Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Life of a Poet - S.E. Ingraham

Kids, today we shall visit what our poet calls “the coldest place on the planet” (what, colder than WINNIPEG??), Edmonton, Alberta, where my fellow Canadian, S.E. Ingraham, of The Poet Treehouse, lives. We Canadians love to talk about the weather, you may have noticed, especially this year, when we are living the Winter That Never Ends. So hot chocolate is our beverage of choice this morning. Come sit by the fire, (yes, I know it is April Everywhere Else!) and we'll hear what life is like at Sharon's house.



Poets United: Sharon, so nice of you to invite us into your life. Would you like to set the scene for us? Does where you live make you happy or is it a stopping place on the way to somewhere else?





Sharon: When you live on the lip of the Arctic Circle where several years ago your city was declared the coldest place on the planet except for "some hell-hole in Siberia unfit for human habitation" - a direct quote from a local weatherman - do you think this is the defining factor informing your work as a poet?

If you've stepped off the curb more times than you can count and are finally ready to admit that you are not just a grad of the Ha Ha Hilton but actually hold a doctorate in various psychiatric disciplines - especially your particular disorder - Bipolar II - is this all-encompassing and ongoing education the basis for much of the poetry you pen?

I do live in Alberta's capital city - the place where women were finally declared persons in Canada in 1927 ... I kid you not ...but that's a whole 'nother story.

Poets United:  I see a Topic there, for another time. Good grief!

Sharon: I live here with the love of my life and our aging border collie/wolf - Farley, in a too-large for us now, Cape Cod style house, that we keep promising ourselves to sell and downsize, but never seem to get around to ...

Farley

Poets United: Oh, I'm in love with Farley!

Sharon: Both our daughters live in Edmonton also, both married the same year - 2008 - and both chose men we not only love, we respect. 

[Katy and Scott - Buff and Max are in tails, both kinds:)]

Terry and I at Katy's wedding

Katy and Scott got married in a fairy-tale wedding that year, right here in the magnificent North Saskatchewan River valley. (I plug our river valley whenever possible; Edmonton is wrongly known as a flat prairie town - see my poem elsewhere about how I feel about that mistaken impression) - but also, we have the largest uninterrupted green space in North America - a system of trails and bikeways, bridges and cross-country ski-tracks etc., unrivalled by any other place, with nary a commercial spot or business anywhere along the whole distance.)

[The Bluffs from the Marina. See? HILLS!]

Meanwhile, I was telling you about the girls' weddings -  Julie and Jason were married in the Dominican after having a civil ceremony performed here (a little unsure of the validity of the Dominican-issued marriage certificate) at a private club loaned to them by the group Jason worked for at the time.

Buff the Pug 

Maximus Pug

We regularly babysit Katy and Scott's pugs - Buff and Max –

Percy

as well as the J's (as I've come to call them) chocolate lab Percy.

Poets United: Oh my goodness, the soulful faces of these little critters!

Sharon: You may wonder why I call them the J's? Well, not only is there Julie and Jason, in 2009, along came Jack - adored grandson number one; then last June 2011, along came James - adored grandson number two.

G'ma and Jack, snoozing

G'ma and James

Perhaps we need to keep our big house a while longer ...

Jack decides he might like to keep GG's big stick

Sweet Baby James

Poets United: Oh, my goodness! Between the pugs and these babies, I can hardly stand it. All those beautiful, soulful eyes. Pure love.

Sharon: As far as whether I like where I live (in case you couldn't tell from that impassioned statement/almost advertisement above)... here's a poem the City of Edmonton posted on their web-page that pretty much sums up my feelings. http://www.edmontonstories.ca/story/blessings-and-gratitude-in-edmonton

