03 May 2012

online finds 5/3: an interview with poet marie elena good

I am really excited for today's post. This week's "Online Finds" Thursday is the first in a series of upcoming interviews with poets whose work I greatly admire, which is something I’ve been putting together since mid-April. And I’m excited that this week’s interview is with someone I consider both a great poet and a wonderful friend: Marie Elena Good.

Marie Elena Good

Marie Elena Good writes poetry daily, which she often posts to Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides (Writer’s Digest); Across the Lake, Eerily with Walter Wojtanik; and Poetic Bloomings, also with Walter Wojtanik. The mission of Poetic Bloomings is to propagate poetry and the poets who pose it. The many features to this end include a prompt every Sunday morning, regular introduction of forms, and twice-monthly interviews with regular contributors (“Bloomers”). Although poetry has become her passion, Marie’s first love is children’s stories, which she continues to craft. Marie’s publications include “Jeep and the Real Me”, a short story appearing in the August 2010 Issue of Pockets for Children, and poems that have appeared in print and online magazines, including: Berry Blue Haiku and Poets Espresso. Some of the poetic honors she has received include placing in the Top .05% of Robert Lees Brewer’s Poetic Asides 2009 April PAD Challenge; the Top 10 in the 2011 Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge: Sonnet Contest; the Top 50 in the 2011 Poetic Asides April PAD Challenge; and the Top 10 in the 2012 Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge: Haiku Contest.

What are you currently working on?

As I write this, we are nearing the completion of a National Poetry Month. For me, this means participating in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem-a-Day Challenge. I've actually written a poem nearly every day since April of 2009. Some are better than others, but all have helped me hone my skills.

In addition: 
  1. a certain (nameless for now) poet and I are collaborating on a book or two;
  2. older poems and children's stories are being hauled out of the webby recesses of my computer, so each may be inspected, reviewed, evaluated, assessed, analyzed, criticized, reprimanded, overhauled, underpinned, and unleashed; and
  3. I am enjoying immensely the daily gardening at Walter Wojtanik's and my site, Poetic Bloomings.
What kind of writing do you love to write? 

I love to write what I love to write. No, really. I wrote about it. ;) 

I won’t write a novel, though that’s right for some.
I won’t write a story that’s gloomy or glum.
I won’t write a textbook, nor boring outline.
I won’t write my memoir -- on that I’ll decline.

Just give me some children, or those young at heart,
Those fond of the childish rhymes I impart.
I’ll sit at my desk and I’ll write the day through,
I’ll write silly thoughts, and I’ll watch them accrue.

So you write your novels, if that’s what you do,
Or scholarly texts, or cerebral world view,
While I write my light-hearted, fun-to-write rhyme,
Then do it again for the ten millionth time.

Oftentimes writers or poets consider themselves as having "arrived at becoming a writer. How long have you considered yourself a poet?

My answer to this question changed relatively recently. I used to believe a true poet was one who was recognized internationally as such, and/or was paid or commissioned to write poetry. I've since come to look at myself as a poet, employing the most simplistic of definitions: One who writes poetry. That is my basic response, and one that I am most comfortable using. However, I've also grown astounded by the number of fellow writers (all genres), friends, and family who refer to me as a "poet." This is altogether heartening and humbling.

Who or what are you currently reading?

 I take great pleasure in having a number of small books and chapbooks on hand for my daily perusal by poets such as Walter Wojtanik, Salvatore Buttaci,Patricia Hawkenson, Michael Grove, Nancy Posey, Amy Barlow Liberatore, Andrew Kreider, R.J. Clarken, and many more.There is a De Jackson-shaped space that is waiting as patiently as humanly possible.

In addition, I am trying to make it through Souls in the Hands of a Tender God [Storiesof the Search for Home and Healing on the Streets], by Craig Rennebohm, with David Paul. As described in “About the Book,” Hands “explores the realm of faith through the extraordinary prism of brain disorders. The stories in this book come from an unusual place: the experience of mental illness — and, in particular, mental illness on the streets. Each story becomes a parable, helping us understand what it means to be human and vulnerable: souls on a pilgrimage toward meaning and wholeness, supported by God's healing Spirit.”

I say I am “trying to make it through” the book, because it is remarkably well written and, therefore, is actually distressing to read. I don’t believe I’ve made it through more than a page or so without tears. Please indulge my one-sentence soapbox moment: We simply must learn to respect and care for the mentally ill among us. Thank you.

A lot of poets have some pretty heavy fears or anxieties when it comes to their writing, or their profession. What is one of your biggest writing "challenges," and how do you try to overcome it?

