Monday, March 20, 2017

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ THE POETRY OF ROSEMARY NISSEN-WADE


This week, my friends, we are swooping across the sky to Australia, to visit our very own Passionate Crone, Rosemary Nissen-Wade. Rosemary shares some lovely poems with us, and will tell us about her new book, Three Cycles of the Moon. Pour a refreshing beverage (Rosemary will be having her usual unsweetened black coffee, but can offer you tea, green tea, herbal tea, or even white coffee with sugar) pull your chairs in close, and enjoy! 









Sherry: Rosemary, I always love your poems, but a handful of them in recent months especially spoke to me, and I hoped you might share them with our members.

Rosemary: Oh, Sherry, how very flattering! Thank you. My initial response when you suggest such things is always, 'Oh no, they won't want to hear about me again!'

Sherry: We are always only too happy to hear from you, my friend.

Rosemary:  Well, if that’s so – I’m always very happy to talk about poetry, even my own!

I see the poems you have chosen as three groups, each with two poems of like theme / mood.

Sherry: Let’s dive right in.



Softly calling
across hilltops
oceans and skies:
the memories.

Across hilltops
as on bird wings –
hear them flutter.

Oceans and skies
ripple with white –
wave tips and clouds.

The memories,
evanescent,
hint and linger.


Because you are music,
I sing you, even 
when you aren't here,
softly in memory.

Because you are wine,
you intoxicate me
slowly and smoothly,
the taste lingering.

Because you are ocean,
I bathe in you, plunge
and almost drown, then float
on your buoyant blue.

Because you are poetry,
I return to you again and again; 
you fill my mouth, 
I give you utterance, but –

Because you are mystery,
I cannot touch your core,
fathom your depths, recover 
from you, find your truest chords.


Rosemary: “Reaching Beyond” and “Because You” are imaginary situations where I was focused mostly on the music and imagery (though of course it is my subconscious they came from, and I have experienced similar emotions in real life).

Sherry: I especially love “Because You”. It is a gorgeous read, and allows the reader to take her own flights as she reads.

Rosemary: That’s interesting, as I didn’t have a specific "other" in mind so much as the experience, itself, of being in love. Perhaps that lack of factual detail is the very thing that allows readers to fill in the gaps for themselves.

Sherry: Let’s take a look at the next two, shall we?




On the street down the hill, half-hearted fireworks 
pop and splutter like distant thunder or a gurgling fridge.
It's the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes night.
I remember huge bonfires, in Launceston in my childhood.
  
Pop and splutter – like distant thunder or a gurgling fridge –
briefly, then it's all done. Too soon, perhaps, after
the newer habit of Halloween? (Is Bonfire Night dying?)

It's the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes night –
'Remember, remember...' and I do remember
sparklers, Catherine wheels, rockets, penny bungers.

I remember huge bonfires in Launceston in my childhood,
smoke billowing in chill Spring air, our frosty breath, 
the neighbourhood dads in charge: all those certainties.




How fortunate, dear readers, that you enjoy 
all these poems about my garden and my cat.
They are likely to keep right on coming.
My obsessions nowadays are quiet, insular.

All these poems about my garden and my cat
connect me to earthy, practical ways of being. 
Otherwise I might fly off, disappear into dreams.

They are likely to keep right on coming,
the dreams and flights – but so are the frangipani,
the red geraniums, my cat's games and her hungers.

My obsessions nowadays are quiet, insular.
After all, I grew up on an island; and I carry quiet
within me, an interior island of words, of poetry.


Rosemary: “Reminders” and “How Fortunate, Dear Readers” are not at all imaginary. They deal with my love of the ordinary and domestic, which I more and more believe to be the truly important moments in life. 

Sherry: I do, too. I take great delight in the lovely domestic rhythms of this stage of my life. And I love that “interior island of words, of poetry.” I most enjoy how often your cat creeps into your poems. Your familiar.


