Monday, November 23, 2015

Life of a Poet ~ Laura Bloomsbury

Today, my friends, we are flying across the Pond to visit Laura Bloomsbury, in London, England. Laura writes at Tell Tale Therapy, and you likely have read some of her poems in recent weeks. I wanted to stop by and let her know how happy we are she found Poets United. I am pretty sure we will be arriving right at tea-time, so let's all share a pot of Earl Grey tea, while we chat. There is bound to be a crackling fire against the November chill, which will be most welcome. If there isn't, we will invent one, because we can do that, here.







Sherry: Laura, I am so happy to be chatting with you. As you are one of our newer members,  we are very happy to have this opportunity to get to know you better. Would you give us a glimpse of your life, so we can picture you in your setting as we read your poems?

Laura: My moniker is Laura Bloomsbury, after the eponymous area of Central London (UK) where my husband and I live - as have many famous writers and poets before me! It also doubles as a reference to my love of flowers and gardening. I’ve 3 children and 4 grandchildren and all are within easy reach of the capital city, so we are in touch quite often. In dreams, I live in a small country town with 2 dogs and a garden, in England or perhaps Spain.

Sherry: Oh, both lives sound perfect! And it is lovely your family is close by.  Are you retired, Laura?  Is there a career behind you that you’d like to mention? 

Laura: I’m retired and, in my final professional life, was a psychotherapist, having moved through several manifestations to get there, including secretary, nurse training, full time mother, researcher and health food business. In retirement, I have taught Tai Chi to elderly Chinese.

Sherry: How interesting. You have great experience in the field of health! When did you first pick up your pen and begin writing, Laura? Was it poetry or prose? Was there someone in your early life you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet?

Laura: In short, I was never much of a childhood poet or writer, not counting the hundreds of compulsory English essays throughout school days. Good literature and the constant companionship of books were the best of foundations. When the meaning of poems was explained by my high school teacher, the motes fell from my eyes in a eureka moment of having broken a secret code.

Since the age of 7, I had had to learn poems for Speech and Drama exams and enter poetry recitation competitions. I understood rhythms and understated dramatic emphasis from this, as well as the joy of alliteration, as I had a bit of an S lisp and ‘sister Suzie sewing shirts for soldiers’ shoulders’ helped me overcome it!

School plays had me destined for the stage!

Sherry: Well, I would have trouble with that phrase now, I think! What are the joys of poetry, for you? Why do you write?

Laura: I have a love of words which don’t seem to develop  much further than a few written paragraphs, but in poetry they can whirl about and settle down to something more precise and concise. Words paint pictures and images of feelings, and that is the poetry I prefer. I try to keep my verses simple, as Hemingway stressed, though he would hate my fauvistic use of adjectives!

There have been many years of not writing anything, and even rejecting all poetry and fiction.  But time and again I return to it.

Sherry: I love how poetry is always there to return to. Who is your favourite well-known poet?

Laura: Ultimately I suppose it is T.S. Eliot, though Dylan Thomas, Hughes, Plath, and the Romantic poets are a close tied second! I’ve begun reading Spanish poets, too, if only to help me learn the language.

Sherry: I detect a theme here, Laura, your love of Spain, your learning the language. Have you been there? Do you hope to return?

Laura: I went to Spain last year, Sherry, and plan to go again in April, to a different part. I would love to live there awhile. if only to absorb the language more readily.

I posted about last year's trip here.

Sherry: I read this post and it is wonderful! Kids, be sure to check it out. The photos are great, too. I would have loved to make such a trek myself this lifetime. I have done so only through the pages of books.

When did you come to the world of blogging, Laura, and how has it impacted your writing?

Laura: It all began with writing a gardening blog (now defunct) whilst I was the communal gardener for my block of flats, but when that fell through (sad story – don’t go there) - I set up eljaygee – based on my initials,  initially intended to help me through the stopping smoking days. When that period passed, the blog idled, before being resurrected to record my replacement hobby of photography.

Sherry: Might we have a peek at your desk? I always love to see a writer's work area - where the magic happens!



My work area


Thanks, Laura. I see your journals stacked there - I always view a poet's journal as a treasure trove of words, ideas and snippets! You have several blogs – perhaps you could tell us briefly the purpose of each one? 






As I took photography more seriously, it felt necessary to segregate off my post-camera tweaking and arty edits from eljaygee  into a dedicated photoart blog – ‘hanging up to dry’. The images are mostly altered in Smart Photo Editor software.



Sherry: Your work is very beautiful, Laura. The red berries are so dramatic.


