“g” – The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 023 – Poetry

I read you a poem called “g” from my 2015 poetry book “Panorama Novelty” in Episode 023 of The Ashlee Craft Show!

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g

knowing what the sound of the wind is like
through board empty boards of houses,
a match on rough brick strikes,
the flame burning higher & higher into the sky

wearing neon yellow blouses;
I called out into the wind asking where you were
& you replied it was all a lie,
the mask you’d worn for so long

we walked on the beach & the sun was a blur
behind growing gray clouds & the height of the sun
tendrils of a rainbow blooming
& nothing was wrong,
not anymore

Larry the Owl Saves Christmas – NEW KIDS’ BOOK

Larry the Owl Saves Christmas by Ashlee CraftLarry the owl was excited. It was almost Christmas, his favorite holiday. He loved Christmas because of the pretty evergreen tree he decorated with his family, the cozy feeling of being around the owls he loved, & making Christmas cookies. He loved making Christmas pictures & gifts for his family, & playing in the snow with his friends. But what excited him most of all was the idea of Santa Owl visiting him & all the other owls. When the bully owls at school tell Larry that Santa isn’t real, Larry comes up with a kind-hearted plan to save Christmas & make sure everyowl has a nice holiday no matter what.

Publish Date :: November 24, 2017
Paperback 48 Pages
Genre :: Juvenile Fiction

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Sun in the Night: The Poems of Art Poems & Assemblage

Sun in the Night by Ashlee Craft - Cover

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This book is a volume containing all the poems from the first three volumes of Art Poems & the first 13 issues of Ashlee Craft / Assemblage. A book filled just with the poetry, in case poetry is your main priority & you just want to read them.

Poems “Breezy Summer Hill” through “Yellow Jazz” are from Art Poems, Volume 1. Poems “Bricks” through “Wish Upon a Star” are from Art Poems, Volume 2. Poems “Vivid Life” through “& I Embrace the Changes” are from Art Poems – Volume 3. Poems “Relieved Dream” through “You Never Owned Me” are from Assemblage, Issue 1. Poems “Seven Things You Need to Know” through “…YOU DON’T KNOW ME” are from Issue 2. Poems “I Don’t Care” through “Authenticity” are from Issue 3. Poems “I was so innocent” through “You Cared About Me” are from Issue 4. Poem “we danced in the rain” is from Issue 5. Poems “Stay” through “You Cared About Me II” are from Issue 6. Poems “she liked to battle her demons in the dark” through “I Knew Then I Belonged There” are from Issue 7. Poems “You Thought You Had Me” through “beautiful” are from Issue 8. Poems “my name” through “after the storm” are from Issue 9. Poems “Souvenirs” through “fledglings” are from Issue 10. Poem “Friend…” is from Issue 11. Poems “WAKE UP” & “people (there) actually seem to enjoy helping me” are from Issue 12. Poems “if it were that way” & “respected, at last, at once” are from Issue 13.

In total, this book contains 140 poems.

Breezy Summer Hill

wind blowing onwards ever onwards gently pushing soft fluffy clouds into view the breeze is slightly cool in contrast with the warm summer sun / the beginning of summer / rays of sunlight occasionally peeking thru the air amongst the clouds providing hint of light / a summer storm is blowing in rain / rain that will allow the fragrant flowers to bloom / smell the impending petrichor in the distance growing ever nearer / feel the heartbeat of the earth

I lie on my back on the hill staring up at the vast expanse of bluish gray sky / the wind blows fresh upon my face caressing my hair & causing the grass around me to sway & dance / rustle rustle rustling sweet music / & the meaning of it all changes in repetition / please stay, perfect feelings that swim so gracefully around me & fill my soul

in the distance I can smell the fresh air approaching / I smell nature all around me / & the smell & sound of the ocean at the bottom of the hill summer serenade in perfect peace / waves crashing in the stormy sea in preparation for the onslaught of pelting rain / I know I must return home soon but for now I want to remain on this hill / remain here & just breathe & be & feel alive / there is magic upon this hill I feel it deep down inside of me / & despite the impending storm I feel like everything will be perfectly okay / I want to remain here as the rain approaches / I want to feel alive

in the midst of the ongoing breeze, a blue flower twirls in freedom bending to the beat of the wind / it dances & sways in perfect freedom remaining out there to gather up the nurturing rain / always changing & growing & becoming more radiant / & I watch hope blossom

