Petrichor, a quest journey poem

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Scott Samuelson A quest journey poem crafted from participants’ responses to archetypal questions. Tony Carpenter Layout and design in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Art Degree in Graphic Design and Visual Experience from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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introduction Tony Carpenter’s mfa thesis deals with archetypal storytelling in designed spaces. He asserts that the combination of these two powerful elements can be used to ease mental and emotional suffering and promote wellbeing. A collaborative poem was proposed as an experiment to test his hypothesis. Eleven participants completed a survey consisting of several questions, each dealing with elements of the archetypal “Hero’s Journey:” The Monster Name the most difficult thing you have had to confront. The Refuge Where is a safe place you go for comfort? The Guide Who has been your guide or oracle through difficult times? The Talisman Name an object, natural or man-made, that you wear or carry that seems to bring you good fortune. The poet, Scott Samuelson, agreed to compose a poem using participants anonymous responses. A specially designed booklet containing the poem will be given to each participant. Finally, around a fire, the poet will read the poem to the assembled. The synergy found between the design elements, the physical space, and the oral reading of the poem will be documented and included in the written portion of the thesis.


i. call Deep, deep within you You hear a silent, uncanny call: Get Up. It’s time. I was sleeping so soundly. But I can’t ignore this. What is this sharp point that keeps jabbing my soul? You get up. Shoes. You can’t go without shoes. Throw on some clothes. Grab your kit, a water. What is this compulsion, this drive? The message is clear: Time to get moving. It drowns out the rational Where am I going? Who’s calling? What task is so compelling? Never mind. Just go. You sense that somehow you will find your faith: Once you get moving, you will be guided. Yes. The sense that woke you will nudge your path. ...

Should I bring my hat? My pillow? My blanket? My tools? Can I have a long, hot shower first?

ii. doubt Another voice, not the calling one, nor the inner answer, casts a long shadow: “You know what? This is crazy. You’re not ready. You are imagining things. You’ve always done that. You’ve never actually gotten it perfectly right. Your timing is always bad— By the way, that’s at the root of your divorce. Put this crazy journey off until you understand exactly what is being asked of you.”

iii. monsters I’ve come a long way, but you know what? I’m going to rest here. ∙ I remember what a good friend I had. And then I discovered the deceit, the betrayal—like I was back in seventh grade. ∙ I remember that “Happy Hour” feeling, a garish party of strangers where no one really cared. ∙ Another time, the monster was within me: I just wanted to be close, to help, to be a friend. And then we started spending too much time together, knitting our souls, and then touching. “Don’t do it,” a voice said. And before long I had nearly killed everything. And nearly been killed in the process. ∙ Then Betrayal, capital B: I thought he should care, thought he would: His position. His power. His image. What I didn’t know was that he cared for himself so much and so secretly—even when others thought in him they heard the voice of God. Then came the turn of the screw, the secret betrayals, the lies, the favors denied. Cared? No. Just for himself. ∙ My brother died. My Mother died. My sister died. And I couldn’t do anything. ...

“Listen, I think you better move on. I know you thought this stop would relax you, but you’re working yourself up again.” “Working myself up! I’ve got monsters to slay here, you know!”

iv. help “How long have I been walking?” “Walking? You mean walking and running, fighting and working.” “Okay. Okay. You’re right, but could I just have another rest?” “All right, but remember to be kind to yourself. Breathe in. Breathe out. No more battles for a while, Okay?” Breathe out. Breathe in. Remember the mantras. Get out your amulet. Repeat your meditation word. Really deep breaths, now. Touch your sacred objects, each one a story, each one a strength, friend after friend after friend: Your key lanyard The turquoise ring Your magic bone folder Your old, cheap Timex watch Your wedding band The sacred vial of ashes And let them take you to your place of refuge: Your long drive through the dry farms And then back home where you climb the magic apricot tree crawl under the covers and disappear (No one can find you here.) head to the studio, workshop, office— where you work, play, create: “In here I have power, I have peace. I am me.”

v. nadir The voices still ringing your inner ear, gradually you come to yourself, and know that you have just been to the nadir, the lowest point you will or can ever go, a place of quagmire pain, loss, self-doubt: Monster faces, their acid words and defected looks, the taste of pride imposed upon you, the lack of justice. Unfair! Cruel! You would cry, but demons of self-destruction and despair are so compelling you can barely crawl out of the quicksand pit, away from the precipice, out of the jaws of stench and razor teeth, away from the laughing, mocking, deriding sneers, smirks, scorns, and jeers: “You worthless fool. Now everyone knows who you are, such an inept fake, a failure. A hypocritical sham. A Nothing. Finally, you are nothing. Do the world a favor and take all the pills, or better, just blow your brains out.”

vi. abundance You have found your lonely way to the center of the labyrinth. The bull-headed man, stench-ridden monster, dead at your feet, the bloody sword in your hand. And Minotaur and blade slowly fade in the mist, and as you sit, where once there was emptiness, the dark night of the soul, void there begins to emerge abundance: The Holy Word and all the time to read, presented by the angel saying, “Smile, laugh, come back into the world and be wise.” Your favorite book and all the time to enter its imagination presented by—yes!—the author you’ve always wanted to meet, or your mother, your Grampy, your professor-mentor who all want to be your friend: no criticism, no advice, just good humor and perfect memory. Your sketchbook and all the energy, talent, and materials— to draw, imagine, play, experiment. Your pen and paper and every word in every language which suddenly, miraculously, you know, and they bow at your command, inviting you to tell all the stories in the world.

And the Abundance enlarges, expands, grows, wells within you and around you: You are atop the mountain in the quiet hours before dawn. You are in the celestial space with all the angels of heaven, at once reverent and jubilant, altogether singing and happy and humble. You become prayer—it’s not something you say. It’s something now that you are. And the Holy Spirit fills you, and even the King is there for the briefest moment, and you know a time will come when you two will get to walk, perfectly content, walk with each other through all the lives of stars. along every avenue of galaxies. And your prayer is all gratitude: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for it all.”

vii. boon You stand, the vision faded. Yes, of course, you find you have removed your shoes. You slip on your favorite Vans, You pat your pocket; your very trusty knife is there. All is well. There, ahead in the distant desert, a full rainbow. You begin to thread your way back out through labyrinth, which sings at your every step: “You can do this. You’re going to be fine.” And a voice asks, “What boon are you bringing back? Do you bear the golden fleece? The all-healing water? The scroll of truth? And you smile in answer because you know that you, You! are the (almost complete) Boon, water-healed possessor of truth, whisperer of beauty. And the meadow larks lark, and all world is aglow, renewed by storm, smelling of sweet sage and earth after rain.

Scott Samuelson April 28, 2022

colophon Thanks to all the participants for so freely taking the survey and attending the fireside event. A special thanks to Scott Samuelson for writing the journey poem, for the letterpress cover, his help building the booklet, his reading of the poem, and his inspired guidance. Survey Participants: Joshua Abegglen, Amy Carpenter, Tony Carpenter, Alma Clark, Carla Jimison, David Jones, Lisa Jones, Scott Samuelson, Shauna Samuelson, Shay Spaulding, and Aubrey Spaulding

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f o n t s | 32 pt Italian Oldstyle, 10.5 pt Ten Oldstyle c o v e r p a p e r | Hahnemühle Copperplate