Monday, September 23, 2019

ON POETRY ~ WITH MARIAN KENT AND SUSIE CLEVENGER

Following last week's chat with Shay and Kelli about poetry and blogging, I asked the same questions of two more poets who have been around since we all began writing online with such heat in 2010. Marian Kent, who blogs at runaway sentence, and Susie Clevenger of Confessions of a Laundry Goddess are sharing their thoughts on poetry and blogging and I, for one, am so happy about this! 







BLAME IT ON THE BEACH


The beach was weird
sassy breeze pushing waves
to throw rocks at our shins
rain and lifeguards
clearing the water
because of marine life
       (unspecified)
All this in bathing suits
never my favorite
but we pranced and played
sat our fine asses in the sand
for waves to wash over
flicked our hair
       (caught glances)
bleated like goats
pronounced the ocean female
laughed and laughed and laughed
cried hey sister ocean
here we are
sassy and strong and shining

Marian Kent  © 8.08.2019

Sherry: I adore the sass in this poem. Tell us about it!

Marian: I'm so glad this resonated for you, Sherry. It is a simple reflection about how it felt at the beach earlier this summer with my daughter. We both had such a good time, feeling unburdened, enjoying a cool and somewhat strange beach day, and really enjoying one another. Putting aside concerns for a few hours. Not caring what anyone might think. Feeling connected, to each other and to our natural environs. Laughing a lot!

Sherry: It sounds perfect!

Talk to us about poetry: When did you start writing poetry? What does poetry mean to you, what do you love about it?

Marian: I started writing poems at a young age, and wrote a lot in college and as a young adult. But then I put writing aside for quite a few years. I'm not really sure exactly why, but I did continue to scribble in a journal during that time. I bet if I looked back at those old books there would be plenty of poem fodder in there. When my kids were very young I started writing poems again, and then I started the runaway sentence, which started as a sort of mom-blog or soapbox, but almost immediately became a poetry blog. Thank goodness, whew.

Poetry for me is a chance to express or make a brief but (hopefully) meaningful observation. I like using words sparingly, making every single word count. I think I'm always trying to find new ways of describing ordinary moments, feelings, experiences that can be recognized and understood by anyone. I'm going for universal in the specific, or for something anyone could recognize in a metaphor. For me, writing poems requires both abstraction and direct communication, a challenge that I really love.

Sherry: And we love reading you!  What impact has blogging had on your work? Has it helped you grow as a poet?

Marian: Blogging has had a tremendous impact on me. For you, too, right? I mean, Sherry, you and I met because of blogging and my life is so much sweeter as a result!

Sherry: Mine, too, kiddo. My writing was drying up for lack of connection with other writers, when I stumbled on Poets United back in 2010. I will be forever grateful for what that connection has done for my life and my writing.

Marian: I'm so grateful for your friendship and for the whole circle of blogging friends around us. I have been really lifted up and supported by our online community.

Sherry: Me, too, Marian. I am more grateful than I can say for these almost-ten so-rich years.

Marian: Our community of poets challenging one another with prompts and providing gentle critique and encouragement and friendship is simply amazing. It is a blessing.

I'm sure without blogging, I would still be writing, but to be accountable to our online group is really meaningful. Responding to prompts, creating prompts, reading the work of others and providing meaningful commentary, it's all a part of growing, I think. My skill has definitely grown and improved over the years, and I have observed the same in many of our friends as well. It's great to witness a writer working to improve her craft, and to take that journey alongside friends is a wonderful thing. I really admire the writing and the practice of so many of our friends here, and get inspiration from you all.

My blog will celebrate ten years next spring. I'm aware that blogging is evolving, maybe going out of fashion. That is bittersweet, but we cannot continue to grow as writers or as people without change. So I'm good with all of it and feel very grateful and excited for whatever comes next. The runaway sentence blog will always ramble on, and I have a few ideas I'm working on to change things up for the coming decade and beyond.
  
