Today we are visiting one of our newer members, my friends. We are flying across the Pond to meet with Vivian Zems, who blogs at Smell the Coffee. Vivian lives in North London. She is also a songwriter, and is sharing two of her songs with us, so let's pour a cup of Earl Grey tea, and dive right in.
Sherry: Vivian, as you are fairly new to Poets United, would you tell us a little about yourself? Give us a little snapshot of your life on any given day, won't you?
Vivian: I’m so pleased to be able to share some of my life with you. I live in North London, United Kingdom. London is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. I liken it to a world stage; there’s always something going on.
I’m a dentist, and split my working life between dentistry and dental hygiene services….and of course, writing. As a mother of five ; four children and one German Shepherd (Zeus), I’m often asked how I find the time to write. My answer: if it’s your passion, you’ll HAVE to do it- it’s that simple.
My routine involves getting to work two hours early every day (it’s the only time I can write), then another half an hour writing/ blogging after work before heading home. I sort the kids out- somewhat (they’re quite big now), make sure Zeus been walked, watered and fed, then we have some family time before bed. At weekends, I’m invaded by teenagers.
Sherry: It sounds like a busy and happy life. You have a beautiful family, and Zeus is a sweetheart! In your bio, I see you are a songwriter as well as a writer. Do you perform your music as well? Tell us a little about being a songwriter?
Vivian: Now this is a funny one. I responded to an ad about converting poems to song by another blogger (Zoolon). And I had one poem ("Older and Wiser") that I really wanted converted. He was perfect and produced and sang the entire piece. For my second song (I’ve Found My Voice), I managed to hum the tune, and worked with another artist to produce it.
I’m completely new to songwriting, and I feel myself bumbling along….but I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve made youtube videos from these songs and hope to add a few more to my channel.
Sherry: Vivian, I am so impressed! You are a beginning songwriter, yet so accomplished. This is a very professional video. And isn't it wonderful how technology allows us a platform these days? I love that this song is about finding one's voice, as well as poetry! Let's look at another.
written and created by Vivian Zems
written and created by Vivian Zems
Sherry: How wonderful, Vivian! Bravo! There is a close connection between songwriting and poetry. When did you begin writing poems? What do you love about it? What makes a poem sing for you?
Vivian: I wrote my first poem in February last year (2017). I don’t know where it came from- it just charged out. Coming from a science background, I’ve never been creative, but always harboured a desire to write fiction. So, it took my friends and family by complete surprise when poetry made an appearance.
I write when I’m inspired. It may be another poem I’ve read, a sentence spoken - anything. It’s made me a better listener. With poetry, I’ve been able to speak from my spirit- unlike prose, where my mind is fully engaged. When reading poetry, if it succeeds in transporting me, it’s accomplished its aim.
Sherry: I like that it makes us better listeners. A good observation. Is there someone in your life you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a writer/songwriter? Someone who encouraged your talent and your dreams?
Vivian: I’ve always been an obsessive reader. I have an insatiable appetite for fiction and, for years, have gone through countless audio books. I believe this has stretched the horizons of my imagination. My cheer leaders are my family and friends who encourage me constantly. Mind you, as this is all new to me, I feel like one who’s discovered buried treasure; I dig daily for inspiration and when I find it, stories and poems just roar out of me.
I’m grateful to God for this gift. Indeed it is a gift, considering that I never knew or enjoyed a line of poetry until last year.
Sherry: I enjoy your amazement. Smiles. I see that you write prose as well. Do you have a different process for each?
Vivian: When I write prose, it’s to a movie that’s playing out in my head. I ‘watch’ the film, then I get to work. Poetry arrives by a different pathway. I call it my spirit - for want of a better word. I’ve really no idea. Mostly, it begins as a burn on the inside, causing me to scramble for pen and paper or my phone...then out it pours. Other poems require some pondering; there doesn’t appear to be a pattern. My song- writing is simply a poem adjusted to fit music of a certain genre, tune and beat.
Sherry: I see you have three books out. Congratulations! The third is a book of poetry. So (this is a leading question, lol) which of the three books is your favourite and why?
Vivian: Haha! The poetry, of course! With the first two - the Shoestring Budget series- I was sticking to facts that I knew and decided to turn them into books. Shortly after, poetry arrived- and I discovered my passion. The poems in Waxing Lyrical were my first 50 poems after that first one in February 2017...so they hold a special place in my heart.
