Monday, July 21, 2014

Life of a Poet - Claudia Schoenfeld

I have a wonderful treat for you today, my friends. This week we are meeting with Claudia Schoenfeld, who writes  at Jaywalking the Moonwhom we all know so well as a beloved staff member at dVerse Poets Pub, which has just celebrated its third wonderful year! We will be visiting this lovely, warm-hearted poet in Germany, close to France and Switzerland, which sounds pretty exciting to this armchair traveler!

Sherry: Claudia, I am so happy to be meeting with you. Let’s go all the way back. Where did you grow up? Is there anything you can see in your childhood, looking back, that you think led to your becoming a poet? Is there one person who encouraged your creativity as a child?

Claudia: I grew up in a small town in the south of Germany and, funny that you ask for childhood influences on my becoming a poet, because just last week I found an old “Poesiealbum” That is a little book that you give to your friends and teachers and they write little verses into it. There was one entry from my German teacher – must have been 6th grade or so – and she wrote a little poem into my Poesiealbum and underneath wrote “I hope that in the future you will have as much fun with poetry as you have now” I didn't remember this, and we didn't read a lot of poetry in school, but when we did, I liked it.
Basel marketplace with red Town Hall

Sherry: That sounds almost prophetic, Claudia! I saw in your dVerse bio that you live in Germany, close to France, work in Switzerland, and are used to crossing borders. What a fantastic location!! 

Claudia: I still live in that little town close to France and the Swiss border, with my husband of 26 years, and three grown up kids. I cross borders into Switzerland every day to get to my workplace in Basel, where I'm working full time in a technical company, organizing customer events and Seminars.

My three children

Sherry: It sounds like a marvelous life, Claudia. And your children are beautiful. When did you write your first poem? And what was it that made you choose poetry as your means of creative expression? 

Claudia: I wrote my first poem on June 17, 2010 – that was after a long, rainy spring and I just longed for sunshine and summer and the words kinda poured themselves onto the page without me really realizing what was happening... smiles.

I wrote my second poem for the first OneShotWednesday when OneStopPoetry started – that was July 7, 2010 – it was about an origami artist whom I met in Lucerne during an Event.

Sherry: What do you love about poetry?

Claudia: I think I love the freedom and possibility that poetry gives – nothing is wrong – you can walk the edge between truth and imagination – invent images as you go – I love this – It’s like breathing for me.

walk the edge between truth and imagination....

Sherry: I love that quote! What keeps you writing? What are your hopes for your writing in the years ahead?

My sketch of my mom's coffee table

Claudia: Poetry for me is also “snap-shooting” little slices of my life – it's a bit like a diary – I wanna “store” the moment with all its emotions and colors like you could never do in a photo – think that is what keeps me going. Getting published is not necessarily a goal, though I have been published in several magazines and collections.

Sherry: Oh, that's cool, Claudia! (I love your sketch, by the way!) Where has your work been published? 

Claudia: I'm published in two issues of an american magazine and different anthologies. I have ten poems in Fragments by blueflute,  and I was about to do a book with his new founded press, with a collection of just my poems. It was a lot of work and editing though, and I gave up halfway through, cause for me it is more important to interact in the online poetry world with other poets than to have a book out. Maybe one day I will change my mind, but for the moment I'm happy with that.

Sherry: When you're ready, the last half will go quickly, kiddo.  How has blogging impacted your writing? How did your blogging journey bring you to dVerse Poets Pub?

Claudia: I started the blog to “practise” for a blog I had to write for my job – and I first wrote in German about everyday events – looked at other blogs – stumbled upon a guest post by Ed Pilolla – a poem “Bribing the Fireflies” and loved it – and that kinda hit me -  through him I met Brian Miller when they were just about to start OneStopPoetry – that got me started.

Sherry: I love them both! Such beautiful men! What do you find most rewarding about helping to run a community blog? Is there anything you find disheartening about it? Does it consume a lot of your time?

Claudia: I think it's great to have a place on the web where poets can come and just be who they are, where they find teaching and encouragement, people to talk to. This is one of the reasons why I love to run the pub. It is a lot of work though, and it’s disheartening when people just link and run and never visit or comment on others' work. For me it’s giving and taking – some people just take and that makes me sad a bit.
Sherry: Your staff does a wonderful job at dVerse! It is such a supportive and welcoming place. Who is your favourite well-known poet, and what do you love about his or her work?

