Monday, April 18, 2016

Life of a Poet ~ Conscious Cacophony

Today, my friends, we are visiting with C.C., who writes  at Conscious Cacophony . It never fails, when I prepare to feature someone, that they tell me, "Oh, I'm boring, I'm not very exciting", and then they knock my socks off by dropping a sentence somewhere in the interview that opens up a rich and unexpected story. C.C. did this very thing, not once, but twice! Read on! And here is a hint: there is a love story and a lion in this interview! Wow!








Sherry: It is long past time for us to be visiting, my friend. I am sorry for taking so long. First of all, how shall I address you?

C.C.: C.C. is the name I use in the blogging world and is also what the love of my life calls me, so it’s perfectly fine for you to use that name.

Sherry: I am so happy to know there is a love of your life. Yay! Give us a little sneak peek at this poet's life, won't you? We are all ears!

C.C.: I am lucky to live in a corner of the earth situated close to the mountains I cherish so dearly. They call to me daily, speaking peace, resonance, healing and joy. On days when I am fortunate enough to answer their call and go, all else fades to grey in the shadow of their majestic beauty.




I cannot get enough of the mountains. 
They do wonders for the soul. 

Although I am only 41, I already have three adult sons (23, 20 & 18) because I married my high school sweetheart in a shotgun wedding many moons ago. It’s not a life plan I’d recommend emulating, but it was my rocky path to where I am today: free, loved, and full of gratitude for the sons of my youth.





I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, but have been working as a social worker for the last 8 years…..which, to anyone who knows me well, is rather ironic. When I first started school to become a social worker, my youngest son (6 at the time) said, “Why are you doing that? You’re not even social!”

Sherry: That's so funny! It must have cracked you up. Looking back, do you see any indicators that point to your becoming a poet later on? 

C.C.: Ha! This is a difficult thing to answer because I don’t think of myself as a poet at all. I am just a woman who bleeds words onto the page to satiate the demons inside. But, I have always loved reading and writing….as a child, I used to ‘play’ school and would have a blank notebook in front of me to pretend I was writing a novel. Sometimes I would ‘write’ squiggly lines in the notebook to make it seem full of words even when I had none.

Sherry: The drive was there. What a cute story! And, yes, you are a poet, my friend. Clearly. Do you remember what it was that caused you to write that first poem? 

C.C.: I began writing poetry when I was ten years old. I had to memorize a poem for RLA (Reading Language Arts) and it stirred something in me…opened the floodgates of my soul and words just started pouring out. They didn’t stop until I was married and in a nearly two-decade hiatus from any true freedom of expression. I began blogging—and writing poetry again—as a form of healing and renewal when I finally left my husband 4 years ago.




Sherry: No better way to heal and renew one's spirit. What do you love about poetry?

C.C.: I mostly am in love with the catharsis of it….the way words slice through thick heaviness with surgical precision to carve restoration deep down in my broken soul. I am also fascinated by the way in which the same words can mean so many unique things to different people when read through the lens of their own personal experience and depth of feeling. It’s brilliant and so much fun trying to interpret other people’s original meaning.

Sherry: Are there a couple of your poems you would like to include here?

C.C.: The first one is called “Wildflowers.”


WILDFLOWERS



I flay myself out upon the earth
bruised and bleeding
but she does not buckle, ever,
under the weight of my grief

I should be grounded
in her steady embrace
but I stumble and trip
upon my rocky
jagged soul

stagnant
after years of drought
dried up yesterday’s
luscious, fertile hope

my stony heart
a fallow ground
for Joy’s seeds

now, more crumbled
than Fall’s leaves after
an icy Winter beating
I finally surrender
to Nature’s wisdom

seasons are for change
and it is time
for something different
Let the wildflowers bloom.


Sherry: I adore "my stony heart a fallow ground for Joy's seeds."

C.C.: This poem is a nod to my love of Nature, the way it takes me—shattered, and pieces me back together again…but also it’s about coming to terms with the need for change, the recognition of accepting that if what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working then maybe it’s time to try something different!

For the second one, I’d like to include a love poem, and I want to share this story: Once upon a time, in a blogger’s world not so far away, a man commented on one of my posts. We struck up a friendship that eventually led to more than I ever could have imagined. After professing our love for each other over a year and a half ago, we are still going strong. He is the most amazing man I know. Although not all my posts are autobiographical, he is the ongoing inspiration for the mushy love poetry you graciously endure on my blog.

