Poet Speaks Out! Interviewing Douglas Knox

photo credit: Banner is taken from a shot called SkyHigh, by shalane

Poet Speaks Out!

Doug Knox is a poet who first captured my attention on the poetry site Arcanum Café (http://arcanumcafe.com).  His use of sound and resonance of words combine to make a unique play of meaning and tone which arouses the senses. He seldom capitalizes letters which will be apparent from his answers to my questions, and his command of the language challenges the reader to pay attention, to be open, to slide into new zones of perception. Curious to know more behind his unique writing, I asked him a few questions. And so, it is with great delight that I invite you to an interview with Douglas Knox, pen name Wylde or wyldeone.

Interviewing Douglas Knox, Wylde / wyldeone

Full name: as above

Current residence:  durban, south Africa – subtropical east coast – upon the lips of a warm, lapping indian ocean

Birthplace:   pietermarizburg within the kingdom of kwazulu natal south africa

Favourite Childhood memory:  none

Favourite expression: HUH?!!??

And we begin:

Judih: Can you use one word to describe yourself as a poet?

Doug: whisperscreamingmindpainter

J: Do you have a special place or time for writing?

D: allways now.  allways hear.

J: When did you begin to write poetry?

D: i recall collating a collection of scribbled poems into an exercise book when I was 12.

J: How have the arts contributed to your vision?

D: what is art.  my vision is blurred. besides being disturbed.

J: Do you get inspired by any particular artist/s? (visual, musical, dance)

D: very especially van goghs other ear.  jackson pollock.  dali.  jim morrison.  njinsky. leonard cohen . edith piaff. bessie smith. heather nova. lou reed. pink floyd.

J: Do you hear your work when you write or visualize it?

D: definitely more here it.

J: Would you say you’ve had any particular literary influences?

D: r.d laing; dh lawrence; cummings; louis lamor; Xavier Hollander; herman hesse; erica jong; sylvia plath; anais nin; henry miller; graffiti on the inside walls of public toilet cubicles (mostly)

J: And who are your favourite poets?

D: dylan; bukowski; the beat poets. my daughter, amber.

Mechanics of writing

J: Do you ever find yourself composing poetry during a workday?

D: almost every day of the week.  weekends are now usually reserved for my love and my loved ones.

J: Could you describe your writing process?

D: if ‘process’ alludes to some type of linear system, then i don’t have one.  many of my writs have been the result of simply being filled or drenched with an intense emotion.  followed by the uncontrollable need to then express and define, and or at least explore it.

the plosive – or other, sounds of words and combinations of words, as they are spoken aloud, although silently in my head at the time, are critical.  as are the images that these words and sounds and combinations of both, evoke within my own experience.

the actual literal meanings of the words, taken in isolation and within their own context are often unimportant to me.

in my early days i found myself writing, listening to music.  often a word or phrase perhaps combined with an image gets planted in my head, at any arbitrary time, quite regularly whilst driving, and that will be the fermenting seed.

this is a linear explanation i recently gave regarding the process and intent of a specific writ.  i think it assists in explaining my writing process.

the explain:

“enwrapped within a cocoon, not quite a cacophony, of sound, a squinting mind  stumbles along with almost numbing, although continuing, stimuli. a realisation of meaning is birthed/christened (rising out of the baptismal font). through the tangle and strangle of the blur an understanding of value is none the less arrived at.”

another illustrative analogy might be that i use words like jackson pollock used pigments & paint splashed; dripped; draped – whatever onto a canvas seemingly randomly at times but always orchestrating a cohesive chorused event. Heh

for some reason i have an aversion to capitalisation of words, not to imitate cummings, it is a personal thing. and i allways (sic) frame my writs between two periods. Like:

.

Um

.

i never title my writs. if required for posting on the net, i nearly always just use a word or short phrase from the piece to title it.

Poetry as Therapy

J: Is poetry a tool for therapy in your own life?

D: in my life it is and has been a powefueled cathartic process.

my writing is essential in contributing to my personal understanding –  at various times and various moments – to my own experience, of this thing called living, and life.

through my expression  i explore the relative nature, of (my) absolute truths.  its about defining and understanding ones perceptions, gaining insight into ones own truths. deciphering and understanding my internal narrative. and through understanding that incessant silent internal dialogue one has with self; and then being enabled and empowered to change the script.

and therefore live a different experience of life. a more conscious chosen experience. its a dynamic continuing evolving process and experience.

