CAConrad: My Creative Capital Artist Diary

Poet CAConrad shares some inspiration behind their Creative Capital project, Resurrect Extinct Vibration, leading up to the premiere on May 18, 2022. Described as a “(Soma)tic poetry ritual in nine maneuvers,” the project entailed traveling across the country and engaging with animals that have gone extinct. CAConrad’s project culminates with a performance with Wo Chan, Resurrect Extinct Vibration, debuting as part of The Poetry Project in New York City, and will be live-streamed.

The book cover for AMANDA PARADISE, CAConrad's book.

AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration (Wave Books, 2021); Photo of CAConrad by Augusto Cascales.

I began writing poetry in 1975. In 2005 I developed (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals. I believe in the strength of poetry! Everyone is creative, and those of us who foster our imaginations have the potential not merely to survive but to thrive! Rituals can lead us to see the creative viability in everything around us.

Poem by CAConrad, and photo of a Dusky Seaside Sparrow.

Poem by CAConrad; Photo of a Dusky Seaside Sparrow (extinct 1988).

With this (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual, I wrote each poem after lying on the ground and flooding my body with field recordings of recently extinct animals—like the Dusky Seaside Sparrow pictured here. I prepared to cope with depression from this experience but was instead filled with euphoria each time I performed the ritual.

A blanket on grass printed with a poem.

CAConrad’s blanket.

This photo is of the blanket I used for the ritual. There are stains of grass and dirt on its back from across the country. It was made for me by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The quote is from my manifesto, THE RIGHT TO MANIFEST MANIFESTO. Here is an excerpt:

I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry. If I am an extension of this world then I am an extension of garbage, shit, pesticides, bombed and smoldering cities, microchips, cyber, astral and biological pollution, BUT ALSO the beauty of a patch of unspoiled sand, all that croaks from the mud, talons on the cliff that take rock and silt so seriously flying over the spectacle for a closer examination are nothing short of necessary. The most idle-looking pebble will suddenly match any hunger, any rage. Suddenly, and will be realized at no other speed than suddenly… 

The last large wild beasts are being hunted, poisoned, asphyxiated in one way or another, and the transmission of their wildness is dying, taming. A desert is rising with this falling pulse. It is our duty as poets and others who have not lost our jagged, creative edges to FILL that gap, and RESIST the urge to subdue our spirits and lose ourselves in the hypnotic beep of machines, of war, in the banal need for power, and things. With our poems and creative core, we must RETURN THIS WORLD to its seismic levels of wildness. 

Poem by CAConrad.

Poem by CAConrad.

The ancient technologies of poetry and ritual can reconnect us to one another and the natural cycles of life and help put an end to our alienation from the planet.

Three poems by CAConrad.

Three poems by CAConrad.

In the middle of the ritual and writing, COVID-19 threw us into lockdown. I took the ritual inside with me, and soon enough, I began comparing this new virus with AIDS, which took the lives of half of everyone I knew and loved as a young queer poet.

A map pf the United States with a triangle and the text "(Soma)tic Poetry Ritual by CAConrad" superimposed in the middle.

From the (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual by CAConrad.

My new book is where you can read the ritual and poems and is titled AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration (Wave Books, 2021). With the generous support of Creative Capital, I was able to travel to all 50 states in the US to perform the ritual and write. If it were not for their assistance, I would still be in the middle of writing the book.

Invitation to CAConrad's project premiere.

Invitation to CAConrad’s project premiere.

Very excited to premiere at The Poetry Project in New York City on May 18, 2022! The event is sold out, but the performance will be live-streamed on their YouTube channel.