Sherry: Wow! What a story! I have heard a few such instances of online connections like yours that turned into real life love. It gives us all hope, LOL.  I suspect it is because we share our deepest selves online, and thus other poets know us perhaps even better than our real-life people do, who do not read our work. Thanks for sharing this, C.C. I adore a happy love story!

Love’s Final Decree


I was born to love you
Outside the line of gravity
Topsy-turvy whirlwind journey
But, still we stand….just you and me

You tell me of our love’s cycle
When you and I return to the source, we
Will fall from the sky, ashes scattered
Mingling on banks of our infinite sea

No stones to hold us back
Or mark us from being free
They will never split our atoms
This is our love’s final decree.


Sherry: Sigh. Two poets in love certainly makes for some beautiful poetry. Thank you, C.C., for sharing this story of hope with us.

What other activities might we find you pursuing when you aren’t writing?

C.C.: I’m really not very exciting. Solitude, reading and hiking are the trifecta of thrills for me! I love to quilt and have been doing so for about 18 years. The 'rag' quilt is one of my favorites to make because it is so cozy!



My 14 year old cat, Zazu, loves to cuddle up
on my quilts with me.


Sherry: We beg to differ, my friend, you are exciting enough for us, with your lions, and fabulous love story! And I love your quilts. They are very beautiful.

Some time ago, I was blown away by your poem "I Come From Between Worlds." It is a beautiful piece of writing, rich with all of the color of someone rich in culture, heritage and geography.  I would like to include it here, if you agree. Can you tell us what this poem is about? What it means to you?

C.C.: My parents are originally from North America, but I was born in Africa and spent my childhood in Africa and Southeast Asia. This poem is about how difficult it is for me to answer the question, “Where are you from?” There is no ‘right’ answer to that question because I come from between worlds, and cannot simply just pick one spot. The meaning this poem holds for me is in the way that it honors all parts of my history…specifically all the places I am ‘from’ that have shaped me.

Sherry: I deem you most fortunate to have lived in such wonderful places, steeped in history, as a child. Wow.  Your poem is so rich with all of the sights and flavors and rich experiences that birthed it. Reading this poem is like immersing oneself in exotic and colorful worlds. Let's plunge in.


I Come From Between Worlds

I am from warm equatorial air scented with red earth, drifting between Jacaranda branches and white coral sand beaches, from cashews roasted on the side of a dusty pot-hole ridden road, glass bottles of orange Fanta, blue toilet paper, and an audience of monkeys.

I am from “flamingo pink” lakes, dirt roads jostling with overcrowded matatus, a concrete jungle of high-rise apartments, freezing cold air conditioning and the pungent smells of slaughtered goats and Durian.

I am from flame trees, sweet scents of Frangipani, red bougainvilleas spilling off Acacia Court, fresh patriotic orchids, sakura blossoms, and wild remnants of pre-colonial island lushness.

I am from Swedish pancakes in bed, Vietnamese feasting for Christmas dinner, frugal hand-me-downs, grandparents on another continent and us four no more.

I am from the Equator; from overnight Tsavo train rides, headless chickens, an unobstructed view of the impala’s fate on the savannah, and “Africa time.” I am from an island; from red double-decker buses, bumboats and pink dolphins, bomb threats, the Merlion, and blonde hair dyed green from too much pool chlorine. I am from the Land of the Rising Sun; from Shinto temples, Zen gardens, harmony, and ofuros.

I am from airports, from never knowing if I am leaving home or going home, from the anticipation at arrival gate greetings to the inevitable devastation of departure gate goodbyes.

I am from authentic spirituality planted on the mud floors of  ‘churches’ with no walls, where Poverty draws heaven nearer than the American Dream ever could, from beliefs cultivated on the hardwood floors of high rises where Bible is served over fish head curry and Tiger beer. I am from faith fragmented and challenged on the carpeted floors of chapels with no feeling, where legalism and hardened proclamations promote rigid religion.

I am from East African drums and Chinese lion dances, by way of Irish and Scottish ancestry. I am from learning to speak English with a British accent. I am from the shock of moving from a place where “susu” is something you do to relieve your bladder to a place where “susu” is something you pour on your cereal. I am from an American education in Asia.

I am from repeated interrogation by immigration officers, presumably as a suspected adolescent drug mule, or perhaps because the country of birth stamped into my ticket to sanity suggests I may be a potential terrorist.

I am from long-distance AT & T love, treasured postcards, long letters, and scrapbooks that contain flat, lifeless representations of identity-forming adventures. I am from an unrooted, global childhood, from memories birthed on three continents, and from loyalties that lie divided somewhere in between. I am from irretrievable loss and immeasurable blessing.