J: Do you feel your poetry exposes you?

D: i totally hope so.  revealing and bearing and being vulnerable is essential for the integrity of my expression.  showing; sharing the raw pink palpable pulp beyond the thin reflective layers of conscious consciousness and seemed seamless actuality, is essential.  the law of equal and opposite actions and reactions totally apply.

INTENSITY LEADS TO VULNERABILITY LEADS TO STRENGTH

Internet Poetry Scene

J: When did you first get involved in the internet poetry scene?

D: 1988/9 with a dial up 9kb modems

J: Do you think that things have changed over the years?

D: things?  what are ‘things’?  of course everything has changed.  as much as nothing hasn’t

J: What happens when you come upon a really good poem on the net?

D: there is an impulsive connect with the words and or images.  its almost like coming and feeling at home in an entirely new space.  instead of shaking hands, it’s like shaking minds.  unclenched.  instantly nourishing relieving an emotional kwashiorkor*.

*note – kwashiorkor is a state of having a hugely swollen distended belly. NOT the result of over-indulging or over eating – but just the opposite – a   symptom of dire malnutrition and starvation.

The ‘up’ is tempered by the huge amount of less than average garbage there is. everywhere. mindless dumbing numbing down of experience,  a seweragacide society.

J: Would you consider ‘mentoring’ a good young poet? I mean, offering critique, praise, encouragement.

D: as time allows, im happy to mentor even bad old poets. i’m both weary and wary of misplaced “encouragement”.

J: “Misplaced encouragement” – a diplomatic way of putting it, having seen much praise lavished in places where a well-placed suggestion might have encouraged a poet to edit, re-think a piece.

How do you feel about getting political in your poetry?

D: so long as im naked and its sexy. plug me in. whetly.

Geography

J: Do you see yourself as a South African poet?

D: immediate reply / response is no.  i feel like skin draped over a collection of electrons and neurons.  in amongst which, feelings and emotes are transmitted.  just a little piece of matter (which matters to me) in a cosmos and collection of other matter.  only the sum of sum parts which, matter.  so, feeling like just an amoebic part of infinite andromeda strains, captured by skin & bone and emotions in a little cul de sac of the universe of life.  however. having said that.  i am extremely grateful for having grown up in an intensely fragmented yet passionate society / country which thrusts itself into the consciousness, and demanded questions of one’s self.  like my own life, the society i grew up in was fraught, violent and confrontational.  it was a petri dish ripe with a recipe for gripping intense living.

J: Is there a network of poets in South Africa? How is the writing scene?

D: im aware of a small forum that meets monthly in durban.  im not naturally a social animal, and although all my poe is performance orientated, unless spaced or placed in a place beyond care, my larynx seizes when i read in public.  Im too self aware.

J:What have been the most interesting comments you’ve ever received to your poetry?

D:  ———

“i felt the caress of dark waters, the buoyancy of life, the smell of blood.

Again the Wylde man dazzles with a marriage of cleverness and content.

You are, my friend, one of the reasons i come here”

~petra~

“sounds like   something  Lennon would’ve written – had  he  gone  to  college.”

~lash570 ~

“Complex and not easy to ignore

Somewhere bw pinkneon and Leggolas

out of the Wylde, I hope you don’t mind

the comparison but I needed a yardstick

because you broke my mind with this

one and its the only way I can construe.”

~ilan~

“I’ve always been astounded, dumbfounded, confounded and stupefied your cryptic poetry while, simultaneously, being highly entertained and challenged.”

~Michael~

“quiver quiver

my bones do shiver!”

~meow~

“No one makes nonsense make sense the way you do.” – frogglethorpe

“I don’t mean to focus on the opening line of a poem, but:

‘flaccid sky hangs limply like a bruised scrotum’

man, nobody creates imagery the way you do, Wylde!

That one stuck with me through the whole read lol.

I’m not about to attempt rapping a response…I’m way out of my element!

Unique and potent…as always…and quite colorful, too .”

~Prairie~

“Wow! My brain hurts, but in a good way! Loved the verbal acrobatics.”

