Monday, October 10, 2016

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ LUNCH BREAK WITH GILLENA COX

Today, my friends, you will need your sunscreen, straw hats and water bottles, as we are flying down to a tropical island to visit Gillena Cox, who blogs at Lunch Break. Prepare for some beautiful poetry and scenery, the stuff of daydreams. Palm trees, long sandy beaches, and poems extolling the beauty. What's not to love? Jump in! Enjoy!









Sherry:  Gillena, it is so nice to be chatting with you at last! On your site, you list home as St James, Trinidad and Tobago.  Tell
us about your homeland, please. The tropical lifestyle fascinates we who live in colder climates. 

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Gillena: First i must say Thank you Sherry for choosing to feature my blog at Poets United, such a lively and interesting blog community.

Well Sherry, The City of Port of Spain is the capital of Trinidad, and St James is just one of the suburban areas making up the city. And Sherry, our country is The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island state. Scarborough, being the capital city in Tobago. 

Yes our climate is tropical. Sunny and dry, sunny and wet. We do not experience your seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter ~ love our hot weather. I've had spates of cold weather only on short vacations and always i'm happy to be home in the sun. I love the green-ness; even in the city there is greenery, i love the green of our trees year round, except for when (some of them) they burst into flowers.


Maracus Beach



Sherry: It sounds - and looks - like Paradise! Wow! Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself, with whom you share your life – anything you’d like us to know?

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Gillena: With whom do I share my life.  Hmmm how should I answer this. Okay I am married since 1971. I have a daughter and a son and a granddaughter born October 2012. I am there for them when they need me.

However I live alone. And now, share a lot of my time, with online poetry friends.

I have worked in the public service and more so in libraries, here in Trinidad. I am a retiree since 2003. My co-workers at the Planning and Development ministry library held a small retirement party for me. My daughter came to pick me up after work that afternoon. I said  to her in the car, if anyone asks you what am I doing now, say to them I’m writing.

And really I followed through on that statement.  I just seriously put aside some morning time to sit, savour and write a haiku a day.





But coming back to the question ‘With whom do I share my life. ‘ I find it important enough to come back to. I would say honestly I occupy myself with my thoughts and my prayers.

I am Catholic, I sang in the choir at church for a while and was involved in some of the church groups for a while. I am though presently more laid back.

Sherry: It sounds like a peaceful, contemplative life, Gillena. Lovely. Is there a story from your childhood you might like to share, to give us a sense of what it was like growing up in the tropics? Are close families a traditional part of your culture? I have a daughter-in-law from the Phillippines, and I imagine there may be similar cultural traditions for you as well.

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Gillena: Yes family life is cultural and traditional here in T&T. And from a Christian point of view, Christmas tags this in a bold way, for where persons find themselves separated for whatever reason, there is the gathering, and drawing close, at this time.

My father’s flower garden, and the way my mother’s kitchen smelled during the Christmas season are two high points in my growing up.  I always liked what I coined in my mind as the institution of Sunday Lunch, when we all sat at the table together. 




I am the first child of my parents and I have two brothers and four sisters. As the first child, from my parents' stand point, I was somehow responsible for the younger ones. However the little rebel in me never liked the idea of that responsibility. I always felt burdened as a child. So unlike the totally different way I felt when I had my own children. They are adults and I still feel responsible for them. I don’t know if this is a common feeling. But I know that’s how I am.

Sherry: It is common, indeed. We never stop being mothers. Looking back, is there one person in your growing up years that you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet? 

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Gillena: No Sherry, I can’t say there is.  It’s just something that evolved in me. That’s how I would like to honestly explain my writing poetry. It stems from inner urgings. I am an amateur. I find, I have the time to make writing a hobby and that’s the platform from which I write.  And, I am not one of those people who can say I have a favourite poet either. I read, I like, I like a lot, I forget a lot of what I read, and I read more.

Sherry: I like that answer! Smiles. When did you begin writing? What do you love about poetry, and blogging?

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Gillena: I worked in Children’s library in the ‘70s and enjoyed interacting in storytelling and book clubs and library displays. I also started, back then, to jot things down; and my husband was my audience. He indulged me a lot so I could bore him with my little jottings then.

Sherry: Well, we are happy you began, and it is nice when our near and dear encourage us. Are there three of your poems you would like to share with us? And maybe tell us a bit about each poem?

