An Interview with Cate McNider, Author of Escape Velocity

Short Bio: Cate McNider is a multi-disciplinary artist, and a psychophysical practitioner and movement educator registered as The Listening Body®. Since arriving in NYC in 1985, she has expressed her healing journey through poetry, multi-media movement performances and painting. She has performed her multi-media works in downtown venues and Brooklyn, and exhibited her paintings in solo shows in the East Village and NOHO. Poems from her first collection, Separation and Return (https://www.catemcnider.net ) have been in several journals, in print and online. Escape Velocity is the follow up on the success of her healing practices. Cate still lives in New York. ( Check more information here –

www.catemcnider.net, https://www.bodymind.training, https://atmospherepress.com/?s=cate+mcnider )

1. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the title “Escape Velocity” and how it relates to the themes explored in your poetry collection?

If you will recall the poem itself, ‘Escape Velocity’, it speaks of the depth of the wound as the rebound potential to rise from it, transforming and transcending the wound. This concept borrowed from physics, as a metaphor for the ascendence from one’s pain and mis-understanding of separation from the whole, journeying to wholeness, of All That Is.

2. Your poetry in “Escape Velocity” delves deep into the human experience and explores inner self. Could you share some inspiration behind your choice of themes for this collection?

It’s a real process, a real happening within one’s self, that involves getting underneath the body-mind, and allowing one’s consciousness to expand. These poems are reporting actual experiences in poetic form. It’s explained in the Introduction.

3. Vulnerability is a recurring theme in your poetry. How do you believe vulnerability contributes to personal growth and connection with others, as portrayed in your work?

Vulnerable is just a state of openness and availability. We are all vulnerable, but over time we learn to mask ourselves in response to events that as children we don’t understand. We all acquire a persona, or mask to present to the world. Choosing to unmask one’s self to one’s self is essential for self growth.

4. In “Escape Velocity,” you mention confronting conditioning and stripping away layers of habit and illusion. Can you discuss the role of self-awareness and self-discovery in this process?

Becoming aware of one’s self, what one thinks and does, is the beginning of a long journey. Looking at ones thoughts, biases, opinions and habits gives you a clue as the clothing you have accepted along the way. To uncloak one’s self, and see clearly, you have to strip away ‘what you think you know’, which is addressed in many of the poems.

5. Love and understanding are transformative forces in your poetry. How do you believe these emotions can impact an individual’s perception of themselves and the world around them?

Love is the essence of this reality, the very fabric of our consciousness. Coming to understand who we are, and letting that essential substance of what we are, express itself is detailed in the poems. Coming to understand your self, you come to see the sameness of all behaviors across cultural boundaries. The more one understands one’s self, you understand ‘others’.

6. Your poetry invites readers to undertake their own journey of self-discovery. What advice do you have for individuals who might be hesitant to embark on such a journey of introspection?

Everyone is on their own timeline of investigating themselves. The shadows we cast and then cut and paste on another’s face, takes pain and questioning to come to realize what one is doing. ‘Do not delay,’ is what I say.

7. “Escape Velocity” is described as a call to action. How do you envision your poetry motivating readers to take action in their lives, and what types of actions are you hoping they will undertake?

I began meditating when I was thirty, albeit awkwardly, and painfully, feeling the inner agitation, and static within my body and mind. It’s not some highfalutin thing, it’s very simple. We can get trapped in our mind and all the material demands of the world, but material gains cannot pass that threshold of leaving this world; only knowledge and the experiences you’ve had go with you.

I put this work of self-research and examination into poetic form because it’s what I do. I share it because we are all affected by the mechanisms of the body’s mind. If we are to evolve beyond the stage of where humanity is now, we need to turn our attention inwardly and recognize no one is going to ‘save’ us but ourselves coming to understand our Self.

8. The notion of being the “Source of our own reality” is powerful. Could you explain how this idea shapes your poetry and the messages you aim to convey?

We have the power of free will, choice. Our choices shape our mind, molds our body, what our lives become over time. Our habits usually create our reality, and in undoing those, we can re-take our conscious control, and observe what is more clearly. The power within us can be squelched and we can disassociate from ourselves, which can default our power to others being able to manipulate us.

Reclaiming that power and responsibility, and dismantling the lies and illusions that we have accepted, is unveiling that we already are the source of our own reality. You already are, you just may not be aware of it.

9. Your work challenges readers to see the world with new eyes. How do you believe literature, particularly poetry, has the capacity to reshape perspectives and broaden understanding?

The compactness of poetry, and intensity of an idea or concept, provides an immediacy to provoking thought, and sparking beauty, in my experience. It challenges one to think, to unpack the poem, to look deeper inside the poem to understand its message and references. How one takes it of course, is going to be filtered through that person’s perceptions, as I state in the Introduction of the book. There are a number of poems that confront assumptions with humor.

