Friday, July 23, 2010

The Life of a Poet - Robin Netanel

Today we bring you “Live from New York”…oh wait I mean New Jersey, Robin Netanel. Robin is the latest poet we sit down with in our “The Life of a Poet” Interview series. Although Robin is currently residing in New Jersey she says that New York is where her heart lies. Robin is the poetess responsible for the poetry blog "The Not-So-Secret Writings of Just Another Someone". A wonderful blog filled with true to life poetry and short stories.

When we asked Robin how she came up with the name of her blog she responded with a wealth of information. “My poetry blog’s name is a bit long, I know, but as far as I'm concerned it encompasses the entire gist of my writing style. It stands for this idea that my writing (poetry or prose) comes from the personal experiences of just another person and I'm here to lay it out on the table for everyone to see, understand, and perhaps even identify with. The name itself, derived from the name I gave to a journal of mine, which I had begun after months of convincing myself that I had given up on writing all together. It started out with a few scraps of paper that I had stapled to a coverless notebook and on the front I had scribbled the title "The Not-So-Secret Writings of Just Another Someone". I wish I could say my blog’s name had that much history behind its name.

Robin’s open mindedness, fun perspective, and approach to life is very evident in her writing. So much so we had to ask what was it that molded her into the writer she is today. Her answer did not disappoint, “Growing up, my family moved around quite a bit, so now I can proudly say that I spent bits of my youth in Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, and I even spent two years in a boarding school in Israel, where my family is originally from. I currently identify as a Jewish, American, Israeli, Lesbian, Liberal, Feminist, Feminine Female, Aspiring Writer and Student studying Literature and Women's Studies in hopes of pursuing Medicine. Phew.” Indeed it may have been a mouthful but at least she knows precisely what makes her tick.

PU: Why do you write poetry and how long have you been writing? Who is your biggest supporter?
RN: I began writing about four years ago, when I left America in order to start a new chapter of my life in Israel. My writing started off as simple journal keeping to document my experiences and emotions in my new environment. I soon became known as the "Girl with the Journal", and within a year my writing evolved from bland accounts of my daily life to the uncensored exposure of my mind and heart and to this day it is ever evolving. Today I write mainly to express myself emotionally and because I have such a great love for language and the eloquent way in which it can be utilized.

As far as my biggest supporter goes, I don't think I can specifically name one person. I think any person who takes the time to listen to or read my poetry; I'd consider a great supporter of mine. At various points in my writing "career," I have had different supporters: friends, family, random acquaintances, past and present loves of mine, and I thank each and every one of them for giving me the push I need to keep going.

PU: What style of poem do you write the most? What do you find the most difficult about writing poetry?
RN: I consider my style of writing to be free verse. I also tend to take on this sort of stream-of-consciousness style. Since my writing is very personal and tends to come from the urgency of what I feel at exactly when I feel it, I don't deal very much in rhyme or meter. I feel that by forcing myself to come up with rhyming words or a specific number of syllables per line, I often lose the element of raw feeling and consciousness within my writing. I am, however, a big fan of repetition. While this is my current style, I am most certainly open to experimentation in the future.

The most difficult thing about writing poetry, for me, is often either diction or grammar and punctuation. As far as diction goes, I absolutely love language and when I write it is so important to me to find the word that most perfectly depicts what I am trying to express. I like to be accurate, so sometimes I am forced to sift through a bunch of close-fitting words until I find exactly the right one. Grammar and punctuation tends to be a problem for me, specifically because I do consider myself a free verse poet and so I tend to heavily deliberate over when to capitalize the beginning words in my lines and where to stick commas and periods, if at all.

PU: I have found that my life and moods play a huge role in my writing. When I’m happy, I am too busy to write and when I’m sad or lonely I tend to write much more. I have made it a point to change that in my life and write more often when happy because it makes for better memories. When do you write? Are you a better writer when you are happy, sad, or lonely?
RN: This really depends on where I am in my life. For the longest time I believed that because I was so accustomed to displaying only the bright and happy side of myself day in and day out, my writing was so filled with sad or despairing pieces in order to compensate. I do remember, though, a year or so later most of my writing revolved around the concept of desire. Today I'll write about anything from loneliness to ecstasy, to longing, admiration and so much more. I do have to say, however, that writing certainly flows better for me when I am, to some degree, upset.

PU: What poem, written by you, do you like the most and why?
RN: This is a little tough. I would say that this is a tie between two poems: O'Brien (written on November 18, 2008) and Something to Believe in (written on February 13, 2010). I consider O'Brien to be one of my personal classics. It's a very simple poem that speaks of intense desire and admiration, of the hold that one's devotion to a person can have over her or him. It's actually titled O'Brien because I was able to draw the emotions behind this poem into consciousness while I was reading parts two and three of my favorite book, 1984 by George Orwell. I had also very much felt that these emotions resembled the sort of hold that the main character, Winston's, fascination with O'Brien had over him. Something to Believe In, on the other hand, is perhaps my most successful stream-of-consciousness poem. It basically took the entire jumble of thoughts and feelings that swirled around inside me at the time and strung them together. I love the way it reads aloud!