Sherry: We will be watching with great anticipation, Marian!







IF YOU WERE STILL

If you were still,
I could watch the
sun set in your eyes.
I could see what leads
you to brush and paint,
to capture a horizon.

If you were still,
I could hear you
talk to the moon.
I would learn your
night language,
the dream song
of the nightingale
delivering starlight.

If you were still,
I could feel poetry
splash on your skin
in a summer rain.
I would know how
words bloom from
the tip of your pen.

If you were still,
I’d lose my way
to imagination.
I wouldn’t know
a dandelion was
a heart where
wishes seed.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Sherry: I so adore those closing lines, “a heart where wishes seed.” Wow.  Tell us a bit about this poem, Susie.

Susie: At Real Toads Sanaa Rizvi used Pablo Neruda’s poem, "I Like for You to be Still", as a prompt for our writing. I began to think of all things one could discover in the stillness of a lover or a friend, but also, in the end, if stillness became a command to surrender one’s free spirit, the loss would be unfathomable. It is in stillness and in movement we experience the true beauty of someone. I like to view it as caring with open hands, doing nothing to inhibit free expression.

Sherry: I love that, Susie. Would you share your thoughts about poetry with us? How important is it to you?

Susie: Poetry has been my lifeline. It is a journal of what I feel, hear, see, and experience. I can’t imagine life without it. Even in the first year and a half of my blog, when only one person read it, I wasn’t discouraged, but energized I had an avenue of expression. When I write poetry, I open myself to inspiration. I have a small totem I created that hangs above my desk that centers me, that reminds me even on the days my muse is silent poetry is patient, patient even in times I rail against writer’s block and self criticism.

I begin most of my writing time with a small ceremony. I either open the shades if it is daylight or at night turn on a small glass lamp sitting next to my desk to invite light into my space. I then light incense to calm me, to invite creativity and growth.

I am grateful for my laptop. I am right-handed and writing by hand is becoming more difficult. I have a condition called dupuytren's contracture which forms knotted tissue in my palm. It affects the fine motor coordination, so holding a pen/pencil and writing legibly is a problem.

All the lovely journals I’ve purchased sit empty.

Sherry: Thank heaven for our keyboards!  
Has the online poetry world had an impact on your work, Susie?

Susie: Oh my, yes, it has. My connection to online poets has been such a huge resource to learn from. I have met so many poets who have inspired me and been my mentors. I don't think I would be writing at any acceptable level without it. 

I hadn't written poetry since high school. I look back to the first poems on my blog and shake my head at how poorly written they are. I am so grateful to be part of a community of people who write and love poetry. People who encourage me to continue in the art form I am so passionate about.

Sherry: I admired your work back then with awe, just as I do today, Susie. What a glorious journey it has been!

Thank you, Marian and Susie, for sharing your thoughts on poetry and blogging with us. It has been a wonderful chat looking back on an amazing journey.

Do come back, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

23 comments:

  1. Ah, Susie and Marian have both been around a while. Smiles. I remember Susie from the fairly early days of Poets United. It is good to catch up with both of them here with such wonderful poetry and also to learn why poetry is important to each of them.. Susie, you said that at one time poetry was your lifeline. I think many can empathize with that. Poetry is a gift to both the writer and the reader. Sherry, what a nice interview once again.

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  2. I had great fun putting this together, especially since we have been writing together for so many years. It is awesome how, when we share poetry, the deepest parts of our hearts, we form such wonderful friendships. Thanks, Susie and Marian, for sharing your poems and thoughts, not just today, but for all the years.

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  3. Another enjoyable interview with two wonderful poets! You're on a roll Sherry! Thank you Marian and Susie for sharing your poems, your poet lives and your thoughts.

