Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life of a Poet - De Jackson

Today, kids,  we are going for a walk in the desert  outside of Las Vegas, to visit De Jackson, of   Whimsygizmo's Blog . But we'll be visiting some bodies of water, too, which always makes me happy. I have long wondered about the owner of the toes in the dashboard photo on her blog, and today we get to unveil the face grinning impishly over those pinkies. Bring some water, as it is hot in the desert this time of year, and let's go get the scoop from the poet herself. 

Poets United: De, I notice you use lower case letters for your name, sometimes, on your blog – is that on purpose?  

De: Ha! Lower or uppercase is fine, Sherry. The lowercase was actually born of necessity. My kids are 16 months apart (God’s idea, not ours), and when they were babies, it seemed I had at least one on my lap at all times, typing with one hand – no spare available for shift/caps lock. All of my email correspondence and many of my writings from those couple of years are in lowercase. For some reason, with my name, it just stuck, like Ziggy (dating myself here…remember his lowercase “i”?), or e.e. cummings – though I’ve read he actually didn’t like his name lowercased, only his poems.

Poets United: Mystery solved! And I have been wanting to ask, what is the story  behind the name of your blog?

De: Whimsy is a word I have always loved, and tried to aspire to. It just feels fine on your tongue: Whim-sy. When I got my laptop a few years ago, I named her Whimsy, but she needed a last name, and since she was the gizmo I wrote (and lived and breathed) on, it just seemed to fit. Whimsy Gizmo Macintosh the First made naming my tiny baby blog a breeze. And for me, a “Whimsy Gizmo” is any device that stirs your soul and properly pokes your muse into getting off her lazy duff and writing something.   

Poets United: Are those your very own toes on the dashboard in your banner photo?

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe

De: Yes! Those are my tootsies, propped up on the railing of our “Carriage House” at the Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach, Oregon, rented for our 10th anniversary. We loved it so much, we went back for our 12th, and we hope to be there later this year for our 14th. Ahhhhh. (Moment of silence, please.)

Poets United: It takes my breath away. The ocean, and the fourteen years!

De: Sigh. It’s definitely one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been. I am truly happiest with salty, sea-soaked toes. And inky fingers.

Poets United: Me, too! Set the scene for us, De. Where do you and your family live? Urban? Rural? And which do you prefer, if you could choose?

The love of my life - this man makes me laugh every day

 De: I’m ridiculously happily married to my best friend, and we have a dramatic, poetic daughter and a budding scientist son, aged 9 and 10. We live in Henderson, Nevada, which is a suburb of sorts, of Las Vegas. I spent my high school years about an hour away in Pahrump, which is just about as rural as it gets, and truth be told, I’m not truly at home in either. The call of water is very strong for me. So between urban and rural, I’d choose…coastal.

My bubbly girl

My buggy boy

Poets United: Good choice;) I love your husband's humor! And you have such beautiful children! No wonder you're so happy! How long have you been writing, De? What was it that caused you to pick up your pen and write that first poem? And why poetry, instead of   prose?

De: I can’t remember ever not writing. My mom says I have written since I could pick up a pen, and would ask for paper, saying, “I need to write.” I sometimes write prose, but I’ve always been a poet at heart. I wrote poetry somewhat seriously in high school and college, then merely sporadically for many years, until a friend told me about Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides   Poem-a-Day challenge in April of 2009. It happened to be April 1st, and I thought, yep, I’m in. It was honestly something of a life-changing decision for me, and I’m so thankful. My writing has grown more in the last four years than in all the years previous.

Poets United: It does keep us writing, a great gift! How did you come to the world of blogging? What do you love about it?

De: On Poetic Asides, poets simply post their poems in the comments section, so that was all I knew, until 2010, when I started exploring other prompt sites (like Poets United) that offered “link ups” to personal blogs. I am by far the least technologically savvy person I know, so I was completely intimidated, but I really wanted to stretch my branches and write for some new sites…and fortunately, I married well, so I got my hot techie guy to set me up. I’m still learning navigational nonsense, and Wordpress sometimes frustrates the heck out of me, but I’m so thankful for the wide web of incredible words, and the poetic community that the bloggy world provides. And I have a handful of poet friends I’m seriously addicted to.

Poets United: Would you like to give some of  them a shout-out ?

