Monday, October 13, 2014


I have a  super-exciting treat for you this week, kids. Recently, our very own Poets United staff member, Rosemary Nissen-Wade, who writes at The Passionate Crone (well-named!), co-produced an ebook which is a blend of four poetic voices, long-time friends, who took their writings from this past April and produced the most marvelous book. Their facebook book launch was a huge splash, which garnered international attention. I asked Rosemary if she might like to chat about how the book came together, and she said "Ta, happy to!" So here we go.

Sherry: This is very exciting, Rosemary!! How did this book, with the voices of you four friends, come about? Whose idea was it to combine your voices, and how did it build from there?

Rosemary: It was Delaina's idea. She suggested it to the rest of us and we were immediately enthusiastic.  Let me quote from our preface:

"Since 2008 poet Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides, a section of the Writer’s Digest website, has been hosting an annual April Poem A Day Challenge, during National Poetry Month. For poets online, it has become an international event. There is also NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, started by poet Maureen Thorson. 

"In April 2014, the four poets in this book took part in these challenges. Americans Leigh Spencer and Delaina Miller, and Australian Rosemary Nissen-Wade, participated in the Poetic Asides challenge; Australian Helen Patrice followed the NaPoWriMo prompts. 

"We are friends who love and admire each other's work, so this year we decided to put together a book of our April poems — this book." 

The PAD poems were judged by guest poets for possible inclusion in an anthology. My "The Basics"  made it into the top ten for the "back to basics" prompt! That doesn't put it in the anthology, but is still very gratifying.

Sherry: Fantastic, Rosemary! So now,  let's introduce the poets, and pick a fave poem from each of you.

Rosemary: Before this launch began, someone raised the question of which poems of each other's we like best. I'm very keen on pretty much everything these women write — certainly everything they've got in this book — so it's not an easy question. But yes, after thinking about it, I can narrow it down to some favourites.

Sherry: I can hardly wait! I can't get over how accomplished you are, individually and as a group.

The Passionate Crone

Rosemary: The others were particularly moved by my "Since You Left". They said they liked the conversational tone and lack of drama, which they felt made it all the more moving. They also described it as 'raw'. (Leigh is also very keen on "Favourite Monster", about Godzilla.)

Since You Left
Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Life goes on, and that's the trouble.
You never saw the four new pictures on the wall,
the ones I love the most. You never met
all the new friends I've made these last 18 months,
and the new next-door neighbour. I know
you could not have imagined the various new
directions I'd take, the old I would abandon.

You must have thought I'd stay
right where you left me — but stuff keeps happening,
and even the cats have made their adjustments.
We have different routines now, becoming habits,
new, unexpected ways of doing our lives.
Who ever thought I'd be so independent?
You, perhaps — stepping back and allowing for it.

You told me I could do it, and I do.
You, my greatest cheer-leader, had no doubt.
But me, I seldom thought beyond your end.
It was getting us both through those hard days
that occupied me then. I forgot
that laughter could come again, and books
I'd love to read, and new poems.

And it's all good, as they say. Except when it's not.
I have so much abundant love in my life,
I should be ashamed of ever complaining. And yet
you are not here and never will be again in this life.
Don't tell me you're still with me in spirit! I know,
but it isn't the same. It's ordinary you I want to talk to
about the cats and pictures and books; that you I want to hug.

Since you left, I do this crazy thing.
I talk to you in my head. When I'm alone, I do it
out loud, and the cats understand, or at least don't question.
But it's you who have stayed where you were
when we said goodbye. You do not accompany me
on the rest of this journey; I'm going it alone.
And it sucks, do you hear me? It fucking sucks.

Rosemary's book, "Secret Leopard", is  available through Amazon
Some newer collections of poems are available for reading or download at Rosemary's Chapbooks. Other places to find her work are listed on her website and on her blogs.


Rosemary: I think Delaina is the most romantic of us all, at least in this collection. I love her love poems, particularly "If I Were a Love Poem", "An Owl in Love with a Deer" and "Tell It to the Lips". But most of all I love the poem to her nephew, "My Knight in Teddy Bear PJs", for its tenderness and affectionate humour.