Claudia: I like Bukowski a lot and love Bob Hicok's poetry almost as much as Brian Miller's (only almost though...smiles) What I love about Bukowski is that he’s real and raw – Bob Hicok does amazing things with images and metaphors – Brian does both – he has a wide range from hip hop style to very gentle – I love this.

Sherry: I love looking at the world through Brian's eyes. He is a man with a wonderful heart. Do you have a favourite poem, or two, written by you, that we can include here? Is there a bit of backstory to it, you might like to share?

Claudia: There’s one that I wrote just recently that is close to my heart as it marks a turning point.

My husband and I had big problems in our marriage and a few weeks ago I moved out cause I didn’t see a future for us anymore. But then we decided to work on our marriage, did a communication training and counseling, and things have changed quite a bit since then..

beyond the frayed parts//what it took //to make me cross back into wholeness

i carefully undress
into the heat, the holiness–
of first times/musk_taste on my lips
across the open prairie, wind,
a lion’s head bent back
in silent worship to the breeze,
mane glistening
with humidity,

&i —expand lightning in his arms
last night after our conversation-homework
halting/shivering lips
i read one of my poems to him/
fragile/first time/first steps
“it is good to get2know you in a new way” he says
i translate,

lay my heart/opened
next to a pile of books, remote control,
a cup of tea// for him to touch//me
“if i’m not commenting on your blog, is that ok?”
“that’s good”
i lean against his chest

„can you stay?“
i test the planks, step back
„not yet“
pull my car into the traffic
in the rearview, taillights– red/
reverberating on his face

back in the bed at my friend’s flat, there’s a poem
by my husband, ink-wet
in my inbox
titled “thoughts”
not more
&more i ever hoped for

to decrease life’s brittleness
& close the last big gap
before me

Sherry: I remember the series of poems you wrote as you walked through this process. Thank you so much for sharing it here. I was so happy when I read this poem, about the breakthrough moment. You and your husband look so good together. Here is a favourite of mine that you wrote soon after that:

on theA8 – Stuttgart //Basel //&my shoes are business blue but still– a little magical

the turtle in the rearview looks at me with old, dark eyes

autobahn singing grey-toned tunes
beyond the lane a smile
and on my sword

the blood of twitching dragons

“see” i say to my colleague
“i wanna do the right things, not just things/ right&—”

her eyes red with moonlight
“you know what i mean?”
“i think..”

my work phone rings— India
“ok – i’ll check the dates once i’m in the office,
when they stay in Zürich, do they really wanna go to Engelberg?
i would suggest—”

&there’s a weird intimacy in rubbing lips
with concrete at 150 miles per hour
a red Ferrari

i want a fountain
sprinkling over me
dancing in my white bikini&plateau blue
in a cradle with the sunset’s
melting chest

“got a key code for the tank card?”
“yeah, it is–“

i grab a bucket
wash an insect army
from the windscreen’s tainted face,
send an image of my new blue sandals
to my man,

the sun’s fragmented spine&i
in every drop that spills
evaporating from the wiper’s lips
he messages

“oh dang, those shoes are hot”

&i climb back in the Mercedes’ overheated womb
white shirt and business suit
& through the rainbow text

“i’ll be home (check watch) in–“

press delete//deciding

to surprise him

Sherry: I so love the hope and happiness in this poem. You write most often in free verse. Do you like form poetry? Find it restrictive? Or?

Claudia: I like to try different forms, and the challenge that comes with form poetry - but my true love is freeform just because I can do whatever I want to – ha – I love the freedom and flexibility freeform gives.

Sherry: Me, too. Tell us about you and music.  Do you perform, or play for your own pleasure?

Claudia: I love to sing and sang for years in a choir. I can play the guitar and the piano moderately and played both in our church band, and I started playing the Alto Sax when I turned 40 – just to try something new and because I love the sound, but hardly find time to play at the moment.

My kitchen

Sherry: What other things might we find you doing, when you aren’t writing ?

Claudia: I love hiking or biking on my road bike. I also started to sketch a few months ago and will actually attend two sketching workshops this summer – one in England and one in Italy – I tend to exaggerate... esp. if something’s new and exciting...smiles

Sherry: I envy you those sketching workshops in such beautiful places.  They will be wonderful.  Do you love to travel? Favourite place you have ever been? Top spot on your Bucket List you’ve still to visit?

Claudia: Oh yes – I love to travel – it makes me feel alive – expands my borders and stretches me in a challenging but good way.