De: Oh, my word. So many. It’s been an incredible four years, and I have met so many friends and astoundingly talented people. Just a few of my current addictions:

Hannah at Metaphors and Smiles
Shawna at Rosemary Mint
Khara over at Our Lost Jungle 
Marie and Walt over at Poetic Bloomings
Buddah over at I Hate Poetry

So many more! Be sure to check out my “Blogs I stalk” links on my blog, and start following some amazing writers.

Poets United: Who is your favorite well known poet?

De: That would have to be E.E. Cummings. The first time I read “since feeling is first”, I practically swooned. In high school, I hated iambic pentameter, and traditional rhyme schemes. I had one of those teachers who sing-songed it to death: “Ed-NA St. VIN-cent Mil-LAY.” Mr. Cummings was a rebel with a pen, and I adored him. I didn’t always understand him (still don’t), but the way he would just fling words to the page made me so happy. I’ve also always loved Shel Silverstein. For me, poetry at its best should always feel like play.

"Poetry at its best should always feel like play"

Poets United: Oh, I love that quote! Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your writing?

De: That’s always such a hard question. Honestly, in the past four years, I would have to say it’s been a community of influence – all of those incredibly talented poets I’m blessed to get to read daily. Many of them are still “undiscovered,” but their words change me every day, and are making me a better writer.

Poets United: I so agree. What inspires you?

De: Nature, especially water. My muse is an absurdly elusive mermaid, so my idyllic writing place would somehow have the ocean on one side, a peaceful lake, and a trickling stream (just to cover all bases). And willow trees, because they whisper just right. Laughter inspires me, too. There’s a lot of laughter in my life right now.  

Poets United: Are you happy with how your writing has developed over the last year?

De: I think I’ve certainly grown a whole lot as a writer this past year. I’ve stretched in directions I never have before, and I’ve been happy with some of the results. I’m not sure any of us who bear the artist heart are ever truly happy with ourselves, but I think I’m more confident in my gift than I was before.

Poets United: What are your goals for your writing over the next five years?

De: Since January, I’ve been committed to writing at least one poem every day, and I hope to continue that discipline pretty much indefinitely. I deemed May “Submission-A-Day” month, which was a bit brutal on my schedule, but I do hope to be able to continue to submit once a week, even, in the long run. At the gentle prodding and astounding encouragement of some poetic friends, I hope to find the audacity to pull together and promote a chapbook, sometime in the next year or so. And I’d like to spend some time concentrating on writing for children again, both poetry and stories. It’s something I truly love, and dabble in, but I haven’t immersed myself in it for a few years now.

Kiera-Kai Love Jackson - 
15 pounds of furry love

Poets United: Oh, look at that  adorable puppy face! Let us know when your chap book comes out, De. And I encourage you to seriously consider writing for children. There is a definite market for it. Plus you have a captive audience at home who can tell you the stories that really work!!  Do you have a day job? Does this restrict the time you have for writing?

De: In addition to mama-hood, I’m a freelance advertising copywriter by day. Sometimes it’s highly creative, and fits right in with my writing style and joy factor. Other times, not-so-much. But the money is good when the clients do come callin’, and I’m blessed to have been able to write for a living all these years. And poetry makes for great work procrastination.

Poets United: It is awesome that you can earn your living writing. Wonderful! Would you like to show us a photo of your writing area – the poet’s desk – where the magic happens?

De: My husband would so laugh at this question. I have a much-neglected “corner office,” one of the smaller bedrooms upstairs. I rarely write there. Whimsy and I are usually at the pub table in the kitchen, or my favorite spot is out in our back yard, plopped down in a big ol’ cozy chair I bought for $27 at a consignment shop.

 My favorite writing spot at home

Poets United: I so love your "Poet's Chair". You need a blinking  "The Poet Is In" sign for it! 

My absolutely favorite writing spot on earth-
our "Tree House" balcony on Lake Tahoe

Oh, so beautiful! Do you have a favorite poem, written by you, or one that you feel best describes you?

a favorite: 

I don’t recall the day my name be
-came a swearword on your forked

tongue; perhaps always there, wait
-ing to be spit into the dying embers

of us. Consonant, vowel, disembowel
-ed and left for dead, the dread of the

keys in the lock or the knock that meant
you misplaced them again, the linger

-ing scent of sin on your skin and the
way your burning eyes no longer see me,

the yearning in my bones for something
more, the way the door feels so very far

away. The day I cracked this tilted cage,
crumbled this tired rage, fumbled, fled

and found what had been waiting all
along: These syllables of me, a song.

and one that describes me:

i am sans serif
10-point type
often italicized
never bold.
i am onion paper
see through
fragile, easily erased
truths untold.

i am words
in margins
scribbled outside
conspicuous lines.

i am ellipses 
rough draft
work in progress
pending approval

…most of all, mine. 

