Sol Spotlight July 2003
"It's No Fun Being Normal"
|SOL: Do you feel there is any difference between poetry
written by adults and poetry written by adolescents or young adults?
LIDIA: I believe there is a difference. When you write poetry you more than likely are writing about problems you can't solve, things you don't understand, or some kind of deep longing. This varies between ages since at different stages in your life you have different obstacles to face and write about.
SOL: What, to you, is the importance of poetry?
LIDIA: Poetry is one of the many ways that you can express yourself, get things off your chest, or say something abstractly without being blunt. Preteen/teen years can be rough; a time when you are searching for yourself, being torn in so many directions, and feeling the brunt of all the pressure from everyone. It all happens very fast and at the same time. This is an important time to write poetry, because you can learn about yourself when you just relax and start writing whatever's on your mind. It's a great way to channel stress, anger, frustration and the occasional happiness into something productive.
SOL: When did you discover your inspiration for writing?
LIDIA: My three intermediate school years were tough; it's when I found myself, what I really wanted out of life, and how to stop listening to what other people think long enough to listen to myself. When I talk with my friends, most of my input is with a few words and a ton of gestures and sounds. Good friends say I can communicate almost telepathically. (Strange, I know, but hey, it's no fun being normal.) I had to express my thoughts and feelings, and knew I couldn't just tell people, because it would just come out wrong. I had to find some other way; that's when I started writing. I've always loved to write but I never put anything personal into it until then.
SOL: How do you feel your view of the world influences your writing?
LIDIA: My view of the world can sometimes seem very cynical and disgusted. I like to look at humanity/the world as a non-human creature would. Prominent in my poetry is a very objective yet self-conscious longing to fit in somewhere. Others might see this as loneliness; I've yet to meet someone who understands that you can be alone but not lonely. Many times I incorporate a message that normally people would think one way about, but the way I present it, using my own view of how things are, they may think of it in a new light. Like what Aesop did with his fables...only the king had him burned in the end...
SOL: How do others influence your writing?
LIDIA: Anything and everything influences my writing, like the other day in band we were having this playing test and I was so nervous and my friend kept poking me and saying "don't mess up, don't mess up," so of course I messed up. But it inspired me to write a poem. My English and Latin teachers don't necessarily inspire my writing but they inspire me to write. As with family members who keep telling me I need to publish some of my stories and poems. I'll get this feeling in the back of my head and after a few days it'll turn into a color or a picture which will tell me the ambiance of what I'm writing, but it won't be there at the tip of my pencil yet. After a few days I'll wake up and have the first few words, if the words come to me before my alarm goes off then it's usually a story, but if it comes up with the sun, then it'll be a poem and I'll probably write it in Algebra or Geography.
SOL: What goals do you have for the future?
LIDIA: I would love to be a professional musician (I play flute and am learning violin) or a conductor, or both. Music is my truest passion. As much as I love to write, I've never felt freer than when I'm playing. If I'm not good enough for a really good music school then I'd like to go into Photographic Journalism or Artistic Photography. There's something so beautiful about taking pictures, like you're capturing a moment in time. But I will keep writing and hopefully publish some of my works.
Lidia Chang won the Youth Division of the Bay Area Writer's League Conference two years in a row, first for a story, then for poetry. She is a member of the National Honor Society, and has received a Scientific Reading Award, many Band Awards, and a Best 100 yard Freestyler Award. Lidia was born in Pasadena, TX, and has lived in Houston, but spent much of her childhood in San Jose, Costa Rica. She currently resides in Seabrook, TX, and is a freshman at Clear Lake High School.
Sol Spotlight January 2003
"Seeing The World Sideways"
Where does poetry come from? It varies from one poet to another. My driving force is curiosity. I live by the mongoose motto: "Run and find out." I'm always getting into things. I want to look, listen, touch, taste, smell. I write for essentially the same reason I breathe: because I must, because it is my nature to do so. I can't not write. I write constantly. Everywhere I go, I carry pen and paper with me, so I can jot down ideas as they come. The simple process of moving through the world - or perhaps of the world moving through me - generates poetry.
Often I start with just a core concept - a pretty turn of phrase, a little detail that caught my eye. Then I explore that and see where it takes me. I also love the flourishes that make language, and especially linguistic art forms like poetry, so much fun to use. Some of my concepts come from individual words, their history and current use, and I draw inspiration from the natural world.
Sometimes I work from the other direction; I enjoy experimenting with new forms of poetry. If I see one I haven't tried, I usually want to try it, so just looking at forms is inspiring. I just plain collect words. I have an enormous vocabulary, and it's never enough; I'm always interested in discovering new words.
I'm fascinated with the diversity of language. I love being able to find exactly the right word out of a dozen synonyms to fit a specific situation. If I don't like the first term that comes to mind, I can think up a whole bunch of alternatives; hence one of my nicknames, Thesaurus Breath. English is delightful for this because it borrows words from so many other languages. It's fun to see what concepts English doesn't have a word for, and then figure out an elegant way of saying it. If I can't find an existing word or phrase to express an idea, I invent one and define it in progress.
