And Still To Sleep by Terra Olvr
And Still To Sleep is a collection of poems, prose, and black and white photography which touch on the impact and personal aftermath of transience, houselessness, and working under exploitative conditions. By untangling the weight of memory, And Still To Sleep weaves lucid recollections of past events throughout the wholeness and divinity of presence.
“In Terra Olvr’s collection And Still To Sleep, the past is not gone; it is alive in language and memories. Olvr gives an intimate look at a time of hunger, immense love, labor exploitation, dedication, uncertainty, effects of addiction, and houselessness. The period we are looking into is one of challenge, but in Olvr’s remembering, there is an infallible resiliency. Perseverance is about feeling one’s feet on the ground, even when the terrain is shifting. These poems take us through a whole cycle of change, and yet what never disappears is Olvr’s commitment to themselves. And Still To Sleep is the work of someone looking across the wild non-linear expanse of time, and sensing the interconnectivity of it all. Ancestral trauma is also woven throughout this narrative; the thread of remembering is constant. There is a pulse of connection with all that is in the world; just as there is a beat, a rhythm in this writing. The poem The Way reads like a song—whisper it to yourself and you will find yourself humming it, your foot tapping along to the musicality of the words. This collection is an acknowledgment of the rhythm constantly beating through life, on and on; the poems a place to both tangibly ground oneself and to become lost in the transfixing dance of non-presence.” — Lora Mathis, author of Instinct To Ruin
“Terra Olvr’s latest work And Still To Sleep is a journey through hours and seasons, through soft mists, a meditation on the mundane and mystical. There is a careful use of presence and place, both in the photos and the written pieces, that remind us of the ways we inhabit different spaces and how they reflect our own consciousness. It evokes a melancholy suffused with hope, a persistent optimism through trauma and pain. Olvr’s poetry, photography, and prose bind together to create a tender picture of grief, but also a divine healing.” — Catherine Garbinsky, author of All Spells Are Strong Here (Ghost City Press)
“And Still To Sleep encapsulates a multimedia story of healing in a way I’ve never seen before. Terra Olvr is a tender poet, utilizing landscape photography to further process a toxic bond from the inside out. Olvr turns outward in order to turn inward; they uncover the renewal of their spirit from the vibrations of Earth—trees, herbs. Their own heartbeat. They uncover purpose as place, and place as self, no matter the distance between the two. They grow roots that lead back to themself and continue to stretch into the next sunrise and the next and the next. And Still To Sleep leads us through a necessary journey through memory and resilience, stillness and self-compassion. A lesson in presence. A migration towards love.” — Kiki Nicole, poet
Terra Olvr is a Philadelphia-based writer, the founder / editor of Recenter Press, and a practitioner of Vipassana (a meditation technique which emphasizes “to see things as they really are”) and nonviolent communication. Most of their work explores unlearning toxic conditioning, mindfulness, working through experiences of trauma, and collective liberation. They were the Artist-In-Residence at The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu at The Great Wall of China in March 2017, and are the author of An Old Blue Light and Processes: A Meditation. They’ve lived and worked in various intentional communities, and spend a lot of time walking / writing / processing through wherever they happen to be. You can keep up with them on Instagram @terraolvr.
Written and photographed by Terra Olvr. Author photo by Nicholas Sese. 30 pages. Black & White. Published by Recenter Press in December 2018.