Monday, August 24, 2015

Blog of the Week - An Update with Kaykuala

We have a special treat for you this week, my friends. We are visiting with  Hank Pilus, who writes at Rainbow. Hank lives in the beautiful country of Malaysia. We last interviewed Hank in 2012. We decided to stop by and see what he has been up to since then.  Hank has been a loyal member of Poets United since its very beginning, and we appreciate him so much.





Sherry: Hank, it is so lovely to be talking with you again. Please give us an update on your growing family. In our interview with you in 2012, you had five grandchildren. How is everyone?




Norman and Kimie

Hank: There are no additions still 5 grandees! All are in high spirits. They have been travelling. Not very far but just. The elder two, Norman and Kimie, had among others been to the Legoland in Johore, a stone's throw from Singapore.





From left Nabil, Gramps Mohd Said, Sara Ayesha, 
Naqip and mummy Qaty

Our 3 younger ones Nabil, Sara Ayesha and Little Naqip are emulating their Gramps and parents. They are now into cycling. The last we heard the family was in a road race of sorts in Ipoh about 200km north of Kuala Lumpur. Week-ends have been cycling days lately for their parents. The kids are caught in the  fad and have their own 'races' among the other kids as well.


Sherry: It sounds like a happy, busy life, my friend. Tell us a bit about living in Malaysia. The physical beauty of the place is stunning.


Hank (second from the right) at our Royal Military College 
alumni Annual Gathering in June 2015

Hank: This reminds me when Hank was in Kashmir years ago. Even going along any of the country roads one was presented with the natural beauty of the Kashmiri landscape. Sparkling streams of rivulets upon reaching the end of molds of rocky hillocks would tumble down in gushing sprays that glittered in the morning sun. We stopped the taxi and just stood by the roadside to marvel at the exquisite panorama that unfolded in front of our eyes. Time stood still among the greenery and snow-capped mountains in the distance. When we remarked to the driver how fantastic the beauty of nature that was, he retorted back to say he had seen 'all these all his life' Nothing to excite him anymore.

It all goes to show, Sherry, Ma'am, you would have to make a bee-line to Malaysia to savor nature's offerings here. Hank can only echo the Kashmiri driver who was not overly excited of what beauty really was in his homeland! Not so when one is in another country. Hank was stunned years ago to stand on the Rainbow Bridge, to marvel at the Niagara Falls in the distance and later to sneak behind the Falls below ground. Something not seen before would always astound  oneself. It was just exhilarating, but perhaps not to the folks there. Hank can double as a tourist guide whenever you are here, a promise!

Sherry: I would come in a heartbeat, my friend, if wishes were airline tickets, LOL. During our last interview you explained how writing came to you later in life, when you began blogging. You told us you began blogging narratives, as a means of record-keeping. I believe our friend Ninotaziz had a hand in encouraging your foray into writing poetry.  How has blogging impacted your work?

Hank: Ninot is such a wonderful lady. We were introduced by a common friend, Pak Cik, and she led the way for Hank to venture into poetry. Ninot gave all the support.




Hank's first book can be reached here

In fact, Ninot did Hank the honor of poetry-reading during the launching of Hank's first book Rainbow Poetry and Prose in Nov 2013' Rainbow' comprised a collection of poetry and prose of 400 pages written from 2010 up to 2012.

Sherry: Ninot is  wonderfully encouraging. It was she who showed me how relatively easy it is to put a book together. I now have several on my shelf, thanks to our wonderful friend! 


Hank's second book can be reached here

Hank: Hank's second book 'Pearls That Shine,' of 300 pages, followed last year. It comprised blog postings of 2013. Both are available as a Kindle version on the 'Net. Hank will embark on a third book of postings written in 2014 shortly.

Sherry: Congratulations on your two books, Hank. They both look absolutely beautiful! We look forward to the third. You are working hard! You must be very happy with the way your work is evolving.