Clovers

green green green all around in the patterned hallways / an ongoing onomatopoeia of sounds & colors & sights & senses ignited by it all

a waterfall of green & circular stones in the empty sky floating by tent ground

a maze labyrinth never-ending always something to discover if you look a little closer

a square picture frame wet by watercolors about to be placed into the art museum in the street

a seashell lying on the shore having journeyed many miles along ocean currents now waiting on the sand for someone to find it pick it up & bring it home

behind it all a green grassy meadow turf flowing onwards & onwards

the sun is just rising above the hill spreading fingers of gold out into the sky & alighting the new world

the patterns of nature pine trees & feathers & rows of spiny scales & interlocking plates of stone

& a flower blooming upside down just to feel the rays of sun on its petals & yet in this different approach, succeeding

ombre stripes stipulated by four-dimensional allusions, the safe warmth of home’s hearth & the cozy rug beneath my feet

piano key pattern with yin yang showing the balance of productivity & relaxation

yet outside my window mountain tops loom & yet I will climb them soon I am finally ready

suddenly I look down & on the ground beneath my feet

& there, I find a lucky four-leafed clover

Coasting Along

walking along on the shore with you / our hands entwined / it is fall & cold wind nips at our skin & the leaves in the forest are falling from their branches & littering the ground / & yet on the shore, everything looks the same as it always does

we snuggle up next to each other / my hands are chilly but if I couldn’t feel the cold wind biting at my skin I could imagine it being June here rather than November / but I don’t mind / the fall wind just makes everything cozier & the sea more vast in its endlessness & infinity

see the contrast of the wind pelting but not harming or changing the solid & stoic stony arches that rest on the shore ahead of us / see the contrast between the dry powder sand & the chilly sparkling water / see the stolid distance horizon that we approach but it only grows further from us / see the contrast between the cold empty shore & the warmth of our love

& yet amongst the chilly wind & unending shoreline & unchanging beach, I find something strange & fleeting & beautiful / it is the slow yet gentle passing of time, & the warm beauty of you next to me, grinning at me & reminding me that in a few minutes we should head back & get some hot cocoa to warm us again / I say wait a minute I want to walk under the stony arches / you nod & hand in hand we run there together

we approach the stone arches & suddenly we see that it’s not all unchanging shorelines / the arches grow closer & suddenly we are near enough to feel their enormity / we walk under them slowly, my heart beating a little quicker with awe at the majesty of the arches / infinite & everlasting / always there like a beacon lighthouse upon the stormy sea / it’s not much but it’s something to hold onto / my hand feels the cold stone strength of them in one hand & the soft passionate warmth of your hand in my other / & as we pass through the stone arches & turn to head back home, we’re grinning at each other / & suddenly something occurs to me / maybe the shore isn’t always what it seems / maybe it changes / maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye

Glow of Hope

the street is dark & hope is bleak, dirty street walls caged souls can’t speak

remnants of garbage & things left behind, to rot in the sewers of the streets where dreams die

the lonely girl walking along, the night is still & silent, no one knows she’s out here alone

but it was essential she came here when she did, she could not wait any longer

the streets were empty & almost silent

except for forlorn cries in the distance, yet she could not stop for anything not even fear

her feet padding along on dark pavement heart pounding

heading towards the old forgotten lifeless brick buildings

finally she reaches the place where she is drawn to (even though she doesn’t understand why)

the place where the idea first came to her, sparkling

& she stood in between the brown bricks & cold cement, arms upraised into the air

& her hands clasping the dreams she holds deep within

holding them up to the darkened sky & waiting for something to happen

the night is still & silent & frightening & cold she’s never felt more alone in her life

yet nothing changes & the dreams remain in the dark (fear creeping in fear creeping in)

suddenly she breathes in deeply the approaching air

& at that moment her dreams are ignited by an ember of Hope

she stands in awe looking at the dreams in her hands

they are glowing the whole alley is glowing she is glowing glowing

the dreams once drying & dying & forsaken & forgotten

alight in the night illuminating her soul & her dreams are breathing again

& there is nothing more beautiful than dreams coming back to life stronger than ever before

dreams illuminated by the undying light of Hope

& suddenly she knows that everything is going to be okay

Misty Mountain Fog

cacophonous enrapture upon sea after sea

drifting colors on a palette, brush sweeping strokes across the creational landscape

the city streets & the countryside

do not have to remain cold & bleak with their winter monochromatic paleness

the walls & brick buildings & sleepless apartment buildings

empty emotionless persuasions & repercussions reprinted on false paper & held onto by plastic ideals

they do not have to remain unmoved & emotionless with steely-smiles frightening in the dark

they do not have to remain as empty representations of what really matters

the mountains do not have to stretch up into the sky

with their many insurmountable challenges looming above you

too high for your hands to ever reach

too difficult for your soul to be able to stand, strong enough to beat you

you can climb that mountain you are stronger than you think you are

explorational flurries & swirls twirling & dancing as the paint falls from the sky

you can do this you can make it

you feel weak & insignificant & afraid but soon you’ll find that light inside you