Selene


Rosemary: Yes, she is an important presence in my life – as well as an intriguing and often challenging one. I have only had her for a little over a year, but she was already nearly eight, and has obviously had a chequered history which makes her fearful and wary. She is also very sweet, and I am sure that by now she loves and trusts me as much as she can any human being, but some of her boundaries mean I have to use strategies to look after her properly, e.g. I buy special food to keep her teeth clean and her gullet free of furballs, because she would not allow the degree of handling otherwise required. So I am very much inclined to celebrate in verse the companionable times we have also arrived at. Need I add, I am quite besotted!

Sherry: That is evident in your poems. I have enjoyed watching your relationship evolve. I remember how fearful she was, at first, then how she slowly began to relax, trusting she was in safe hands (and heart!)

We have two final poems to contemplate:


“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: 
‘Good-bye.”  
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

We never said that final goodbye to each other,
always thinking there'd be one more day, one moment,
until there was no time left, it had all run away so fast.
Perhaps, also, we never believed we could really be parted.

Always thinking there'd be one more day, one moment,
we spoke of immediate, practical things – the pleasure 
of a comfortable chair, the view of trees and hills from the high      window.

Until there was no time left – it had all run away so fast –
we said what was in our hearts with eyes and touch. 
Goodbye, coming finally to mind, was not in our hearts.

Perhaps, also, we never believed we could really be parted.
How wrong we were! Now the word chokes me with grief.
And how right: you being, after all, still present here, 
always with me.



There are two new gardenia blooms in my garden.
America prepares to vote for a new President.
In Syria they are breaking eggs to make an omelette.
Dandelions and clover appear on my lawn.

America prepares to vote for a new President
while the rest of the world collectively shudders.
Then each country turns back to its own problems.

In Syria they are breaking eggs to make an omelette.
I mean of course that we are, noble saviours.
And the children there? Can’t be helped!

Dandelions and clover appear on my lawn.
Their bright, dancing faces delight; but I must mow.
I see no bees this year, despite the scent of gardenias.


Rosemary: “Saying Goodbye” deals with personal sadness and “Being Here Now” is gloomy about global concerns. Both are more reflective than urgent.

I realise I am not writing so many sad poems any more – evidence of having adjusted to widowhood. As everyone who has experienced deep grief knows, we never get over it, but time makes it easier to handle. I have reached a place of contentment in my life. 

Sherry: I well know that we never do recover from the loss of a beloved. We learn to accommodate the grief within us, somehow, in order to go on living. I often remember the poem you wrote when you bought the new chair, after your husband's death, and walked into the room to see your beloved Andrew sitting in it, smiling his approval.

I love, in “Being Here Now”, how you switch from the global outlook to the joys of your small garden. I think that is a wise retreat and replenishment, when things look dire: the balm and beauty of nature.

Rosemary: I’m interested to note, now, that after each pair of poems my first comment (above) culminates in the word “life”. Poetry and life have always been entwined for me. Poetry is not some extra thing I add in. I’m looking for a metaphor to explain this, and I think that it's breath – the breath of life. 


"Poetry is...the breath of life"


Sherry: “Poetry is…the breath of life.” I have to agree. It is, for a true poet.

Rosemary: It’s probably worth noting that I recently spent a month exploring the trimeric form, and five of these six poems are in that form. “Because You” is the exception – essentially free verse, albeit using stanzas and repetition. I love free and formal verse equally.

Sherry: Your work is wonderful, in every form, and we are so fortunate to be those dear readers you speak of! 

Rosemary, recently you published a new book, THREE CYCLES OF THE MOON, with two friends, Jennie Fraine and Helen Patrice. Tell us about this beautiful book.



Rosemary: Some time ago a woman called Maggie Strongheart decided to explore her relationship with the moon via a daily piece of writing, and created a group on facebook so that others might join her and share their writings there. For those of us who took her up on it, it proved illuminating (pun intended) to see how our lives reflected what was going on with that little orb in the heavens. Jennie, Helen and I, being poets, of course did it in verse.

