Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Life of a Poet - Hannah Gosselin

Kids, you are in for such a treat today! You have likely encountered a bright young poet named Hannah Gosselin posting her poems in the blogosphere. Hannah writes at Metaphors and Smiles, and is active on other sites as well.  I asked Hannah if we could stop by for a visit and she kindly said yes. This young mom rather knocks my socks off with how aware, centered and attuned she is to what matters most. You are going to so enjoy this visit, I just know it! Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and settle in. Hannah has set the kids to coloring, so we have a good ten minutes to chat!

Poets United: Hannah, the question I keep asking myself is:  how did you become so wise so young? As I’ve wandered around your site, researching for this interview, two things come across incredibly strongly: your motherhood and deep love for your boys, and your faith.  How has motherhood changed – or deepened? – you? And when did your faith become manifest and set your feet on the prayerful path?

Hannah: Hi, Sherry! Yes, you’ve gathered correctly that motherhood and spirituality mean a great deal to me. While I carried my babies in the womb, not only did I grow physically but my heart and spirit were expanding greatly too, to make room for the new depths of love that I’d be undertaking. 

I had no idea how painfully good love could hurt until I had children. They’ve taught me so much already in their short years about innocence, joy and trust, and they’ve shown me where I need to grow too, perhaps a bit more in the patience department. ;)  I’ve also learned how to become an incredible multi-task-er, even as I’m typing this interview for you all, I’m multi-tasking, nursing a teething over-tired, twenty-month-old baby. Ha ha!

Last summer, me and the boys!

Caiden, (the five-er), and Leland, (my smiley boy), a couple of weeks ago.

Poets United: What beautiful happy faces, Hannah. I’m going to tell you what a wise old woman told me on the street one day in my twenties, when I was pushing a buggy with three babies inside it: these are the best years of your life! It is true. Precious years.

Hannah: I’ve had some seeds of faith scattered in the soil of my soul as long as I can remember, but the roots really began to roil and reach into the depths of my being in the last five years. It seems that earlier years were fast-passing dandelions that produced many seeds that today are creating in me a colony of flourishing that cannot be defeated, a brightness that can’t be ignored. 

I’m so humbled and grateful for where my path has led me for I’ve stumbled upon a blessing in disguise, a spiritual guide, a very dear friend and mentor. Before I knew Edith E. Smith there had been a drawing, a gathering in by Truth, but since knowing her it has taken on a new level of intensity and it has revealed and caused a hunger for reconciliation. I’ve been becoming the new me that was always meant to be, transformed by the authentic inner-workings that were planted from before time with purpose.

Edith E. Smith

Poets United: You are on a journey, Hannah, a deep voyage, and it sounds like you are very in tune with your spirit. It is wonderful that you found a mentor to guide you along. Where do you and your family live? Is it home to you?

Hannah: My family and I live in Bath, Maine and we love it! It is coastal, which is key, but it is also rich with dense forest, altogether very important to me. I do believe Maine will be our forever home, Sherry. I don’t know what the boys’ futures will bring, but for me and the hubby, I think we’re won over by the wooing of our home state.

My high-school sweetheart, soul mate, best friend and hubby-Marcel Gosselin!

[Kids, Marcel is carrying in firewood in this photo--not hugging a koala bear, 
as my old eyes first led me to believe:)] 

Poets United: I know you were raised till you were eleven in Maine, on the water, and love it there. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood, and how it is linked to your strong connection with nature?

Hannah: My favorite place in particular, where  I spent eleven formative years growing, is about twelve miles from me, over a river and through some woods; it is the island of Georgetown that holds my heart. I spent so much time mountain biking, exploring the trails and rambling on the dirt roads, pondering pine-needled paths and exploring all of the aquatic avenues of this precious place. Every crease and wrinkle of the land is imprinted in my memory. My adoration for nature definitely cemented itself securely to my being then, with the mortar of soft moss and the coursing current of salt water, my love for creation was made a permanent fixture in the temple of me.

Robinhood Cove in Georgetown, Maine…this was my backyard! 

Poets United: Spectacular. So lovely, Hannah! It is wonderful you are still so close by. And I especially resonate with your "love for creation made permanent in the temple of you"! So, when did you first come to know you are a writer? 