PU: Do you have a favorite poet? If so who are they? What is your favorite poem by them?
RN: I read a lot of female poets, though I'm sure that's not surprising. I have enjoyed a few poems by Elsa Gidlow, specifically "Love's Acolyte" and "For the Goddess Too Well Known." I like Charlotte Mew's "On the Road to the Sea" and Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market." My favorite poem of all is actually a poem translated from Spanish by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz entitled, "My Divine Lysis." With that said, I must note that my favorite translation, by far, of that poem can be found in the anthology 'Chloe Plus Olivia' by Lillian Faderman.

Many have loved you with lips and fingers
And lain with you till the moon went out;
Many have brought you lover's gifts!
And some have left their dreams on your doorstep.

But I who am youth among your lovers
Come like an acolyte to worship,
My thirsting blood restrained by reverence,
My heart a wordless prayer.

The candles of desire are lighted,
I bow my head, afraid before you,
A mendicant who craves your bounty
Ashamed of what small gifts she brings.

PU: Have you ever been published? Do you write with hopes of being published one day or is your writing just an expression or hobby for you?
RN: Seeing as I am only now completing my second decade on this earth, I have to yet to be published. While I hope that some of the poems I have written in these past few years make their way into a book or anthology someday, I can say with confidence that each and every one of them was written purely for my own satisfaction. Apart from this, I dream of someday writing a bestselling novel, a children's book, and a collection of short stories which would most likely be classified as feminist science fiction.

PU: If you had a pet Giraffe what would you name he or she and where would you keep it?
RN: For the record, I must say that this is my favorite question because giraffes are most definitely my FAVORITE animal! If I had one of my own, I would name him Gerry. I know it's a bit ordinary, but what can I say? I like my alliteration. Gerry would most likely live in his own comfortable green space in my backyard.

PU: What poets in the poetry blogosphere do you like and read the most?
RN: I hate to admit this, but I actually do not usually go searching for other poetry blogs to read. I typically either stumble upon them incidentally or come across them because other bloggers have found me first. Out of who I do read, I particularly enjoy fellow Poets United members, Alexis' "Finding Prose in the Laundry", Carrie's "Hope Whispers", as well as Poet Brendan's "Songs for Shifting Skies".

PU: What other talents do you have? Poets are often creative on many different levels, when you are not writing what other hobbies or creative things do you do?
RN: I think the only other talent, or more correct, hobby, of mine worth mentioning is that I am a tarot card reader. I love working with tarot cards, learning meanings and honing my intuitive skills. It very much fits with my philosophies about the energies of the universe and the energies we as individuals radiate. However, like with my writing, I am still very much working on developing this skill.

PU: Everyone has their favorites quotes they live by or repeat, mine is “He who Laughs…Lasts” ~ Mary Pettitbone Poole. What quote do you use often or live by?
RN: I'm afraid that for now, I will have to leave this question unanswered. I am still trying to figure out what words I live by, especially because words are really that important to me. This is probably the hardest question for me to answer on the spot. Good quotes usually come to me when I least expect them.

When doing these interviews we always ask for suggestions to keep our questions fresh and our readers interested.  Robin was willing offfer up a few that we will possibly include in future interviews

RN:  What is your favorite color?
RN:  My favorite color is specifically Banana Cream Yellow. For a visual, turn your attention to the background color of my blog.

RN:  What music do you like to listen to? What music do you like to listen to when you write, if any?
RN:  I like mostly Indie Rock, Alternative Rock, and Indie folk. Some of my favorites are Tegan and Sara, Imogen Heap, KT Tunstall, Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, The Fray (their old stuff mostly), some Lifehouse and some Coldplay. When I write, most of the time I can't listen to anything at all. If I do, it really depends on my mood and the tone of what I am writing.

The Poets United community appreciates Robin taking the time to answer our questions and we are thankful that she was willing to share a bit of her life with the other poets in the blogosphere. Her passion and love for life can been seen any time by just skipping over to her blog “The Not-So-Secret Writings of Just Another Someone”. When you read her prose you will quickly and easily realize she is really not just another someone.

There is much more to a poet than just their poetry. The folks that live behind the pen can be some of the most interesting people around. We look forward to giving our readers an intimate and personal look at some of the other poets found here at Poets United in future, so be sure to return to Poets United each week to see who we chat with next. Who knows it may be you that we talk to next.


  1. I have found Robin's poetry fresh and exciting...she is an extremely talented young poet, who I am looking forward to reading for years to come....bkm

    Robin, congrat's on being interviewed at Poets United I enjoyed reading about you and your work....bkm

  2. I am so glad you are featured here Robin! I always enjoy reading your fresh writing! Like bkm said, we look forward to reading your works for years to come! It touches my heart that you spoke of me in your favourite are so sweet. :-)

  3. I like Robin's writing...she definitely envokes great meaning within her that by piece Elsa Gidlow...keep writing sis...ONE::


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