Los Enclave 2012: Tanya Davis

(click) → How to be alone

If you are, at first, lonely – be patient
If you’ve not been alone much or if, when you were, you weren’t okay with it
then just wait
you’ll find it’s fine to be alone..
once you’re embracing it

We could start with the acceptable places: the bathroom, the coffee shop,
the library.
where you can stall and read the paper,
where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there,
where you can browse the stacks and smell the books and you’re not
supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there

There’s also the gym
if you’re shy you can hang out with yourself in the mirrors, you can put
headphones in
and there’s public transportation
– because we all gotta go places –
and there’s prayer and meditation…
no one will think less if you’re hanging out with your breath
seeking peace and salvation

Start simple
things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid-being-alone
principles
the lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by chow-downers,
employees that only have an hour
and their spouses work across town
and so they, like you, will be alone
resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone

when you are comfortable with eat-lunch-and-run take yourself out for
dinner
a restaurant with linen and silverware
you’re no less intriguing a person when you’re eating solo dessert
and cleaning the whip cream from the dish with your finger

in fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were

Go to the movies
where it is dark and soothing
alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community

and then take yourself out dancing
to a club where no one knows you
stand on the outside of the floor
until the lights convince you more and more
and the music shows you
dance like no one’s watching
‘cause they’re probably not
and, if they are, assume it is with best and human intentions,
the way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting
dance until you’re sweating
and beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things
down your back like a brook of blessings

Go to the woods alone and the trees and squirrels will watch for you
go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets
there are always statues to talk to

and benches made for sitting
give strangers a shared existence
if only for a minute
and these moments can be so uplifting
and the conversations that you get in
by sitting alone on benches
might have never happened
had you not been there by yourself

Society is afraid of alone though
like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements
like people must have problems if, after awhile, nobody is dating them
but alone is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless
and lonely is healing if you make it

you could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your
partner
look both further and farther
in the endless quest for company
but no one’s in your head
and by the time you translate your thoughts some essence of them may be
lost
or perhaps it is just kept
perhaps in the interest of loving oneself
perhaps all of those sappy slogans
from preschool over
to high school’s groaning
were tokens for holding the lonely at bay
‘cause if you’re happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is
okay

It’s okay if no one believes like you
all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses
can’t think like you
for this be relieved
keeps things interesting, life’s magic things in reach

and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, that community’s not present
just take the perspective you get
from being one person alone in one head
and feel the effects of it

feel silence and respect it
if you have an art that needs a practice stop neglecting it
if your family doesn’t get you
or a religious sect is not meant for you
don’t obsess about it

you could be, in an instant, surrounded if you need it
if your heart is bleeding make the best of it
there is heat in freezing, be a testament

She is a poet. She is a storyteller. She is a musician and a singer-songwriter and she fuses these elements together in a refreshing matrimony of language and sound, side-stepping genre and captivating audiences in the process. With the release of her third album, Clocks and Hearts Keep Going, in November 2010, she affirms her well-earned place in the ranks of thoughtful and hard-working Canadian Artists.

Since bursting onto the Halifax music scene in 2006 with her debut, Make a List, Tanya has garnered praise from industry, audience, and peers, as well as multiple award nominations, including one for her sophomore release, Gorgeous Morning, for the 2009 ECMA Female Recording of the Year. She is a 2 time winner in the CBC National Poetry Face-off as well as the Canadian Winner of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong contest. In 2009, with support from Bravo, she collaborated with independent filmmaker Andrea Dorfman to produce a short videopoem entitled How to Be Alone; the short has since been featured at numerous film festivals, including The Vancouver Film Fest, The Worldwide Short Film Festival, and the VideoPoetry Festival (Berlin). It also has 1.8 million views on Youtube.

Clocks and Hearts Keep Going was produced in collaboration with celebrated Artist Jim Bryson. This album, like those before it, features strongly Tanya’s unique and vulnerable style, full of poignant lyrics, catchy melodies, and expressive, if unconventional, arrangements. She also recently completed a feature-length show based in music and performance poetry, as funded by The Canada Council for the Arts; it will be debuted in 2011.

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