Monday, August 10, 2015

A CHAT WITH HANNAH GOSSELIN: POETRY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Today, my friends, we are chatting with Hannah Gosselin, of Metaphors and Smiles. Hannah has been writing a series of poems based on her love of and concern for the natural world, and the impact we humans have had on the environment. Of course, this is a subject dear to my heart, and I thought you might enjoy exploring the topic with us.





Sherry: Hannah, I have been drawn to your work since I first read it, because of your obvious love for the natural world, which I share. Tell us when your love affair with nature began? What does it give you on a daily basis?

I watched the TED talks you listed on your site. They are marvelous! I was especially impacted by Bernie Krause: The Voice of the Natural World. How did the TED talks affect you? What main message did you take away from them, about living with the natural world?



Hannah: So, this seems apropos! If you’ll indulge me, I’ll start with my now moment…

Son: Do you wanna know what my favorite, favorite, favorite beetle is?!
Me: Yeah! I do want to know…tell me!
Son: It’s bright green and shiny with giant jaws…

So this is happening right now: My eight and four year-old boys are bringing an assortment of bugs to me and plopping them on the page of my journal where I sit at a small metal patio table getting ready to answer your questions, Sherry – perfect serendipity, I’d say!

Sherry: And two boys with magic in their hearts, discovering the wonders of nature!

Hannah: I think that my love for nature began in a very similar way to what I’m experiencing here with the kids. I wasn’t afraid to get into the dirt as a child. I believe that my upbringing plays a large part in my love for nature. It was an introduction – fun for us was canoe, beach and hiking trips and I can still hear the echoes of my mother and grandmother’s voices as they relayed the names of wildflowers…Teaberry, Lady Slipper, Star-of-Bethlehem, Chicory, Lupine…

On a daily basis, my connection to the earth is essential. This time of year, summer for us, makes it easier and more enjoyable to get into. I feel more balanced and grounded when I make time for walks, yoga and vocal toning outside and, for me, it’s especially important to enjoy my first cup of coffee – barefoot in the yard with a journal or book, (and my dog).

A friend introduced me to a new word: Shinrin – yoku, (Japanese noun), meaning a visit to the forest for relaxation…literally: forest bathing. This resonates with me!

Sherry: With me, too. In  The Voice of the Natural World, I was impressed by Bernie Krause saying every wild habitat produces its own soundscape. He explained how both habitat and soundscape are impacted by  human encroachment and  global warming.  He says “The voices of the natural world tell the true story of the world we live in.” As the mother of young children, what is your fear for their future, based on what you know is happening on the planet right now?

Hannah: Yes, I agree, I’m glad you enjoyed these...the talks, for me, were riveting, educational and highly emotional. Laurel Braitman’s talk [What Animal Madness Means for Us Humans] reinforces my belief that all living creatures are interconnected, and illustrates the need for being compassionate to one another – if we work together we might become healthier as a whole. This quote that Laurel included from Charles Darwin’s father was striking – he said that, “everybody could lose their mind at some point – thankfully we can often find them again but only with each other’s help.”

The second talk by Bernie Krause brought me to tears – the beaver story in the closing caused me to grieve so deeply, and shudder for the ignorant ways of humankind. This piece brings to the forefront the importance of the ways in which we effect the natural habitats around us. We have a choice – to live in symbiosis or to behave like parasites. We have the opportunity to see the bigger picture and the miracles that’re all around us, “To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” –William Blake

Sherry: I love that you see the miracles all around us. And the beaver story really got to me, too. My heart truly breaks for what wildlife are suffering because of us. Sometimes I can hardly bear knowing all I know.

Hannah: My concern for my children and all children born and unborn, is that they might inherit the corrupt ways in which the world is being operated right now and not make true and lasting changes against the poor choices that have developed such imbalance and overall dis-ease for society and nature over the years. For example the GMO’s and pesticides that is causing colony collapse in bees is a serious cause for worry. Pollution, the plastic waste vortex in the North Pacific Ocean and the massive numbers of wildlife that are declining…these are the things that trouble me regarding the next generations.

Sherry: How do you hold onto hope , against all the evidence of rising threats to the health of the planet?

