Monday, November 19, 2012

Life of a Poet - Jennifer Wagner

Kids, today we are heading down the west coast to Seattle, not too far from where I live, to visit poet Jennifer Wagner. Jennifer writes at Poet Laundry and has been waiting ever so patiently for her turn in the rotation. Get ready for some beautiful scenery and a visit to a wonderful and happy family. Seattle, Jennifer tells me, is the home of the first Starbucks - ever - so I think it's appropriate to bring along enough lattes for all of us.  I'm buying. 





Poets United: Jennifer, so wonderful to finally meet with you! Would you like to give us a verbal snapshot of your life? I saw mention of a hero-husband, who does a dangerous job we all should be so grateful to him for.


Me
    
My Hero

Jennifer: I live in the Seattle area with my husband of 14 years, and ever-entertaining kids.   We have 4 sons ranging in age from 5 to 18 years old.  My hubby is a firefighter and I stay home with our little, and not-so-little, men.  


My Boys

He says my job is harder--some days I don’t argue!  We met when I was a single mom of a 3 year old and he had just graduated from the Washington State Fire Academy.  We round it all out with the most lovable, old, mellow-yellow Lab named Druke.

Druke

Poets United: What a wonderful family you have! Even the dog looks Perfect! Have you always lived in the Pacific Northwest?  It's such a beautiful area - what do you love about it? 
   
Jennifer: I have lived in Washington State for most of my life.   I love the colors, the seasonal changes, and all the water we are surrounded by--gorgeous lakes, rivers, and the ocean. 


Near Methow River,
a spot we enjoy

I have to say I could do without quite so much of it falling from the sky though...it’s true what they say about Seattle and rain--and then some.  But I do love it overall; even my youngest son was a water birth.  Love the mountains here too.  Some of my favorite parts of the area are just over them into Central Washington.  

image from lakechelansports.com

We hang out there quite a bit, making memories, at a place called Lake Chelan.

Poets United: See, kids? The Pacific Northwest is incredibly beautiful. I remember a cool seafood restaurant on the dock, way back in the day.

Ivar's from google

Jennifer: That's Ivar's. They serve the best clam chowder, and it's my favorite place to eat in the city. Ivar was such a unique and eccentric character, it's fun to read about him. They have another location at Mukilteo Landing, which is a favorite spot for my hubby and I to go on date nights.  It's right on the water of Puget Sound and you can sit and watch the ferries and seagulls come and go.

at Mukilteo Landing

The fishmongers at the Pike Place Fish Market are worth the visit to the Market alone--they hurl fish through the air, banter with each other, and have a lot of fun with customers. 



Pike Place Market

Poets United: Sigh. I haven't made it back since the 70's, though I would love to. Plus there's the underground old city of Seattle to explore, as well. 

Old Seattle Underground Tour

I'll bet all our readers now want to visit Seattle. Where did you grow up, Jennifer?
     
Jennifer: I grew up mostly in Eastern Washington.  My childhood memories are fertile musing ground for me.  Much of my poetry comes from those experiences.

Poets United: You say you are new to blogging. How has blogging impacted your writing? How did you discover its delights?   
 
Jennifer: There are so many great poets online to read, to learn from, and to be inspired by!  Getting feedback on my work is so encouraging.  I was inspired to blog my poetry after reading a couple of books about being introverted, and using your strengths and such. 

Poets United: Are you new to writing as well? What made  you choose poetry as your means of creative expression?    

Jennifer: I wrote my first poem when I was 11.  It was a collaborative piece written with 3 other girls in my friend’s basement.  It was a love poem and you know it was profound since 2 of the girls were the mature age of 13 and actually had kissed their boyfriends.  

I wrote my second poem, by myself, when I was 16.  It was called “House” and was an ode to the house I had lived in since I was 5 years old and would be moving out of that year.  

I choose poetry (or it chooses me?) because I feel it is how I best express myself.  I like to paint a little, but words are my favorite medium.  The quote by Plutarch - “Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks” -really sums it up for me.

...poetry is painting that speaks...

Poets United: I love that quote! Do you write prose as well? Which do you prefer?
    
Jennifer: I write a little prose.  I do tend towards poetry.  It’s got this boiled-down, pure quality I am addicted to.

Poets United: What is your method when it comes to writing?

Jennifer: I have varying methods.  I have a journal where I write down words that strike me...waterfall, viscosity, willow, canvas, preternatural, terracotta...you get the idea.  And then I pair words that don’t initially make sense together...bald silver, wind basket, or I use compounding on them, like greenyolk.  Poems often grow out of these.  I do write to prompts occasionally.  At times I make a lot of revisions, other times not so much.

Poets United: Being a busy wife and mom, what would you say to other busy women who love to write, but maybe feel guilty taking time away from their family to do so?    

Jennifer: I am so inspired by other women.  The strength and resiliency of women through life’s difficulties astounds and encourages me.  For me, writing has been such an invaluable activity to express my thoughts and my experiences, and all the beauty and pain in life.  Women have so much to say, and for me that comes easier on paper.  I also find it so rewarding when others connect to something I’ve written.  So I would say, if you are a writer--write, take time for it--it belongs to you and you to it.  And share.  Your voice is valuable and you need, you deserve, you are worth being heard. 

