Monday, May 19, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - STORMCAT

Today, my friends, we are visiting the wild, a large tract of wilderness in the Adirondacks, where we find Stormcat, of Stormcat's Poetry, working on his amazing house, and living an alternative lifestyle so many of us long for, outside of the rat race. We are gathering on his front deck, replenishing our souls with the song of the wood thrush, keeping an eye out for coyote and deer.  


Sherry: This is such a beautiful setting! I could do this entire interview just oh-ing and ah-ing, but I shall rein myself in. So tell us, kiddo – Who is Stormcat?




Stormcat: My pen name, Stormcat, is the handle that I’ve used on-line for about fifteen years. It was derived from a montage of nicknames. It seems that in having kept cats all my life as pets, I actually understand them, to the point that they mostly behave themselves around me. Cats love me. Very often people will tell me that their cat “doesn’t even let me pick him up and hold him that way.” One day my mother accused me of being a cat in human form. The Storm part came from the inventor/problem-solver gift that I seem to have been given. It was my ex who called me Stormy, as short for brain-stormy, but also because I’ve always had a storm of emotions brewing beneath what appears to be a calm composed countenance.





Sherry: That is a very interesting combination. What does a day in the life look like, for you?

Stormcat: I’d like to say that I’m this uber-disciplined practitioner of wisdom who gets up every morning at 4 and meditates for two hours, then spends my day helping the unenlightened live happy and fruitful lives until the evening, where I spend a fair amount of time socializing with friends and family until I retire to my room to think, read, write, and enjoy my solitude. That is my ideal and what I strive for. . .  but it’s just as likely that I get up at 4 AM because that’s about the time when I need to go to the bathroom. 

Then once I’m up, I try to meditate but I’m too tired and soon fall back to sleep. And wouldn't you know that I don’t reawaken until it’s a quarter after eight, at which time I rush around in a panic because I have to be in court in fifteen minutes. Then I work for hours tediously preparing documents only to go home, way after dark, to an empty house, eat my dinner right from the pan on the stove, drink a couple of beers, and go to sleep. It’s not all that bad though, because the reality is somewhere between those extremes.

Sherry: I am enjoying your sense of humor! Tell us a bit about where you live. I love the name, Hope, New York.



Stormcat: I like the name too. Hope is beyond rural; it’s more wilderness in the Adirondack Mountains. There really isn’t a village, just weekend/vacation cabins and a smattering of four- season homes for us diehards who live here year round. 



Working on the House

I’ve been building my own home on my property which consists of a 130 acre forest that extends in an L shape up the mountain and along the river. There are a lot of wild animals that live with me, and I enjoy making friends with them, even though they are not always too keen on the idea. For example close encounters have occurred with coyotes, bears, deer, turkeys, mink, ducks frogs, snakes, lizards, crows, hawks, owls, beaver, muskrat, and one giant buzzard that startled the bejeebers out of me when I found it hiding out in my woodshed. 

I've been hoping that someday I'll come across a moose, as I'm told they are in the area, but I've yet to encounter one.


I've been working on the house for eight years. A pretty big project. I think it will take at least two more years now to complete, unless I hire some help to finish it up this summer.




Sherry: It looks wonderful. I completely  envy you living in the wilderness, among the wild creatures. Sigh. You are living the dream, my friend. You describe yourself as an attorney, a scientist,  inventor and  poet. A very eclectic and intriguing mix! Tell us a little about your work..........and, especially, your inventions.




Stormcat: For whatever philosophical underpinnings you want to give as “the reason for,” I have become a general practice attorney in a small rural/village neighborhood. And though I am getting ahead of myself here now, I find existentialism to be the most satisfying explanation. In that regard. I strive to live passionately because I believe that it is a man's passion that defines his purpose.

There are four areas that test my passion as I engage each. They are: Intelligence, Strength, Friendship/Relationship, and Poetic life/Beauty. In the past ten years I have completely given up pursuing the trappings of wealth, and started living simply. I have been surprised to find that I haven't starved or even missed a meal; that I always seem to have sufficient for my needs; and that the time not spent working to that end is now happily spent on much more productive and worthwhile endeavors.





