Back in April, I was privileged to be interviewed by Robert Lee Brewer over at POETIC ASIDES. The entire process was uplifting and very well received. It was that impromptu chat that gave me the idea for WEB WEDNESDAY here on POETIC BLOOMINGS. We have been introduced to many familiar names and their poetic processes. But one name would not make the process unless I invoked the seldom used (and might I add, unwritten) “Administrators Prerogative”. Let me present to you an exceptional poet, a delightful personality, a sometimes nag (a term of endearment), the “Best Friend I’ve Never Met” AND Sophie’s Nonna, Marie Elena Good.
Marie Elena's Good Eye
First things first. One of MY favorite M.E.G. poems:
SUMMER TAKES LEAVE (A SONNET)
As earlier the moon begins to rise,
and sun sets in the peached and purpled sky,
so even birds and animals surmise
that fall is in the air — though slightly shy.
Don’t let her cool appearance disconcert,
for she can be as warm as amber‘s core.
Her sun, no longer brass, will toy and flirt,
as dazzling colors soon come to the fore.
As summer takes her leave, she bids farewell.
Yet I, for one, cannot feign grand despair.
She failed to cast on me her storied spell.
I’ll welcome autumn’s palette, and brisk air.
As summertime releases sultry hold,
I watch for autumn’s magic to unfold.
An appropriate piece as we near the end of another endearing and sometimes tumultuous summer. Hello Marie!
Hey there, Pard! I can’t believe I’m the interviewEE this time! I have to admit it is a bit intimidating. Now I know how our featured poets feel.
But, seriously, thank you so much for suggesting this interview. It makes me feel like a real poet! (Just kidding. Don’t look at me like that.)
You asked for a piece that I feel best expresses my style. It’s hard for me to choose between my two favorite writing subjects: children, and faith. I finally settled on a faith-based piece, written in verse.
TO BE WITH HIM
To hold His face between my hands
To feel His hand take hold of mine
To lay my head against His chest
To share with Him the bread and wine
To sing His praise in heaven’s realm
To hide my face against His feet
To gaze into my Savior’s eyes
Eternally, my joy replete
1. A good choice. Please explain your entry into the POETIC ASIDES 2009 April Poem-a-Day Challenge. From your perspective, highlight our “introduction”.
Since I really can’t express this better than I did “Across The Lake, Eerily,” I hope it is acceptable to reiterate my own words here. If not, I’m invoking MY Administrator’s Prerogative. So, ha!
It began with an internet post, declaring April as “Poetry Month,” and including an invitation to write and post poems to daily prompts. Write and post a poem each and every day. The entire month. Who does that? I shook in my shoes as, on April Fool’s Day (appropriately, I thought) I wrote and posted a poem for the first prompt. To say that I was intimidated by the number and quality of poems posted that day is a gross understatement. This was not only outside my comfort zone, it was way out of my league.
Several days into April, I read an endearing poem written by a proud Polish gentleman. To me, this stood tall among the outstanding. I went back to read his earlier posts, and I was hooked. From that moment, I daily searched for his name. I stuffed my heart with his laughter, wordplay, love, and loss. I let him know that he had become a must-read for me. His offerings never let me down. Several more days into the challenge, I discovered a post in which he praised my work. I couldn’t wait to share his encouraging words with my husband. What a thrill it was for me to receive affirmation from not only my own family, but from a truly gifted poet. It put me on a high, from which I haven’t wavered.
Obviously, that Polish gentleman is you. I remember the first time we ended up at Poetic Asides together in “real time.” What an amazing feeling! It was almost as though we were meeting in person. That actually ended up happening quite often, and developed into a time of fun banter.
I also remember thinking that when April came to an end, so would my budding online friendships … especially you, De Jackson, and Hannah Gosselin. Such a sad thought.
2. You saved me poetically through your support and encouragement, as you have supported and encouraged other poets. How has that outpouring of “Unconditional Poetic Love” been to your benefit?
That ship sails both directions, Walt. Your support and encouragement saved me poetically as well.
As for the “Unconditional Poetic Love” benefiting me, well, it most certainly has. The poetic community is by-and-large a charitable bunch. Timidly dipping my poetic feet (ha!) into the social pool of amazingly talented writers, I discovered that they are real people. The awe I exhibited in their work was accepted humbly, and returned with favorable feedback on my own efforts. This includes you, as well as De Jackson, Hannah Gosselin, Sharon Ingraham, Barbara Young, Patricia Hawkenson, Patricia McGoldrick, Pamela Cleary (PSC from CT), Salvatore Buttaci, Daniel Paicopulous, Daniel Ari, RJ Clarken, Amy Barlow Liberatore, Robert Lee Brewer himself, and others whose talent left me thunderstruck. This meant more to me than I can express.
