Monday, April 20, 2015

LIFE OF A POET ~ SARA MCNULTY

Today, my friends, we are taking a road trip down the beautiful West Coast Highway 101, along one of my favorite coastlines, in Oregon, to visit Sara McNulty, of purplepeninportland. On Sara's banner are the words "Each day is a beautiful gift package. Open it," a philosophy that resonates with me. Buckle up, as my grandkids view me as a Ms Magoo kind of driver, and we'll pick up some Starbucks on the way. You're riding shotgun, so you get the best view!  Oh, and this interview includes dogs, as well as ocean, so I am a happy girl.






Sara at the Tulip Festival




Sherry: Sara, I am so happy to be finally sitting down with you.  I LOVE that you have two rescue dogs. We will have to talk about them for sure! So let’s plunge in. I know you are a neighbor of mine,  in the wonderful Pacific Northwest.

Sara: I am honored to be interviewed for this diverse site, with its many talented poets.


Highway 101 - Oregon Coast


Yes, the Pacific Northwest has been my home for six years now.  For me, there is nothing lacking in this beautiful part of the world, from rivers and oceans to art and culture.  The only difference between Portland and New York City is huge crowds, which I am happy to live without at this point in my life.

Sherry: I love it too, Sara.  The Oregon coastline is one of the most beautiful. Would you give us a snapshot of your life right now, so we can see the poet at home?  What do you love about the area you live in?

Sara: In the Bethany area of Beaverton, (across the street from Portland!), I share a home with my husband and our two rescue dogs.  We live next door to a friend I have had since we worked together in Manhattan, about thirty-five years ago.  My neighborhood is a mixture of many cultures.  People are friendly, and always willing to lend a hand.  My husband  and I moved from New York, where we had lived all our lives, mostly in Brooklyn.

After working at the World Trade Center, and then being suffocated in an impossible situation at work, I resigned, with the idea of taking a month off to write.  My husband encouraged me to write for as long as I wanted.  He had retired a year earlier, and thought we could try making it on his pension.  Well, that was eight years ago, and I am still writing.  

On vacations to southern and northern Oregon, we were struck by its beauty, and peace.  Several years after our trip, friends moved here and we visited them.  I decided that it would be unique and fun to celebrate my sixtieth birthday in a new place.  We were both apprehensive about moving across the country, and leaving family, and all of our friends behind, but we did it!  The small town sense I get from living here is comfortable.  I feel like I have spread my wings and opened up my life. 

Newport Beach


Sherry: What a wonderful adventure, at age sixty!!!! Way to fly! You are inspiring! (You are also a very young-looking sixty, I might add!)  Now, I am eagerly waiting for the story of your rescue dogs.

Sara: All the animals I have ever had the pleasure of co-habiting with have been rescues.  With so many animals needing care and love, adoption makes sense and saves lives.




We had a wonderful Bassett hound, named Walter, before rescuing Marion.  He was my savior on September 11th.  I should have been at my desk in the World Trade Center, but Walter refused to come in that morning, causing me to make the later bus.  I watched the horror from the bus window at the mouth of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

Sherry: WOW!!!!!! What an amazing story! He must have known. Animals have a sense of such things. Bless Walter! You rescued him, then he returned the favor. This story just knocks me out!




Sara: Marion Miller, (named for my husband’s aunt), was one of ten puppies abandoned in a junk yard.  Two extraordinary animal rescue people brought the pups home, where we found them playing in a playpen!  Marion looked like a little barrel, and had a slit in her nose from being injured.  Our Vet did not think she would make it, but I am happy to say, she is approaching nine years old, happy and healthy.  We refused to put her on a plane for the cross-country move, so I did some research, and discovered a pet bus that took animals to new locations.  Qualified trainers and drivers were on hand to speak with whenever we wanted, during the six days it took to bring Marion here.  You do not want to know the cost!




