Monday, March 13, 2017

Life of a Poet ~ Rommy Driks

We have a treat for you this morning, my friends. We are featuring Rommy Driks, of  Kestril's Rhythms and Groove , whom you likely have come across at our sister site,  Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, and more recently at Poets United. It was such a pleasure interviewing Rommy. She is full of sparkle and good energy and writes some mighty fine poetry. Let's dive in.






Sherry: Rommy, as you are fairly new to Poets United, would you give us a snapshot of  your life? The poet at home – where you live, your family, (and don’t forget the furry ones), anything you’d like to share so we can get to know you better?

Rommy: I live in Bucks County, PA, just an hour north of Philadelphia in the United States. I share my home with my husband, two teenaged children and a stubborn but sweet corgi named Kitsune (Kit for short).


Wedding


Kit


Sherry: What a beautiful wedding photo. And Kit looks like a happy critter! That does my heart good.

Rommy: I have the good fortune to work from home for a quirky but cool little company, as an affiliate marketing coordinator (that’s a fancy way for saying I handle subcontractors who do marketing work for my company). When I do go into the office, Kit gets to come with me and shamelessly scam people into giving him treats and belly rubs. I used to be a research scientist before my children were born. I worked with recombinant DNA technology then. That was really interesting, but I don’t regret the career change because it means I’m home when my kids are. Of course it also means I get no snow days off either.

I’m a giant nerd and enjoy comics, sci-fi and anime.

Sherry: Such an interesting life! And how fortunate, to work from home. Where did you grow up, Rommy? Is there a story from your childhood you might like to share? Anything, looking back, that you think led you to being a writer?

Rommy: Oh goodness, I think everything tried to lead me not to be a writer. I was a bit type-cast in high school as a math and science geek, so I never got the impression people expected me to write anything more creative than a lab report. I was however a voracious reader, and making up stories seems to come naturally to people like that. I made up plenty of stories in my head when I was young, but was never brave enough to write any of them down.

Sherry: When did you begin writing? I know you write both poetry and prose and am wondering which came first.

Rommy: Funnily enough it was as part of an on-line class I took as an adult. I was in the process of exploring different religions and found an on-line school that demanded a lot of writing. I had a good enough rapport with the instructor to the point I finally felt brave enough to write my first story as part of an assignment. The very first Yuuki story I wrote came from those classes. I also wrote a few poems as well as part of later assignments. Some of them were pretty awful! But I got enough good feedback, and had so much fun creating them, I just never stopped writing after I stopped taking classes there.

Sherry:  I love how individual each person's path to writing is! Is there one person, when you look back, that you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a writer? Someone who encouraged and believed in you?



Magaly and Rommy


Rommy: Without a doubt, Magaly Guerrero. I remember shyly showing her some of the stuff I had written. She was encouraging from the get-go. In true Magaly style, she doesn’t mince words either, and because we have the good fortune to be friends, she doesn’t let me get away with slacking or half-baked efforts when she knows I am capable of better things. A good friend believes in you, a great one pushes you to be your best, and I’m grateful she’s in my life.

Sherry: Wow! It is so cool that Magaly is your friend and mentor. Lucky you!What do you love about poetry? What makes it sing for you?

Rommy: I love how it is a snapshot of emotion condensed by the imagery the poet chooses to reveal. There is something magical about the right rhythms, the right line breaks that subtly lead you through the moods a skilled poet wishes to highlight. It’s not something I can always achieve with my writing. I feel like my poems start life like unruly bonsai trees that I must prune to get the effect I want. But I love the challenge of trying.

Sherry: That is a very neat analogy, poem as bonsai!!! Do you have a favorite poet?

Rommy: I think the first book of poems I picked up was Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I did so because of the movie Fame and the song I Sing the Body Electric. I found I loved the exuberance of his poetry. It’s funny thinking back on that, given my habit of pairing a song with my writing.

Sherry: Would you like to share three of your poems with us, and tell us a bit about each one?

Rommy: Certainly, let’s start off with "A Woman of Words".




A Woman of Words

The words I was given
were condensed milk
thickened on a stove,
sips of chamomile to relax,
and a swish of the hips.

The words I was taught
were liberty and diversity,
mottled with ambiguity
and uncertainty,
yet always mixed
with aspiration and hope.

The words that were shared
were a smoky salt kiss blended
into cream cheese and chives,
big city pitter patter
with old world curled up in the throat.