Laura: But pictures alone do not satisfy my love of language, and so I began Tell Tale Therapy, because it is just that 

Sherry: And we are happy that you did!

Finally, my eldest grand-daughter and I share 1-pic-a-week on a theme of our choosing, at the obviously entitled blog 
Me and My Grandma. It’s a good way to keep in touch and see the world from each other’s perspective.



 

Silhouette - Laura's photo                               Lauren's photo


Sherry: What a wonderful idea! Tell us about your photo art – what are the joys of seeing the world through a camera lens? 

Laura:  Photography is the art of seeing light, space and framing, but is also a technical skill that I struggle to master. Without the latter, images are just snaps. I separate my photos into good enough to stand alone,  good enough to convert to photoart or best trashed. 

These 3 photographs are different aspects of London life:


London city from the river Thames


London people at an event

Peaceful London parks
 
Sherry: Such beautiful scenes, so well captured! Would you like to choose three of your poems to share here, and tell us a bit about the meaning behind each one? 

Laura: My photos are invariably the visual prompts to start me writing, although in ‘The City’ it was an artist’s tweet that gave me a first line to unravel the poem: 

A line defines the space -
and beyond a goodly share of ambition
the city a ripe cheese, slow-baked
oozing the edges of decomposition
,”

I describe the metropolis of London stretching across the vertical and horizontal of space from its square mile origins through a history of devastation and reconstruction. A dark view prompted by a return journey from the wilds of a country walk with its softer contrasts:

a backwards ride from rural hinterlands
tree line silhouettes wave as if on air
the city shapes loom dark and hard
grist for the devilish millionaire”

Sherry: You capture urban sprawl so well in this poem.

Laura: ‘At the sign of the Fish’ employs the Christian piscine symbolism as well as its signature of Jonas. The poem begins with a fish-shaped love padlock attached to London bridge:

what lover felt that landing a fish
locked for aeons
could vouchsafe the course of true love;
a creature gasping by the watery wayside
declaiming empty-mouthed without
fluidity of feeling
depths of emotion

Sherry: Wonderful!

Laura: ‘Train Lines’ is a two-part poem –the first are some impressions I’d scribbled down on a journey; the last part is a retrospective on that:

“… fleet visions
of Spring and monochrome the lexicon
that nets elusive first impressions

lines seen from a train window
rattled to a plain and honest rhythm
jottings in a purple book of prose
dormant; revisited now without revision

only the poet knows to shoot in colour
without surfeit of sincerity”


Sherry: I love "only the poet knows to shoot in colour".  What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Laura: Walking with and without camera, photo editing, watching films, learning Spanish, doing my friend’s garden and practicing Tai Chi.

Sherry: How did you find Poets United, Laura? (We are so happy that you did!) And is there anything you’d like to say to our members?

Laura: It’s mainly thanks to Donna @ Living from HappinessDonna has been a most supportive, long term blogging friend  - since my garden blogging days in fact - and I’ve always enjoyed her plant postings and her more recent poetry contributions. Eventually I took courage and followed her in to Poetry Pantry.
And I’ve been genuinely touched by the generosity and support received from others at Poets United. Thank you everyone!

Sherry: You are most welcome, Laura, and thank you, for venturing in, and for allowing us this lovely visit. We look forward to enjoying much more of your work in the months to come.

Well, kids? It is half past teatime, so we must catch our flight home. I hope you enjoyed this visit as much as I did. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!



43 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this interview, Laura and Sherry. And, yes, I am definitely glad she found Poets United. Smiles. I really enjoyed reading about all of the career paths you have walked on, Laura. So much variety in the fields as well. I feel the same as you, Laura, having a desire to keep verses simple. I would rather write a poem with a meaning clear than one with meaning hidden inside. Interesting about having to learn poems for speech and drama exams and for recitations. Sounds like you had a good foundation in poetry. I really enjoyed the excerpts from the poems you shared & also your wonderful photos! Thank you both!

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    1. Joining here and having so much encouragement from other poets has been one of the best blogging experiences Mary - without this lovely network my poems would still be in their shells - so many thanks to everyone and to you as our host

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  2. You are most welcome, Mary. Laura, you were such a pleasure to work with. You made my job easy. Thank you for saying yes, and for sharing the beauty of your journey and your poetry with us. I will always think of cherry blossoms now, when I read your poems. Smiles.

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    1. great job you did Sherry - and you made it all look so easy! Your questions were well chosen and brought out a bio I'd never given much thought to - thank you for this warm and welcoming introduction
      p.s.would having a Google account make it less likely that I'd have to prove my non robotic status again and again?

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    2. a google account helps, but I still find I have to prove I'm not a robot frequently. Life in the age of spam. Smiles.