Sherry: You made a very wise choice: quality of life over pursuit of the dollar. Way to be, kiddo. Stormcat, tell us what you are doing in this photo, would you, please?


Stormcat: In this photo I am in Terra Haute, setting the main body of a Sun Calendar done by my sculptor friend. I did all the structural and astronomical calculations for a Sun Calendar done by my sculptor friend. We were setting it up in this photo,  and I was directing the placement of the main body of the sculpture. I thought you might like it because I was wearing a hard hat and look like a construction worker.

Sherry: And I do! This is fascinating. 

Stormcat: All I did was chart the angles of the sun for each day of the year for that specific site, so that we could mark the sculpture to indicate the date by where the shadows fell. Plus on the equinoxes there was a special channel that the noon sun shone through perfectly only on those two days. 

Sherry: Totally cool! Where did you grow up? Were you trying to invent things then, already? Is there a story from back then we’d get a kick out of? 

Stormcat: I grew up on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho’s Teton Valley. My ancestors were the pioneers that they now make movies about, and I was among the fourth generation family of those fierce settlers. (Now there are two generations after me on that land).

My father instilled in me the importance of intelligence, and gave me the strength to pursue education. I've always been an inventor, but I think in retrospect it was because I am basically lazy. I was always trying to find a way to make work easier. It seems ironic that I happily spent an extraordinary effort to figure out a way to get out of a little bit of work. 





To my credit though, I have always been fearlessly curious in my efforts to experience new things. For example, when, as a boy, I read about the first successful heart transplant performed in South Africa I decided that it would be a good science project to perform heart transplants on a pair of rabbits, swapping their hearts. I read every book I could get my hands on about the surgery and made my plan. My parents thought I was starting a rabbit raising business when I built rabbit hutches and began using my paper route money to buy rabbit stock from the local farmers. When my father found out what my true intentions were, the rabbits suddenly disappeared and I was never able to perform my heart swapping surgery. 

Sherry: Yoiks! Saved in the nick of time! (Note: No rabbits were harmed during the course of this interview.)

Stormcat: My father wanted me to be a surgeon. I think that is what he wanted to be. Anyway I soon learned that the life as a Doctor wasn’t for me. Whenever I was with a patient all I could think about was how horrible the situation was,  and it interfered with my ability to think and act. So that is what sent me toward laboratory science. I took a year off after undergrad and worked in a laboratory to get some experience. The scientist who ran the lab liked my work and my creativity, and took me on as his Student. I got a full tuition scholarship and a work stipend. 

After graduating, I accepted a three-year National Research Council Post Doctoral Fellowship, then became a senior staff scientist at NIH. Eventually I ended up in New York at a Patent Law firm writing Biotech patent applications. I attended Law School at night and became an Attorney in 2000. I worked as a Patent Attorney for a number of years, then decided I'd like to try inventing full time, that is until divorce forced me to go back to work. 

Sherry: What an amazing journey you have made! I love your poem Dog and would like to include it here, if I may.

Stormcat: This poem was written for my friend Snowflake's dog, Amadu. Snowflake took the photos. 

Sherry: Snowflake is very talented! I adore this photo so much. I wish I had taken one like it when Pup was alive.


 Crossing Paws With Amadu
photo by Snowflake


East de casa lay a ribbon of grass fallow earth
between post harvest plow rumpled fields
A road pass of sorts
leading to a cat tailed dragonfly kissed pond beyond
spreading chestnut and pussy willow
where adventures take birth.

A great place to romp,

look for ruffle-necked grouse,
chase rabbits, and
startle frogs caught off guard basking in sun-warmth and the odd pheasant.
My master likes to go there too but
always walks slowly. I think she’s afraid or lost in nostalgia,
she trusts me, however, sings, smiles, and talks to me . . .
so whenever I go,
I always take her with me.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved

The Noble Amadu - photo by Snowflake


Sherry: This is so beautiful! It pings my heart. How long have you been writing poetry? What caused you to pick up your pen and write that first poem?