Hannah: I draw hope in choosing to see the good around me – or in other words – I believe in good. That may sound simplistic or naïve to some, but believing in good doesn’t mean that I ignore all the bad that’s going on around me – an ostrich with her head in the sand – just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there still! Although on some days I may choose to do just that and it’s a matter of self-preservation – if I don’t have the energy required to withstand the out-pouring of negative news I won’t take it on. I think the best thing I can do is work from my inner circle and the ripples from my actions reach those near me and this has the potential to be far-reaching. Similar to this powerful and popular thought, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

.......be the change.......

Sherry: I have always adored that quote. And I share your need for balance: to be brave enough to know what we know, but not forget to keep on seeing the miracles, the incredibly generous beauty of Mother Earth. 

Your poem  "This Poem Is Pillars of Morality, Stained", knocked my socks off and gave me the idea to have this chat.  I would like to include it here. Tell us about it.

Hannah: Wow, thank you, Sherry! "The Pillars of Morality" is a culmination of personal responses to a handful of powerful TED Talks. I had thought I might pull some stanzas from this piece, but I decided to just let it stand as is – some of the closing thoughts bring in different facets of morality and don’t have as much to do with the environment but really, it’s all connected - the land and the people. As I mentioned in my notes on site, there’re many facts that came to live in my poem that I learned from these talks, like the inclusion of geophony, biophony, anthrophony, dolphin signatures and the Pillars of Morality, too…I have to say Ted Talks are SO worthy – enlightening – maddening and hope – building.

This Poem is Pillars of Morality, Stained


This poem is biophony of a thriving marsh
it’s vocalization of every wild-being all at once
visual sound – a spectrogram – healthy and varied in color.
.
This poem is truth – blaring geophony of water in a stream
it’s loggers who’ve selectively cut and claimed that wildlife was untouched
it’s birds, frogs and bugs who’re literally silenced from their habitat.
.

This poem is spilt personality of anthrophony
every human sound there is – for better or worse
it’s genius of music and the machine – stealing Nature’s breath.
.

This poem is two detestable game-wardens with dynamite
their solution for removing a well-built lodge in an ancient pond
this is their cold-blooded killing of creatures with emotions.
.

This poem is grieving song of heart-broken male beaver
cry of father who lost his babies – piercing wail of partner who lost his mate
this is the recording from an entire evening after decimation of his home and family.
.

This poem is an all expansive net – the one that doesn’t differentiate
it’s great motor-boat chase – hunting herds into trap of bay
it’s the gut-twisting suffocation and sale of incredible intelligent life.
.

This poem is dolphin’s amazingly unique signature whistle
a ceremony of names given – each family member they’ve lost
being voiced – echoing in sickening waves through green depths of ocean.
.

This poem is soul of reciprocity – what should be common knowledge
an understanding of universal oneness and karmic fairness
a desire for every ill will and each good to be returned to its giver.
.

This poem is spirit of empathy a psyche packed with compassion
it’s a palette holding bitter-sweet – painting tragedy and beauty simultaneously
it’s a longing for each wrong – intentional or otherwise to be made right.
.

This poem is Monica Lewinsky seventeen years after her too publicized disgrace
it’s beauty in her truth and strength in her message against cyber-bullying
it’s the loss of so many young lives and the incomprehensible suffering.
.

This poem is pillars of morality – barely standing – askew
it’s hope that people will wake up and choose wisely
it’s a wish that the resounding corrupt clicks – in society will soon cease.



Sherry: Wow! This poem is.....a knockout! Truly a cry that wrongs will be made right. What other poems reflecting your love of and concern for the natural world would you like to share in this chat? 



copyright Hannah Gosselin


Hannah: Three poems that come to mind that I’d like to share with you all are, "Eyes – Looking and Seeing", "Mountains, Valleys and Pool of Palm" and "Every Word You Say". To me, they feel important, as they hold the small/large messages that, I believe, Nature wishes to deliver. They also happen to be pieces that, when I wrote them, they brought that special feeling of awe, connectedness and total satisfaction in the practice of spilling poems for a purpose – I don’t think I need to say more. I trust that you’re familiar with these feelings, my poetic friends.


Eyes Looking and Seeing

Who belongs to eye of seer?

Is it eye of daisy swaying

fields of seers looking at us

rather than us being lookers?

Do we move from place to place

temples of mobile flesh

saying we see

but do we really see?

Do we perceive all fields

all amazing seeing daisies?



Sherry: I love the idea of daisies being the seers, looking at us!