~Lemma~

The Work, itself

J: Do you have a favourite piece of poetry? Could you offer it here?

D: excuse the indulgence; as im not clear whether you want a favourite piece of mine or my favourite poem by another, here are both. Firstly two of mine:

.

another day of constipation and diarrhea

another day of constipation and diarrhea. the sun drizzles down; air swimming breasted strokes stuttering
astute azure turquoise with lime-slips of mocha. splattered barrels of coral issue bones ashen in razored
protrusions entering mind under over matter. matted in a coiffed swirl of expressionisms intent with
distilled intent of beauty being truth; a squatted patch just beyond the vision of my toes aches with space
consumed by occupation. in a lax innuendo strung hung like beads pearled round ankled necks taught with sinew
spurting from a foreheads after thought.

tangibilities plug (pr)essence into filters of stained orbs bashing my truths dominion. paper-mache & origami
feathers fold (sur)creased into pressed irons of egg-shell anvils. baton hatches swarm to curtains spilled
into eyes and while aloft dripping drain-pipes lava tunes to an ego mesmerised by self cognition recognising
place, space and vacant occupation.

so seizures of grandeur and delusions of normality husk my shivered spine.so. when u traipse that portal of
connection with self, hold its wringing hand clutching the horizons bowed possibles, and lick the fire so
tongues more than squeak to self, while (s)words rein in umbrellas of richness found in the grain of ear
sweating sushi slavers and cadavers attacking you in (k)night-mares gelded by posthumous valour.

the silver oak-leaf may nitrate in subliminal contusions, but balm delivers no harm nor jeopardy to one
plug socketed freely

.

my mind stood up [without much aplomb]


fleetingly foraging upon frayed tattered pieces
of a disconcerted ragamuffin subspecies
my mind stood up [without much aplomb]
shouting down my oesophagus like a mini atomised bomb

combing my hair with broken teeth of despair
i sat down looking up
curled up under my chair
and as my abscessed truth
festered while lying in that lair

my gums gave birth to the fundamental tooth
of one molar ejected
never equals quantum sums of an incisor dejected
[or dethroned]
let alone a limpid shadow with half caste lures
sinkered and swallowed deboned

being the all time seismic forensic cure
for
the malaise of puffins exhaling
life
so cruel and yet so pure

.

and one from my daughter, amber:

contract:

the air is cold and biting, it has the feeling of a day off near its end.
the moon beams gleam behind clouds
that not long ago spoke of rain,
it gleams in silent pride,
an unsung apology rings from its eminence.
lets move on, it says, its over, lets not speak of such things.
MEANWHILE
in the heavenly realm of earth below
the jasmines bloom quietly
whispering promises of spring,
lapping at the tips of the hair that wears them
with its subtle intoxication of its scent,
seducing the senses. broken clouds seem on the verge
of descending from the sky in order to swallow this earth below, but
INSTEAD
they split and part to reveal that the gods
have blown a ring of substantial contradictory haze
in their last act of madness, perfect circle, not a stitch, string or plume
out of place. their mother seamstress must have been by,
for some reason this act seems to be of her instruction,
it pulsates of their mad perfection and her motley genius. we all
KNOW
how to lift our eyes from their couched stupor
and how to probe this act of god. this miracle.calculate it.
analyze it.study and philosophise it.readjust the lens of our brains
and challenge it. what could it mean??a girl
LOOKS
up and doesnt want to know nor needs to, for the magic
of this madness is enticing and intrigues her runaway
mind of dreams. a wind quietly skulks behind her
and begins to whisper…”it is but a contract signed”….
the girl stares at the sky in silence…
the wind continues to whisper..
“it is a contract for the rains abstinence.
it has now abdicated a piece of its being by approving of this perfection.
so let us look little girl and know of its sacrifice in the name of madness.
let us look and not speak of such things”.
.the girl closes her eyes.

J: Any final comments, questions you wish I hadn’t asked or had thought to ask? Feel free to add, subtract.

