Monday, January 21, 2019

LIFE OF A POET - LINDA LYBERG

We have a very interesting feature for you today, my friends, as we are zipping to Arizona, to chat with one of our newer members, Linda Lee Lyberg, who blogs at Charmed Chaos. Linda is also sharing some wonderful photos of her gorgeous garden with us. Pour yourself a cup of tea, and pull your chairs in close. Prepare to be amazed.





Sherry: Linda, I am so happy to be chatting with you. Give us a snapshot of the poet at home, won’t you? Tell us where you live, with whom you share your life, and don’t forget any fur critters!

Linda: The pleasure is all mine Sherry. I am so honored to be a part of this thriving community of writers. For the last 21 years, my husband, Pete (AKA my Big Viking) and I have made Mesa, Arizona our home. The summers are brutal, but when everyone else is shoveling snow, we are enjoying the sunshine and cooler weather. 

I love nature, and all throughout the year I see a variety outside the window of my writing room. In the summertime, it is not unusual for us to have an entire flock of peach-faced lovebirds around our feeders. They are not native to Arizona. Local legend has it they escaped from an aviary and thrived here because the climate is like Africa’s, where they are from.




Lovebirds at the feeder

Sherry: I would love to have visits from such exotic birds! How wonderful.


Pete and Bubba

Linda: We live with a 13 year old chihuahua terrier mix named Ricky Bobby McGee, affectionately known as “Bubba”, a rescue my daughter found in Houston, Texas. I had her put him on a plane and send him to me. This little guy has quite a story on his own, and one I wrote about early on in my short story, “The Heart Thief.” He is my constant companion since I no longer work. 

Sherry: The heart thief indeed. What a wonderful story. As it turned out, he was there to help you through the loss of your elderly dogs, and beyond. What a sweetheart he is.




Where did you grow up, Linda? Would you tell us a bit about your childhood?  When you look back, are there contributing factors that you feel led you to becoming a writer? (You have an amazing family history, I checked out your About page. You must have had an amazing childhood!)

Linda: Wow. Well, there is always a lot more to stories than we tell. I was born in Houston, Texas on Oct.1st in Hermann Hospital. When I was little, my dad would tease me and say that I was not born in Hermann hospital, but rather at the Hermann Park Zoo, which was across the street from the hospital. My dad was famous for cracking jokes.

What I know about his side of the family comes from different sources. You see, my mom and dad divorced when I was two and from that point on, his presence in my life was sporadic. There was a time I resented him for not being more of a father, but I came to forgive him and love him for who he was. He was an artist and dreamer, and an intelligent guy. But he had the soul of a gypsy, always wandering. 

My grandmother was a blues singer, and what I know of her story is sketchy. There was a time she left my grandfather for a mobster in Florida, but returned home when my grandfather became ill. 



The Contortionist


Sherry: You have the makings of an amazing memoir here!

Linda: My grandfather was the contortionist; he could put his head between his legs and get his wallet out of his back pocket with his teeth. I have an old photo which I am sharing here. In the photo, he wears clown makeup. Grandpa is posing on a chair, bent almost in half. 

Sherry: Oh my goodness, this is our first contortionist at Poets United. Every single poet I interview always has the most AMAZING story. I am totally hooked; this is why I love my job so much.

Linda: Old acquaintances told me he performed before the King of England at one time. He would put a chair on top of 4 heavy glass vases (one for each leg) and do his act. I am the owner of the only surviving vase. My one and only memory of him is not pleasant. I was visiting them, and my grandmother went outside to hang clothes. I was a tiny stick of a girl, and my grandfather came into the kitchen, took out a knife, and cornered me. I remember the feel of the sharp cold kitchen cabine handles against my back. Because I was skinny and agile, I slipped between his legs and ran out the back door. In hindsight, he must have had dementia.

Sherry: Heavens! How terrifying!

Linda: In essence, I grew up surrounded by my mother and her family. My mother did remarry, but that in and of itself is yet another story. We grew up poor, but I never went hungry in my mother’s house. It was only when I visited my father that food was scarce.

I do believe my childhood and my early adulthood prepared me for writing. I have faced some heart wrenching challenges throughout my life. It’s built character, strength, and resilience.
  
Sherry: Yes, it does build character - it is an amazing journey. When did you begin writing, Linda? Was it poetry or prose at first? And when did you write your first poem?