& the wind is suddenly the canvas

painting the land with the colors of life

you take that first step up the mountainside

& begin the grandest journey ever lived

this is the story of your life from now on

Spring Breeze

it would be a crime to dispute the ebullient valor in technicolor parade

gauzy leaves & floral petals, ethereal & evocative in their gentility

reverberating in rippling ruffles of breezes

& incandescent filaments in their radiant newborn resonances

rhapsodies in repeating waning charred chords on stone

printed on old newsprint blowing in the zephyr

expectations of joyous possibilities you see them all laid out in front of you

letting go of the mistakes of the past even though you mourn for what was lost & what cannot be rewritten

but rewriting the story even better than before when presented with the second chance finding even better ways of making words come alive

a chrysalis consisting of a glass bubble forever suspended upon the fragile flower seeds beneath the snowy ground

sandy soil the warmth of the sun slowly seeping down into the rain-soaked soils

& the flowers waiting waiting waiting gently until the urge to rise above fills them & they push up through the soil & towards the sunlight which they crave

& they will emerge into the air on a bright spring day as the snow is melting

& painting the landscape with their colors of red blue purple

they will become the future

in the garden of hope

where every month is a year, and every year, a decade

where time stands still but progresses all the same

& where anything is possible

Sun in the Night

sun in the night looming in the eclipse above antique Victorian houses rectitude shining over the old metal trellis grating / piano keys inside the wind tunnel spinning in unison with the breeze / tents & campfires just being started in empty fields near rivers & clouds flying on past by

trees in a river of multicolored paint spreading the waters & dividing the tides into what is free & what is owned, reverberating rectification a baseball thrown on a warm summer day in the retro neighborhood where parents & children throw the baseball around to each other as the sun is setting behind the clouds / but also in the clouds forming the shape of someone with their mouth in a snarl looking towards the flaming forest fire & the pools of sorrow strewn into the ground / a lone figure emerging from the darkness crows surrounding it & flying up cawing & crying out into the darkness yet the fear dissipates illuminated by the sunrise / brick walls in the morning light / oceans in the rain

(I will try again tomorrow)

& yet despite fear’s flurries cascading around me I feel their strength collapse with each breath I take & every strong & unstoppable step forward suddenly seeing that things that used to break me now become the stairs I ascend upon into the next day brilliant & breathing & alive / marveling at the perfection & miracle of my existence, & of the existence of everyone & everything else in this world / I am not afraid anymore

& yet above all of this stands the sun, glowing & yellow, rebelling against the oppressive darkness / & the sun is always overhead in the sky even when the night is dark & we cannot see it

Sunray Meadow

warm warm sunrays & meadow of life

river running thru it to nurture it & the gentle swaying grasses

warmth bright light free from sorrow

but not free from difficulty (that would be boring)

(to live in a place where everything was too simple

& there was never anything to contemplate or figure out or solve or change or do anything else about)

sure, I don’t want an enormously difficult life

but if everything was too happy & carefree & easy

I would be very bored with it all

thankfully in this meadow there is contrast

the contrast between the day & the night

yes, the long smiling summer days

& the rainy cold ice winters & dark nights of the soul

there is contrast & conflict & that makes it all interesting

mediated by the flow of tears of sorrow & tears of joy

running thru the land & the cracks in the drying soil & nurturing the very things

the very things

that make us human

Sunshine Mountain

harpsichord difficulty diffusion renegade

pianos in the streets with keys left unplayed

to gather the threads left strewn & strayed

the swirl in the red-orange wing from the desert

sunbeams flowing downwards over hills of stone

from stained glass window mountains the light shone

remembrances I can only remember alone

clouds of fiery colors collecting in the sky

standing on top of the mountain peak’s majesty

to think you say emotions are such travesty

but in this struggling strife we find unique diversity

& in reflections in stained glass mountains

pale blue clouds floating on a languid summer day

purple mist in the distance is coming this way

I thought all this time I wanted you to stay

but in the end it was all just a memory of the mountains

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Herkimer & The Bully

Herkimer & The Bully - Herkimer the Mouse by Roger Miller, Dr. Patricia Miller, & Ashlee Craft

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I am so excited to announce my newest book, Herkimer & the Bully!

