Greetings, One & All~
Welcome to the new year! I’d love to hear what you’re up to this month; meanwhile, please enjoy some retrospective reflections and some upcoming highlights from Willyworld in this January issue of your A 440 Newsletter.
My Rhizome Renaissance Redwood Retreat, as I’ve taken to calling it, was a deeply connective and immensely enjoyable way to close out 2019; as one of the participants in my Myths & Masks workshop put it to me: you put the fun in profundity! Many thanks to the team at Canyon Ranch Wellness Retreat in Woodside, California for hosting both my weekend workshop and our kick-off concert with R. Carlos Nakai so graciously. I look forward to further creative adventures with this progressive wellness community.
photo courtesy Jenai Lane
For ten days beginning on Tuesday January 7th and ending on Thursday January 23rd, I will conduct my Myths & Masks Artist-in-Residency program with sixth and seventh grade social studies students at Continental School in Green Valley, Arizona. On Friday January 24th, I’ll conduct four Planet of Percussion assembly presentations of for K-2 students.
On Friday & Saturday January 17th & 18th, I’ll conduct Planet of Percussion world drumming workshops and participate in a collaborative faculty performance as part of the Common Ground on the Border event in Sahuarita, Arizona. There are too many artists, thinkers, writers, activists and performers to begin to name here, and too diverse a menu of activities to list, so please explore this ground-breaking event further at:
One of my new musical adventures for 2020 is a collaboration with Big Grin. The heart and soul of this dynamic new indie-folk ensemble is the guitar-and-vocal duo T. Greg Squires & Liz Cerepanya, who are more and more frequently joined by whiz kid violinist Danny Worms. My world-folk percussion debut with the band will be from 6-8 PM on Friday January 31st at Harbottle Brewing Company in Tucson, Arizona. The logo says it all!
The trance groove flute-and-drum album The Space Between Breaths by Shery Finzer & Will Clipman has continued to garner rave reviews and inspire discerning listeners around the world since its release on the Heart Dance Records label in late 2019. Among other accolades, TSBB finished the year at #16 on the Journeyscapes Top 25 Albums chart. Watch this space for mid-summer tour dates.
The avant-garde cello-and-percussion collaboration Wildly Ethereal by Michael G. Ronstadt & Will Clipman is slated for mastering and 2020 release as Volume Four of the Shaken Earth contemporary instrumental recording series. Recorded and mixed by Peter Dalton Ronstadt at LandMark Sound Recorders in Tucson, Arizona, these ten high-energy tracks explore a genre-defying realm where classical depth and improvisational fire collide: earth-shaking, indeed!
Wildly Ethereal cover art by Annabelle Ronstadt, age 2
On December 15th I was interviewed live for the Turtle Island radio show on KBUT-FM, a Radio Free America affiliate broadcasting out of Crested Butte, Colorado, by legendary Native American, Roots, Reggae and World Music impresario Dan Baynes. Much to my surprise, Dan was mainly interested in Myths & Masks, and our on-air conversation led to further discussions about presenting a weekend concert-and-workshop combo in Crested Butte. Watch this space for further news on that! More about Dan and his show at:
Poem of the Month
I ventured way outside my comfort zone with the creation of a new Mythic Persona Poem as part of the Woodside Myths & Masks retreat, and I’ve decided to climb even further out on that limb by sharing it with you here.
The Fire of Forgiveness
I am called Nampilc Yrneh Mailliw Vi.
Among the Sequoia People
I am known as The Fire of Forgiveness.
I am as old as the softening heartwood
of a fallen grandfather tree
sprouting its own miniature forest of moss and fern,
yet as new and unexpected
as an electric yellow banana slug
making its infinitely patient way across a footpath
in the aftermath of a late autumn rainstorm.
My story begins as the canopy of the rainforest
emerges from a cold coastal fog: dancing figures
with arms upraised in supplication and in celebration;
I find my purpose moment by moment
in the ceaseless choreography of creation, destruction and renewal.
I manifest in many forms: the white-hot flash
of a lightning bolt igniting tinder-dry wood;
the swirling blue smoke of purification
rising like a silent prayer from earth to sky;
the roiling black cauldron of a storm cloud
as it gathers inward toward release;
a shower of jewels pelting parched foliage;
a glistening fern impossibly green against a backdrop
of blood-red bark, yearning upward and out
in search of redemption.
My voice can be the rumble of thunder,
the freight-train roar of an all-consuming conflagration,
the polyrhythmic percussion of a deluge
punctuating the sorrowful susurrus of wind through the trees;
my song resolves in ringing silence and solitude
with no one else to hear, where to my inner ear I ask
if the forest can forgive the fire, who am I
not to forgive myself?
I dwell in the beating heart of the seeker
and travel an untrodden path through this landscape
of life and death, stopping to rest wherever shelter is offered,
but never staying in one place long enough to feel at home.
I live in the cryptic symbols of a language only I can speak,
but which can be revealed and read beneath the bark
of a beetle-killed tree.
My preternatural equanimity vanquishes fear,
the great soul-killer, and alchemizes courage and confidence
from the base elements of attachment and self-doubt.
I possess the power that is generated when opposites interact:
the power that drives the universal engine and enlivens all.
The Sequoia People revel in my rootedness, taking comfort
in the awareness of commonality and community I inspire,
yet each of them stands alone in a column
of individuality and uniqueness, ascending toward pure spirit
along a vector no one else has ever or will ever replicate.
My future is unknown and indeed unknowable
as I fluctuate endlessly and effortlessly
between order and chaos; I exist
in this present moment only: fearless and formless
yet firmly grounded in the embodiment of all that is.
If you call me, call me Nampilc Yrneh Mailliw Vi,
The Fire of Forgiveness. If you listen, I will answer!
© Will Clipman 2019
(composed at Canyon Ranch Woodside Wellness Retreat, 12.5-8.19)
Photo of the Month
This looks more like a deft Impressionist oil painting from a century gone by, but such is the artistic lens of Shery Christopher’s nature photography. Along with eyeball-to-eyeball roadrunner encounters through the breakfast room window. . .
Solstice Broadbill, courtesy Shery Christopher Photography
. . . and this astounding triptych of our resident Cooper’s hawk Harriet from R. Craig Clipman’s American Palette series, it’s been quite a photogenic winter solstice season here at Rancho Improvisoso!
Harriet Times Three, courtesy R. Craig Clipman Photography
~May our vision be 2020 in the new year~
If you find a place that feels like home, cherish it lovingly,
nurture it mindfully and protect it fiercely.
poet ~ percussionist ~ maskmaker ~ storyteller ~ performing artist ~ educator