My anxiety-causing phobia is aphasia. I experienced a short bout of it as an atypical symptom of an atypcal (ocular) migraine. Aphasia is most likely an unrealistic fear, but that is often the case with fear--it is irrational. I'll tell you what, though, I never want to experience that again. I had absolutely no words. None. I could not remember the names of my husband and son, nor could I even think of the words "husband" or "son," or any other words, for that matter. It was frightening.

So on to a reasonable, overcome-able challenge: distractions. Since most of my distractions are self-induced, they are relatively simple to eradicate: 
  1. Close the Facebook window.
  2. Close the Poetic Asides window.
  3. Close the Writer's Retreat window.

If you could share a piece of advice for other writers, what would it be?
  1. Close the Facebook window.
  2. Close the Poetic Asi...
Just kidding (mostly).
Serious advice would include creating the style you enjoy. Khara, you asked what we love to write. That's a key question, I believe. I'm still learning to take my own advice here, but we need to stop being hard on ourselves for not writing like So-and-So Poet. What will make me the best poet I can be is writing what appeals to me. Not that we should not experiment with different forms and topics, but I know I need to face the fact that my brain is not a Khara House brain. No matter how much I admire the elegance and brilliance of your work, it is not how my brain creates. I need to embrace my own mind, and create within its perimeters.

Also, absorb the feedback of those you admire. Soak it all in and take it seriously, be it praise, criticism ... or silence.

For more from Marie Elena Good, be sure to check out her collaborations with Walter Wojtanik at Across the Lake, Eerily and Poetic Bloomings.

Here are some poems Marie generously shared for your reading pleasure:

Haiku for Children
Oh my, what to do -
Piggy toes are peaking through.
Darn socks.

A kyrielle:

My God, My God

Sheer loneliness, epitomized
In One so tortured, scorned, despised
When hanging there upon the tree
Cried “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

I loathe my sin that held Him there,
And offer up the sinner’s prayer.
Still, shaken, as I hear His plea,
“God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

I’ll not forget His sacrifice;
The blood He shed to pay the price;
Nor how He, when estranged from Thee;
Wailed, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Behold, this selfless, sinless Lamb
Dismissed the power of I AM.
He emptied Himself willingly,
and He has not forsaken me.

A sonnet (Note--Marie added this note: "Khara, I decided that since you are a teacher, my last poem would be a sonnet I wrote for my father, who is a retired teacher."):

For my Dad

My father earned a living teaching youth.
He shared with them the music of his core.
He showed them how to honor life and truth,
And gave his time to all who graced his door.

My father is a man to emulate –
A man who holds to ethical ideals.
And even now, though years have slowed his gait,
They haven’t marred the crux of what he feels.

My father’s love is deep; allegiance strong.
His charity continues to abound.
He taught me well to judge what’s right and wrong,
To gather stars, while keeping feet aground.

And so it is I pen this gift through tears –
I thank my God for granting us these years.
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  1. Thanks for this Khara. (although, now she'll be insufferable). People needed to see this extraordinary lady be recognized one her own without her sidekick. Marie is an inspiration and an incredible partner. Congratulations to you both. Marie, for her emergence as a bonafide poet and you Khara for your work and this site. (Did Marie just call me a So-and-so?)

    1. Spoken like a true sibling. Are you SURE we weren't separated at birth? ;)

  2. Yay, Marie Elena!

    Nice interview, Khara. I can't wait to see who is next.

  3. Khara, I'm smiling from ear-to-ear? Nope ... that's not good enough. "Sea-to-shining-sea!" See? :D

    What an honor to be your very first interviewEE! As I've said elsewhere (more than once), you are a PHENOMENAL poet - and one strong lady, lady!

    Thank you again for this fun and humbling experience!

  4. Wonderful interview! (Where's your like icon?)

    1. JLynn! I ran over to you blog to see who "writingonthesun" is. What a lovely blog you have. I'm heading back over there to stalk you. ;)

  5. Marie, thank-you for sharing! It is so great to learn a little more from you. May I 'borrow' a small piece of this interview to post in my side-bar and link it back to here?...many, many should read this.

    Khara, thank-you for this great interview!

    1. Wow ... I'd be honored, Janet. Of course you may.

  6. Marie, you're an inspiration. So much hard work mixed with so much joy in what you do! I wish you all the best.

    1. I'm an inspiration? This from the "eagerly awaiting the release of three novels in 2012" Anne E. Johnson? ;) Thanks so much, Anne ... and for YOUR inspiration.

  7. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

    This was magnificent treat to wake up to this morning. Khara, thank you for shedding more light on the Good poet :)

    However many times you have been interviewed, Marie, you continue to shed more nuggets further re-affirming your generous spirit and poetic prowess.