We found Murphy in a dachshund rescue home in Portland.  Now he is a four-year old, delightful twenty pounds of lap dog!  The dogs took to each other immediately and are great pals.  Here are some photos:


Pals



Sherry: They are so precious and beautiful, Sara. Their faces are just wonderful! Bless you for rescuing them and giving them such wonderful lives. One doesn't dare think about what their lives might have been, otherwise. 

Now let’s go back to your childhood. Where did you grow up, and what were the delights of your childhood?

Sara: Childhood was spent in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, NY.  We lived in a new housing project with an abundance of  playgrounds and kids.  In the summer, we belonged to a neighborhood pool, where my father taught many children to swim, as he did me when I was three years old.  I have not gone back often, but I do have a wonderful aunt of ninety-six, who still lives there, and is quite content.

Sherry: When did you begin writing poetry, Sara?  What do you love about it?

Sara: I was always writing as a child.  In fifth grade I wrote a poem about going to the moon (which had not happened yet).  I was asked to read it at a sixth grade assembly.  

Shaking, I managed to get through it.  At ten years old, I wrote a play called, Treasure Hunt.  I carried it around in an old cigar box of my Dad’s, trying to convince my friends that we could act it out.  They saw nothing fun in my idea at all.

After writing short stories for years, I found Poetics Aside, a blog hosted by Robert Brewer.  I became  caught up in poetry, realizing it was a better venue for expressing myself in a freeing and more imaginative manner.



"Someone get me out of here!"

Sherry: This would be a good time to share one of your poems, Sara. And it's about writing, which is perfect.

Word Images
Poets pour their hearts out,
blood from old wounds–dark
scabs that open when picked,
hoping someone will sympathize,
realize their own pain
is shared.  Fresh hurt spurts
ink across a page, every letter
bold.  Rage at loved ones,
government, hunger,
homelessness, or wars
that never pause to let in
light.  Dim future assured
for those born under
an umbrella of futility.
Drink our words deeply
until they live within you.
We give you a part of us–
in our own words.

Sherry: I love that: "We give you a part of us - in our own words." Is there someone you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet?  Someone who believed in you?

Sara: My fourth grade teacher was the first to encourage me to write.  Unfortunately, at age thirteen, and for many years following, I suffered with anxiety and depression.  Years later, in my forties, and on proper medication, I began to write again. 

A good friend at work, with whom I shared my writing, encouraged me to take classes.  I enrolled in an NYU writing class, and after that ended, I became part of a small group that met in the teacher’s home.  I took a second writing class at NYU, and again became a member of a small group that met in my new teacher’s home. 

My husband always gave me space to do what I wanted.  Although he is not a fan of poetry, he was supportive.  My Dad was always my champion.  He saved every piece of my writing.  I discovered it neatly stacked in his old desk, after he passed away.  Eventually, I found Poetics Aside with Robert Brewer on line, and knew that my calling was poetry.


Buttercups

Against a blue sky
Wide cups of butter yellow
Brightening the sun


Sherry: And we are so happy you did. I love your haiku. That is an interesting progression, Sara, in your writing journey. I find with real writers, one can stop writing for a time, but we always return to it. It waits for us, until we're ready. And you have a wonderful husband! Favorite well known poet? 

Sara: I enjoy poetry from every culture, so I hesitate to name only a few.  However, I was, and am, enchanted by writings of Maya Angelou, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, and Philip Larkin.  I believe that select gems, from each poet you read, sparkle somewhere in your own writing.




September morning sky


Sherry: I love that idea, the select gems sparkling. This sky photo is amazing - it looks like heaven! How did you come to the world of blogging? How has belonging to the online community impacted your writing?

Sara: Once I became active on Poetics Aside, Robert Brewer suggested to everyone who participated that having a blog would be helpful to get your work out there, and have a home base from which to write and share.  Now I am a poetry blog addict!  I keep finding new sites to read, and submit to.  In addition, I love reading other blogs to see how they are designed, and what their hosts are writing about.  I try to catch some different points of view.