Poets United: De, I LOVE Epithet – “These syllables of me, a song.” Beautiful. And, yes, in "Ink", your approval most of all – that’s what matters. Is there a connection between music and poetry for you?  Do you listen to music when you write?

De: Some of my favorite poems are song lyrics, so yes, absolutely, there’s a connection in that. Great lyrics make me want to write, but I can’t listen to music while I do. Only waves. Or breeze. Or silence.

Poets United: Yes, me too. Poets are often creative on many different  levels. When you are not writing, what other hobbies or  talents do you have?

De: My family loves to hike together, and meander through our desert. I like to make cards, but only for love. I’m a voracious reader, when I find/make/demand the time. Talents? Let’s see. I’m a mean Scrabble player. And I’m a Pro Crastinator, of the highest order.  

My hubbie

Poets United: Good one! Where is your favorite place in the world? Do you get to spend enough time there?

De: My soul migrates between Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, and the Pacific Northwest. We get up to Tahoe 2-3 weeks of the year, and up to Oregon every-other. The California Coast will do in a pinch, so we try to get there once a year, too. I breathe best near water. And no, there’s never “enough” time. But I’m learning to savor what time I’ve got, and sprinkle some sand in my pockets to bring home with me.

Santa Barbara Sunset - my daughter Abby and me,
breathing in the sea

Poets United: What is your advice to a busy mom, about  making time to write?

De: Oh, moms. It’s hard, isn’t it? After 10 years of trial and error (and much weeping and gnashing of teeth), I guess I would say find the time of day that works best for you, and protect it like a ferocious bulldog. Ask for help from your husband, a fellow mom, your own mama, whoever you can. Stay flexible. Everything is a season, and as soon as you get it figured out, it will change. And LOSE THE GUILT. Writing is who you are. Your kids need a whole and happy you, not a frustrated, fragmented mama.

"Lose the Guilt - Writing is Who You Are"

Poets United: I have never heard it said any better. And I admire you for staying true to your gift through these busy years. Any final thoughts for Poets United?

De: Just gratitude. This is an amazing place, populated by some astounding writers, and I just feel so blessed to be here. Writing can be such a lonely gig, and it makes my heart happy to be in such gifted company. And if anybody wants to swing by and say hi, I write every day over at WhimsyGizmo

Poets United: Thank you, De, for a lovely and upbeat visit. And for your participation at  Poets United. 

See, kids? Isn't it true that the people behind the pen are some of the most interesting folks around? Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Very nice interview, Sherry, as always. De, I enjoyed learning more about you. So amazing that you continue to write a poem a day. Loved that writer's chair! I enjoy reading your poetry, as you are such a 'wordsmith' in the way that you use words SO creatively! How neat that you have a daughter who may be following your footsteps!

    1. Thank you, Mary. I have loved reconnecting with you recently, and am enjoying your blog. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  2. Enjoyed the interview, the photos, the poems. You all, your family, look so happy, De, I have a "life is good" feeling after reading you and about you this morning. All the best!

    1. Happy! I'm so happy to learn your real name! I've enjoyed your work for quite awhile now, Sasha. Thank you so much for the sweet comment. Life IS good. Everything is a season, of course, but in the season of "life is good," ya gotta grab it and shake it to the fullest, right? ;)

  3. Another wonderful interview Sherry. You are so good at this!
    De, it's been really lovely to discover a little more about the person behind the Whimsygizmo name. Loved this read and the pictures you shared too. Your happiness and zest for life is so obvious. You and your family are all so blessed. Love reading your blog too. :)

    1. Thanks, Bren! I have been enjoying your work so much. I LOVE this Cyber Bloggy Poem Community! :) Thank you for you kind comment. We are indeed very, very blessed.

    2. YES, isn't Sherry just the BEST? She made it so easy! She's gifted at this interview thing, in addition to being a gorgeous poet.

  4. Sherry, I'm breathlessly happy for this interview with my absolute favorite poet! I can't imagine anyone could ever capture the essence of De as you have here.

    De, you are a hot-ticket item, and rightfully so. It delights me to no end to see you shining in the poetic spotlight of late. It's about time!

    Thanks so much for the shout-out. So humbling, and I'll be grinning ridiculously all day.