[In the photos below, Jennie Fraine is on the left, Helen Patrice on the right.]



We were so thrilled with our results that we decided to collaborate on a collection. We are very old friends in real life, and admirers of each other’s poetry. In fact I have featured both Jennie and Helen in “I Wish I’d Written This”. (If you missed these,  you can search their names among the tags in the left sidebar.)

Everything was decided by consensus. The initial selection of poems and their sequential arrangement were delightfully easy. Finding the cover illustration and cover designer, and deciding on how/where to publish took longer.  We decided to go with an ebook produced by Smashwords, as they make books available in every kind of ebook format.  Also it enabled us to keep the price reasonably low. (But not rock bottom; it’s considerably longer than a chapbook.)

Initial formatting of the book to Smashwords requirements proved daunting to us non-geeks, so we enlisted the help of our old friends ContentXDesign who had already published SHE TOO, poems by Helen and me plus two American poets: Delaina J Miller and Leigh D C Spencer. (I have also featured both Leigh and Delaina here; again, check the sidebar.) The new book, though, lists Jennie Fraine as the publisher, for the simple reason that she has self-published a number of physical books over many years and so was in a position to assign our book an ISBN number.




Sherry: Both books look absolutely wonderful! What an accomplishment! I am especially intrigued by the work arising from your moon journey. I thought that was so cool, at the time.

Rosemary: You asked me to talk about the book, and I am going on about all the technical aspects of producing it! They absorbed us for quite a long time, you see. As for the content, I don’t think I can better the blurb Helen created for our Smashwords page:

“Once upon a time there were three women, who, inspired by a fourth, set out on a month-long journey. They travelled from New Moon to Full and back to Dark Moon again, charting all the aspects and phases of their relationships with Luna, Her Goddesses, Her moods, and their own. One poet travelled across the Earth, while the two others remained fixed in the terra firma of Australia. They won the treasure of wild inspiration, and yes, at times, struggled with 'what to write', as the month went on, and on, and the Moon just kept rising. Open an eye to the telescope to view Selene, Diana, Artemis, the Rabbit in the Moon, and maybe even the Old Woman In the Moon. Move through the Three Cycles of the Moon, in poetry.”

(In my case the moon, though it undoubtedly kept on rising, was not always visible behind cloudy skies, and that made for some interesting realisations too.)

I say, in my foreword to the book, “Helen and Rosemary are witches, so moon-consciousness was already part of their lives. Jennie, who describes herself as earth-bound and pragmatic, nevertheless lives her life open to possibility. ”

Sherry: I love it, especially Jennie, who remains “open to possibility”! 
Me, too!

Rosemary, thank you so much, for sharing your poetry,  and the exciting news about the new book. Thank you as well for your wonderful and much-appreciated contribution over the years at Poets United. I feel so fortunate to know you, a true witch, and a Goddess in your own right. Thank you, and Blessed Be.

We hope you enjoyed this offering as much as we did, friends. Rosemary is amazing! Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


51 comments:

  1. I enjoy this combination of poems and books, with Sherry's questions and Rosemary's analysis as well as her creative work. It's a blessing to share poetry blogging with you both. I have particularly enjoyed your work in the trimeric form, Rosemary, and your noting that poetry is for you "the breath of life." Two lines from "How fortunate, dear readers"--on the same topic, I believe--stick with me:
    "I grew up on an island; and I carry quiet
    within me, an interior island of words, of poetry."
    I love your intimate e-book "Life After Death" that contains your widowhood poems, as I cherish all your poems about memory and emotion. Thank you.

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    1. I'm glad to know that "Life After Death" is being read. Thank you, Susan.

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  2. I love your work, Rosemary and like to learn new things about you. Your cat Selene is so cute with the white whiskers! I have always had black cats because they are the least understood and so beautiful! Cats are the best company, they know when they are needed and when they aren't unlike dogs. (I love dogs too though.) I love that you are a witch because I believe! Have a great week! Big hug!