D: im from a very humble and a poor background including growing up with a chronically alcoholic father, unable to afford (but wanting) a university education after school (by that time my father had died and i left home to care for myself at the age of 17) and later drafted into the apartheid’s infantry battalions to face the soweto riots of 1976 and also the horrors of the angolan civil war, where the apartheid forces, backed by Americas reagan faced off against the local fnla and mpla forces backed by the cubans and russians.

i am a business owner, self taught industrial chemist, and employer of some 30 people or so part of having ‘succeeded’ to such a position, has largely been not to follow conventional thinking or principals.

other than having a passion and a loving for what i did and do, i often followed the laws of physics in doing business. and living life. newtonian laws, the laws of einstein and more latterly quantum physics, which i believe dont contradict but rather complement each other.

also very important to me, is applying the african credo of philosophy “ubuntu“.

in a country ravaged with an unemployment rate well above 40% and with a similar percentage of the population hiv/aids positive (over the last few years 8 of my staff have eventually died) it really does soften and enhance ones perception of life, its experiences and others.

i would sincerely  encourage you ( and perhaps others ) to read a little about it. heres a wiki reference. Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

“a person is a person through (other) persons”

with my new wife shalane and my three daughters and siamese cat miesha, im in the happiest spot ive ever been. no longer this petrified little boy hiding under his bed, inspired by inexorable pain & suffering.  and the wonder and wander @ the joy of still writing. rite on. thank you and thanks to my three daughters kana; sacha (who helped me do a rough edit) and amber.

J: Thanks, Doug. I wish you the best of conditions to feed your creativity. And may you continue to feed those who read and enjoy your work.  Ubuntu, as you have said, is the underlying nature of things.

photo by Shalane, "SkyHigh"

Poet Speaks Out: Interview with Martina Newberry

Speak Out

This begins a series of interviews with unique individuals who speak their mind and live what they believe. We begin the series with a poet.

Martina Newberry, poet, feels from the heart and speaks what she feels. I’ve been an admirer of her work since I came across it last spring at a poetry site called GlobalPoets.org. I’ve wanted to find out more about her and so approached her for this interview.

Martina, a writer of poetry since childhood, has published many books including: After the Earthquake, Perhaps You Could Breathe For Me, An Apparent Approachable Light, Lima Beans and City Chicken, Hunger, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, The Banyan and the Alder and her newest books What We Can’t Forgive and soon to be published Late Night Radio. You are most cordially invited to find out a little more about her as an artist and a vibrating woman who creates work that resonates with so many.

Full Name: Martina Reisz Newberry

Birthplace: Upland, California, USA

Present Location: Palm Springs, CA

Favourite childhood memory: In the downtown area of our town there was a very, very old 3-storey house which had been turned into a place where you could buy second-hand things. I used to love going up to the third floor where there were shelves and boxes of old books. While my mother shopped, I read—sometimes for hours.

Questions:

Judih:  How would you describe yourself as a poet?

Martina:  I am an “accessible” poet. In my work, I try to give the reader a new way of seeing, experiencing, or relating to things around them. It doesn’t even have to be MY way of seeing, but I’d like to think my poems could be a springboard to those things.

J: Do you have a favourite spot for writing?

M: I have two favorite spots: one is in my office at my desk. I’m surrounded there by books and personal effects of all kinds. I love my simple black table/desk and my worn office chair. I have all my notebooks—old and new—and favorite kinds of pens, etc. The other place I like to write is a coffee shop in Los Angeles. Not a famous place, just a nice little place that smells of coffee and pastries and sandwiches.

J: Do you prefer to write longhand or by computer?

M: Everything begins in a notebook in longhand for me. When a poem is nearly finished, I put it on the computer and do editing there.

J: How did you get started?

M: I’m an only child, no brothers or sisters. My parents were a bit older than my peers’ parents, so I was expected to entertain myself for the most part. I was also painfully shy (still am) so I didn’t play with other kids much. I learned to read when I was three years old and began to write when I was four. I got my first diary (journal) when I was seven years old. I’ve always written stories and poems and things I wanted to remember.

J: Have you ever been involved in writing workshops? Either as a participant or as a teacher? Can you say a few words…

M: I’ve done both. I’ve been a participant and a facilitator. The best workshops for me were the ones in which no one tried to “teach” me to write. They were workshops that gave me new perceptions and ways of looking at the world and then writing about it. When I facilitate a workshop, that’s what I try to do.

J: Who has inspired you over the years?