    Oh, and "Pahrump" is the best name EVER for a Podunk town! :D

    1. I second what Marie Elena said: De, you are a hot-ticket item, and rightfully so. It delights me to no end to see you shining in the poetic spotlight of late. It's about time!

      Great interview, De. And, oh, what a cute dog you have :)

    2. Thanks so much, Marie. Your encouragement has been VITAL to my growth (and breath) as a poet. Sherry was so awesome, and made it so easy to just be ME. :)

      Your generous words mean so much, my friend.
      And yes, "Pahrump" was well-loved in the teasing circles of teams our high school played. And we were called "Pahrump-kins." Can't beat that. ;)

    3. Linda, Thank you! I'm just so happy to be here. I've waiting a long time to finally feel comfortable with that capital "P" on "Poet." ;) Thank you for your kind words.

      Isn't she a sweetie pie? She's a hot mess, and we absolutely adore her.

    4. I'm with Marie on the huge gratitude and perma-grin on the mention, De!! So humbled!! Thank you!

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mariya. Sherry is really, really good at this. :)

  6. Such a wonderful interview, and I've learned so much about my good friend and poet, De....lightful. :D

    1. Thanks, my Misky! I adore you! Your fabulous attitude, and your ability to cook up some delicious poems. :)

  7. ...what they said above..and THANK-You both for a fantastic, up-lifting interview.

    1. Thank you, Janet. Sherry made it such a pleasure. I'm so thankful (shhhh...I was a little nervous.)
      Your encouragement means so much. Thank you.

  8. Hi De, how lucky you are to have both desert and ocean. I know how you feel though, I live at the ocean for the most part and when I’m in Oxford and away from the ocean, I miss it like crazy and, after a couple of months, make Robert drive down to Cornwall with me! Each time I get to Arizona or Nevada it’s usually April and so absolutely breathtaking with flowers and a bit of water. Love your poetry and don’t tell you that enough on your site.

    1. Hi, Veronica! Yes, the west is blessed indeed, to be so close to both. But my toes and soul absolutely ache for the ocean. You're blessed to live so close. :)
      Spring is indeed beautiful here. Fall, too. We really do love it, much of the year. Summer, not so much. ;) Thank you for your kind comment, and your visits to my blog. I'm blessed to be getting so know so many new amazing writers.

  9. De- You continue to be my inspiration... everything about you is poetic (even that pink chair outside). Keep going, my friend!

    1. Oh yes! I meant to mention your writing space as well. So. Very. YOU! :D

    2. Laurie, I adore your work, so your comment has me a little choked up. Thank you so much. And I do love my pink chair. ;)

  10. Dear Sherry, I love your name! Thank you for posting this interview; it's lovely for everyone to learn a little more about our friend.

    1. Sherry ROCKS - name, interview skills, poetry, all!

  11. It was, as always, my pleasure, kids. I so love peoples' stories. They always amaze and inspire, and De's is a very uplifting one:)

    1. Sherry, I can't thank you enough for how easy, fun and happy you made this whole experience. You have a way about you that is an absolute pleasure. THANK YOU for having me, and for letting me just be me. ;) You rock.

  12. I love learning more about my fellow poets and this interview provided much! Like De, I live in the desert, but absolutely require sea air and salt water some part of every year. And my sister lives in Henderson... you might be neighbors. Oh how connected we creatures are!

    1. How funny, Kim! I'm up in the Horizon Ridge area, near Black Mountain (just before Boulder City). And yes, some water and some salt are essential. ;) Thank you for your kind comments. Wishing you some salty toes and inky fingers this summer.

  13. Ahhh... wonderful interview of one of my very favorite poets! Interesting & fun read! Still standing in line for that cupcoming chapbook... ;-)

    1. Thank you so much, Pamela. Perhaps I shall send a free cupcake to everyone who orders a copy. That would make it a "cupcoming" chapbook. ;) I love your work, and am so thankful for your support.

  14. Oh, boy... that's UP-coming chapbook. :-| (But you knew that right?) :-]

  15. Hooray - Another wonderful interview for Sherry and the delightful shining voice of our favorite "mermaid" De ... Have to weigh in as well - with big smiles for that plump pink chair - classic.

    1. Thank you, Pearl. Your support, especially this past month of crazy submitting (Happy to be SAD together), has been essential for me. Appreciate you so much!

      Somebody's gonna come steal my chair, aren't they? I've given my approximate location, and photos. One of you perfectly poetic souls is gonna come case all the Hendersonian back yards, and steal my chair. Sigh. I shall miss her.