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    1. I also love dogs too. But it would not be practical to have one where I live – and I do have more affinity with cats. This one is in a way particularly precious because so challenging.

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  3. Thank you, Rosemary, for this wonderful start to our week. You are a Wonder! I must read "Life After Death" as I, too, especially adore your poems of love and memory. You have walked through your widowhood with such strength and grace.

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    1. Ah well, putting one foot after another. Wise advice I received many years ago, in a completely different context, was that if one keeps doing that, 'Eventually you'll look over your shoulder and see that you've travelled quite a long way.'

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  4. Ah, very nice! Poems for the Spring equinox! Also I must say that cat looks absolutely gorgeous...

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    1. It is Autumn Equinox here in Australia, which I have recently celebrated with a group of my 'sisters'. But you are quite right – the garden poems Sherry chose were written in Spring.

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  5. Dear Sherry and Rosemary, I read through and will come back tomorrow to read the poetry...loved each word, thank you so much!

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  6. Ah, my morning is just beginning, and what a lovely start to see this feature and all the kind comments! Thank you Sherry, for your skilful interviewing, and persuading me in the first place. And thank you, dear Poets United friends, for reading, and for saying such welcoming – and welcome! – things.

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  7. Because You is just wonderful! I'm glad to have been able to read it. Thanks Sherry and Rosemary. And congrats on the new book.

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  8. Oh my, Rosemary! I really just love "Because You", as Rommy does. Now THAT really is a poem! I am surprised it is an 'imaginary situation' as it seems so very real. I see that Sherry resonates with it too. I liked "Reminders" too, and the memories you shared of your childhood. I haven't written a childhood memory poem in a while. This poem made me think that I should. Smiles. "Saying Good-bye" resonates too....indeed it is hard when we realize after someone is gone that we really have NOT said good-bye and there is no more opportunity. Very poignant poem. But also true that we can keep our departed loved ones close to us. I really loved reading about your books too....I think it is cool that you found others to collaborate with you on your recent books.

    A few questions for you: (1) Why did you most recently go with collaborated books rather than books just by you? (2) How do you continue to keep finding inspiration after writing poetry for so many years? (3) If you were to leave this world today, what would you hope your legacy would be?

    Sherry, thanks once more for a wonderful feature! You really have a gift when it comes to bringing out the best in 'us.'

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    1. Ha, there is just so much treasure waiting to be harvested, my job is very easy. Smiles.

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    2. Interesting questions, Mary! The answer to the first is easy – I was approached by a potential collaborator in each case, who had the good idea first. I think it was Delaina who had the idea for SHE TOO. She has more of a business brain than the rest of us, lol. I and the other fellow-collaborators received the suggestion enthusiastically. With the MOON book, Jennie, Helen and I got together on one of my xmas trips to Melbourne, and among other things talked about our immediate plans for our writing. I forget which of them raised the idea of that collaboration (I'm just sure it wasn't me) but once said it seemed obvious.

      Question 2 is an easy answer also. I participate in online groups – such as Poets United itself – which post prompts! Who needs inspiration? But actually that last is a flippant remark; the prompts help us tap the inspiration which is always waiting within us, based on our experiences and emotions. Also I find that writing begets writing; the more we do, the more it flows, and so poems arise which are not in response to prompts yet might not have happened without all that practice. Reading poetry by other people is often inspiring too, either for ideas or techniques; and in reading really good poetry, I think we absorb something of cadence and mood by a kind of osmosis. Writing both haiku and 'small stones' is also useful, as it forces me to look outside myself for inspiration (most often into the natural world). And if all else fails, I find that playing with form gets the juices flowing. My favourite books of exercises which result in poems are WINGBEATS, by Scott Wiggerman and others and THE CRAFTY POET, by Diane Lockward, both of which now have a Volume II. One can dip into them again and