Blessings and Gratititude

I live in this city on the lip of the Arctic Circle
Where winter rushes in and stays like the relative
You disown but can't throw out no matter how
Much you might like to because he's family
Still, there is magic here where the aurora
Dances and cultures mix with abandon
The famous five began their fight to establish
Women as people under the law – right here
Where the seat of the provincial government is also
Friends from the east come here and say
How do you stand it, it's so flat this town
So I drag them downtown and then to the river
And threaten to make them climb the cliffs
Up from the valley and then tell me how flat
It is here in this city that I now call home and love
Why, when you could have stayed in Calgary
Where you could see the mountains everyday
Did you move here, they ask foolishly and then
Back to the 
river valley we go and I take a picnic
And sometimes a tent and we camp there
Until they see what I see, smell the aspen, realize
That down by the water, even in the heart of the
Metropolis, you cannot see any urbanity – a miracle that
Then we go to a festival, topside, or the 
dragon-boat
Races
, or Chinatown or little Italy, or just home to relax
And finally, finally, my so-called cosmopolitan friends
Get it – have their aha moment and say things
About how they don't guess I'll ever be moving
Back east, will I – I don't guess...
S.E.Ingraham©Story Created: Jun. 14, 2010
Poets United: I love it! Where were you born and raised, Sharon? Anything about your childhood you’d like to share?

Sharon: My husband Terry and I are both originally from Toronto, Ontario but started moving around Canada shortly after we got married. I was raised with my younger brother Bill, primarily in Scarborough,(a T.O. suburb) - one block from the somewhat famous Scarborough Bluffs.

 Scarborough Bluffs in Autumn

They (the bluffs) played a big part in our formative years and have made it into more than a few of my poems. Our family summered at a cottage on an island on one of the Kawartha Lakes, and a series of poems that I hope to eventually make into a chapbook, I Dreamed the Lake, has grown out of those summers.

My brother Bill died suddenly in December 2010, and grieving his death engendered a month of small stones on one of Fiona Robyn's, River of Stones sites, in memory of him. A quote of mine from that month and one of my stones from then also made it into a compilation that Robyn and her husband Kaspalita put together afterward: Pay Attention: A River of Stones. It's available on Amazon. More info about Robyn and her projects can be found here: http://www.writingourwayhome.com/p/small-stones.html

Bill and I were incredibly close growing up and into our twenties, but for many complicated reasons were estranged when he died. We had been slowly working towards healing that rift (at least, I hoped we were)when he developed complications to COPD and died quite suddenly, a week before Christmas. I had been planning to visit him shortly after the New Year. He never knew of my plans. I don't regret much in my life but I do regret not making more of an effort where Bill was concerned. I also have a chapbook of poems about him and our relationship that I hope eventually to shape into something publishable, even if it's just for me.

Poets United: A sad loss, Sharon. That book would be wonderful to hold in your hands. I hope you do it. Do you have a day job, that cuts into your writing time, or do you  get to be home and write as much as you want to?

Sharon: I'm now of retirement age (my spouse retired at Christmas actually) but since I had a long undiagnosed sleep disorder that led to an undiagnosed depression culminating in Bipolar II disorder ... I feel as if I've been "retired" forever. I think the actual year of diagnosis was 1992 ...

It's a bit weird too because my employment history is fairly long and richly checkered as it is: fashion model, administrative assistant, school bus driver, modeling school/agency director, events hostess, day-home owner/operator,  etc. but all of that seems as if it happened a lifetime ago.

During all the years of working and moving - we moved quite a bit due to my husband's career - I would complain about being extremely tired (actually, that started in my early teens - as did the "you're just lazy" replies, from doctors and others) until I gave up talking about it, just grabbed sleep whenever and where-ever possible and tried not to fall asleep in public too often (not always successfully). It wasn't until a "lucky" break when I had a spectacularly suicidal crash in almost mid-life, and the doctor on call that night just happened to be a sleep specialist as well as a shrink, that the true nature of my extreme tiredness was discovered and then all the other disorders came tumbling after, as did everything else ...

Poets United: I hear you. It takes far too long for doctors to reach a diagnosis, especially when one is a woman "of a certain age". It's frustrating.

Sharon: I should explain that the poet Sage Cohen  has a lot to do with me finding my poetic self, especially as of late. First of all, her book Writing the Life Poetic, which my husband gave me for Christmas has been helping me climb out of a deep trough, or perhaps less dramatically, helping to remove a pretty tenacious writer's block.

Poets United: I just checked out her site, The Path of Possibility, and she is amazing.

