April is National Poetry Month!
A lot of folks don’t realize that I have published a fair bit of poetry over the years.
Today’s blog entry is a part of the Upper Rubber Boot Book’s “COUPLETS” blog-tour – in which poets are paired up to write on each other’s blogs to help promote NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!
My guest-blogger today is Heather Kamins – the author of BLUESHIFTING – a collection of poetry recently published by Upper Rubber Boot Books.
You can follow the blog tour by hitting the link on this image.
We watched wilderness raze the buildings, a city block
gone like a moment of dust, our civilization losing
itself before us. Who were we to stand in the way of progress,
the trees wanted to know. Our protests are useless
against this regime. Remember those days
when we used to lie on a plastic-strewn hillside
and look for patterns in the smog? When we first kissed
beneath the incandescent lights on a diesel-scented evening?
The concrete and steel we held sacred are sinking
into the mud of memory, everything collapsing
under the weight of its own flowers.
(poem excerpted from Heather Kamin’s collection BLUESHIFTING, from Upper Rubber Boot Press)
Mini-interview with Heather Kamins
1 – How do you create a poem? Do you have a specific ritual? Is there a process?
Heather: I’m constantly jotting down notes throughout my daily life: words, phrases, images, ideas. Often when I sit down to write a poem, I’ll grab something from the list to get me started. Sometimes combining disparate images or ideas can bring a piece together in an interesting way. I also like to write from prompts or random word lists (http://creativitygames.net/random-word-generator is a great site for that). It seems like starting from a place where I don’t necessarily feel inspired can push me to go deeper and make for more interesting poems.
2 – Who are your favorite poets?
Heather: Like many readers, I love Pablo Neruda. I love Richard Jackson, who ought to be more well-known than he is; he has these long, gorgeous lines full of images tumbling one after the other. I only recently heard of Tomas Transtromer, who won the Nobel prize last year, but he’s already shaping up to be one of my favorites.
3 – Do you have any advice for up-and-coming poets?
Heather: Read a lot. Write a lot. Lather, rinse, repeat. Give yourself permission to take risks, to play, and to let yourself fail. Keep a notebook and think of it the way an artist thinks of a sketchbook: a place to make lists of words and phrases you like, doodle, and sketch out drafts. I also recommend getting your hands on a copy of Gregory Orr’s essay “Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry.” That essay completely changed my writing life by helping me identify what it was that made my better poems work, and understand how to reproduce it.
4 – What do you look for in a poem?
Heather: I like poems that combine some kind of anchor in the real world with imaginative leaps, startling images, and unique turns of phrase. Beyond that, it’s a bit hard to define… some poems just hit me the right way and resonate for a long time. I agree with what Emily Dickinson said on the topic: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
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If you want to pick up a copy of BLUESHIFTING there is a link attached to the cover image at the beginning of this blog entry. Just click it and it will take you directly to the publisher’s site where you’ll have all the information necessary to read this in any format you wish.
yours in storytelling