An Owl in Love with a Deer
Delaina J. Miller

Oh me, I’m an owl.
I sleep at night so I can follow a deer.
Don’t worry, I still have my insight.
That is how I found her sheltered grace.
There was a spark full of magic
right from the start, my heart had the wisdom

not to hesitate. I’m born with this wisdom
being an owl.
One look and I saw the magic
in her doe eyes and thought: “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo dear!”
A thousand winks I would miss, just to see her golden grace.
My feathers ruffle with the desire she incites.

So lucky I am to have this great insight
this intuitive wisdom
to know change has its grace.
The mysteries of life are shown to an owl
just as tenderness and tenacity are common to a deer.
Besides, her eyes cast a spell — magic

it was — truly and indeed magic.
Her agile and vigilant insight,
common in a deer,
gave her the wisdom
that something was afoot with this goofy owl.
But she showed the grace

not to laugh as I swhoo-hoo-hoo-hoon in her grace.
Maybe, just maybe she felt some magic
for this birdbrained Great-horned owl.
We both have the insight
and the wisdom
to know the transitions will be fierce for an owl and her deer.

But what does it matter if an owl loves a deer?
Love is grace
and life is for wisdom.
It is passion and magic
that makes insight
and devotion true for an owl

for me, and even you. Together owl and deer
inspire insight with grace
as they frolic in a world of magic and gentle wisdom.

Delaina's blog:
Delaina's Amazon page:


Rosemary: Helen is often funny; and she tells it like it is even when she's being metaphorical. She loves and lives with a number of cats and one dog. I enjoy her descriptions of them, which often raise a chuckle, as in "Rexy The Killer Chihuahua" and "Baby Longs to Be Admiral". But I most love her passionate wildness, which is often allied with her magickal/mystical spiritual path. She's also a fiction writer and sometimes blends poetry and fiction, to thrilling effect. "Passion, Madness, Orchids" (such a great title that we considered using it for the whole collection) is practically a novel as well as a psychological study, told in beautiful language, vivid images, and only 18 lines! My very favourite is "Call of the Hunt", a stirring fantasy about Dianic witches, that calls to me too. I could read it over and over; in fact I do.

Call of the Hunt
Helen Patrice

Hounds baying from a distance, drawing closer.
She kisses her husband, but must go.
The peace of home,
the quiet songs sung to children before bed
There is no cure for this love of the Goddess.
She is wife and mother,
but also of people,
who run to the Moon.
Out the door into wild night.
She is barefoot, naked,
and this love is ferocious and wild.
She joins the Hunt
across fields and towards the hills.
Faster, as civilisation tears away.
The heights, the heights!
With the others, she screams,
chants from an ancient language.
Amongst them, a shining woman,
running easily, calling her dogs.
They reach the summit,
and She is gone from them,
ascended along moonbeams.
The women fall, spent,
crying to Her:
"Take me with you!"
They sleep in the Moon's light,
and tomorrow will go back
to house, well water,
the hard work of living.
Tonight is theirs,
and this greater love.


Rosemary: Leigh is wicked and witty, yet doesn't shrink from the deadly serious. I admire her in both modes. I adore "Why Buy the Cow?" I think any woman must. It's feminism dressed in both humour and unassailable logic. And I'm stunned by the depth and truth of 'The Monster Collective’, an examination of Naziism. I also have a soft spot for "Tomorrow" with its blend of joyousness and irony. But my greatest favourite is "Apple (Ode to a shelter dog)". I'm a cat person but I appreciate dogs too. By the end of this poem, I think any reader would fall in love with Apple — and also with Apple's human.

Apple (Ode to a shelter dog)
Leigh D.C. Spencer

Her intake picture looked pathetic – old stray dog
Fat chiweenie girl was meant to be someone’s companion
So we drove an hour to the shelter
To be sure her hope wasn’t lost
Tested her spirit with our whole family
Appreciation shone in her cloudy old eyes

Cataracts also shone in those sweet eyes
This was a fat, lumpy, very old dog
With manners that say she came from a family
Tail wagging, child following, happy little companion
How on earth was she lost?
Picked up as a stray and dumped at the shelter?