Mountains, Valleys and Pool of Palm


Leaning on poplar tree under late-day-sun wearing avocado-colored fleece – it’s breezy – poem won’t flow – paper is blindingly blank. Empty until tiny lime-green-creature traverses white plain – leafhopper gravitates toward heat of hand. Its journey is of palm – reads line of fate – skips down trail of life, heart and head – has read and now knows me better than I do. Courses thumb and senses logic – memorizes printed identity. Circle round brings it to trek knuckle – digit’s solar-lit forest and then faces steep peaks of water, earth, fire and air. Fingers gather light on one side as mountainous steeples and deep shadows on the other – it pauses in sudden dark – gathers bearings. Who am I – how did I come to be here – garbed in green endlessly traveling creases in labyrinth of time and telling lines? Paper stirs in wind.
.

No two sets the same
whorls and worlds interconnect
insect teaches being.
.


Sherry: I love "insect teaches being". Yes, for those with eyes and hearts open, like you, my friend. 



Lady of the Woods
copyright Hannah Gosselin


Every Word You Say
.


At the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit
and this center is really everywhere,
it is within each of us.

– Sioux Holy Man Black Elk

.

One may see simple wings
small feet clinging to tree
Baltimore Orioles mouth
emoting a fluty purposeful song.
One may think, bird – just a bird there
and one may not think of it again
but I know there are many who see.

.

I perceive the call of cosmos
contained in dark cloak
the awe of galaxies
swirling in its sun-golden chest.
Yes, I hear its distinct voice
and I search the sky
for there – there in that little creature
resides an entirety of constellations
mystery of the universe
the very recipe for understanding
compassion – connection – peace.

.

We’re all one here
united in this great circular happening
revolving – hearts evolving
becoming more and more meshed
woven into perfected joyous hanging nest
fine fabric of Great Sparkling Spirit
center of new beginnings.

.

Sherry: Wowzers! That just says it all, about as perfectly as it can be said. Beautiful, Hannah. So now, what can we, as poets, do with our knowledge of the environmental issues we are facing?

Hannah: I believe, as poets, we can be the emotive voice of passion for the environmental and social issues that touch our hearts – we can be moved to speak the truth as we see it.

Sherry: Is it enough to add our voices, to raise awareness, to be a voice for the voiceless? Do you think it does any good? Should we find ways to take action?

Hannah: We can bring our work out into our communities for open mic situations, library or church readings and even our town and city meetings. We can teach our children because, as we know, the future truly does lie in their hands and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re equipped with knowledge and emotional intelligence – tools to bring a better tomorrow into fruition. 

Sherry: Readying our children is one of the best things we can offer to a future world. Any closing thoughts on this topic, my friend?

Hannah: My Faith Community holds a core statement that resonates with me, share and shine. For me, this invites us to bring our unique you-ness into the world that only we can bring. I’ll suggest that we attempt to the best of our abilities to have the courage to feel fully, even when it’s painful, and love wholly, even when it’s risky.


share and shine

I'd  like my closing words to be of gratitude to you, Sherry for this chat and for all the ways in which you share and shine, and the same sentiment to all of our poetic friends as well. I’d also like to end with words that are not mine! These quotes are from a couple of favorites, “Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” – Khalil Gibran and, “Joy is not made to be a crumb.” From someone who inspires me so much with her nature poetry, Mary Oliver.

This is her short prose piece that this quote came from:

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don't Hesitate)” 


Sherry: Oh, how wonderful! "Joy is not meant to be a crumb." I love it. Thank you, Hannah, for your kind words. And for saying yes to this chat, on a topic so central to both of our hearts. Keep shining your light through your poems, and teaching those little boys of yours the wonders of the world.








                                             











My friends, I want to point out that Hannah has published three e-chapbooks: Sifting Sand, Sun Spilled Secrets and Tank(a)ing Through Thirty. You can click on the links to access the e-books.

Well, fellow poets? I hope this chat seeped into your hearts as it did mine, and grew more than a few tendrils of hope - and love for Mother Earth.

Thanks for coming back each week, to support our featured poets. I wonder who we'll talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

25 comments:

  1. I am a great admirer of Hannah's work in poetry and as a spokesperson for the environment. How wonderful that she is able to pass this joy on to her sons and to all her are fortunate enough to frequent her blog.

    Thanks, Sherry and Hannah for taking the time to bring this interview to PU. It is so enlightening.

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    1. It was truly a privilege and a pleasure, Kerry. You know how dear to my heart this topic is, which is also why I admire Hannah's work so much. Thanks for stopping by to read.