  8. The gifted interviewer becomes the interviewee! (I suppose that's supposed to be "interviewed," but interviewee sounds much better for a live-wire, fun-lovin', kid-lovin' POET like Marie!) I simply adore this woman - her work, her incredible spirit, her amazing sense of encouragement and poetic community. She's very much the glue that holds a lot of us together, and she does so in such a quiet, humble way. Marie, it is I who am waiting for YOUR book. And it sounds like it might be arriving sooner than later. THRILLED. Your day is coming, sweet lady POET.

    And now...it's 6:03am in LV, and I must take your advice...close all the windows and WRITE! Couldn't resist reading this, first!

    Khara, wonderful job! Can't wait to get my questions into YOU. Bwa-ha-ha!

    1. You leave me speechless, De.

      (And I'm serious about the De Jackson-shaped space. So get on it, K? K.)

  9. Thanks, Khara and Marie! Marie, I love that you are comfortable with your own style and voice, and that you embrace the simple fact that you ARE a poet. So true. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us all. Now, I'm off to close all the windows...

  10. Khara~ Thanks so much for this interview... it's so nice to see the interviewer being interviewed... I have always admired Marie.

    Marie~ I love your haiku for children. Turn off that FB and start on your book... I'm curious about this collaberation with a mysterious someone.

    1. I can relate to what Khara is starting here. I LOVE conducting the interviews. Thanks so much, Laurie, and know that the admiration flows both directions.

  11. This is an awesome interview. I especially love the last question "my brain is not a Khara House brain". This is something I struggle with. Thanks Marie Elena and Khara!

    1. Hi Dana! Nice to meet you!

      I do struggle with that a lot, as you say. I see the amazing talent in the writing of others, and wonder why I can't do exactly what they do, in the style they do it. But I'm really learning to get more comfortable saying it is okay to write what I like to write. As long as I'm growing ... I don't want to get lazy about my craft.

      Again, it is very nice to meet you. I'm wondering if you are a poet from Poetic Asides, but go by a pen name.

  12. I love reading Marie Elena's work on Poetic Bloomings. She's a talented poet and a supportive presence in the poetry community. Thank you so much for this interview with a great woman!

    1. Lolamouse! Thanks so much for your kind words!

  13. Khara - this is wonderful! A totally different interviewer and site, both welcome and refreshing ... and what a great choice for your first interview ... Marie Elena is generous, compassionate, with a wealth of kindness, and a heart as big as both oceans at least ... as well as an extremely talented and prolific poet, plus an accomplished interviewer in her own right. Kudos to you both!

    1. So humbled by your words, Sharon. Thank you so much!

  14. Thank you! A great photo, a great interview! Much enjoyed :-)

  15. Marie, you truly are an inspiration (not forgetting the in put of Walt) and this interview gives us a chance to learn more of you and your work. Yes you are a poet!
    And thank you Khara for drawing Marie out so well.
    If I can get past this Catchpa trap, you may get to read my comment!

    1. I'm glad you made it past the gremlins, Viv! Thanks so much for the lovely sentiment.

  16. "I need to embrace my own mind, and create within its perimeters."

    I'm floored by this. Such wisdom in these words, Marie. I love your poetic mind! Yup, yup...plain and simple! Khara, thank you for this interview and Marie, thank you for sharing the beauty of your life with us. I'm thinkin' I'll be looking into that book of which your speak. I agree with you. ♥

    1. Thank you, Sweet Hannah. Just ... thank you. <3

  17. Marie Elena, your Haiku is the first one I ever liked. You're such an inspiration and you are here, too.
    And Khara, thanks for a great interview.

    1. Oh wow! Thank you, Andrea! I thought it was fun, but haven't been able to get anyone to publish it yet. ;)

  18. Ah, Khara, I'm with Walt on this one. Thank you for showing Marie Elena and her talent to the world this way. She's far too self-effacing to do it herself.

    If I could use rhyme as Marie does, I'd write more poetry with it. If I could create inspirational verse so easily as she, I would have lots of books out there to inspire others.

    I don't have this lady's talents that way, so all I can do is admire hers, hold them close for examination, and allow osmosis to take over.

    Marie, you've needed this boost and kick in the behind for a while, you poet, you. Loved it and well deserved.

    1. HAHAHA! Clauds, I think if we lived close to each other, I'd have one ouchy behind! :D

  19. "Better late than never", she said (finally getting around to reading this interview).... LOVED it! Excellent questions Khara, revealing bits of Marie I haven't seen elsewhere; and Marie, always so sweet, humorous, humble, caring, talented... (I could go on and on!) -- it all comes through so clearly. Love the haiku -- keep pushing it. And, PLEASE keep us posted on that book. Would love to buy a copy when they are published! Thanks! :-)

    1. Thanks so much, PSC from CT! ;) You're always so encouraging!


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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