Is a cage with food and a cold, wet concrete floor really shelter?
Strange noises and smells make fear visible, even through blind eyes
Love, warmth, security, her life before – lost
But her tail never stops wagging, silly hopeful dog
She’s still an enthusiastic companion
Just waiting for her chance to show a new family
I have to wonder, sweet as she is, about her family
How they let her end up here, a death row dog, at the shelter
So gentle, she immediately chose the spastic 4 year old as her companion
Before age clouded them, did she look lovingly upon a similar child with those kind eyes?
She’s a tolerant, non-growling, mellow gem, this dog
Did they even look for her when they discovered what they lost?

Maybe the puppy glow is what was lost
Did fatty tumors and bad teeth revoke your place in the family?
I like you, old girl, so much better than a yappy younger dog
But so many like you end up here, in the saddest wing of the shelter
I must see the world with different eyes
How do you put an age limit on a loyal, spunky companion?

No worries, pretty girl, you’ll again be someone’s faithful companion
And this time to one as faithful as you, never again to be lost
You’ll be cherished and know love until the final close of your eyes
However long or short that may be, we’re your last family
I promise a soft bed, a place on the couch, affection, and treats – a true shelter
Befitting such a happy, loveable dog

A dog is the most forgiving, resilient companion
Even in the shelter, when all comfort and hope seem lost
Their eyes alight with joy, trust, and devotion when they recognize they again have a family

Leigh's book, Tequila and Cookies:

Sherry: I adore this poem (of course!). What a groovy, accomplished and intriguing group you are, Rosemary! I can only imagine the magick, if you are ever all in one place at the same time. You four produced a wonderful video for your book launch, with each of you reading your work. Let's include this, for everyone's enjoyment.


Sherry: Wonderful! What a professional job you four pros did on every facet of this launch. My hat is off to you all! Speaking of which, my fave part is you in the witch's hat! 

How did you arrive at what would be included in the book? Did each of you decide on your own poems, or did you all reach consensus on which of everyone’s poems would be included? 

Rosemary: We each decided on our own. Absolutely self-selection.

Sherry: Are all of the April poems included?

Rosemary: No, not all. There were a few the authors weren't too happy with. However, for the most part it seemed that — felicitously! — we were all writing particularly well this April, so most got in. We were not necessarily limited to 30 poems each. The Poetic Asides prompts always include "Two for Tuesday" where you have the option to write one or two poems on opposite points of view, e.g. a love poem and/or an anti-love poem. (I sometimes wrote both points of view into one poem.)

So in fact we don't each have the same number of poems included. We weren't worried about being "fair" in that way, only about showcasing our best efforts. There is no obvious unevenness. This is partly because the poems are all different lengths anyway, including some quite long and some very small — but it is primarily because Delaina did a magnificent job of arranging the sequence so that there's a flow of themes. This also disguises the fact that Helen was writing to a different series of prompts from the rest of us, and shows the deeper and truer connections that do exist.

Delaina offered to try doing the preliminary arrangement, and we were very happy to let her. When she ran it by us, we all thought it was brilliant and didn't change a thing.

Sherry: How many pages in the hard copy book?

Rosemary: My proof copy has 157, including preliminary and concluding pages. There are 138 pages of poems. A chapbook it ain't!

Sherry: I know when people collaborate on such a venture, it tends to bring you even closer, but also can present some tricky moments, in order to reach agreement. As you four were already friends, how was this journey for you? Joyous? Stressful?

Rosemary: It was both joyous and stressful! And it did bring us closer. It was an extraordinary experience in working with others, as there is no competitiveness between us. We are all totally supportive and encouraging to each other. We genuinely adore each other as people and admire each other as poets. And we absolutely "get" each other, so we are able to say outrageous, even insulting things (such as threatening each other with physical violence if we dare to entertain self-doubts) and have it all be completely understood and enjoyed.

