Monday, January 30, 2017


Today, my friends, we are paying a visit to one of Poets United's very first members, Barbara Mackenzie, otherwise known as bkm, who blogs at signed bkm. Barbara joined Poets United in 2010, when Robert Lloyd first began the site. She took a few years hiatus from writing, as poets do from time to time, and we were so pleased to see her name pop up again at Mr Linky. I asked Barbara if she would give us an update, and she graciously agreed. Make yourself a lovely cup of afternoon tea, and pull your chairs in close. Let's dive in!   

Sherry: Wonderful to be chatting with you again, Barbara. We last spoke with you in 2011, for our Life of a Poet series. Would you give us a snapshot of your life today? 

Barbara: I live in Northern California in a valley community steeped in farming from nuts to rice to olive oil.  I live with my husband and one rescue dog, a black shepherd named Indy that is a sweet heart.  I am also in the process of getting a new puppy (a cavapoo); she will be moving in the beginning of January.  


Sherry: Oh, my goodness, Barbara. Indy looks like my boy, Pup. And you are so lucky to be getting a puppy! I long for one. Haddie is adorable.


Barbara: I have been retired from Federal Service since 2009 but work part time in town for a Reclamation District that services the rice farmers in the area.  It is just enough to keep my hand in the workforce and socialize.

Sherry: It is nice when we work fewer hours. That works well with the creative process. You were very active in the poetry world, and then took some time away, as poets do from time to time. Tell us about what brought you back?

Barbara: I was very active in 2010 and 2011, writing and experimenting with various forms, then my husband became ill; that took precedence over writing.  Then I had a few health issues myself, but now everything has stabilized with the both of us, and life is moving at a good and healthy pace.  I now have time to listen to the words in my head and let them take form again with time to put them to the page.
Sherry: And we are so pleased to have you back! I'm so happy to know that you have both returned to good health. When did you first begin writing poetry, Barbara? What do you love about it?

Barbara: I began writing a few words as a child, always being drawn to verse and fairy tales.  I loved children’s poetry books and stories and collected and cherish them to this day.  I played with it throughout my life only studying it on my own mainly by reading various poets. 

Drawn of course to Browning, Dickinson, Frost and Millay .  I did not get really serious about it until about 2005, probably because I had more time available.

What I love about poetry is that a whole story can be told in few words, the challenge of expressing a vision and or emotion with few lines is what I love the most. I have never been a lover of novels or long drawn out story telling, maybe because I see the world in snippets of small tiny stories and events that make up the collective which is life.  

Sherry: That is a good explanation! Which do you prefer, when writing a poem, form or free verse?  Is there a form you find most challenging?

Barbara: I prefer free verse as any of those who have read my poetry can note. I occasionally will take on a sonnet or prose form, but prefer to let the words direct themselves and create their own form.  My poetry is how I view the world at that moment; it is up to me to put that view into writing and to let the words speak for themselves as they feel the need. I find writing poetry cleansing and at times a sacred space away from the world.

Sherry: I like the sound of that: a sacred space away from the world. When reading other poets, what kind of poem brings the strongest response from you? 

Barbara: It can be just about any form, but what the words have to do is take me to that place or moment or experience where I can feel, smell or hide in the words. When a love poem can let me experience the touch or warmth of a lover, when a river can beg me follow or I can feel and smell its rush of water or I (become/am) the one looking out a window as the writer and observe the world below with all its happenings and all its color.  I want to be drawn in and left wanting more.

Sherry: That could not be said any better. What impact does blogging have on your work? 

Barbara: Blogging is where all my work winds up. I have not written on paper in quite a while. Not only does it allow me to write quickly and place thought to paper, it allows me to then place it out there into the cyber world and hope that someone enjoys it. I have never published a collection or book of poems, so blogging allows me to set the words free and get some feedback and connect with other poets and, in kind, read their work. 

Sherry: This would be the perfect time to look at a few of your poems.

long sought

do not love me like another or one with feathered hat you bought
love me like the lover your heart has for so long sought
take me to the morning, the one the dawn has yet to kiss,
take me there, there where long since lovers in forever reminisce
held between the moon and midnight, between the stars and eternity
holding my name as your next breathe - is held in sweetest ecstasy...

do not love me like another or one with feathered hat you bought
love me like the lover your heart has for so long sought
give me but the moments that write volumes without end
suspend the ever after knowing full well it shall not come again
let me read within your eyes the words your silent lips dare not address
and press them to the pages that my life will inscribe as - its happiness

no, do not love me like another or one with feathered hat you bought
love me like the lover your heart has for so long now - sought....

copyrighted 2010

Sherry: Oh, so romantic, Barbara. How lovely. 