Linda: I began writing in my early twenties, keeping journals. There were a lot of hit and miss entries when I look back on them. I would go months not writing anything and then get a renewed passion and begin again. Those were turbulent years of my life. I always felt I was different from others. I wrote my first poem on November 5, 1985. It is on my blog and the title is "Images". I have included it here.






Imagine-
You and I entwined
in another world
Where only moments exist in our minds,
And we must reach out and grasp
or never find
What we are searching for.

Imagine-
You and I alone
in a room
With no walls
Where only we exist.
Would you respond to my plaintive calls
Or would you
Turn
and walk away
into nothingness?

Imagine-
You and I engulfed
in a deep blue sea
Where only emotions
Provoke the waters
Would you send waves
Crashing about our bodies
Willing us to survive
and stay alive
or would we drown in the
still
waters?


Sherry: A wonderfully depth-full first poem. What do you love about poetry?

Linda: What I love the most about poetry is that when I write, I lose myself. Nothing else matters, but the words I am putting on paper at that moment. I am completely present and immersed in my writing.  I write with a 9MM lead pencil and blank white paper- no lines, no tablets, no notebooks but for taking brief notes. 

When I was a career woman, I wrote on lined legal pads and to this day, I can’t abide them. I associate them with a time when I was not being true to myself, but rather doing what I had to do to make a living. Don’t get me wrong, I had a very lucrative career, and I was an excellent leader, but I am one of those artistic people, born to create. When I told my dad what I was doing, he said “Of course you’re an artist. I’m an artist, your grandmother was an artist and so was your grandfather.”

Sherry: And he was right. What are your thoughts on form versus free verse? Which do you prefer and why?

Linda: I like both. There are times when a poem I am working on screams for stream of consciousness writing, which to me, is free verse. It is at those moments when I let the words spill as they come, then worry about breaks, etc afterwards. When I started my blog, I had no idea there were so many forms of poetry! An entire world opened up for me to explore, and I continue to do so. 

I love the challenge of attempting a new form, and while I may never master it, I will put effort into the finished piece.  When I do write form poetry, one of my favorite forms is the Pantoum, which is tricky. I am left handed, and as such I sometimes struggle with sequences and patterns. One of the tools that helps me with writing a Pantoum is a blank template I found online that I print out and use to this day. Here is the link if anyone is interested.

Sherry: The pantoum is one of my favourite forms. I find them oddly easy, compared to some other forms. I love your poem “Writing In Prisms” and would like to include it here, if I may:



Sun dogs and moon bows
Crystal Prisms and rainbows
Relieved of any constrictions
Lay their colors upon my soul
While I, within creative throes
Of writing with utter conviction

They fill my mind with colors
That bounce around my head
As I write to feed a hopeful heart
With love and endless wonder
Washed in fractal prisms, I see
God is love is God is prose is art

They paint a landscape I behold
My pen on paper, composing
Seizing these miraculous moments
Grasping elusive prisms of light
Before, as storm clouds lurk
To deliver the night’s lament 

I put down my pen once again
Satisfied with what I write
Capturing poetic prism words
While thoughts in tinted light
Shimmering within my head
Soar as free as vibrant birds




Sherry: I love those words, "soaring as free as vibrant birds". And I resonate so much with “I write to feed a hopeful heart.” Me, too.

Do you have two  other poems you would like to share with us? And tell us a bit about each?



Bedeviled by your wicked eyes
That haunt me in the lonely night
Although I know they’re filled with lies
Your shining charisma I cannot fight.

Like a moth drawn to a burning candle
Fiery hot, I move even nearer
A wanting within I cannot handle
Your intent, made perfectly clear.

So I jump into the flickering fire
My poor heart is no longer mine
And as I give in to luscious desire
I know I’ve crossed over the line.

No turning back from this place
Filled with hot limbs and wet kisses
My thudding heart continues to race
Once imagined, are now my blisses.


In this poem, I am starting to explore passion, desire, and sexuality. I enjoy writing about these emotions; I have been told I do it well.
  
Sherry: You do, indeed. I have learned you are an artist as well as a poet, Linda. Tell us about your art – when you began painting, the medium you prefer. Is there difference or similarity in the way you feel when you complete a painting or finish writing a poem?