      Question 3. Hmmm, I am not actually very concerned with that these days. I live for (and through) poetry, can't not do it, and I think poetry matters a lot – yet I think love, compassion and kindness are far more important. I guess I would like to think I had made people's lives better in some way, whether through a poem, my friendship, a smile in passing.... My Dad was a big influence in my early life, and a lot of what he said has stayed with me, such as: Try to leave the world a little better than you found it. That'll do very nicely, if I can manage it! As for a poetic legacy, it would be nice to think my poetry would be read, and move people, long after I'm gone, but it seems unlikely. And then again, does it matter? I am reminded of a thing I read somewhere long ago, source unknown: 'Spirit wants only that there be flying. As to who does it, that is immaterial.' So long as there is poetry, and it reaches people and moves them profoundly, perhaps that is enough, and whose poetry it is remains immaterial. If I have had a hand in keeping poetry alive, by engaging in it and with it, regardless of whether my own work is remembered – that too will do very nicely. (Of course if someone realises posthumously that I am a poetic genius, and I become world-famous forever – my ghost won't complain too much!)

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    3. I liked what you wrote about your inspirations for writing poetry, Rosemary. I do think that writing begets writing....and I also have found inspiration in form, when all else fails. (I haven't done form in a while - sigh.) I have not heard of either WINGBEATS or THE CRAFTY POET. I should take a look.

      I liked that you said compassion, love, and kindness is more important than poetry. Have to keep that in mind in these crazy times, I think. Ah, leaving the world better than one found it - a worthy goal indeed. And I liked the thought that as long as there is poetry and it is reaching people it might not matter WHO the poet is!! Laughed about the idea of becoming posthumously famous....ah, I hope Emily Dickinson's ghost is pleased. Smiles. Thanks for your great answers to my questions!

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    4. Such a wonderful conversation! I love your response to question three so much, Rosemary.....I am busy archiving my own work in book form to leave behind for my family in hopes they may understand who I was a little better one day, should they read my work. "To find me, come this way....." like dropping crumbs in the forest.

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    5. Sherry, I am glad you are leaving your work for your family!! Your poetry definitely IS you!

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    6. Mary, maybe posthumous is better, LOL. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a world-famous poet. As I got older I observed that great fame can be a poisoned chalice. (Though perhaps not so much for poets as some other occupations. We never get all THAT famous unless we write music or novels too. )

      Sherry, I agree with Mary – and I also hope you too will self-publish, so that not only your family will be able to have these books.

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  9. Because you are music,
    I sing you, even
    when you aren't here,
    softly in memory.

    'Because you' goes deep into many aspects. It covers the whole gamut of life's pleasures and constraints. Beautiful set of lines Rosemary! You've always been an inspiration. Hank finds the collaboration among enthusiasts is at a high level and had been a long time in the making. A shared burden obviously gets lighter and brings result fast. Thanks Sherry and Rosemary for a most enlightening interview!

    Hank

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    1. Thank you, Hank. Humbling to be an inspiration to such a dedicated poet as you!

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  10. What a feast! ... thank you Rosemary :)

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  11. A great choice for blog of the week. I often visit Rosemary's blog to read her poetry. Congratulations on your books! I have always been fascinated by the phases of the moon, especially when full faced. It sounds like you found the perfect friends to collaborate with on this writing adventure.

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    1. Yes, it's nice working with friends! Although we have distinct differences as poets, we know each other well and 'get' each other's work, which made all the decision-making very smooth and easy.

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  12. Lovely to come in and read the enthusiastic comments. Thank you, friends. And thank you, Rosemary, for your wonderful poems and thoughts, which made it all possible.

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    1. Couldn't have done it without you, Sherry! Thank you for your thoughtful choice of poems, and for mentioning the latest book.