M: I met an incredible poet, Larry Kramer (now passed) in 1985. He became my friend, brother, mentor, teacher, spiritual guide (though he would kill me for saying that). He also gifted me with a beautiful little whippet named “Clementine” (also passed). We wrote together many times. He was my best critic, my best editor. He wrote two books: one was part of the Quarterly Review of Literature Series, and his last book, “Brilliant Windows.” I like to think that my writing resembles his.

J: Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve done?

M: Poems are like children, it’s hard to choose a favorite—I like different ones for different reasons. A poem that sort of charmed its way into my head is called “The Angry Affirmative.” It’s from my book AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE. It’s one I like.

J: Can you offer it here?

THE ANGRY AFFIRMATIVE

Don’t gloat. You were just my moment in the woods,

a smudge along the clear edges of my self.

I was attracted by the lust you had for

the pain of others and by the hint of un-

spent energy behind your eyes. I told you

that you were beautiful—that was prattle, leaves

rattling in a windstorm. When I joined you in

your bed, stained your sheets, it was, I admit,

coercive—what could we do for each other?

I regret nothing between us. You thought, “She

will remember this always and I will not.”

But, I can tell you now: as you stretched yourself

over me—a scar that ran the length of my

body—I remember very little. There was dark,

the lack of room in your bed, Ginsberg’s words:

Businessmen are serious, movie producers

are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.

J: Do you find it easy to sit down and concentrate?

M: I don’t find anything about writing “easy.” LOL. However, I am pretty disciplined. I write every day. Sometimes, I’m disappointed or frustrated by what I’ve written, sometimes I like what I’ve done. But, it’s important to me to do it every day. I love the written word so concentrating on it isn’t too difficult. The difficult part is reaching for those things I want to see and say and getting them on paper.

J: Do you have a method to your writing that you could share?

M: It starts with coffee—big mug of my husband’s incredible coffee with whipped cream on top. I usually read something to begin—poetry, fiction, non-fiction—anything that has recently interested me. After that, I look at what I wrote the day before. I re-write, edit, do another re-write, or, I like what I see and leave it alone to begin something new. I’m a morning person and start writing early in the morning until late afternoon. I drink coffee and juice and Diet Coke and diet root beer all through the day.

J: Do you listen to music while you work? If so, who or what kind?

M: Sometimes I do. My favorite writing music is traditional Chinese and Japanese music. I have a couple of CD’s of operatic arias that I love and I listen to those too. I love rock and roll, but I start dancing around instead of writing with it.


J:  Are you connected to other poets? Do you collaborate with any other poets or artists?

M: I’ve collaborated on one book with an Indian poet.  The name of the book is THE BANYAN AND THE ALDER and it was the result of correspondence in poetry.  The book is still available.  Just now, I’m pretty firmly rooted in writing on my own, but I’m “connected” to other poets through their books. The people whose work I like, I buy. Some of those people are personal friends, some are not

J: Your video clips are very intimate. How do you manage to create that warmth for the viewer? (The Angry Affirmative)

M: I must give all the credit to my videographer husband, Brian, who is enormously creative and seems to “see” my poems the way I write them. His business (and his art) is the creation and production of various kinds of media. He’s also produced three of my books as audiobooks. He is very talented with the camera and a very good video editor.

J: Do you feel it important to be political in your work?

M: If you live in this world, I think politics in one form or another will touch you. I can’t help but be moved by what goes on or doesn’t go on here on our planet, so, yes, some of my work is political. I guess everyone can define what he or she means by “politics,” but, for me, there are certain things that I am pursued by and that I pursue—things I feel I have to write about.

J: Which subjects in your life stir you – which social issues you feel are most urgent to deal with.

M: The subjects that stir me are those things which separate us–male vs. female, white vs. black, Muslim vs. Christian or Buddhist or Roman Catholic, war, heterosexuality vs. homosexuality, youth vs. aging.  I am tired to the point of agony of humankind not coming together to at least try to understand each other and, if unable to understand, leave each other to pursue life in our own ways.  War is no longer an option on this planet to my way of thinking.  It has to stop and it has to stop now.  It comes down to individuals saying, “I will not train to kill nor kill my fellow man any longer for the political desires of any leaders of any country.”

