Monday, September 7, 2015

Blog of the Week ~ An Update with Sherri Brannon

This week, my friends, we are visiting with Sherri Brannon, of Softly Piqued Lens, to find out what she has been up to since our interview in the spring of 2014. Sherri is also a talented artist and photographer, and you will find much to enjoy on her blog, where she states she is "observing the world through a heart-colored lens." I love that! 

Sherry: Sherri, so nice to have you back! Tell us what went on, in the time you were away. I know you moved. Where to, and what is different about it from where you were? What do you love about it? 

Sherri: Thank you, it’s nice to be back. The last year has been a whirlwind – my husband decided to retire five years earlier than planned. We prepped
our house for sale, got it sold, and moved to Florida in three months! My parents already live here in Florida, which is a main reason we chose our new location. That, and the golf for my husband! 

The differences between Virginia and Florida are huge when it comes to weather and landscape. I love Florida because of its warmth, sunshine, and open skies. It’s beautiful. 

Sherry: A huge, life-changing leap! Florida looks beautiful, indeed. As a dedicated sky-watcher, I would be walking around with my head tipped back and my jaw dropped all the time, LOL. 

What drew you back to poetry? I know we all have times when we take a break. Louise Erdrich describes it as times of gestation, akin to being pregnant. Once you got settled, did the poems start bubbling up?

Sherri: The move had a big impact on my creativity for awhile. I think any big life change does that – there’s an adjustment period. But what surprised me
the most was how this change in landscape completely threw off my poetry. In Virginia, my poetry flowed in the winter when I felt a bit melancholy – the bleak landscape and frigid temperatures always put me in that mindset for lots and lots of writing. The sunshine and warmth here in Florida completely took away my poetic muse because there were no winter blues. I still feel as if I’m figuring out how to write poetry with all this sunshine and color everywhere year-round. 

Sherry: Wow! The incredible color and beauty of your sunsets are amazing. I know we share a deep love for the natural world, and this shines through your poems, photographs, and paintings. Are you close to nature where you are living now? Is there a favorite place you have discovered in your new landscape? 

Sherri: The nature here is different, which is another adjustment for me. I miss the trees in Virginia so much. They also had a huge impact on my poetry writing...there’s just something about the woods that is very spiritual for me. Here in Florida, we don’t have any woods nearby, except for the occasional mossy oak in an open field somewhere.

The community I live in is a new one, so there aren’t a lot of trees (except for some palm trees here and there). There are lots of colorful flowers, though. My favorite thing about this Florida landscape is the sky. The clouds, sunrises,
and sunsets are spectacular! 

Sherry: I could live on sunsets alone. Are you still painting? 

Sherri: I’m just getting ready to start some painting again. I’ve become very interested in painting digitally on my iPad with Procreate. I’m taking an
online class in September, and meanwhile I’m experimenting with it and trying to teach myself the basics. I don’t have any paintings to share right now – hopefully soon! 

My other creative outlet has continued to be iphoneography, which I absolutely love. I’m “sherribrannon” on Instagram, if anyone hangs out there and would like to see my feed. 

Sherry: You have some lovely work posted there, Sherri. You have an amazing eye.

I love your recent poem, "The Lonely Hours", and I would love to include it here. Can you tell us a bit about what you were feeling and thinking when you wrote this poem?

Sherri: Thank you, I’m really glad you liked my Lonely Hours poem. This poem has been an idea in my head since last year. With the move, I had put it on the shelf...when I was feeling frustrated about not writing poetry recently, I remembered the idea and just started writing. I’m thankful to this poem for getting me going again. 

It’s hard not to notice these days how focused everyone is on their devices, especially out in public. Everywhere you look, people are tuned out and focused in on their cell phones and tablets. I was at a restaurant recently and there was a family of six beside us. All six of them were on their iphones – there was zero interaction for a very extended amount of time. It was actually kind of sad to observe their complete disconnect from each other. 

