Monday, April 1, 2019

BLOG OF THE WEEK - AN UPDATE WITH CARRIE VAN HORN


This week we are zooming to Texas, to catch up with one of our very first members at Poets United, Carrie Van Horn, who has been with us since 2010.  Carrie has several blogs, including A Net Full of ButterfliesDancing  With Elephants, and What  a Seagull Never Told You. Let's pour a cup of tea and see what she has been up to since we last spoke.







Sherry: Carrie, we last caught up with you in 2016. Would you bring us up to date? How are you doing? 

Carrie: Since then, I have had two major life changing experiences.  I survived Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but most of my belongings and apartment did not.  We moved to a sister apartment for 6 months, but at the advice of my kids, I purchased a house and am blessed to be living in a house in Humble, Tx for the last year. 

Sherry: My goodness! I didn't know you had gone through that! I am so glad your kids convinced you to buy a house, and are now comfortable, safe and sound.

Carrie:  Then it is with a great sorrow I share that we lost my oldest granddaughter Lauren Nicole to addiction last July.  There really are not words to express the heartache of that time.  It has been over 6 months and there is not a day that goes by that the loss is not stirring in our hearts.  I have a poem that I wrote for her; it is called, “Soul Song”.  Lauren loved music, and that is part of what inspired that poem.

Sherry: Carrie, there is nothing more heartbreaking in the world than to lose a child, all that light, all that promise, gone almost before she began to live. I am so very sorry. Our profound sympathy to you and your family.






Neither height nor depth can measure the possibilities of the human soul.
~James Lendall Basford


I am feathered in grief love and longing and I am caged in skin and bone
I hold the knowledge of something greater beckoning me onward
and calling me home.

Life must be perched closely but it cannot be held too tight.
It is a ballad that must not be silent and bird that has to fly.

Birds are kindred spirits never meant to perch right here for long.
As we are called to something bigger, we have a greater song.

This song rises within us like a sparrow unto its nest
Stirring like falling feathers from what once was to what is next.

The soul is a mighty presence that can ride the wind like birds in flight.
It is bigger than scientific theories, yet smaller than our sight.

It is a guest in a God made palace that someday will crumble down.
In a journey full of lessons of being lost and then being found.

For I am feathered in grief love and longing and caged in skin and bone
I hold the knowledge of something greater beckoning me onward
and calling me home.

For Lauren




Sherry: So very moving, and beautiful. "When we are called to something bigger, we have a greater song." She has such light in her face. A beautiful light gone out too soon.


Do you find writing helps you get through the tough times, Carrie?


Carrie: I have found over most of my life, that my muse seems the most alive when I am going through something difficult or heartbreaking.  Writing seems to help me share my feelings of loss and communicate my thoughts of what is happening before me.  So writing truly does help me cope in hard times

Sherry:   Me, too. I seem to process everything in my poems. I don't know what people do who don't write. Thank you for sharing Lauren with us, Carrie. We wish you and your family strength in your grief.  

Let's take a look at your poem “Head In the Clouds”, about being a poet.



I am a poet and if I look right through you like you’re a window 
on a rainy afternoon
It is because my head is in the clouds dear friend
Pondering life like a scientist searches for a cure to the latest disease
I am a poet and if I walk right passed you like a snobby model on her way to 
a runway gig
It is because my head is in the clouds dear friend
Noticing the smallest things around me that inspire a poem
Like a geologist excavating through the smallest of rubble for bones
I am a poet and if I seem quiet like a shy child out in the city
It is because my head is in the clouds dear friend
My thoughts are louder than the voices around me
Like drums in a flute festival they drown out all other sounds
I am a poet and if I watch you like a kitten watches the red dot
It is because my head is in the clouds dear friend
Like a lover is fascinated by his latest love,
I will make you immortal in one stanza of poetry.



"This is Chance.
He is the sweetest dog ever."


Sherry: I so relate to looking through people because one’s head is in the clouds. Smiles.  I love the line about making someone immortal in a stanza of poetry. And I love your sweet boy, Chance.

How has blogging impacted your work and your life?

Carrie:  What I have loved about blogging is that from the beginning I felt it gave me a voice out beyond my desk; an audience that was truly listening, and could relate to me as a writer.  It has been such a blessing to meet so many other talented and inspiring writers at Poets United and all over blogger and word press. It has enriched my life and my writing in so many ways.   I have made so many amazing friends, and all of these gifted people have inspired me so much!  

I have definitely written more over the years because of all the great prompt sites, like Poets United, Imaginary Gardens, Magpie Tales, and many more.
  
Sherry: Me, too. I have written more since I came online than in my whole life before.

You have written very movingly about having lost your mother young, which impacted you profoundly.  Your prose piece “The Remembering”, and your poem “It Takes a Village” talk about this. Let’s look at the poem:


IT TAKES A VILLAGE         


If we lose our mother young
we search our whole life for her
in the faces of strangers
in the arms of those we hold dear
all the roads we take
lead to questions
we never ask
the silence of the unknowing

becomes the song we always sing
yet somewhere in the place
of holding on and letting go
we find
that she is all around us
in the void there is an outpouring
that fills up some of the empty places
women have a way of nurturing
the lost child
like the lioness in the pride
will care for another's young
the motherless child
will grow up
and one day
look back
and realize
they found many mothers
God provides one way or another
and that is the answer
to the questions
of a lost child.


