This week I have the joy of featuring a natural talent (“nature” being key here), Hannah Gosselin. Hannah is a young woman I’ve grown to know and love (yes, love) since meeting her at Robert Lee Brewer’s 2009 Poetic Asides April Poem-a-Day Challenge. “Sweet Hannah” is possibly the first (if memory serves) poet for whom I wrote a poem. Her amazing ability to express nature inspired the following.
Naturally Hannah (By Marie Elena)
She whispers scenery
onto the page,
and into my mind’s eye.
Visions of nature
so exquisitely expressed
that I see the play of
color and texture;
hear the song of
wind and water;
smell the scent of
earth, and all therein.
No flat black words
against white page.
She whispers scenery.
Pouring over three years of her exquisite poetic thoughts has been an absolute joy to me. For me, a very recent piece of hers entitled Patience embodies the heart of Hannah’s poetic soul:
Patience (by Hannah Gosselin)
Even as their arms stretch to grow,
they know when to twist, to curl
to grab and pull themselves forward.
There’s something for the learning
for the receiving in the observing
Morning Glory’s very pattern.
Patient lengths reaching upward
understanding when to reject
the aching urge to curl,
accepting the ancient answer.
In persistence, pursuing
each leg of this tenuous journey,
joyfully, pushing toward the light.
Bud pods discard their dewy garments
not a mere moment too, soon
tasting the early air on first opening;
layers peeling, revealing soft sheets,
unfolding like inside out origami,
morning in all its glory, out pouring.
© Hannah Gosselin, 2012
The above stunning piece was written for Poetic Asides April PAD. The poem below, Hannah’s own choice to share, was written for the same challenge.
Words, like fresh krill,
crunch between teeth.
formless in one’s mouth;
heart-filled, briny, beating,
waves candid, thick with clue.
Wind dismisses reason,
directional tool presented
in poignant length, starfish arm;
allowing space to translate.
Sun, shadow of distant moon,
Earth, hearing heated core,
water, ever of the waves,
tree-line, of towering timber;
deep calling unto its’ own.
Heeding the hand of nature.
Lost to the cause of preparation,
willing of the written word.
Listening with wide heart,
mindful of each beat,
hesitating, as she implores.
© Hannah Gosselin and Metaphors and Smiles, 2012.
MARIE ELENA: Both of the above are simply outstanding, Hannah, and represent you perfectly. You just recently began blogging (yay you!). The title you chose, “Metaphors and Smiles,” nods to the warm smiles for which you are known, and is a delightful play on “metaphors and similes.” Tell me, please, where this clever title originated.
HANNAH: So back in the beginning of November 2011, I began to get my gumption up to start a blog. I’d been noticing many in our writing community who have blogs, and it seemed to me to be a fulfilling avenue to connect with other writers. I had been speaking with Walt of our very own “Walt Woj,” and he graciously extended the offer to help if I had any questions in the process. He had been struck suddenly with Metaphors and Smiles. This is a snippet on what he had to say about it.
Walt says and makes my heart happy on Jan. 29th 2012, while discussing blogs with Pamela S. Cleary and I: “The more I see your blog title, the more I have to smile. But not for the reason you think. It just fits you and what you do. Metaphors and similes go together like Gump’s “Peas and Carrots.” But the smiles are purely Hannah. You get the credit for that. It made the suggestion just an after thought. Smile on, my Maine friend!”
MARIE ELENA: Mega kudos to Walt! It really is perfect! So, what made you decide to blog, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
HANNAH: I hope to gather a body of work that represents me well, then perhaps move forward to publish a book of my poetry. I’ve also enjoyed writing some short fictional pieces. These works usually contain either a spiritual or moral “goody” that I plant with the hope that people will be uplifted or glean something. I thought I might make a separate book of short stories with those someday, too. The short fiction has been inspired as of late by the Flashy Fiction blog that I have been co-administrating, but the writing of short stories actually preceded even my poetry writing when I studied through ICL (Institute of Children’s Literature), back in 2009.
MARIE ELENA: Hannah, you have over 400 followers! How on earth did you get so many in so short a time? Got any secrets you can share?