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  2. I'm glad I happened up this interview...happiness in a post. Love it! (And you, Hannah, my friend!)

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  3. Thank you so much Sherry and Hannah for taking out time and sharing this wonderful conversation with us :D I m a great fan of Hannah's work.. and have been following her blog for a couple of months now.

    Hannah your optimism and energy is truly spectacular and you seem like such a kind and caring soul. I love your poem "Eyes are looking and seeing", as it gives such a wise and wonderful message. I believe that all living things see us and are aware of their surroundings.. like us they too breath air or feel pain.. and its high time that people learn to appreciate and protect Mother Nature.

    Its a joy to know that your children share that same zest and zeal for nature as you do and I know you must be proud of them. Wishing you and your family loads of happiness and success for the future.. Amen.

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. My pleasure, kiddo. Happy you enjoyed it.

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  4. Hannah's love for and connection to nature always comes through in her work. I always leave Hannah's place feeling uplifted.

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  5. I love poetry with such wonderful messages. Hannah, your concerns are the same as many of ours; but few write poetry as eloquently as you do to send the messages into the world. A great interview, and what wonderful poetry shared! Thank you both.

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  6. Oh be still my heart this was such a wonderful visit Hannah and Sherry. Such powerful work and now sharing it with your boys! Fabulous....

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  7. Oh, wow...I'm so moved by ALL of your kind words and encouragement, my poetic friends...I feel such gratitude for each one of you. Thank you, ALL so much!! ♥

    Sherry! This came together beautifully...I'm so happy and thankful for your ambition and inspiration to bring this chat about!! You're a true gem! :)'s

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  8. I am so happy you are pleased with it, Hannah. It is your poetry and passion and words and heart that made putting it together such a joy - and that is what the readers take away. I love how positive and hopeful you are, at the same time being aware of all that is going on. We need your positive spirit to turn any of this around. Thanks for being you.

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    1. Thank you, to you, Sherry!! Gratitude. ♥

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  9. I have read some of Hannah's poetry. She does have a powerful pen and speaks from her heart. I too worry about the environment and the future of the next 7 generations. I wonder what will remain. An enjoyable chat and the poems were amazing.

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  10. I always find Hannah's writing interesting and memorable. This was a lovely read, from the children with beetles to Gibran and Oliver. Many thanks to you both!

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  11. I always feel so relieved and happy after visiting Hannah's site... after dwelling in darkness it brings hope, and just by seeing all the wonders we can change.. Thank you for the wonderful words

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    1. That is what I love about Hannah's work too - she is aware, yet hope and beauty shine through her words.............I too come away uplifted.

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  12. It's truly delightful to listen to Mother Nature's voice through you ladies...such an enlightening and uplifting post...

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  13. Writing always feels good; reading is even more pleasant; and reading the talk of a poet inspires all the aspiring poets!! Haven't read her before (what a pity!)....but, today I really read some literary pieces here. Her poems literally “make music” - paint a picture that captures the reader with its word-crafting. Thanks for this beautiful introduction, Sherry.
    Am speechless....

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  14. Dear Sherry and Hannah, such a beautiful post, filled with Hannah's poems and her thoughts and ideas, I cannot thank you enough, I am trully inspired....I love my life in this bit of nature, on this land, that onced belonged to the deer and the elk, the prarie dog, and the coyote, then to the People, and now I am here, not a pretty picture, when you look at the history, I can only live with as light a footprint, as I can leave, allowing all to be as it is, and hopefully what is wild will not know I have been here, but it is not so, we are all destructive because we are here. There is sorrow in my heart.

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  15. Thank you Sherry and Hannah for this beautiful conversation. I join you both in your aspirations and hope for this world. I love "shine and share". May we all.

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  16. I love "shine and share" too.........Myrna and Annell, you both live in beautiful desert. How wonderful to live so close to the land and the mountains........sigh.

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  17. What a lovely interview Sherry, thank you ~ Hannah's work are delightful to read and so inspiring ~ I have been a long admirer of her nature-inspired verses ~

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  18. Thank you, so much everyone...I'm so inspired by all of your kind words...each one of you bring so much to the poetic community and I feel so blessed to be a part of it all. Huge gratitude to everyone...I appreciate the time you've taken to read this chat and all the times in the past that you've visited me and left such uplifting comments...I'm truly grateful! :)'s

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