Ashley Obscura's Ecstatic Wavelengths
"Do you believe in life after love?" I put a poll on instagram while listening to Cher. Ashley Obscura is the first to vote yes. This response, like her poetry, comforts. Love, she tells me, is her favourite feeling.
She remembers her childhood - "being in nature a lot and playing with it... making spells and potions out of mud and flowers and leaves and glitter. Growing up on the prairies, there was a lot of space to wander and a 180 degree view of the sky to get lost in. And sometimes northern lights."
"If I'm not living life in harmony with my heart then I feel like I'm failing," says the Saskatoon native. "But I don't believe in failure per se. I think so much can come of failing."
Growing up on the Canadian prairies (also known as the land of the living skies) made Ashley an imaginative soul. For her, nature is "a system where space is in love with space."
To this day, Ashley revels in the company of people who are are "goofy and wild." She describes the material world as trippy. I would have to agree. "We are all just vibrations, cells, DNA," she reminds me.
The thirty year old has lived in Montréal for 11 years (and counting). Québec's largest city is where she runs the literary press Metatron, writes, gives lectures, teaches and performs her vibrant poetry. She's taken up residence in a quiet area of the city called Outremont. "I moved here because it's the neighbourhood with the most parks," she explains. "I like to walk a lot."
The essential elements for Ashley's happiness are variety, spontaneity, and nuance. "I try and be as intuitive as my day allows," she says. Her modus operandi? To do and create things that attempt to awaken/inspire other people, particularly through the written and spoken word. "I organize lots of readings and teach workshops and give lectures on publishing and poetry," she tells me.
Ambient Technology reads how walking on a moving sidewalk feels. Everything is accelerated. I love you like the speed of light loves being the fastest known thing flashes across one page. The words suffuse glittery hope for a better world.
Many of the lines are like little incantations, easy for me to remember as I am going about my daily activities. "I want something to open / Without my having touched it" comes to mind as I am trying to line up the arrows to pop open a bottle of Tylenol. Or waiting disconsolately for the train doors to slide apart on my commute. Fans of Jenny Holzer will find themselves nodding in agreement with gems such as Some forms of transformation / Are just death, or Freedom from dependence on others / Is not freedom.
How do we know we are not alone? How do we experience people free from association? (Is that even possible?) Ashley generates meaning on her search and gives us a "radical experience of the existence of an other." And while it may not be permanent (or without struggle), it's constantly brilliant. A natural curiosity shines through this collection, showing how the author is always brought back to herself.
Ambient Technology is a book of moods, a book of ways, a book about waves. Obscura does not obscure her anguish or loss. If anything, you'll find you feel like she's talking just to you. Having a body is a scam. I felt that. But renewal awaits. This collection evokes the power of cookies from Subway, the secret lives of plants, and love above all else.
Keep reading to learn more about Ashley. //
RS: What is your personal philosophy in life?
AO: "This, too, will pass." Which is to say: life is subject to entropy, so there's no use getting too attached to anything.
RS: What are your political views in a nutshell?
AO: If we're not thinking or acting out of love or empathy, then we are likely wrong (my dad recently said this to me in conversation and I simply love it).
RS: Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
AO: I currently just put out two projects, Ambient Technology (a book of poetry) and Museum of Symmetry (a VR art piece). I'm now wanting to work on crafting a project that intersects somewhere along the lines of ASMR poetry and performance art. Idk though, I also want to play and enjoy the process. I’m no rush to arrive anywhere.
RS: What do you think young artists need?
RS: What are you into right now?
AO: Developing a skincare routine, everything Rihanna touches, Sophy Hollington art and Crystal Zapata design, OJC Astrology for tarot and horoscopes, Lvnea (amazing botanical perfumes made in Montreal), @ifyouhigh, NOX (an online luxury sex toy store two girls I know in Montreal started and are kicking ass at), cocktail bars, reading: Forough Farrokhzad, Clarice Lispector, Octavio Paz, Anne Boyer, CA Conrad, Delirious New York.
RS: Do you have any favourite scents?
AO: Hard to choose! I love the world of scents and am usually burning various incenses, diffusing different oils, and rolling different tinctures onto my wrists. The first scent I ever fell in love with was ylang-ylang. This summer I was really into jasmine. Right now I'm really into pine, cardamom, saffron, vetiver, orange.
RS: What's your favourite travel destination?
AO: Oaxaca, Mexico is probably my favourite place on earth. I went there feeling really broken and left feeling very in love with life. There were butterflies everywhere and the water was the most pristine and luminous ocean water I’ve ever swam in.
RS: Something that people never believe when you tell them?
AO: That Obscura is a real name. It's my mother's maiden name.
RS: What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
AO: Been born.
RS: How do you get out of a funk?
AO: It usually involves having a bath, buying groceries, a little bouquet of the weirdest flowers I can find, surrounding myself with good vibe/high frequency people, reading, writing or consulting the oracle. Like everyone, I also sometimes like to disappear for a couple days, order in, and live in my bed/bath.
RS: What do you find romantic?
AO: Everything can be romantic when attached to the right sentiment.
RS: When was the last time you felt truly happy?
AO: Telling the person I'm currently in love with that I was in love with them. //