Now, here’s the special thing about this book. Out of all the books I’ve published, this is the first one where I only contributed, & wasn’t actually the one to come up with the content!

When I was growing up, my grandfather on my mom’s side would always tell me these stories when he’d come over. The stories were about a brave, kind, heroic mouse named Herkimer. Herkimer was just a regular mouse, but yet because he was so devoted to being kind & so pure of heart, he ended up doing a lot of really good things in his community. I remember several of the stories he told me about Herkimer.

Fast-forward to a year or so ago. I found this brown construction-paper-covered handmade, hand-sewn bound book in my garage. When I opened it, I saw it was a Herkimer story, written down. The book also had some sketches my grandma had done to go along with the story.

The archivist inside me got excited. As I looked through the book, it became apparent to me that this was something people should see. This was the kind of book kids nowadays should read. Something about how kindness made an ordinary mouse a hero in his community.

I got involved with a variety of other projects, & although I frequently thought about the Herkimer story, I never did anything with it. Finally, this summer I decided it was time to make it happen. My grandma’s 91st birthday was at the end of August, & I had a great idea for a gift for her.

I was going to surprise her by taking the book her & my grandfather had worked on together, compiling it into a book, & publishing that book.

Herkimer the Mouse by Ashlee Craft

I began working on it as soon as I could. After deciding how I wanted the illustrations to look, I decided to preserve the style & art she’d done. I re-did the illustrations from her sketches by tracing over them. In the original, they’d been outlined in Crayola-looking thin-point markers, so that’s what I did. I added a few additional illustrations that I thought the book would benefit from, copying the style & feel of my grandma’s illustrations in my own.

Then, I transcribed the story, scanned the illustrations, & compiled the book. I even copied the essence of my grandma’s cover with the art on it, & purposely designed it to look kind of vintage. I was vaguely inspired by the look of the old Word Bird series of covers.

The book was done. I hit publish, & when it was available, bought a copy.

My family & I went to visit my grandma on the weekend before her birthday. When it was time for presents, my sister gave her a beautiful hand-made card, & my mom presented her with the purple (my grandma’s favorite color) macrame hanging plant holder my mom had made.

My grandma was thrilled when I gave her the Herkimer book, compiled & published & brought into the present. She was so excited & happy & grateful. She couldn’t believe I’d actually made it into a book & published it, & she got her name on the front. I felt really good about giving her that gift. I know it meant a lot to her, especially for her to be credited for Art Design when her whole life has always revolved around art.

Herkimer & the Bully is the first book in the Herkimer series! I plan on writing more books in the series based on the concept & stories my grandfather told me & the art my grandmother did for the original.

It is so exciting to me to have published something like this, & to contribute to & bring to life/light someone else’s book. Also exciting is the fact that this is the first time at my company Freedom Meadow Media that we’ve published something written by someone other than myself.

Here’s to many more!

Herkimer & The Bully - Herkimer the Mouse by Ashlee Craft

by Roger Miller, Art Concept by Dr. Patricia Miller, Illustrated by Ashlee Craft

Herkimer lives in Mouseville. He is a well-mannered, friendly little mouse. He helps his parents out around the house and also does what he can to help the other mice in Mouseville. One day on the way to school, he sees a bully being mean to one of his friends, & he comes up with a plan to teach the bully to be nicer.

Release Date // August 20, 2017
Paperback 28 Pages
Genre // Children’s Fiction
Themes // Mice, Virtues

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The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 010 – Books – “What Happens When You Choose to Live Authentically”

In the tenth episode of The Ashlee Craft Show, Ashlee reads her article, “This is What Happens When You Choose to Live Life Authentically”, which was originally p& discusses authenticity & loving yourself.

:: Read the original article here ::

The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 006 – Books – 101 Ways to Love Yourself Introduction

Authenticity is hard. Happiness is hard. But when you start loving yourself, that’s when these things become easier.

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START.

Happiness is hard. Authenticity is hard. I know this very, very well.

I’m not going to give you some fluffy sermon about how if you just take a bubble bath, smile three times a day at yourself in the mirror, & think happy thoughts constantly that your life will magically be better. These things might help you, but they also might not.

You’re probably reading this book because your life isn’t totally, 100% pure awesomeness. If it is, all the power to you! But it probably isn’t. You probably don’t feel like you love yourself as much as you could, or you feel depressed, or you really just feel you’re not living up to your potential. The best part is, whether you can believe this yet or not — you have all the power in the world to change & improve your life.