Hank: Happy with my writing? Oh yes, a discovery rather late in the day. There is so much to know and to write about.The two books are structured into Free Verse, Haiku, Limericks, Micro Fictions, other forms and Prose. Variety it is thought should invoke a certain amount of interest in its reading. Variety should attract the desire to read. Otherwise it will be boring..

In recent times Hank takes a fancy to creating free verse from Wordles. One can write Wordles practically 5 times in a week through Sunday's Whirligig, MLMM's, APED, Real Toads and even CARPE DIEM. Wordles can go any direction, writing metaphorically, once the theme is selected. It is fun! Blogging certainly is a fulfillment!

Sherry: It is indeed, Hank. You have a second blog for narrative writing, birdhouse. While I was looking around your blogs,  I discovered you now have a third blog, Easels and Colours, where I was excited to discover you have branched out into painting with acrylics. People talented in one genre so often explore other creative pursuits. Tell us about your painting.



One of Hank's painting hung up as part of the exhibition 
during the book launching

(Hank was a one-time golfer now retired)

Hank: Yes, Hank started with 'birdhouse' before 'Rainbow'. Sadly, though, 'birdhouse' had been neglected for so long. One dries up on ideas when writing prose, especially narrating events. There is still a way to salvage it by writing Fictions perhaps Short Stories and novella. Short Stories should be a better option at around 1500 words or so. Hank might just do that to get 'birdhouse' moving.

Sherry: That sounds intriguing, Hank. 


An acrylic painting entitled 'The Beak'



A pastel painting of a Green Pepper

Sherry: Your paintings are wonderful, Hank. That pepper looks good enough to eat.

Hank:  Hank's drawing blog Easels and Colours also needs to be rekindled into activity. Hank went into a frenzy of acrylic paintings and held an exhibition during the book launch. Hank could produce about 12 paintings in a space of 14 days days prior to the launching then. Hank slept 4 hours on certain days just to complete them. But sadly the passion and motivation are not sustained. Something drastic ought to be done perhaps.


Sherry: More paintings are laying in wait, I am sure. Tell us what you love about writing poetry? How does it differ, the way you feel on completion of a poem, or a painting?

Hank: Writing poetry in reality is writing about oneself or of one's experiences. The advantage of experiences cannot be measured by the number of years but the variety of activities covered. More activities would mean more information to draw from even in shorter number of years. Hank is handicapped here as Hank was not active in writing poetry before. The poetic language of bloggers who did heavy poetry when young could be seen and felt immediately. There are a number of our current bloggers who are in that category and who write brilliant poems

The feeling is the same on completion of a poetry or painting. The feeling is one of exhilaration, satisfaction and wonder. One wonders how they could be completed. One also wonders if the next one can come easy to match those earlier ones. One plays catch-up on one's conscious efforts. 'What if the poem or painting currently on the plate turn out to be a flop?' There is always that frightful feeling! The feeling is the same for both. 

Sherry: That is interesting to contemplate.  Hank, would you like to select three poems we can include in this feature? And tell us a bit about each?

Hank: Let me start with one that I used to like before, but unashamedly neglected in the recent past. It is a form, in fact, not a poem as such. It is Limericks! I like Limericks, not just for the short poem that it is, but more for the humor. One must really be inspired to trap the humor, the underlying attraction of a Limerick. These are some of my old ones The first line in all instances was given by Madeleine Kane. We had to complete the rest.


The Limericks

A fellow was planning to wed
A lass who was playing hard to get
Tried as he might
With all that he had
Excepting him the rest she grabbed

A woman who always seemed game
Had a fearful reputation to her name
A guy tried to get fresh
Was on the behind thrashed
She was of a black-belt Tae-Kwon-do fame

A fellow who telecommunicated
Was doubly fast when he tweeted
Thumb worked on the HP
Crossed the road in a jiffy
Pall bearers later had him hoisted

A woman who felt she had been had
Getting even not an option she thought right
They had a pow-wow
Exchanged know-how
Never to regret it since - blissful heavenly nights

Limericks have that uncanny affinity for soft sensuous humor It can even get away with hard obscene ones but better to avoid such. Humor is base if obscene but witty if spiced with good-natured and acceptable soft sexual encounters.

