Monday, January 28, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ Libby Meador


  Kids, I have a fascinating tale to share with you today. I recognized a fellow Wild Woman in Libby Meador, of The Blog of DonkeyOkie, and was so curious to hear her story I asked to interview her. I was right. Libby's story, and her life, are amazing. On Libby's site are wonderful poems, and photographs of the land she and her family live on, which is beautiful beyond belief. Come along ~ Libby has invited us to sit by the fire, an invitation I am delighted to accept, on behalf of us all.



P.U.:  Libby, I am so happy to be interviewing you. Let's leap in! What does the name of your blog signify?

                                                                   


Libby: DonkeyOkie sounds like Don Quixote - a book lover and anachronism who had the courage, or was just crazy enough, to live more than vicariously.  An apt enough name for adventure-longing donkey-loving Oklahomans (Okies) who haven't given up on the books yet.

P.U.: Since I first laid eyes on your blog and saw your banner, I felt I recognized a fellow Wild Woman in you. Might you explain a bit about the significance of your banner photo, and the message you hope it  conveys? I long to sit by the firepit with you and listen to your wisdom!



Libby: That is the message, to welcome you to my fire, but not just to listen to my wisdom, to speak yours as well.  The flaming fanged viper is an illusion; we're harmless as doves here.  
                       
P.U.: Who are the people on your sidebar, the kids and, especially, “The Old Lady of the Woods”?

Libby: They are contributing DonkeyOkie artists, poets, and photographers:  my daughter, son, and mother.  

                                  

                                            

                                       
The Old Lady of the Woods, my mother, now, that's the Wild Woman.  I met a wolverine, had a Bigfoot encounter, and earned my hiking boots keeping up with her - then had a marmot attempt to drag a boot away while I was soaking my sore feet in a cold creek!  No kidding.  Now her grandkids are being initiated into her wild woods ways.    

                     
       
P.U.: Now I want to  interview your mother! I love the little poem on your blog.  I'll include it, so people can get a sense of who you are.

She gathers herbs and music
The woman I would be

And proffers freely healing.

Of woolcraft and wordcraft

She might turn a penny

Or trade for eggs.

Libby:  It will give a sense of who I want to be.  I'm growing into those roles.  

P.U.: You are so lucky to be living rurally. Is the beautiful pond in your photos on your land? It is glorious and must be so peaceful and alive with creatures. 



Libby: I do live rurally, ten acres on  Rural Route 1, with a pond that in winter is visited by geese and is rather quiet.  In the spring it is the New Orleans of ponds and hums, buzzes, booms, and knocks with the nightclubs of fireflies, cicadas, frogs, and tree toads.  In a good year you can smell the wild honeysuckle and roses.  In any year you can smell another raccoon-mutilated beheaded chicken.  What does our life look like today?  An experiment in homesteading.

                                                            

P.U.: Oh, I am envious. I have always dreamed of living on the land. Your donkeys are so beautiful!


Libby: As for living on the land, we are building a home one bag of concrete at a time (maybe some bioconcrete if I can get any here).  It's a hard life and  I did give up and move to a big city to take a university job last year.  The kids rebelled.  I mean, they were going to disown me.  They would have gone from a graduating class of 10 to over  1,000, and I guess I can't blame them.  So I gave up on giving up and am back to our ten acres now.  But the kids are going to do more chores.





P.U.: I know it is very hard work. But impossible to leave such beautiful land. Yes, help with chores is necessary! I so admire your recent beautiful poem,  “North Star”. 

North Star


My moon is half full.

The other half is spilled years
Spread across the sky like milk.

My moon is waxing,
Growing fuller,
Despite the loss of time.

I have hope, but still I wonder:
If the north star gives directions,
Why does it hang so lonely in the sky?



P.U.: So beautiful.  Is there another poem you feel describes who you are, that you’d  like to include?

Libby: I like this haiku:  

My hair freed from comb
Carried by wind to next spring
Woven in birds' nests.
P.U.: Oh, I love it! At my house, it's the dog hair that gets woven into  nests. I see that you have lived in quite a number of states. Is that because you enjoyed experiencing different places,  did you move for work, or is this just the way the journey unfolded?