Stormcat: In the beginning, my writing poetry was more an act of accidental desperation than one by design. At the time I was at a crossroads in my life. Going through the motions, depressed and without direction. Maybe it was my mid-life crisis sneaking up on me from behind. 

I wrote the first one as a joke and everybody really loved it and encouraged me to write more. I soon found solace in the process of writing and began using it as a means of working through my difficulties. I actually never planned on publishing any of it but after I had finished a hundred or so poems the few friends that I shared them with started encouraging me to publish them. That's what led me to the on-line poetry community. 





Much of my poetry seems, viewed from the outside, to be autobiographical, but rather it is more often empath-compassion motivated as I watch people struggle and imagine life in their shoes (I think that insight is why I seem to do so well with relating to my clients in such areas of law as divorce mediation and criminal defense.) My poetry is as much written with a respect for, and discipline of, poetic form, as it is a creative exploration of undefined form (or lack thereof.) 

Sherry: I can see the blogging community has definitely impacted your writing.

Stormcat: The blogging community has been wonderful, and good for me in many ways. To interact with other poets and read their works has given me exposure to many different styles and forms. The productivity of the other poets inspires me, and seeing it motivates me to be more productive myself. The variety is amazing, and I love to see the range of expression about common subject matter.

The poetry written by the other poets here impacts my life and work, and  I am so impressed when they put their incredible creative talent to work in a meaningful way. 





Sherry: It does motivate, doesn't it? What makes poetry sing for you? What do you love about it?

Stormcat: I love when the poet says something that makes the ordinary beautiful. I love when a new idea is presented that touches my spirit and helps me appreciate my humanity. I love to be reminded of my potential as a child of God. I love to feel the common experience that I share with all other living beings. 

For example, take the simple words of Robert Frost in the first few lines of his poem “Birches” where he writes so delicately  “. . . I like to see the birches bending to and fro across the line of darker straighter trees . . .”  Until I read that, I thought birches were weak nuisance trees that made the forest ugly; now I see them as silver white bows with black edges that add curvature to the otherwise bland vertical forest. That a poem can so profoundly transform someone’s attitude about some perceived ugliness is what makes it sing for me. 


"It's the expression of ideas that were 
never thought before......"

It’s not the form or the clever juxtaposition of incongruous words that impresses me . . . it’s the expression of ideas that were never thought before. Like the prayers of deities being described as speaking so beautifully that man has never even imagined such language before. That, to me, must have been poetry.

Sherry: You could not have said it any better. Is there a fave poem you would especially like to include ?


I'm not sure about my father but
I think I love my mother.
It isn't that it is.
It's that it is disturbing to admit.
After all,
Society dictates absoluteness
in that regard.
So I look at myself in the mirror
and think, on an ordinary day, that
I really don't look that wonderful
That's when I don't like myself,
in spite of all the wonder.
That's when I question my worth
the most!

Now it's ten o'clock on yet another
Monday night!
Before I even realize it, it will be
Ten o'clock
on yet another Friday night.
Another week will have passed
without any accomplishment.

It simply feels like I'm drowning
but it doesn't really matter.
A person can't drown
who is already dead.
Perfection?
To be human is to be
beautifully flawed.

Seems, after all these years, like
there is no one-and-only for me.
Four decades, two failed marriages,
countless attempts . . .
Still no soul-mate.
Must I end, rattling around in this
large house with one cat?

I always dreamed
that my beautiful dance partner
fell in love with me.
I assumed I needed a partner to dance
Today I went upstairs where the floor is
large and empty (no lights or eyes)
Today, I tried dancing alone. . .

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved!



Sherry: "To be human is to be beautifully flawed." How I love that! I resonate deeply with this poem. I never found my soul mate either. I applaud the dancing alone. Keep dancing! And....you still have time! What do you like to do on days off when you are not writing?