What moves me?  So many things:

I write about what faces the average human being in just living each and every day without too much pain or too much stress or too much anger and the urgency and challenge of coping with those things. I write about the comparisons between the huge things that make us happy and the small things that make us sad. My words call to women to dance out their lives, not drag through them; sing out their anger and lust and sensuality, not hide these things under ladylike, lowered eyelids. My poems call to men to see more, see further, be more and better and, again, more. I write about expectations and our ability to fulfill them or fail to do the same.

I write about relationships–the cruel, the complicated, the simple, the joyful, the sexy, the fearful, the painful, the intense. I write about what can go wrong, what does go wrong, how much beatings hurt and how much kisses heal. I write about the terrors and wonder of childhood, the terrors and wonder of aging. I write about sexuality between two women, a man and a women, partnerships and marriages.

I write about music, dancing, reading, aging, cooking, sex, and/or the lack of it. I write about how, in these simple things, fear can destroy the mind and the feelings of anyone. I write about the intimidation of our peers, the strengths of our friends, the power of our enemies. I write about war and insects and the smell of clean clothes.

I write about God–how “we pray to a God we do not love for those we do love.” I write about churches, priests, confessions, weddings and funerals. I write to and about a God we look for and seldom find. I write about my mother who was mad and my father who was not. I write about madness and how it can be contagious to those who come in contact with it.


J: Is poetry a tool for therapy in your own life?

M: Well, I don’t know if I could say “therapy…” I’ve gone to places inside myself that I did NOT want to visit and brought poems and stories from those places, but that hasn’t always been “therapeutic.” It has sometimes been awful and frightening and sad. But, I continue to do that to make poems.

J: Is there a certain poem that you felt helped cleanse an especially raw node within you?

M: Here is a poem from my book, PERHAPS YOU COULD BREATHE FOR ME, that helped me deal with some important issues.  It’s called “Bad Manners.”

BAD MANNERS

I don’t know who to be angry with anymore.

That’s a lie.

I do know

but my rage can’t find a release tunnel—

something or somewhere to race through.

I need to see someone with real power

apply a tourniquet to the hemorrhaging

of the mortally wounded countries my country has stabbed.

It is not enough to see the burning bodies on the news in High Definition;

you must know that our backyard barbeques mask

the smell of smoke across the planet.  It is not enough to know

that in my country there are mothers in jail for protesting the deaths

of their children who were forced to kill other children in other countries—

children who were told to kill them.

Knowing is nothing

Fury is nothing.

Oh sweet America, I don’t crave forgiveness for not singing “I Love Barney” songs

with your babies when I know that the scent of Khinta and the taste of Khubaz have been stripped away from the noses and mouths of those you help to destroy.

I’m not some remorseful woman in a shopping mall unable to grasp the notion of what belongs to who.  WE belong to WE.

The windows through which we watch the world are cleaner than our hands and the ghosts fleeing by those windows no longer care what languages they speak.

Talking of how the water of the rivers in Liberia became beds of gravel, and the hills of Sarajevo were too gouged and flattened for snow play, a poet said to me “All you can do is write it again and again until honor turns some of this around.”

There’s a chance he was right and there’s a chance that it’s bullshit and can’t be turned around.  So, here is that place in the poem where my rage and futility

has made me teary and tired.

Listen please.

It is not indigestion keeping you awake nights

or the thoughts of a heart you broke

in some fit of bad manners or microwaved lust.

No, this insomnia you suffer is made of oil and blood blending.

This insomnia is the total absence of Love as humans have known it.

This is unabashed Knowing climbing into bed with you,

putting its hands around your throat and squeezing

until your heart bursts open and its pieces

scatter over the world like petals.

Working as a Poet

J: Do you have any interesting tales from your live poetry readings?

M: Once, I gave a reading to an empty room. The store advertised, there were posters up; it was a fairly busy place usually. But, when it was time for the reading, the place cleared out like there was a bomb threat. LOL. I like to talk about that because it’s something that happens to many poets, especially in America. America is unkind to its poets and artists. That’s an understatement.

J: How can a poet work to become better?

M: By reading and writing and writing and writing. By growing personally, by constantly learning and talking with people and seeing new things. I think you’re a better poet when you allow yourself to be jolted out of your comfort zone. Talk to people you might not ordinarily talk with, eat foods you aren’t familiar with, try different clothes and perfume and walk or take the bus nearly everywhere instead of driving the car. Then write some more.