Libby: My family trained thoroughbred race horses and we lived a carny's life from track to track, but I could answer yes to all of the above.  I think I must be one of the 20% of all humans who carry the DRD4-7R gene, the restless gene, because I suffer from wanderlust.  
P.U.: No way! Tell us more! (Didn't I tell you, kids? Every interview, a fascinating story!)

Libby:  The carny life was all about living on the backside of the sport of kings.  Not kings, we lived in tack rooms or trailers, and were given tickets to eat Thanksgiving dinner with the other homeless people, but never thought of ourselves as homeless.  We trained some winning athletes and even played on some of the bigger tracks, like Golden Gate and Portland Meadows.  There's no power like what is felt on the back of a racehorse; there's no high like a win. There's no disillusionment like when a horse dies from a heart attack as he crosses the finish line, because his trainer resorted to drugs instead of conditioning.  Still, I would do that life again, concussions and all.   

P.U.: I always fear for the horses' hearts too, as they run with every atom of their being. 

Libby: I think horses in general are an endangered species - they were wiped out in WWI and never recovered, because we don't use that kind of horse power anymore.  Nowadays, they are getting too expensive to keep, and with the recent drought combined with a lot of our hay being shipped overseas, some people are turning their horses loose to fend for themselves. 


Ranchers used to turn stock horses loose, so it's nothing new, but there is less open range to graze and less water to drink.  I have mixed feelings about mustang roundups, because it can be brutal, but no one has the time (?) to do it any other way.  My mother, when she was an interstate truck driver, would go for jogs in places where she met wild horses and they would come up to her, so I believe someone with a lot of time could get them corralled a gentler way.  They are herd animals and might follow a horse that is a member of both the horse and human herd.  

P.U.: Libby, everything you say makes me wish we were writing a book, not doing an interview.  In all the videos I have watched about horses, I have noted it is the trainer who tunes in to the psychology of the horse who gains trust and respect. Those who come from domination encounter resistance. Sigh.  Is there one place above all others that you love best?



photo: discovermoab.com

Libby: The Moab, Utah, I grew up in.  The childhood or place, it's hard to say which.

P.U.: What a dramatically stunning landscape! Have you loved nature since childhood? 

Libby: My mother told me the first time she took me to the ocean, I ran barefoot on the sand until I burned the skin off the soles of my feet and she had to make me stop.  And to this day I don't want to wash the salty crust off my body and out of my hair when I go.  

But I also remember catching horned toads in the desert and turning over rocks to see what lived under them.  I was a wild child in the ecosystem, peeing in the creek, eating warm mulberries from atop a horse, jumping off arches into sand dunes, chasing bats out of abandoned mines . . . A favorite childhood memory of mine (in retrospect) is riding my horse by Edward Abbey the writer's house.  He kept a doll's head on top of a flag pole and I thought he was weird; but now I think the world is even weirder, as some of his thoughts must have got tangled up with mine when I was riding by.



Falls From Tree on horseback


P.U.: Trust me, the world is weirder! I tried to find the doll's head on google, no luck!  I see you are a nurse.  Has it been a fulfilling career? What are the best and worst things about it?

Libby: Most days nursing is a juggling act, not the art it deserves to be.  I just spent Christmas Day 2012 pulling a 24-hour shift doing the work of 2 to 3 nurses because of the weather.  I could gripe all day about my career choice, but I won't.  All the junk in nursing makes miracles of little things.


P.U.: I love the miracles in little things! How did you become a healer?

                                   

Libby: Falling rocks.  A boulder came down, knocked me off the road and over the cliff, and up I went for a helicopter ride.  I was fourteen when healers made that difference in my life, the least of which included what I wanted to be when I grew up, or in my case, what I wanted to go to college for when I finally could afford it.
P.U.: I need to have a conversation with you longer than this interview. Everything you say makes me want to hear more! When did you first begin to write? 

Libby: I think in the sixth grade I wrote a short story for an English assignment which was read aloud to those classmates, and then, to my dismay, it was read aloud in band practice because it was about music.  Why do I write today?  I think it is because I am a happier person, easier to get along with, if some sort of creative energy is circulating through me, whether that energy is from writing a story for my kids, designing a sweater, or planning a garden.  Poetry comes closest to the ineffable, at least for me, so I like circulating it best.  
P.U.:  I know what you mean, being happiest when creative energy is flowing through you. Do you have a favorite well known poet?  What do you love about his or her work? Do you feel he or she has influenced your writing at all?

