CMO: It is so wonderful to speak with you and to have your voice in my world! I love that you unabashedly call attention to issues in the literary community that are too often swept aside or ignored altogether. You are subversive and effervescent and enchanting, and your cosmic work inspires me every day.
Recently, you've been writing about how astrology misrepresents Capricorns, ahead of an upcoming astrology book, and I was drawn to this not merely because we share sun signs, but because astrological text is so variable, and emotional for readers. On Oct 9th you wrote, "My goal is to not be the least bit shy about contradicting astrologers and their many skewed interpretations of us." Among those skewed interpretations, which one have you found to be the most significant, and why?
CA: Connie, thank you so much! I was very excited when the Argentine publisher Triana Books invited me to help write this new astrology book. Twelve of us poets were invited to write about our signs, and I said to myself, “Finally! I get to say what I have been thinking for years about Capricorn!”
Many astrologers place Capricorn in a location of selfish materialism based solely on accomplishments, and few if any actually examine the amount of hard work Capricorns put into the road ahead of those accomplishments. We are hated by those who may not even be aware that we are Capricorns. In my latest book, I have a poem and (Soma)tic poetry ritual titled, “YOU DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE MY NEMESIS.” It’s a ritual where you literally smoke your enemies with healing herbs on a rolling paper with photos of their faces. It takes strength not only for the Capricorn to climb the mountain, but to then dig our hooves in and hold position as we are blasted by the Haters with their vitriol. When they run out of bad breath we are still standing.
For years I have disagreed with nearly every astrologer about Capricorn, even their petty takedown of our fish-tailed goat symbol. The relationship between our fish-tails and goat upper bodies is often misunderstood by astrologers. Our goat upper strength and stamina are said to be for climbing to the top, which makes sense. The fish-tail is said to be our weakness, an unstable downturn to the depths of water’s subconscious which we are told we try to avoid, and this is where interpretations are wrong. The problem with interpreters of Capricorn who are not Capricorns is that they want to focus solely on positive attributes of our goat bodies and aspects, much the way we privilege the brain, the upper hemisphere of the body. The lower half is dirty, forbidden, dark, our waistline the border between right and wrong. We need to realize that this thinking is Christianized thought and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the lower half of our bodies. Get into bed with a Capricorn and know why the pagan gods of Europe have goat horns because we love sex and are not the least bit swayed by monotheistic dictates of sexual behavior. The fish-tail of the goat is not dragging us down and it is wrong to insist that this is the world of the Capricorn: torn between our two halves. Quite the opposite in fact! Much like the great Sphinx of Egypt, it is not that the human head needs to tame the lion body but instead needs to harness the lion, to be at one and harmonious with the muscular, wild, fierce lion body. This is precisely the same with Capricorn where we are learning to incorporate our deepest feelings, to harness that underwater source of potential power, to trust and allow our muscular, forceful fish-tail and all it represents to drive our upper body strength to success. Whenever we Capricorns prove astrologers wrong and make our two halves work together as one we are nothing short of unstoppable! We must not allow doubts of others to interfere with the possibilities of fully embracing all we have to offer our lives and the world.
CMO: Do you think that astrology has a hand in conditioning people, identity, and our relationships with others?
CA: Many of the most famous philosophers of late antiquity were steeped in it. But as for today, yes, I think so in that astrology is used as a guide by many for viewing their character, for love, courage and many other important aspects of life. Here is what I wrote on Capricorns and Love:
Earth sign as in Earthy, as in the rich loam unleashed! We are fearless in bed and need a sex partner or partners who are completely uninhibited. Capricorn love is loyal, and Capricorn sex is wildly delicious, taking our time to taste every crevice, smell every scent of our lovers. For years I have talked with fellow Capricorns about sex and I feel confident in saying that whether we are men or women or trans or hetero, homo, bi, poly or pansexual, we become very present in bed and give as much satisfaction as we demand in return. If you are a non-Capricorn looking for answers for compatibility, consider the fact we are the last Earth sign, that last bit of land before Air and Water finish out the zodiac and we love nothing more than love and sex that is dirty, juicy, especially outside, under a tree or on the naked ground. Mud sex is tremendous, or on a bed of moss. Cum together with the full force of the planet beneath you both or however many there are of you having sex. Know this, we Capricorns are loyal to a fault, even in open relationships. If we are in a committed monogamous relationship we will be there for our partners, but if they cheat on us we tend to sever ties immediately with little hope in rekindling after the deception. We are also not interested in the drama of getting back together with someone we no longer trust, so if you deceive a Capricorn, it is better for you to move on and learn your lesson because our feeling is you never deserved our love and attention in the first place. We will look down on you as a coward, someone too weak to be honest about your needs and desires. Once we have lost respect for you it is very rare that you can find hope in that respect ever having a chance of returning. In other words, Goodbye is better than the living Hell we will gladly send you to if that is what you need. In the meantime, let us please enjoy every second we have, powering our blood together, opening the locks of the occult with every kiss, every stroke and whimper. Get LOVING!