Self-Portrait 1995


Linda: I started drawing when I was a young girl, pencil drawings. My dad taught me how to draw a tree, a log cabin, a scene in the woods. He passed on his love of nature to me.

In 1975, my mother gave me a set of oils, brushes, and canvasses for Christmas. I took a couple of painting classes and enjoyed it. I’ll never forget one landscape I painted of a bear in a stream catching salmon. It was so rough and in the end the bear looked like it was laughing!

Over the years, I have taken various art classes- pottery, acrylics, pastels. And all the while I was holding down various jobs. But it is hard for me to do both- my brain functions in a different manner. I am not one of those people who switches gears and is able to jump from crunching numbers or leading people to writing poetry. Now, in my later years, I do what I can to honor that creative space and help it thrive.



In the early 2000’s, I began designing birdhouses and my husband, a skilled carpenter, built them. I used them as a canvas for my art. At one point, we put them for sale in a gallery in Sedona, AZ and a gallery in Tubac, AZ. In November 2002, they were in Phoenix Home & Garden magazine in an article about local artists. Working and everyday life soon took precedence and my art took a backseat.

Sherry: I love your birdhouses! They are so cool!




Linda: What I discovered during my forays into various forms of art is I am able to do them and succeed. And while I enjoy them from time to time, my greatest passion and joy comes from writing.  

Sherry: And we benefit from reading your poems, so we are happy that you write! When did you come to the blogging world, and how has it impacted your work?
  
Linda: On February 3, 2017, I ended a satisfying career in retail. I had reached my goal of becoming a Vice President, and I had led people for many years. I believed in the philosophy of servant leadership. My foundation for all those years are these words by Max Depree:

“The first responsibility of a Leader is to define reality. The last is to say Thank You. In between, the leader is a Servant.”

“The art of leadership, as Max says, is “liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible.” Thus, the leader is the “servant” of his followers in that he removes the obstacles that prevent them from doing their jobs.”- The Art of Leadership.

So in essence, I was using my creative abilities, but in a much different manner. After over 35+ years, I was mentally drained and exhausted; I needed a change.

Those first few weeks, I rested, but I knew I wanted to do something. I prayed and meditated a lot, seeking guidance. A friend shared with me stories from a writer who used Wordpress for their platform. I didn’t tell anyone (not even my husband), but I made a decision I was going to write, put my words out into the world, and see what happened. 

On February 27, I wrote my first post on WP titled ‘Altered State,’ a piece on how I was feeling at the time. I had 1 Like for that post. My husband came home from work that day, and I told him-“I started a blog today- it’s called Charmed Chaos. I’m going to write.” On February 28, I wrote 2 posts and each had 3 likes. Nothing discouraged me, because I knew in my heart, ‘This is what I am supposed to do.’

A few months later, I entered a writing challenge on a blog, and much to my amazement, I won first place for my short story. The day I found out I cried- it was June 2, 2017 and I had been writing almost everyday for 4 months. My first published story came as a result of a writer’s group I belong to on Facebook. I entered a contest, but this time I did not win. My story caught the attention of one of the judges, and she asked if she could use it in an anthology. Of course I said yes, and of course I cried. 




In June of this year, a publishing company came across my blog and asked if I wanted to submit some of my work. I submitted, and as a result, one of my stories is in Arizona’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology. When I recently received the book in the mail, held it in my hands, and saw my name on the Table of Contents page, I was so moved. 



Unless you are a writer, I don’t think people understand what that does to you. I am watching a series on PBS and just last night a line was said that stuck in my head: “Fireworks only go off in the author’s head.” What an apt description!

Sherry : Yes, there is nothing as satisfying as holding a book in one's hands, knowing our words are preserved for posterity. Well done, Linda!

What other activities do you enjoy, when you aren’t writing or painting?




Linda: As I said earlier, I have a love of nature. I enjoy gardening, even here in the desert. I grow herbs, vegetables, roses, desert milkweed for the butterflies, and other flowers. It’s an amazing garden and I have shared photos from time to time on my blog.

Sherry: What a BEAUTIFUL garden! Wow! 