Shel Silverstein is my favorite well-known poet because of little giggles and hugs his words remind me of.  He has influenced my writing.  Everything I read influences my writing.

                                        

P.U.: Look at the beauty and innocence of those little faces! Wow. Is there one person you feel has been a significant influence on your life and poetry?

Libby: Only one person?  My mother, of course.  She read to me when I was little and always had a book or two in her backpack.  She showed me how to love the nature which inspires poetry, and love the words which flow from it.
P.U.:  She sounds wonderful. You speak of woolcraft and wordcraft. Do you spin? Knit? Weave?

Libby: I knit and crochet, all of us donkey okies do.  Something done with hands to quiet minds, a meditation and crowning accomplishment.


P.U.: Any other activities that you enjoy?

Libby: I wish I could play cello and guitar all day long, with some martial arts thrown in for a break, from sitting on my butt too long.

                                                            

P.U.: Music and the beautiful outdoors. What could be better? How did you come to the blogosphere? Has it had a positive impact on your writing?

 Bruno




Libby: I cannot remember what I googled or why, but Poets United came up, and I said to myself I wanted to do that, and it's been a good thing, because I am writing almost every day now, which means I am thinking almost every day now, and not just cruising on autopilot to and from work.
P.U.: We're so happy that you found us! I adore Bruno, by the way. An Old Soul. I want to include your recent poem, that just gobsmacked me, if that's okay.


Bent, Blocked, Split, and Broken

Before sun, moon, and stars
Were set in the sky
To be our timekeepers,
There was light.
This is the first light
The spirits of trees reflected.

Shadows on a sundial

Spell time.
Time is the absence of first light;
The empty shadow is death.

In a 3,000 year old forest

First light reflected here
Penetrates the temporal body
And the aura of a soul is cast,
A spectral refraction
Of one imprismed
Outside the garden guarded
By the flaming sword
That keeps the way
Of the tree of life.

The forest destructed,

Is a reflection of inhumanity,
But there will always be a forest,
Somewhere.

Reflect on that

While peering on inverted worlds
Reflected on the surfaces of water.
Water,
The first face
The spirit of God moved upon.

Ask

If created in the image of our gods
Would we destroy any forest?
Pollute any water?

Or don't ask.

The tree of knowledge is our downfall.

Under a forest

Or under water
Questions cease
And we can be
Outside of time
Our own godly reflections
Of worm meat and body dust
In drops of dew
Bending back blades
Of bitter herbs and grasses
And let the stars we are made from
Shine of their own accord.

P.U.: This just says it all, Libby. I love it so much. What is your favorite kind of day?

Libby: My favorite kind of day is a day of hard labor on the homestead, followed by an evening of homemade music, especially around harvest time, when there are garden fresh peas and cantaloupe to eat.  
P.U.: Sigh. Sounds wonderful! Is there anything else you’d like to say to Poets United?

Libby: Thanks for stoking my fire.  




Poets United: Thank you, kiddo. We are so happy to have you in this community. Thanks for sharing. This will help us get to know you better – you’ll find this is a wonderfully supportive group of poets. We look forward to reading much more of your work.

Well, kids, you know how close to my heart this is: nature, the land, the animals and a couple of wise wild women thrown in for good measure. If you don't hear from me for a while, I might just be hitch-hiking to Oklahoma!! 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!


32 comments:

  1. I've enjoyed connecting with Libby in cyberspace, and it's great to read more about her hardworking but obviously very fulfilling life. Sherry, much applause for the beautiful poems you have chosen to include in this interview! And of course, much applause to Libby for writing them. :)

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    1. I've enjoyed making friends in this cyberspace community of poets. Thanks for having this place on the map where any can stay awhile and visit.

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  2. How lovely and what beautiful poetry...Well done Sherry and Libby.

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    1. Thank you so much bookworm and keeper of legends. I envy belonging to a people strengthened by thousands of year-old lore; and to be their storyteller, what an honor.

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  3. Thanks, Sherry, for this wonderful interview. Libby, I have long enjoyed your poetry; so it was fun to learn more about you, your family, your profession, your poetry. I think life with horses and donkeys would be just grand. And your mother sounds like a wonderful role model!