The words that I took
belong to forests across oceans,
real and imaginary,
flowing like waves
across a floating world,
somehow reminding me
of that first sip of chamomile.

This is an older one I still really like because of how personal it is. I feel like the magic of words surrounded me from the moment I was able to pick up a book and read it, though the nuances of that magic shifted based on my life experiences at the time. The last paragraph is where I found myself as a writer, creating and living in these fantastical worlds of my own design, which can be traced back to the daydreams I had as a kid, half sleepy from drinking my grandmother’s chamomile tea.

Sherry: How very beautiful, the poem and the memories. Sigh. I love it, especially the words belonging to forests and oceans.

Rommy: The second I’d like to mention is Ukiyo-e.



Ukiyo-e blue is my inspiration
Lost in cerulean perfection
    A sky filled by dreams
          and caresses from impish winds
              implied but not seen
                 At least by most

Ukiyo-e red is my inspiration
My soul engulfed by its fire
      Scarlet hues dare me
          to be consumed completely
              in a passion of my choosing
                  If I am brave enough to say yes

I do not exist without them
Life, a sad monochrome
without the impudent tints
More than lines and colors on paper

They are muse


Calligraphy


Sherry: I especially love the line  "if I am brave enough to say yes."

Rommy: This one speaks to my love and enthusiasm for Japanese culture. I got hooked on anime when I was young, the first one I ever loved was Ribbon No Kishi, also called Princess Knight in the US, created by god of manga Osamu Tezuka. Somewhere in my thirties I wanted to explore the roots of the culture that created the art form I admired and found I really love learning about it. I am taking formal Japanese tea ceremony lessons through Urasenke Philadelphia and just continue to be inspired by the things I learn through my experiences in that class.

Sherry: Anime is very big in North America. I admire your interest in Japanese culture.

Rommy: The last is "Nightingale Hours".



Wildness floats around you,
wolf wicked,
but I’m no little girl
to be dandelion led.

I am a pebble-strewer,
hoping you’d find your way
to my hidden home.

Delight-whisperer, come
find me quick
amid the mysteries
of the sentinel forest.

Bring your power
midnight mage.
I’ve plenty of my own.
Bring your passion
moon brigand,

and see that I
am just as adept at stealing
kisses and nightingale hours
as you are.

Shofuso


Sherry: Wow! This one takes my breath away. Both invitation and challenge.

Rommy: There are a lot of things I like about this one. This was created as a response to a challenge to use kennings in a poem (A kenning (Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry). I had never tried writing those consciously but really liked creating them for this piece. There were a few that were left on the cutting room floor, but I was happy with the way this turned out. Also, I really like being able to write really passionate pieces every now and again.

Sherry: It is wonderful. I had not heard of that form before. And your photograph is so beautiful! When did you begin blogging, Rommy, and what impact has it had on your work?

Rommy: I began blogging because Magaly Guerrero made me do it! No really, as much as I loved writing, I was pretty shy about sharing it initially. Magaly published one of my earliest poems on her blog site and slowly nudged (shoved) me into creating my own. There’s still this bit of nervousness, sending out a bit of writing into the big wide world to stand or fall on its own. I think blogging has made me less fearful over time, which is a wonderful thing. And getting to read and be inspired by fellow bloggers is a huge plus.

Sherry: Blogging does help us become more comfortable about sharing our work. And each poet's voice is so distinct. Is there a cause you are especially passionate about?


"Opposing De Vos matters because
Grizzlies are NOT the problem!"
With friend Mimi, who lives in Philly


Rommy: These days it’s almost easier to ask if there isn’t a cause I’m passionate about. I, like many Americans, have concerns about the direction our country is going in, which drive me to be more politically aware. I do a lot of work with Philly UP (Philadelphia United for Progress), especially the group that handles Tuesdays With Toomey. They (attempt to) meet with Senator Pat Toomey or his staffers every week to discuss a different issue of concern to us. These have included the future of the ACA, environmental concerns, educational concerns, women’s issues and LGBTQ+ rights. These folks really inspire me and it renews my soul to be around them.

Sherry: It is more important now than ever before,  to keep those issues front and foremost, (she says, diplomatically.)

I LOVE the placard Mimi is holding up, and am chuffed you were  both out voicing your concerns. Way to be! In the interests listed on your About page, you list two that really intrigue me. Tell us about your love of belly dancing and the Japanese tea ceremony.