Sharon: I also receive Cohen's down-to-earth and erudite newsletter in my inbox every week or so in which she discusses (among other things) a year of encouragement in the form of daily stories, contemplations, and poems, to go along with her co-authored book, Hopeful Divorce. Now, what, you may well ask, has that got to do with my story? It's not as if I'm getting a divorce, is it?

No - fortunately - I am still with the love of my life - 42 years and counting.
No, what I am learning from Cohen is that she is embracing the pain of her divorce and the different person and poet she is becoming because of this life-changing experience. Instead of ignoring the ache, as she puts it, she wonders, what if the ache could be the answer?

What if the ache could be the answer?

As I read Cohen's beautifully penned words about her heartache, I finally have my aha! moment about my own work, and realize why I have to write about being insane. Alright, that was harsh. But once you've been to that dark place where you don't know if you're ever going to be in the light again ... harsh seems a mild word to describe the feelings.

Poets United: You have made a courageous journey, Sharon, and your openness will likely help others with whatever they are struggling with. I love the quote about pain being the answer. Fantastic.



Sharon: But I guess one of the main things I'm taking from Cohen's wise ways is that it's okay to use the experiences gathered through all my bouts with depression and mania, and all that went with those, and use them in my work. That the school of "Sane and Insane" has indeed shaped the poet in me and does inform much if not most of my work, and not only is that not a bad thing ... it's probably a good thing.

It is finally becoming apparent to me that instead of being bitter or secretive about the years I sometimes feel were wasted due to misdiagnoses or time spent experimenting with psychotropic drugs or other treatments, I need to write about it and keep writing about it. And write about it I did, and keep doing.

Poets United: Good for you, kiddo!

Sharon: In my journals at first, then in articles and short stories, and finally, in poems. And not just write about it, I need to have my work heard. Either by being read aloud or by having it printed. Or both.

Unfortunately when you're as sick as I was - it's hard to convince yourself that anything you write is worth reading, let alone worth publishing.

Without going into a great deal of detail, during years of hospitalizations and clinics and exposure to therapists and psychiatrists and psychiatric patients ... I became thoroughly schooled in the nature of my illness and eventually, learned what would or wouldn't help me. I can't pretend that I know everything or that I won't have to seek help from someone again - especially as I've been in a slump for over seven months that has left me unaccountably unmotivated and lower than I've been in a long time.

Poets United: I imagine there are times of slumps, and times when one feels stronger, as is true for everyone, kiddo. It is great you can write your way through. When did you begin writing poetry? Do you remember why you wrote your first poem? And why a poem, as opposed to prose?

Sharon: I don't remember my very first poetry attempts, but I do remember when I got back to it.

I've always written ... I mentioned my journals earlier in this interview. At one point during my psychiatric treatment, a resident working with my sleep specialist psychiatrist asked if she could borrow some years of my journals to see if she could find accounts of my dreams in them and if those accounts might predict a shift in mood. She had hoped to find enough data to use for her PhD thesis. She did find some markers of predictability, which was fascinating, however not enough conclusive data for a thesis. But she also came up with something interesting that she took to my doctor, and they both brought to me.

They thought I should consider trying to get my journals published! My doctor even offered to write a forward for the book. Jokingly I asked them if they meant, "...a diary of a  mad housewife type of thing."  It became fairly obvious that that was exactly what they meant, but something more authentic, because it was true. At first blush, I was flattered and thought it was a great idea. I mean, how hard could it be? I had literally years of material and it was already written - I just needed to type it up and give it a bit of shape.

Wow - wrong. Trying to do such a raw memoir about myself when many of the major players are still alive and are people I love dearly and am emotionally tied to ... even changing names and slightly altering details ... it just wasn't working. Not only that, I found going over my own history deeply depressing. Not a good outcome.

So - shelved that idea. It might happen one day but that day is way down the road. For now I'm content with writing poetry about madness and using what I've gleaned for other projects. And of course, like many writers, I always have the great Canadian novel percolating away in the back of my mind and have had for years.

Poets United: I hope that book happens one day. I would definitely love to read it. Memoir is my favorite reading. 