I have not done Limericks these days except for playful ones at Pat Hatt's. Nice to go for revisits at Mad Kane's, as they provide real Limericks challenge.

Sherry: I enjoy the humor of them, Hank.

Hank: More of a challenge, too, is the form pantoum, which is derived from the Malay pantuns. We used to see them feverishly thrown back and forth during weddings before. The first participant would pose a question as a riddle in pantun form. The opponent would have to respond likewise with a witty answer immediately, and it would go back and forth.It was done in quatrains and this would go on through the night. There were lots of laughter, as they were spiced with humor and rhyming that one wondered how the participants could respond fast on their feet. It was amazing. But it is not frequently seen these days, as weddings take new forms now. To know more about the pantun it is most opportune as Ninot had only in the weeks before  presented a 2-part series at d'Verse: Classic Pantun part 1 and Classic Pantun part 2.

Hank's pantoum below is actually taking a jab at the get-rich-quick schemes that used to make the rounds before. It is presented in that lighter mood just so to show our disdain at such Ponzi efforts to hoodwink nice folks.

A Scheme

He came with a little smile, a toothy little smile
Broader it became as he got a little closer
Broke into a small laughter and all the while
A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter

Broader it became as he got a little closer
Seen this act a few times had seen it before
A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter
Scheming intention, a suspicious one I gather

Seen this act a few times had seen it before
Upon reaching an extended hand in friendly gesture
Scheming intention, a suspicious one I gather
Responded likewise not wanting to create a furor

A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter
Began with a few good words without a falter
Scheming intention , a suspicious one I gather
The sling bag  is opened its contents spilled over

Began with a few good words without a falter
All the charts, the legs, the returns, too familiar
The sling bag  is opened its contents spilled over
I knew it, a ‘get-rich-quick’ a Ponzi as it were

All the charts, the legs, the returns, too familiar
Broke into a small laughter and all the while
I knew it, a ‘get-rich-quick’ a Ponzi as it were
He came with a little smile, a toothy little smile

Sherry: Oh, I can see that toothy little smile. I can't imagine how quick-witted one would have to be to expound in pantun on the spot. That is impressive!

Hank: A Kyrielle is a poetry form of rhymed quatrains, maintaining 8 syllables in each line  and with a repetition of the last line. This Kyrielle was written to record one episode of Hank's grandchildren when growing-up. In this case it was when one of their regular friends had to go back to the US. It would remind them later in life of what had been and what they had been up to years before.

The neighborhood kids would very much miss young Daniel whose family moved out to L.A. They had been friends for some years, playing together at the nearby field, cycling around, or were just a noisy lot during their PS3 playing sessions ( PS3 sessions were precious as these were only allowed during the school holidays) Norman and Kimie are now more determined to go to the Anaheim Disney. The boys made a pact to meet there perhaps sometime next year. There are more reasons to go, now!

Parting
Been in the offing quite some bit
None would want to think about it
Young minds might not realize the pain
They knew good friends would meet again!

They knew young Daniel would move out
To L.A. it had been touted
The neighborhood kids took it plain
They knew good friends would meet again

They cycled with all shrieks and squeals
Or kicking football on the field
They were around with all the din
They knew good friends would meet again

The day came sadly last Tuesday
The day young Daniel went away
PS3 now played with restrain
They knew good friends would meet again

Norman and Kimie set their minds
Next stop would now be Anaheim
Parting was temporary pain
They knew good friends would meet again

Sherry: I love "they knew good friends would meet again!" Wonderfully hopeful. Your grandkids will read this years from now, and remember. Hank, is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Thoughts on life and love? Wisdom gained from the journey? What would you tell a young fellow starting out?

