my new poetry book: a lens to see behind the sky

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on the two year anniversary of my first book's release, pre-sale begins for my second book: A Lens To See Behind The Sky. 
pre-orders begin november 14, 2018 with a ship date of december 1, 2018. getting to you in time for christmas.
pre-order on amazon - or through secret midnight press for an exclusive signed copy!


i can't believe it's been two years. in 2016 my good friend jesse cale and i decided together to finally put together our books of poems written over years. 

instead of just self-publishing, we wanted to create a home, a world even, for fellow deep-feelers like us. so on november 14, 2016 we launched secret midnight press. you can read more about that here.

that day i published my first book of poetry. a simple little book called smoke signals (burn this). the response to this was overwhelming, and i was immediately inspired to continue creating. so over the past two years i have been writing and dreaming about my next creation. 



if this is your first time here and you haven't read any of my poetry, i've posted a good amount of it here!

if you've been here before, you know that i speak quite a bit about my struggles with mental health issues, and this book is no exception. there are dark moments. moments which i hope help shed a light on the daily struggles of depression and anxiety. moments which i hope help those who relate feel less alone. 

when i began dreaming of this book, i knew i wanted it to be more immersive. to contain ways for the reader to interact, to be challenged even to think deeply and to look inward. 




i've been enamored by vintage books for as long as i can remember, even obtaining a pretty decent sized collection. so i wanted to bring in some of those elements to this book.

there will be a vintage-inspired special edition hardback available exclusively through secret midnight pressi am the most excited about this. 

i was gifted a vintage typewriter when i was seventeen, and still use it often. i used it to create letters and collages with old photographs to experience throughout the book. 




all of the old photographs throughout the book were taken of or by my great-grandfather william s. dun.
 
his son, my grandfather, was a war photographer as well. creativity, it seems, runs deeply in my family. 

the photography my great-grandfather william took of his travels all over the world and his time in the war evoke such emotion, which i think fits in the world of poetry; in the world of feeling everything. 


i also reached out to my friend emma ruff, who is similarly passionate about poetry and vintage things, to create a handful of collages based on my poetry. here is a sneak peak of her wonderful art:


some more important things about this book:

Smoke Signals (Burn This) will become part one of the four parts of this book
this means smoke signals as a single entity will be discontinued

i also included poetry from the collaboration book with jesse cale live poems love poems.
i plan to do at least one US tour in 2019 reading both new and old poems. hopefully other countries as well! what city could i meet you in? we're hoping to tour this coming spring :)




this is my final typewriter poem that i will be running as a contest on my instagram. check my instagram stories to win a signed and framed copy of the book's title poem. the winner will be entered to win a signed copy of the book once it's released.

thank you, as always, from the bottom of my heart. for those who have been there since day one, who have encouraged and supported my growth through all of these growing pains the past couple of years. and to you reading this right now.

i hope this book makes you feel seen. 
i hope this book gives you courage to fight the darkness. 
there is light on the other side. 
i promise. 
i've seen it. 





xo,

Ashley


Listening to: 


stigmas

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////

i don't remember what i was wearing. i don't remember what i brought with me. i only remember what i wasn't allowed to bring. a razor, tweezers, makeup, cell phone. they collected these things while i checked in, my parents signing the consent forms, a glossy haze over our eyes. my breath was bated, scanning the open room of the people i'd be spending an indefinite amount of time with. the hierarchy was stark and obvious. white coats ruled the land. they could come and go as they pleased - a royal privilege. the blue scrubs distributed medication. no one realized that these were the ones really running the show. their humble degrees, simple task of handing you a small pill with water and checking under your tongue - they had the power. i observed these things in the first brief moments before my mother walked me back to my room. "these rooms are typically reserved for the more disturbed" the white scrubs leaned toward my mom and said in a loud whisper, "solitary confinement." she continued to explain that they were waiting for a shared room to open up for me. "it's our busy season." whatever that means. 

the small bed with a scratchy grey blanket was in the far corner of the white room, a small table with a lamp next to it. above the bed was a large window, the whole world on the other side. this window had bars across it, god forbid i would try and exit this way, seventeen floors up. 

my mom and i sat on this springless mattress, fighting feeling anything. how can a mother be equipped to say goodbye to her daughter in a solitary room in a psychiatric ward in a local hospital? how can a daughter be prepared to stay strong for her mom while her own world is walling up in front of her? the answer is that one cannot be prepared for this circumstance, we gave in and ended up crying until we couldn't anymore. she squeezed my hand and left. as the door closed behind her the walls seemed to shrink in. 

the following week exists in my memory as a black and grey watercolor painting, left outside in the rain. knocks on my door woke me up every few hours to be refilled with tranquilizers. i could barely carry myself to the common area. "it'll help you to socialize. watch TV with the others." i felt like i was deep under water, creatures around me were inanimate, they talked but it might as well have been heavy rocks dropped into the ocean. 

i met with a team of however qualified whomevers, sitting around a long table, they asked me questions about my health. there were no study notes for this quiz. my new roommate gave me hints to the answers. she'd been in for months and learned the hard way how not to answer. she'd learned to say what they want to hear. 

