Tuesday, May 10, 2016

JOURNEY TO PLANET WRITE: Life Writes Itself

by Levi Andrew Noe
Most of my collected notebooks from age 7-27

It all started in kindergarten with my breakthrough story “The Bose Busbros,” (The Bossy Brothers).  It was my first typed draft of a semi-autobiographical tale. It chronicled a young boy whose elder brothers refused his right to hot chocolate and sent him to his room.

You could say I was always a writer. From the moment I learned how to shape words into somewhat cohesive sentences, I was telling tales, filling notebooks, and frustrating teachers with my illegible handwriting.

I haven’t deviated much from my hopes and dreams as a 9-year-old, as recorded in the notebook entry below left. Though experience has taught me those lovely lessons like cynicism, world-weariness, and the plight of the starving artist, my deepest hopes still place me as a would be “famous author.” I abandoned the visual arts, however, just after elementary school.

Middle school served to squash most of my passions and creative pursuits, as public school and puberty are so infamous for achieving. But in high school a new art form sowed its seeds in me: music. I was in a couple bands including pop punk, emo and/or hardcore, called Knester, Sell Out Boy, and A Call to Arms.  As arrhythmic and cacophonous as it was, in music the spark of artistic creation was again re-ignited and reimagined.

I was the bass player and backup screamer in A Call to Arms. We played house shows, dingy cafes and friends’ birthday parties. We were terrible, beyond offensively awful, but we played our angsty hearts out. Through music a new writing style emerged for me in the form of poetry. It was not my calling to play music, but music fuels, inspires, and moves me deeply, and I believe it permeates my writing to this day.

My college years came and I continued to grow, both as a writer and person. In those formative times I dove into academic writing right alongside dumpsters, beer bongs, and the bohemian lifestyle. Through it all, I found a deep affinity for every genre of writing. I graduated with a B.A. in English Writing and a minor in Holistic Health, but not before I took a semester off to hitchhike up and down the West Coast, sleep in bushes on the side of the road, and spend a few month at a yoga community in the redwoods of California.

It was those days, my wandering, unrestrained, wide-eyed early twenties in a perpetual existential crisis that formed the bedrock of who I am today, in my writing and in my personal philosophy. Post college, I continued in my voyage of discovery, but in a slightly more responsible way. I spent a summer in Ketchikan, Alaska working at a coffee shop, teaching yoga, picking berries, catching salmon and writing all the while. The jaw-dropping, infinitely astounding natural world is still probably the greatest muse for my writing.

In 2011, just after the great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I decided it was a good ideato go teach English there, just about 150 miles from Fukushima. Japan is a place so full of wonder and weirdness, tradition and contradiction. It certainly inspired a new era of writing for me. I began my first novel (still unfinished), as well as many pieces of every genre which I have placed into various manuscript collections (waiting for their time), and there I continued and deepened my love affair with haiku.

Following teaching in Japan, I took the long way home. I traveled through southern Japan, then flew to Bangkok, Thailand. By train, bus, van, boat, tuk-tuk, and motorbike, I made the loop through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. I spent a few months in SE Asia and it was no big deal, just totally changed me forever and was one of the most important periods of time in my life thus far.  Then I spent 1 ½ months in India, got my yoga certification in Rishikesh, swam in the Ganges (the clean(er) part), and saw about one thousandth of what I wanted to see of the Himalayas. Needless to say, this period of my life carved its story through every aspect of my being.

But home’s call is always strongest, and always pulls at the heart the hardest. I returned to Denver, Colorado as a new, worldly-wise, battle hardened, adult(ish) person.  I came with goals, with plans, with a new perspective, and some sense of what I came here to do in this life.

Since 2013 I have started and liquidated four businesses and conceived of dozens of others, one is still currently running and semi-viable. This business is Tall Tales Yoga, the merging of my three greatest passions, teaching yoga to children through storytelling. In addition, I have self-published four children’s books, and had a couple dozen short stories, poems, articles, flash fiction, creative non-fiction pieces published. I started the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival as another merging of some of my greatest loves: literature, music, and podcasts. To top it off, I’ll be getting married in July to a woman who is as perfect as any creature on this earth can be.

Life has had its ups and downs, but through it all, writing has always been my salvation, my torment, my obsession, and the most constant of all my psychoses. So, now that I think about i. Life has been pretty good to me, though I don’t always feel that way or appreciate the opportunities and experiences I have been given. I still don’t feel like I’ve “made it,” whatever that means. But I’m blessed in my own relative ways. And whether or not I become a famous author, a wealthy entrepreneur, or a successful human being, at least I can say I’ve done some shit, and I’ve given it my damnedest. Thirty might feel like a long life subjectively, but I know what those elder and wiser than me would say: “You don’t know shit yet."


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Levi Andrew Noe was born and raised in Denver, CO. He is a writer, a yogi, an entrepreneur, and an amateur oneironaut. Levi won first prize in 2011 and 2013 in Spirit First’s international poetry competition. His most recent or forthcoming works are in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Connotation Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Eunoia Review, Scrutiny Journal, and many others. He is the editor in chief and founder of the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival, Audio Art Journal.

Twitter: @LeviAndrewNoe, @RockyMtnRevival



5 comments:

Paul Beckman said...

Loved the life story, Levi. You''re always there to help authors with your Rocky Mountain Revival and your supportive words. You are a mensch and I'm glad I got to meet you and continue our association.

Kath said...

This is awesome. Levi is a creative genius. Loved learning more about him.

Jayne Martin said...

What an amazing body of experience you have from which to draw stories. You seem to have discovered your path and the fact that the heart always leads to way. I'd say you definitely know more than a little "about shit." A pleasure to read your story, my young friend. The Universe awaits to do your bidding.

Gay Degani said...

Thanks guys for comments. Appreciate it and sorry it's taken so long to respond. Hope you keep reading!

raw poetry by donna snyder said...

Great life, so far! Keep it up.Never stop writing.