We have purged wonder, sitting alone with the silent furniture
in our dressing gowns 
with our firewalls and collecting of Friends
like gold medallions
crafting big words in a Godless code, but saying nothing
spilling our souls from virtual thrones, but no one's listening

There's a loneliness that beats like a second heart
wireless illusions leave us uninspired, so very tired
at the break of dawn, sleeping with the TV on 
playing pretend with our stories
exporting our seeming, deleting our being, 
queuing up our sticks and stones to throw

The doves with tender eyes have gone blind, and
we don't seem to mind 
communion with the stars has gone, and we with 
our cyber wiles, our encrypted smiles and faux glories
reveling in this hum on the earth, this
"you show me your ego and I'll trump yours with mine"

The trees still know everything, outside our curtained windows
offering up their holy treasures to ears gone deaf 
to their lessons...and their hearts must break, as they wait
in every wood, lonely for us listening souls 
with our closed off minds, our tightly closed blinds, 
our numbing escape from the sacred flow.

Sherry: "We have purged wonder." That is a profoundly sad truth. Do you have a couple of other poems you would like to share?

Sherri: I’d love to share two other poems. The first one is called "The Soul Always Knows". Most of my poetry ends up being about my very strong belief that we are all souls having a human experience. Our bodies are simply vessels that contain us while we’re here on earth learning lessons.

Sherry: I share that belief, Sherri.

What calls you to the quiet?
To let go of bone and
Wander with the soul?
To allow her to step
From your waters of
Deep remembering
Feeling safe to speak?
When my bones are weary
They leave an imprint
Sunken and fossilized
Like rib marks pressed
Deeply into the earth

Choose a bone, soul
Says with a whisper
Pry it from the dirt
Petrified and tender
Use it for something
Not intended:
Pick the padlock
Unlock the gate 
From your graveyard
Let flowers spill 
And roots grow, and
Words flow

Through it all, the
Soul always knows
She waits, lamp in hand,
Carrying that elusive key
That often won't fit
Any lock I own
Seeing the whole time that
My chest door is ajar
That the sky hangs there
Lovingly and bright
Like a vast, open prayer
So quenchable that I
Fill my cup and drink it.

Sherry: Sigh. This is utterly lovely - that sky hanging there "like a vast, open prayer." So beautiful! And I love the image of the soul, waiting, holding the lantern, to light our way back to her.

Sherri: The other poem is called “Illuminate” and it’s about my constant struggle with needing to express myself through poetry, but also not wanting to feel vulnerable. My poetry is the most intimate part of me, and there are days when I’m hesitant to reveal it and feel exposed. 

Words spark and flare,
Carving a crack, glowing
Under my breastbone
Illuminating my soul thoughts
Their points of pain and their
Rounds of love, and I wonder
If they'll be revealed, just
As the moon wonders if the
Clouds will expose her tonight.
She turns away her lunar face
Hiding her luminous thoughts,
Those glowing words like maps
Across her surface, parts of
Them leaking gingerly across
The curve of a swan's neck
Gliding on a distant lake.

Some nights the moon hides
With the stars, while others
She makes her presence known
Setting tree tips aglow
Revealing their secrets
While the birds with no names
Turn silent and sleep songless
In the branches.
Some nights my words hesitate
While others they gleam, just
Like the moon shines across
A shy mare in a midnight field,
Her nostrils flaring, her
Hooves restless and stomping
From all she yearns to say.

Sherry: Incredibly lovely, the moon turning her face away, the songless birds, the shy mare in the field. Your poetry is simply beautiful, Sherri. I'm so happy we get to read it again.

Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Sherri: Yes, I’d like to thank Poets United for always being there...this community is like those lifelong friends we all have, the ones who even if you get busy and lose touch for awhile, you can reconnect and pick up right where you left off. It’s a very warm and welcoming circle of people, and I truly appreciate everyone, even if I sometimes take breaks between poetry writing. So, to everyone at Poets United: I am deeply grateful for your online presence.

Sherry: Thank you, Sherri, for your kind words. We are always happy when our friends pop up again. Thanks for sharing your news. We look forward to enjoying your beautiful poems in the months ahead, and sharing in the beauty of your Florida skies through your photos.

Wasn't this a lovely visit, my friends? Lovely poems and spectacular Florida skies! Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. You will miss the seasons. Ocala is far enough north you still might get a bit of a chill but that is about it. The nature there is very different. The trees, or palms. My boys were enthralled with them when we went to Miami this summer as they are too young to remember. Dont worry, I am sure you will find much inspiration down there. I did even on my week visit this summer. Its a different mix of people too. And lizards everywhere. Ha.

