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  • Writer's pictureAriane Signer

Helvetica: Love Letters From Switzerland

Soundtrack to this post:

Ain't Scared by The Tragic Thrills

I Wanna Live in Your Bedroom by David Ramirez

Good Red Road Man by Aaron Embry

Everything With You by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

To Seattle by Morningsiders

In just a few weeks, I'm going to be publishing my third poetry collection, 'Helvetica: Love Letters From Switzerland' with Kindle Direct Publishing. This collection includes poems that are reflective, somber, bittersweet and joyous (yes. joy!).

I wrote Helvetica in a very holistic, unforced way. I would say that the majority of these poems were written in nature: while on hikes, or sitting by the Bielersee lake, looking at the swans and ducks, reflecting on life's strange, beautiful and messy ways. I would type these incomplete thoughts or mini-poems into my phone, and then re-work them at a later date. Over time, the collection grew, and the themes of the book started to make themselves known.

After 'Shadow Work: Poems' came out last year, I set out to align myself more comfortably into a life that provided me joy, regardless of how that looked to the outside world. Helvetica is all about recreating the wheel, getting rid of the road map, and throwing your head back laugh-crying at the absurdity of it all. It's about savouring the FULLNESS of what it means to be alive, through all the ups and downs.

As I was writing, my life was taking a bit of a different direction. Lessened tensions, more compassion and more joy were showing up. I referred to this state of accepting life in all of it's beautiful messiness as holy in my introduction, and I feel that on such a deep level. There's something so beautiful and sacred in witnessing life, witnessing pain, witnessing it all without having to attach to any of it. Easier said than done, naturally, that's why I'm a writer. *lol*

I feel different this year. I don't know if it's the fact that I've 'survived' parenting two toddlers through a pandemic. I don't know if it's the fact that I've gained more financial freedom and independence. Or that I'm going back home. That I'm pretty at peace with my family situation, even if it's unconventional? All of it?

There was some sort of notable shift in perception along the way, absolutely.

I took back the power that was always mine (to live as I wanted to live, to make choices autonomously, to have full confidence in my ethics, to establish and maintain boundaries in a more healthy way...). The theme of national identity runs through this collection like a river; that's not accidental. As I have been preparing to move back to Canada, I've been in the middle of my Swiss citizenship application process. (waiting on final answer, might be Swiss VERY SOON!). So this dual concept of 'home' has been a huge theme in my life, and certainly more so over the past 2 years.

Writing gave me a silent witness to all of the challenges that I had been working through, and somehow, by tapping into that raw and vulnerable side, I was able to find a deep-rooted compassion for it all. Even the hard. Even the unnamed. Even the ever-changing.

This 6-year journey in Switzerland became sort of a metaphoric pilgrimage of sorts

I arrived. I discovered. I feared. I gained. I lost. I celebrated. I wept. I grieved. I forgave. I let go. I belonged.


I want to memorize (memorialize) the tree line

On the top of the mountain

Just the way it looks

From the end of my street.

I swear, it can’t be real

But I saw it, there.

I whisper in my children’s ears

that I love them

Every night, in their safe Swiss beds.

They alone can cure a lifetime

Of Loneliness.

Please, please let them grow up to

Believe it.

Until then,

I’ll whisper my wonder

Hoping something lovely and loving



I don’t feel like I’m going

To fall off the face of the


So often, these days.

I see the mountain

Full of life in summer;

I’m claiming it to still be mine.

You told me that night

In Valsolda

That it was not possible

For it to rain

Just on one palm tree,

And nothing has ever sounded

More beautiful or true.

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