HANNAH: I’m not sure how I gained so many followers!! I have some blog followers that make up about thirty and some comment followers but the majority of the readership is coming from facebook. Unfortunately the details on those people are vague, and I’m not sure how they count it, it may be people that have only clicked and read one poem of mine but are not necessarily “following,” me per say. Either way it is a boost to the ol’ morale to see the readership number rising. It makes one feel as if they’re being heard.
So, you would like to know my secrets? I think one of the most important secrets has been to write every day and venture out into the world of blogs who prompt with the purpose of connecting and sharing with other poets. Back in February of this year, after a month of writing small stones with WOWH (Writing Our Way Home), I began stalking our very own De Jackson!! She had shared a link with me one day when I was in a place that I needed a bigger, poetic, fish bowl. Ever since then I’ve been tagging along and, while being blessed by her words immensely, I also have gained knowledge of a plethora of blog prompting places that she frequents.
MARIE ELENA: If there is a better plan than stalking De Jackson, I sure don’t know it!
Hannah, you mentioned your writing course through The Institute of Children’s Literature. Had this been a brick-and-mortar institution, you and I probably would have met! How did you hear of them? Can you share some of what you learned?
HANNAH: I know, Marie!!! I often think about the fact that we very well could’ve met had this been a physical place that we’d attended. The fact that we both began writing at Poetic Asides for the first time at the same time always amazes me, too! I think it was inevitable. We were meant to meet each other.
I remember well the day that I received in the mail a brochure for ICL. I was sitting on my porch, while summer bursting forth all around me sung of growth and promise. My son, Caiden, was playing with his Tonka trucks in the sand box, while I sat reading an invitation to become the writer I’d always dreamed of becoming – I felt that it was surely a possibility.
I wrote the sampling after being inspired by one of those bubble machines that make huge iridescent bubbles: I created a story of a boy who was able to step in to one of the magical spheres, and he went on an incredible journey to many different places. Well long-story-short, they accepted me! I felt so proud and excited! It was the first step I’d taken toward furthering my education after high school, and my heart and mind were hungry.
I learned that I write lots of run-on sentences, and that I don’t always put commas where I should!! Yes, I learned that technically I needed to learn a lot more to write properly, but at the same time I learned that I had what it takes to create stories in the creative aspect of it all. The Institute taught me a lot about how to create believable characters, natural dialogue, and conflict. Grammatical teaching was provided, along with the means of learning how to research the market and submit by query letters to magazines. I bet this is really just the tip of the iceberg, but generally I feel this is some of what we touched on.
For me, this had been a huge step in the direction of just getting back to writing. I have not taken as much of the initiative as I probably should in submitting and getting my writing “out there,” but at least I’m writing again.
MARIE ELENA: Your “bubble” story sounds like great fun for a child to read. I hope you polish it up and submit it.
So, when and how did you begin writing poetry?
HANNAH: When I was a little girl and up through my teen years, I enjoyed making cards and writing poetry in them for family member’s Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. I began writing poetry in high school in 1995, my sophomore year, and wrote till I graduated. Then I got caught up in a whirlwind fury of life without boundaries and only wrote random scribblings that really made it no farther than a scrap of paper, napkin or a much neglected journal. This is one that I found recently that kind of surprised me.
May This Be Credence ~1995 Hannah Bowles
An old barn in a sea of snow,
a sunflower stretching upward to grow,
a sleepy willow stooping in shame,
and an innocent colt ready to tame.
An endless journey, the destination
A heartless ploy, the result
I remembered upon reading this exactly how I’d felt after writing it and after sharing it. I did not getting the response I’d expected, and I felt let down. At seventeen, I really felt good about this poem.
I began to write poetry again in April of 2009 for my first Poem a Day Challenge, and I haven’t stopped since!
MARIE ELENA: I understand your disappointment in a less-than-enthusiastic reaction to your poem, Hannah. That poem is skillfully penned, and bares your heart. I’m glad you decided to give poetry a try again in 2009.
Given a choice, would you spend your time writing poetry, or children’s stories?
HANNAH: Well, that is a hard question, Marie. I enjoy poetry because it is such a tangible way for me to write. Poems are buoyant little spheres of inspiration with an easy to attain beginning, middle and ending. Stories, on the other hand, can be sort of daunting and time consuming. Yet the feeling I get after weaving a story successfully is a different fulfillment than that of writing poetry. Hmm…I’m leaning toward poetry, but that is because I could cheat and write many poems that tie together, and then I’d really be writing a story anyway. [Big smiles! ]
MARIE ELENA: That’s downright sneaky, Hannah! I do love “buoyant little spheres of inspiration .” So Hannah-esque!