Rommy: I started belly dance as a treat to myself for learning how to swim (I’m still a terrible swimmer though) and because my kids finally were grown enough that I could go out once a week to learn. I’ve been dancing for over a decade now, still with the same amazing teacher who has taught me so much more than just the art of dance. I have performed on stage and in restaurants, both solo and as part of a group and I really love it. I’m not a terribly fancy person but there’s something about transforming into this dancing diva in sequins that keeps bringing me back.

Sherry: That is very cool.


Kimono


Rommy: I’ve been doing Japanese tea ceremony for a few years now. As I said earlier, it grew out of my desire to learn more about Japanese culture, which grew out of enjoyment of anime. My school is a small but active subgroup from the larger Urasenke school based out of Kyoto Japan. Besides the formal art of Japanese tea ceremony, we’ve touched on calligraphy, kimono wearing, incense appreciation and Zen. I find it is a good way to get my busy mind to slow down and savor the moment.

Sherry: It is such an elegant and graceful ceremony. You have very intriguing areas of interest.
What are your hopes and dreams for your writing in the years ahead?

Rommy: Well I’d like to release a book of poetry and a book of short stories at some point. I already have a few things in reserve that could contribute to both of them.

Sherry: I am sure that is going to happen for you, kiddo. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Rommy: Thank you so much for sharing your work and inspiring me to grow as an artist with your example.

Sherry: Thank you for the visit and for letting us get to know you better. It will make reading your poems even more enjoyable.

My friends, 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!


40 comments:

  1. YAY we got Rommy this week!!❤️ Woo hooo ❤️ Thank you soo much Sherry for featuring her, this is an amazing interview!

    Rommy, it's been a pleasure writing poetry alongside you both at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads and at Prompt Nights. And now after reading your story I feel like I have known you forever! We have soo much in common❤️ I too love anime and comics. I was a bit surprised to learn that you were into maths and science and how you began writing! Indeed, Magaly is a great friend and I am soo glad she encouraged you into the blogging world (where you are loved by us)

    You look super cute in that kimono!❤️ I still remember your first prompt regarding Japanese tea and the poem I penned for you! Speaking of poems... what a lovely trio you have shared here!❤️


    I loved 'A Woman of Words' its such a deep and poignant write sigh.. especially "The words that were shared were a smoky salt kiss blended
    into cream cheese and chives, big city pitter patter with old world curled up in the throat" such mouth watering imagery here!❤️

    Your poem 'Ukiyo -e' is absolutely thrilling! Especially adore these lines; "My soul engulfed by its fire, scarlet hues dare me to be consumed completely in a passion of my choosing, if I am brave enough to say yes." Your love for Japanese culture shines through your verse.


    Last but not the least, 'Nightingale Hours' is soo passionate! I love these lines the most; "Bring your passion moon brigand, and see that I am just as adept at stealing kisses and nightingale hours as you are." Sigh.. I wish I had written this❤️


    Wishing you loads of happiness and success in the years to come ahead Rommy❤️ You are an amazing friend and person. Big Hugs!❤️


    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Ooh! Which anime do you watch? I think I'm still stuck somewhat in the 90's when it comes to my favorites, but I've liked a few of the current ones I've seen too.

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    2. I like the 90's too!❤️ I m watching Ghost sweeper (Mikami) these days haha ❤️

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    3. I hadn't heard of that one! Current ones I've enjoyed are Sword Art Online, Norigami, The Devil is a Part Timer and Fairy Tale. Some of my 90's favorites are Sailor Moon, Ruroni Kenshin, Neon Genesis Evangeleon, Fushigi Yuugi, Cowboy Bebop and Escaflowne.

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    4. Wowieee❤️ I'll be sure to check them out!❤️

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  2. What a wonderful comment, Sanaa. Rommy, I am so happy you said yes, so we can get to know you better. It is always so cool to learn about the person behind the pen, and what we do when we're not writing.

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    1. Thanks for the opportunity Sherry :)

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  3. Hi rommy!
    Loved the poem ' nightingale hours' soo much.
    Poetry , Japanese culture and belly dancing - wow , that's a terrific mix of hobbies :D
    Will pop into your blog soon and say hi! :)

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    1. Yay! I'm glad to make your acquaintance.

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  4. I am back from a beach walk - grey-green waves frothing and wild, surfers, happy dogs racing about....it was heaven. I really love "Nightingale Hours" too.

