Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Life of a Poet - Mary Kling

Written by Robert lloyd

It’s been a little while since we offered up an interview in our series “The Life of a Poet”. Now that most of us have settled down a bit after a hectic holiday period that included the beginning of a new year, what better way to jump back into our community than by sitting down with a very important piece of that community? That person is none other the kind and ever committed Mary

If you are a regular part of Poets United then you have seen or interacted with Mary in one way or another. We are so very grateful to give our members a chance to look behind the screen and see what makes this wonderful woman tick. We hope you enjoy our interview as much as we did when putting together for you.

P.U.: What is the name of your poetry blog and tell us why you chose that name?

Mary:  My blog is In the Corner of My Eye. The words that follow the title are "Raise a toast, know that I'm not far away. As you look for me out of the corner of your eye or find me in your dreams, picture me with a smile and know that we will meet again." When I titled my blog, I thought of my own mortality (which I am very aware of), and my blog is one way of keeping my words accessible to those who will live after me. I think especially of my children and grandchildren, who may not pay any attention to my poetry blog now. I know that sometimes after someone or a pet leaves this life, one sometimes catches glimpse of the deceased unexpectedly in the corner of one's eye. (This happened to me with one of my former pet dogs.) I picture the reader catching a glimpse of me in this way, in the corner of their eye, someday. My poetry reflects me. Those who read my poetry know me as well as anyone. My blog will hopefully live beyond me and, in a way, assure a kind of immortality. Anyway that is my hope. (I have also self-published two poetry books for this same purpose and have co-authored two novels.)

P.U.: After hearing that it makes me really wonder who will be reading my stuff when I am gone. What a wonderful perspective to have it really makes a person think on what their legacies are.

Tell us a little about yourself. Please share a little of who you are and where you are from.

Mary: As you all know my name is Mary Kling, and I have lived in Wisconsin, USA, all my life. Never more than 100 miles from the city of my birth. I spent my working years as a teacher of children in grades 6 and 4. Two of those years I spent teaching in Green Bay, home of my favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers! I live with my partner, have two daughters and five grandchildren

Though I have always lived relatively close to the city of my birth, I have done extensive traveling. In addition to traveling within the USA, I've spent time in many countries of Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, I enjoyed two Caribbean cruises, and last December took an Asian cruise which took me to see several countries I never thought I'd see in this lifetime.

P.U.: I won’t fault you for being a packers fan but I grown to tolerate them a bit more since Brett Favre is gone. I have traveled myself quite a bit a but not to near as many places. It must have been an awesome experience.

Mary tell us why do you write Poetry? When did you begin writing?

Mary: I write poetry to express my thoughts or to find out just what I think! When I write a poem, sometimes I surprise myself! I write poetry because it brings me joy to write. I also write because I must! Sometimes I think it is an addiction, but it is a positive addiction. I also belong to an online writing and critique group. We have been together for about ten years, have published two anthologies, have had in-person writing retreats.

I began to write poetry when I was in high school. I had a poem printed in a college anthology. For many words I was really a closet writer. I shared my poems with very few people. It wasn't until the last few years that I was willing to put my poems 'out there.' I still am a bit hesitant to do this sometimes; but I have really enjoyed my venture into the poetry blogosphere!

P.U.: We may be cut from the same cloth because my path was incredibly similar. Thank God for the internet I guess?
What do you find the most challenging about writing? What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

Mary: The most challenging things about writing for me are to think of a unique approach and to not be trite. Another challenge for me is to achieve some kind of universality with my words, so even if the reader does not walk in my shoes he/she can find some identification in my poem or (hopefully) at least find my words meaningful.

As far as writer's block, to overcome writer's block I just sit down and write. I do not accept excuses from myself. I stay put and write. If I am tired, so be it. I write. I do not allow myself to leave until I have written. This always works. My writing may not be the best on a day when I have to fight with myself to write, but then again it may.

P.U.: I too agree with that approach you should see how many poems I have written on writers blog lol.

Most writers read, what books if any are you reading right now?

Mary: I used to read voraciously, and I must say one thing I really miss right now is reading. There just, unfortunately isn't time. I do have a Kindle too and know I will enjoy it when I have time to sit and read. However, I have read a few good books in the past year that I would like to put in a good word for. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Game Change by Mark Halperin, and Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

P.U.: A Kindle huh? I have yet to want to give up the touch and smell of a book but I imagine the Kindle is quite convenient.

Do you support any humanitarian causes?

Mary: I support the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Disease Research.

Click the photo for mor information

P.U.:   A worthy cause indeed!

What poem, written by you, do you like the most and why?

Mary: I cannot choose a favorite poem. I have written too many poems for that. Many were written before I began blogging. I will mention a few that I like, all written before Poets United, so they will be new to you.

The first is called Perfect Moment. I wrote it in 2008, but it appeals to me right now because of the birth of my most recent grandchild on December 11.
The second is A Lesson, which shares a bit of my philosophy.
Here is a poem I wrote last spring that I really enjoyed writing: Boy and Frog.

The poem that I submitted for the Poets United anthology is one I enjoy, but you will have to wait to see that one!

P.U.: Look at you throwing out a Poets United Anthology tease. I am certain this poem will be a wonderful as all of your poems our and all the poems in our anthology will be.

What is the last movie you saw in a theatre? What was the occasion, a random night or a traditional adventure?