Hannah: Like so many writers, it seems, my beginning is similar, Sherry. I began by penning simple poems to put inside handmade cards for my family, mainly for my parents. I’d create sweet ones for my mother and humorous ones for my father. I wrote some short stories for school when I was younger in years but the class that really got the poetry tsunami started was a creative writing class that I attended in my junior year of high school.

Poets United: You write both poetry and prose.  Which do you find more satisfying?

Hannah: Yes, I do write both and I do enjoy both so much! I find poetry to be bright, un-daunting bubbles of inspiration that hold an instant gratification effect while prose can be a little intimidating if I over think it too much. At the same time though, prose can be very freeing in that I needn’t think about line breaks which can detract from my creative flow sometimes. Often in this situation I will write the piece in prose and then manipulate it to create the poetic form. I feel fulfilled with both styles of writing and each play favorites, on different days, depending on the muses’ mood.

Poets United: What goals do you have for your writing?

Hannah: My  goals? To be an emotionally healthy being who can express herself truthfully and without fear for what others think of her. As for my goals for writing, I would like to create a body of work that I feel best represents me as a person and writer, and I hope to create both a book of poetry and a book of short stories someday. In the meantime, I think that both my muse and I share the common goal of experiencing joy fully and being blessed with all of the relationships along the way, both in my precious physical realm and in this amazing community of blogging friends.

Poets United: It sounds lovely, Hannah. Do you have some causes that you are passionate about?

Hannah: Well, Sherry, I’m passionate about good food grown well, and taking care of our planet and each other. I believe relational health can be achieved by means of individuals acting in conscious ways to treat the earth and others mindfully. It sort of falls back on the solidity of the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. 

I think this can apply to the land that we live on as well. One must ask themselves: “Would I like noxious pollutants dumped into the pores of my skin?” “No,” one would naturally say, and then the answer is clear. I’m certainly not an activist and I’m not making big changes large scale, but I teach my children how to respect properly, and we grow and purchase from a local farmer so that we can eat healthy, organically-grown goods. Small steps add up to big ones and in the end, I believe, these will be meaningful and impact our lives and maybe some of the lives of those around us.

Much like what we had available from our garden last year, these are 
some of the wondrous goods that our new farmer grows! 

Poets United: Wow! It doesn’t get any healthier than that, Hannah! I am inspired to go fill up a basket just like this! We try to eat locally, too. As you say, they may be small individual acts, but if all of us made such choices, the planet might begin to heal. What is your very favorite kind of day?

Hannah: Weather wise I like all days!! Each has their very own special qualities that go along with them. I really enjoy the dramatic gravity of gray days though. Rain fall is the perfect reason to lounge around and drink hot tea, spend much time immersed in the craft that draws me, and read some favorite scriptures or a book.

Cranberry Peak, a mountain summit in Franklin, Maine 
where my siblings and I hiked together.

Poets United: You write between your own site, Poetic Bloomings and Flashy Fiction. How has the blogosphere impacted your work?

Hannah: I started writing at Poetic Asides, a Writer’s Digest blog authored by Robert Lee Brewer. I’ve been head over heels in love with writing, really, from that day forward. I’ve met so many incredible writers and have made some really meaningful friendships with a growing handful of them. Among their numbers my heart is particularly at home with our very own De Jackson, Marie and Walt (of Poetic Bloomings), Laurie Harris Kolp, Khara House, Paula Wanken, Pamela S. Cleary and Vivienne Blake. This of course is just the very teeny tiny tip of the iceberg; when it comes to mention of poetic peeps that inspire and warm my heart, the list would scroll into the edges of forever! :)

Since the conversion of my purposes in life and becoming poetic, I’ve been led down the poignant, peony-path to the creation of my own blog  and the visitation of so many different blogs, among them are, “Poetic Bloomings,” and “Flashy Fiction,” as well as “Imaginary Garden for Real Toads,” “Poets United,” and  more have found a place in my heart. I feel that the connections made, while they’re long distance and never really face to face have been so refreshingly real and the compassion and inspiration of being around others who share the same passion has been so invigorating. It’s a great writing life!

Poets United: Well said. It is indeed. Who would you say has been the biggest influence on you in your life? On your writing?

