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  • Ariane Signer

The Creation Of 'Shadow Work'

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

After I released 'Things That Shine' in early 2019, I knew that I wanted to eventually write a second poetry collection. With virtually no prior experience writing poems (and little interest in poetry, to be honest), I quickly got hooked on how I could blend abstraction and metaphor while writing these short tales.


The idea for 'Shadow Work' was conceived in late 2019, when I imagined putting together a compilation of poems inspired by dreams. I've always had very vivid and symbolic dreams, and started researching my dream meanings at a really young age. It helped that I grew up in a home that was filled with Freud and Jung books. My mother was always interested in psychology and I definitely inherited her fascination.

My idea was to do a stream-of-consciousness/free-writing session each time I woke from a particularly interesting or weird dream, and to then rework the writings into poems.


As time went on, I realized that, though my dreams were inspired and cool, I didn't know if I could fill an entire collection with such disorganized themes. Dreams might hold a ton of significance to the dreamer, but they don't always translate well into words. I didn't want to bore my readers with themes that might have been really relevant to my life, but uninteresting to read about (cue my recurring dreams about boarded-up attics and homes, which are relevant to me, but...no one wants to read 100 poems about dusty furniture, right? But you do get ONE! It's called, Boarded Up).


After a ton of reflection and brainstorming, I decided to broaden my theme, so that it didn't revolve entirely around dreams. What I came up with was a collection of poems that dealt with all things processing at the subconscious level. Dreams. Fears. Desires. Memories.

With this less restrictive theme in mind, I created 4 categories to file my poems under:


LETTERS FROM GOD


These poems exclusively deal with dream symbolism. They are definitely the most abstract, and less well-defined poems in the collection. The last poem in this chapter, Angels Again, is the only poem that was not inspired by a dream (but definitely relevant to sleep patterns). With my Jungian dreamwork history in mind, I titled this chapter after a Jung quote, 'Dreams are like little letters from God'. Jung was also Swiss, which added another thematic element to the title, since I have been living in Switzerland for the past 5 years, and wrote both of my books here (I love a good multi-layered theme).


BROKEN COFFEE MUGS


This was my legitimate favorite mug ever. And...it died. Like the rest of them.


The most emotionally 'heavy' poems in this collection, these are almost entirely inspired by broken relationships. As I wrote (most of) this chapter, I was going through a very painful separation, so the words evoke emotional rawness and fragility.


The title is a reference to literally breaking almost every coffee mug we owned (not on purpose) over the past year or so. Like, a dozen coffee mugs. I'm one of those weird people who orders custom mugs and gets really attached to them, so it felt extremely symbolic when all of my favorite mugs met their death (especially the 'What Would Oprah Do?' one). I always equated these 'accidents' to my subconscious mind trying to wake me up to the fact that things were... not going well. After all, breaking glass is usually a sign of misfortune...or definitely a sign that your energetic stress levels are so high that you can't even hold a coffee cup without dropping it...like 7 times, ha).


(Side note: a box of coffee mugs was dropped by a friend who helped us move into our new place, so I wasn't directly linked to that incident, but it set off a chain reaction, apparently).


FAIRY TALES


Maybe I watched too many rom-coms when I was young, or maybe it's the #daddyissues, but I've been a hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember. As I've gotten older, I've become a little bit more pragmatic in love, but I will never outgrow my hopeless romantic status (good!). These poems are all about desire...the intoxication of new love, the memory of old flames, the disappointment of 'bad timing'.


Falling in love is really the closest thing to magic that I've found, and this chapter will give you a deep dive into the inner workings of my heart.


DIMES FROM SAINT THERESA


While I always intend to honour my journey through my writing, I didn't want to publish a collection that was entirely miserable. Yes, I was going through a rough....few years, but there were also some good moments. There was some happiness. There were still happy memories to look back on, and good things to look forward to. This chapter is very redemptive, in many ways. These poems are some of my favorite, because they evoke the spirit of pushing forward, looking ahead, being brave after the storm.


I compiled poems that focused on strength and resilience; happy childhood memories, acceptance of life's dualistic nature, forgiveness, and moving forward. This chapter is about accepting that I don't control #allthethings (and certainly not people or their choices/emotions), even if I've tried to for most of my life. It's about letting go. Freeing up space to be more creative, more spontaneous, less rigid. It's about trusting that the most beautiful things can happen without needing to force them into existence. That what's mine and meant for me will always find it's way to me, and what's not meant to stay, will also find it's way out.


There are also 3 poems (printed by permission) written by my mother, Karen Jones, included in this chapter, which makes it that much more special to me. She wrote these poems when she was in her late teens/early 20's, and they are honestly better than any of mine.



Shadow Work is releasing in April, 2021, via LaBee Writing. Stay tuned for official release date <3


xo


A






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