The generosity of madmen
--whether born or made so--
is like a pitcher overturned,
sweetness wasted in the sharing.
I'm not about to mistake straitjackets for haute couture;
I am as hard and closed as a policeman's nightstick.
Still, you can lay naked in the spring grass,
holding a hymnal and a caramel.
Pretend yourself a parrot, all colors.
I will still be the crow from whom the night borrows its darkness.
When you have gone, I will play ancient games
with dying cicadas.
The years will fold themselves into pastries
the crumbs of which I horde and never drop.
Go, parrot. And this time
do not leave open my coat of poems
with sleeves like shaded roads, and wool like forgotten noons.
But if you do, I will have been right in my manic certainty
that you would make me cry in the end.
Sherry: Oh my goodness! The "coat of poems"! "Wool like forgotten noons!" I don't know how you do it. I am just so very glad you do, and that we get to read you. Tell us, Poet, your thoughts on poetry.
Shay: Poetry to me means being fearlessly honest, including and especially about difficult subjects. It means passion and energy and brevity. By that last I mean saying what you have to say in a succinct and powerful way, not losing or diffusing your point with meandering fluff. (I re-read my first solo book and think, oy, where was an editor when I needed one?)
I get ideas from almost anything. It's like....I'll be watching a movie and something will send my imagination into a big long tangential invention of my own and by the time I blink and come back, I have to rewind because I daydreamed through the last 15 minutes of the movie. A word, an image, a song, anything can send me off to the races.
When I know I've gotten it just right--which isn't that often--it's a fantastic feeling. This will sound horribly immodest, but when that happens, I think, "Damn, I'm good!" It's a great feeling. And that confidence, that ego, are what make me feel like I can say something difficult well the next time. Fear paralyzes writers. I have become fearless in my old age. (I also realize that there are a thousand things I am NOT good at. But I am good at this one thing.)
Sherry: To your followers, it seems like you get it just right every time, and we are astonished by that fact. And so impressed!
What is your take on blogging? Has the online poetry world impacted your work?
Shay: Blogging has been wonderful for my love of poetry and for writing my own. Poets like Hedgewitch and Mama Zen push me and always have. I read something fantastic that they have written and I am 1) thrilled for them and 2) eager to try to match it. I'm not competitive with the writers I admire most. I love their successes as much as my own. I'm just saying they spur me to greater efforts. Also, blogging has made me friends who I never would have met otherwise. I don't think poetry blogging has the same energy as it once did, though. I am not as into it as I used to be, but I do keep my hand in.
Sherry: I don't think blogging has the energy it once did either - but we are ten years more tired too........I loved those heady days! I will always look back on those years with gratitude, when the world of online poetry opened its doors to me.
I like what you say about not feeling competitive with the poets whose work you admire most. I feel the same way (about your work, for example.) It would be like trying to compete with a star, rather than enjoying its beauty and perfection in the sky. I just glory in their (and your) talent.
Thank you for this chat, Shay. Online poetry, as you say, introduced me to friends all over the world I never would have met otherwise. My life has been so much richer for it.
Let's see what Mama Zen has to say, shall we?
Let's see what Mama Zen has to say, shall we?
Snoopy - who cracks me up!
The buck, throat cut,
bleeds out about six.
Half-hidden in nightfall,
I redden a stick
and dampen the doorway -
a Sunday school lesson
Sherry: Yes, may bad things pass over our homes and our lives, though it feels like the whole planet is in peril these days.
Would you share your thoughts about poetry with us? Your poem definitely shows the power words have to impact our minds and hearts.
Kelli: Have you ever heard of the Supreme Court obscenity test? In a ruling in the '60s, Judge Potter Stewart wasn't able to define obscenity, but claimed to know it when he saw it. That's kind of how I feel about poetry. I can't really tell you what it is, or what makes it what it is, but I know it when I see it and, more importantly, when I feel it.
Sherry: And the reader, too, knows it when she sees (and feels) it. As in your poem, shared here. Great explanation, Kelli.
Kelli: Without the online poetry world, I'm not sure that I would be writing poetry now. I had written poems and songs in my teens and twenties, but I had given it up to pursue other things. It was the wonderful poets that I met online who inspired and encouraged me to pick up the pen again.
At the moment, I'm taking a break from blogging. I'm homeschooling and doing some political activism, so I don't really have the time to interact the way I would want to if I were posting. I'm still writing, though, so I hope to be able to return soon. And, I miss you guys!
Sherry: Homeschooling and political activism are important, Kelli. We are glad you are still writing, and it is wonderful to know we can look forward to your return. Thank you for saying yes to this short visit. We are so happy to hear from you! We miss you!
Kelli: Thank you, Sherry. And thank you, everyone, for all of your kindnesses over the years.
We hope you enjoyed this exchange, friends. Next week, Marian Kent and Susie Clevenger will similarly share their thoughts on poetry and blogging. Be sure not to miss it!