Her words fall into me like a glass of red wine warming my soul, like a soft sweet kiss on my cheek and a hug that travels into my core. Her words melt me into memories… into moments of laughter, joy, excitement and romance and into moments of deep curiosity, wonder, questions and pause.
A poet, a romantic writer of life experiences, a mum of three including twins and the artist and creator of The Apricot Memoirs and The Moonflower Monologues. On a Friday evening, once all the children were in bed, and our eyes were half mast from busy working weeks and wrangling kids, I had the honour of talking with Tess Guinery over a glass of wine…
Having a true gift is one way to put it, but I wanted to find out more… What was it that made her dive into the deepest oceans of art and poetry, baring all? Is it a lesson for us in vulnerability? In creativity? In finding your true calling? In following your heart centre?
From this conversation I felt more humbled, more empowered, more inspired to write. I feel like Tess is giving us all the green light to give it a go.
“If you have resonance with a certain medium and you feel you can express yourself through it, then you must move with it” Tess said.
When asked why there has been traction with her writing even with an honest relationship with her limitations, Tess says…
“For me, it feels as though it has all been a big miraculous accident to be honest. When I ponder my limitations in the medium and expression of writing, I’m still shocked at how far the words have travelled. But I do believe we’re all made with a purpose to create and creating isn’t limited to just the paint brush, creativity comes in so many flows and forms. But first, we need to undo what adulting has done to our inner childlikeness, we need to break down the barriers that have made us afraid of failure and allow space for play again, to let go and release the expectations that life can shade and shadow over our innate playfulness.”
“I took a sabbatical for a year and this is where I began to write poetry, I felt I had a lot of unexpressed things and so I just wrote them stream, ungrammatically onto paper. I connected with my heart, brain, mouth, everything put together.”
I failed English at school so I never had the intention of showing anyone the writing for any purpose outside of my own journal entries, I was kind of embarrassed to share my words with anyone but casually showed a few close friends my heart on paper.”
This brave move by Tess brought her into her greatest creation… The Apricot Memoirs.
“I made dear friends with my printers who were printing my graphic design work prior to my sabbatical and I showed them and a few other close friends some of the writing I had been doing and they all encouraged me to put it into a book and bravely put it out there. The response has truly taken me by surprise and that same friend (who is still my printer today) is now my manager and biggest advocate.”
As Tess and I talk on deeper levels about parenting twins, what it’s like to constantly shift continents and homes with her stunt actor husband Caleb, and how she manages to get through it all, I ask her about The Moonflower Monologues. Having gone through my share of heartache I couldn’t help but feel this piece sheds a darker touch. A reflection of a time that the light seems harder to see and reach.
“You are correct in saying that. The Moonflowers were written in one of the more darker seasons of my life. The twins were newly born and it was a really huge transition in my womanhood, there were many hard and uncomfortable things happening directly in my world and around it at the time. In someways I felt like an audience to my own life. I was going through a massive transformation and was mostly speechless through it all. It’s complex for me to sum it up here but much of it is found in the poetry and the pages of ‘The Moonflower Monologues’. This particular season in my life felt like being deep out at sea with wave after wave after wave hitting me and just as I’d come up for a breath the waves would pull me back under. I was without words vocally yet found medicine in the expression of prose and poetry.
I still needed to find out more… How does Tess create what she does? Without having studied poetry, how does she find such profound creative and poetic words? Did her arts degree help in this? Her dance?
“For me the correlation between dance and the creative process has been foundational in my journey. With a background in dance and choreography, I feel it continues to set the tone for painting and writing and any other medium I dare to navigate, as dance for me is the act of letting go. When I’m writing it feels very much familiar to that in which dance is for me. I must admit I still find it quite bizarre when people tell me how much they resonate with my poetry as I still feel so new to this medium and more often then not feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I mostly see words the same way I see paint, I don’t see them as a logical tool but more so the same way I see colour—It’s not a word, it’s like a texture, a pastel, a canvas. I break some rules grammatically (but have definitely learnt a lot this past year through the publishing journey working closely with some pretty clever editors) but still like to purposefully leave some of the errors and ignore some of the rules to not take away from the childlikeness of what I’m trying to say”
As we wrap up our conversation so that we can each fall into our lovers arms and collapse into the night I asked Tess what it’s like to rely on your creativity for your livelihood, because as we all know being in the creative realm can be very touch and go sometimes.
“The funny thing is that it always works out. Even in the final hour. It always works out. We never wanted a boring life. The decisions Caleb and I make together are always based on our lean towards adventure. What is this experience going to add to our lives and is it going to be fun?”
“There is so much beauty and goodness in the world. Go and enjoy it.”
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Kyra Midi Dress ~ Mint