AFP & Sophie Strand: Life After Exile From The Kingdom of the Well @ Rubin Museum
Short story: The Rubin Museum “Life After…” Conversation (#1 of 3) that I held with Sophie Strand is now up and ready to watch on youtube, or embedded here!
It’s about an hour and forty minutes long.
Tis the season.
Greetings from Woodstock. I am feeling extremely fragile and raw. You?
I’m buried by a few things: holiday stress, about-to-tour-again stress, unexpected-very-ill-friend-in-Boston stress (leading to constant-unexpected-travel stress), building-related stress, lack-of-clarity-about-the-future-stress, and all-the-things-I-can’t really-get-into stress.
Nobody I know is chillin’ at the moment. The news. The time of year. All of it. My god…there’s just so fucking much. So much to worry about, so much news to digest, so much to grapple with. So many voices clamoring at once.
I will tell you what is giving me comfort lately: writers like Sophie Strand.
People who remind me to live fully, to see beyond my tiny box, to understand the greater story at play.
Every time I hang and talk out with Sophie Strand, I feel a little bit calmer about my situation in this fucking mess.
Every time I hang out and talk with Sophie Strand, I feel a little more hope.
Reading her writing literally, physically, concretely CALMS me down.
Hope that the story can change. Hope that a stuttering, fragile person might be an important part of what is happening on this earth.
So, it is with great happiness that I release this THING, now of all moments.
It’s finally OUT: THE SOPHIE TALK! This talk was LIT, folks,. Sophie was on fire.
She lit up that whole room. I hope you watch this with joy, share it with your frends who need to see it, and also, save me some work. If you find choice moments or quotes, SEND THEM TO ME IN THE COMMENTS (incliding time markers!). I’m going to push this to social medai tomorrow and I’d like to select the moments and quotes that really spoke to YOU. Instead of picking randomly. DO!!!
You can watch the video above, or click the link to watch here.
If you’re more of a reader than a watcher, we’ve also uploaded a transcript of the talk to this post – scroll to the bottom to find and download it. (YAY! AND you can use that to cut and paste your choice quotes to me in the comments, ahem.)
Some of you may remember the patron-funded project that Sophie (and Holly Miranda) and I put out last year, called “I Will Not Be Purified”. It was a recording of Sophie’s performance at a show I did (at The Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY, along with piano and violin care of yours truly, and Gracie & Rachel) set to video images that Holly lovingly cut together. It’s a moving, unsettling piece about illness, cures, and purity…watch it here.
I “found” Sophie while I was in New Zealand in 2020. I tell the story in the talk … several friends sent me links to her writing online, and I was OVER THE MOON to learn that she lived in Woodstock, NY – the home that was waiting for me across the ocean when I would eventually leave New Zealand.
Many of you who were at Campersand got to hear and meet Sophie and, as I post this talk, I’m particularly thinking about all of you who know how special this human is.
The next challenge for the night was for us to pick a topic to actually speak about. The subject went through several iterations. The original topic was “Life After Diagnosis”, then we briefly changed it to “Life After Wellness” but finally we settled – AT THE SHOW – on “Life After Exile From The Kingdom of the Well.”
If you’re not familiar with Sophie, here’s a little bit about her:
Sophie Strand is a writer based in the Hudson Valley who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. But it would probably be more authentic to call her a neo-troubadour animist with a propensity to spin yarns that inevitably turn into love stories. Give her a salamander and a stone and she’ll write you a love story. Sophie was raised by house cats, puff balls, possums, raccoons, and an opinionated, crippled goose. In every neighborhood she’s ever lived in she has been known as “the walker”. She believes strongly that all thinking happens interstitially – between beings, ideas, differences, mythical gradients.
Her first book of essays The Flowering Wand: Lunar Kings, Lichenized Lovers, Transpecies Magicians, and Rhizomatic Harpists Heal the Masculine was published in 2022 from Inner Traditions. Her books of poetry include Love Song to a Blue God (Oread Press) and Those Other Flowers to Come (Dancing Girl Press) and The Approach (The Swan). Her poems and essays have been published by Art PAPERS, The Dark Mountain Project, Poetry.org, Unearthed, Braided Way, Creatrix, Your Impossible Voice, The Doris, Persephone’s Daughters, and Entropy.
She has recently finished a work of historical fiction, The Madonna Secret, that offers an eco-feminist revision of the gospels. She is currently researching her next epic, a mythopoetic exploration of ecology and queerness in the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde.
Find her on Instagram.
Buy The Flowering Wand and The Madonna Secret.
Sophie recently wrote a post on Instagram, that said this:
Hello my friends flung far and wide. It is with a heavy heart that I have to share that I will be taking a six-month hiatus from most teaching, speaking, public events, and online interaction. My hope is to come back full swing this summer before the launch of my next book. While many of you know that I navigate chronic illness, I have not disclosed the serious turn my health has taken since a hospital admission last February. I am facing old problems worsening and new symptoms that point to conditions my doctors have not been able to treat, halt, or understand. This has impacted my eyesight, my energy, and my ability to eat and receive proper nutrition. I wanted to properly birth my books into the world. But I have to be honest that I have diminished capacity as I confront terrifying symptoms that need immediate and full attention. I love the cross-pollination that happens when I interact with readers and writers and fellow feral beings online. But right now, I have very little energy for much more than healthcare. And sitting outside looking at the mountain and feeling the sun on my face.
I am not looking for advice or cures. I have very little capacity to respond to messages and in fact will keep comments on this post closed, My substack will be a place where I reserve energy to interact and be intimate as I pull my sap down into my roots. I have a great team of support – friends and family and professionals. I may at some point need to do a Gofundme to help pay for extremely expensive out-of network-treatments and will ask when and if the time comes. I hope it does not. I hope that a period of hibernation and new treatments will afford me a renewed vitality.
I will be rarely checking DMs and no longer be responding to comments. Email is the best way to get in touch if it’s urgent.
I love you all. On this dark moon night, I hope the stars crown you with the promise of the sun’s slow return.
I am really proud of Sophie.
If you love Sophie’s writing, and you wanna get it in your inbox, you should subscribe to her substack, “Make Me Good Soil”.
It’s always a great read, and it’s the best way to support her right now.
Wondering what to get a friend for a gift?
Gift them a subscription.
The end, folks.
Here we are at the end of the coversation. Huggin’.
Here’s the link again to watch the video.
SEND ME SNIPPETS!!! SHARE THE CONVERSATION!!! Ask me questions in the comments.
Stay tuned for more this month: The END OF YEAR ALTHING and the Madonna song that Holly Miranda and I are working on JUST FOR PATRONS.
There are two more talks coming from this series at the Rubin: one with Tibetan sculptor Gonkar Gyatso and one with journalist Noor Tagouri. They were both beautiful talks….this has been a juicy series.
As always: THANK YOU FOR BEING MY PATRONS. It means the world to me.
It means that we can do stuff like this for work.