Sherry: Three books and some songs is a wonderful body of work. Way to go! How long have you been blogging, and how has blogging impacted your work?
Vivian: I began blogging in January last year and haven’t looked back since. I believe that reading others’ work and having my writing critiqued has sharpened my skills. It’s also taught me that I’ve still got a long way to go.
Sherry: We all gain so much from sharing our love of words, don't we? Would you like to share three poems with us and tell us a little about each one?
Vivian: The three poems I’d like to share cover the topics of exultation ("Being Canny"), a warning ("Take Heed") and a hope ("Throes of Passion".)
It’s pure ecstasy
to run free within my mind
shutting out white noise
side-stepping anger’s pot-holes
steering my soul heaven-ward
"Being Canny" was born out of a feeling of exhilaration when I barely registered a recent storm of negativity. I’d lost interest fairly rapidly in whatever it was... and the words poured forth.
When your moral compass
just about anything goes
-come what may
Jealousy and pride
become fast friends
anger and unforgiveness
pledge allegiance to the end
The road to destruction
seems paved with vengeance
while the fruits of life
lie rotting in decadence
‘Tis a sorry impasse
to lose one’s moral compass
Take heed and beware
lest you succumb to satan’s snare
"Take Heed" is a warning to myself and society, as a whole. Everyday we face conflict; in our families, in our streets and in our schools, with devastating consequences. I felt the common thread was a loss of our moral compass.
Throes of Passion
If it doesn't whisper in your dreams
waking you up with a racing heart
it's not your passion
If it doesn't make you burn the midnight oil
creating more time out of the ether
it's not your passion
If it doesn't carry you through the air
as if riding a fire-breathing dragon
it's not your passion
If it doesn't resemble a form of madness
causing others to question your sanity
it's not your passion
If it doesn't consume or devour you
blinding you to all around
Do Something Else!
it's not your passion
"Throes of Passion" hopefully speaks for itself. It gives a face to my passion. So if i sound crazy, hopefully you’ll understand.
Sherry: Not crazy at all. Truth. What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?
Vivian: Most things have paled in significance, but I still maintain my love for travel and exploring the world around me. Apart from being an avid reader, I attend a regular poetry meetup where we share our poetry.
Sherry: It's wonderful to share our work with poetry groups in real time. Is there anything else you’d like us to know that I don’t know you well enough to ask?
Vivian: Well, I’m working on my next book, a collection of short stories, and preparing the groundwork for a charity anthology for later this year - or early next year.
I’ve told my children, and now will tell the world; when I go to the great beyond, please make sure I’m buried with pen and some paper; for I’m certain I’ll see something I need to write about!
Sherry: Good idea! You are very prolific. It would be frustrating to find oneself without writing materials. Smiles. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Vivian: I enjoy this platform and love being part of this collective. One day..soon...if someone asks me what I do…. I hope I’ll have the courage to say “Poet!”
Sherry: You are already there, Vivian. You write wonderful poems, which makes you a poet! Not to mention your wonderful music! Thank you so much for this visit, and for your participation at Poets United. We are happy you found us.
Wasn't this lovely, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!
I enjoy these get to know articles... it is like meeting your neighbors... :) Happy to learn more about Vivian and all she has accomplished ...ReplyDelete
Vivian has a ton of talent, in all directions. I, too, really love getting to know peoples' stories. One of my favourite things! Smiles. (I guess I have the perfect job!)ReplyDelete
Thank you for showing us all of Viv's facets, Sherry. She's a rare gem!ReplyDelete
Vivian is quite simply ~ fascinating! Thank you Sherry.ReplyDelete
Oh, how lovely to get to know Vivian even better. She's been such a vibrant presence in the online poetry scene since her recent arrival! And one whose tightly-constructed work I always look forward to reading.ReplyDelete
Ah yes, I remember how delightful it was to be inundated with teenagers at weekends! (My two sons were close in age so their friendship groups overlapped.)
Viv, congratulations on the songs! The videos are lovely, and the musos really do your words justice. Great that you created the tune, too, for the second. And congratulations on the books too! How very enterprising you are. (Smile.)