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trees of generations past thoughts of praise come to mind


Haiku are also referred to as one breath poems, and this one  can be written as one line. A ginko is a walk for the purpose of writing haiku, While walking you know in your mind you are sourcing mind images you will share as haiku. To a form called haiga, these words are included in a photo of NAPA [Opened in November 2009]   - The National Academy For The Performing Arts in Port of Spain





out bursts of poui
now arcs of traffic move through
a splendor of pink

Another haiga; in this one the haiku is presented in the classical three line form written in seventeen syllables. Modern concepts do not strictly adhere to the line or syllable counts for various reasons.





morning birds sing -
they put the sound back
into daytime
three tiered skirts flirt in sunny streets
near the almond tree a new park sign


This third one is a tanka. A five line poem. This tanka  celebrates morning sun, walking, and a carefree spirit.

Sherry: They are all lovely. I admire poets who can paint  such beautiful mental images with so few words and lines. It is a gift. And I love mornings filled with birdsong. They lift the heart, those small feathered beings.

What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing? Is music one of your loves? (I gather it might be from how frequently music appears in your poetry.)

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Gillena: I have done a lot of crochet, [now not so much]. Photography, again, from an amateur stand point. Music yes, I enjoy all types, listening, though. I do not play any instruments, and appreciate most. My singing voice is not bad, though. I sang in the senior choir at church from 2003 until April 2014 when I sang at our Resurrection Concert. It was a fund raiser for restoration of our church building.  The restoration is still ongoing, so we use a chapel in one of our schools for holy mass.

Oh and yes, I almost forgot. I have published through Authorhouse 3 books.  For adults - ‘Moments’ and ‘Pink Crush’.  Moments contains 100 haiku and Pink Crush is more so a poetry sampler- carrying various forms. And for children ‘The Little Seed And His Brother.’


               







And soon to be published, still with the publishers:  ‘Under The Chinaberry Tree,’ another children’s story.

Sherry: That is wonderful, Gillena! Good for you! I am happy you are writing books for children, too. 

Gillena: I do book swaps and have in my collection to date 21 signed books from poets from various countries. 

Sherry: Book swaps sounds like a neat idea. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

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Gillena: I do not talk a lot about myself. I live humbly, yet I love glamour. Theatre, dance, fashion, art excites me. I have a few people I can count on one hand I truly believe are my friends. My husband and children (grandchild included) I consider my true loves. Prayer is my forte, it keeps me sane and stable. I wish hard for a world of peace, where people forget about borders and opt for understanding and equity on this beautiful blue-jeweled planet.







Sherry: I wish for the same, Gillena. Is there anything you would like to say to Poets United?

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Gillena: Yes, Sherry it’s a pleasure being one, in an online community of very interesting poets; writing in different styles and different voices, sharing in unabashed ease. One thing that remains throughout my blogging journey, i have uppermost in my mind blogging in an attitude of celebration and appreciation for where I find myself in a rhythm of one day at a time.

Sherry: That attitude of celebration and gratitude comes through so clearly in your poetry, Gillena. Thank you  so much for allowing us to get to know you better. Now when we read your poems, they will be imbued even more deeply with the colours and flavours of your tropical setting.

Kids, Gillena has included a gift bookmark for us, which you are welcome to copy, print out and use, when you need a little bit of tropical Paradise in your life. Thank you, Gillena. It is gorgeous!




Here is the link for the bookmark


Oh, it is hard to leave the sand and the sea, is it not, my friends, and return to the cold weather heading our way? But it was lovely to visit, and to dream a little daydream about setting up housekeeping under a palm tree, even for a little while. Do come back and see where our travels take us next. Who knows? It might be your door we come knocking on.



37 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us Gillena - you are a light in our community. Always ready with encouragement and love. I love how you followed through with your declaration to write.. It's a beginning in a way isn't it maybe even with each new piece? Long may you share your words with us - thank you both

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    1. Thanks for your appreciation Jae

      much love...

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  2. I'd love to swap a book with you, Gillena. Your spirit is bright and your delight is shared in yur poetry, always. I pray you were untouched by Hurricane Matthew .... Thanks for another great, Sherry!

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    1. Thanks Susan. Yes i would luv the book swap. You can email me about that.
      And thanks for your concern and love,because of our mountain structure, T&T was not severely treated by Matthew, we do have a lot to be divinely thankful for

      much love...

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    2. I'm happy to know you were not affected too badly. Whew. That was a terrible hurricane.

