If you are a regular part of Poets United then you have seen or interacted with Mary in one way or another. We are so very grateful to give our members a chance to look behind the screen and see what makes this wonderful woman tick. We hope you enjoy our interview as much as we did when putting together for you.
P.U.: What is the name of your poetry blog and tell us why you chose that name?
Mary: My blog is In the Corner of My Eye. The words that follow the title are "Raise a toast, know that I'm not far away. As you look for me out of the corner of your eye or find me in your dreams, picture me with a smile and know that we will meet again." When I titled my blog, I thought of my own mortality (which I am very aware of), and my blog is one way of keeping my words accessible to those who will live after me. I think especially of my children and grandchildren, who may not pay any attention to my poetry blog now. I know that sometimes after someone or a pet leaves this life, one sometimes catches glimpse of the deceased unexpectedly in the corner of one's eye. (This happened to me with one of my former pet dogs.) I picture the reader catching a glimpse of me in this way, in the corner of their eye, someday. My poetry reflects me. Those who read my poetry know me as well as anyone. My blog will hopefully live beyond me and, in a way, assure a kind of immortality. Anyway that is my hope. (I have also self-published two poetry books for this same purpose and have co-authored two novels.)
P.U.: After hearing that it makes me really wonder who will be reading my stuff when I am gone. What a wonderful perspective to have it really makes a person think on what their legacies are.
Tell us a little about yourself. Please share a little of who you are and where you are from.
Mary tell us why do you write Poetry? When did you begin writing?
Mary: I write poetry to express my thoughts or to find out just what I think! When I write a poem, sometimes I surprise myself! I write poetry because it brings me joy to write. I also write because I must! Sometimes I think it is an addiction, but it is a positive addiction. I also belong to an online writing and critique group. We have been together for about ten years, have published two anthologies, have had in-person writing retreats.
I began to write poetry when I was in high school. I had a poem printed in a college anthology. For many words I was really a closet writer. I shared my poems with very few people. It wasn't until the last few years that I was willing to put my poems 'out there.' I still am a bit hesitant to do this sometimes; but I have really enjoyed my venture into the poetry blogosphere!
P.U.: We may be cut from the same cloth because my path was incredibly similar. Thank God for the internet I guess?
What do you find the most challenging about writing? What do you do to overcome writer’s block?
Mary: The most challenging things about writing for me are to think of a unique approach and to not be trite. Another challenge for me is to achieve some kind of universality with my words, so even if the reader does not walk in my shoes he/she can find some identification in my poem or (hopefully) at least find my words meaningful.
As far as writer's block, to overcome writer's block I just sit down and write. I do not accept excuses from myself. I stay put and write. If I am tired, so be it. I write. I do not allow myself to leave until I have written. This always works. My writing may not be the best on a day when I have to fight with myself to write, but then again it may.
P.U.: I too agree with that approach you should see how many poems I have written on writers blog lol.
Most writers read, what books if any are you reading right now?
P.U.: A Kindle huh? I have yet to want to give up the touch and smell of a book but I imagine the Kindle is quite convenient.
Do you support any humanitarian causes?
Mary: I support the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Disease Research.
Click the photo for mor information
P.U.: A worthy cause indeed!
What poem, written by you, do you like the most and why?
Here is a poem I wrote last spring that I really enjoyed writing: Boy and Frog.
The poem that I submitted for the Poets United anthology is one I enjoy, but you will have to wait to see that one!
P.U.: Look at you throwing out a Poets United Anthology tease. I am certain this poem will be a wonderful as all of your poems our and all the poems in our anthology will be.
What is the last movie you saw in a theatre? What was the occasion, a random night or a traditional adventure?
Mary: You'll laugh. The last one I saw was "Despicable Me" with my grandson.
P.U.: Ah I cannot laugh because its next on my Netflix Que. The last one I saw was the “Chronicles of Narnia (The Dawn Treader)” I guess we are both still kids at heart and that’s not a bad thing.
Do you have a favorite poet? If so who are they? What is your favorite poem by them?
Mary: I enjoy so many poets it is hard to choose. I like most all poems Marge Piercy writes and own a number of her books. A few other favorites are Diane Wakoski, Naomi Shihab Nye, Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Leonard Cohen, and Galway Kinnell. If I could share any poem, it would be Dogs Dream of Running by John Lehman, in his book of the same name. I am a dog lover, and this poem really resonates with me.
P.U.: In school did you ever have to memorize a poem? If so what was it? How much of it can you remember now?
Mary: Oh gosh we had to memorize a lot of poetry. Some of Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier, Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Some others too, but that was a while ago. I could not rattle off these poems anymore; but I would be able to speak the poems WITH someone. The words would easily come back to me, I know.
P.U.: Wow I think I only ever had to do one and it was the standard Shakespeare.
So what other poets in the poetry blogosphere do you like to read or visit the most?
Mary: There would be too many to name. I could not limit myself to three. There is such diversity in the poetry blogosphere, so many good poets whose words inspire and awe me.
P.U.: Poets are often creative on many different levels, when you are not writing what other hobbies, talents or creative things do you do?
Mary: I enjoy photography, have written fiction, have done some painting. Poetry and photography are my favorite creative pursuits. I also try to creatively amuse a three-year-old granddaughter who is my constant companion most days while her mother works.
P.U.: I can imagine you’re the best at amusing your granddaughter. So much love goes into that task.
Everyone has their favorites quotes they live by or repeat, mine is “He who Laughs…Lasts” ~ Mary Pettitbone Poole. What quote do you use often or live by.
Mary: A favorite quote of mine comes from the book The Quest for Christ T. by Christa Wolf, a German author. It has been my favorite quote for more than fifteen years.
“When if not now?”
The words "When if not now?" are used again and again in this book. Good and timeless advice, I think. I try to heed these words and urge others to heed them. There is no time like the present.
We cannot thank Mary enough for all she does here at Poets United. She is one of the many folks here who act as an anchor for this wonderful community. She is an inspiration and I am so happy she took the time to share with us a little bit about her life and family and love for poetry. Be sure to visit her blog and look for some of the many articles found here written by Mary!
Once again we see that there is much more to a poet than their poetry. The folks who live behind the pen are some of the most interesting people around. We look forward to giving our readers an intimate and personal look at some of the poets found here at Poets United, so be sure to return to see who we chat with next. Who knows, it might be you!