Hannah: Nice, Sherry, I see I’ll be needing a steak knife to manage this meaty question! This is a hard question made easy only by not over thinking it too deeply; because I’m around her so frequently I must remember not to take her for granted. One of the people that have been a most integral part and influence in my life has been my sister, Jessica Mae Arsenault. She has been there for me through everything and she even saved my life at least one time that I know about. 

Jessica was pulling my brother and me in our Red Ryder wagon down the driveway and I was laughing with gum in my mouth. She said she remembers I had my back to her and that I stopped laughing suddenly, she performed the Heimlich maneuver on me and saved my life. We were probably nine and eleven when that happened. We’ve grown together, inseparably, and she is the best sister and friend that I could ever ask for. I’m so blessed by her presence in my life. She has actually played a big part in my beginning to write again, too. She’s always been a positive, proactive participant in creativity of her own and has urged me, in the past and present, to do and be what I’m meant to do.

Jessica and Leland this past winter at our house, I dressed Leland in the exact sort of outfit 
that she showed up in, right down to the purple socks!!

Poets United: So lovely to have a sister-friend! You definitely look alike! Which well-known poets have most inspired you?

Hannah: My firsts include Maya Angelou and Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman (one time when I was a child at my grandmother’s church there was a reading of his poetry and I remember a distinct feeling of poetic awakening within me). A recent inspirational poet that I enjoy is Mary Oliver. John Steinbeck, William Wordsworth, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, Ella Wheeler Wilcox are some greats that I’ve read as I’ve meandered. I read lots of the classics during my high school years. So many more, too probably, have shaped my words and literary world that I’m not even aware of on a conscious level.

Poets United: You have said you once wanted to be a veterinarian. Do you still hope to become one? And do you have any critters in your family, given your love of animals?

Hannah: Indeed, Sherry, when I was a young one I loved animals so much and this affection, paired with the influence of the writer James Herriot, who wrote All Things Great and Small and who also wrote children’s books based on animals and veterinary practice, was really the start of my thoughts that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I discovered that math was not exactly my strength in school and over the years I’ve  also realized that dying animals are also not something  I’d like to face on a daily basis either. I do have some animal babies in my family. We have a cat named Dakota who is a barn/Siamese with bright hypnotic blue eyes, a sweet fifteen year old pit-bull  whose name is Jade and a random captured collection of moths or caterpillars for a couple of days at a time.

This is Dakota Kitty!

This is our sweet-girl Jade, who loves being covered and cozy!

Poets United: Beautiful critters. Jade looks like a sweetheart. I love your home, Hannah - the colors you use, the homey touches. How do you fit in time for writing with two little ones? (I so admire young moms who are smart enough to keep writing while raising kids.)

Hannah: I have lots of tricks and snacks and I’m down with setting some time that the five-er can spend in educational programming and games. Otherwise, when the pen is laid to rest, I’m focused on them; having fun and loving them fully. Also, I’m willing to let them have time for them to learn what it means to entertain themselves independently, (with little spurts of interjection/direction from the sidelines of course). 

Often times, being a mama-writer means I’m burning the midnight oil though, which can be rough when the babe-ers is jonesen’ for mama milk in the early morning hours. :)

Some winter fun this year with the boys!

Poets United: When you aren’t writing, what other activities do you enjoy?

Hannah:  When I’m not writing I enjoy spending time with my husband, walking in the woods, taking pictures, reading a good book, (though that doesn’t happen enough really). I like to watch documentaries sometimes and occasionally I get the urge to bead or crochet and maybe draw or paint.

Hannah's Rose

This is one of my favorites from a recent rainstorm 
drive-by-shooting. Hee hee!

Poets United: Beautiful, Hannah. What a treat it is to visit your happy home , full of happiness, health and smiles. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Poets United?

Hannah: Well, first I want to thank you for this incredible moment to share that you’ve gifted me with, Sherry. Second, I’d like to say to all of you, poetical peeps, that this has been such an honor to spend time talking about what makes my poet heart tick!! I’m so blessed to be getting to know you all through your words. Thank you all so much for reading this interview and for supporting me around my blog Metaphors and Smiles and also for greeting me when our poetic paths cross, it really has been such fun. 