On a larger scale, I have many favorite styles of poetry. I write free verse most often because it goes a little faster than most form poetry and it's completely flexible. But I'm also a huge fan of forms. I write ballads because they adapt well to a wide variety of topics and rhythms. Forms give a poem structure, an underlying foundation I can work with or against as I layer sounds and images.
Each poem has a certain character that wants to express itself in a particular way. Other ideas demand a specific rendition and nothing else will do. I feel topics that make good haiku don't make good villanelles, for instance. Weighty ideas often do best in a firm structure; introspective or whimsical ones need more room to wander. These choices rely on a poet's skill.
In my experience, many aspects of poetry are teachable but some are not. The parts that are harder to teach, or impossible to teach, are the equivalent of perfect pitch for a musician or color sense for an artist. You can't create what you can't perceive. Almost anyone can learn to write some sort of poetry. Creative folks in general, poets in particular, have the acrostic eye, or an ability to look at the world a little bit sideways.
The first thing a poet needs in this regard is the ability to spot things that would make a great poem. The second thing a poet needs is a good ear for language. You also need a spark of originality, a knack for thinking up things that are just plain new and unusual. It tends to come down to the technical and the emotional. You need both to excel, but not necessarily all of each to succeed.
One of the things I love most about poetry is it has rules, but they're flexible rules. The concept of poetry itself is ineffable. It's like smoke. You can carry it in a jar, but you can't nail it to the wall. You can teach some of it, you can learn some of it - but not quite all of it. If it made total sense, we wouldn't love it half as much.
Elizabeth Barrette lives in central Illinois with her partner Doug. She has written poetry for most of her life, and her favorite fields include nature, gender studies, and speculative fiction. Her previous publication credits include "A Steed of Steel and Silver" in Mindsparks Science Fiction Poetry Anthology, "Vacillations," in Out of the Mists, Summer, 2002, "Grace," in Communities #96, and "Illumination" in HMS Beagle, March, 1997. She edits the magazine PanGaia.
POEMS by Elizabeth Barrette
Is an old English term
All that remains
In this gossamer season
(C) 2002 Elizabeth Barrette
A Steed of Steel and Silver
I have watched the red horses
(C) 1995 Elizabeth Barrette
Sol Spotlight July 2002
An Interview of Jan Haag
by Paula Marie Bentley,
I seem to have an unending desire to turn the world into words. I am after the masterwork, like any artist/poet, but I am also after the truth of "fleeting life," that which happens each day. Spontaneity and Control are the essence of art, but not everything has to be a masterpiece, some minor poetry can inspire greatly. My steadiest passion is to find subjects, texts and teachers who look upon the world as a whole. I feel we must study, know, be interested in and love the whole world, the whole universe, all peoples, plants, rocks, creatures and spy out their interrelationships if we are to survive.
My essential motive in creating The Desolation Poems, Poetic Forms Used in English, was simply to write a series of poems on a single theme and within that creative effort, to learn and practice each form, to gain some familiarity with it, to examine why one might choose to work in form. By the time I started the series, I had been writing in free verse as well as invented forms for many years. Indeed, forms are such a special and intense study, that I think no one can do it casually.
I was curious to see if I might find a traditional form that really appealed to me. What better way than to, not only study and appreciate the work of those before me, but indeed to imitate? A form is a way of organizing. As is the grid in weaving, it offers a structure on which to work with and against one's inspiration. I also wanted to understand what and how the form itself contributes to the fabric of a poem, and to become intimate with the history of poetry.
Even though I am not a traditionalist, I simply seek the best form (or freedom) to express what the ongoing process of life means to this particular sparrow. I hope the Form Poems will inspire others to indulge in similarly structured disciplines. To practice each form helps one hone one's craft and brings deeper insight into language, rhythm, art and thought.
If I am inspired, I never hesitate to spill out that inspiration at top speed. Sometimes a poem comes out all but perfect in the first draft. I leave it. At other times, a form begins to suggest itself as I write, or after I have written, and then I go back and work to see if I can fit the inspiration to the form or a form to the inspiration. Often, as I write, I invent a form. If I like the new form, I may do a whole sequence in that form. Recently, I have been working with "evolutionary forms" in which, with certain self-imposed rules, I let the form grow or close in on itself and change throughout a series.
Even though I have studied, Sanskrit, Italian, French, Greek and Latin, I have no facility with other languages. Vocabulary disappears, but a limited knowledge of the structures of other languages remains. This helps in my study and practice of English. I am delighted to have been born speaking English, one of the richest and certainly, by now, the most ubiquitous language on earth. When I write in forms from another language, I study what is said (in English) about the form, then do my best to follow the form while devising equivalents for rules that can't be applied in English.
I think as in any kind of writing, particularly mainstream writing, that fashions come and go. But then life itself is also a kind of living through one fashion or another, trying to discover "the truth." We all try in our different ways to find the truth, the meaning, the beauty, the insight. No topic is "wrong" for poetry. One writes what one writes. My particular wonder happens to be about what is “being”? What is “life”? How does it happen? What does it mean?