...you are worth being heard...

Poets United: YES! You could not have said it better. Is there anyone who acts as a sort of writing mentor to you, or who encourages your work?

Jennifer: I consider people like you, Sherry, and Mary, and Brian Miller and Claudia Schoenfeld of d’Verse and Rebecca Brooks of recuerda mi corazon mentors of sorts--all of you who are so amazingly supportive and unfailingly encouraging and nurturing of the poet’s heart.  

Poets United: It is our pleasure and privilege, kiddo, and I am honored to be named in such good company!

Jennifer: As a teenager, when a teacher recognized my connection to writing and picked me with a few other students to begin an in-depth creative writing class, to college where I was told my work was publishable, to friends and family encouraging me over the years to submit my work for publication, I never have, I never believed in me.  So as a testament to the supportive qualities of this community, I am gaining the confidence I’ve lacked to begin doing it.

Poets United: That is so great, Jennifer. Poets do need some feedback and encouragement to thrive, and the blogosphere is such a rich source. What other interests do you enjoy? 


The original Starbucks, at Pike Place
   
Jennifer: Sleep,ha...I mentioned painting…coffee, the original Starbucks is here, in Seattle,  you know...and cheering on the boys at all their sports and activities.  

We enjoy a lot of family activities like game nights, movie nights, hanging out together near water:  boating, crabbing, fishing, tubing, exploring, and just playing together. And I also enjoy a bit of baking.  Family favorites:  cupcakes.




Poets United: Delicious! Do you play an instrument, or sing?  
  
Jennifer: No.  Unless you count RockBand on the Xbox 360; I play a mean bass guitar, dang proud when I killed it on “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

"Live, totally rocking it, oh yeah"

Poets United: I love it! Any causes dear to your heart?
    
Jennifer: Marriage.  My husband and I recently became certified as lay marriage counselors.  About half of all marriages end in divorce...a 50-50 chance of success.  I think those odds suck.  So, be the change right?  

Poets United: Wow, that is really interesting - and inspiring!

Jennifer: We overhauled our own marriage, and now we want to help others by providing them with tools to manage and maneuver through difficulties to something better.  I am divorced from my oldest son’s dad and I didn’t get married again just to survive the experience.  I want to have a relationship that thrives, and want others to see that realized in their own lives too.  It meant so much to hear my 18 year old say recently that he hopes to have a marriage like ours one day.

Poets United: That is high praise, coming from one's own teen. Do you have a favorite well-known poet?  
  
Jennifer: Emily Dickinson, King David, Mary Oliver, Basho.

Poets United: Any blogging pals you’d like to give a shout out to? 
   
Jennifer: I don’t think I’m quite on the pal level with anyone yet, I’m pretty new to this blogging thing.  But if I were going to plug for blogs it would be Yelena’s at moonlitpoetic, Lisa Williams at law-poetry, yours, Sherry, Annette Mickelson at hoofprintsinmygarden....I could go on here, this list is most definitely not comprehensive.  I am a fan of poetry, so this names just a few which regularly move me.

Poets United: Thanks, kiddo. It is a wonderfully supportive community, isn't it? Anything else you’d like to share with Poets United? 
   
Jennifer: Yes.  I am so grateful for this community of poets.  So many people take the time to read and comment so thoughtfully.  Many have said it before, but I will echo it--feels like I’ve found my people. 

Poets United: Yay! We're happy about that, too, kiddo. Keep writing!

Kids, I am beginning to doubt the statistics. Judging from these interviews, marriage seems to be thriving, at least in our community. That is good to know. Isn't it true that the people behind the pen are some of the most interesting folks around? Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!



40 comments:

  1. Nice interview, ladies! I discovered Jennifer's blog not too long ago, and I really enjoy her work.

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    1. Thanks MZ! I've recently discovered yours as well--you are a very talented gal. I think I mentioned it before, but I love your profile pic too.

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  2. I recognized the blog name right away! A great interview and so nice to learn more about you Jennifer!

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    1. Robyn- thank you! I am enjoying discovering your poetry...just recently became aware of your blog too.

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  3. I love her work! Publishable indeed! It is funny, but I thought good poets where supposed to be lonely and depressed. :) Glad to know that isn't the case. Nice job, ladies.

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    1. Margaret, thank you! That is high praise to me because I am a huge fan of your talent! Your blog inspires me. However, I will confess to some battles with depression and loneliness...

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  4. Great interview, Sherry and Jennifer! It was so nice to learn a little bit more about your life. Thank-you.

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    1. Thanks Janet, you have such a poetic gift. I am in awe of it!

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  5. I'm constantly in a state of amazement at my wifes creativity and writing. I don't know how she does it - I just love that she's found an outlet and a community of like minded people to share and support her. Great job honey and thank you Poets United and countless others.

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    1. Well, thank you Mr. Wagner. Didn't expect you to comment here-you make me smile.

