Monday, September 4, 2017

LIFE OF A POET - ROB JACKSON III

Today, my friends, we are zipping across the skies to the southeastern USA, to visit Robert Jackson III, who writes at Humid Tea and Dry Pines Poetry, a name that intrigues me. There is bound to be some beautiful scenery, given the location, and I am stoked to get to know Rob better. Hop aboard! We're off!  






Sherry: Rob, I am taken with the name of your blog. Tell us a bit about it, and its connection with the place on the planet you call home, wont you?



Florida, where I grew up


Rob: Well, I grew up Florida and have always lived in the Southeast U.S. Here sweet tea and longleaf pines are the norm. I was going to juxtapose the adjectives and say Dry Tea and Humid Pines, but fell to the logical arrangement.

Sherry: I love it! Would you give us a snapshot of the poet at home? You live in a glorious spot!




Rob: I am married, have three kids, a dog, a fish, and whatever wild thing happens to be brought inside at the moment. I currently live in a small college town, Auburn, Alabama, where I work at Auburn University. Previously I lived in the big city, Atlanta, and tropical suburbia, Clearwater, FL. 

At least 40 hours a week are consumed by my job as a professor of engineering. My research area is something called tribology, which is probably a new word for most. I'll let yall look that up on your own. Being a professor involves teaching and research. Writing technical articles for publication is a big part of that, but I was actually first published as a poet.



Test machine in my research laboratory

Sherry: Now that is an interesting looking machine! A professor of engineering sounds like a wonderful profession. Especially cool is a professor who also writes poetry. And I did look it up! 

Tribology: the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear, according to our friend Wikipedia.  

When did you begin writing poetry? Did you write as a student? Was there someone in your life you feel had a significant impact on your becoming a poet? 



Rob: Ive been writing for a very long time. Started sometime in High School or maybe even before. Many English teachers (and others) impacted my interest in writing poetry over the years. In high school, several teachers made a positive impact on me. In English, Joanne Roby encouraged me to write and gave me confidence. Mina Wolf also helped to cultivate my appreciation for art and creativity.

Blake Leland, a professor at Georgia Tech, is probably one I should thank the most. He encouraged me to continue and to share my work. At that time I also become involved with the North Avenue Review. It was not a literary journal, but more of an antisocial commentary. It was a good outlet and I learned a little bit able page layout and publishing (before everything went digital). Prof. Leland was a poet in his own right and I just found this video on YouTube:





Sherry: Oh, he is quite wonderful, Rob! In his first poem, he delivers an eloquent treatise on all that a poem can be.

What is it about poetry that caused you to choose it as your means of creative expression? What makes it sing for you?

Rob: Thats a difficult question. My thoughts just come out in what seems more like poetry. I also view poems as a puzzle at times. Sometimes it requires you to fit several thoughts, words or lines together. I usually have a feeling that they are meant for each other.




Sherry: That sounds about right. Are there three poems you would like to share with us? And tell us a bit about each one?

Rob: I dont like to say too much about poems, but here are three almost randomly chosen poems and a sentence about each.

First, this is a brand new one. It is about making important choices in life. These are choices that you must devote yourself completely to, and then what happens if they sink.

Float

What mold
will you pour
your soul into?
If it is too large
it will shatter
into thin shards
falling to the ocean floor,
but if it is too dense
it will also rest
next to the ribs
and timbers,
picked clean
by the scavenging crabs.

-Robert L. Jackson III

I dont think Ive ever posted this one on the blog either, but it is only a few years old. It is about a love that becomes ancient and immortal. The two lovers are Luna (the moon) and Poseidon. They are forever following cycles of dissipation and rejuvenation.

Luna over Poseidon

While the communications,
emissions from the stars,
sleep,
the dark ocean rages
against its shores
only to withdraw tired,
aged and dry.
Is it enough to know
that the tide will return
and submerge
the gasping barnacles?
The stationary shells
bleach in the sun
to flat white
and then are ground
to sand
as the tide
comes in.
The moon
is eternally 
on the mind of the ocean,
submerging her reflection 
and smoothing the craters
as she caresses the waves
so they no longer break
on the grinding shells,
perfect in their swirls
and glossed colors.

-Robert L. Jackson III




Finally, this is an older poem about revealing oneself and what is  endured from that act:

Hatching Eggs

Shedding layers of ocean
Ive revealed my crustaceans.
With time weve had
more to remove,
but also more to remember.
Eroding layers of ocean
Ive revealed the earth.
It will take forever
to reconstruct
all that was lost in the slide.
Flaking layers of ocean
from my dry skin,
the bones fossilize,
conditioning themselves
for the next burden.
Filling layers of ocean,
the creatures scurry;
I follow them
down the soft beach
toward the predator filled ocean.

-Robert L. Jackson III


Sherry: What wonderful shares, Rob. Thank you. I note you have two books out. I've put the links to them here. They look wonderful! Great titles, too.









You have been blogging since 2009. How has blogging impacted your work?

Rob: Not too much. I dont usually write to fill the blog, but write because I want to. However, Poets United has inspired me many times now, and I tend to be posting more. Some things I dont ever post.

Sherry: What other activities do you enjoy when you arent writing?



Rob: For some reason a good portion of my spare time activities revolve around water. I swim, but mostly for health, and it makes me feel better. I was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. I also enjoy sailing. Being able to harness the wind is a feeling that gives me confidence. It is also very relaxing.