And here is a Hannah-esque quote of yours: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” ~Anne Frank. This is so YOU, Hannah!
This might be a silly question, but where does your intense connection with nature come from?
HANNAH: This quote resonates with me deeply, Marie. I feel that from a young age I was encouraged to see the beauty in nature. Between my mother and grandmother, I was taught a lot about what is out there in the natural world.
When I was eight, I longed to be a veterinarian. I simply adored animals, and felt as though there was an unspoken understanding that breached the barriers of language between me and them. My parents nurtured this interest in one way by purchasing for me a gorgeous set of children’s books written by James Herriot with the most exquisite illustrations. The writing in these books is extremely earthy and utterly delectable, in my opinion. I treasure them still to this day.
I grew up mostly in a rural area: an island that my heart calls home, named Georgetown, in Maine. I spent eleven of my most formative years growing up there, and I believe my relationship with nature deepened then. I feel fed by the time that I spent and spend there – images still held vividly in my mind from many different times while there.
The thing that amazes me is that in the beauty and wonder – the awe of it all – in this lays, I believe, hidden messages that can be learned. The poem [“Patience,” shared above] that I just wrote today, Easter, explains what I mean by messages or lessons.
MARIE ELENA: Ah, those life lessons. Hannah, you’ve shared with me the role alcohol has played in your life. Is there anything about those dark days and what you learned from them that you can share? How did you get away from that hold, and what effect has it had on who you are today?
HANNAH: I believe that individuals are the product of their upbringing and environment, and that we all as beings have the choice to learn from our circumstances and either grow and gain, or wallow and succumb also to the same sorts of traps as previous generations.
Unfortunately, for a time during high school and off and on to varying degrees of heaviness, I fell into a very unhealthy pattern and diluted my person hood with an alcoholism that I loathed and longed to overcome. Until about four years ago (or maybe a little more, it feels like forever ago), coincidentally, or not so much of a coincidence really, this happens to also be when I began to be serious about writing again, and when I began to listen to my heart and ultimately the Source again. Once I got a taste of truth and the clarity that it brings, I could never go back to the way that I was. I will never allow myself to dwell in an ancient past of hurtful wrongs caused by generations of missteps. So, really what this means to me, is that I’m throwing a wrench in the chains of an inevitable repeating history (hopefully, considering free will and the poor direction of this nation’s morals, but that’s another topic, wholly).
MARIE ELENA: Wow, Hannah, I love this: “grow and gain, or wallow and succumb.” That says it all, doesn’t it? I’m so thankful you were able to grab hold of the reins that could help stop the cycle.
And speaking of “grow and gain,” something happened to you in the middle of the April 2009 Challenge. A walk. A name change. Care to share?
HANNAH: Oh, the BIG day!! Yes, I’d love to share! My high school sweetheart and I “tied the knot!” We have been together since 1997 and had been through it all including giving birth to and bringing into this world our first son, and we decided that we should probably make it official. My husband, Marcel (AKA Marco), is such a beautiful soul. He’s my best friend, and I was so happy to share, finally, his last name – bringing the three of us together in a oneness that was truly heart-bursting.
MARIE ELENA: Then three became four. Tell me about your sweet boys!
HANNAH: Oh, those boys!!! We ALL know how much joy our babies bring to ourselves and the lives of others. I’m constantly getting “looks” from people in big-box-stores for making crazy baby faces at other people’s children! So fun!
So the five-er is Caiden, and he is a fire-cracker! He recently gave me quite a scare and needed to get a bump on his head glued shut, super scary to this mama heart. Also, a real eye-opener, in that I never want to take for granted these beautiful lives I’ve been gifted for our time together here on Earth. Just a simple slip on pin-needles while running, turned crazy quick. Caiden is a budding artist and has the sweetest heart!
The baby is Leland, I’ve always thought it was a neat coincidence that you have a Leland in your family, too, Marie. Not a very common name – we heard it on an antique program. My husband and I perked up and looked at each other – we knew that was to be his name. Leland is eighteen months old and is learning so rapidly. He is such a mellow guy, has just learned to give kisses, and has whispered his first, “I love you,” = melted puddle of heart!
