Interview: Alicia Cahalane Lewis

nebulous beginnings with Alicia Cahalane Lewis


Summer, 2012. Boulder, Colorado. My friend Alicia Cahalane Lewis, whom I had met through Naropa University’s online program, and I sit in her temporary apartment during the Summer Writing Program. While I don’t remember what we were writing about at the time, I distinctly remember the blue couch, talking about the forest fires climbing over the Rockies, and discussing writing and healing.

Fast forward not even five years later and here we are. I’ve started a small press called Tea & Tattered Pages, which seeks poems, essays and collaborations that function as an invitation to others to converse with the phenomenal world, to examine the unexamined life. Fittingly, our first publication is Alicia’s brilliant chapbook, nebulous beginnings & strings and I’m so glad to have this chance to speak again of writing.

TEA & TATTERED PAGES

Can you believe this, Alicia? Here we are! Happy Birthday!

ALICIA CAHALANE LEWIS

Thank you Amanda! It’s fortuitous that we met when we did. I’ve always know that I shared a deeper connection with you, and now that you’ve published my first chapbook, I feel a closer bond of appreciation. Thank you for helping me celebrate this very special birthday!

TEA & TATTERED PAGES

It's my honor! I love your work. Right away, with the title nebulous beginnings & strings, I think of science: the Big Bang Theory, string theory, quantum physics. Or perhaps, true to what I hope to create with this small press, it is more simply, an invitation. What is this beginning, why is it nebulous?

ALICIA CAHALANE LEWIS

nebulous beginnings and strings isn’t so much an answer as to “what is this beginning” as it is a call to arms to ask us to wake up to explore what it means to be in this nebulous space we’ve created called earth. As much as I’d like to confirm the origins of our earth, much as I’d like to confirm the origins of the beginning, this Universe, and multiple others, I’m convinced we’re all on a journey to answer this question, “what is this beginning” for ourselves. I don’t mean to throw it back at you, but I guess I am. As long as we continue to question this beginning, we’ll continue to question each other’s answers and create more conflict. I don’t want to provide answers, just more questions. Unfortunately this makes it all nebulous, doesn’t it?!

TEA & TATTERED PAGES

Perhaps, then, it is the questioning itself and the journey of searching for their answers that are more important. An invitation to begin. How did you begin? What inspired you?

ALICIA CAHALANE LEWIS

I was so inspired by the conversations I had with my father, or overheard him having with others while creating this book length poem. He would bring the latest articles from Scientific American to the dinner table, and as a child growing up in this quasi world of nebulous beginnings, I listened to his scientific explanations with confounded scrutiny, because as you will also note, I was raised by a very spiritual mother and grandparents, and these two worlds often intersected in interesting ways. Rather than colliding, these two philosophies of our origins created distinct patterns of understanding that in the end didn’t really provide enough answers because the “answers” were all based on theories.

Not all theories have been proven to everyone’s satisfaction, and we rely on some form of faith to help explain ourselves in relationship to ourselves, to others, and to our world. So this idea that science and faith can come together to support and respond to the other interests me greatly. There have been too many absolutes created to offset the unknowns, when in my mind it’s still all unknown. Theories are explanations, but the mind can only grapple with so much information before it concedes to faith. I think there’s more to our origin that has yet to be discovered and there will be a day when our minds can accept this, then express it, and I hope to contribute to this discussion!

TEA & TATTERED PAGES

I may have asked “what is poetry,” but on the first page, you establish that “poetry is whatever the poet asks of the reader.” What are you asking of your readers?

ALICIA CAHALANE LEWIS

Good question! And thank you for asking! I’m asking us all to be mindful of each other’s theories, respect the differences, absorb one another, and then continue to question. It is the reader’s responsibility to question him/herself in relation to the language of the origins of our self in relationship to the world and the multiple worlds beyond this one.

TEA & TATTERED PAGES

And what would you like to leave your readers with?

ALICIA CAHALANE LEWIS

A huge thank you for your willingness to go exploring with me We’re pioneers entering a difficult time when duality is reaching a boiling point and governments and populations are tearing themselves up over differences of opinions. We’re all together on this small rock, and before we all lose our footing I think I’m asking us all to respect this rock, love the different theories, ask your own questions, and put one foot forward in love. It’s what we ask of each other and what we ask of God. Just love.