Monday, February 3, 2014

Life of a Poet - Kara Claflin

Kids, this week I am so pleased to feature Kara Claflin. She writes at a spirit of simplicity, where the reader comes away feeling very much like he or she has just walked on the beach, emerged from the woods, or been given a warming cup of tea. You will see by the photos in this interview, that Kara is also a talented photographer. And this time, my friends, we are right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, so you know I'm in my happy place! Plus, we have a cool love story this week, and you know I am a hopeless romantic.

P.U.: Kara, your banner states “Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness”, a philosophy with which  I resonate deeply. Would you like to tell us a bit more about this?

Kara: This is part of a quote by Lao Tsu. I edited out “have few desires” because it wouldn’t quite fit on the banner and truth be told, it is something that is still evolving in me. I find that keeping this philosophy in my head and in my heart as I go about living my daily life keeps me on the path that leads me where I want to be. I am not a believer in god or religion. I have a faith deeply rooted in the intelligence and love that fills the people around the world. I believe that we are connected, all humans, all nature, all that lives in the universe, and this quote speaks to me about that interrelation.

P.U.: To me, too. Would you give us a snapshot of the life of this poet?

Kara: I turned 50 this year! I can’t ever remember thinking I wouldn’t make it, but I am surprised it came so quickly. One of my favorite parts of being the age I am now is that I truly appreciate my fortune and blessings. I have an understanding of how quickly the next 50 years will pass and I just feel so appreciative of the gift of life. I live with my boyfriend, Joe, on a rather tiny island that is connected to the mainland by a two mile causeway. We have been friends since we were 11. 

P.U.: Wow! How cool is that?

Kara: We each went separate ways after high school and met up again just over two years ago. We have been together since then and we love each other very much. He has two young sons, 7 and 9 that are with us on a fairly regular basis. He also has a 26 year old son who lives in FL. We don’t see him very often. 

I have two daughters, 22 and 25, that live about an hour away. We see them about once a month or so but it is not often enough for me…I suppose I have a mother’s heart. Our home is at the end of the causeway, so we are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. From our windows we see the sun rise over the water every morning and set over the water every evening. We are about 14 miles from Boston and can see the Boston city skyline from the beach across the street. We have one little fish that we call Bob, or Fred, or Freddy-Bob….

Winter sunrise

P.U.: Oh, you have no idea how much I envy you that ocean view and proximity! You write about school, and I wonder : have you perhaps gone back to college?  If you are a returning student, bravo!!!! 

Kara: Yes! I am back in school…actually it’s my first time going to college. I am still not quite sure what my goal is as far as a career goes. I would like to have an associates in a year and a half and then work towards a bachelors after that. Right now most of my time is devoted to school work and I am loving pretty much every minute of it. Joe has been very encouraging and supportive and tells me all the time that I am very smart but honestly, that is something I forgot over the years. Remembering that is my favorite part of school. I feel as if I am coming back to myself after years of living some one else’s life.

P.U.: I absolutely know what you mean. I'm so happy for you, for the journey you are making. And I happen to know that you finished your first term with high honors, kiddo. Way to go! What drew you to poetry, and what do you love about it?

Kara: My family is filled with writers and I have always written. I remember loving to read and write even as a very little girl. I suppose I am sort of obsessed with words. They have life and character. There are words and phrases I feel a fondness for as if they are long lost friends….”in the gloaming” – “cupan tae”, which is cup of tea, are some of them. I started writing poetry in junior high. I suppose it was an outlet for the 15 year old angst. I love poetry because it’s lyrical, one can imply something without actually making it black and white. I love it because it’s visual.

P.U.: Do you have a favorite poet? 

Kara: I have a great many favorite poets. Yeats, Frost, Pound, Amy Lowell, Thoreau…there are more recent poets I love as well whose names escape me now as well…too many to list. Also, I have some favorites in bloggy-land. Poets whose work I come back to over and over because I am so thrilled to see the way they put words into such unexpected verse.

P.U.: Do you have some favorites, among your own poems?

Kara: Some of my favorites are Ordinary morningStill remains,  

humming Julia in the sunny kitchen

with you 

 an instant of dignity in the morning drill

i wonder where the years have gone

you are the star i use to navigate my visions

yours is the stride i use to measure what we gain

late morning light streams  though the window

 and I buckle under the grace 

humming Julia in the sunny kitchen

with you

P.U.: Oh, I love it very much, Kara. It's just beautiful. 

if i was a sailor i should wake early and sail the waters  
just after dawn
 before the day had completely come about
 before the sun had risen all the way up into the sky
 before the birds had finished breakfasting at the water's edge
I should glide seamlessly across the sea
 with hardly a ripple to mark my presence
 with hardly a wave to splash against my hull

 when the sun rose higher I would sail back into port
 and go about my day as if it was just an ordinary day
 with no one save myself to know the mystery of my smile
 with no one save myself to know that i had spent the morning 
 taking tea with mermaids

P.U.: Glorious, both poem and photo. Sigh. When  did you come to blogging, Kara,  and how is it impacting your work?

Kara: I started blogging years ago as an outlet for photography. I didn’t start blogging about any writing until fairly recently. I love the camaraderie that comes with blogging and writing. I love the inspiration that I find through other writers and the prompts. I don’t consider myself in the same league with many of the writers here but I am refining my work and finding so much joy. I am taken unawares that anyone would have favorites of mine or that my poetry would be considered collected “work” I suppose it is time I begin to think in the same lines. 

P.U.: It is more than clear you are a very talented photographer. Tell us about it.

