NUTLEY, NJ – Nutley poet Ariella C. is back, having recently released her second collection of poems, “Gwen Dust or Something Else.” Similar to her last collection of poetry – titled “It Whispers…” and released in 2020 – this new collection explores femininity in the landscape of our world, love and Sufism. This collection is longer than the first, with around 30 poems exploring the many dichotomies that exist for women.
According to the poet, she was deeply influenced by the poetic traditions of Sufism, which is a form of mysticism within Islam that emphasizes introspection and a spiritual connection with God. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, many Sufis, including the Persian poets Hafez and Rumi, have used poetry for centuries to convey their experiences of the ineffable.
“The likes of Hafez and Rumi have surrounded me for years, and I just hope this isn’t trying to emulate them but comes from my own ‘awakening of consciousness,'” Ariella C. told the Nutley Journal , adding that for about 10 years she studied a form of philosophy and mysticism devised by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, an Armenian spiritual teacher active in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Gurdjieff taught that most people live their lives in a state of hypnotic “awake sleep”, but can reach a higher state of consciousness, realizing their full potential, by working on themselves. “Work is vital. I think we’re always striving to reach consciousness, deeper states, higher states – some, but not all, of “Gwen Dust or Something Else” came from different states of the vehicle. It came from a need for relay.
According to Ariella C., the inspiration for this collection of poetry came “from a different part of self, from a different way of witnessing and writing about people and this planet and from different interactions of self”. Each poem emerged from a different experience and state of mind – a different sense of self.
“Some I wrote with a lover,” she said, “and some in total isolation.”
She added that although most of the poems were written on the West Coast, she actually compiled the collection at her home in Nutley, taking her time to create a comprehensive and polished work.
“I wrote ‘It Whispers…’ quite young and in a shorter period of time than ‘Gwen Dust’. I didn’t post young, but the forces in place allowed me to do both in less than three years,” Ariella C. said. “‘Gwen Dust’ isn’t love, it’s not love. It’s not rage and it’s not angst, but a deep interaction with years of my life that were surrounded by a curiosity about healing modalities and a dialogue very different from the one I I was in my early twenties, but influenced by them.
“I was also on the beach a lot during the years these poems were recorded. I went through years of newspapers to find ‘Gwen Dust’, and I think the job kind of kept me safe that year while audiences immersed themselves in ‘It Whispers…’ I kept creatively busy,” she continued, adding that compiling the collection was “a blast.”
According to the poetess, she didn’t even necessarily intend to create “Gwen Dust or Something Else” at first; rather, she was drawn to a need to find herself through her poetry.
“I had no intention, just a need to compile this work, these poems and sift through things,” she said, explaining that she had recently gone through a breakup and that she returned to Nutley three years ago. “You can’t worship the past, don’t make a sanctuary for the past, Hafez writes, but something inside me feels there is something, a part, that wants to worship the past self, the past experiences, every once in a while so deeply, because it can’t always be recreated; I don’t think worship is wrong.
According to Ariella C., these poems each show “very real sides” of her at different points in her life; they are “very real dialogues and bills to the universe of perfection on the planet in the universe”.
“I want people to know all of their facets,” Ariella C. said, encouraging readers to learn from her soul-searching experiences so they can embark on a similar journey themselves. “I want the repression to be lifted and the truth of things to be revealed. I’m a big defender of the truth, and that got me in trouble. The concept and the idea can have visceral input at every moment.
“I want readers to take away a deep desire to live their truth, their kingdom, their reality,” she continued. “I believe in a way that’s what you do, but there’s a truth to being given a deck of cards. And maybe I’m still figuring out how to play them myself. Some people see life as a game. I’m not so sure. I think it’s really real.
For Ariella C., “body” and “belief” are central to her poetry: each person’s potential as a body, and their belief in themselves and their poetry.
“The body is a vessel. That’s really what I know in yoga. God, I’ve done so much yoga in LA. And what do we know or do in this interpretation? You are a body; (and) this body knows so much,” she said. “The body as a source of light but also a source of deep darkness – transmutation and perspiration. Both are vital experiences, and I wanted the book to show both:
And like an angel
fall from the sun
On the ice
you found yourself
Out of your element.
For more information or to purchase a copy of “Gwen Dust or Something Else”, visit bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/gwen-dust-or-something-else/.
Photos courtesy of Ariella C.