It's not easy to pick a favourite – maybe Rome – New York – I fell in love with Berlin and still not quite sure what it is that fascinates me so about that city...

I have never been to Asia – I would love to visit India one day.

Sherry: One poet said if you can only go to one place in your life, make it India. I hope you make it there. Is there a cause you are passionate about? What keeps you awake at night?

Claudia: I can get passionate about almost everything and luckily I have a good sleep – so...

Sherry: Well, sleep is important. Smiles. Is there anything you’d like to share that I dont know you well enough to ask?

Claudia: I love the scent of fresh washed laundry in a summer breeze...smiles
I have a very good nose and smell things usually before others do
I'm very bad with orientation and keep getting lost...

Sherry: I love that. Now we know you have a sensitive nose. A surprise in every interview! Anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Claudia: I think you're doing a great job, and I know how much work it is to run such a site and make people feel welcome, prepare the articles, interviews etc. – thanks for that.

Sherry: Thank you, Claudia, for a wonderful visit. It has truly been a pleasure.

Another pilgrim making her poetic journey, my friends, and isn't she lovely? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Ah, Claudia is one of my favorite people in the blogosphere. Claudia, not only are you a good poet....but when you respond to someone's poem I know that you have actually read it and thought about it. I am fortunate to have met you in person....twice....and I must say that your poetry reflects the YOU of real life! Smiles. I admire your honesty and openness & enjoy your dream-like quality & how your mind wanders. Fresh-washed laundry in a summer breeze - ha, I haven't smelled this in a long time. So few people here hang laundry any more. I sometimes miss that smell, which I associate with my childhood. I like hiking too, but there are few that can hike like Germans. LOL. And your sketching...I like how it complements your poetry. Sherry, you could not have chosen a finer example of the poetry blogosphere to interview. Kudos to both of you!

    1. It was a privilege, for sure, Mary. I, too, love the smell of fresh laundry, and I still get to enjoy it, as we have a clothesline here. It takes me back to my childhood and also to the years when I hung my children's laundry out on the line.

      Claudia, I LOVE your poetry, and also your art. Love the sketches you shared with us here, and the poems. I so enjoyed our little visit. Thanks, kiddo.

    2. smiles... i always hang my laundry out in summer... i just cannot bear to squish it into the dryer on a beautiful blue sky day... and i still remember well how we climbed up the stairs to the freiburg cathedral tower... probably we should've made our way up the eiffel tower as well...smiles
      thanks mary for your nice words and you know how much i appreciate you and all you do at dVerse as well

  2. This is a wonderful interview, ladies. I was lucky enough to meet Claudia in person a few months ago and can say she is the warm and kind person we meet through her words.
    Claudia, I like that you say that with poetry 'nothing is wrong'. I must say I enjoy the freedom it allows.
    I am not surprised you love Berlin. It is such a vibrant and fascinating city.
    Thanks for sharing the photos of your family.
    Sherry, once again you have come up with a stunning interview.
    There are many more things I could write about Claudia and the great work she and Brian do at dVerse but I am commenting via my iPhone and it is quite a struggle for me.

    1. Thanks for checking in via iphone, Gabriella. You are so lucky to have met Claudia in person. I should have asked you to do the interview back then, hee hee.

    2. ah it was great to walk those paris streets with you and mary...what a wonderful time we had - and i enjoyed meeting you in person a lot as well gabriella

  3. I am so glad I did not miss this interview. Claudia has been such an inspiration and important part of writing sites on blogger. I love your personal quote "walking the edge between truth and imagination." That so eloquently describes writing poetry and what it means for so many of us. Thank you Sherry and Claudia for another wonderful interview.

    1. So nice to see you here, Carrie. So happy you enjoyed it.

    2. the funny thing is that i just learned in the sketching workshop how much i actually walk that edge between truth and imagination..sometimes i see things that aren't there and sometimes i totally don't see the obviously visible things...makes for some funny but awkward stories...smiles

  4. Sherry how wonderful that you interviewed Claudia. She's such a marvelous person and from your interview I get that she's so modest. I love that she has suh artisitic talents. Of course, the one I most appreciate is her poetry. She is so open, so genuine and so
    Thanks Sherry. Your interview helped me know Claudia better. I'm so happy that I know you both.