We needed to have the ebook ready by a specific date so as to enter it into a competition. This need for haste, coupled with our inexperience in creating ebooks, caused extra stress. The requirements are a little different from print books; we learned as we went along, had to make some alterations (not to actual content) and convince Amazon these were sufficient to warrant updates for those who had already bought a copy.

Most of the real work, the technical manipulation, fell on Delaina. She is one half of a web design company, so it was a short (and practical) step for that company to become our publisher. The rest of us were very involved in discussions but she was the one who had to carry out our decisions, often bit by bit as that was how we recognised the need for each new tweak. So tweaks happened frequently, were both intricate and tedious, and Delaina missed out on a lot of sleep. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that before long we had also set a launch date and started inviting people, so we had to have everything hunky dory by then.

We didn't always agree but we were usually quick to reach consensus. Even when it took longer, the disagreements never got in the way of friendship.

Sherry: You four did very well, Rosemary.

Rosemary: This extended to business arrangements. We did enter into official financial and contractual arrangements with CXD, our publisher. Far from messing up our personal goodwill, it was a case of Delaina and Kristin being over-anxious not to rip off the rest of us, and the rest of us being very concerned that Delaina and Kristin not receive less than their due!

Sherry: I love that! True friends. What was the most difficult part of the process?

Rosemary: I guess the fact that we are geographically separated, not only between America and Australia, but by different States within those countries. So it all had to be done by email, and across different time zones. Before long we used a secret facebook group to communicate about the project; that was a little easier in keeping track of discussions, but we still had some delays between questions and responses due to the time difference.

On the other hand, three cheers for the wonders of technology, which make such collaborations possible in the first place, and allow us to be part of global communities of poets.

Sherry: I so agree! This is all quite astonishing to those of us who lived before computers! What were your feelings on completion?

Rosemary: Absolute exhilaration! 

Sherry: Congratulations to all four of you, for such a wonderful accomplishment.

Rosemary: But then we started all over again. People had expressed interest in getting a printed, paperback version. At first we had thought it would only be an ebook, but then Delaina investigated what else was possible, and the paperback is almost ready to go on the market.

[Note: Since this interview, She Too: Four Voices in (Almost) Harmony became available in book form at Amazon.]

Sherry: It is taking off! The online book launch you four held was an amazement of combined energies, and seemed organized down to the last moment. It must have been exhausting. Did it receive the attention and participation you had hoped?

Rosemary: It was loosely organised and some things prepared ahead of time, but had enough flexibility for us to run with the unexpected. For instance, we could not predict how many people would visit the site at any time, or how talkative they would be. We had to allow conversations to happen organically, and also be ready with topics and activities to fill any gaps and keep things lively.

It was exhausting, yes! But also enormous fun. It received as much attention and participation as we could handle. If any of us were ever to do anything like that in the future, we'd go with one day rather than two. Most sales happened on the first day.

Some people who accepted the invitation didn't turn up (or if they did, just lurked). Maybe they forgot, but facebook sends event reminders and we certainly yelled it from the rooftops, so I don't know what more we could have done. Some people couldn't stay for long, while others hung around, or returned a few times for the fun.

In that respect it wasn't all that different from a "real live" launch, where the rule of thumb is to invite three times as many people as you hope will attend!

At the very least, it raised our profiles, and it was good to interact with some of each other's facebook friends whom we didn't know before.

One very exciting, unexpected thing was that several people bought the book early and started reading it at once, so they were commenting on and asking questions about specific poems, and even rushing to review us on Amazon and other places.

Sherry: How absolutely wonderful! You four are an inspiration! You show what can be done, successfully and with good will. And considerable hard work!

Rosemary: The ebook is available at Amazon (with sneak preview "Look Inside"), Google Play and iBooks

Sherry: Bravo, Rosemary, to all four of you wonderful women. May you sell many copies. But it sounds like the real fun was putting the book together! And the launch! Thanks for sharing the fun and the process with us. 

Well, kids, does this blow you away, as it does me? The energy of these dynamic women! I may have to stop moaning about being tired and get to work! Do come back and see who we talk to next. I don't know what I'll do, after this, but who knows? It just might be you we talk to next!