Sharon: Wow - off on a tangent much? What was I saying? Oh yes, how I finally started writing poetry again ...

Sadly, the son of very good friends died. An unimaginable tragedy. I wrote my first real poem. One from the mother's perspective and one from the father's. It was devastatingly hard but it helped me. It's not something I will ever publish, although I did read it aloud once as a favour to another friend - a poet - in a similar circumstance. I found it almost impossible to get through.
Next our two aging cats died. "Two Felines" was the first poem I had published and also the first one I read aloud.  Once introduced to an open mic, I was addicted.

Then, not long after, a doctor I quite literally adored because not only had he helped me get my disorder under control - first time ever, I believe - I had come to think of him as a friend as well. I was fond of telling anyone who'd listen, he was the best psychiatrist to ever treat me and it was partly because we spent so much time just chatting. He gave me the last appointment of the day or before lunch so we could yak as long as we wanted. I think because we were both basically shy and like-minded philosophically, we just felt comfortable having an old chin-wag once a month or so. He also encouraged me to write.

When he suddenly took his life,  my poetic output shot up significantly. Death inspires me. However, the toll his loss took on me personally and the fall-out that almost cost me and my family everything as I spiralled out of control up, and then horrendously crashed down was incalculable  ...

Poets United: That must have been a devastating loss. I’m so sorry. 

S.E. Ingraham on the mic

Terry

Sharon: A local poetry group, The Stroll of Poets, became a mainstay in my life and I read at the Upper Crust, their weekly meeting place, as often as possible with them. They relaxed their open mic policy (I didn't find out until long after that poets were only supposed to read on open mic once every 3 or 4 weeks) and let me read every week after I started coming in October until they finished in March that year.

The following year I joined the Stroll's board as secretary and later was named managing editor of that year's anthology.  Once I was an actual member of the Stroll, I, like every other member had a ten minute scheduled read during the year and only occasionally read on the open mic.

Fortunately for me, Edmonton is a very poetry-friendly town and I read with the Raving Poets, another open mic group backed up with a live band (now unfortunately on hiatus indefinitely) and also at Steeps teahouse, during the summers. There are other opportunities that crop up during the year and once one gets known, invitations proffer, so it can be a very rich poetic life.  
Oh - and Edmonton has a roaring Poetry Festival every April - seven to ten days of readings, workshops and all manner of things poetic ...

Poets United: Yes, even small little mill-town Port Alberni has open mics and poetry festivals. Way cool! What is it about poetry that keeps you writing? 

Sharon: To be honest, I can't seem to stop. If I'm troubled or excited; if something moves me deeply, either in a good way or otherwise, I reach for my pen and paper (or laptop) - I'm not picky - and usually, words just pour out.

I also have dozens - maybe hundreds - of notebooks, and files filled with notes and ideas that I've amassed over the years. I'm getting better at going back to my notebooks and pulling stuff out and rewriting things, or using ideas that I meant to get back to ... especially if I feel the least bit stymied or blocked. Stuff I haven't looked at for years, lately I'm making a point of reviewing with more regularity.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Colrain Manuscript Publishing Conference in Massachusetts last March and the manuscript I used to qualify for the conference, A Tear at the Edge of the Universe is all about being crazy. I was so worried that it wouldn't fly ... a whole book about lunacy? However, when it came time for the editor there to give me one-on-one advice about my work, she was so enthusiastic ... well, I know I need to revise it radically but there was no indication that it needed a change of subject matter. That's another reason I keep writing ... validation, encouragement ... the usual. Besides, the editor told me if I did enough "radical revisioning" I could send her the manuscript and if she thought it was ready for some final editing advice, I could come to her place in ... New York City! Oh yeah, I'm going to get back to that manuscript sooner or later.

Poets United: Oh please do it soon!!!!! One doesn’t get many offers like that. Ack, my compulsion is kicking in. Dont let me nag you. (But.....please just do it, hee hee!)

Julie, Mom and Katy


Do you write mostly from your life, or do you invent other personas (eg for writing to prompts), and which do you prefer?