    1. I will especially miss fall - we will definitely be planning some trips north when the leaves turn, so I can get my fix. Oh yes, lots of lizards...and frogs! lol :)

  2. And so, and so I love that the moon needs time alone (dark) just as we do. I love all of these poems about where the words come from, but especially:
    "Like the moon shines across
    A shy mare in a midnight field,
    Her nostrils flaring, her
    Hooves restless and stomping
    From all she yearns to say.
    And gosh! I visited Instagram. Unique work! It would be fun to write poetry to pieces of your art! Thank you for being here.

    1. Thanks so much, Susan - please feel free to write poetry to anything you saw on my Instagram. Let me know if you do, because I'd love to read your words!

  3. That is a cool idea, Susan. I love the passage you quoted too - so evocative. X, I once spent three months in California, and while I found palm trees so exotic (I felt like I was on a movie set!), I missed the seasons and the forests..........everywhere has its own unique beauty. With ocean and sunsets like yours, though, Sherri, you have a lot of beauty to work with. Sigh. I so miss ocean sunsets.

    1. Yep, spent quite a bit of time in Cali as well. It was the traffic that killed me there.

    2. I wish I were on the coast so I could see ocean sunsets regularly! That would completely make up for the seasons and the forests...

  4. Great interview and fantastic poems.

    1. I have tried to comment on your wonderful blog, Sherri, and am following but my comment keeps being returned. Just know I will be lurking in the background reading your wonderful words.

    2. Gail, I'm sorry you were having trouble posting to my blog...I hope the issue resolved itself! And thank you so much. :)

  5. Oh, I do know that big life changes can have an effect on one's poetry. And, indeed, I can see that it would be an adjustment if the nature was different than one was used to. And, ha, I agree with your poem...I continue to try to express myself through poetry as well. The question is, as you said, what to do with one's feeling of vulnerability! You are a wonderful photographer. I will check out your instagram!

    1. Thank you, Mary - isn't it funny how your surroundings directly affect your ability to write and/or feel creative?

  6. Sherri and Sherry what a lovely conversation...the sky is indeed lovely there. And I couldn't agree more with this thought, 'Our bodies are simply vessels that contain us while we’re here on earth learning lessons.'

    The poems and photos were blissful and I am so happy you shared them with us!

  7. A very interesting conversation ladies and amazing photos & three incredibly beautiful poems..."There's a loneliness that beats like a second heart" and "She waits, lamp in hand" will stay with me forever...visited your Instagram Sherri, a sheer delight it is!!!...Thank you both for this wonderful share today :)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my poems and photography - your kind words are really appreciated!

  8. "The shy mare in a midnight field" is such a lovely description of yourself as a poet. Despite my age I still seem to be the skittish colt that can't settle down. Lovely interview again Sherry and thank you Sherri for being able to get to know you better.

    1. Thank you, Old Egg - it is a pretty apt description of who I am as a poet. I like your comparison to yourself as a skittish colt that can't settle down. :)

  9. Thanks, Sherry and Sherri! Lovely to commune here with Sherri B and her beautiful words. In 1998 on a visit to America, I spent time in both Virginia and Florida, and enjoyed the beauty of each. They are certainly very different, though, as you say, and I can see how it would be a big adjustment, going from one place to the other to live.

    1. These two states definitely have distinctly different landscapes - each one beautiful in its own right. Thank you for your kind words, Rosemary. :)

  10. You are most welcome, my friends. I am happy you enjoyed it. I, too, love that line about the shy horse. Very beautiful. I babysit again today but will stop by later to check in...have a good day, everyone.

    1. Thank you for all the hard work you do here, Sherry - it is so greatly appreciated! It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by you. xo :)

    2. The pleasure was all mine, Sherri. I enjoyed every minute!

  11. Sherri, I like your style and your pieces speak well. Glad I could read more about the creative person you are.

  12. Thank you Sherri and Sherry, for such a beautiful uplifting interview~ Yes, the dance of seasonal changes, when we move does stun and shock us. Sherri, your art and words are a gift~

  13. Such amazing work...truly inspired. I love this line so deeply, "There's a loneliness that beats like a second heart" thank you, both, for this amazing interview!

    1. Hannah, thank you so much - I'm so glad my poetry resonated with you. That's always a good feeling!


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