3. You and I have established a relationship strictly through poetry that has caused us to both describe it as “the best friends we’ve never met.” And yet, we have come to know each other very well. We both know of many of our personal struggles and infirmities. And we still like each other anyway! What’s wrong with us? But seriously, how has that (has it?) inspired you in your writings?
As I mentioned, your support helped save me poetically. The fact that a poet of your caliber showed the least interest in my own attempts at the craft is motivation-o-plenty. You are the one who convinced me that I could look myself in the eye and call myself a “poet.” You never wavered in your confidence in my ability. But when you invited me to collaborate on a collection and website, it put me over the top. As we began posting “Across the Lake, Eerily,” I began to see a pattern of playing off each other’s work. It was as if we had begun to share a muse. Then I realized we had often done that at Poetic Asides as well. When we get in that “zone,” I feel like a kid playing chopsticks on Grandma’s piano with my cousin. Don’t laugh … that’s a good thing. And VERY inspirational.
4. As other poets interviewed here have alluded to, your writing has two very prominent influences: your faith, and a Good man by the name of Keith (an outstanding photographer in his own right). Touch on those two inspirations if you will.
I do not (will not, cannot) believe that the universe and all it contains happened merely by chance. I believe in a Creator of all that is, or was, or is to come. How could I not be inspired? I believe this Creator cares personally and intimately and infinitely. How could I not be inspired? I have experienced God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and generosity. How could I not be inspired?
God blessed me with a husband who looks at me tenderly, treats me lovingly, gives of himself wholly, and whom I love deeply. How could I not be inspired?
5. As an extension of that is your family. Your heritage is strong and firmly based in that principle. Your parents are still vibrant and nurturing. Your children are a source of great pride, comfort and joy. You’ve written about your Godfather, Jim Powers, and your cousin Jim (Punk) on numerous occasions. What makes those connections so vivid in your expressions of love for these wonderful people?
Respected by all
CROSSROADS (A sonnet for my cousin, with love)
Psalm 139:16. … all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
James E. Powers, Jr.
September 23, 1952 – November 19, 2010
He stands between the living and the dead,
as ailing lungs no longer understand
the expectations of a heart in dread,
not willing to let go of all it planned.
Though comatose, his mind exerts its will,
Not giving up, nor knowing how to cope;
As loved ones, keeping vigilant, instill
An ember of illuminating hope.
Sad we cannot return to days of old,
Of playing ‘til the streetlights called us home;
Now, heart-in-throat, we watch events unfold;
Our desperate pens add chapters to his tome.
Yet, God imparts His own life-giving breath,
to give eternal life that transcends death.
I was blessed to grow up under the nurture of loving and supportive parents, with cousins as close to my heart as they were in proximity (steps away), and with aunts and uncles who always welcomed me and treated me as their own. The cousin and uncle (father and son) described in the poetry above left us far too soon, and within ten weeks of each other. Anyone with a close-knit family such as ours can relate to the impact of such loss. Thankfully, strength of family bond is important to my own children as well. All three often express how fortunate they are to have so many quality years with their grandparents. That makes my heart smile.
6. Free Association: I’ll give you three words. Go on a rant! Sophia. Rose. Mavis.
Oh, Walt … this is a door you do NOT want to open, as I could easily write a response the size of War and Peace. I AM that obnoxious grandmother that compels people to roll their eyes and make excuses to part ways.
Sophia Rose Mavis
since you asked …
let me show you my granddaughter!
My husband Keith (“Poppa Keith,” to Sophie) said it all. He told my poor son (Brandon) to hurry up and get married and make us another Sophie. Fortunately, Brandon has a good sense of humor.
The magnitude of my love for this little one came as a surprise to me. A poem I wrote upon Sophie’s birth still best expresses how I feel. I’ll share that, and then I’ll promise to not continue rambling until you are down for the count.
PRINTS (Sophie’s Sonnet)
A woman knows instinctively, it seems,
Which moments will leave prints upon her soul.
Her future life weaves fabric through her dreams
And writes upon her heart, as though a scroll.
A woman thinks she knows what to expect
From pioneering moments in her world -
Anticipation of events’ effects,
And how her heart will feel as they’re unfurled.
Yet, there was I, as wholly unprepared
As if I’d never given you a thought.