The very concept of writing fascinates me. But I am by no means a scholar or a teacher except, insofar as, I hope people read my poetry and through it gain not only enjoyment, but deeper insight into the many fields of human knowledge that interest me, as well as greater insight into life and their own desires, impulses, yearnings, sorrows and joys. How better to work on the human soul?
Gloom and the gulls crying, the crows in the trees,
Forgive the impatience, I bow and beseech the bud-gleaming trees,
What is it that flows against gravity, makes trees green?
Help me, great orbiting sun, effulgent, slanting silver through trees,
Jan Haag is a poet, writer, artist and former Director of National Production Programs for the American Film Institute. Her “Collected Works,” including Poetry, Fiction, Travel, Essays, Music, Textile Art and Accumulations, are available online at http://wwwjanhaag.com.
Sol Spotlight April 2002"Our Own Evolution"
An Interview of
Claiborne Schley Walsh
by Paula Marie Bentley
|Many poets develop only one voice, one note, but that only shows one
facet. One person can have many voices. There are so many things
I love: poetry, painting, sculpting, drawing, people, travel, helping others.
Words are vehicles to show life in the round. I have been in love with
words since I learned their value.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Think of all the different yet successful brands of corn flakes. If it's corn flakes you're after, at least you now have a choice. Poetry is the same way. I try not to be a corn flakes kinda gal. Not in the poets I read, not in the poetry I write, but I always remember that there are still those who love cornflakes.
Well written, even the everyday can become poetic. I immerse myself in writing both for my own pleasure and for public consumption, and writing every day keeps me honed. I could say something so trite, corny, cliché and trivial as "I write because I have to" (which is true...it's as much a part of me as my eyebrows) but I also write because I write well, seek to write better, love words, enjoy the interaction between creative minds, and more.
Inspiration for me is a blank sheet of paper and a new pen with plenty of ink. My goal is to never quite realize my biggest dreams but to keep striving towards that ever-moving pinnacle. Impact is important whether it is to satisfy one person or many. I still have the letters my mother wrote to me and others. Their impact on me, my being privy to her way of life, and knowing her better as well as understanding why she was the way she was, are priceless. Perhaps my own children will come to know me better when I have satisfied my time here on the planet.
Poetry definition is often ethereal. Often poetry is prose but not all prose is poetry. Many academics have embraced the dialogue style; conversational, easy to read, simple to understand. I enjoy those as well as the old form-style poems. One of my favorite things to do is to take the old forms and create new ones from them but I also enjoy writing the dialogue style as well. I like the idea that poetry evolves, that today's style will be replaced with another (and another, and another) It should. It reflects who we are, how we are and where we are in our own evolution.
Award winning poet and artist, Claiborne Schley Walsh is a native of Mobile, Alabama; she attended SpringHill College, majoring in English and minoring in Art. She has been published in: MindFire, IPMag, ShowEmAll, Poetry Café, and Sol Magazine, and in many anthologies as well. Ms. Walsh has served as a judge for poetry competitions such as the Mandy Awards, The Pensters Scholarships, Fusion Poetry Awards, and others. She was also a member of the Grants Panel for the Alabama State Council Of The Arts. Ms. Walsh is currently a member of the Alabama State Poetry Society, National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Mississippi State Poetry Society, and The Pensters. She has sponsored and/or participated in many national and international poetry tours, readings, features and workshops.
Eg naroo range
Orange, the primary color obvious when stepping into
©Claiborne Schley Walsh
Poet’s Note: I wanted this poem to have the feeling of the full,
bright, orange blossoms going round and round interweaving throughout this
work like the Nasturtium blossoms while I was walking through the gardens
in Giverny, France. Left and right margin acrostic spells "orange." Title
is "orange'' spelled forwards and backwards. Diagonal words on each line
begin with "o" "r" "a" "n" "g" "e." first word - first line "O"....second
word - second line "r"....third word - third line "a", et al. The
word "orange" in the middle of the poem. In the final line "green" is the
opposing color of "orange" on the color wheel. It ends and begins with
the word "Orange"
Unless you have the big box,
If we were all 105 crayons in a box
©Claiborne Schley Walsh
Poet’s note: Wanted this to be simple yet concrete in that one "poem/color" is pulled out further than the rest. The rest are tiered like colors in a Crayola box.
|Coastal and city issues of environment, industrial growth, offshore/on
shore oil drilling, pipeline construction, urban sprawl, highways, roads
and streets, drainage/flood control, public education vs. private often
revolve around my conversations with family and even strangers I meet on
the train. These issues squirm around in my journal notes and often
emerge in my poems and reflect my appreciation of Brazoria County's (Texas)
Most of my coastal poetry has been composed since I moved to Austin. Maybe I needed the long view of the coast that comes to me in these Austin hills in order to formulate my coastal images. My "dry-est" poems started before we moved to Austin. Across the Rio Grand Rift and Vacation in Taos reflect memories from my summer workshops in Taos.