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  6. It's a cool privilege to be featured in the series and you are such a fun person to be interviewed by Sherry! It didn't seem like there was much waiting though, as a matter of fact I'm amazed at how quickly you do these things--and so well. Thanks so much, I'm really honored to be part of the series!

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  7. smiles....how very cool....was great to get to know you a bit more....marriage counselors...that is great, our families def need all the help we can get...and def thanks for the nod as well...i love seattle...when i was out there years back Wild Ginger was a great Thai place....mmm....and the fish market...

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    1. I enjoyed getting to know you better too in your recent interview at d'Verse, which is such a cool site for poets as well. You are so inspiring Brian. And the Wild Ginger is still here...

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  8. Great interview Sherry ~

    How lovely to get to know you better ~ The picture of your children is precious ~

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    1. Thank you Grace--they are a treasure. I really enjoy your poetry...you have a beautiful gift.

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  9. Jennifer, so happy to learn more about you! I could relate to so many things you shared! You have a beautiful family n' spirit~ I too love to paint n' coffee. I love your view~ Wonderful to receive such a compliment from your oldest son! I look forward to getting to know you~ ATB

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    1. Thanks Ella, I am a big fan of your work--I follow both of your blogs. You are so creative! Nice to know we have some stuff in common...looking forward to getting to know you better as well.

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  10. Wow. I am SO HAPPY to see your husband commented, Jennifer. Now that is one wonderful husband, so supportive of your gift. I always enjoy these interviews so much, getting to know each poet better and living vicariously through their photos. It was such a pleasure, Jennifer. Seattle seems pretty close by, we're almost neighbors:)

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    1. Thanks for another brilliant offering, Sherry! By the way, I managed to have mine on the side-bar afterall. Thanks Ma'am!

      Hank

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    2. My husband is so supportive...what a sweetheart, he melts me. And Sherry I love YOUR photos!! B.C is so close, let me know if you ever come down this way.

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  11. So wonderful to know you as a blogger, Jenny! Being counselors can be such a noble decision to take. Admire your resolve, both of you and your hubby giving back to the community. A wonderful interview and such a wonderful family.

    Hank

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    1. Hank- I love that you call me Jenny...half of my family does. Thanks so much, and you have a beautiful family as well. :-)

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  12. What a wonderful interview of Jennifer, Sherry. I always enjoy your writing, Jennifer. It is just so 'real,' the kind of poetry I enjoy very much. I love the Seattle area. I used to spend a lot of time out there. Always laughed at the people who seemed to wear shorts no matter what the weather. Loved Pike Street Market. And loved the fresh seafood. I commend you on being a lay marriage counselor. Enjoyed the photo of your family. Happy to have met you in the 'sphere.'

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    1. Ha! Mary you got that right...people always wear shorts here no matter the weather, I'm always laughing too...Thanks so much for all of your support, it really means a lot, and for providing this cool space to gather.

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    2. And thanks, by the way, for the 'shout out.' It is no small thing.

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  13. nice...a wonderful interview...thanks for the shout out..and yes..i wanna move to seattle now..smiles...love me some good clam chowder and i whole-heartedly agree when you say that prob. not we find poetry but poetry finds us...in my case i think poetry found me..and i'm so thankful...smiles
    also great on helping others improve their marriage...wonderful to get to know you a bit better jennifer and kudos to your husband for the job he's doing

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    1. I'm thankful poetry found you too Claudia, and that you share it with us. You inspire so many of us...looking forward to your interview at d'Verse...

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  14. Very nice to get to know Jennifer...thanks, Sherry and thanks for that latte too! That part of the country is very beautiful..wonderful photos.

    Gayle ~

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    1. Gayle, I'm looking forward to exploring your blog! Maybe while I sip a latte too...

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  15. Thanks for the shout out, Jennifer. Yours is one of the poetry blogs I most enjoy. And, Seattle -- love that town!!

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    1. You're welcome--anytime! I enjoy that blog of yours.

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  16. That's a wonderful interview ...
    Happy to know about you Jennifer.
    As always good job Sherry...

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    1. Hi Rashmi- I look forward to visiting your blog and to getting to know a bit more about you as well. :)

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    2. dear beautiful jennifer,

      i enjoyed immensely reading about you, your life, family and heart for writing. thank you for sharing your gorgeous haiku on fridays at recuerda mi corazon and your thoughtful recognition. i loved your sentiments shared especially;

      "if you are a writer--write, take time for it--it belongs to you and you to it".

      let's never stop!!!

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    3. Rebecca I adore you and your vibrancy! It's such a privilege to be able to share haiku at your site--and I love your writing as well. Amen to never stopping! :-)

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  17. What a lovely interview. I consider you to be such an inspiration in many ways. Needless to say, I love your poetry and appreciate you sharing it on your blog, look forward to reading more.

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    1. I am honored Lisa--you know I love your writing, it makes such a connection with me. I'm looking forward to more from you as well. Keep em coming :-)

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  18. Wonderful interview. Always - a feeling of warmth and human connection in your poetry, Jennifer. It was nice to get a little glimpse of where that comes from.

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    1. Wendy, thank you! I feel the same way about your writing, you write from a warm and lovely family-centered perspective I enjoy. Glad you are blogging again!

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