I'm amazed that poetry burst upon you so suddenly, relatively late in life compared with most of us – and very glad it did.
Talents cannot stand alone. It is always a package that keeps growing.As shown here one touch and it opens another door. You're on for bigger things Vivian. Please don't deprive us of that privilege of seeing more. Good luck to you Ma'am!ReplyDelete
I love that girl! : )ReplyDelete
Another fascinating interview, Sherry. I enjoyed everything about this post: the backstory ... the London pix ... and, of course, the music videos and poetry. What a talented and accomplished woman you are, Vivian. Great job on this, Poets!ReplyDelete
Vivian I have always admired your poetry and now I discover you are song writer and author as well! Meanwhile you are delving in peoples mouths playing with their teeth all the time extracting ideas at the same time. What a great interview this is Sherry it is so beautiful to read of other poets backgrounds and interests.ReplyDelete
I'm happy you are enjoying this visit, my friends. Vivian, you are so talented. Thanks for taking time to share your busy life with us. We look forward to reading many more of your poems. We are happy you found Poets United.ReplyDelete
Oh Vivian! I am so delighted you've found your "fire-breathing dragon"! What a delight! And this reads like good advice for everyone (I know I'll keep this movie in mind): "When I write prose, it’s to a movie that’s playing out in my head. I ‘watch’ the film, then I get to work. Poetry arrives by a different pathway. I call it my spirit - " I love your sense of music, your multi-dimensional mind. Thank you so much for sharing your spirit with us. Bravo! And thanx again, Sherry, for the interviews.ReplyDelete
That is a cool approach to writing a poem. I must try it!Delete
What a spectacular write up Vivian! How marvelous for you. Proud to call you friend.ReplyDelete
I marvel at your talent and accomplishments Vivian. I love your approach to writing.ReplyDelete
Your videos look so professional.
Can't help but wonder how you accomplish so much with the 24 hours we all have.
Sherry - Great interview.
Oh my goodness Vivian.....and you only just started. What a passion is pouring out of you indeed and that poem, Throes of Passion, is perfect. It speaks loudly to me. I loved your description of poetry writing, 'to speak from my spirit'. It is how I feel when a poem finds me and must have a voice. And then there are the songs.....just beautiful.ReplyDelete
Of course I cannot get over how you do it all...I marvel at your work, family and passion all having time. You found the secret to life early it seems. I can't wait to see what else you do, and I look forward to reading your poetry weekly and interacting with you with comments. Thanks Sherry for another fabulous interview!
I am pleased that you have discovered poetry, Vivian. Life will never be the same again.ReplyDelete
You are most welcome, my friends. I so enjoyed putting this feature together. Vivian, thank you for letting us see the poet behind the pen! You are amazing! Full of life force and talent. Yay!ReplyDelete
Wow, wow, wow! What a talented poet you are, Vivian. And I really love your "I've Found My Voice" video. I don't know how you find time for all of the things you do. I understand that if writing is your passion you HAVE to do it I am so glad that you are willing to share yourself and your passion with us at Poets United. It amazes me that you started to write poetry so recently & hope you continue to keep it up. Thanks, Sherry, for this wonderful article!ReplyDelete
My pleasure, my friends.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much everyone!! Thanks Sherry for the feature. I'm chuffed by all your kind comments. I am absolutely going to share this with all my friends and family. I'm so excited......!!!! Thank you ! :) :)ReplyDelete
We are so happy you are pleased, Vivian. Do share it with your family and friends. They will be proud of you and all you have accomplished - and are accomplishing!ReplyDelete
It is so wonderful to learn more about you Vivian! You have an amazing talent and to think you have not been writing poetry long. It truly is a gift. Thank you for another wonderful interview Sherry!!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful interview. Vivian is super talented and I am proud to know her. I first found her on dVerse Poets Pub. She is always so friendly and courteous. Such amazing talent!ReplyDelete
Wow! So wonderful to get to know you better Vivian!And what an enjoyable read! Wow! Thank you ladies....ReplyDelete
nice knowing you, Vivian. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks again guys! I was nearly late with my patients today...showing them the feature. My colleagues at work have all been bombarded with the link! I'm so chuffed!ReplyDelete
It's wonderful getting to know our fellow poets through this window. Congrats to you both, Sherry and Vivian, for opening the window wide!ReplyDelete