This is where I am from.


                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sherry: Thank you, C.C., for the beauty of this poem. It is truly breathtaking, so evocative the weaving of both African and Asian experiences. I also resonate with the joy found in "the church without walls". I have always been struck by the depth of joy found in the African people, so lacking in our North American "culture" of materialism.

Tell us about this poem, won't you?

C.C.: You asked me once to share where I was from and I declined, partly because I blog anonymously and would like my location to remain private, but also because "Where are you from?" is the most difficult question for me to answer.

I've really enjoyed learning more about some of the other bloggers who share so personally here at Poets United, so thought I would open up a little more about why that is such a difficult question for me to answer. So I'm sharing a shortened version of something I wrote several years ago in response to the dreaded question, "Where are you from?"

Sherry: Thank you for that, C.C. I hope you will always take pride in where you come from, for it is a rich heritage. You are a global citizen, and we all need to strive to become that, even if we don't travel. It is rather wonderful, to come from more than one place, especially when one is Africa and the other is Asia! I have had a lifelong love affair with Africa, especially.

C.C.: I love it, too. One of my favorite quotes is: "When you've acquired a taste for dust, the scent of our first rain, you're hooked for life on Africa, and you'll not be right again" - C. Emily-Dibb.



As a child, I didn't realize how incredibly lucky I was to see animals roaming wild and free in their natural habitat. When my kids were little, I never did get used to the concept of zoos!! I took this lion photo myself, as my mother was freaking out (as mothers do) that I was too close and the lion was starting to look hungry :-)

Here is a photo  taken in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya....apparently the Great Rift Valley is one of the few spots on earth that is visible/recognizable to astronauts, with the naked eye from outer space!   



This is a photo (albeit not a great one because I cut part of it off!) of my favorite tree (acacia) in Africa. They are all over and for some reason I always found them so beautiful and, now, they are so very nostalgic to me. Birds often nest in the tops, and sometimes one can see elephants or giraffe beneath them. 





There is just something about Africa that gets under your skin....takes hold of your soul and won't let go! But the fact that I grew up in Africa dos not necessarily negate my comment that I am boring. My childhood was, to me, just normal, everyday run-of-the-mill childhood. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary or unusual, because it was the only childhood I had, the only childhood I knew. So, to me, it was just normal. I had nothing to compare it to.

If I told you all about that childhood, it would basically involve all the same things everyone else knows from their own childhoods....kindergarten, school bus rides, first grade teachers, scraped knees, bullies on the playground, my first pet, birthday parties, etc. Nothing exciting, really. I suppose I could tell stories about the Maasai warrior that used to jump really high for me when I asked him to, or the men who would offer my dad cows to let me be their wife. (Thankfully he loved me more than cows!) Or the millions of times I was touched without permission because the color of my skin was a novelty. But even those things were normal to me at the time.....everyday occurrences of childhood that had never known anything else, you know?

Sherry: Sigh. I can see that Maasai warrior, leaping high for you! 


Feeding the deer in Nara Ken Park in Japan


Sherry: Glorious photos, C.C. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

C.C.: I love being a part of Poets United….the Poetry Pantry is something I always try to participate in, time-willing, and I so appreciate the diversity of voices and styles, the encouragement and positivity, and all the unique personalities I’m becoming familiar with through their writing. I’m so grateful to the whole Poets United community for their open hearts and kind words.

Thanks, Sherry, for all that you do for Poets United, and to make everyone feel so appreciated. You have such a warm, affirming personality that it makes this a very welcoming place to be!

Sherry: Thank you, C.C., for your kind words, and for sharing some of yourself and your rather magical life with us so wonderfully today.

Wasn't this a beautiful read, my friends? Another poet, another amazing story. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

32 comments:

  1. Wow, C.C., what a fascinating life you have had. I remember that poem "I Came From Between Worlds" from earlier in your blog, and I just really loved it at the time; and now I am glad to have a bit more explanation of where you come from. You have truly lived in some interesting places, and now to live so close to the mountains....heaven!

    And, ah, what a wonderful love story. Makes me feel good when I hear something like that happening in the poetry blogosphere. I HAVE enjoyed your love poems of late.

    Zazu is beautiful & looks very comfy on that quilt.

    Thanks for your participation in Poets United. I always enjoy finding a poem from you to read.