Ready to Kayak

Stormcat: I like to white water kayak, and take a run whenever I can get someone to go with me. In the evenings I love to sit out front and listen to the wood thrush sing. I can't seem to get enough of that sound. 

I have some close friends who are artists and I attend a lot of exhibitions with them. I enjoy Indy music and go to the small venue concerts whenever I can find them. In fact there is a whole underground of private music gatherings in barns, garages and basements that I have found and enjoy. Recently I started going to poetry readings and poetry slams, and am starting to get to know that community as well. 

Sherry: All wonderful outlets! Is there anything you would like to say to the good folk of Poets United?


Stormcat: I've felt unusually welcomed, and appreciate all those who have taken the time to visit my blog and comment. I'm especially happy to have made friends with those poets who have taken the time to send me their input and inspiration privately as well. 

I am amazed at the variety of ways that the world can be viewed, and feel a sense of belonging and excitement when I encounter the synergy that evolves from our interactions. Both my confidence and sense of worth have soared from the friendly acceptance and encouragement I have received and, believe me, that has been a life saver in the past few recent years.  I invite anyone who is living in or visiting the Upstate NY/Adirondack Park area to visit me and share some pleasant memories.

Sherry: How I would love to sit on your porch and listen to the wood thrush sing! Anyone who passes through your area would be lucky to take you up on that offer, kiddo! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. We look forward to reading more of your work, and to watching the progress of your house in the wildwoods.

Off we go to catch our flight home, kids, and I am homesick already. Wasn't this a remarkable look into one poet's life? I love these weekly visits. They show us how many ways there are for a poet - for anyone - to live a life. Living midst woodthrush and coyotes has to be one of the best, to my way of thinking. 

Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


31 comments:

  1. Thanks Sherry, It is good to learn more about Stormcat. Stormcat,now I see that your unique poems come partly from your environment. I like the dog taking her along in the first, the attempt to dance alone in the second.

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  2. What a great interview.. and what a great world you live in Stormcat.. such an environment is where part of me dream of being in...

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  3. Another wonderful interview Sherry. I enjoyed this glimpse into your world Stormcat.

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  4. Thanks Sherry I was pretty nervous about this and I see that I didn't need to be. You did a wonderful job with the interview, editing and presentation. I look forward to the reaction and and appreciate the chance to be a part of this wonderful family.

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    1. Am glad you like it, kiddo......you gave me great material to work with. I miss the woodthrushes already - am making do with mourning doves and hummingbirds. Smiles.

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  5. I enjoyed reading so many things about you, Stormcat. I like the idea of building your own house even though this is not for me. I also enjoyed your second poem, despite the wistful tone. Thank you, Sherry, for yet another great and thorough interview.

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  6. Hi Stormcat, I enjoyed this interview very much, as I have long been a fan of your poetry. Your poetry always seems to me to have a kind of gut-level quality which I appreciate. You seem to write from the heart, with honesty. I enjoyed the honesty I was very interested in the origin of your Stormcat name. In looking at the two different kinds of photos of you, Stormcat, I see you in one as being long haired and & the others as being short-haired, which image of yourself are you more fond of? (Smiles) I like what you said about liking poets who can make the ordinary beautiful. I feel the same as you about that. Most of our lives are ordinary, after all. And, ha, if I ever get close to upstate New York, I will keep your invitation in mind. And keep writing!!

    Thanks, Sherry, for a wonderful interview, which allowed me to get to know Stormcat much better.

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    1. I vote for the long hair and beard, natch!!

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    2. I do miss my long haired Bohemian romantic look but I at least kept the beard. It's just that standing up in court rather requires a more "conservative" look.

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  7. The simple life is very ideal for retirees. Great journey you have had Stormcat! This interview was well-done and your pics are fantastic. Good on you and God bless.

