Q&A With Charlotte Brady, Author of The Last Star
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m an international poet and writer living in Miami. I’ve been writing for many years and my main focus has always been existential questions. Who are We? How do we live? What is truth? What is love? Parallell to my writing, a spiritual practice developed. I started with yoga and meditation in the early nineties and I ventured so far that now I am at a place I can’t call spiritual anymore. Because in this realm all concepts lose their meaning. Now it’s simply life lived naturally without any particular beliefs, rules or needs. It's an utter simplicity. What is, is.
2. Give a brief description of your book, The Last Star.
You could say that The Last Star reflects the culmination and end of my spiritual search. It led to a language that is very plain and simple, and a seeing that doesn’t shy away from anything we encounter in life.
3. Why did you write The Last Star?
In a sense I didn’t write it. It wrote itself. All my poems are born out of meditation or contemplation. Sometimes it’s a voice that says a line in my head and then I just open myself to what is to come. This book was special because almost all poems arrived as they are. There is minimal editing done to them afterwards.
4. Is this book part of a series?
It’s the third book in the poetry trilogy The Golden Passage, which refers to my spiritual path. The first book, As Silence Is Your Witness, is mostly blissful (I actually struggled to make it less blissful, thinking that people might find it too light!). The second one, Midnight Transit, visits some darker places and the third one is open to everything in life!
5. The writing style of The Last Star is so expressive. Can you tell us about your methods?
As I said above, all the poems are born directly from meditation or contemplation. So I think they have a depth and a sensory awareness brought into language. I often feel that I am somehow able to translate the silence of being (or spirit) into words. Also, sometimes a poem can arrive while I’m walking my dogs! Formally, this book is a little different the other two in the trilogy since I'm not working with line breaks, which usually is typical for poetry. In general, for me it's always been content before form!
6. What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
It really wasn’t challenging at all. A few years back I stopped struggling with anything and allowed everything to be as it is. In some areas the shift was gradual, in others it was instant. The whole process with this book was totally enjoyable, every step of the way. There was absolutely no challenge writing it. What can be challenging is to live an ordinary, every day life, in your role as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, person, citizen, human being etc. That is what can be challenging, even if you let go of struggle. Because, well, life! I think I have mirrored some of those very mundane challenges in The Last Star.
7. What other books have inspired you?
In the past I read a lot of metaphysical, religious or spiritual writing. And the daily, crazy news cycle as well! Recently I have also rediscovered Japanese Zen poets and 500 century Chinese poets in a new way. I feel very connected to them personally and linguistically.
8. The Last Star is a great title. How did you come up with it?
It’s a reference to Buddha’s awakening. He was at his wits end toward the end of his spiritual search and decided to sit under a tree and not get up until he had realized the truth. It is said that he reached enlighten-ment as the last star faded into the morning sky. So that’s the meaning of the title. I should add that I see figures like Buddha, Jesus, Krishna like ordinary people. I don’t see them as representing a religion. To me religion is not important. It can even be an impediment. Things should never be taken at face value but always be investigated. What is important is how you let religion inform you in every day life. To make my point clear, some religious people become terrorists, others saints. Awareness is the key to truth. With complete awareness you can never slip into ignorance and hate. No matter what religion you belong to.
9. What is your favorite poem in the book and why?
Hm. I’m not sure… I know it’s my favorite book of all the ones I have written. I think. Leafing through, what about this one? I think it's cute in it's openness to life. And it's very short :-)
Everythingness, I am in love! I want you
for who you are.
10. What aspects of your own life helped inspire this book?
I think I answered this question in most of the previous questions! J But again: my own spiritual search for truth and freedom inspired it. It could not have been written otherwise. That search is also what the trilogy name The Golden Passage refers to.
11. What can readers hope to get from reading The Last Star?
I think, or hope, it will inspire people to be honest and aware. I think that it can show people a new way of seeing themselves and people around them. My hope is that it will give a glimpse into realms that are still unexplored within the reader. If they are open to it and want it, of course. (Hint: That’s where all the exciting stuff is!) If you choose, you can see the books in The Golden Passage as a spiritual companion guide. But you don’t have to be spiritual to enjoy them. As I said in the beginning, I don’t call myself spiritual anymore. Now I only use that word out of linguistic convention. For me there is no distinction between spiritual and worldly. Spirituality has no meaning for me anymore. So in a sense I am back to where I was before I even started poetry and yoga! But, of course, in a completely different way. It has been an amazing journey. And it’s one that never ends.