Monday, November 25, 2013

Life of a Poet - Kim Nelson

In our series of staff interviews, kids, today we have our inimitable Kim Nelson, who brings us such great prompts every Wednesday on Verse First. This busy poet can be found at Kim Nelson Creates, and she has been wildly busy these last months with a Total Home Renovation. I was stoked when she made time to meet with us.

P.U.: Let’s start off with an update, Kim: I know you and your husband’s recent move was a big change in your life. Tell us a little about your new house (and where you are located, generally, on the planet). What was living in the middle of a renovation like?

Kim: We spent the last 20 years in a suburb of Tucson, where schools were exceptional and we raised our family. For ten of those years we lived on nearly 4 acres abutting a 500 acre flora and fauna preserve. LOTS of wildlife and unheard-of views. We designed and built that house and the gardens. Heavenly. We were, however, 30-45 minutes from everything. We’ve added at least an hour and a half to each day by reducing drive time.


We lived in one room of our new-old house while renovating the rest. It has been a 6 month process that challenged and rewarded on every level. We took much of the house back to the studs, which is a VERY dirty undertaking. Who knew dust and grime came in so many forms? I was the super on the project, so spent my days lining up and corralling sub-contractors. Wow! Was that a job! Glad to be nearly done… just a few more tasks and we’ll be there. 

P.U.: A huge project. Did you take your Garden Angel with you when you moved, or did she stay behind in your butterfly garden?

The Garden Angel in the butterfly garden at the old house

Kim: Although the buyers of our last house wanted most of our furniture and rugs and art, I did not leave my angel. She’s been moved repeatedly to make way for machinery, pipes, concrete mixers and workmen, but will soon have a place of honor in the new garden. I’m looking forward to planting, since not being able to garden has been a real challenge. It is meditative and spiritual, vital to my well-being.


P.U.: I am so happy you still have your angel. I love your "After" photos! For our newer members, would you like to tell us a bit about your family, your kids etc? Last interview you had one beautiful grandson. How is he doing, and are there any  newer grandchildren? Will you be hosting Thanksgiving this year in your new spiffy kitchen?

Kim: The Good Husband and I began dating 37 years ago and are still glad to be together. We raised three kids and have a 4 year-old grandson. My son or daughter-in-law drop him off each weekday morning as they head out to work. He and I spend Mondays together and I take him to school the other four days. He is a delight! My two daughters will spend Thanksgiving with their in-laws, but I look forward to having all of them here for several days at Christmas. With four master suites (one of which I use as a studio), there’s room for everyone! 

P.U.: Wow! Yes, there is!! What a spectacular transformation you have effected in your new home. The spaciousness and color are just stunning. What a Christmas this will be! Now, I have been longing to ask you this question: how do you come up with such wonderful prompts for Verse First? They are always original, and intriguing. And you seem to have an endless supply.

Kim: I have a quirky mind, unlimited curiosity and a vast collection of books, Sherry! I usually grab resources from my library, sit down with a cup of milky tea and start skimming. I write a quick list of ideas based on quotes or notions that inspire me; then I flesh out those ideas and create several prompt posts in one sitting. 

P.U.:  When you look back at the last couple of years, are you happy with where your writing has taken you? 

Kim: I like what I produce, but feel a bit lazy. After having four books published by small, independent publishers, I stopped submitting. Don’t know if it’s laziness, burnout, or simply a lack of motivation required to jump through all the hoops in order to publish and then market another book. I’ve also spent a lot of time honing my painting skills, which gives me great pleasure. And we planned a wedding… And we sold and bought a house… And the renovation… And there’s the grandson… Oh my gosh! Life is just so full!

P.U.: Is it ever! All wonderful happenings, too. In our last interview,  we covered that you have always written prose.  When did you turn to poetry, and why? And what does writing poetry give you that prose doesn’t?

Kim: Going through files to lighten the load when we moved, I found original copies of poems I’d written from grade school forward. LOTS of them. However, I rarely shared them because they were personal, revealing; I felt too vulnerable. Several years ago I decided to release the fear surrounding that vulnerability and jumped right in. The experience was cathartic. I’ve never looked back. I love being older, more comfortable with myself, more secure in my being. Sharing my art, in any form, is part of that self-acceptance.

P.U.: Well said! What was your first poem about, and do you still have it? May we include it here?