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    1. Mary, how I do so appreciate your comments....always...you have been such an encouragement to me along the way! Every life is such a fascinating life...all the colors and variations of each unique story, you know? It amazes me.

      Thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm about my love story....you've conveyed it in comments here and there and your joy over it only deepens mine :-)

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  2. Such a delightful and moving interview! A rich life indeed, albeit also a rocky road to get to here. But one with its own rewards, obviously. And of course you're a poet. C.C. I certainly love and admire lots of your writing, not least these wonderful pieces you shared here today. Many thanks to you and Sherry for making my morning. (I couldn't stop reading, and I haven't even had my morning coffee yet!!!)

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    1. Yay! That makes me very happy, when coffee waits till the end of the feature, LOL. Thanks, Rosemary.

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    2. Aw, Rosemary....thank you for the honor of bestowing me with the 'poet' title...it is such a difficult one to claim for oneself, you know? Yes, it was a rocky road to get to this place, but these young men I call sons are worth all the rocks! Thank you for your ongoing reciprocity and encouragement towards me through Poet's United...I am grateful!

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  3. This interview is truly beautiful, Sherry. I am not sure you can speak without being poetic, CC. From "I mostly am in love with the catharsis of it….the way words slice through thick heaviness with surgical precision to carve restoration deep down in my broken soul" to "Solitude, reading and hiking are the trifecta of thrills ..." Nothing is ordinary. And then there are your poems. Thank you for sharing your work and your life.

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    1. Aw, Susan, that is so very sweet of you. I am moved by your graciousness towards me...though not at all surprised because your generosity of spirit always comes through in your work. Thank you :-)

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  4. Thank you, Sherry, for doing this interview with me! What fun :-) It was great for me getting to know YOU better through the process, too, and I am ever more grateful to you for all the hard work and effort you consistently put into Poet's United. Thank you!

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    1. The pleasure was all mine, C.C., and you truly made it easy for me, which I appreciate very much. I am still so stoked to have a feature with a lion in it, LOL. That photo is amazing, though you WERE too close and he DOES look hungry!Smiles.

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  5. such an interesting and fascinating life you have CC, we really don't know what surprise awaits for us at every bend in this life journey...may you be forever happy...i was so very glad to read 'I Come From Between Worlds' once again...and Sherry This Is a Wonderful Treat...

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    1. It's true, Sumana.....there are surprises around every bend! May you be forever happy as well. Thank you for reading and for all the reciprocity and encouragement you continually give me through Poet's United....I appreciate your voice so much :-)

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  6. What a wonderful interview - and so good to get to know you C.C. - thank you both...as I read I felt happy because who you are in your words shines in every answer. It is special because you write in such a powerful and yet measured way also - You are a woman who bleeds words onto the page to satiate the demons inside - but that is very far from being a just - I am glad you have the mountains and also pleased blogging led you to find love and healing in many forms - most importantly in the form of another - ps Alice thinks the quilts are delightful too!

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    1. Thank you, Jae! You knock my socks off every week with the words that you bleed onto the page......sometimes it isn't just the writing of the words that satiates demons but also the reading of other people's words, too. So thank YOU for that. So glad Alice likes the quilts :-)

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  7. Sorry for coming in late... and yes our paths have crossed a few times, and I love to learn more about you.. and how I remember I Come From Between Worlds.. any story where poetry and blogging leads to real life contacts are fascinating... thank you Sherry for this wonderful interview.

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    1. Always happy when our paths cross, Bjorn. I love reading your poetry...it's brilliant and so very inspiring to me. It continually amazes me how you are able to consistently write so well. You are truly talented. Thank you for all the ongoing encouragement and reciprocity :-)

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  8. Hi C.C. - always been a favourite blogger of mine - you 'bleed words' on the page without haemorrhaging. So pleased you felt able to share more of yourself here (and love the wildflowers poem above). Had not envisaged such an exotic background - figured more Northern climes p.s. Sherry is the next best thing to a truth drug - thank you for this intro to C.C.

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    1. Wow, thanks, Laura. That is so very kind of you! I always look forward to engaging with you and love the way your mind works....the way you make word choices in your poetry is phenomenal :-) Sherry as the next best thing to a truth drug...haha, love that! She does have an amazing way of bringing things out into the light ;-)

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    2. I am cackling about the "truth drug". LOL. I started off at age fourteen as a cub reporter on a daily newspaper, and my specialty was feature stories....I am like a bloodhound, always on the scent for a story. And everyone has one. This just made my day. Smiles.