////

looking into a prism, this is a brief, flash reflection of my experience in the psychiatric hospital ten years ago. self harm and suicidal ideation took me there. 

i don't talk about this with many people. i fear the stigma that will follow. 

loaded words with blank-bullet meanings. 'crazy', 'unstable', 'weird'. these words really hold no weight as there is no true antonym that exists. 'normal' is a prerogative. 'vulnerable' is an adjective i'll allow. to me, vulnerability is bravery and trust. you're baring your weak parts to a potential threat in hopes that peace will come from it. true humanity is not to hide. i believe humanity is finding strength and sharpening it. we must realize our weaknesses and work to strengthen them. this is survival. 

here's the thing. when you look a stranger in the eyes your souls briefly connect. what's behind those blue and brown windows is a tapestry of experiences. joy, suffering, and so similar to your own. 

'weird' means a more colorful tapestry. 'crazy' means a few loose threads from use. 

throw stigmas out the window. keep judgements at bay. stories are beautiful, and your soul is even more.

please share your story. please ask for help if you need it. there are communities of people who are safe, who want to listen.

for suicide prevention week (september 10-17) Secret Midnight Press is donating 20% of profits to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (this includes sales of my book).

please remember that you are loved. please remember that it gets better. i know this because i've been there. it gets better.



i'll leave you with this friendly reminder:


my new book is coming to you in november! and with each blog post leading up to this i will be doing a contest on my instagram story. 

i will be hand-typing a new poem, and if you repost my story, you can win a signed & framed copy. 

plus the winner is entered to win a personalized copy of my new book once it's out. 






  xo,

Ashley


Listening to:

Happiness - Jonsi & Alex

the world of atlas black: year two + announcement!

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hello sweetest soul,

it's been awhile. i've taken some time off blogging for many various reasons (mostly mentioned in my last post), but i've missed it dearly. this is a special place, and i'm ready to talk with you again more regularly. i've been working on learning my way around vlogging, so that'll be a new thing for us coming soon :)

but right now i want to talk briefly about this past weekend. 

there was music, there was poetry, there was hope. imagine you've been holding your breath for weeks and months and someone finally tells you it's okay to exhale. that's what Atlas Black was for me. 



it's a world where you can be whoever you want to be. create a character, or be the most stripped down version of yourself. i found myself being a little bit of both. i found myself on stage sharing my soul to a group of humans who couldn't be more gentle with it. it's a loving community of creatives, feelers, fire-breathing living creatures. you're allowed to be you here.


on sunday my friend jesse cale put on black feather wings and i put craft glitter glue on my face and we went on stage and shared our hearts. this was just one of the many layers of the weekend that was The World of Atlas Black .



Atlas Black is a yearly art festival put on by secret midnight press. it's a dream we had in 2016 and brought to life in 2017, a dream where creatives can step out of the darkness and feel free if only for a moment. here is a video describing the vision: watch here.



videos of me reading:



our newest author lee martens kicked off the evening with her beautiful and heartbreaking stories. we also offered an open mic at the end and so many stunning humans shared their art. i was in awe of the vulnerability and raw talent. 

meeting many of you afterward was even more inspiring. the amount of love and honesty shared in this space warms me from head to toe. 








we talked about mental illness and the struggles of being a creative empath. we talked about hope, about knowing that your joy is worth fighting for. you are worth fighting for. 

i plan to talk more about these things in the coming weeks. i can't wait to dive to the depths again with you. to discuss the hard things, the things that weigh a lot, but how we can help each other lighten the burden. we're in this together. 



thank you for making it this far. it's time for the announcement:

i let the world know on stage this weekend that i am finishing up my new book! 

coming to you in november. and with each blog post leading up to this i will be doing a contest on my instagram story. 

i will be hand-typing a new poem, and if you repost my story, you can win a signed & framed copy! plus the winner is entered to win a personalized copy of my new book once it's out :)

i am so excited for this new chapter, friends. i can't wait to share and grow stronger with you. 



  xo,

Ashley



Listening to:


 

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