I have a self-proclaimed writing partner, Glynn Monroe Irby. Our original artistic relationship started in the 70's when I was directing arena stage productions at the Little Theatre of Brazosport. Glynn designed the sets for two of my shows, The Girls in 509 and The Unexpected Guest, my Master of the Arts project at University of Houston, Clear Lake.
We begin sharing our poetry in the fall of 1994. Glynn read my journal notes and often helped a poem emerge. As we shared rough drafts of our poems, we developed a gentle "push/pull" critique method as we struggled through abstract concepts, searched for succinct expression, tried new line breaks, considered rhythm and the visual image of the poem on the page. Gentle as it is, the push/pull often lasts for weeks or more as we hone a poem to its completion.
Our poetic partnership has been a success, with 3 Savanna Blue a major result of our "push-pulling." I introduced publisher Susan Bright to Glynn's poetry, graphics and photography. Once we decided to create a book along with Peggy Zuleika Lynch, Susan put Glynn in command of the design of the book.
Natalie Goldberg says that improvement in writing comes as a writer pursues a second creative endeavor. In my case, drama was my creative focus long before I ever considered writing poetry. I once created realism and fantasy and all that flows between on stage. Now, I try to weave the precision of words, motion, light, color, symbolism, and music from my dramatic foundation into my poetry.
The goal of poetry is to preserve the human experience for future generations. Poetry's single benefit to me is the freedom to compress everything, from early childhood memories to the changing scene outside my studio, into precise word monuments of my life experience. This sport of writing is cheap: All a writer really needs is to activate the "free" personal imagination, and push a pencil across recycled paper to get going.
I'm a perpetual student and collect mentors as a hobby. Two of my mentors, Susan Bright and Terry Everett, set high poetic standards in their own poetic achievements. Terry extends that standard in his classes at Delta State University in Mississippi as does Susan in her Plain View Press here in Austin. Both Susan and Terry offer encouragement and support for my writing projects with minimum thought-provoking critiques.
My husband, John Reding, is the business manager of my writing adventures. John is a retired chemical engineer, editor in his own right, and edited my professional writing when I was a teacher. At present, John is a technical editor at McElroy Translation Co. in Austin. My daughter, Theresa Reding is also an editor at Holt, Reinhart and Winston. They both proofread the galley proofs for 3 Savanna Blue .
"Dark Dreams: An interview with Cliff Roberts"
by Mary Margaret Carlisle and Paula Marie Bentley
© Sol Magazine October 2001
|Writing for me is usually spontaneous. But it goes in cycles. Sometimes
I will be so prolific it can be embarrassing, but then it balances out
with months of nothing. The best inspiration for me has been various contests
that get me writing on a particular subject. As a vampire poet, it
is fun to try to stay on topic while keeping it gothic. I love reading
classic poets like Lord Byron and Shelley. Sometimes I will put on some
CD like Concrete Blonde's bloodletting, the soundtrack to Lost Boys or
some harpsichord music. By pointing out darkness, despair and longing
I hope my readers actually find a desire to live life to the fullest, to
find beauty in it, to find hope.
Writing just spills out of my fingers. I will get my ideas, usually full blown like Athena from Zeus' head. I usually know if I want it a traditional form or free verse, which most of my poetry is free verse, and if it is a form I will focus on getting it within the correct parameters without compromising my original message or image. Most of my poetry deals with love, desire and the wish to be accepted. Another theme that runs through my poetry is life, death and afterlife themes. A third theme is, what separates man from animals, is mankind noble or monster?
I played around when I was young, but it was the death of a dear friend, Jerry, that got me writing. There were over 12 deaths of friends and family in five years, which proved to be a very difficult time. Death was everywhere it seemed, every time I turned around there was a funeral, even among celebrities such as Mother Teresa and Princess Diana. I just couldn't shake it. So I worked through those death issues in my poetry.
Cliff Roberts has read poetry at Travis Street Coffee Shop in Sherman, Club Insomia in Dallas, Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, Barnes & Noble in Richardson, Borders, Four Star Coffee Bar, 7th Street Gallery, Yellow House Gallery, and various Barnes & Nobles in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has been a participant of Borders Sunday Night Poetry Readings and host of the Four Star Five Minute Workshops.
Cliff is the Historian for Life and Membership Chairman of the Texoma Poetry Society. Cliff is also a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Poets of Tarrant County, New Millennium Poets, and SawGrass & Friends. He is webmaster of a "Cliff's Haiku Frogpond" website, and an annual page called "basho-ki" in tribute to the haiku master Matsuo Basho and his famous frog haiku. Cliff sponsored and judged a frog themed haiku contest for Sol magazine in March 2001.
His work won awards in Sol magazine, Amazing Instant Poetry contests, Amazing Short Poetry contests, Amazing Instant Romance contests as well as Texoma Poetry Society Slams. He has been published in Dimensions, Poetic Patter, Cat Fancy, Anything That Moves, "The Unnamed Faction Pillow Book," and in Dreams of Decadence magazine #15.