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  4. Susie and Marian are two of my favorite poets in the blogosphere. Having stumbled upon Poets United around about the same time, I feel like I have been on the same journey with them. I so love both their poems featured today as well. A wonderful and lovely interview with two lovely poets indeed! Thank you so much Sherry! These interviews are such a blessing and I feel are part of the connection that bring us closer together as writers. Getting to know the story behind the poet is a beautiful gift!

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  5. This is so wonderful and I'm so happy to be here. Gosh, time is weird. Today is my son's sixteenth birthday... he was just a little cherub when I first discovered Poets United and all of you, and then our Imaginary Garden. It's strange and a kind of melancholy but very happy day. Anyway, gosh Susie and Sherry, two good friends from blogging. What a blessing, truly. Love to you both and to everyone here. xoxo

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  6. Marian, I cant BELIEVE how your two cherubs have grown - they are the most fascinating and talented young people! What a journey it has been, hey, kiddo?

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  7. Lovely interview, Sherry, with two more of my favourite poets. Loved both the poems – and then realised I always love everything these two write! Interesting, too, to read
    of their poetic paths and reflect on the many different ways we all arrived at this nurturing community.

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  8. I love everything they write, too. There is so much talent in this community!

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  9. Online connection through poetry is a blessing both for the poet and the readers. So wonderful to have known you through your words. A fascinating interview, Sherry, Marian and Susie.

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  10. Two wonderful poems and poets - I really hope Poets United will be there for all of us for many more years to come

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  11. Two very fine lady poets.
    i have long admired and enjoyed Susie's poetry. i may not be too familiar with Marian and her poetry, but hey, it's not too late to catch up. :)

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  12. Lovely to see you all here, my friends. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Thanks everyone. Your words mean a lot to me. I am delighted to be paired in this interview with Marian. She is so talented and is such an inspiration. Sherry thank you so much for putting this together. Your encouragement is truly a blessing.

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  14. Susie, you are most welcome. Thank you for stopping by. I know your family is going through a sad time right now, and appreciate you taking the time. We are thinking of you all.

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  15. These are two of my favorite writers as are of the commenters here above. I learn from them but mostly I just write although Iconsider Oliver and Kooser as being my mentors. At the OSI and now the Garden I've worked most prompts except times like now when items I must care for close in on me.
    Keep up the good work guys, and thank you for sharing with us here.
    Oh yes, Susie and I live in the same town. We haven't met in person but in a town of six million population and 10,625 acres in area for sure we have some common connections.
    ..

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    1. Jim, I hope you werent in the area with the flooding.....it looked terrible. Thanks for stopping by, kiddo!

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  16. I so enjoyed this share which brought back to me numerous facets of my poetry/blogging journey - really so many of Marian's and Susie's reflections could have come from me. Like Susie, I too, only had one follower for about the first year and a half that I blogged … but that 'avenue of expression' - as she puts it - was enough to energize me and keep me going. Marian's comment: 'For me, writing poems requires both abstraction and direct communication, a challenge that I really love' resonated strongly, as well … though I had never thought of it quite that way before.

    A thoughtful and thought provoking post. Thanks for this, Poets!

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  17. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these poems as well as their authors' sharing about their love of poetry. I hope we can continue this blog for a very, very long time and that we all remain connected in our writing endeavors. As always I am grateful for all who make this blog possible.

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  18. I agree - I have written so many poems thanks to this site......and made so many wonderful friends. I went from having no readers to having some readers. I am always so grateful when anyone stops by my site and takes time to read and comment. It does keep us writing and posting!

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  19. Another great feature! I have read both of their work through the years I have been blogging. I have always enjoyed blogging and the community as a whole. While blogging may be changing a bit, I think it is still important to let your voice be heard and these ladies have wonderful things to say.

    Thanks Sherry for all you do!

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  20. Admire both these ladies - have been blessed to know them from blogging for years. Great post!

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  21. I love both of their voices and how poetry has so, sacredly bloomed in their souls!!

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  22. 2 of my favorites. Sorry to be late in visiting.

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