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September 2018

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Ms. Tanya Joyce

Tanya Joyce is a San Francisco poet and painter. She has taught literature and fine arts at universities, high schools, and community centers for all ages of students from pre-school to post-graduate school. Tanya has four poetry books in print. Her paintings have been exhibited at West Coast galleries and at museums in California and Vermont. Currently, she emphasizes Open Studios events at which there is time for artists and guests to talk together. Tanya has worked with Russian and Vietnamese poets to retell their poems in English.

An overview of Tanya’s visual art and poetry is on her website

Her monthly poetry column is online at

Contact Tanya at

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In case you have not visited before

In case you have not visited before

This is the land of plains and forests,

Rivers flow along the grasslands,

Springs bubble in the woods.

Here, in the recesses of the earth,

Great powers rise, visible in clouds.

In flowers, cones, and the sap of trees

Fragrances manifest.

Intelligence rises on the winds.

Birds tell stories.

Animals keep rhythm.

Fish punctuate the quiet

Jumping, diving.

Insects whirr and everywhere

Contentment reigns.

In case you have not visited before

This is the land of plains and forests.

At night the stars attend.

Lights crackle as they pass

Like draperies rippling on breezes,

Circling one star which, like a center pole,

Holds up the house of light.

Walking the star path, spreading, stretching,

Lifting, descending,

Stepping, drumming,

Crowding, laughing,

Silent, seeking,

Whispering magic.

The monkey king eats peaches here

In the arms of clouds.

He circles from treetop to treetop,

His stalwart staff

A fishing pole, fishing for stars,

Shifting in starlight and jewels.

A scepter of cloud forms,

Coiling in eddies, nurturing

Herbs of longevity

The monkey king eats peaches here

In the arms of clouds.

(Grand Prize, Dancing Poetry Festival 2016)

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Artist's Statement

I am a crazy quilt

A pattern of crackle glazes

Filled with electric charge

Behind spring flowers.

I am scraps of velvet,

Snippets of desire

Joined in ragged shapes,

Edged with scallops

Fingering my life.

A saunterer excited by stillness

A talker excited by listening,

A lover of moonlight

Warm in the sunshine.

A poet who paints.

A painter who writes.

I am a wailing wall

With prayers on scraps of paper

Stuck into crevices,

Pockets, and back packs,

Hopes waiting to take root

And bloom.

I am a scrap booker,

A clipper of articles,

A cutter of tape

And ribbon. I am a ribbon

Of star light. Once you catch me

What do you have?

I am a crazy quilt,

A chalker of hopscotch,

A splasher of ink,

A maker of skeletons.

I am not here or there,

Not playing hide and seek

Out there.

Going somewhere,

Following scraps of paradise,

I am

A crazy quilt.

(Grand Prize, Dancing Poetry Festival 2012)

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Nine Stanzas for Nine Muses

Anyone can come to the Muses

At any place, in any time.

Scientists can come to them,

Are Muses not the heart of the matter?

Artists can come to them,

Do not the Muses guide art?

The Muses speak to you

When your heart is open to them.

Without opening your heart

Their speech will seem to you

Like blithering.

The Muses are earth.

They roll in atmospheres,

Break out in eruptions,

Know the motions of planets and stars.

They know without concepts

Speak without tongues

Embrace without arms

Lead without flags and banners

Laugh without mouths

Create without traces.

They are the music of the spheres

The light of the heavens

The song of the winds.

In their order there is no hierarchy.

They are within,

Not above, below, or upon.

The Muses require no ceremonies.

In place of obedience,

Consider peace.

Bringing the Muses home with us

Is dedication,

Adherence to our own life’s work.

What is our own life’s work?

Activity that makes us happy.

How do we know what makes us happy?

What makes us happy

Dances with the Muses.

(First Prize, Dancing Poetry Festival 2018)

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Conference of the Birds

The language

That is not our language.

The tongue

That is not our tongue.

The mystery

That is not mysterious.

The everything

That looks like scraps.

Who can understand these things?

The conference of the birds

Did not take place at a hotel.

Old poets wrote about it

Erupting with first light,

Calling through the wooded hills.

Then birdsong was a tongue that others named

The green language, not a tongue at all,

But melody with neither verb nor noun,

Through which the birds sought wonder.

Some feared a journey into mystery

And others fled.

Some chirped about responsibilities

As reasons to turn back.

Some few persisted, found the mountain top

Home of the wisest bird, most noted majesty,

Most colorful in plumage,

Mirror-like in brilliance, bright as the dawn,

In whom the deepest truths reside.

Each bird saw there, revealed

In silence and amazement

Reflections of themselves.

Here and now,

After the journey,

Birds are awake,

Not sleeping or dreaming,

And through the mist,

They sing the sun’s arrival.

— for Enrique Enriquez

(Second Prize, Dancing Poetry Contest 2018)

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