    1. One of my fave interviews for sure, Myrna. So happy you enjoyed it.

    2. happy to know you as well myrna... your heart shines through in all your comments and i appreciate that a lot

  5. Claudia! Very cool talk between you two, Sherry! I, of course (like with Brian) want to know how tall you are, Claudia. And I want to know if the watercolor you painted/posted of folks for the Anniversary Ball is for sale? the first raw one, not the second. Or maybe it's going in the new anthology? I hope a few of your paintings will be with your poems! Do you own the scooter? That's enough, I think, though I have several more questions for you. I want to tell you, too, that your poems are fresh and inimitable--a very powerful personal style that delights me. Reading them slows me down so that I always feel I have spent time with you in each of them. I treasure that experience and thank you.

    1. I love that about Claudia's poems, too, Susan.......that she has her own inimitable style, stream of consciousness honed with awareness and great vision. Good questions, too. Claudia, do you want to do a little mini-response in your comments, LOL?

    2. i'm 1,63 meter - that is not very tall...oy
      the watercolor isn't for sale unfortunately as usually all my drawings are in a sketchbook and not on single sheets of paper.... we haven't decided yet if we will have photos in the anthology cause maybe then you need a better printing quality - we have to check... as to the scooter, it belongs to my husband and he rides it to his workplace usually - he in fact had an accident on it a bit ago when a car crashed into him... luckily he got only heavily bruised but the scooter doesn't look so good any more... and thanks for your nice words on my poetry susan...

    3. In USA, that means you are 5'3"--taller than I thought, but not half as tall as your poetry! I am so sorry about the bruises! I'm glad husband recovered and that the scooter is still ride-able. Dear poet, be glad you are not perfect and that you see as you see.

  6. Lovely interview! I really like Claudia.

    1. smiles... there are days i like me as well...haha..on others...not so much....ewww

  7. Thank you Sherry for another lovely interview ~

    Claudia's talents are amazing - ink & colors in poems & paintings ~ I admire her free style of writing and unique weaving of imagery ~ Always a pleasure to read your work Claudia ~

    1. always a pleasure to read your work as well grace and it's an honor as well to having you on the dVerse team

  8. I love Claudia's poems and drawings~ I love all the photos and smiles! Your poems take us on journeys! Thank you~ I agree with Sherry, do the book!

    Wonderful, ladies!!

  9. Soooo nice to meet you Claudia here @ PU...Sherry's immaculate interviews always take us to be with poet in person...hope to see you someday in India...smiles...

    1. oh i do hope that i will make it to india one day... i love indian food...that's a first good step...i even have some original indian recipes that i cook regularly

  10. I really like how you introduce Claudia as "warm-hearted" Sherry...that does indeed seem a perfect description. I enjoy Claudia's work much...her poetry and now with the more recent addition of her sketches as well. What a beautiful family too!

    1. smiles... thank you jennifer... i have some really goofy pics of my fam but decided to choose the serious ones for the interview...haha

  11. sherry - thanks for having me here at poets united... it's an honor to being interviewed by you and i appreciate your sensitive questions as much as the work it took to put this all together... off to respond to comments now...smiles

    1. It was my pleasure, Claudia, and I completely enjoyed it. I love being able to picture you more fully now when I read your poetry. I am so glad your husband was not more seriously hurt in that accident, whew. And hey, I would have LOVED some goofy photos for the interview! Cackle!

  12. i am such a fan of your work and always will be. it was and will always be so special when you blessed me with a visit in hermosa beach. what a terrific interview and perspective on poetry and life. like breathing...

    1. that was so cool to meet you in hermosa beach ed - and thanks for your inspiration with "bribing the fireflies" if i hadn't read your poem i might have never started writing poetry and how had i survived this... smiles

  13. Ah..Claudia..i have come to know you through your poems and comments for only 3 months now..but i feel like i know you from a long shows how generous heart you have..loved this i can relate to you in much better your poems...hope to see you soon here in India..smiles..

    Sherry what a wonderful interview you have here..thank you for bringing this one..:)

    1. my husband was in india once and he brought me an indian shawl and a dress in beautiful colors..

    2. One of our poets, Scott, said in an interview, that if you can only go one place in your life, let it be India - aswirl with so much life, and beauty.

  14. Absolutely one of my favourite people online - and since I don't live that far away from Basel, I hope I may still get to see Claudia in the flesh one day! A lovely, unrushed, chatty interview with so much fun and mutual respect - thank you!