Sherry: Me, too. I am totally hooked! What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Sara: I make my own cards for friends and relatives, using a card program as a base.  Strength and balance classes at the gym keep me busy, as well as walking, cooking and baking, crosswords, reading, and some totally non-professional drawing.  


Alice and friends

Cheshire cat


I took a drawing class for ten weeks when I first moved out here, and have fun applying those lessons.  My favorite subjects are animals and cartoon characters.  Once a month I attend a group called Voices in Verse, where I have become more confident and relaxed about sharing my work.



March hare

Tortoise


Sherry: Sara, these are MAGNIFICENT! You are very talented! They look professional to me!  I am so happy you agreed to share them with us. They make me smile. Is there anything you’d like to share with us that I don’t know you well enough to ask?

Sara: I lean toward writing dark poems on rainy days.  Rain seems to help me think and focus. 


Asian water dragon

Horse


I was diagnosed with Meniere’s (vertigo is a symptom of it), and it is debilitating, but I have found a support group, and am now taking a combination of high dose supplements that seem to be helping.  Anxiety and depression are constant battles, but I am quicker to snap out of them.  My goal is to live as much as I can, as a haiku.


Sherry: I have it, too, and you have all my sympathy!

Sara: On a cheerier note, my office is decorated with illustrations of Alice-in-Wonderland characters.  



In the Office



I even have a teacup hanging from the ceiling.  Several of these characters can be found wandering in the garden – as statues.




Sherry: Oh this just makes my day! I love the teacup hanging from the ceiling, love the Alice in Wonderland figures in the office and  garden. They make me so happy! 


Does anyone know where the March hare has gone?

Sherry: This is the perfect spot to include your delightful Wonderland poem.


WONDERLAND MADNESS


Wonderland Madness 
Alice showed no malice toward
the red-faced Queen of Hearts.
Roses had been painted red,
Fuming, the queen said, off with her head,
all besides the issue of those stolen tarts.
The white rabbit was late
so it was his fate
to have tea time begin
without him.
The Cheshire cat had vanished,
dormouse was clearly drunk,
Hair and Hatter spoke gibberish
leaving Alice in a funk.
She’d grown too tall,shrunk too small
after her fall,
with no one to call,
found herself sprawled
on the ground near a wall.
Alice sought advice
from a caterpillar, smoking
a device that blew letters in air,
promptly setting her choking.
Her curiosity caused a dream,
that’s what the family said.
When Alice woke under a tree,
ow! a bump on her head.
Alice kept her thoughts unspoken, smiling
at a piece of broken mushroom, a token beguiling.
Sherry: I love this so much! And Jae Rose will, too! It's so much fun. And now, my friend, to wrap up, is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Sara: Everyone who participates in this site has amazing talent.  Keep enjoying the process.  Never lose your sense of humor or sense of wonder.





Sherry: A sense of wonder - and humor! -  is mandatory, for poets. Thank you so much, Sara, for this  visit, and for sharing your wonderful life, and your art, with us. I have enjoyed it so much! We're very happy you found Poets United and look forward to enjoying much more of your work.

Sigh. This visit was so heartwarming, I hate to leave. Especially since there are rescue dogs! LOL. Do come back and see who we talk to next, my friends. Who knows? It might be you!

29 comments:

  1. What a wonderful journey Sherry...And Sara you do live in such a beautiful spot there in Oregon. So many talents and an interesting journey....I so enjoyed getting to know you better....oh and that tea cup just made me squeal with delight!

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  2. Thank you Sara for sharing your wonderland with us...the story of the dogs, your workplace, a wonderful decision to call it a day, your magical home, beautiful poems and art work everything is inspiring...i don't think i'll ever forget that teacup hanging from the ceiling...and Sherry what a treat!! thank you :)

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  3. An enjoyable interview, Sherry. Sara, I enjoyed learning more about you. The tulips in the photos are so beautiful, and so are your dogs. Smiles. Really enjoyed reading your poems, Sara, and seeing examples of your drawings. Such talent!