Hating yourself is boring. Feeling ugly & unloved is boring. Living someone else’s plans for you is boring. Being depressed & feeling hopeless about your future is boring.

Those feelings are all completely valid. They’re also sadly common. But when you really think about it, those aren’t very interesting things to feel. Break them down, & all those feelings relate to sadness. Society has romanticized the idea of sadness. It’s made personal sorrow seem alluring & mysterious & beautiful. Like that without it, you won’t be an interesting person for people to know. Like you will be shallow & one-sided if you’re always happy & you feel good about yourself. Like your art won’t be as good if you don’t have all this sadness as your muse.

Those feelings aren’t making your life any better. They’re not serving you in any way. They’re not even true.

You deserve better than that. Your body is made up of the remnants of stars that were born & died long ago. You are literally made of stardust. You can do anything you want to. Stars didn’t die so that you could loathe yourself & live an unspectacular existence. You can have better than that. You were born to live an awesome life. It’s your duty to yourself to pursue that, as vibrantly & lovingly as you can.

Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose, & everything to gain.

Happiness is thrilling. Love is beautiful. Self-acceptance is rebellious. Success is triumphant. Hope is alluring. Peace of mind is interesting. Boldness is adventurous. Resilience & determination are courageous. Living a life you’ve created is compelling.

Sometimes, I ask myself why I should bother loving myself. Sometimes, the whole thing seems impossible, & even pointless. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I deserve it.

Why should you love yourself?

Because you’re vast & brilliant & awesome & kind & smart & filled with potential. Because you might as well. Because the only way you’re ever going to even KNOW what you’re capable of is if you try. Fear of missing out on what you could become should be the biggest FOMO of all.

You don’t want to be a product of a society which profits off promoting self-loathing & insecurity. You don’t just want to be another face in a crowd of mediocrity. You want more for yourself, even if you can’t admit that to yourself yet & don’t think you deserve it.

What do you have to lose in learning to love yourself? Or in trying to be happy, & starting to live a life that genuinely makes you feel good? There is nothing to lose.

Change is hard. Taking all the bullshit & the bad feelings you’ve been accumulating & shoving them out the door with their cardboard boxes of baggage isn’t easy. In fact, changing & creating the kind of life you always hoped you might be able to live & becoming the person you hoped you could become might just be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.

There will be kicking & screaming & tears. There might even be days when you don’t even think you can get out of bed, much less move forward.

But the thing is, you will. You will get up. You will open the curtains, & the sunlight will stream in again. And you will feel better. You will make it through this.

On the other side of the dark stormy seas you’ve been sailing, there will be sunlight, & warmth, & a life better than you ever hoped you could have.

To be completely honest, I’m not there yet. But I’m on my way. I make my progress in great leaps & strides. Sometimes, I fall down. Sometimes I stumble & slide back on the hill I’m climbing. Then I get back up & brush the sand off my clothes, & I keep climbing. Someday, not long from now, I will get to where I’m heading. And then I will find somewhere else to travel to.

I am on my way.

So are you.

Change is hard. But the ability to adapt is the thing which separates the winners from the losers. You are trying to make your life better. That puts you in the category of the winners, right now. You’re strong enough, & smart enough, & determined enough to win.

Think about this. You have made it through everything that’s happened to you in your life so far. You have made it. If you can do that, you can do this. You can do anything.

You can love yourself. You can feel better. You can be happy.

You can start living any super-awesome amazing life of your choosing.

And you can start today. Right now.

The key to having all this starts when you start loving yourself. Self-love is the backbone to everything else available to you. It’s the ship that you’re sailing on, & the wind that fills your sails & your lungs. It’s the star you see up ahead in the dark of night. It’s the start of everything else. The first brick on the yellow brick road.

When you start loving yourself, everything else falls into place. You become stronger & more resilient. You start respecting yourself & knowing your worth & only accepting the things you deserve. You start realizing that you can create whatever life you want for yourself, & start empowering yourself to go out there, & go get it.

Happiness is hard. Authenticity is hard.

But when you start loving yourself, that’s when these things become easy.

Here’s how…

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Sun in the Night: The Poems of Art Poems & Assemblage

Sun in the Night by Ashlee Craft - CoverSun in the Night is a collection containing all the poems from the first three volumes of Art Poems & the first 13 issues of the zine Ashlee Craft / Assemblage. By compiling a book of the poems alone without the artwork which accompanies them in their original volumes, it allows the words to shine on their own. Sun in the Night contains 140 of Ashlee Craft’s poems.

Publish Date // July 13, 2017
Paperback 224 Pages
Genres // Poetry

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