The Monarch Way Station plaque
with lovebirds feeding

Linda: Two years ago, my garden was deemed a Monarch way station from MonarchWatch.org. so I grow plants that will help sustain them.
I also love to cook and try new recipes. A few years ago, I took cooking classes that were being offered at Le Cordon Bleu, a cooking school in Scottsdale. I learned so much about technique and enjoyed the classes.
I love animals and I spend all day with my little dog.  He sleeps on the chair behind my writing desk. My husband says if I had my way and the HOA didn’t have any rules, I would have every stray animal living with us, and he’s right.  
And of course, as a writer, I read, read, read. I may soon have to get another bookshelf just for books I haven’t yet read, but want to! 



Sherry: Your life sounds wonderfully rich and full. Your garden is sensational. I love that it is a Monarch way station! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Linda: Although I have been blogging and writing for such a short time, I have learned so much from this community. I enjoy the interaction with other writers, and Poets United has been a wealth of information for me, and a platform to get feedback on my poetry.

Thank you all!

Sherry: You are most welcome, and thank you, Linda, for this lovely visit. It is so nice to get to know you better. We look forward to reading your work in the months ahead.

Isn't it wonderful, learning more about our fellow poets, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Poetry Pantry # 436


Along the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, B.C.,
Tofino's sister village


The weeks fly by, and here we are again in the Pantry. Yay! We hope you had a wonderful week, in your little corner of the globe. On Friday, I featured two rather amazing young women, who came from opposite poles on the planet, to recite a poem together on an inceberg in Greenland. If you missed it, do scroll back. The video is rather wonderful, and carries an important message.

On Monday, we are visiting one of our newer members, Linda Lee Lyberg. Do stop by to offer her some words of welcome to our community. On Wednesday, Susan is offering us a prompt dear to my heart: Climate Change. I am looking forward to reading the resulting poems.

Speaking of reading poems, let's top up our coffee and do just that. Link your poem, tell us how you're doing, and visit your fellow poets, in the spirit of community. How grateful I am, to have this forum in which to share and appreciate poetry!



Friday, January 18, 2019

I WISH I'D WRITTEN THIS




Recently, I came across these two poets from opposite ends of the earth, who collaborated, then got together on a melting iceberg in Greenland to present a poem with an urgent environmental message.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, "sister of ocean and sand", travelled from the Marshall Islands in Micronesia to meet the Inuk poet, Aka Niviana, "sister of ice and snow", in Greenland's capital city of Nuuk. Niviana was moved by the expanse and sheer beauty of the northern landscape, and shocked to see how fast the iceberg is melting.

The message in their poem paints a stark and urgent picture, as seen through the clear eyes of young women whose homelands are being drastically impacted by climate change. An excerpt:



Let me show you
airports underwater
bulldozed reefs, blasted sands
and plans to build new atolls
forcing land
from an ancient, rising sea


This breathtaking video is the vision of Dan Lin, director of the film Rise, who sees it as a story of climate change, injustice to indigenous people, and resilience.


I am fascinated by their presentation, impacted by the power of their message, and thought you might like to meet them. We have to look to the young to get us out of this mess. They haven't sold their souls to corporations and big money interests. They  clearly see the world we are handing to them. I am amazed at their restraint. 



Dan Lin / Grist

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Life: Paradox And / Or Balance



 
“Every exit is an entry somewhere.”— Tom Stoppard

SOURCE

“Life is strong and fragile. It’s a paradox…..It’s both things, like quantum physics: it’s a particle and a wave at the same time. It all exists all together.”— Joan Jett


Midweek Motif ~ Paradox And / Or Balance

Our life is a hybrid of opposites and we struggle to strike a balance between the two forces.


In this whirlpool of apathy and care, brutality and kindness, faith and doubt, pleasure and pain human life shines in its perfect balance.

Explore the opposites and let all merge together in a harmony that life is.

Or you might either write about the antithesis that life is or an impossible balance that life is:


Tis Opposites – Entice
by Emily Dickinson

'Tis Opposites -- entice --
Deformed Men -- ponder Grace --
Bright fires -- the Blanketless --
The Lost -- Day's face --

The Blind -- esteem it be
Enough Estate -- to see --
The Captive -- strangles new --
For deeming -- Beggars -- play --

To lack -- enamor Thee --
Tho' the Divinity --
Be only
Me --


Balance
by Alice B. Fogel

(Here)


Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town
by e.e. cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain



Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
                (Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Climate Change)