Sharon: I'd have to say it really depends on where I am in my life and whether I'm writing to prompts (like I do when Poetic Asides has their Poem-A-Day challenge twice a year in April and November) but actually, thinking it over - most of my material is combination - coming out of my own life, combined with everything else I've ever heard, seen, or read etc. plus sometimes injected entirely into another persona. 

And often, it takes a bit of messing around - writing and starting over and rewriting - trying again and again, from different points of view and perspectives until I find something that feels real and right to me - then going with that ... Like most writing, that can be as surprising or shocking a place or direction as anything I've ever experienced. 

I know that one poem I wrote that flowed absolutely effortlessly was from the perspective of a bitter, abused child who grew up into a home-grown terrorist sniper.  You're the Reason   is archived in Raving Poets' anthology  , and I remember when I first posted it online how many sympathetic comments I received for having endured the horrible mother I talked about in the poem. When I first read it aloud at the Kasbar, in Edmonton, at a Raving Poets open mic night, same thing  - absolute sincere sympathy from people I know. I began saying (or writing) before I read or posted the poem that I needed to say, off the top, it was a work of fiction ..., not something I think a poet should have to do ever, but it was troubling to me that people would ever think this about my mother ...

Still, I admit, it is absolutely flattering to get a persona so convincingly authentic that listeners don't think for a minute it's fictional - odd but flattering.
                                  
Poets United: That’s for sure. How did you come to the land of blogging? What do you love about it? What do you hope people will take away from a visit to your site?

Sharon: I love how blogging lets you do just about anything on your site - publish poetry, op-ed, photos,  and express yourself at will. It's a great way to try out different modes of creativity. Even though I have a number of blogs, I am still a real neophyte when it comes to knowing how to blog effectively.
I also own my own domain website and would really like to develop it properly and use it as a platform for all my work (not that there's tons but I would like trying other genres more regularly) but really need to take a course or something to learn about both - blogs and websites. The website incidentally is: www.baring-witness.com and should hopefully be up and running within the next few months.

Poets United: I look forward to it. Have you traveled much in your life? Favorite spot in the world? Place you would most love to see?

The wedding in the Dominican

Summerside, the scene of Julie and Jason's ceremony

Sharon: Up until our daughter's wedding in 2008 in the Dominican, the furthest away from Canada I'd been was San Francisco, on a modelling assignment. I used to travel regularly to New York and it is still my favourite big city in the world. After the Colrain conference, I managed to take a bit of a road/train/plane trip and went to Providence, Boston, New York and Toronto ... I travelled really on the cheap - airmiles and tried out hostels (which I highly recommend!) and I misjudged some timing in NYC and ended up spending an overnight in Penn Station - that was an unbelievable night! Their buskers have business cards, they're that good! And at first I thought a whole bunch of people had missed a train, same as me before I realized New York lets their homeless folks sleep inside the train station. How cool is that? I've never been nervous in New York for some reason - maybe that's naive but it is how I feel (I did have one woman stand with me until I zipped up my bag this time - she was helping me buy a ticket for the subway when I first arrived but before she would do that she pretty much did this, "Hon - zip up that bag. I'm gonna just stand here until you zip up that bag. You in New York Citeee, you know. Now do it up!" You can bet I zipped it up.) God I love that town.

Terry and I do France

In 2010, my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with the trip of a lifetime: a week in Paris in a studio apartment right downtown; about ten days in Provence in a penthouse apartment overlooking the Cote d'Azure, and two weeks in Tuscany in an apartment in a renovated castle in a medieval village in Certaldo Alto before driving back through Mont Blanc to Paris for a few more days, and then flying home to Edmonton.

Poets United: Wow! What a TRIP!!!!

Sharon: Then in 2011, after thinking it would take us forever to return to Europe, especially Italy, with which we had fallen in love - my husband was chosen to be the surveyor on a student archaeological dig in ? Southern Italy - It seemed like fate. Here we were checking out the Amalfi coast, yearning to go there, and next thing we knew we were bound for Rionero in Vulture, a tiny town about 150 miles north of there, for six weeks, all expenses paid. It was a dream come true. And in our spare time - evenings and weekends - we explored that part of Italy - so could add Rome, Amalfi, Sorrento, Paestum and Melfi,to name a few - to our growing list of favourite places.

