystique.

Tracy is no stranger to Idyllwild’s art scene. A longtime pilgrim to these mountains for creative nourishment and a student in the Idyllwild Arts creative-writing program, he and his wife recently made Idyllwild home.

Following a five-year period studying Depth Psychology, Tracy guest-lectured at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s, Ph.D. program on the relationship between psychology and poetry. Tracy also authored a series of webinars discussing the healing power of language. His work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, Plainsongs, California Quarterly, Depth Insights and Yogi Times, and on spoken-word radio programs throughout the United States and Canada, including stations KPFK in Los Angeles and CIUT in Toronto.

Tracy is the author of three books of poetry, “Driving With Dante” (Conflux Press 2007), “The Distance Between Shores” (Conflux Press 2009) and “Opaque Traveler: A Dream Sequence in Verse” (Tebot Bach 2012). He also has released three critically acclaimed CDs of music and poetry, “Midnight Tea” (2007), “Blackbird Ballads” (2009) and “The Mystical Prism of Being” (2016).

“I think as an artist, I write to make sense of the world. I view poetry as the informed translation of a speechless soul. I think we’re all creating on multiple levels. No matter the occupation or avocation, we give ourselves to the world,” Tracy muses.

To the question, how does poetry change the world? Tracy responds, “Art gives us new possibilities to feel, see and understand by expanding individual and cultural consciousness. Really good art will invite rediscovery because of the layers. We could say the metaphor of poetry exists when it’s detonated.”

Midnight Tea

By Brian Michael Tracy

Drink it up

Drink the morning

Drink the daylight

Drink all that you can see

Drink the cup of heaven

Drink the midnight tea

Feast upon the fields

Feast upon your fire

Feast upon your thoughts

Feast on your desire

For the path to your waking

Lies within a slender stream

Abridged by the ego

Between experience and dream

Step to its edge and watch

It slowly drift toward light

Revelation in its wake

Drawing closely into sight

The inlet of the heart

With its wide and wondrous shore

Its sediment of prayer

Its wisdom and its lore

Where your cup is waiting

Where all that you can’t see

Is held in perfect silence

Til you drink the midnight tea

The first featured storyteller in this ongoing series is mythologist Dr. Catherine Svehla, who will speak to the transformative power of myth. Svehla validates mythology’s role to guide and offer tools for personal reflection and community conversation. She states, “I don’t think there can be any lasting healing or change, personally or collectively, unless we engage with the myths that shape our lives. We need the wisdom and the wonder contained in the old stories that we call myths and we need to learn how to see through the invisible ‘myths’ of our cultural narratives and concepts if we want to be better people in a better world.”

Svehla will speak Saturday, July 14. Musician and lyricist Keith McCabe will speak and perform Aug. 4. Film director and writer Annette Haywood-Carter will share her artistry Sept. 15. Idyllwild Storytellers will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the loft of Middle Ridge Gallery. Stay tuned for the schedule of future speakers.

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