Hank: Yes, Hank wants to share the anxiety he went through before deciding on compiling the books. Everyone should have the intention of compiling their poems into a book. Otherwise one writes for the love of it. The poems remain in blogosphere till kingdom come and eventually get obliterated in time.There is something tangible that can be held in the hand if the poems are all in a book. Nothing spectacular, really.To self-publish a book is simple, but many are put off by uncertainties. Hank had a fair share of the same feeling for quite some time. The questions initially faced are, 'is it the thing to do' and 'how to go about it'.

For a young fellow starting out, there are things to remember. First thing is never to have to rewrite whatever was posted. There should not be double work. This can be taken care of by posting one's poem as it would appear in the book. For a Free Verse it should not be too long. Just enough for a one page of reading duration. Enough to maintain interest. In the case of a haiku or tanka not to just have one stanza. It is too short for a page! Write at least 3 stanzas. Regarding images, Hank feels safer not to use any from the internet even if the copyright restriction is waived. Use your own pictures or sketches perhaps 20 images in total. One is not expected to make money and be a millionaire but a book can be peddled on the internet just the same. The idea is to have one's book available for posterity even after the author's demise. It can be attracting royalties for our loved ones. A Kindle version of 300 pages can go for USD2.99

The second phase is the publishing part. There are many publishers available who can do both the publishing and the marketing aspects. Pick a publisher, pay a one-off payment of about USD1200 or so and you are on (the fee varies).

To maintain discipline with less headache, decide on the structure say Free Verse followed by haiku and so on. Then start to email to the publisher say 25 poems of Free Verse every 2 days followed by the rest. Make sure to erase all references to other specific blogs in the postings before sending. Make sure to make corrections on grammar and spelling before sending. It will cost time and money to make corrections from the draft they sent back to you. Unlike other Fiction writings, poetry writing needs only self-editing.

In the meantime the publisher will work on the Front and Back Cover images,which will be sent over to you later for approval. In between emailing the poems one also sends over the Dedication, Acknowledgement, and Back Cover narration.

That's it! Within a few weeks the publisher will email a draft copy of the insides in PDF format for corrections. It will have the Contents page and will follow one's structure all done nicely. Following corrections after about 2 weeks a brand new book with one's name as the author will be posted to the home address. All told it will take about 8 weeks from the day payment was made.

One may not have to follow the above. If confident enough, one can do all of the above oneself through certain publishers like Lulu, Smashwords, among others. They charge less but it will be tedious.

The beauty of self-publishing is that one can have reprints of one copy, 10 copies or even 1000 copies within 10 to 15 days. No necessity of an initial 2000 copies mandatory for economies of scale, as was the case with traditional publishers before.

Sherry: I highly recommend using one of the self-publishing online companies. They are easy to use and, as you say, you can order one book, or any  number, as needed. The cost is extremely reasonable. I use lulu.com, and am very satisfied with it. I remember when one used to be able to "self-publish" only through publishers. The cost was prohibitive to many. This is an interesting tangent, Hank. Maybe it will encourage some of our readers to try it.

In closing, my friend, is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Hank: Yes, thanks so much to everyone in PU who have been most supportive, and Sherry, Ma'am, for extending this invitation to Hank for this interview. It is most refreshing!

Sherry: You are most welcome, Hank. It is my pleasure. Thank you, for being such a loyal long-time member of Poets United. Your presence - and reciprocity - are very much appreciated.

Well, my friends? Wasn't this an interesting update? We will have all of you feverishly churning out books, LOL. (I am such a slave-driver!) Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


45 comments:

  1. What an in-depth and insightful interview, I am just hearing about Hank's books really. Good stuff.

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    1. Thanks Blogoratti It is really an option to archive our own poems for posterity and feel nice about it!

      Hank

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  2. Excellent interview, Sherry. Fascinating to read your update, Hank. Like the nice photo of you from June, 2015. You are good with forms! I enjoyed both your kyrielle and pantoum. I am impressed that you now have TWO books. Way to go.