I have to say, I don't think anything will knock NYC out of first place on my favourite cities list, but it could be that I am just biased towards the place. Paris and Rome come pretty close though, especially the City of Light ... ooh la la.

Poets United: Sigh. Glorious. What do you know for sure, what have you learned the most this lifetime? Your personal truth,  as it were.......

Sharon: The only thing I know for sure? The older I get, the more I know, the less I understand. I know that's not original but it's so true.

Poets United: Makes sense to me. What's the wildest thing you've ever done?

Early Modeling Picture

Sharon: Oh my - so many choices. I was a wild child - a flower child actually, who lived in T.O.'s Village, barefoot all the time, marched and did sit-ins, and went to rock concerts ad nauseam, and a few other things, ahem... however, this still makes me laugh/cringe ...

In my youth I was a go-go dancer in the Village in Toronto and used to dance in a glass cage high above the street in front of one of the discos.

Poets United: Get out!!!!

Sharon: I absolutely loved it! Every few nights, just me in my psychedelic mauve and silvery sparkled mini-dress and white go-go boots, with my platinum blonde Twiggy hair-cut and eyelashes out to here, shimmying my little rear-end off to Wipe-Out  or some other equally fast song ... I never wanted it to end.

Poets United: And no photo for us?

Sharon: Until one night, I happened to glance out at the crowd gathered below the cage and met the eyes of my oh-so-straight, super-Calvinist Presbyterian - Father! He and his boss were showing a visiting big-shot from Japan the sights of Toronto. (Dad and I both had day jobs at Sears - me only part-time as I was just starting to model- but I knew his boss too.) I don't know who was more embarrassed. I do know we never spoke of it and that I never danced above the crowds again. Sigh.

Poets United: Do you see why I love doing these interviews? There is always something that blows what little is left of my mind! If you could meet one person, living or dead, in this world, who would it be and what would you ask that person?

Sharon: Wow - again, there are so many choices here. Just one? Queen Hatshepsut - one of the few female pharaohs maybe ...

Poets United: What does music mean to you? Is there a connection between it and poetry for you?

Sharon: Music inspires me, there are no two ways about it. Sometimes I find myself bawling at the symphony. I find some classical music deeply moving, and I like everything - loud - I love my music loud. And I love musicians that can write - both lyrically and composing. I have a poem, Janis Ian is my Muse that is very true. I love a song-writer that is that poetic. Mickey Newbury and Kris Kristofferson are both favourites because of the way they write ...By the same token, I love heavy metal and Prince and Leonard Cohen and Diana Krall. As my kids say - and don't forget Jethro Tull, Mom, only you would pick Locomotive Breath at karaoke (39 bar intro: hosts and patrons groan in unison, I love it) - I guess you could say my musical tastes, as with most other things, are eclectic.

Poets United: Ha! Diana Krall lives 40 minutes away from me! I love her, too. Do you have a favourite poem, written by you? Or one that you think best describes who you are?  

Sharon: It's funny, I'm not usually so hard on myself - at least I don't think I am, but lately anything I look at seems sub-par and I know that's just a phase I'm in but it was one of the reasons I took so long getting this back to you. I didn't want to send it without something and miss the chance to have more of my work read, but then I got so picky ... a conundrum ... and silly. Finally picked this which is fairly representative of much of my work.

CLOUDS FILL EVERY CORNER

At certain latitudes on clear evenings
Just as dusk kisses the horizon nearby
A scent is in the atmosphere redolent
Of newborns, one-eyed kittens, and dahlias

She sits at her window, her knees
Tight against her chest; watches
For the moon, knows if she can catch it
Cresting perfectly, it will stop the clouds

She is distracted at the exact
Instance of moon rise; a sound
So like a knock but really ...
Just the rasping of a tree branch

 She turns her head but a moment
And in that minuscule amount of time
Doors that she has manned so carefully
Fly open; her mind as cavernous as any
Cathedral - the clouds rush in, fill every corner

S.E.Ingraham©

Poets United: Oh, Sharon, that is simply beautiful!!!!!!! Anything else you’d like to share with Poets United?

