By Robert Laurence
In 1963, in Kansas City at the age of 14, Geoffrey Oelsner knows — “senses” would be the wrong word — without being told that his grandmother has a stomach ache. In 2011, in the Evelyn Hills parking lot, Oelsner witnesses a mind-bending telekinetic event, as the locked door of his parked car opens and closes itself.
Between these two remarkable events, Oelsner has lived a life, mostly in Fayetteville, in the comfortable company of the unusual, the baffling, the anomalous, the extra-sensory. He has collected the events of this unordinary life in his recently-published memoir “A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive.”
Geoffrey Oelsner will be the featured writer at the next meeting of the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street at 7 p.m. Jan. 29. The public is invited.
Oelsner calls his memoir a “parapsychological-autobiographical quilt,” full of experiences that some students of the mysterious and the occult call “high strangeness” — he correctly identifies one Tarot card out of a deck of 78 (1968); he heals a rash by touching the feet of a classmate (1970); camping at a UFO convention, he inadvertently pitches his tent on an old Indian burial ground and is told to “Get out” by the spirits of the place (1969); he sees a “frightful light” in the forest near Kingston (1980); he has a 70-mile out-of-body experience in the desert of New Mexico (1990). Highly strange, indeed.
“A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive” is, however, more than merely a memoir of telepathy, remote viewing, the out-of-body, the hard-to-explain. Beginning with a stay in 1969 at the Findhorn Community in Scotland, where one of the founders of The Community received planting instructions from the “divas” of the vegetable garden, Oelsner came to believe in what he calls “the possibility of consciously collaborating with nature to support and strengthen environmental harmony.” This human-nature collaboration culminated in 2011 when Oelsner formed the Psi-Sci Alliance, bringing together psychics and scientists with the aim of mitigating climate change. His memoir, then, becomes a call for unordinary action on various environmental issues.
The book is also one of poetry, as Oelsner interweaves his prose anecdotes with his poems of a related nature. “Once I camped out in an Ozark river valley and felt a creeping sense of something very wrong . . .” he writes in “For the Trees and Julia Butterfly Hill.” “First Ways of Flight” begins “I found a wakened way to fly my slightest dream across the prairies, wireless tree to tree . . .” And as a collection of poetry, the book serves as a complement to Oelsner’s 2009 CD “Ordinary Mysteries.”
Join the OPWC at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Nightbird Books as Geoff Oelsner reads from his memoir, recites his poetry and sings and chants, with accompaniment by his partner Leslie Oelsner on recorder and guitarist Greg Salerno. Before and after, there will be an open microphone where writers may share four minutes of prose or poetry with the audience. New readers and new listeners are encouraged to attend, with the reminder that OPWC does not censor, the themes may be adult and the language, on occasion, rough.