Writing as "Vanyell Delacroix," he recently published a poetry chapbook, "In Another Vein," with SynergEbooks. It is available in various formats as well as on CD and as Print On Demand. He wrote an illustrated children's book called "Daysleeper." Cliff's alter ego, "Vanyell," is the editor of an online magazine, "The Undead Poets Society," which spotlights vampiric works by a variety of poets.
Cliff Roberts was born in Denison, Texas, formerly lived in both Dallas
and Sherman with Brenda, his wife of twelve years, and now lives with her
and their poet-mate in Fort Worth. Brenda is also a writer and poet.
POETRY by Cliff Roberts
"Finding Peace, a Haiku Interview, with Mark Brooks"
by Paula Marie Bentley, Assistant Editor
© Sol Magazine August 2001
|Since every language and culture has a different take on what haiku
is, with different translations and selections available to them, I wanted
to see an international journal of haiku on the web, so that is how "haijinx"
came into being. Even our editors are international: I'm from
the US, alan j summers is in the UK, Serge Tomé is in Belgium, and
Carmen Sterba lives in Japan.
While there are more people writing haiku than any other form of poetry in today's world, the Japanese have the most information to share. Millions write haiku in Japan alone, but many English-language poets have been not only greatly influenced by haiku, but also often publish haiku themselves. The obvious example is Gary Snyder who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975. He more or less introduced haiku to the Beats, as described in Kerouac's "Dharma Bums". Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Wright, Robert Hass, and Cid Corman are a few of the people who have books of or about haiku.
There seems to be a split between people who write poems they call haiku because they fit the 5-7-5 pattern and people who write haiku based on a fuller definition and better understanding of the form. I believe some who seriously study haiku try to make those differences a bit larger than they need to be.
One way they do that is by discounting quite a bit of traditional haiku, and relegating humor to "senryu" or "zappai." As with the relatively recent push for the traditional use of kigo (keywords that involve nature), I feel the traditional role of humor needs to be emphasized.
This leads to haiku such as:
(First published in "temps libre/free times" and in the second issue of "haijinx.")
While spamku are a form of zappai, and there is plenty of destructive humor in senryu, too, humor is also found in the best haiku. It's just a different sort of humor.
People know more now. In the 1960s, there were only a few, often idiosyncratic, translations of haiku. Now we have access to better materials, including some viable word-for-word translations in English. We recently started to receive good translations of haiku theory as written by Bashô and others. Haruo Shirane's "Traces of Dream," quotes from Bashô extensively.
The question I give to people is: How can we say we really know what haiku should be in English when the works (creative and critical) of the greatest haiku poets are not available in English? Bashô wrote less than 1000 haiku in his life, yet fewer than 300 of those are readily available in English. There's been only one full translation, but it was privately printed in Japan and is hard to come by. What's worse is, most of Bashô's "teaching" comes from anthologies produced by his group. Only one has been completely translated into English, but that edition is out-of-print.
I read widely, but work within haiku and related forms. I do not think in haiku, but am very happy when a haiku comes out without much effort or need to revise. Something like this one:
"South by Southeast," Volume VIII, Number 1 (2001)
Haiku is a way to find peace each and every day. I take time to relax and enjoy my life and my surroundings.
Senryu: haiku-like verse, not necessarily about nature, not necessarily in haiku pattern.
Zappai: all types of seventeen-syllable poems that do not have the
Spamku: tranquil reflections on luncheon loaf made by Hormel, Inc.
Mark Brooks is the editor of haijinx, an international, web-based journal that examines haiku with humor. He is a member of the Haiku Society of America, the British Haiku Society, the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association, the World Haiku Association, and the World Haiku Club. Publication credits include: haijinx, Acorn, Asahi Haikuist Network, Frogpond, Haiku Headlines, The Heron's Nest, In Buddha¹s Temple, Mainichi Daily News, Midwest Poetry Review, Modern Haiku, Paper Wasp, Poetry In The Light, Presence, RAW NerVZ, Snapshots, South by Southeast, temps libre/free times, The Writer, tinywords, Tundra, World Haiku Review, and others.
A native Texan, Mark Brooks was born on January 6, 1971. He lives with his wife Karen and sons Dylan and Casey, in Temple, Texas, a small town north of Austin and south of Waco on the IH-35 corridor. Mark recently "retired" from a telecommuting job in the software industry, and intends to (for the next several years) be a stay-at-home dad for his boys.
tokusen, Hoshino Takashi's Corner
"Modern Haiku," -- Volume XXXII, Number 1 (Winter-Spring, 2001)
"Acorn," -- Number 6 (Spring, 2001)
"The Heron¹s Nest," -- Volume III, Number 3 (March, 2001)
First Prize, 5th Mainichi Haiku Content, International Section (2001)
Interview with Maryann Hazen-Stearns
© Sol Magazine May 2001
|Presume nothing about the reader until a poem is complete. I put it
aside for several days, then try to read it with the eyes of a stranger,
and then I can see, feel and hear how the poem may be revised for better
clarity or impact. I try to presume each reader comes with the intent of
being entertained, informed, or enlightened. Because the reader wants to
become involved in the work, I strive to offer some kind of tangible connection
between the reader and myself. I don't just want to enter into the reader's
mind; I invite the reader to enter mine as well.