J:  Who are your favourite poets?

M: Not in order of importance: Allen Ginsberg, Larry Kramer, Djelloul Marbrook, Andrew Hudgins, Robert Frost, Adrienne Rich, Norman Dubie, Dorothy Baressi, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, Robert Lowell, Mary Oliver, Michael Wilds…and more. You, Ms. Judih, have become a favorite of mine.

J. Thank you. Martina, tell me, do you sing? Have you ever put your poetry to music?

M: I do like to sing. My kids make fun of me because—would you believe—I can never remember the words to songs correctly. I’ve never put any poems to music. I’d love for someone to do it, though.

J: Do you think that writing poetry is a talent that can be learned?

M: I think that some people were just born knowing how to write well, but that doesn’t mean one would have to be born to it. I think there are ways of feeling things and seeing/experiencing things that can be encouraged. Whether or not someone wants to write those things down is such an individual choice.

Poetry in Education

J: Are you in favour of teaching poetry in schools? If so, are there any poets you’d personally select for young teenagers?

M: Absolutely it should be taught in schools—at least the appreciation of it should be. The ability to speak and write well is a valuable one, even if we’re not talking about poetry or fiction. The ability to appreciate the amazing skills some writers have to manipulate language is an absolute necessity to making a well-rounded person. I think a good poetry start for teens might be Andrew Hudgins’ work. He’s the son of a Southern preacher and his work has not only historical significance, but is accessible and relatable.

J: As an educator, I’m interested in teaching spoken word in schools. Have you ever been invited to perform in schools?

M: Yes. And I was surprised to see that the work was well-received. I was asked lots of interesting questions by students and teachers alike.

J: Does the idea of running an open mic in schools interest you? Could you give some pros and cons?

M: I would only run an open mic if I was certain that the people participating knew how to behave in a civilized manner. I’ve been to open mics where people were booed and things called out while the person was trying to read. Bad manners are a pet peeve of mine and, if poets can’t behave respectfully towards one another, then how can they expect their work to be respectfully regarded?

Final Comments

J: Any other comments?

M: A couple of comments:

1) Respect your own work enough to do your best with it. Commit to it. Make time for it.

2) READ. Read everything. Push the edges of your boundaries to let it all kinds of books.

3) If you have friends who publish, buy their books, don’t ask for freebies. If you come across someone on line whose work you admire, buy his or her book and let that writer know what you think about it. And if you are publishing, sell your books. Don’t give them away. I’m passionate about this subject because I see so many wonderful writers struggling to make a dime. Writing isn’t easy. Stories and poems take time and work and energy. We, as writers, have to take ourselves and what we do seriously if we expect anyone else to take us seriously. Let your mothers and brothers and fathers and sisters and best friends as well as strangers buy your books. It’s important.

Martina Newberry, a woman standing for what she believes in, speaking out for others who cannot speak, continues to inspire those who read her work.

Creativity – a link to an e-zine

MAPS

MAPS
MAPS

Someone asked about opening up blocked creativity over at one of my online communities.  Every once in a while, someone comes along, a voice amongst the chaos, and asks a question that needs to be asked.

Life can sweep us along, grab our most energetic enthusiasms, leaving us very little to focus inward. Creativity doesn’t require much energy, but it does require focus. To be creative, one has to relax and detach from the pulls and traumas presented by daily life dilemmas.
To be creative, one needs a little space.
I thankfully was directed to ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, way back in ’99 by Ellen Hoffenberg-Serfaty.  Reading the book, doing the exercises, including writing daily morning pages, taking artist’s dates and reading a chapter a week really unblocked my considerably stalwart dam.
In no time I was writing poem after poem, painting in watercolour, walking kilometres and sizzling with energy.
So, a few days ago, someone else in a distant part of the world asked a bunch of strangers what she could do to unblock her creative flow. She asked the question in such rich language, filled with imagery and metaphor that I, myself, could have filled up canvases and notebooks triggered by her question. So, I thank her.
And if you would like to check out essays from those who know creativity, click onto the issue of MAPS. It might trigger you!
MAPS. (with thanks to a.l.breath)
Let me know what you think.