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  13. Another fascinating interview, Sherry. The selection of poems is inspired. I so relate to the concept of quiet, insular obsessions. I think that finding the things that occupy a prominent place in your serenity is a wellspring from which a lot of good poetry flows. And wonderful news about the book, Rosemary. It was so interesting to read how it came together. Great job of this piece, ladies!

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    1. It's interesting, Wendy. I once used to think it was much harder to make poetry out of peaceful, happy subject matter, but that seems to have changed as I've aged.

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  14. I luv that poem 'Because You' and I don't remember reading it before

    Congratulations on your new book

    Thank you Sherry for another up close Pantry Poet

    much love...

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  15. 'Saying Goodbye' and 'Because You' stole my heart Rosemary. I feel as if my own thoughts have been expressed in an infinitely more beautiful way.
    Congratulations on your new book. And Sherry, this is indeed a fantastic interview.

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    1. That is very high praise, thank you, Sumana.

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  16. I read the poems first thing this morning. Each word, each line. Thank you both so much!

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    1. Thank you for giving them such excellent attention!

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  17. Oh yes, Rosemary IS amazing! The poems selected here are all so wonderful, unique and profound. I enjoyed them all. I love that Rosemary is such a wise witch.
    Congratulations Rosemary on your book. What a great idea to write poems to and about the moon. I'm sure it was a challenging but fruitful endeavor - both the writing and the publishing.

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    1. Thanks, Myrna. It was very interesting to make that deliberate connection to the moon every night.

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  18. Always good to read and see you Rosemary - black cats, rainbows and breath - what could be better

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    1. Always good to read and see you too! Thank you.

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  19. Congratulations on your new book. Thank you to both for all your hard work here. Your poems are heartfelt and lovely Rosemary.Of course people are and will be moved by your poems when you have left us and are riding around the moon on a broomstick:)As for being a poetic genius...oh well
    if the Rape of the Locke is considered to be a work of poetic genius then we all are:) Although, you will probably never enjoy the commercial success of John Laws (Criiiinge....Sorry:)

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    1. Oh, thank you for that good laugh! (I'm with you about both Pope and Laws.)

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  20. Yayy!❤️ We got Rosemary this week!❤️ Thank you so much Sherry for doing such a delightful interview. Rosemary, it's such an honor to expand knowing more about you here. Congratulations on your new book! Its absolutely amazing❤️

    Loved all the poems here and I see you have shared my favorite one! Sigh this one took my breath away "Because You" especially adore these lines; "Because you are poetry, I return to you again and again; you fill my mouth, I give you utterance, but – Because you are mystery,I cannot touch your core, fathom your depths, recover from you, find your truest chords." Such incredible amount of depth and passion here❤️

    Wishing you loads of happiness, health and success in the years to come ahead. I feel so blessed to be your fellow poet and friend!❤️


    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Dear Sanaa, I love your infectious enthusiasm, your passion for poetry and unfailing support of your fellow-poets. It's a great blessing to know you, too.

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  21. There's such an endearing quality to your poems as you write of cats and garden and love. Wonderful to know about your new books as well. Thanks Sherry for bringing this interview to us.

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  22. What a great visit with Rosemary, Sherry. It is always a delight to visit your blog Rosemary and of the poems featured here I particularly liked 'Because you" and 'How fortunate, Dear readers". It is amazing how much we learn about writing poetry by reading our fellow writers each week. Thank you both.

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    1. Yes, I agree. It's great to be exposed to such a variety of voices and approaches.

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  23. It's such a joy to be part of this warmly appreciative community. Right now it feels like a family! Thank you all.

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  24. This is an amazing write up Sherry - and Rosemary thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself and your poetry...you are inspiring, love your "Goodbyes" piece so well done as so the others...your book work sound exciting and I am happy for you and your poet friends...blessings...bkm

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    1. My pleasure! Thank you for your generous comments.

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  25. Such a lovely interview Sherry ~ Congrats on your new publication Rosemary & looking forward to reading more of your work ~

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