I read dozens of poems every day and there are some very intense "unknown" poets whose work has inspired me to write something which I consider to be a good piece of poetry. My style of writing is eclectic; I make every effort not to become trapped in one particular style. Writing is something I'm compelled to do and I do it daily, in one form or another.
Since the publication of my book "Under The Limbo Stick," I've temporarily put aside writing poetry in order to concentrate on another project, an historical dialogue between my grandmother and myself. Her name is Elsie Mae Duddleston Winters; she is 96 years old this June and has graciously consented to the documentation of her lifetime through the 20th Century. I work to present her recollections exactly as she's voiced them, making this work authentic in dialect, as well as charming.
The poet must love the craft of poetry enough to ignore obstacles and
write, write, write, simply for the pleasure of writing. When the work
finally accepted, the joy and satisfaction are well worth the effort.
To learn more about "Under the Limbo Stick," and see a poem from its pages, visit the Books & Chapbooks portion of our webpage.
Poems from Maryann Hazen-Stearns
Pre - Occupation
Interview with Lynette Bowen
|The gift of each creative act lies in the process of creating.
The bonus is that it may touch and spark someone else's soul. I feel
the purpose of art is to serve as a catalyst in a new creation born in
another's unique and personal experience of the reading or viewing.
The subject matter is a catalyst to the creative experience.
Writing is only part of who we really are. For while we are free to experience the joy of creating and the self-awareness it brings, poetry remains an inadequate representation, for while it captures parts of our essence, it does not fully capture who we are.
My style is both personal and universal. As I relate my experience of nature and everyday reality, and how it is connected with a greater reality, I strive for personal honesty. One key to honesty is to suspend the inner judge and extend compassion for whatever I reflect of myself in my work. As I do so, my work becomes more honest.
As a poet and visual artist, I've found the importance of letting go of my creation. Whether a poem or a painting, if I finish and it only sits on a metaphorical shelf for my viewing, it loses its usefulness and remains a "child." Only when I release my poem or painting or energy into the world does it grow. My goal is to encourage this new life, so I may move on to the next moment or creative act. Experience and interaction with art bring inner transformation, and another creative act.
The object of art is not as important as the process of creating it or interacting with it. Creativity is ultimately about being who we really are.
(C) Sol Magazine, April, 2001
Lynette Bowen was the First Runner-Up in Sol Magazine's Poet Laureate 2001 Competition. She lives in Webster, Texas, and works at the Johnson Space Center.
Lynette has been published in Sol Magazine, The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake (TAACCL) and in University of Houston Clear Lake's Bayousphere. Originally from Michigan, Lynette grew up in Southern California, graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Ok, with a degree in English Literature. For ten years, she lived in the shadow of the Cascades in Washington State. When Lynette finally came to Houston, Texas, she found she enjoyed the steamy, sultry southern beauty of the area. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, working in various artistic mediums, singing, participating in an ecumenical nature-based spiritual community. She works as a technical writer/administrator at the Johnson Space Center for a safety panel.
In her words, "One reason I write poetry is because it is one of the ways my soul manifests within form."
Interview with Beverly Forbes
Beverly Sweet Forbes
|In Beverly's words:
I am intrigued by the concept of dimensional living, or living life beyond the five senses. I see a realm of spirituality in all things, where intention is the foundation of function, and a benevolent universe and master creator, or God, opens many doors, offers a variety of experiences, encouraging growth through pure love and a higher level of living through spiritual awareness. Choice is ours; we can acknowledge or deny opportunity. What we do with opportunity is a decision each must make.
I am most influenced by the emotions of passion and empathy. To follow an honest passion is the most direct way to find joy. It may shout or whisper, but passion touches each of our lives. Empathy, our ability to understand and relate to the emotions and experiences of others, pulls us closer to our higher self.
In my work, using color and simple imagery, I explore the core of basic emotion and its relationship to love, loss, growth, hope, expectation, personal reality, individual perception and the spiritual dynamics of nature and universal commonality. I describe the heart of one woman as she comes to terms with conflict, personal truths, ghosts of the past, and finds unexpected love.
My publisher, Daphna R. Moore (Hughes Henshaw Publications) and I are still discussing possible titles for my upcoming book. I like "Fade to Color" or "Fresh Paint and Pastel Buds," but she will make the final decision. The book, a collection of personal letters, prose and poetry, is a mural of possibility and self-awareness. It is pretty much my soul in poetry.
[Note: Ms. Daphna Moore is a publishing consultant. Generally she works for authors interested in self-publication; from time to time she personally publishes work in which she is particularly interested. Her website, www.hugheshenshaw.com , is currently under re-construction, but visitors are welcome.]