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    1. Thanks Mary! We did try to look nice as none of those in the photo is younger than 68 years old!

      Hank

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  3. I enjoyed both your poems and your paintings, Hank! And thank you for the wonderful advice on self-publishing.

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  4. Thank you Hank for your advice on publishing. I may just try it. I always enjoy visiting your blog. Thank you Sherry for this informative interview.

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    1. Thanks Myrna! Do it Ma'am! You'll not stop at one! Hank feels at home when visiting you too!

      Hank

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  5. I do hope Hank's info on self-publishing encourages some of you to try it. Trust me, I feared the process as did not think I was savvy enough to manage it. But I tried (I use lulu.com) and the formats are very easy to use, and it is absolutely affordable and easy to produce your own book. A straight text book of a few hundred pages will run you (soft cover) about 12 dollars, and for a bit more you can have hard cover. I have archived my work in ten books now with many more to go and if I can do it, anyone can. I wanted hard copies of my work to survive in the world after I am gone and I cant stress enough that it is easy and affordable for anyone to do. Ninot is the person who showed me just how easy, and I am forever grateful.

    Thank you, Hank, for bringing this topic forward, as it is very helpful.

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    1. Gosh, Ninot was there too! Ninot will always give a helping hand. Am not surprised. So you are now all the richer with 10 books and counting.Richer in experience and satisfaction.It comes to quite a tidy sum for 10 books if not for lulu.com. Hank must take a look on how to engage with lulu.com for the subsequent publications. Thanks for the tip Sherry and thanks for having Hank today! Hank feels most honored!

      Hank

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    2. It was truly my pleasure, Hank. Do check out lulu. Many of us use it. I remember not that many years ago, when it cost over a thousand dollars to self-publish. Now it is so affordable. You may order only one book, if one is all you want, they print on demand.

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  6. Thank you, Sherry. I had not read the former interview (now I will) so it was fascinating to learn more about Hank, his family and various talents. Hank is such a supportive poet in the poetry blogosphere that it was nice to learn more about him. Thanks to both of you!

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    1. It is truly my pleasure. Hank is such a vibrant voice in the poetry community, very reciprocal and supportive. We appreciate you, Hank!

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    2. Thanks Gabriella, Ma'am and thanks Sherry! Oh, you are a doll, both of you!

      Hank

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  7. If I had not come across Poets United I would have missed all the richness, beauty and dedication each individual poet possesses and expresses in their art...what an absorbing conversation Sherry and Hank.. Thank you...

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    1. Poets United is where the budding and the seasoned congregate. Hank learnt so much. Hank is still discovering new things. That is the beauty of being in the company of so many great talents. Hank is privileged! And Sumana, Ma'am, you are frequently the host in d'Verse and Real Toads. Learnt a lot from your poetic language!

      Hank

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  8. wow!! you are multifaceted and good at what you do!best wishes

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    1. Thanks Vandana! You always come up with new forms. Hank tried some of them!

      Hank

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  9. Thank you Sherry and Hank for this amazing update. This is fantastic :D good to know that you not only write but paint as well.. I m impressed.. it will be a great idea to rekindle that blog of yours.. will definitely check it out :D

    Another thing that struck me is your homeland.. Malaysia.. I have spent three wonderful years in Selangor.. when my father was posted there in 1997. Its a beautiful place and I miss it soo much.

    I also loved the advice which you gave at the end :D I will surely use it in the near future. Wishing you loads of happiness & success for the future :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Thanks,Sanaa my dear! Thought will do something about it, yes! 1997 was not too long ago! You must have lots of pleasant memories. You write very well too, way beyond your years. Certainly you'll have lots of books with your name as the writer. Will not be surprised! Best to you!

      Hank

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  10. Hello Hank! Can I call you neighbour? I am from the little red dot south of Johor. :)

    thanks for the guide on self publishing. i am still thinking about it. it's a different feeling holding a physical book of your poems in your hands than just having your works as data in some servers.