    2. Ha ha!! It won't be me but don't check my patio just in case! ;)

  16. I have had the distinct pleasure of not only spending two days with the Jackson Four, but being in Vegas and never having to see "the Strip."

    De's all about family; Justin is an ideal husband... who loves to cook. God bless him, I thought I'd snagged the last one!

    From her twinkly toes to the top of her little blonde head, De is a bundle of positive energy, of intense faith, and of love for her family. The mention of being "onion skin" affected me - she is a person who is always in a "thin place," a spiritual place, a wonderful in-between...

    I'm so glad that she (and I, and others) went on to create blogs after meeting up on Poetic Asides. Sherry, great job on drawing out the best from our Whimsy Gizmo! Love, Amy

    1. Amy! I don't see you enough these days. I must get over to your blog tonight and click the "email subscription" thingy. I'm too easily distracted to keep up with anybody any other way. ;)

      We LOVED having you that summer! Thank you for your kind comments. My hubbie is the best, and such a good egg about my sitting in my crazy chair for hours on end, pouring words to page.

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I'm thankful for your friendship, and support.

  17. Wow - thanks Sherry, another terrific interview of one shining star of a poet who just continues to get better and better -I've loved your work since I first started reading you on Poetic Asides De and am enchanted to learn about your family, where you live, writing habits and most of all, your philosophy -- little wonder you write such astounding stuff, you think some pretty incredible things as well ... we're so lucky to count you among our number. "ink" is so you!

    1. Hi, Sharon. :) I've enjoyed getting to know you more through interviews, too. Such an amazing little world we're all able to share. Thank you so much for your generous comments.

  18. I love the view inside your world! I, too love soothes and inspires~ I love that you picked coastal ;D Fun to see behind the toes. I love your writing chair~ What a wonderful interview ladies...
    I look forward to reading more insightful poems! Nice to get to know you better~ :D

    1. Ella! Of Ella's Edge (I just clicked to be sure.) ;) I love your prompts, and your work. Thank you so much for reading, and for the kind comments.

  19. This is pretty much the best interview ever. :) I LOVE your big pink chair, and I'm so jealous! Does it ever get sopping wet?

    1. Hi, Shawna! :) Yup, every time it rains. But we live in the desert, so it dries fast. It has also accumulated a whole lot of our Mesquite tree leaves. It crackles some when I move around a bit. And pup and I are always moving in the morning. She wants to be my laptop, but that position is filled from 5:30-7:30am by Whimsy. She usually tries to lay on the arm, or across the back. It's a hilarious juxtapositioning thing. She finally just gets comfy, and then the kids wake up. ;)

    2. Oh, I love the image of pup fidgeting to get with mama!!

      "a hilarious juxtapositioning thing!!" Love that!

  20. De!!! Can I say I love you!!?? Because I DO!! Everyday when I write I think of you and how you mange it, too. You've been a beacon throughout these times and your creativity and spirit are such a huge blessing in my life. I'm so grateful for this awesome glimpse into your life. I love your writing chair and the story behind it. Your advice is perfect...yes, drop the guilt for sure!!

    Thank you so much Sherry for picking, De to interview and De, thank you SO much for being you and such a great Poet and friend!! Warm smiles and hugs to you!!

    1. Miss Hannah! (EVERYONE, click her name above and get over and read some Hannah immediately! You will thank me!) I adore you. Your work speaks to my soul, and shines with the Son. A truly stunning poet and an encouraging friend. Someday we shall share a cup of coffee, with Marie and Paula, too. And the platypi, of course. ;)

  21. Wonderful interview of one of my favorite poets! And in describing yourself, you used one of my all time favorite poems of yours--matter of fact it might be the one that made me start searching for "De Jackson" on PAD :-) Sherry, that was a great interview! You drew out some perfect quotes--I think I'm going to put one on my door "Lose the Guilt-Writing is who you are" :-)

  22. Awwww, Sara. So sweet. Thank you so much. Sherry made this so much fun. It's hilarious to see yourself "quoted" like that. ;) Thank you for the kind words. I'm loving keeping up with your amazing talent!

    1. You are too kind De. Thank you for your support <3

  23. Great interview! I learned so much about the chick behind those toes!
    I have only recently come across De's blog, but am not surprised at all this hoopla - it's certainly well-deserved.
    And I, too, am coveting that pink chair. Most especially because it was only $27 :) That's my kind of deal!

    1. Mine, too, Anne Katherine. :)
      Thank you so much for your kind words, and your support. Loving getting to know your beautiful work.


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