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    1. Yayyy...so happy for you Sherry :)

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    2. That does sound nice! Especially as it's hailing in Bucks County this morning. Fortunately we have a full fridge and plenty of firewood in the event we lose power.

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  5. What an interesting interview ladies! Thanks for sharing your world with us Rommy. Lovely selection of poems. "to be consumed completely / in a passion of my choosing / If I am brave enough to say yes" The lines speak to me in such a friendly voice and inspire. Thank you Sherry for this wonderful feature.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Sumana.

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  6. Oh yes, Sherry, that was a lovely interview, thank you. And what terrific poems! It's always a joy to read your work, Rommy; thank you.

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    1. Aw! I'm glad you enjoyed the poems.

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  7. Great to meet Rommy. Rommy, there's a poetry reading that happens first fridays in the bookstore in Frenchtown, nj. Not too far from you.

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    1. No that isn't far at all! I drive into Frenchtown once a month for one of my daughter's activities. I should look into that.

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  8. What a great interview! Thanks for giving us all more insight into the delightful Rommy!

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  9. Am I just meeting you, Rommy, and reading your poems for the first time? What power! Whether words, colors or wind, you open them with unique combinations and comparisons. Wow. I'm hooked. I pulled out a favorite phrase, " caresses from impish winds"--which I first read as "impish words." Thank you for writing and sharing your work. BTW, I live in Delaware County, on the other side of Philly and have been active with SURJ and through Quakers, with POWER. It would be wonderful to find ourselves at the same poetry reading someday!

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    1. I'm looking to be more active with my local SURJ group as well. It'd be great to bump into you.

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  10. Yesss!! Rommy in her natural habitat. This is a wonderful interview! Thanks to both of you.

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    1. And an odd habitat it is. :D Thank you for reading.

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  11. Rommy, the first time I read "Nightingale Hours", I fell in love with the last stanza. Today, I'm charmed by the first--the speaker's words to the "wolf wicked", her refusal to be led astray, which make me love it today. Such a powerful message, so you.

    Sherry, this was a wonderful interview. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of our Rommy. :-)

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    1. I love coming back to older pieces and unearthing a new bit of magic I hadn't noticed before. Thank you Magaly :)

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  12. What an enjoyable interview. Rommy, I like your writing style, which reveals the diversity of your interests, your love of art and the wisdom that you've acquired. It's so nice to know such an interesting poet. I look forward to reading more of your work.
    Thanks again Sherry for writing this great interview.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Myrna.

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  13. You are all most welcome, my friends. It is my pleasure to bring these brilliant and talented poets to you every week. I always am hooked by peoples' lives, everyone has a story to tell. And knowing the story helps us understand their poetry better. Thank you, Rommy, for saying yes, as this has been delightful.

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  14. Rommy, sorry I am late with my comments. I had a busy couple days. Smiles. Really enjoyed learning more about you & reading more of your poetry. Cool that you and Magaly are friends too. And I love to read that you are politically active!

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    1. Thanks Mary. I'm glad you stopped by

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  15. What a beautiful interview this is. I love how personal, strong and sincere your poetry is Rommy. It was lovely to meet you. Thank you too Sherry for always coming up with these fantastic interviews.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment Robin. I'm a fan of your work too :)

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  16. Another fascinating interview. You do such a great job on these pieces, Sherry - and the work that they entail is truly astounding. So pleased to get to know a little about Rommy. I have enjoyed her poetry, in the past - though I do feel that knowing a bit about a writer does add. And I thank you for contributing that to the Poets United experience, Sherry. "A Woman of Words" is a perfect illustration of this. It is so true that our experiences do give us our words. To quote Australia's Jack Thompson: Poetry is a wonderful fountain of observation. I so enjoyed this, ladies.

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    1. Sherry asked some really great questions. I was happy to take part.

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  17. Dear Rommy and Sherry what a wonderful post! Loved reading about you, your many interests, and your poetry!!! Welcome!

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    1. Thanks Annell. Sherry did a terrific job putting this together.

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  18. Happy you came out of shy mode, because I enjoy reading your poems at your blog. Writing haiku has given me a leaning toward Japanese culture and I'm presently really loving the readings on tea, gardens, paintings, and such like. Luv Luv the photo of you in a kimono.
    I see that you have a good friend in Magaly, how fortune you are. I always look forward to her comments when I blog hop.

    Thank you Sherry and Rommy for this up close treat

    Much love...

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