Sharon: I can't remember who turned me onto this site but I bless them every day for it. It's so diverse and rich, has so much to offer ...  from guiding me to various  prompt sites, and other poets' work, to the features of the site itself such as this one i.e. the "Life of a Poet" interviews, and the "I Wish I'd Written This" feature, plus, "Poet History", the "Think Tank" and "Poetry Pantry" - to name a few. And the blogroll - what a boon to all poets! I can't think of any poet who can resist feedback and what better way to solicit some than to join a constantly updated blogroll.

Yes, I would say Poets United is the single best thing I've added to my poetic life in the last year. Thanks so much Sherry for giving me an opportunity to blab on about myself here, and to thank you and Poets United for the fine work you're all doing.

Poets United: I feel exactly the same way about this site. It changed my life and got me writing again. We are so happy to have you in this community, Sharon. Keep posting!

Sharon: In addition to the afore-mentioned website still under construction, my work can be found at:


Poets United: Great! Thanks, kiddo, for sharing your life so generously with us. 

Well, kids? Week after week, we discover, everyone has a most amazing story. Isn’t it true that the people behind the pen are some of the most interesting folks around? Come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

29 comments:

  1. Fabulous interview Sherry. You certainly do live an extremely diverse and interesting life Sharon. Depression/Bi Polar can be an awful thing to have to tackle and have treated with how it needs to be. And, you're right, the stigma that often goes hand in hand with any mental illness can sometimes be too much. I am so pleased you are married to the love of your life and have a growing family with children and grand children and pets too :)
    Sometimes our writing is the only thing that 'saves' us. Keep writing Sharon. Great interview and so full of your truths.

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  2. Sharon and Sherry,

    A really lovely opportunity to meet and learn about the person and the life of a fellow poet from our Poets United community.

    I just love Sharon's dear dog Farley..
    An interesting life story, from a very talented lady.

    Eileen

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  3. I am in tears feeling so completely connected ... as though I had just fallen in love with a wonderful character in a novel I shall remember and hold in my heart forever. What more can be said of a person that they are filled with the magic of walking this Earth creating their own narrative, living their own story, and sharing the poetry that is their own authentic self. I feel privileged to have Sharon "in my life" in a way that feels much more than virtual - and must say that though she claims to be "bi-polar" I would say that she dances along the continuum between the poles, playing the entire keyboard from highest crystal notes to lowest basso with sensitivity and complete humanity. WONDERFUL INTERVIEW SHERRY - WONDERFUL POET - WONDERFUL READ. Thank you!!!!

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  4. Excellent interview! Really enjoyed Sharon's pics and stories and... I'm ready to move to Edmonton! :-)

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  5. Sharon and Sherry,
    What an interesting and inspiring interview! "What if the ache could be the answer?" Oh I loved that quote you shared Sharon. It resonates for me as often true. There is much to learn in the darkness of our sorrows, then again there is a great deal hidden in plain sight in the light of our lives as well...every moment is rich and deep when we soften into it.

    Thanks so much for this courageous, honest interview.

    gentle steps,
    Laura

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  6. I'm thrilled that people are taking to the quote "what if the ache could be the answer" but want make it clear that it's not mine - it's Sage Cohen's from her "Hopeful Divorce" series and there's a link to it and other Cohen work in the interview ... I am a huge fan so want to make sure the credit goes where it's due ...

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  7. Love it, love it, absolutely love it. I learned much more about our lovely Sharon in your interview than I did in mine, Sherry, and I adore all the photos. Thanks for this exceptionally engaging interview, ladies!

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  8. As always, it is my pleasure to scribe someone's life story....always so interesting, courageous and mind-expanding, as are all pilgrimages.

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  9. Sharon, I so hope you write a book! Thank you for sharing your story! It is amazing all you have endured and your attitude shines!~
    I love that you were a Go Go Dancer, how cool! It is refreshing to read your honesty and your insight~ Your book would share your story with many! I do believe with disease we know our body best. It is when we convince the Dr of this,we can forge a path to find what works! Thank you for sharing your sorrow, pain and joy~ (((hugs)))

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  10. What a fantastic journey shared here. You've done a great job once again Sherry and Sharon. The one thing that comes through the clearest in these interviews is how many similarities there are amongst poetry lovers, yet the layers and textures of each individual are as thick as a set of now extinct Britannica's. I also appreciate the work that goes into putting these interviews together.