(C) Sol Magazine, February, 2001
Beverly Sweet Forbes, born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1949, is the mother of two daughters and has four grandchildren. Beverly lives on the waterfront in Kemah, Texas, and works nearby as a registered nurse in a psychiatric facility for disturbed adolescents.
In her words: "I love my work, my home, family and friends. I am a very
lucky woman. I have beaten death twice, and at 51 I have only begun to
thunder rolls across the flat land
(c) 2001 Beverly Sweet Forbes
Turtle green floats
greeting pure blue
dressed in hollow
in drunken dance
orange promise Weary
eye till scarlet ruby
way to dying
hard lapis lazuli
(c) 2001 Beverly Sweet Forbes
"The Aesthetic of Language"
Interview with Stazja McFadyen
|In Stazja's words:
If I could sing, or paint, or play a musical instrument, I would. Alas, I'm doomed to words. I love words, I love the intimacy, the self-revelation, the nakedness and the truth that this art form demands. Spiritually, poets can ride the wave of aesthetics through words, rhythm, message, emotional impact. At its best, a poem is a hint of immortality.
How can one be, other than as oneself? Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, so please, poets, if you have not found your own poetic voice, at least choose to imitate someone with imagination and originality. Never be so in love with your words that you cannot hear how they will sound to an audience.
You, the poet, are historian, soothsayer, mender of pain, herald of spring, devil's advocate opposing the status quo, chronicler of passions, enemy to injustice, spokesperson for the mute of spirit, three feet behind the head of the world as it is, the only person who sees what you see through your eyes. You are life's sponge, absorbing everything around you. Poetry is life, sieved through the senses of the poet. Write what life makes you feel. Write your truth. Write like your words are lie detectors.
This quote by William James, the 19th century psychologist: "The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it," is what compels my poetry.
In 1997, A.D. Manion was drumming at a jazz club in Austin, the Elephant Room. He had played with such greats as Mingus, he was dying of cancer, he possessed a depth that I could sense but not entirely fathom. After hearing some of my poetry, he told me it was shallow. I understood what he meant. Still, it sent me into a blue funk, I cried for days. At that point, my writing changed, I hope for the better.
Poetry is the aesthetic of language. My dream for poetry is parallel to my dream for my fellow man: quality communication given and received.
(c) 2001 Sol Magazine
Stazja McFadyen is editor/publisher of Map of Austin Poetry e-newsletter, distributed weekly. She serves on the Board of Directors of Austin International Poetry Festival, and is a member of the Austin Poetry Society. She has been featured at festivals and poetry venues from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Her poetry has appeared in various print and electronic poetry publications, most recently in Texas Poetry Calendar 2001, Spiraeas Literary and Arts Journal, Son of Words, Austin Downtown Arts Magazine, Austin Poetry Society Golden Jubilee Anthology, Di-Verse-City 2000, Will Work for Peace, and One Drop.
The Map of Austin Poetry newsletter is accessible online:
Poets Porch www.poetsporch.com
Although there was no gate to pass through,
Worlds away from Washington,
Family cottage, mother's side.
Summer mornings I'd awake to chase the dawn
Winter of my chicken pox and measles,
Something always older world about them
Once, accepting Pop Pop's invitation,
Children by their nature ask the questions:
There was a rumor later, never proven;
(c) 2001 Stazja McFayden
(for Harold McMillan)
That afternoon in an otherwise
(c) 2001 Stazja McFayden
When all this toxic sorrow
transfused with perfect hemoglobin
I will be new
who understands that tides
(c) 2001 Stazja McFayden
He said he loves the sound of rain
(c) 2001 Stazja McFayden
"Being Here, Now"
Interview with Brian Davis,
|The idea of language being a form of miscommunication may strike one
as odd, but Brian Davis points out, "Language is obviously the most direct
way we communicate, or miscommunicate. Poets recognize that language
has a great deal in common with music. In harmony or counterpoint
with the rhythms of the words, is the content of the words." He considers
the "rich ambiguities" of the English language as he comments, "Even the
simplest word can have many possible meanings and even more associations."
"I don't have totem-type rituals in writing, like using a specific pen. However, I do have some superstitions. When I am struck by an idea, I am afraid to put it on paper immediately." He explains that "putting an idea on paper makes it stiffer, less likely to change. I like to mull the idea for quite awhile to make sure that I have investigated all of the possibilities. Once I am sure of the direction the poem will take, I can commit it to paper."
What is the greatest writing offense? "Pretension. It is vital to express the idea of the poem as precisely as possible, to myself, without any thought to how the poem might affect anyone else. If you define your style, isn't it possible that you will limit your writing?"
He comments on a recent reading of his poetry, at "Mariposa" in College Park, Maryland, "Though I believe poetry must be read aloud, I have never before taken the opportunity to read a number of my poems at a time. I was thrilled to have the experience of feeling that my poems were appreciated."
"It would be wonderful if the text on my tombstone said: 'Here lies Brian Davis. He said, 'Life is short--pay attention'. There is nothing more important than being here, now."
"I don't remember the first poem I ever wrote. I do remember the first poem that really made me feel like a poet. It came to me, nearly whole, stoking an enormous feeling of exhilaration. I ran home as fast as I could to write it down. It was called 'Hymn'."