Sigh. I am certainly enjoying this series we seem to be doing on happy families. It does my old heart good. Isn't it true that the people behind the pens are some of the most interesting folks around? Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Thank you, Sherry and Hannah, you've just created a beautiful poem of an interview! Love the photos, so nice to see happy faces...and that firewood does look a lot like a koala, Sherry :-)!

  2. Wow, Sherry, thank you! You did a beautiful job with this and you've been such a joy to be in conversation with. Such an honor to be featured here today!! Big warm smiles!

  3. Thank you Sherry for once again illuminating the essence of the Poet's life ... Hannah thank you for sharing your SELF. ... so lovely to read and see more of you :)

  4. What a wonderful way to begin my day. Thank you ladies!

  5. Sherry, another fabulous interview! Hannah, great to learn some of the little details about you and your life that Sherry found a way to bring out. I will enjoy your writing even MORE now, knowing all the rich background info. Thank you, both.

  6. Hannah, I’m very visual and so thank you for the personal look into your family. Now I know so much more about you! Your boys are so, so cute; I remember my kids at those ages, wonderful times. I remember the moths, spiders, lizards in jars for a day or two. So lovely to get to know you a little better.
    Sherry, thank you for asking the right questions. Wonderful interview.

  7. As always, it is entirely my pleasure to visit with these amazing poets and hear their stories. Hannah, it was a very uplifting experience and did my old heart good! Shine on!

    1. Thank you, Sherry!! You're such a blessing!

  8. Sasha, Pearl, Kim, Mary and Veronica!!!! Thank you ALL so much!! Having poets-friends to share my life with is such a blessing!!! Warm smiles!

  9. Thank you, Sherry, for introducing us to Hannah's more private side. And Hannah, you are such a blessing for us each day. You live your faith and writing as much as share it with others.

    Hannah, you've gifted us all with so much in this interview. Thank you.

    1. I'm so very grateful for you and all of our poetic friends to share my life with. You make it a vibrant thing, truly, so blessed!

      Thank you, Clauds!!

  10. Hannah, you never fail to make me smile, even before I've read what you have written. There's a song, "Hard-Hearted Hannah," and you are its exact antithesis. Thanks for showing us your whole family, including your Superwoman Sis who Heimliched you, for all our benefit.

    Whatever Hannah writes reflects that her womb has not only produced wonderful children - I believe it's where her muse resides, in the most caring, nurturing part of her being.

    Sherry, thanks again for another wonderful interview. You are the Barbara Walters of the Blogosphere! Always the right question... and never asking us about what tree we would like to be (unless we offer up the subject first...) Howl, Wolf Woman! Love to all, Amy

    1. Oh, Amy!! You make the tears well with this sentiment of where my muse dwells. You're so very encouraging and sweet...thank you so much!!

  11. Sherry, your interviews are simply outstanding! They flow easily, and engage mightily. And it sure doesn’t hurt that today highlights my Sweet Hannah!

    “I’ve had some seeds of faith scattered in the soil of my soul as long as I can remember, but the roots really began to roil and reach into the depths of my being in the last five years. It seems that earlier years were fast-passing dandelions that produced many seeds that today are creating in me a colony of flourishing that cannot be defeated, a brightness that can’t be ignored.” Hannah, if this was all that my eyes and heart had taken in, I would be walking away from my lunch hour fully satisfied. You made my day.

    … and thanks so much for the mentions! RIGHT. BACK. ATCHA!!

    1. Marie!!! You make my heart so happy!! Thank you for being who you are!

  12. Another skilled interview Sherry--it really does seem like the two of you are sitting together someplace. And it is so good to get to know Hannah better. For some reason Hannah, I thought you lived in Canada, but I guess Maine is pretty close. Your boys are beautiful!

    1. Thank you, Peggy!! They're a joy, I appreciate you reading this!

  13. Hannah and Sherry,

    Thank you for this lovely 'family-like' interview. It is wonderful to learn something new about Hannah, a fellow member of this great, world-wide writing community Poets United.


  14. My Hannah! :) Words cannot express how much I adore this poetic soul sister. Although yours come very close, Sherry: "rather knocks my socks off with how aware, centered and attuned she is to what matters most." Yep.