So, breaking down that dependence on being right as a point of self security, is the beginning of seeing with new eyes, it has to be allowed, and vulnerability is right behind that. Eliciting questions and feelings within the reader, is to show them themselves, lovingly, and that’s all art can ever do, be a mirror, and instigator.

10. The concept of “Escape Velocity” suggests breaking free from constraints. Could you share a personal experience or moment of realization that inspired this concept in your poetry?

The personal experiences are throughout the book. Our spirit comes here and puts on the clothes of this reality; to really come to Truth, one has to undress to experience one’s self, within.

11. Escape Velocity” is described as a follow-up on the success of your healing practices. Could you elaborate on how your experiences in psychophysical practices have informed the themes and content of this poetry collection?

My experience as a bodyworker, somatic and psychophysical practitioner is the modus operandi that has allowed me to explore movement and study the mind-body connection, to heal myself and others, and the information became a source for my artwork. I’ve allowed the body intelligence to speak, and inform me of itself, this language goes beyond the mind, but then that’s where metaphor, simile, and essence can then articulate the experiences.

Digging in the body has been a treasure trove of undoing painful experiences, so that I can live joyfully. That is what I help others realize in my teaching practice, to help them uncover the habits and beliefs that cause tension, and to release that tension, to let the intelligence of the body heal itself, and to educate a person how to ‘get out of their own way’.

(Again, let me refer you to the poems. It’s all there for you to unpack within yourself.)

12. As a multi-disciplinary artist, you’ve expressed your healing journey through various mediums, including poetry, movement performances, and painting. How do these different forms of expression complement each other in conveying your personal journey and messages to your audience?

The concept of the idea usually presents itself in the form of what it is. I know when it’s a poem, or a dance, or a painting, or a sculpture or an installation because it shows itself in that form.

For example, the cover of my first collection of poetry, Separation and Return, ( https://www.catemcnider.net) is an oil painting of a red bird with a large blue human leg, and a small bird leg, with the bird’s eye looking very intense, trying to lift, to take flight with a very heavy human leg that’s weighing it down.

That image came directly from my body, while on the massage table being given a massage by a massage therapist friend, to my mind’s eye. The body’s mind delivered the image/symbol, to me whole, and I just painted what I saw. That’s who I was, a spirit trying to fly with this annoying weight keeping me from it! I danced because I had this energy I had to get out of me and I found not only freedom, and healing, but information that was stored within.

It has been a unique path, which has allowed me to break the confines within myself, that I have done. Academia, as I experienced in college, was all about defining within the confines of the mind, since then, I’ve been doing something else, un-coloring outside the lines.

As the painting of mine that I used as the cover of this book, ‘Turning the Page in the Living Book’, (22×28 acrylic on canvas, 2022) reveals, that book is alive, now — the poems have been lived!

With the publication of Escape Velocity, I hope the totality of my experiences can be tapped into for the curious to deepen their questioning; to present a way out of definitions, to invite them on a journey that is unwritten, non-verbal, and wholly theirs. To support the unknown as not something to be feared, but to be embraced, investigated and see from their own experience what that means, to pursue their questions honestly for themselves.

13. Do you have other writers in the family and friends?

My mother was a master needle artist and encouraged my pursuit of the arts.

My artist friends over the years, have mostly been musicians, dancers and painters. I’ve learned much from them and collaborated with a few.

14. What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book? What are common traps for new authors?

It’s such an organic process, and unique for each person, there are scads of books on this subject alone.

All would say is, be true to your curiosity, let it out on the page, so you can see what it’s trying to tell you. Pour those feelings out in any shape that fits it. It’s miraculous to see what is inside our imagination, what comes out on the canvas or the page!

You just step back and look and go, ‘wow, that came out of me!’ Let is show you — it’s a conversation. That’s what all my somatic work has helped me to do, to get out of the way, and let it speak.

15. Lastly, what’s next for you as an author? Are there any upcoming projects or themes you’re excited to explore in your future writing?

Themes present themselves.

I started writing a kind of novel ten years ago. I work on it from time to time, but it’s a big stretch for me from poetry to a novel. Poetry is immediate, and I’ll likely never get over responding to that lightning bolt.

I practice with short stories too. I keep going back to poetry, even though the novel is uniquely poetic, it’s just going to take more time to finish. As I revisit the manuscript over time, more comes to me that wasn’t accessible before. Poems though can hold worlds, and for that I am grateful.

I would love to have an agent with an imagination to support and guide me for future projects, but barring that, I’ll continue to practice the art of listening.

Discover the transformative journey within with Cate McNider’s “Escape Velocity” on Amazon. Dive into her profound poetry and uncover the power of self-discovery today.

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