  1. great work ladies!!! you are our inspiration:)

  2. This was wonderful to to read, Sherry. I loved reading about the process & the outcome; and it was a joy to read the four poems shared.

    Rosemary, I think I have read "Since You've Left" before, and I find it very moving. So true that the one who passes stays as they were but the one left behind changes and grows in ways that they had not expected. I think this is a poem many can identify with.

    Leigh, I really liked "Ode to a Shelter Dog." I too have a soft spot for dogs, and it is wonderful that this older shelter dog found a forever home with you. Your poem touched me greatly.

    Delaina and Helen, I enjoyed your poems too, but don't want to ramble forever. It was really wonderful to read this interview. And yes, you are an inspiration.

  3. An interview worth reading…!! Congrats on your new book, Rosemary! Thanks to both of you for sharing this interview--Truly inspiring! Thanks Sherry :)

  4. Congratulations to all four of you for putting the book together. I enjoyed the poems you all shared but was particularly moved by Rosemary's poem. Thank you, Sherry, for this chat.

  5. The looking back part is wonderful isn't it? I had the joy of co-authoring with a dear friend what a roller coaster ride. Thanks for sharing Rosemary and congrats!!!

  6. I am so inspired by and in awe of your energy and spirit, Rosemary. I think of you on days when I feel extra exhausted, and get over myself pretty quickly! I enjoyed watching your amazing facebook book launch, and am so impressed by what you four have accomplished together. Congratulations! I am so happy to have such a cool happening - and poets - to feature.

  7. Wow and wow again. What an amazing interiew and story of friendship and poetry. Thanky you Sherry for this great piece and thank you Rosemary at al for sharing such a rich expeience. Best of luck on your book.

  8. It's not only technology but a true love for poetry, friendship and will power made this magic possible....congratulations ladies!!..a true inspiration you are!!...loved the poems here specially Rosemary's Since You Left...Thanks Sherry for this wonderful conversation...

  9. Thank you Sherry, a wonderful interview! Loved reading about the women and their project!

  10. Congratulations to the Amazing Poets for this Great Achievement and Thank you to Dear Friend Sherry for a fantastic presentation -your work is excellent

    1. Thank you, Anjum - and everyone - truly, I have the best job in the world. It gives me such pleasure and satisfaction to do these interviews every week.

  11. Bravo! Really dynamic women with such a vibrant talents! Enjoyed the reading too! Very special treat! Thank you, Sherry and Rosemary :)xx

  12. Congrats ladies for the launch of your book ~ I am taking my time reading each of your work ~ Cheers to all of you for making this happen ~

  13. Oh, thank you all for these great comments, and Sherry for being a great interviewer. I knew this interview would be posted on the13th - but would you believe, I forgot when the date came. This is because I attended a wonderful workshop the day before, which blew my mind and took a lot of integrating. But I haven't even told the other poets that the interview is here to read! OK, off to tell them now — but as Helen is right now on the way to Paris, she might not get the message immediately.

  14. IA lively Conversations, Sherry. hear your energy in your words always, Rosemary. "Since You Left" is a favorite of mine and I was happy to see it here among the collaboration. Wonderful to have supportive poet friends in a pro-active community. Bravo on the book.

  15. Oh my what a wonderful way to be greeted by the day! Such a fantastic interview and I admit Rosemary with all of your kudos by cheeks are still red.

    Thank you Sherry for supporting us and for you encouraging complements.

    Wow! Thank you again!

  16. "thumbs up"

    great work, ladies! :)

  17. Wonderful interview - terrific examples of poems - Rosemary I remember and love the poem that you chose to include in this interview. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy- a fantastic idea and appears to be a fantastic collaboration/collection. Hooray to Sherry for the interview and to Rosemary and company for the new baby. <3

  18. A wonderful and enlightening interview, Rosemary (and Sherry!). I'm always happy to find out more about the folks whose words I see all the time. And four outstanding works included. I'll be sure to get the book.
    Steve K.


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