Mississippi Mud

i have pulled
the bullets from my head
and laid them on
the table

your attempt
to kill me has again failed
(failure) it was you
who chose a white world an unclouded day world
not me - i told you
i preferred black and white - soil
and mud against a purified
parceling - muddy, murky writing, mississippi bottom
mud - Faulkner writing, sweaty,
somewhere between light and dark - somewhere between
living and dying; an unsettling word - don't think you
can hold me against
a white background - an all white background
dressed in white

i don't know that kind'a

copyrighted 2011

Sherry: I can feel the narrator, not wanting to be boxed in, defined, preferring the unsettled, conducive to creative release. Well said! And lastly, we have a poem written more recently, which I really love. Let's take a peek.

clouded heart
do not reprimand me
i have been under the influence
the present moon has rendered me
and unquantifiable


i love you
more than a raining sky loves tears
weeping warm
for a moon covered in the greys
of a clouded heart

how can you fault me for such

loving something so primal
as a moon


Sherry: I adore "i love you / more than a raining sky loves tears." Beautiful. What other interests do you pursue when you aren’t writing, kiddo?

Barbara: I have had many interests throughout the years accompanying poetry. I sang in choirs for years, studied philosophy and human psychology, and am a close follower of Carl Jung’s view of life. I have many interests and consider myself a lifelong learner.  

Currently I have expanded creative forces into quilting, having studied textiles and their design. I am looking now into creating quilts that have a unique form of expression. I especially love the Modern/Abstract Quilts their simplicity and art forms.

Sherry: Your quilts are so beautiful. I imagine that must be very peaceful and satisfying work. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United, in closing? 

Barbara: I am thankful Poets United has always been there, with a place to express oneself and to make it available to be read by others. It has been a place where I have connected and met other poets from across the globe, to not only read their work but understand what is happening in their world.

I am especially thankful for you, Sherry, for all you have done and championed in keeping Poets United going and poets connected; that is a blessing for all of us.  

Sherry: We have a wonderful team, kiddo; I am just one humble part of it. I am so grateful that Mary stepped in to keep the site going when it was looking for an admin. Poets United is one of the great blessings of my life. We are very grateful for founding members like you, who keep coming back. Thank you for this lovely visit. We look forward to reading much more of your work.

It is so lovely, week after week, hearing from both old friends and new, catching up, getting to know each other better with every year that passes. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Thank you for this interview, when I first saw your entries Barbara I realized that here is someone who has been writing for some time longer than I have... I'm so glad every time I see you link up, here or at other places where our paths crosses...

    And thank you for the interview Sherry.

  2. Your poetry, Barbara, is always a pleasure to read and digest. I especially enjoyed... Long Sought. Thanks for another fine interview, Sherry.

    1. Thank you Julian for your kind comments I do appreciate them...bkm

  3. You are most welcome, my friends. It is truly my pleasure.

  4. Good to get to know you, Barbara. I especially enjoy the quilt of very unique poems in here--love and Mississippi mud I can feel. No surprise that the craft of your poems and quilts is similar.

    Thank you especially for
    "give me but the moments that write volumes without end
    suspend the ever after knowing full well it shall not come again"
    " i don't know that kind'a

    1. Thank you Susan I am glad you enjoyed the read...bkm

  5. Wonderful poems, all, and a most fascinating interview about a life richly lived. Great that you and your husband are both restored to health!

    Thanks Sherry, for helping us know Barbara even better.

  6. Ah, what a wonderful interview, Sherry! And, Barbara, nice to see your writing again. Plus....I love those quilts.

    1. Thank you Mary. It is always good to write...bkm

  7. between moon and midnight, muddy, murky writing and loving something so primal as the moon...evocative poetry..a lovely interview Barbara and Sherry.

  8. Yay! I'm happy you enjoyed it, my friends.

  9. a wonderful interview Barbara and Sherry..thank you for sharing your creative world with us nice to get to know you better...

  10. Marvelous interview, ladies! Barbara, I'm glad that you're back!

  11. Great interview! Nice to learn of a poets progression and development. I like your poetry and your unique, personal style Barbara. Glad you're back and healthy. I look forward to more of your writing.

  12. Loved this post with a wonderful poet, whose work has often grabbed my heart and squeezed it until I cried! Thank you for catching us up, and thank you, Barbara, for coming "home." Your quilts are as beautiful as your poems!

    1. Thank you so much Annell. Your words and work hold a special place in my heart...bkm

  13. I so enjoyed this interview. Great job, Sherry! It was delightful being introduced to Barbara - whose poetry I adore. Those quilts look fantastic, as well. What a talented lady!

  14. Nice to know you better, Barbara, and what a history! That puppy is darling!! What beautiful quilts and what talent you have. I enjoyed the poetry and this post. Thank you to Sherry of course!

    1. Thank you Bekkie. That adorable puppy is running really rings around me now...bkm

  15. Oh Bkm I am so sorry I am so late reading your interview! What a treat indeed. I have loved your poetry from hello and am always delighted to see you at prompts. You have been missed greatly in your absence and I am so glad you are back. I just love those quilts! You are multi-talented Barbara! I look forward to reading more and more of your poetry to come.


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