    Sherry, thank you for another interesting interview!

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    1. Yes neighbor, please do! You bet it is, just do it You'll not stop at one only if you do make a start!

      Hank!

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  11. Love your Pantoum especially, Hank. It's always great to see you at Poets United. I was ready for this revisit!

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    1. Susan Ma'am, thanks a lot! You are always an inspiration!

      Hank

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  12. Lovely to see you here Hank and to learn more about you..you do indeed have one of the biggest rainbow filled hearts in our community.. Your comments and support are always appreciated :)

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    1. Thank you Jae! Like your style of writing at your blog. It is unique! And you have faithfully and consistently held on to the style!

      Hank

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  13. That was a fantastic Interview, Sherry! Enjoyed it from start to finish. :))))

    So good to know you more, Hank. I have always been a fan of your haiku...and poems, of course! Good to know that you finally took the plunge into self-publishing...Hearty congratulations! Thanks for the self-publishing tips....

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    1. Thanks Panchali, Ma'am! My pleasure!

      Hank

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  14. Sherry what a great followup...and Hank you are a man of many talents...fantastic painter as well as poet. Once we open up our creativity, the possibilities are limitless!

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    1. You are right there Donna, Ma'am! Actually it is all a matter of trying out something different! Thanks!

      Hank

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  15. I always enjoy Hank's posts and his comments on mine. A friendly, encouraging soul, whose writing and reading is thoughtful. I very much liked reading more about you, Hank. And how exciting to realise you are such a talented painter too! Many thanks to you and Sherry for the interview.

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    1. Thanks Rosemary Ma'am! And Hank has great admiration for you for being an accomplished writer even before Hank even started to blog.

      Hank

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  16. Dear Sherry and Sir Hank, two of the kindest should I have met, not to mention prolific and giving poets.

    Wonderful interview Sherry. I love the way Sir Hank has reached out to so many poets and your interview brings out the best in him - this ability to see good, laughter and genuine friendship he offers.

    Congratulations Sir Hank on your journey as a poet, and a rediscovery as an artist. I am very proud of the Lighthouse painting I have in my living room. I wish you many lovely restless nights writing poetry - and more publications to come!

    I am blessed to know both of you. It is very sad that my schedule does not allow me to blog more, I love our early days on the poetry blogosphere and great to see it is all going strong and growing!

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    1. Thanks Ninot Ma'am, you are a gem! Besides poetry you had goaded Hank to draw more but sadly it has not happened as yet. Hopefully it'll happen shortly!

      Hank

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  17. Hank you are one of the most encouraging and constant poets on the blogsphere. I think I met you when I first started blogging. Thank you for your kindness to so many. All the best with your books.

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    1. Thanks Moonie for the company. Appreciate it much!

      Hank

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  18. Well, I'm impressed. That's what I call an interview. Hank, I had no idea you had five grandchildren. Five, sir?

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    1. Thanks Blue! Yes 5 and still counting!

      Hank

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  19. Thank you both, I enjoyed reading the update!

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  20. Wow, Hank sure can give an interview. One of the few constant bloggers around in the poetry world of blogging. Sure can paint too and publish books. 5 grand kids must make for lots of fun times as well.

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  21. This is one of the better blog interviews I've ever seen. Thank you for all the time and thought you put into it. It was fun to learn more about Hank, especially that he has cyclists in his family!

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  22. I always appreciate comments from Hank. He is a gifted encourager!

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  23. Hank, Hank, Hank. I love the third-person voice in this article, like Elvis! Took a cyberstroll over to your art blog and commented there. You are so talented, babe. Thanks for your willingness to share that wealth of info about copyrights and getting yourself published. Nice to hear more about people who have inspired you, too. Great interview, and when is there EVER a time when Sherry is anything short of delightful? What a treasure. You are one of the longtime Poets Uniters and we love you. Thanks, dear one. Love,Amelita

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