May 17, 2017

Queen of Cups Issue Fifty-Three (Courtney LeBlanc and The Empress)


Weeping Woman, 1937, Pablo Picasso

Welcome to Queen of Cups Issue Fifty-Three (the final issue) featuring Courtney LeBlanc and The Empress. I can't believe we've reached the one year mark. Last year at this time QOC was rapidly accumulating subscribers but didn't even have the first writer lined up! That quickly changed and the publication schedule filled weeks in advance. I solicited maybe half of our featured writers, but the greater pleasure was in receiving new, surprising work during open submission periods. I feel so lucky to have been introduced to the work of writers I hadn't known about and, in turn, to introduce them to readers through QOC. Many of you have expressed disappointment that QOC is coming to a close after just one year, some have questioned why I would end now when it's really getting established. Besides all the reasons I've already given, I think it just feels right to end now. Queen of Cups will still exist in TinyLetter archive and in the personal archives of subscribers' inboxes. In consciously ending this phase I'm opening the door for the next adventure. I'll mostly miss touching-base with writers and readers around the weekly issue. I feel honored that several of you shared your creative journeys with me and opened up interesting conversations around navigating life transitions as creative, intuitive, empathic people. You've all been so kind and encouraging over the last year. But, I'm not going anywhere, and my QOC email is still up and running if you want to touch base. This week's tarot card, The Empress, is a hopeful and auspicious card to end with. 

Tarot Card of the Week: The Empress

The Empress: The archetypal earth mother, fertile, life-giving and abundant. The Empress, however, doesn't only represent actual motherhood, but the essence of creation and its sustenance through nurturing. She reigns over and responds to nature and all things connected with nature: rhythms, cycles, animals, growth and the sensual realm. Along with this, she is the emblem of abundance. When The Empress appears, we're asked to open ourselves to beauty, creativity, femininity, sensuality and connection with others, as well as to explore our capacity for nurturing self and others. Keep in mind that 'mothering' can take many forms and can be as simple as offering patience and kindness where it's needed. Empress energy also encourages us to reconnect with the natural world, especially if you spend the majority of your time in buildings, surrounded by manmade objects, synthetic materials, and artificial light. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that nature is our first mother, our true home. This is also a card of creative fertility, as creativity includes gestation, birth and nurture. With The Empress, we're almost guaranteed to find abundance wherever we look, in life and in the creative realm. To tap into this energy, we need to be open, generous and willing to connect with all that surrounds us, which is actually an apt metaphor for creativity. We can't put up walls, act out of fear, or overly control our environment if we want to fall in with the feminine energy of The Empress. We can't receive abundance if we're full of regret and worry. More than a 'go with the flow' card, The Empress is the flow. Find a quiet spot in nature this week and listen for the directives of The Empress. 