    1. oh it would be so cool if we could meet someday... just met bill of bwfiction in basel last weekend... that was great

  15. Claudia is always an inspiration. Claudia is so at home with varied topics that one wonders what else is new to her. Not just that Claudia sketches beautifully. Ink and water color is not an easy medium. Thanks for showing the way Claudia and thanks Sherry for featuring her!


    1. smiles... true... i find watercolor a fascinating medium - and it's easy to wash away - important for me as i tend to get messy when i'm excited...ha

  16. Claudia, I am so glad Sherry did this interview with you. You are such a talented person. I know about you and your poetry at dVerse, though I am seldom over there now as I have limited time online. I loved your sketches, there's a vibrancy and a child-like earnestness in it, and your use of colours.
    And Bukowski happens to be one of my favourite poets too, because like you said, his poetry is raw and real. Thanks for this interview. And Sherry, thank you too. :)

    1. thanks... i love that you mention child-like earnestness... i really wanna keep a child-like curiosity when i look at the world... and i would love to be able to illustrate a children's book one day... one of my many dreams...smiles

    2. Happy you liked it, Lee San. Claudia, I can TOTALLY see you doing an illustrated children's book one day. Your art would lend itself so well to that and there is a good market for children's books.

  17. Claudia is one of my favorite poets - online or off - her work has such an immediate intimacy - filled with whimsy sometimes but as much powerful truths too - thank you, Sherry, for such an open conversation and interview. Lovely chat between talented poets - was fun to eavesdrop! smiles - K

    1. thanks kathleen - and sherry asked just the right questions...she put a lot of effort into this interview and i appreciate that a lot

  18. Lovely interview with Claudia who is so busy but manages to run dverse poetry site as well.Her whimsical poetry and charming water colours are little gems.
    Bukowski is a favourite of mine as well. Thank you Sherry for a great interview and
    thank you Claudia for all your effort in providing a pub venue where poets can hang out!

  19. thanks for your kind words cressida... bukowski always gets me writing - when i read his poetry i just wanna grab a pen and write too - that happens with no other poet - i find this amazing but not sure what it is exactly that makes me react in such a way..

  20. Such a lovely conversation in here, folks. Makes my day! I always say, I have the best job in the world! These interviews are the highlight of my week, and it is always my privilege and pleasure to feature the talented members of our community.

    1. you do what you do with all your heart sherry - and that makes the big difference

  21. Great interview guys, what a treat. Like you Claudia, I also have a sensitive nose and am terrible with orientation. Even with a GPS I still manage to get lost. Love that you were so brave to talk about your relationship with your husband (especially the difficult times). Kudos to you. You rock.

    1. it was a decision to share those difficult times but i'm glad i did - i got so many encouraging comments and email as well...
      and my bad orientation put me more than once into loads of trouble...ha... i could tell many stories that are only funny in the afterglow...smiles

  22. i love dverse poets Claudia!! i read all about your intro there... its so cute and funny and to the point... made me smile like a moon cat!! i really enjoyed this interview... thanks a lot sherry!!

  23. Claudia, it's great to learn more about you...I'm now a follower of both your blog and DVerse, which I was not aware of so thank you for talking about it! Your poetry has such a fresh and modern feel and I really enjoyed what you shared here. I also love your comment about "walking the edge between truth and imagination"...that's exactly what poetry does for me, too. Wonderful interview!

    1. nice to meet you sherri... sometimes there's just such a thin line between truth and imagination that i even mess them up a bit..smiles

  24. Reading the poem you wrote about you and your husband's relationship...beyond the frayed parts...brought tears to my eyes. You lay yourself out there so courageously, Claudia...that's why we love you...and your writing. Nice to get to know a little more about you.

  25. I, too, thought it courageous, and was humbled by Claudia's trust in us in sharing. I clicked my heels like Glinda the Good Witch when I read the poem about the breakthrough and the return. Thanks for being so real, Claudia. I admire you for that so much.

  26. Any encounter with Claudia is always a delight! And so is this one. Thank you both for this frank yet tender interview.

  27. Nice to read about you, Claudia. I'm your fan, always trying not to miss a new poem....feel behind your poetry the big heart and the desire to share your perception of life with others...and the sketches - like sparks from the childhood - love them!
    Thanks for the interview, Sherry and Claudia!

  28. Oh Sherry this is a true feast...enjoying everyone's comment here....and Brian is without net... :(


This community is not meant to be used in a negative manner. We ask that you be respectful of all the people on this site as each individual writer is entitled to their own opinion, style, and path to creativity.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Archive