Here are a couple of pictures that I think are wicked cute that I knew you’d enjoy, Marie, and that I thought the rest of our writing friends would like, also.
MARIE ELENA: “Melted puddle of heart” and “wicked cute,” in back-to-back sentences. You know I love it! And “… beautiful lives I’ve been gifted for our time together here on Earth” speaks volumes of how much your boys mean to you.
I believe the following poem describes the scare you mention above. As is typical of your poetry, this piece is complete, well penned, and emotive.
One Ordinary Afternoon
It really could’ve been any ordinary
sun-filled, fun-spilling late afternoon
at the local playground in our town.
We may have chosen to drive
rather than five-er ride scooter
and baby bounce in the backpack.
It just as easily may’ve happened
to be an uneventful trip, regular slips
on slides and swinging extra high,
brave souls trying fire-men poles and
newish babies bearing, wiggly-bridges.
The added element of glass-filled woods
from neighborhood kids-being-kids,
sets of steep ledge bordering the play place,
could just as easily not exist, but they do.
Five year-old boys could not enjoy
the challenge of grappling “mountain,” walls,
but this one does and he did it quite well, too.
But he knew his mama didn’t approve
of his whereabouts and the “look,”
brought him swiftly, running, tripping,
headlong falling into unforgiving rock.
My innards could’ve easily just flopped
right onto the ground at the sound,
my baby’s head meeting hard gray matter.
The resounding smack could’ve not imprinted
indelibly in my brain, but it certainly has.
My feet possibly never touched down
in covering the space to get to him,
(Still too long), my thoughts wouldn’t stop,
telling me repetitively what I already knew,
it was going to be bad; his sudden jolt,
pause of silence before the outburst.
Blood filled-in strands of bright-blonde hair,
pooling and spilling as I gathered him up,
searching my mind for the next steps.
In moments I could’ve easily lost track of
baby number two, sitting-eating woodchips.
My best friend, whose daughter happened
to be happily playing near-by, could easily
not be living a hop-skip-jump from there.
Anyone easily may’ve not noticed anything
as a woman ran wildly with flagging,
faded, dampened dish-cloth in hand,
with her neighbor who just happened to be an RN
both appearing next to me, breathing smoothly;
taking it all in and with looks of confidence,
melting the panic-stricken, fear inflicted feeling.
Swept up in the wave of compassion,
we could’ve not been gathered up so quickly,
sitting in a van, covering distance to the ER;
glue for wound and glove balloons
to divert his aching attention away .
I could’ve also never acknowledged
the rising-welling, the surprise
in the willingness of people who helped.
All of this was surely, purely an eye-opener,
a penetrating, unnerving reminder,
just how precious our very lives are.
This scar will be more than a pink dent
in the head of a sweet, smiling, beacon of a boy.
© Hannah Gosselin and Metaphors and Smiles, 2012
MARIE ELENA: You are one whose faith shines brilliantly! What does it mean to you, and how does it affect who you are and how you write?
HANNAH: Thank you, Marie, I don’t hear this all that often, and when I do it always surprises me. I suppose it means to me as a being that I place my faith in something much bigger than myself, and anything that my mind could conceive. It means that I will seek strength, peace and above all I will look to Love as the answer, the “cure-all,” in life situations.
As a writer this means that I try to heed the mighty compass and let my words be directed divinely, ultimately, though it doesn’t always go this way. But I step into the creative realm daily and, letting go, I trust that the words will be there. It is both comforting and invigorating to know that I needn’t always rely on myself, but can gain from the Source if I’m an open circuit.
MARIE ELENA: My usual end question is this: If we could know only one thing about you, what would you want it to be?
HANNAH: If you could know only one thing about me I would want you to know that I’m just a shadow of who I’m meant to be. So to expound upon this a bit: I’m trying every day to become more like what was intended for me, before I got in my own way. I long to bring to the surface the essence of what was planted, preordained. I wish, with all my heart, to return to the state of unhindered and unchangeable Love.
Is that more than one thing!? Ha ha!
MARIE ELENA: Thank you, Sweet Hannah. As in everything in life, your joy comes across in this interview.
… and one last thing: You are wicked cute!