CMO: Has a stranger ever asked you what your sign is, and then said, "OHHHHHHH!" ?
CA: HAHA, YES! But only because we Capricorns have such a terrible reputation, and that reputation is built on the foundation of many years of astrologers getting us wrong, much in the way they and everyone else gets Scorpio wrong. Scorpios are not nymphomaniacs as everyone loves to believe, they are the ones who investigate the ethers of our metaphysical cosmography, braiding sensuality and mysticism. I think Capricorns understand Scorpios quite well, at least I do. I love Scorpios almost as much as I love Capricorns.
CMO: Can you tell us a little about this upcoming astrology book?! How does astrology connect with your poetry?
CA: It’s very exciting because the publishers have asked POETS to do the writing. And not only that we are asked to write about our own signs! How terrific! This gets rid of the problem of recent years where petty, snarky, shallow minds are writing in their books about their favorite signs and then trashing the rest of us. Those are the kinds of books that should be used for toilet paper or fish wrap at the market. Finally, we will have a book about astrology I am excited to read!
CMO: I LOVE your "poet as this" posts! "_____as this" is a phrase for self-determination that clears away the weight of dominant tropes of identity.
Tell about how you compose these images and if/how they connect with your current writing on astrology.
CA: Poetry is everything. Since I have been writing through (Soma)tic poetry rituals the creative viability of EVERYTHING around us has never been clearer. These rituals create a space of extreme present, where thinking about anything other than the ritual and the language for the poems is next to impossible. Astrology is only a locator for WHERE we work best in the world and how, then we get to utilize those skills to the best of our ability.
CMO: What are the most important powers of astrology today?
CA: I can tell you astrology is important to many poets today. I think of Hoa Nguyen, Dorothea Lasky, Ariana Reines, Filip Marinovich, and others, poets who use astrology in their poetry, even teach workshops based on astrological signs of poets they teach. I am very excited to push for a reformation of Capricorn’s definitions.
CMO: Finally, thank you so much for doing this interview while on tour with your new book, While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017); a collection of 18 (Soma)tic poetry rituals and their corresponding poems, endeavoring to cope with a terrible loss. It is inspiring to me in so many ways; the formal and conceptual merging of free verse with prose, the frank and purposeful language of your work, and, most significantly, the power of rituals. The book presents ritual for personal as well as global healing. Having been born on new year’s, we encounter renewal each year along with much of the world, in one massive ritual. This has always affected me—I felt confused about how to separate the event of my birthday from the collective crises happening around me; an analog hum of resolutions and wishes. But in While Standing in Line for Death it seems that the intimate healing ritual is necessarily linked with that of the world—politically and ecologically—which is consistent with your work over the years. Tell about how this book came together, and how your work has continued to “testify to poetry’s ability to reconnect us and help put an end to our alienation from the planet.”
CA: Connie, thank you again for this opportunity! I’m so happy with these questions. The opening ritual in this book changed my life because it cured me of the chronic depression I had been living with after my boyfriend Earth’s rape and murder and the subsequent cover up of these heinous crimes against him by the police. What matters to me the most is when people read the book and tell me that they have been inspired to create their own rituals for their creativity.
Every single human being is creative. If our creativity is an organ we need to start thinking of it as a vital one. When we commit ourselves to nurturing our artistic capacities we improve our ability to more deeply discern the world around us and make the constructive decisions needed in order to thrive in this world.
When I conduct (Soma)tic workshops, especially in the university setting, there is often at least one student who admits to feeling like they are wasting their time learning poetry or art while the world falls apart. One of my most important goals is to address this whenever it comes up. I start by agreeing that our ecosystems are failing under our human comforts and excessive lust for power and money for Things, lots of Things. Then I make clear just how impactful being creative can be for the future health and happiness of our species and other animals, birds, insects and plants. When Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” he was asking us to understand how bringing new ideas we create for the world is always more important than stagnating under templates of previous paradigms.
What I have also discovered while teaching (Soma)tic rituals for over a decade is that when people find themselves stuck, no longer able to write, paint, dance, these rituals build a bridge back to that essential, more daring and innovative part of themselves. It is absolutely necessary, right now, at this very moment, to embrace our creativity. No matter who you are, having a daily creative practice can expand your ability to better form the important questions we need to be asking ourselves about how to best change the destructive direction we are all headed. If you used to paint, paint again. If you used to write poems, start writing again. The potential magic of this world requires our participation. I’m not a motivational speaker; I’m a poet. I’m not an optimist; I simply believe in the possibilities of our collective genius.