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  11. I finally had time to stop and visit today... Amazing interview Sherry... and Sharon, you Rock! Fierce warrior of the frozen Canadian Tundra... What a journey!!! What courage!!!

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  12. Oh my - I am over-whelmed by the response to this interview! Not surprised because Sherry is just wonderful at pulling together information and making her subjects feel relaxed and easy about sharing ... but really very grateful for all the kind, compassionate and insightful comments I'm finding here. I know I should be replying to each individually but I'm afraid I might not get it done so I'm hoping this heartfelt blanket thank-you will suffice ... I truly do appreciate all who come to read and/or comment, more than I can properly articulate.

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  13. A lovely interview! Felt like I was just sitting and chatting with you both... and so good to hear you talk about my lovely & wise friend Sage. Am just about to email her the link to this interview! Thankyou.

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  14. I so much enjoyed this feast of words from a very talented poet who I think also has a talent for friendship!

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  15. This is an extra special interview b/c I've know Sharon for years (we've been in a writing group together for 3 yrs and how come I never knew about your dancing glass?)... and every single poem she pens is as beautiful as Clouds Fill Every Corner. This was a pleasure to read. I do hope you'll get that book edited... and the journal maybe for later. Love you Sharon... and great interview Sherry (you always crack me up).

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  16. Great read today. Always entertaining and insightful and inspiring.

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  17. Great interview with an amazing lady, and a poignant, powerful force of nature with a pen.
    Thank you!

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  18. YES SHERRY ANOTHER BRAVO TO ADD TO YOUR GROWING COLLECTION....,!!! <3

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  19. Great interview Mama! Love you. Xo ~ Kate

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  20. Just dropped in to see if anyone else had been by and how gratifying ... how nice to hear from you Fiona; I know how very busy you are with you best-selling book (which I am currently reading btw and recommend to others if the haven't seen it yet: "The Most Beautiful Thing" by Fiona Robyn is available on Amazon and is super special) ... Thanks also to Laurie - long time friend indeed and also supremely talented poet,as is De also,and Pearl(you make me blush), Rosemary - so good of you to stop by, read and comment - I know your life has been upside down lately, Kim - we are only just getting acquainted and I appreciate your comment also, and last but not least, anony - you know who you are and so do I - thanks so much!

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  21. Great interview both of you ladies! Your writing is beautiful and I'm so glad to get to know you Sharon!

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  22. what a lovely interview...and lovely family...i like that you use what can be perceived as a challenge with your diagnosis and credit it for some of your development as a poet...that to me speaks volumes of who you are....

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    1. Thank you Brian - those are very kind words and I appreciate them ...

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  23. Your poetry and your life are such a blessing, Sharon!! Thank you Sherry for this interview and thank you SO much Sharon for sharing your life with us!! I love the bit about you dancing and being caught by your dad!! Lol

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  24. Sharon was an early friend when I first began writing poetry. To Sharon: Thank you for being another poet who is open about being bipolar (I usually say manic depressive). It's important that we not only break the silence and stigma, but show the world the creativity and beauty offered by folks with mental disorders.

    You and your family have the most adorable dogs in the world.

    I'm glad you didn't take the "Diary of a Mad Housewife" project. I wasn't diagnosed until age 50 - and five years later, I'm blossoming in so many ways. Can't believe it took this long...!

    Thanks for sharing so much of your personal life with us, Sharon. It's an honor to call you friend. Peace, Amy

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  25. Sharon -Just catching this interview- and am grateful for all you shared.

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  26. I am so happy I slipped back over here today just to look again or I would have missed these last three comments ... thanks so much Hannah, Amy and teri - so nice of all of you to come by, read and comment ... I think you and I, Amy, have written together for a very long time and I value our connection and friendship on many levels also ... thanks again guys!

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