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    3. Gillena! I don't have an email for you. Here's mine: pierette11@gmail.com. Let's exchange addresses so we can swap the books.

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  3. Thank you so much, Sherry for featuring Gillena as Blog of the Week 💖 Gillena it's such a pleasure to expand knowing more about you! I have always admired your courage and strength and feel blessed to know you via this community💖 Love your poems especially the way you write haiku! Sigh, I never can seem to master the form. Especially adore this one:

    out bursts of poui
    now arcs of traffic move through
    a splendor of pink

    I too am experiencing hot and dry/ hot and wet weather here in Kuala Lumpur, though I miss autumn and winter back home. I had no idea you were interested in photography and gosh you sing too 💖I ll bet you sound just lovely! 💖

    Congratulations on publishing three books 💖 they look and sound amazing! Wishing you loads of happiness and success in the years to come ahead💖

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Thanks for dropping in with love and appreciation Sanaa, and thanks for inviting me to your Prompt Nights, luv our poetry interactions there too

      much love...

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  4. Thank you, Gillena, for allowing us to get to know you better. You live in such a beautiful place. It was such a pleasure working with you on this feature.

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    1. It is indeed my pleasure Sherry

      much love...

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  5. Another wonderful interview, Sherry. I so enjoyed getting to know you, a little, Gillena - and becoming a bit more familiar with Trinidad and Tobago ... a setting which, I have noticed, often wisps through your lovely haiku.

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    1. Isn't it wonderful, the variety of interesting and wonderful lives being lived on this planet? I love peoples' stories, and their unique and interesting lives.

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    2. Thank you for your appreciation Wendy

      much love...

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  6. What beautiful photos, Gillena; and how fun to get to know a bit more about you and your life in Trinidad and Tobago. It seems like such a peaceful place, and your poetry seems to reflect that. You seem very content with your place in life, Gillena; and that is a gift. I am always glad to see you in the Pantry or Midweek Motif. As you say ---- smiles -----lots of love!

    And, Sherry, thanks to you for such a well composed article as well!

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    1. Thanks for you love and appreciation Mary

      much love...

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  7. Hi Gillena,

    It was nice to get to know you a bit better. I do enjoy reading your poetry and you are always kind in replying to others in the community.

    much love...

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    1. Thanks for your appreciation Truedessa

      much love...

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  8. Congratulations on your books Gillena. You are blessed living in such tropical beauty. I look forward to reading more of your lovely haiku and always enjoy visiting your blog.

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  9. so nice to learn more about you, Gillena!
    i like the idea of writing a haiku a day.
    also love your attitude toward reading and writing. :)

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    1. Thanks for your appreciation Stacy

      much love...

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  10. Replies
    1. संजय भास्‍कर

      Thank you

      much love...

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  11. Sherry and Gillena what a wonderful trip and interview. I so enjoy learning more about you Gillena as I adore your poetry!

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    1. Thank you for your appreciation Donna

      Much love...

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  12. You always make me smile Gillena--and I think you for that. It is wonderful to get to know you a bit better--thank you for sharing your life with us!

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    1. Thank you for your appreciation Audrey

      much love...

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  13. So good to know more about a haiku poet...such an amazing challenge to master the form. Great interview Sherry. Thanks to you both.

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  14. Congrats on your books Gillena...may you be always filled with happiness...& Sherry such a lovely chat...so sorry to respond so late & hope this comment posts...i'm at war with internet connection...ugh...

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    1. Thanks Sumana.
      Hope those internet glitches are sorted out quickly.

      much love...

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  15. It is always so good to hear about our blogging friends and gete a little of their background. I have always been so amazed at how productive you are with your poetry Gillena. Thank you too Sherry for a another great interview.

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    1. Thanks for your appreciation Robin

      much love...

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  16. Great interview, Sherry. Nice to get to know a little about you and your wonderful homeland, Gillena. I always enjoy your poems here at PU.

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  17. Hi Gillena, greetings from another tropical island nation, from halfway around the world.

    always good to know more about another poet in this community. i see you love to write haiku and shorter verses. i like to write haiku too, i have another blog for these. your poems are so uplifting and positive.
    thank you for sharing your thoughts, and congrats on your books. :)

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  18. I have had such internet access problems, it has taken me until now to read this delightful interview. I have always loved picturing you in your tropical surroundings, Gillena, from the glimpses you give us. I come away from your blog smiling.

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