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  4. Another wonderful share, meeting a talented poet (Sara).
    ZQ

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  5. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful interview Sherry :D
    Its a pleasure to know more about you Sara :D
    xoxo

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  6. This was an extra fun one for me, the ocean, the art work, the dogs......sigh. Loved it. Sara, thank you so much for a most wonderful visit.

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  7. So nice to meet Sara. Dogs, writing, drawing, growing up in N.Y.. We have things in common. Great interview. I too enjoyed all the art. Thank you Sherry for this fun interview.

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  8. I enjoyed Alice's wonderland in the office and in the garden! Impressed by your artistic skills too, Sara! Thanks to both of you for this visit, Sara and Sherry!

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  9. Thank you all so much for the kind words. I will treasure them.

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  10. How I enjoyed the interview and some of your work that I had not read before. It is so good to know the poet better when reading their poetry especially one whose love for her dogs is so apparent.

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    1. Thanks, OE. I appreciate your comment. Gee, is it really that obvious that I love my dogs!?

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  11. Ooh I do love it - and Alice too..she is clapping her hands in glee wishing she could come to tea there....wonderful to hear more about you Sara and to share in what brought you to blogging - and thank heavens for Walter

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    1. Alice is welcome anytime the White Rabbit is ready, & we all know his sense of time! Thank you so much, Jae.

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  12. Sara, so glad to get to know you a little better. I've followed you a long time now and love your poetry and the drawings you share. I just adore "Buttercup".

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    1. Thanks, Debi. I have been reading your work for a long time also.

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  13. I love this post! Thank you so much!

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  14. I don't know....did my comment disappear? I loved the post, thank you both so much!

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  15. "Never lose your sense of humor or sense of wonder." I look forward to your poems at Midweek Motif--the week is not complete without them. So thank you for keeping wonder and humor despite vertigo and depression. I'm so glad to read about your nurturing animals and husband and coastline. I say Wow! You are ALIVE for a reason--to live that haiku fully. Bless you. Thank you for the interview, Sherry.

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  16. I am soooo happy to see that purple pen in Portland in full glory here! :)
    Wonderland, the Oregon coast, rescue pups, and a penchant for rainy days? I could not love this talented poet more. Thank you, Sherry, for this awesome glimpse further into her life.

    Sara, I adore you! Thankful for your words.
    de

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    1. As a huge fan of your work for a long time, I truly appreciate this comment, De.

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  17. What a delight to read - and yes, those drawings are wonderful. I'm glad it wasn't your time to go on that Sept 11.

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    1. PS My late husband and I also moved from the city (Melbourne, Australia) to a small town in a different State, when I was in my fifties and he in his sixties. It was a very happy choice for us, apart from being distant from our children and grandchildren; however there have been visits back and forth. 20 great years here together, close to mountains, rivers and ocean, and now I am nurtured by the many good friends I have made here. I can so relate to your own happy move.

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    2. Thanks so much, Rosemary. I am glad you shared this with me. It was a hard choice to make.

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  18. Sigh. Such lovely people in here, appreciating each other. It does my heart good! Thank you all, for being such charming people.

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  19. another amazing interview, Sherry!

    wow, Sara! i love your poetry and your artwork ~ the horse is magnificent! it's nice to "meet" you.

    dani

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  20. Oh Sara - I'm so glad I stopped back here to see who'd been interviewed of late and found yours! A great interview of course. I knew you'd lived in NYC (still one of my favourite places in the world) and had moved across the country to Oregon. I hadn't known your 9/11 story...my word, that must've been terrifying and still shocking with relief, in so many ways. I'm with Sherry when it comes to pets, especially rescue dogs and yours are adorable. And how is it I didn't know you could draw? Again, glad to learn a little bit more about you...thanks to you Sherry for another insightful glimpse into a poet's psyche who I just love! You always know just what to ask.

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