by Timothy Pike
According to the parents of author and poet Allison Marie Conway, “cornucopia” was the first word out of her mouth. “Very few people believe me when I tell them this,” Allison says, “but my parents are the most trustworthy beings in all the universe, so I have to trust them on this.”
I, for one, definitely believe it.
If there’s one thing you can count on from Allison, it’s The Truth. Her own truth, that is, as near as she can tell it. Not only is it the meaning of her name (“Truthful One” in Gaelic), it’s the foundation of her entire career. “For me, what got me started was telling the truth,” she says. “A hungry need to uncover it and share it.”
And for years, she’s been sharing it faithfully with her blog readers, e-mail subscribers, and massive Instagram following. But perhaps her most significant career milestones are the two book-length collections of poetry and prose she’s published, with a third on the way. What she’s achieved over the years is all the more impressive when you consider her humble beginnings: a simple WordPress blog that she started in 2007. Now, her fan base is huge, and getting bigger by the day.
I can almost taste the words as I read. I’m serious—open Luminae to any page, and prepare to have your senses both assaulted and caressed at the same time.
This is due, in no small part, to the quality of her work. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up her debut book, Vein, or her follow-up, Luminae (“236 pages of pure heart and soul”), is that her poetry is just so…exquisite. Her verses drip from the page like a thick, sweet nectar, and I can almost taste the words as I read.
Seriously. Open Luminae to any page, and prepare to have your senses both assaulted and caressed at the same time:
In the place where love has never lived,
the mourning of love grows here:
spread wide and sodden atop the fading gravestone hills,
a cold nightwind gives birth
to a dying winter sky
I used to write like morning dew and now I write like the gray grass beneath the dying, always trembling, always on the heels of the ashes of leaving. Drinking the hips of melancholy static, this is the way I was sewn into a body which never quite fits.
(From “this time, away, away”)
I’m floored. How does she come up with this stuff?
“Whole poems come to me in a flash,” Allison says, “and I jot them down and keep going for as long as that vision will stay with me. I’ve learned to sit even longer with an idea than feels comfortable, because often there are layers upon layers of material I can mine if I stay curious and open.”
When she’s not writing, Allison has managed to build in leisure time in an effort to balance work and life, although she admits it’s not always easy. “The challenge for me is making sure I stay true to who I really am, stay connected to my own vision of the world and my place and purpose in it,” Allison explains. “I do this by taking regular extended breaks from social media to instead meditate, read writers I admire, draw, sing, journal, go on hikes with my husband, and spend time with family and friends.”
There’s a stark contrast between buttoned-up, corporate Allison, and Allison, Truth Seeker and Badass Mom who almost literally wears her heart on her sleeve.
While there’s plenty to keep Allison busy at and around her home just outside of Philadelphia, PA, she’ll have you know that there’s not much she really needs. “I love being quiet with myself, mostly,” she says. “All I need is a space of my own, time, and quiet.”
“And,” she adds, “coffee.” Of course. She knows herself well.
But then I ask Allison for a fact not many people know about her, and she hesitates. “This is a tough one,” she says, “because in my writing I tend to bare all, so I’m not sure.” But after some thought, she realizes that not everyone knows everything about her, and she suddenly zeroes in on what I consider to be one of the most interesting aspects of herself: “When people from my buttoned-up corporate job discover I adore tattoos and have many of them,” she tells me, “they tend to be surprised.”
That’s probably an understatement. Indeed, there’s a stark contrast between serious, day-job Allison, who works alongside the CEO of an aerospace company, and Allison, Truth Seeker and Badass Mom who almost literally wears her heart on her sleeve. The Allison who’s deeply introspective, but also fascinated by the human experience we all share. “I am captivated by all things spiritual, cosmic, and magic,” she says, in case you completely missed that while reading her poetry. That’s her Truth.
In 2006, Allison was blindsided by the loss of her mother. “It was like the wind got kicked out of me and I went sort of numb at the same time,” she says. It was only after a long period of time that she was able to gain enough perspective on it to start forging ahead. “This was the beginning of my blog called Glory Begin,” she says. “It was my turning my pain and grief and loss into inspiration, strength, hope, and joy. What has always moved me forward is that I never stop being curious about myself and the world around me.”
While Allison works hard every day to find her own Truth, she’s just as interested in helping others find theirs, too. “There is a core value I have never strayed from no matter what: Tell the truth the best way you know how,” she says. “Tell it straight, tell it with heart and conviction, and tell it with compassion, both for yourself and for the whole world, who is struggling with all the same things you are.”
“I am captivated by all things spiritual, cosmic, and magic,” Allison says, in case you completely missed that while reading her poetry.
And she’s fully aware that she’s not just writing for herself. “I write poems because they bubble up within me as messages both to myself and for other people,” Allison says. “There has to be at least one other person out there who has felt the same thing and maybe—just maybe—they need to hear me say it, too.”
As time goes on, Allison finds herself confronted with the tough decision of shifting gears professionally, but still embraces the possibility. “My writing has not always been one thing or another,” she tells me, “and when I know inside that it’s time to change direction or explore something new, I will lose followers, but that’s okay. There is always, always a next thing for me. For all of us.”
That may be, but for now, we still have Allison’s third book of poetry to look forward to, which she’s in the midst of compiling.
Whichever direction she decides to go with her writing, you can bet that decision will be deeply rooted in where she’s certain she needs to go—while knowing it will lead her down the right path, because she’s just that confident in the power of releasing intentions into a bountiful, benevolent universe.
“I’m the woman-girl who still believes in magic,” she says. “Who still believes that all of my riches are inside, waiting for me to find them through words.”
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