Nutley poet explores Sufism, higher states of consciousness in new collection

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NUTLEY, NJ — Nutley poet Ariella C. is back at it, having recently published her second collection of poems, “Gwen Dust or Something Else.” Similar to her last collection of poetry — titled “It Whispers…” and released in 2020 — this new collection explores femininity within the landscape of our world, love and Sufism. This collection is longer than the first, with approximately 30 poems exploring the many dichotomies that exist for women.

According to the poet, she was deeply influenced by the poetic traditions of Sufism, which is a form of mysticism within Islam that emphasizes introspection and a spiritual connection with God. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, many Sufis, including the Persian poets Hafez and Rumi, have used poetry for centuries to convey their experiences of the ineffable.

“The likes of Hafez and Rumi surrounded me for years, and I just hope this isn’t trying to mimic them but comes out of my own ‘awake of consciousness,’” Ariella C. told the Nutley Journal, adding that for approximately 10 years she studied a form of philosophy and mysticism conceived by George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, an Armenian spiritual teacher who was active in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Gurdjieff taught that most people live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep,” but can attain a higher state of consciousness, achieving their full potential, through working on themselves. “The work is vital. I think we are always striving for consciousness, deeper states, higher states — some, but not all, of ‘Gwen Dust or Something Else’ came from different states of the vehicle. It came from a need to relay.”

According to Ariella C., the inspiration for this collection of poetry came from “a different part of self, a different mode of witnessing and writing about people and this planet and different interactions of self.” Each poem emerged from a different experience and mindset — a different sense of self.

“Some I wrote while with a lover,” she said, “and some in total isolation.”

She added that, while most of the poems were written on the West Coast, she did indeed compile the collection back home in Nutley, taking her time to create a complete, polished work.

“I wrote ‘It Whispers…’ quite young and in a shorter span of time than ‘Gwen Dust.’ I didn’t publish young but the forces that be enabled me to do both in a brief span of less than three years,” Ariella C. said. “‘Gwen Dust’ isn’t love, isn’t rage and isn’t angst, but a deep interaction with years of my life that were surrounded by a curiosity into healing modalities and a very different dialogue than I had in my early 20s, but influenced by them.

“I was also on the beach a lot during the years these poems were actually recorded. I went through years of journals to come up with ‘Gwen Dust,’ and I think the work kind of kept me safe this year while the public delved into ‘It Whispers…’. I stayed busy creatively,” she continued, adding that compiling the collection was “wild fun.”

According to the poet, she didn’t even necessarily intend to create “Gwen Dust or Something Else” initially; she was instead drawn by a need to re-find herself through her poetry.

“I didn’t have an intention but just a need to compile this work, these poems, and sift through things,” she said, explaining that she had recently gone through a breakup and moved back home to Nutley three years ago. “You can’t make worship to the past, don’t make a shrine to the past, Hafez writes, but something in me feels there is something, some part, that wants to worship the past self, past experiences, every once in a while so deeply, because it can’t always be recreated; I don’t think adoration is all wrong.”

According to Ariella C., these poems each show “very real sides” of her at different points in her life; they are “very real dialogues and invoices to the universe of perfection on the planet in universe.”

“I want people to know all their facets,” Ariella C. said, encouraging readers to learn from her experiences in introspection so they can go on a similar journey themselves. “I want repression lifted and the truth of things revealed. I’m a big advocate for truth, and it’s gotten me in trouble. Concept and idea can have a visceral entrance to each moment.

“I want readers to take away a deep desire to live their truth, their realm, their reality,” she continued. “I do believe in some ways it’s what you make, but there is a truth to being handed a set of cards. And maybe I’m still figuring out myself how to play them. Some people see life as a game. I’m not so sure. I think it’s really real.”

For Ariella C., “body” and “belief” are vital to her poetry: the potential of each person as a body, and her belief in herself and her poetry.

“The body is vessel. That’s really what I know in yoga. God, I did so much yoga out in LA. And what does one know or do in this interpretation? You’re a body; (and) this body knows so much,” she said. “The body as light source but also deep dark source — transmutation and transpiration. Both are vital experiences, and I wanted the book to show both:

And like an angel,

Falling from the sun

Onto ice

You have found yourself

Out of your element.”

For more information or to purchase a copy of “Gwen Dust or Something Else,” visit bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/gwen-dust-or-something-else/.

Photos Courtesy of Ariella C.

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