Kim: This is one of the earliest, non-nursery-rhyme-like pieces I found in my files. I was somewhere between 10 and 12 years old. I don’t remember writing it, but remember the angst surrounding it, my father and the violence in our home.  The piece is dark. Fortunately, I’ve moved beyond that mindset; but at that time, and for many challenging periods of my life, writing saved me. Writing provided an outlet and a release and an escape.

steal the smile from my face
as if it never existed
force salty teas that run
down my cheeks and sting

Compassion and understanding
your comprehension
and the respect you demand we give
is nowhere
within your reach

You drown reality with trusty can or glass
Reality? What is that?
You’ve not been there for the past ten years,
yet you insist on telling us “how things are”.

Names and accusations spew
from your booze-infested gut
I cringe with fear, revulsion
and I wonder

What goes on in your brain?
The one you pretend is so forgetful?
My smile returns.
I realize, hope?
until you die
you’ll live with the pain you’ve inflicted.
I am happy to know that you just might
suffer as much as we have.

P.U.: I lived that childhood too, Kim. This is a powerful poem for a child to have written. What is your process for writing a poem?

Kim: I just write. I let it flow and grow and glow. And then I edit, usually removing far more than ultimately remains. When creating poetry, I see words as individually precious and valuable. Not one can be wasted or used inappropriately. If the message can be made with fewer words, all the better. I am the ultimate conservationist when it comes to words! 

New house

P.U.: If you were speaking to a newly emerging poet, what would you tell them is the most important thing to capture in their poem, to make it sing?

Kim: Understand words. What do they really mean? specifically mean? Understand their nuances and subtleties and use them to carefully impart your message. Avoid the ordinary, but resist the esoteric.

Avoid the ordinary, but resist the esoteric.

P.U.: Oh, I like that! Do you have a poem, written by you, that you especially like, that you might like to share here? 

Kim: I like so many, but this one came at a time of empowerment, so it speaks deeply to me: Back Off, Back Down, Black Dog

Black Dog!
To you I shall never surrender.
I mistakenly assumed that you’d been tamed.
You proved me wrong.
My guard was down
When you turned with a growl

P.U.:  Very strong. Is there one that got a lot of response on your blog, that we can revisit? 

Kim: PotAu Feu was really popular, and The G Spot made quite a splash! 

Pot Au Feu ~ Me And You

Over time~You exposed~My spunk~My spice~My quirks~Not all nice~Like layers, cloves, of ripe, pungent garlic~After acquiring a taste~Then appreciating mightily~You taught me to do the same~And our life together grew~Rich~Intense~Flavorful~Satisfying~Good.
P.U.: I love this one. And you are a lucky girl!

The G Spot

God spoke,
“Go on, now. Do it. I gifted you. Be brave.”
And as she always had done,
She listened and obeyed.
She left that breaking place…

P.U.: Yes!!!! A wonderful message! Would you like to give us a snapshot of your writing background, for our newer members?  Do you still work freelance, or are you a full time Reno Supervisor/writer?

Kim: My first book was essentially commissioned by a publisher who attended one of my gardening workshops (I am a Master Gardener and used to give regular classes in my community). A Rio Nuevo Publishers rep was impressed and invited me to meet with them. They produced A Desert Gardener’s Companion and Southwest Kitchen Garden.

I wrote and shopped my third book, Mommy I’m Still In Here, hoping to educate and inform families dealing with mentally ill children. That one took an incredible amount of time and energy to write, edit and market; and it helped a lot of people. 

I submitted a manuscript to Finishing Line Press for my fourth, a poetry chapbook entitled Woman’s Evolution, and it was accepted. I highly recommend Finishing Line to new poets. They do a wonderful job guiding the process. 

P.U.: Your book covers are so beautiful, Kim. What are your main writing goals right now? If we took away all obstacles and time constraints, what do you wish you could or would or should write before too many more years go by?

Kim: Like every other writer you know, I’ve got that novel in me, Sherry. I would like to work that out some day. I’d also like to have published a full length book of poems, each illustrated by original piece of art, all created by me. That might be my next big project. Of course, then I’d have to find a publisher, and market it and all that good stuff. It will definitely be a big project!

P.U.: I love the sound of those projects, especially the poetry and art book. What other activities might we find you pursuing, when you aren’t redoing a kitchen or writing a poem?

The new garden

Kim: I love to garden, ride my bike, play with the grandson, attend University of Arizona athletic events. I have season tickets to Arizona Theatre Company, take classes at The Drawing Studio and will soon begin a series at The Poetry Center. Most days I take a yoga class at a local studio and take the dachshunds for a quick walk around the neighborhood. 

P.U.: Your life is so full and busy and must be richly rewarding. Those classes sound amazing. You have been a faithful supporter of Poets United since its beginnings, and you provide such a wonderful feature every Wednesday. We thank you so much, Kim, for your dedication and participation, as well as your hard work. Is there anything you would like to say to our members?