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  9. Thank you CC for sharing your experiences and poetry with us. You're def not boring. All lives are fascinating, worthy of recording. Glad you record yours in poetry. I share some things with you - I love MY mountains that give me stability, also I am a retired social worker. I always enjoy your poetry. Nice to know more about you.
    Sherry, as always, you know what questions to ask that bring out a person's essence. Thank you ...again.

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    1. Yes, I completely agree Myrna.....all lives are so fascinating.....everyone has such a unique story to tell. And how cool when we have points of intersection...so it's interesting to know you are a retired social worker and that we have that profession in common. I really enjoyed your interview from a few weeks back, reading about "the Ladies" and learning more about you....completely agree with you about Sherrie's ability to ask the right questions!!

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  10. C.C., when i learned that you have once lived in my hot, humid country before, it was like, "wow!", isn't this community amazing?
    you do have a fascinating journey. imagine taking that picture of the lion from so close. he must have loved to be photographed! i like your poem "I Come From Between Worlds". there's so much vibrant imagery, and it's so frank.
    do you still miss the fanta soft drinks, curry fish head, prata and kopi C? :)

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    1. It is such a small world, isn't it, and so cool to find community with people who have things in common with us, you know?

      Oh....don't even get me started on all the things I miss....the list is long....satay, ketupat, popiah, chendol, definitely prata....did I mention CHENDOL? Oh how I miss that chendol!! I don't miss fanta soft drinks.....but I do miss fresh apple juice (straight from a plastic bag) from the hawker stalls. Mmm. Nothing tastes better on a hot, humid day! Always so nostalgic chatting with you! Thanks.

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  11. Thank you Sherry for featuring C.C this week :D its been such a pleasure expanding knowing more about you via this wonderful interview.

    I loved your poem "I come from between worlds." It has such an ethereal vibe to it :D especially the part where you mentioned.. "I am from airports, from never knowing if I am leaving home or going home, from the anticipation at arrival gate greetings to the inevitable devastation of departure gate goodbyes."

    Sigh.. I know that feeling all too well.. jumping from one place to another.. never knowing what's gonna happen next. But know that life keeps moving.. and so do we :)

    Wishing you all the happiness in the world and loads of success in the years to come. May we bloom together in this incredible blogosphere :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Sanaa...I love the word 'ethereal' so think it's pretty neat that you thought my poem had an ethereal vibe and that you could relate to some of the feelings in it. Thanks! Yes, life keeps moving on and there are adventures waiting around every corner. It's pretty cool how you have embarked on your own adventure of starting a new weekly prompt in the blogosphere and are doing some beautiful blooming that way. I'd love to take more of an active part in that because I think what you are doing is awesome....but time is so limited right now and I can only read and comment on so many posts a week, you know? But, keep it up. It looks amazing....like you are spreading happiness and inspiration all over the blogosphere :-)

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    2. Thanks C.C that was really kind of you :D

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  12. A very fascinating tour to the life of a poet that is C.C. I am thrilled to read some familiar things like Durian, which I believed a native fruit from my home country, the Philippines. I am envious of the fact that you can live & breathe with Africa. I've always wanted to go there---pay a visit, meet the people, explore the wild, rediscover nature, & more---someday, yes, maybe someday. Thank you Sherry & C.C. for a lovely read. :)

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    1. Ah, so the famous Durian is familiar to you.....but do you LIKE it? I could never quite get over the smell of it myself. I would love to go to the Philippines someday.....I have friends from there and my brother lived there for awhile and I have heard many great things about how beautiful it is.....so maybe someday you will get to visit Africa and I will get to visit the Philippines :-)

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  13. Oh big sighs for this one CC and Sherry. I was mesmerized with your growing up in Africa. And your wonderful stories....I adore your poems CC and look forward to reading those fabulous words you weave about life and love every week....much like a rag quilt built block by block. Thank you both for this amazing interview!

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    1. Donna, thank you for such kind words.....and the imagery of weaving words like a rag quilt block by block....so lovely. I love that. One of the things I always appreciate most about you is your optimism (your blog name is perfect for you!) and knowing that when I come over to read your words, it is like a dose of joy or sunshine. Thank you for the ongoing encouragement and reciprocity.

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  14. I am so happy you all enjoyed this feature, my friends. I knew you would. You live a fascinating life, C.C. Thanks for letting us get to know you better. It will make reading your poems all the richer.

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    1. Thank YOU, Sherry. It was great fun :-)

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  15. One more credential to your hat Sherry
    great Interview
    I just loved the way how each persons life brings out a poet out of them.

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