Sherry: Beautiful, Carrie. This is very moving. 

Carrie: The poem was written for a photo prompt site I started with a fellow friend and blogger, Chrissa at Moon Pools and Mermaids.  I had recently written an essay about the memory of my Mom, who passed away when I was 9 years old, and the feeling I had over the years of grief was fresh on my mind.  The photo of the child reminded me of how in my loss of having a mother, many women came into my life, that became mentors, encouragers and true mothers.  The poem just grew from there. 

Sherry: It is wonderful how life sends us the people we need. I am glad other mothers found you, Carrie.

Carrie: It is a subject I have written about more than a couple times, because it was such a defining part of, not just my childhood, but my whole life.  I am delighted you loved it.

Sherry: I am wondering, thinking about this event in your childhood, when did you begin to write poetry? Do you remember that first poem and what it was about? How big was discovering poetry in your life?

Carrie:  A wonderful question Sherry.  I remember it very clearly.  I was 11 years old.  My father had just re-married, and due to a shortage of space at home for my 2 step brothers, my brother, and me, I had to give up my room.  All my belongings got packed up except clothes, so I did not have my toys to play with anymore.  I always watched a lot of television, and did some reading, but one day in boredom I sat at a desk and for no real reason, decided to write a poem.  

We lived in Sanger Tx and had a large piece of property.  It was an old house, and there were many wonderful trees.  I decided to write about my home and the trees.  It was called my forever home, and after I was finished, it made me feel good inside.  My love of writing grew from there, but I went many years without writing from my later teens to 30.  Most of my writing started in my early 30s.

Sherry: Is there another poem you would like to share with us? 

Carrie: I guess the extra one I added at the beginning about sweet Lauren could be that one, but if you are okay with me adding another one here, then I would choose, “The Only Way Out is Through”  It was written about my experience in Hurricane Harvey.



"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

A wise poet once said, "The only way out is through",
 and when it comes to flooding that can be very true.
Sometimes you turn around and leave the way you came
and others it surrounds you and there is no quick escape.
You can start to wade through it or try to walk against the tide
but when it comes to flooding you're better off with a boat ride.
So as you hold your two allotted bags and leave the home you knew
remember with most recoveries the only way out is through.




The view of our apartment before we were rescued out by boat.
(Keep in mind this is on stilts already.  That is how high the water was already!)


It seems that the only time I get in a boat is to escape flooding.  I went through this a year and a half ago and again recently with "Harvey".  You do not realize how powerful water can be until you see it rush through an area and take up the land like a raging giant. I have grown to have a very respectful fear of water.  Frankly sometimes I feel like moving to Arizona, but all my family is here and here is where I will stay, just not on the lower floor of these apartments.  So many people in this area are trying to completely start over their lives with new homes or gutting out and rebuilding the ones they are in.  So much loss and so much to do to renovate and move on.  It is much like true recovery, where one must face the problems at hand, dig through the rubble, endure the cleanup, and carry it through to completion.  Like so many solutions in life, truly the only way out is through.

Sherry: Yes, there are times when the only way out is through. That water was deep! How scary!

Congratulations on having a book out, Carrie. It is beautiful. I love the title!
   





Sherry: What other interests do you pursue when you aren't writing, Carrie?

Carrie: Over the last few years, I have been delving in drawing. My mother was an artist, and it has always fascinated and inspired me. It does not come natural for me, but I enjoy it.





Sherry: It's wonderful you share that gift with your mother, Carrie. Your work is beautiful! It must be so satisfying, creating something with your imagination that wasn't there before. Much like a poem, come to think of it.

Number one destination on your Bucket List?

Carrie: I would love to go to Ireland. That is where the grandmother I was named after was from. Carrie Lee Meredith.

Sherry: Best book you've read recently?

Carrie: I know it sounds bad, but I do not read much. The last book I read cover to cover that I loved was "The Secret Life of Bees".

Sherry: Favourite song?

Carrie: I have many songs I love, but I guess if I had to choose a favorite it would be "Stones In the Road" by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Sherry: Thanks for this visit, Carrie. We would like to thank you for your loyalty all these years. We love your poetry and are so lucky we get to read it! Is there anything you'd like to say to Poets United?

Carrie: I am very honored to be featured here at Poets United. So many other poets inspire me so much at PU and I am blessed to be part of such a great writing community. Thank you, Sherry, for all you, Mary, Susan, Rosemary, Sumana and Magaly do to keep Poets United thriving.

Sherry: Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing your work and your thoughts here today, my friend. It has been such a pleasure.

Wasn't this a wonderful visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


30 comments:

  1. What a survivor Carrie is! I’m so sorry to hear about her oldest granddaughter and love ‘Soul Song’, which is a very touching tribute to her. ‘It Takes a Village’ brought a tear to my eye.