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  3. Oh I knew Sherry would tap you for an interview Laura....your and your poetry and photography are just so interesting. And I was so pleased when you joined the Pantry Laura....I always enjoyed your writing from our early blogging days, and I adore all of your blogs...you are an incredible talent my friend! Great job Sherry once again as I have come to know my blogging friend a little more. I look forward to reading many more poems Laura!

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    1. Dear Donna - I have valued your support and companionship over these blogging years and followed in your poetic footsteps, taking courage from you!
      Laura x

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  4. Ah Laura - what a delight to meet you here. Of course as an analyst myself I was tantalized by the title of your blog Tell Tale Therapy - absolutely spot on delightful! I haven't been responding much online during the past two weeks - it seems that my quite-verging-on-manic November rush of poetry and would-be novels resulted in burning my brain and my eyes in a way dramatic enough to leave me unable to cry (I kid you not) and unable until the past few days to be in the presence of a computer screen. Sooo - enough rationalizing about why I haven't been around here - I am now and this interview is, as teas (and tease) with Sherry are always - delicious. I wonder if the way that many therapists listen on multiple levels is related to the joy and freedom of poetry that uses that language in a multi-layered simultaneous way that escapes typical linear language usage. Just a thought - it seems that there are more than a few who have been "in the field" who are drawn to poetic expression. The notion of the blog between you and your eldest grand-daughter is quite simple grand! In a "prior" life I was a teacher of English an, inveterate reader and as many "Yanks" more than a bit of an Anglophile - to this very day I am shocked that when I speak it is not with the tones of the Queens tongue but one that is absolutely branded as American. Now, back to your creativity - your photography simply jumps from the screen - the images crisp and the colors vivid and thoroughly entrancing - your poetry is bursting with that elusive and yet immediately recognizable "wow" factor ... the language paints the "word pictures" and captivates...

    "lines seen from a train window
    rattled to a plain and honest rhythm
    jottings in a purple book of prose
    dormant; revisited now without revision

    only the poet knows to shoot in colour
    without surfeit of sincerity”

    The language usage itself is simply brilliant - for example the lines that I've pulled here - the alliteration - and the message is beautiful. We do not know each other but although I would encourage anyone who wanted to write - I would never climb to the highest mountain and sing unwarranted praises to anyone. I do not do so now. Deepest appreciation to Sherry for this wonderful interview and to you Laura for being just who you are and finding a way to share your gifts ... Welcome <3 <3

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    1. did your gem of a name encourage you to follow the path of wisdom I wonder, for you have commented with generous insight. Thank you Pearl for your high praise and in-depth comments - with regard to poetry/therapy, there is always the risk of spilling ones guts into a stream of consciousness which I rather abhor and so I try to use words to provoke feeling and not vice versa - so much is condensed into the symbols of language as we both know!
      Will look out for your poetry now that dust has settled - and always a pleasure to meet an Anglophile 'before the taking of a toast and tea' :)

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  5. Lovely interview. How lucky to live close to grandkids. Laura we have much in common but not that beautiful, tidy desk. Mine is usually a mess. I love the richness of your poetry. So glad you joined Poets United. Thanks Sherry for introducing such an interesting poet.

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    1. the picture of the desk was not as staged as it looks - I thought it was quite untidy! I wish I would write instead of typing my poems on computer but my edits are too many too often to make it practical .
      thank you for the welcome Myrna - glad to be introduced to you and your poems now - especially liked 'Mornings'!

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  6. Another fascinating interview, Sherry - you have a charming conversational prose style, Ms. Blue Sky ... a treat to read. And it was lovely getting to meet you, Laura. What an interesting life you live - and in London, to boot - my favorite city in the world. It was my life long dream to visit there and one day, several years ago, my husband surprised me with a trip. (As a matter of fact, we stayed in Bloomsbury.) It was wonderful! I think of the happy memories we made together, in that beautiful place, often ... and with great fondness. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work at Poets United!

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    1. so true about Sherry's style! What a treat - you stayed in one of the best/most interesting parts of London!

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  7. What a wonderful interview! How I love your photography, Laura – makes me want to either throw away my camera or learn how to REALLY use it. And I adore, 'the city a ripe cheese, slow-baked / oozing the edges of decomposition'. All your blogs are a delight, too. Thanks, Sherry, for bringing us another treat.

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    1. PS I had the same thought as Myrna about your desk! :)

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    2. thank you Rosemary for your comment on my photography - often I feel overwhelmed with the technicalities so for now I go out with a single purpose - just catch the light. It is the most fundamental aspect -just as we poets capture words!
      p.s. desk quite tidy - bit like my mind!