My heart and hub were all-at-once ensnared –
I would convey in words, yet I cannot.
Sophia Rose: a gift from God above –
New life. New breath. New gift. New print. New love.
7. You have a strong background in Children’s Literature. How is that faring? Any Sophie Sunshine books in the offing? Does Marie Elena aspire to Silverstein status?
Actually, I would not call it a “strong background.” I took one online course, through the Institute of Children’s Literature. I believe it was the best ~$600 I’ve ever invested in myself. When I can afford the advanced course, I will take it.
Sophie Sunshine books? I like it!
As to Silverstein status, I can’t think of a better goal. Out of reach? Undeniably. Worthy goal? Unquestionably. When I first began writing (in 2008), I had no aspirations for publication. Then my ICL instructor (“The Great” Jan Fields) boosted my confidence, and made me believe some level of publication success was within my reach. I’ve since had a few poems published (one print, and several online magazines). However, my greatest surprise and source of unexpected pride came with the publication of my “Jeep and the Real Me,” a short children’s story published in the August 2010 edition of Pockets for Children. I’ve since been inundated with rejection letters. *sigh*
8. We have been graced by your acumen with the poetic forms, Haiku and Sonnet. Do you have a preference between the two? Which form do you avoid or at the very least, struggle with (Be kind to Sestina Fair)?
Graced by my acumen? *blush* You are too kind, my friend!
So, if Haiku and Sonnet were both about to drown and I could save only one, which one would it be. Hmmmm. For me, each of these forms comes as a challenge – each for different reasons. Pack a wallop in 17 syllables, or make a rhyme-loather say “aahhh.” I can’t really put my finger on why I get so much satisfaction from these particular forms, but I do.
Sorry, Sir Walt, but the sestina gives me hives. Reading a well-written sestina (such as yours) is a pleasure. Writing one? For my brain, it is torture, and ends up sounding contrived. Avoid writing sestina? You bet. It’s just so much work that I don’t get enjoyment from it. I am not proud of that fact.
9. One of your inspirations comes through your travels with Keith to the Hocking Hills. Some beautiful images have transpired through these writings. How important is location to your writing? What other places bring out the verse?
Actually, Walt, location isn’t important to me. The beauty of the Hocking Hills certainly wells praise in my heart for the awesome Creator. However, it’s the peace that stirs my muse. No phone. No internet. No television. No radio. No traffic. No responsibility. No distractions. Not that I’m easily distra
10. We have embarked on two rather successful collaborations: here with POETIC BLOOMINGS and our shared personal blog ACROSS THE LAKE, EERILY. Stretching our combined muse from Toledo to Buffalo has truly been an honor and a hoot! Are you ever going to be up for that chapbook we’ve discussed? What other projects are you developing? What would you like to do next?
You know I share your enthusiasm for our partnership! More than one poet has expressed a level of envy of our alliance, and how it has rooted and developed. If I was on the outside looking in, I would be a bit covetous myself. I do tend to pinch myself from time-to-time.
As for projects, I have several picture books and poetry collections I’m honing, and several for which I am searching for homes. Also in need of a home is a lullaby I wrote, and for which my father composed a melody. Marketing research is (to me) a necessary evil to endure if I am ever to publish my work. I would actually go so far as to say that I loathe it.
Next on my plate: I’m thinking once you and Cathy complete your current project**, we can start talking chapbook. Honest.
11. Can you share one bit of advice for your poetic cohorts concerning the propagation of this process?
Hmmm … tough question. I guess what I would say is to use what you have available to you. We have an advantage that was unavailable and unthinkable decades ago: the internet. Social networking, blogging, online magazines, and resources beyond imagination are literally at our fingertips. Walt, you and I figured out a way to spread the love around via this very site. We get such enjoyment from giving poets of all ages and skill levels one more venue to get their work out there. We are small now, but one never knows when our humble site could mushroom. If so, wonderful! If not, we are no less “propagating the process.”
Use what you have, put your heart into it, and let the results (significant and/or humble) happen.
… and find your own Walt.
Thank you dear friend for allowing me to give our readers a glimpse at someone I consider one exceptional person and poet. You kept me in this game through your support and encouragement. I owe you one!
**The collaboration of which Marie speaks is my collection of “I AM SANTA CLAUS” poems.
Based on that title, the poems describe the “every man” aspect of the Christmas spirit; the many faces of Santa Claus. I’ve been fortunate in developing another inspired connection to an old friend from High School, Cathy Milosevich Crepeau, who is a graphic artist and has agreed to illustrate this book.