Mary: You'll laugh. The last one I saw was "Despicable Me" with my grandson.

P.U.:  Ah I cannot laugh because its next on my Netflix Que. The last one I saw was the “Chronicles of Narnia (The Dawn Treader)” I guess we are both still kids at heart and that’s not a bad thing.

Do you have a favorite poet? If so who are they? What is your favorite poem by them?

Mary: I enjoy so many poets it is hard to choose. I like most all poems Marge Piercy writes and own a number of her books. A few other favorites are Diane Wakoski, Naomi Shihab Nye, Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Leonard Cohen, and Galway Kinnell. If I could share any poem, it would be Dogs Dream of Running by John Lehman, in his book of the same name. I am a dog lover, and this poem really resonates with me.

P.U.: In school did you ever have to memorize a poem? If so what was it? How much of it can you remember now?

Mary: Oh gosh we had to memorize a lot of poetry. Some of Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier, Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Some others too, but that was a while ago. I could not rattle off these poems anymore; but I would be able to speak the poems WITH someone. The words would easily come back to me, I know.

P.U.: Wow I think I only ever had to do one and it was the standard Shakespeare.

So what other poets in the poetry blogosphere do you like to read or visit the most?

Mary: There would be too many to name. I could not limit myself to three. There is such diversity in the poetry blogosphere, so many good poets whose words inspire and awe me.

P.U.: Poets are often creative on many different levels, when you are not writing what other hobbies, talents or creative things do you do?

Mary: I enjoy photography, have written fiction, have done some painting. Poetry and photography are my favorite creative pursuits. I also try to creatively amuse a three-year-old granddaughter who is my constant companion most days while her mother works.

P.U.: I can imagine you’re the best at amusing your granddaughter. So much love goes into that task.

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.

Mary: A favorite quote of mine comes from the book The Quest for Christ T. by Christa Wolf, a German author. It has been my favorite quote for more than fifteen years.

“When if not now?”

The words "When if not now?" are used again and again in this book. Good and timeless advice, I think. I try to heed these words and urge others to heed them. There is no time like the present.

We cannot thank Mary enough for all she does here at Poets United. She is one of the many folks here who act as an anchor for this wonderful community. She is an inspiration and I am so happy she took the time to share with us a little bit about her life and family and love for poetry. Be sure to visit her blog and look for some of the many articles found here written by Mary!

Once again we see that there is much more to a poet than their poetry. The folks who live behind the pen are some of the most interesting people around. We look forward to giving our readers an intimate and personal look at some of the poets found here at Poets United, so be sure to return to see who we chat with next. Who knows, it might be you!


  1. Wonderful interview Robb. Mary it is so nice to have met you. You are a very talented and supportive person.

  2. Oh, I so loved reading this interview and getting to know Mary better - we are long overdue at shining some light on such a backbone member of our community. Yay, Mary! I will email you privately as have seen so many things we have in common - dogs, grandkids, books.....have a couple og GREAT dog reads to tell you about.

    Robb, thanks for this great interview! I so enjoyed it!

  3. Thank you Robert for interviewing one of my favorite people since joining the online poetry circuit and Poets United.

    Mary, I am so pleased to read about you in detail and found myself nodding in agreement with much that you had to say. You are so tireless in helping and supporting others and I believe you more than deserve this spot in the limelight. I really enjoy visiting your blog and having you visit mine. Now, put your feet up and enjoy these moments. You have certainly earned them,


  4. Great write up on Mary, glad to get to know the lady behind the poetry better...thank you too Mary for all you do at Poets United...bkm

  5. I have known Mary, first through the internet, for sixteen years. She has never failed to inspire me, support me in my writing, surprise me, make me think, make me laugh. She is the one who is bringing me into the blogosphere, introducing me to this vast and wonderful world of poetry and poets. She is a role model. I am happy to see her recognized here. The recognition is well deserved. I am proud to call her friend and mentor.

  6. Mary is one of my favorite people and I have gained so much from knowing her and sharing writing with her. What a nice interview you did Robb. Mary is indeed a wonderful, caring, creative and intelligent woman and writer.

  7. I enjoyed this interview so much. Mary is one of my favorite poets and I enjoy her blog immensely. I learned some things about her here that I will remember. I like the title of her blog even more now. Her favorite quote is one that I am very familiar with because she lives it. I have adopted that quote in my life and spread the word. No time like the present. She is one that enjoys her life to the max and doesn't let anything stop her. Bravo to you, Mary.

  8. Mary,

    It was very nice indeed to read through this excellent interview and learn so much more about you.
    I already knew that you are a wonderful poet and a very generous contributor to Poets United.
    Congratulations to you.
    Best wishes, Eileen

    Robert, a superb interview!

  9. Thanks, Robb, for the honor of being interviewed; and thanks everyone for your kind comments. PU is one of my favorite places online, and I have greatly enjoyed all of my experiences and interactions with people there...

  10. Wonderful interview of a truly great poet. Like Willow, I have known Mary about 16 years, and she has been such an inspiration. Her favorite quote "When if not now" is what got me into writing poetry in the first place. Thank you for honoring Mary in this way!

  11. Well Done, Robb and Mary! I really enJOYed getting to know Mary, more~ I love reading her herstory/history!

  12. Mary you have been such a wonderful encourager and inspiration in the has been wonderful to learn more about you...great interview Robb! :-)