Kara: I love the way a picture can capture a “vignette”. I love that photographs can evoke in the same way as poetry but with no words. I love that through photos we can all connect –with other people or places.

P.U.: Well said. And I adore your photos! Do you have any goals or dreams for your writing over the coming years?

Our sofa, where I often sit
with my cup of tea and my laptop

Kara: This one always seems like so much pressure. I suppose I should like to live here with my loved ones around me and walk the beach at sunrise and sit on the porch at sunset and find some peace and sweetness as the years float by.

P.U.: I don't think you could dream a better dream than that. You write often about nature, your keen eye finds its beauty in the smallest of joys. Tell us about your love of it.

Kara: Nature, for me is part of the whole of everything. Even as a little girl I spent almost all of my free time in the woods or on the beach. Seeing the offerings of the seasons – an acorn, a tiny shell, a seed pod, the way a leaf looks as it floats down in the sunlight, the moon shining onto my bed while I sleep - I find inspiration, strength, peace, understanding and acceptance in nature. I think being out of doors with loved ones is therapy and that all creativity flows through nature.

P.U.: Me, too. What causes are you passionate about?  Tell us why  these issues should be important to us all.

Kara: Living on the ocean I am passionate about not only recycling but reducing the use of all plastics. I am passionate about peace in the world we live in and being mindful of how our words and actions effect the world around us. Just like the waves of the ocean, parts of us wash up on other shores. What do we want to be spreading around?

P.U.: We need an entire revolution about doing away with plastics!  I love what you say about parts of us washing up on other shores. There is a poem in that! What other things might we find you doing when you are not writing or taking photos?

Kara: I live a very simple, sort of boring life. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family. I love to listen to Joe playing guitar, I love to walk the beach or hike in the woods and field. I love to cook although I haven’t been doing much of that of late. I also love to read…but school work has taken precedence.

P.U.: It sounds like a heavenly life to me. Do you have a quote you especially like, one that you live by or say often?

Kara: Perhaps not an entire quote but rather two words:
Love and forgiveness ~ for both myself and the world around me

P.U.: Perfect! Is there anything else you would like to tell Poets United?

Kara: Oh my goodness….If there is anyone still reading, I would hope we have covered it all.

 P.U.: Cackle. Trust me, they're still reading! Thank you, Kara, for a wonderful walk through your world. You are so lucky to be living by the ocean - there is no greater beauty.

It's a beautiful life, kids, isn't it? I so hate to leave the shore, but the Teleporter is here to zap me back to my desk, where I will be hard at work on next week's visit. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Such a wonderful interview. I absolutely loved the photographs. And the two poems posted in the interview are rich with imagery and the beauty of those moments of loneliness and secrets that only we possess. :-)
    I look forward to reading more of Kara's work.

  2. Kara, thank you for sharing parts of your life and your photos. You seem to live in a beautiful place. I always enjoy your poetry so I was glad to read 'Ordinary morning' again. It has the kind of simplicity in words and yet forceful meaning I can relate to.
    Good luck with college!

  3. i read this at lunch and ran out of time before the bell..what a cool story of your love drawing you back together after so was def meant to be...and good luck on school...i am in grad school again myself so i know that makes for hard balance of family/school/ def are an artist when to photography...

  4. Oh boy have such a beautiful talent for interviewing and drawing people out. Your questions were thought provoking. Thank you for honoring me here.

    1. It was my pleasure, Kara. You gave me wonderful material to work with and GLORIOUS photos to please the eye. I am happy you like it and didnt find the process too onerous.

  5. What a wonderful article this was. I so much enjoyed learning more about you, Kara. I like the idea that you feel like you are coming back to yourself after years of living someone else's life. And how exciting that you are going back to school...and it will be interesting to see what career you are eventually drawn to. I enjoy your poetry & your photography as well. (Do you have some scenic views of your ocean environment that we could feature in Poetry Pantry? Drop me a note!)

  6. I love this interview! Kara’s life seems to be the kind of life we all want… with wonderful photos and inspiring words to show. Living on the ocean is my kind of dream and she is living it!!! Well done on the interview, Sherry. :)

  7. So nice to meat Kara. She sounds like the kind of thoughtful, mindful person I like to know.
    Wonderful interview Sherry. You always ask the right questions.

  8. Wow!nice to know about you. An amazing place you live in with peace all around.

  9. I enjoyed this interview very much. I love to learn how other writers think and how they approach their work. Thank you for a wonderful interview!

  10. Kara, I think you've succeeded in manifesting plainness, embracing simplicity and reducing selfishness. You've shared much here and I've enjoyed your interview very much.

    Sherry, could you please fix the link to " I dreamed we had not parted", it is pointing to "To the woman who tends to the roses". ;-)

  11. I always wondered who the person was behind the blog at a spirit of simplicity! It was so nice learn more about you, Kara! Your photos are beautiful! I always look forward to reading your poems. Good luck in school!

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  13. How lovely to know more about you Kara ~ How wonderful to live with nature around you and find reconnection again with someone you have known before ~ I enjoyed your photos & journey & good luck with college ~

  14. Great Interview Sherry and Kara so many common links we all seem to have. These profiles are great to get to know eachother.

  15. Really nice to 'flesh out' Kara a little. I have long admired the cleanness (not necessarily simplicity) of her work.

  16. Another wonderful interview Sherry.....and it's really nice to know more about you Kara
    ..... thank you for sharing your beautiful world with us..........

  17. in case this shows up twice, the first one got eaten by blogger.

    nice to meet you, Kara ~

  18. I've been out of town for a week and just read this interview. Fabulous! So happy to get to know Kara. I will continue to enjoy her words and photos.


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