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    1. Sometimes horses and donkeys are a grand pain in the ass. And sometimes it is impossible for us not to follow in the footsteps of our role models.

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  4. Oh, Libby! You are a kindred spirit! I KNEW IT!!
    Such a good interview, ladies. I actually sent it to two friends who aren't writers or poets, knowing they would relate to and love Libby!

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    1. There are kindred spirits residing here to dispel any spirit of loneliness one might be tempted to harbor. Thank you for your prompts at Verse First taking me in directions I wouldn't have gone without them.

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  5. I lived vicariously through every word of this interview..........Libby, your writing and your lifestyle are simply amazing. I'm so happy you found us - and we you - at Poets United.

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    1. The feeling is mutual - except for appreciating my own amazing lifestyle. It's not that amazing to me, it just is what it is. Sometimes I wonder if I have any say in the matter at all. (But I know I do. It's all about choices.)

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  6. lovely writing and also believe we are made from stars ;)

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    1. I learned that from a children's book! But I can't remember the title, just the life-changing event initiated by a random swipe of a library card.

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  7. Really interesting interview and story Libby enjoyed it.

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    1. Enjoyed yours as well, the words and the artwork.

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  8. Loved getting to know more about you Libby! Fascinating and wonderful interview Sherry. And I agree, The Old Lady of the Woods needs her own interview!

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    1. The Old Lady of the Woods said, "No!" But I will work on her, one poem at a time. She used to write lots of poetry - poems lost, retrievable now only from the archives of her soul. It's funny how we don't remember them, like we are mere transcribers.

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  9. Libby, really, now you're my favourite poet. That is the most interesting life I've heard, and even more accentuated by your interesting use of words! Loved knowing you more! Even I knew when I found your blog, that I've hit something special. Thank you so much Libby for sharing your poems with us, and for telling us so much about your life. And Sherry, you made my day with this! Thank you! :D

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    1. Thank you, Chhavi. I owe you a debt - your Russian Roulette poem got me to reflect on my own social/political themes and gave courage to my voice.

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  10. So enjoyed getting to know Libby better!! I've always wondered what the picture in the header represented! I like the fire at the end of the interview!

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    1. Robyn, I especially liked the fire at the end, too. That was an extra-special touch added by Sherry's magic.

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  11. A wonderful interview and wonderful experience taking a peek into Libby's amazing life. :-)

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    1. After taking a peek into your life, I have to agree with Sherry - working at a library, the people's university, is a dream job. I applied once! Wish I had got the job :D

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  12. What a nice interview and fantastic poems. I am very grateful I was able to take the time and read it. Thank you!

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    1. We all could use more time. Thanks for sharing some of yours with me.

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  13. Libby it was so nice to visit you by the fire! I think I will hitch a ride with Sherry and come visit!
    Wonderful interview ladies, so happy to learn more about Libby and her beautiful family! :D

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    1. Our family is what makes us; I know you would agree. I miss Wonder Wednesdays and will always be grateful to my first teacher of the prompt. Glad to still be reading your poetry.

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  14. Libby, I love love your work and what a pleasure it is to read about your life--Thank you!

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    1. I love your work and await your interview!

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  15. Loved the interview and Libby, your poetry is amazing!

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    1. Thanks for reading. Your poetry is amazing.

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  16. As someone who was known until just recently for "tilting at windmills" it was virtually impossible for me to resist Libby's blog title ... what a great play on words ... plus, I too have an infinity for donkeys ... there's such innocence and goofiness about them I find. Thanks Sherry for once again bringing to the fore a talented and possibly little-known poet ... someone I hadn't previously been exposed to in any case and whose poetry I find refreshing and so new ... I will be on the look-out for it now. Also, a great admirer of this lifestyle - wish I had the guts but can't quite see myself pulling it off or maybe I've just become too urbanized to imagine it now... but brava to Libby and her kids for doing it - and her wild-woman mother - wow!

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    1. Deurbanization is not for the faint of heart! But thanks to the gloom and doomers there is a lot of gear you can buy just like any other good consumer that makes tilting at windmills less daunting, especially with a donkey at your side to haul all the gear.

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