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  8. Good to meet you in a Sherry-interview, Laura,right after yesterday's amazing poem and photography. I love your sharing with your Granddaughter! Maybe I can work that out with my great grand niece. I'm impressed with your imagery throughout your work and very very proud that you would say I'm not tourist! Gosh.

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    1. thank you Susan. Sharing photos with my grand-daughter is like playing 'snap' and seeing what card the other turns over to match yours -
      - and I'm impressed by the visuals and tightness of your poetry :)

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  9. So lovely to come in here and enjoy the warm welcome extended to one of our new members. Thank you, my friends, very much.

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  10. So, nice to meet you Laurie~ I love how your photos stimulate your poems. It is that way, for me, too~ You are very talented~ Yes, keep chasing light visually and with words~

    Well Done, Ladies!!

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    1. sometimes I think that the photo prompt is a bit like doing poetry backwards but I need that stimulus - thank you for your lovely words Ella

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  11. Thanks Sherry, for introducing Laura to us. Laura, I love your photos and your word weaving. The title of your blog grabbed me the first time I saw it. Poetry has always been, first and foremost, therapy for me. Keeping it contained where I can actually see
    what I am saying, and often finding some form or resolution in the process. I'm a wordaholic at heart. I also really like your desk, so neat and organized. I have only recently acquired a "home office" and my first purchase was a beautiful hand made desk, which I love and keep promising myself to straighten and clean. So glad you found Poets United and look forward to seeing more of your photos and words.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Elizabeth I know your poems well and I like your idea of poetry as containment which shows so well in your verses. No wonder you love haikus too

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  12. One of my favorite pastimes, eavesdropping on the conversation between two fascinating writers. Thank you, Sherry, for another wonderful interview. And so happy to learn a bit of your life and poetry, Laura. Loved At the Sign of the Fish especially the final couplet. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. happy to meet a fellow WordPresser to follow in the reader! have a special fondness for the poems that flow easily and that fishy one did so thank you!

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  13. What a wonderful cup of tea and chat - it's always fulfilling when the person behind the writing makes you as excited as the words themselves....words paint images and pictures of feelings - absolutely that's perhaps the greatest thing about them

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    1. thank you Jae Rose and for being such a supportive commenter on my poetry blog - you paint some fabulous pictures with your words

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  14. Hi Laura,

    So nice to meet you! I enjoyed your interview with Sherry. I will be sure to drop in and visit your blog.

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  15. Bienvenido a poetas Unidas Laurie! Su poesía es extraordinaria. Déjeme sugerir añades Cantabria y San Lorenzo de El Escorial a su lista de lugares a vivir. :)


    Sherry thanks for sharing this on Facebook. Laurie's poetry is extraordinary!

    And she wants to live in Spain! :D jajajaja!!!!

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    1. Gracias - me ha tenido una cálida bienvenida. Encantada de conocerle! En abril, voy a visitar a la Costa Brava en unas vacaciones de senderismo pero Cantabria está en mis deseos.

      Pleasure to have a poet from Spain to follow - Sherry had given me your name to look out for :)

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    2. Give us a call or email us (Dulcina and Gnome) if/when you get to Madrid or Cantabria. (Sherry has the email should you want it)

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  16. Laura, thank you for letting us know more of your life and your poetry.
    tai chi is a great exercise to keep the mind and body nimble. :)

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    1. I do not always have the discipline to practice it though !

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  17. Wonderful photos!!! Thanks Laura.

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  18. Thank you Sherry and Laura for taking out time and sharing this wonderful interview with us :D its nice to see you featured here. I love your photography skills.. that picture of the red berries is just so striking!

    I love your poems as they are so different in style and verse... hope to see more of you in the days to come ahead :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. and thank you for often stopping by to comment on my blog Sanaa

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  19. Reading this lovely conversation this morning makes me very happy. Thank you to everyone for your lovely thoughts and words and warm welcome. And thank you again, Laura, for saying yes. It is always a pleasure to feature the Life of a Poet!!!!!

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  20. Laura, I have loved reading your responses to everyone. And, again, I am so glad that you are among us here at PU.

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  21. Learning of other poets personal lives and circumstances is always a delight. I was particularly charmed by the interaction you have with you granddaughter and that creative spark you are engendering in her too.

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    1. her spark glows brighter than mine and although our blog is a delightful outlet it might have to surrender to time boundaries soon -
      always enjoy your poetry Old Egg :)

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  22. thank you again Mary and Sherry - off to catch up with the Midweek Motif poems though this was a challenge too far for me this week - see you on Sunday!

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