© Sol Magazine 2000
by Brian Davis
The softest silver lightening glides
There, where silence beats like thunder
an ancient hymn
(C) 2000 Brian Davis
by Brian Davis
Thinking of Grainne
there is no time or space
Eire to Eire
as her students watched the second hand
Eire to ashes
thinking of Grainne
at the end of a quiet rope
(c) 2001 Brian Davis
by Brian Davis
A pig is poised at the edge of a rushing river
The pig can think of nothing but the peach
entering, he may lose his life
a fly curls by the pigs ear
a pig is poised at the edge of a rushing river.
(c) 2001 Brian Davis
"Nothing They Cannot Say"
Interview with Professor Michael Brown,
|Recently, Michael Brown, teacher, performer, dreamer, poet, talked
frankly with Sol Magazine. He posited the old idea of inspiration
being what you make it as he mused, "My inspiration comes from many places.
I just did poems inspired by a great blue heron and a dead possum, carrying
wood, a piece of music, my mother's cancer operation, and teaching."
"I realized I was a poet when I had my first poem, 'Magic,' published in 'Beyond Baroque,' their first issue, in 1969. I was 29 and had been writing poetry for about eight years. Robert Hayden was my most powerful single poetic influence. He showed me what it means to be an independent thinker, dedicated poet, and truly compassionate person."
Brown related to us the story of his college poetry teacher who said he was wasting his time. Brown's comment? "He was right, that was just what I wanted to do. I write because it's the best thing I can do well. I always think that the poem I have just written is the best--until it lies around for a couple of days. After that, there are just too many children to pick a favorite."
"Poetry is the highest most artistic use of language. It pushes the leading edges of what we can say. It can illuminate experience with emotionally charged bursts of insight. I'd like to see poets be the consciences of a society. There is nothing they cannot say."
"My favorite writing memory is when I completed 'Collaboration,' a poem I had been working on for most of a summer. It was about the "shadow" figures behind noteworthy achievers, discoverers. The poem also used a compass image, the magnetic compass, a bit the way Donne used the drafting compass. The verse form was borrowed from George Herbert. It was the first poem I had written that I felt worthy of showing to Robert Hayden. Sending it to him was one of the greatest pleasures I have had as a poet."
© Sol Magazine 2000
When not writing, Brown calls himself an "itinerant professor," teaching for over 35 years, including five years of high school and stints at Michigan, East Texas State, Central (Ohio) State, Western Michigan, Illinois-Chicago, the Uptown Chicago Center of Elmhurst and North Park, Roosevelt, Rhode Island, Suffolk, and Chicago State.
Along with Finnish performance poet Erkki Lappalainen, President of the International Organization of Performance Poets, Michael Brown, the organization's General Secretary, produced the first Poetry Olympics held October 1998 in Stockholm. Over the past 25 years, Brown's poems have been in "Amandla Ngewethu!," "Another Chicago Magazine," "Blue Cloud," "Defined Providence," "Galley Sail," "Greenfield Review," "Kudzu," "Oyez," "Pembroke," "Red Brick Review," "West Coast Poetry Review," and in "Since Feeling Is First" (Scott, Foresman, 1972), "The Vagaries of Invention" (Sidewinder, 1982) and "Stray Bullets: Chicago Saloon Poets 1991" (Tia Chucha, 1992) and others. He has also written articles for "The Chicago Tribune," "Homage to Robert Hayden" in Commentary (1980), fiction in "Wormwood," feature articles in "The Chicago Reader," and occasional columns in "The Korea Times."
He founded Slam! the International Performance Poetry Newsletter, official publication of the Poetry Olympics and the US national slam, and he is creator of http://www.slamnews.com -- a web site for international poetry news.
Brown holds a Ph.D. in English and Education from the University of Michigan. He is currently Professor of Communications at Mount Ida College, where he teaches all writing except "creative." Brown currently lives in Onset, Massachusetts.
Geological remnant of old centeredness,
Peary and Henson cooperate in twilight,
In the "Tribune" they look like Hilary and Tenzing,
A glossy from "The Defender" commands the grand-
No daughters run to peaks, but fly
All beginnings are auspicious we say,
(C) 2000 Michael Brown
I seek the simple, elegant, full resonance
I want the thing of sonatas and concertos,
Meanwhile, I'll settle for tinkling ragtime
(C) 2000 Michael Brown
--Edgar Allen Poe said the most appropriate subject
for poetry was the death of a beautiful woman.--
My father's workbench sits in the basement
On the first floor French doors open to her bedroom
She sits in the backyard shade before a hundred people,
Three grandsons hold aloft pieces of a productive life.
On her final walk through the house,
She has begun her stooped shuffle toward the lighted doorway
(C) 2000 Michael Brown
Driving to Maine with Marcel
He paid close attention to exit numbers
In a calm voice I said,
I died six times. In one vision
I screamed a couple of dozen times inside,
(C) 2000 Michael Brown
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