Sherry: Living by the ocean for so much of your life, I can see why you love water activities. Is there anything youd like to say to Poets United?

Rob: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to participate in such a splendid and active community. I have really enjoyed it and hope to continue. Due to everything else Ive described I dont always have a lot of spare time, so I cant participate as much as I would like to. However, hopefully in the future I can participate more.

Sherry: We are always happy to see you when you stop by, Rob. Thanks so much for this look-see at your life. It is so nice to get to know you better.

Wasn't this an enjoyable visit,  my friends? Great poems and some beautiful scenery. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


32 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this feature, Sherry and Rob. Rob, I can really tell by your poetry that you are a scientist. Smiles. With your job, it is amazing that you also find time to write poetry. And I think it is cool that you write because you WANT to (which is something we all should do) rather than to fill a blog! Thanks to both of you.

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    1. Thank you Mary. I also appreciate the encouragement.

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  2. How delightful to meet the man behind the poems, and to find him so joyously engaged with life in its many aspects. Sherry, thank you for looking up tribology for us. I understand the words of the explanation but I'm not sure I'm any wiser as to comprehending the thing itself, lol. I'll stick to the poems, which I do appreciate in all their nuances and permutations. Rob, I would buy your books at once if they were in ebook versions, but postage to Australia makes Amazon paperbacks very costly for me; also I cope better these days with digital options for increasing the size and brightness of the text. Never mind, I'll continue enjoying the blog posts. And oh, oh, oh, I am now in love with your warm, brilliant Professor Leland and his enthralling poetry. What a wonderful mentor he must have been! All in all, thank you both, Sherry and Rob, for a great start to my morning.

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    1. So happy you enjoyed it, Mary and Rosemary. It is wonderful to get to know you better, Rob. A pleasure.

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    2. Thank you for the kind words. Yes, Prof Leland definitely made an impact on me, I also took a few of his classes. I may try to send a link of this to him.
      I can probably get a digital copy of these if you really want them. I should probably figure out how to make them available as ebooks as well.

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  3. Sherry and Rob, shared this so that more if our fans might stop by.

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  4. wow in the first place amazing poems. My favourite is Float. Professor Leland is amazing too. Love the photos too You live in a beautiful place. Thanks for the interesting read Sherry and Rob

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    1. It is truly my pleasure, Marja. I am looking forward to your feature posting, as well, and know our members will be equally enthralled. Soon! In fact, next week!

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    2. Thank you Marja. It's interesting that you like the newer one the best.

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  5. Thank you both! It is such amazement to meet the diverse interests and personalities of those of us who write poetry. My visits here are akin to having a wonderful book waiting to be picked up and perused at any time!

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    1. Thank you! I also enjoy reading the wide variety of work from others. The human mind is an amazing thing. I look forward to more.

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  6. How easy it is to be inspired by water especially by water particularly the sea as it has that constant movement that make us see it as alive just like us. How lucky you were to have mentor in Prof. Leland and being enthused to write by him. What a great interview this is, thanks to both Rob and Sherry.

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    1. Thank you Old Egg...what a magnificent avatar by the way. I agree about the ocean. It is bittersweet to me now because I live several hours from the sea. I miss it.

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  7. This is such a fascinating and interesting feature, Sherry and Rob! And really so wonderful to get to know you better Rob! Also love the poems shared here, specially Float. Today (5th Sept) is celebrated here in India as Teacher's Day. Nice to see how a teacher might impact a student for life. Thank you both for this great read :)

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    1. Thanks you Sumana. I honestly don't teach much poetry or literature in my classes since they are engineering. The university has a 'shared' book program and this year I am determined to work it into my classes. it is the Circle (there is a receht movie based on it).

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  8. Great to see you featured here Rob

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  9. Thank you Sherry and Rob. I have enjoyed reading Rob in the past and look forward to more in the future. What a beautiful name, Robert L. Jackson III!

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    1. Thank you. I've enjoyed your work as well. I cannot claim responsibility for the name...it's all from my parents.

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  10. This is some really gorgeous work. Wow!

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate the kind words.

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  11. Rob and Sherry this was wonderful....Rob's poems are new to me as I have been away for awhile but I am happy to read more of them! And I have heard of tribology but never really knew what it was...fascinating field. I love the ocean too and wish I lived closer....a wonderful muse!

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    1. Donna, thank you. We seem to have some thoughts. Tribology is often overlooked, but very important.

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  12. A fascinating interview! What a mulifarious life you have, Rob. Divergent interests, I think, really add layers of depth to a writer's work. I enjoyed the Leland video and the poems selected and shared here are stellar. Great job on this poets!

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    1. Thank you Wendy. Yes, I have many interests. I really just love life and the beauty in it. Having so many interests can. E a difficult balancing act though, and sometimes I topple over. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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  13. Physics and poetry..that's a magical combination. Science and Imagination! Lovely to read your poetry Rob. Thanks Sherry!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, blending such ends of human thought together results in interesting things. I also like your poetry very much.

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  14. Hello everyone! I am sorry I missed when this was posted a few days ago. I was actually on a boat at the time. Thank you Sherry for doing this. You did a great job!

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  15. Oh, when rhyme and reason interplay in the mind, a brain can create such fascinating poetry! Great knowing you, Rob!
    Thanks for this interesting feature, Sherry!

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  16. it's amazing how poetry can bring people of different nations, ages and talent together. nice to know you, Rob! :)

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