Kim: Just thank you. Thank you for enthusiastically participating in our community. Thank you for contributing to the love of the written word and for the appreciation you always share with me. 

P.U.: Thank you, Kim, for this lovely visit and a look at your life, and your beautiful new home. I so enjoyed our visit!

Wasn't it a lovely visit, kids? I love these weekly visits to places near and far so much!  Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Kim and Sherry,

    What a fantastic surprise and wonderful read. Sherry does know how to travel to the best of places and to bring back such treasures:)
    Lovely to track you down to your new abode Kim, which looks beautiful. I think you will be well occupied for some time to come. Making your mark on this new world.
    Thank you for your contributions to Poets United, which enhances my life and my world as well. Your prompts are fresh, original and lively.
    I have always admired your honest style of writing which is full of life and that which many others can relate to as well, as well as a quirky Kim-style.

    Lovely to find you here this evening, in this much deserved 'Top of the bill Interview.'

  2. Way to go - organizing all the sub contractors is a very busy job! Pursuing interests while raising kids and then moving and "starting" over successfully once they are grown and gone is not always easy. It sounds like your life, Kim, is full and happy. Thank you for all the support you give fellow poets (and your home and garden is gorgeous) Thanks, Sherry, for another interesting interview.

  3. What a beautiful interview, Sherry. So nice to catch up with your life, Kim, and to find out about all of the changes that have taken place since your last Poets United interview. I enjoyed learning again about the books you have written (you are an inspiration) and also about how you are pursuing both art and poetic interests in your life. Your grandson also must be a joy. I understand your involvement with him, and he is fortunate to have you as influence in his life. Thank you so much for your wonderful prompts at Verse First. They really inspire interesting work. Enjoy your beautiful new house. I can see you have done a lot of work to create such a wonderful place for family to gather.

  4. Wow! an amazing person on a wonderful journey inspiring pets every week with novel prompts! Thanks Sherry for showcasing Kim here. Its lovely knowing her a little more than her poems and prompts!

  5. Lovely new house:) and nice to know about you

  6. Enjoyed this interview and getting to know Kim more - thanks Sherry! Kim, I love how involved you are with your grandson! How lucky to get to see him every morning!
    After reading this interview I feel inspired to fill the day ahead with creativity! Thanks Kim and Sherry!

  7. smiles....excellent choice....what a bright soul you are kim...and you def impress me in your devotion as well...even in times when you are not writing yourself, still investing in t he poets here, providing prompts and visiting...know i admire that giving of yourself, very mcuh....

  8. Thanks Sherry, for the wonderful interview and taking us to the creative world of Kim....
    and everything is so beautiful around you Kim that I must say that you are a very devoted and great artist....thanks for your inspiring prompts and nice to see you here today.... :)

  9. I am humbled by the kindness of this group. What a great support each of you is. And thank you Sherry, my friend, for your generosity of spirit.

    1. I echo what Brian says, Kim - during the frantically busy months of renovating, you still provided inspiring prompts for us here at Poets United. We so appreciate that - and that your prompts are unfailingly inspiring and original. I love the richness of warmth and color in your new home. You and your family will have such a woinderful Christmas there this year!

  10. Thanks Sherry! Glad to see Kim in the spotlight and learn more about what she's been up to! Kim's work is inspiring as are her prompts here. I always enjoy visiting her site to read and see what she has created. And her feedback on my work is so valuable to me. What a lovely couple and lovely home!

  11. I admire any woman who can grow a garden in a desert! Wonderful interview! Thanks to both ladies for the hard work that went into this feature.

  12. What a lovely read...Kim, you are talented (and inspiring with all your talents!). Thank you for sharing this interview.

  13. Thank you, again, fellow poets and writers. You encourage and inspire everyday.

  14. I'm a little late getting here due to computer problems thus past week (or rather, server problems). So glad I made it at last and got to read this great interview! Many thanks, Sherry and Kim. Wow, Kim, you certainly have a lot going on! I love your engagement with life, and I'm always intrigued by your prompts even if I don't always get to write to them. I also take this opportunity to remark what a supportive and helpful staff member you are - as well as a conscientious one in getting those prompts out no matter what. Wonderful to see pics of the new home and the outcome of all that renovating!

  15. A beautiful house much deserved..but it's you..the person who created home out of chaos that makes it light up..have not seen your angel before..I am glad she travels.. X

  16. What a lovely interview, Sherry...Its been great knowing you more, Kim. The book covers are so beautiful!! You are an impressive poet, and your prompts are always inspiring...
    Sorry, am late here. Have been a little irregular in writing lately...
    Thanks for sharing, Sherry.


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