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  8. Another lovely interview Sherry thanks ~

    Stormcat, I envy that you have decided to live a simple life and pursuing the things you like as building the house, etc ~ I don't see myself living that far away from city so I admire someone who does a good job of balancing a job and pursuing a simple & fulfilling life ~ No wonder your voice is original & clearly you ~ Cool that you are going to poetry readings and poetry slams ~

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    1. Well actually I'm only 3 hrs drive to Boston, 31/2 to NYC, 2 1/2 to Montreal, and 5 to Toronto so weekends in the city and all that "culture" are quite regular for me.

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    2. You have the best of all possible worlds, my friend. Wonderful to have so many big centers so close at hand.

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  9. Wonderful interview. It wasn't a surprise, just an affirmation of a very creative person. Thank you for sharing your private and creative life with us. Oh, and sherry does have a nack for slowly pulling these things out without pain :-)

    ZQ
    PS: this is an awesome creative community.

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  10. I too envy your passion to embrace the simple life! I am trying to get my husband to go in this direction. He loves to fix and make things-when time allows! What a beautiful spirit you have~ It is so nice to meet you!

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  11. I so love your hermit style of living Stormcat, and not so easy to embrace life that way...your voice has an unusual strength just perfect for your creative life...and Sherry
    what an interview!!!!!

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  12. Nice to know about his lifestyle and his creations...simple yet beautiful. A great interview Sherry :-)

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  13. Wonderful interview Sherry..and Stormcat's poetry is beautiful..and a lifestyle everyone deep in their heart want to have..All the best stormcat..

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  14. Wow!! Funding, job and any opportunity from NIH is a dream of any scientist and any science student, but leaving all of it and pursuing your own dreams ...is just for the brave heart like you. Kudos!!

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  15. Sherry, this was one of your best and soft interviews. i believe this because knowing of your passion for the nature calling aspect of your being, this interview became natural.

    Stormcat, isn't it interesting how when someone walks the fringes of the concept 'finding a soulmate' one thinks it to be directed toward another human?
    this to me is allayed when one thinks about the nature of all that is around us and we realize that a soul does not necesssarily have a human form so a soulmate could already be embracing you. there are so many aspects of your present existence that envy entices myself and i'm sure others. gracias for sharing this with Sherry and us.

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    1. Marco, Indeed . . . I believe that every living thing (animals, plants etc.) has a spirit (and maybe a god) and that even Earth itself is living and has a spirit. You can see that belief in many of the poems I have written. I know that I am connected with and guided by the spirit of the hawk and have learned much from that spirit. But I have somehow never thought of my soul-mate being anything other than human and a woman at that. Interesting topic to meditate.

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  16. Great interview Sherry, I loved hearing the origins of your name Stormcat and am amazed at just how multi faceted you are. I also love that you're embracing a simpler way of life and the house you're building looks amazing. So much fun getting to know more about you.

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  17. Ooops, forgot to mention how wonderful and heart felt rendering is that pic of the paw on top of the foot. Sherry, you know :-)

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  18. An enviable life indeed! Wonderful interview.

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  19. Thank you Sherry and Stormcat, I loved the post and loved learning more about Stormcat and reading his poetry....thanks again!

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    1. I also loved the part about the importance of dancing, even if we do it alone. So many wonderful things in the post!

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  20. Sherry a wonderful interview and what an amazing life. Love the view of the mountains, the sounds (birds are my favorite sounds), the dog poem is such a perfect word painting, and greatly admire everything that you strive to do and deliver also. Have always enjoyed your poetry and appreciate you opening a window into your life as well. Thank you

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  21. Enjoyed the interview and learning a bit more about the man behind the poetry. I am sure you have a lot of inspiration surrounded by nature.

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  22. What an interesting life you have led, Stormcat...I loved both your poems, but the raw honesty of the second one really touched my heart. And the home you are building is amazing! Sherry, thank you for all the hard work you put into these interviews - I really enjoy reading them.

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  23. Such a lovely interview. Both interviewer and interviewee are very talented wordsmiths indeed. :)

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