The Empress for Writers and Artists: I'm glad that the card I'll be leaving you with is The Empress. What better message for writers and artists than one of abundance, creativity and nurture. The Empress could be our patron saint of artists and writers and is also a fitting companion card to Queen of Cups. Following our natural creative rhythms and cycles, being tuned-in to sensory input, connecting with the world around us, and the ability for self nurture and kindness are all essential in any creative's life. But this is just one possibility of The Empress for writers and artists, one in which the focus is turned inward and on the self. In her truest form, however, The Empress focuses her talents for nurture, kindness and sustenance on others, as is the way with mothers. Self-mothering is essential, especially if that has been lacking in your life, but nurturing others offers its own rewards. I'm talking about true nurture and kindness as a human impulse here not co-dependency. In the arts, we often overlook the importance of connection while in the heat of competition. At writers' conferences and festivals, events created for coming together around and celebrating the written word, we often see a lot of preening, posturing, and personalities. The Empress can be our example and guide in supporting other creatives on their journeys, being real with one another, forming alliances around creativity and dropping our competitive stances. At breakfast with my fellow panelists before our event at the Mass Poetry Festival a couple weeks back, the three of us had a great conversation about our process from historical event to poetry collection. Each of us had written a collection based on a moment or period of history and each of us felt continuously drawn to history for inspiration. We talked about the differences in our approaches, the way we made connections, what threads we pursued, what piqued our interest and got each of us writing in the first place. It was such a satisfying and real conversation about our craft, one that many poets don't get to have even on a monthly basis. Whenever I discover another poet living in my area I'm always surprised and a little sad that so few of us know about each other. One of my fellow panelists lives a few miles from me, yet I've only talked to her face to face a handful of times. Chalk it up to being introverted poets and having busy lives, but it seems such a waste of potential. There's nothing quite like having an impromptu conversation about punctuation, or running into someone who's 'on the same page' and can share your appreciation when you mention Maxine Kumin, Kay Ryan, or Fanny Howe. I think that connection is one of the real reasons people put down so much money for conferences and MFA programs. Making a real connection with another writer over process, subject, or appreciation of other writers can be as revivifying as a productive writing session. I'm not good at getting out to poetry readings in my area because I'm a restless listener, but I'm always glad when I do. So I leave you with that thought to ponder. I like to think that Queen of Cups has promoted connection rather than competition, has fostered real conversations around art-making and what it means to be an artist. I've had fulfilling conversations about the rewards and struggles of creativity and balancing art-making and life with so many of you. As our last card, The Empress will stand as ongoing encouragement to connect, go out and have the real conversations, support each other, be kind, collaborate, keep creating and, most importantly, share the creative parts of yourselves. There's real happiness and power in the collective creative spirit!

Introducing Courtney LeBlanc!

Absence in Five Parts
Journal. Heart. Ring. Wine. Shoe. Dark. Darker. Darkest.
Heart: 1) a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood; 2) the innermost part of something.
Singular: denoting or referring to just one person or thing.
Darkness: the absence of light.
The dog searches
the darkest rooms
for you, the weight
of your clothes
in boxes, the singular
shoe, wedding ring
on the dresser, lamp
turned off, blinds
hang open.
Our home void
of fucks and shits.
Crying in gulps, not enough
air or too much.
No stupid
video game sounds
when I’m falling asleep.
No falling asleep.
No eating but wine,
too much wine.
I thumb
through my journal, try to capture
this empty,
write your name
over and over till I’ve become
the singular syllable of you,
the absence of light.
Pound my chest to jumpstart
your dead heart.
Nothing to ignite.
Left the hospital
with your clothes, wedding ring
in a brown paper bag.

Bucket Heart
You learned to play
the song of my (rib)cage,
clattered up the bones
that held my bucket heart,
filled in the gaps as best
you could.
The fissures that remained
couldn’t hold against
the tsunami you kept
as a pet, the chaos
you couldn’t control.
Once the storm surge
we’ll see if my chalk-
colored bones remain,
we’ll see if my bucket
heart has room
for you. 

Self-Portrait as a Thunderstorm
What the humid summer air
wants, to split open the sky
with my clap and my crack.
To draw people to windows
and porches to watch
as I streak across the sky,
piercing the black
with jagged white hot lines.
To finally break apart
and quench the earth’s
thirsty mouth, to end spent,
the sky a clear blue.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of chapbooks Siamese Sisters and All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and she is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix ReviewThe Legendary, Germ MagazineQuail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at, follow her on twitter:, or find her on facebook:

Weekly Writing Prompt: I pulled three cards from the remaining deck, none of which we encountered during the last year of QOC. Take these cards and create a reading, a character, story, or poem. If I had continued QOC I wanted to venture into three card readings. Traditionally the cards in a three card reading represent past, present, and future, but you don't have to use that formula. I prefer to let the three cards interact to form an intuitive whole. I haven't included any card meanings in case you feel inclined to write your piece based only on the images, but I've linked each card name to the website 'Learn Tarot' so you can read each in full.

King of Pentacles
Eight of Swords
Ten of Swords

The End!