    As I once told Hannah, her writing always, always points me heavenward. She is Son-soaked, and literally shines, both in her talent, and her adoration for both creation and Creator. Hannah is quite simply an astounding young woman, and I am unbelievably blessed to read her, and to "know" her in these wonderful poetic pockets.

    Thank you so much, Sherry, for this gorgeous interview of a stunning poet.


    1. PS: So jealous of your coastal-ness (coastiality? coastitude? coastiosity?) I could spit. Maine is so beautiful. Hubbie and I went to Kenebunkport right before we had kids. Gorgeous.

    2. Oh, De!!! We truly are poetic soul-sisters!!! I'm so honored and humbled by the words you grace me with here today. Thank you so much, seriously, for being such a wonderful person, poet and most of all, friend!!

      I truly wish I had a star-trek gadget to just beam people all over the place like Scottie did!! You'd be here in mere seconds soaking your soul in the burst of buoyant and enjoying salt-water toes!

      Someday we'll have to have a're welcome here anytime!! :)

  15. Hannah, what a wonderful interview. I feel like I know you and understand where you are coming from. The joys of writing and the joys of motherhood balanced into one along with the compassion to give back to the earth and environment. Wow, all in a day, everyday. Thank you for sharing.. And thank you, Sherry for the wonderful interview you have given. Lovely and thought provoking questions. Enjoyable read. Ginger

  16. I like Dakota Kitty! Oh, and Hannah is very cool, too. :-)

    1. Isn't he a cool cat, Shay!! Thanks a bunch for stopping here to read!! :)'s

  17. Hannah, your sweet, poetic perceptions make for a lovely read! (Marie picked out one of the prettiest blossoms.) Your boys are beautiful (but we already knew that) and your beasties too! :-) And, "Robinhood Cove"? Really? No wonder you have such a romantic soul! How could anyone be raised in a place with a name like that and NOT be poetic? It is gorgeous, and De's got it right -- I am jealous too. Thanks SO much for citing me in your list of poetic peeps. I'm pleased & proud to call you a cyber friend of mine! :-) Lovely interview, Sherry!

    1. My smile could not grow any wider!! Such a generous and kind comment, Pamela!! Thank you So much!!! :)'s to you!

  18. What a wonderful journey into Hannah's world! I do have to say, it made me homesick! You have a beautiful family n' spirit! I look forward to getting to know you better~ How blessed you are! :D
    So, nice to learn more about you! ATB @>-----
    Well Done

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. *Sorry, but I messed up on my first comment... too many interruptions.

    This is a very special interview, Sherry! I just love Hannah.

    Hannah- Your natural beauty shines forth here... I'm so happy to get a snapshot here of your life and beautiful family.

  21. Yeah, Hannah. I love your writing and your attitude on life. So glad to see you featured here.

  22. So much of what I want to say is already said by others, so Hannah, I'll simply say that knowing you and reading your poetry each day is a pleasure and inspiration. :)

  23. Sherry, you really do have the knack for interviewing. I always reach the end with a smile and lovely warmth in my heart.

    Hannah,so wonderful to get to know you better. I could tell from your poetry we shared love and appreciation (with a little activism thrown in) of nature. Your fav poets are many of mine too. Mary Oliver has so many amaazing nature poems., Robert Frost too, and Walt Whitman..his words are just amazing. So I'll be reading yor poems with love and increased appreciation of your warm strong spirit. :-)

  24. Beautiful. Every last syllable and comma...and of course SMILES. So grateful to be blessed with a cyber-poetic-sister like Hannah.

    Thanks for the great interview Sherry...the more touched by Hannah, the more who've been touched by an angel.


  25. Hannah - I don't know how I missed this the first go round but am glad I stumbled upon it now ... it was wonderful to learn more about you and your beautiful family (your boys are adorable and your husband strikes me as one of a kind and just perfect for you ...) I summered in Maine a couple of years and then took my husband there after we were married - even tho' we live out west now, it still rates high on my list of favourite places, especially along the coast ...
    You are consistently one of my favourite poets Hannah and I so agree with Paula W - being touched by you is indeed like being touched by an angel ... I'm glad we frequent some of the same poetic haunts.
    Thanks to Sherry for shining her loving light on another wonderful poet and writer.


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