    I agree with Carrie about the muse being most alive in difficult or heartbreaking times, and writing helping one to cope. I am so glad that she has found a new home after all the upheaval caused by Hurricane Harvey and congratulations on the book.

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    1. Thank you Kim. It has been wonderful to be settled in to a house. There are so many I know that have had to be in limbo for such a long time.

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  2. Yes, a true survivor! Thank you, Carrie, for sharing with us, for your wonderful poems, and for hanging in with us through these many years. We appreciate you!

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    1. I appreciate you all as well Sherry! Poets United and all the bloggers have been such a blessing to me. Thank you for featuring me, and for all you do Sherry. You are such an encouraging writer, friend, and a true inspiration!

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    2. It's my pleasure, Carrie. I love my job! Makes me feel useful!

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  3. In reading this wonderful interview with Carrie, it occurred to me that many of us write prolifically when going through hard times, like grieving. I am sorry for the losses you have suffered, Carrie, but so glad you are a survivor.

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    1. Thank you so much Sara, and you are right I think many of us do write prolifically when facing hard times.

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  4. Carrie, you have such strength. One never knows what can be weathered until a storm gives no other choice. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your granddaughter. You’re writing is so beautiful. I don’t think I can choose a favorite one out of those you shared. Thank you for sharing your voice with us. Oh, and what beautiful artwork! Thank you Sherry for these amazing interviews where we get to learn more about our talented friends.

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    1. Thank you so much Susie, I feel the same way about you. You have been through so much, and I do think you are so right, we never know what we can weather until the storm is upon us.

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  5. Susie, it is lovely to see you here, another of our talented early members. I have admired your journey, too, in all you have been through. It is amazing to watch all these poets and your journeys, both in life and through your poems.

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  6. Wonderful interview with a beautiful person. You are an inspiration to me my friend. :-)

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  7. This was a lovely interview, yes – but I'm so sorry about the hard times you've been through, Carrie, and glad you have survived and keep writing. Your poem for Lauren is particularly beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much Rosemary! I appreciate your kind words and I know that you have been through your own losses, and know it's true sting. :-(

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  8. Knowing these things about you, Carrie, makes me admire you and your writing even more. Pain spills ink, that is known. But when pain spills ink that it healing... well, that is a miracle--especially after having lived through so much. The poem for your granddaughter is a heart squeezer.

    Thank you for a great interview, Sherry!

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    1. I admire you Magaly! You are one of the people that I read and know that inspire me through and through.

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  9. Beautiful interview, drawings and poetry!

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  10. What a lovely, supportive, affirming community we have. These lovely comments make me very happy. You all shine!!!

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss. You have gone through so much. Sending you love and prayers. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    Thank you, Sherry for a heartfelt interview.

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    1. Thank you Ayala for your sweet words and prayers! 🙏

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  12. Carrie, my heart goes out to you and your family for your losses and pain. I am so impressed with your positive spirit and energy that exudes from your poetry in spite of the sadness that you've lived. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. How nice that amidst all you've gone through, you've written a book and you enjoy drawing. You've found ways to bring healing.
    Sherry thank you for this interview. So delightful.

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  13. Thank you Myrna. I know you have had your losses as well. I am thankful for so mamy inspirimg friends and poets like you!

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  14. Coming out of a couple of topsy-turvy days, but so pleased that I remembered that you were catching up with Carrie this week, Sherry.

    What a beautiful and poignant share. I know, from my own relationships: addiction is a terrible thing. For a user caught in the throws of this cruel disease and for family members - it imposes such overwhelming feelings of helplessness and despair that, at times, it takes every ounce of strength to rise and face another day. My heartfelt condolences at the tragic lose of Lauren Nicole. 'Soul Song' is so poignantly beautiful. Knowing what I do about the manifold impact of this illness, I was profoundly affected by your words, Carrie. This old world, has become a very hard place for our young people to navigate, safely.

    Thank you for this piece, Sherry and Carrie. 'The only way out' begins with honesty and truth … and you have done that here.

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    1. So glad you came by Wendy, and thank you for your warm thoughts and kind words. You are right this old word has become a very hard place for our young people to navigate safely. Sadly so very true.

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  15. Carrie, it must be very hard on you, but you are a strong woman.
    i think writing, especially poetry, helps to cope with grief and loss and anger. i know it helps me. Thank you for sharing your poems with us in this feature. The moving poem for your granddaughter brings a lump to my throat.

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    1. Thank you Cheong. You are very right poetry and writing does help.

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  16. Thank you Sherry for such a beautiful interview with such a kind and caring person such as Carrie. I am blessed work with Carrie and have her as a friend. She is truly a strong person and always thinks of others. Carrie has encouraged me to try writing and drawing and I hope to continue in this and inspire to get to her level. A great read on a great person. Carrie you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you both.

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    1. That means so much to me Regina! You are a blessing to know as a friend and co-worker and you truly inspire me. I am glad you are writing and drawing. You are very talented in so many ways! Thank you so much for your sweet words dear friend!

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