Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour Returns: Moving Past Siren's Lament

Thanks to an invitation from Erica Goss, poet laureate of Los Gatos, I'm joining The Virtual Book Tour for a second round; here are my responses from this summer: First Poetry Book Publication: Reckoning with Exposure, and Astral Rubbernecking

You can read Erica's answers to the four questions and her guest post at Transformative Blogging, Fairytales, Facebook, and Poetry Promptsin which she describes the process behind writing her book, Vibrant Words, ideas and inspirations for poets (PushPen Press, 2014); she is also the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press, 2012). I highly recommend checking out the video poetry column Goss writes for Connotation Press, The Third Form.

What are you currently working on?

To be honest, I’m working on getting used to a bit of reckless joy. My first poetry collection, November Butterfly, comes out on November 1, 2014, thanks to Saddle Road Press. I am pretty much levitating at this point.

When the box of ARC’s (Advanced Reading Copies) came in August and I first held the book, I realized what an evaporative state I’ve inhabited since most of my writing "lives" online. I’ve blogged since 2007 here at Feral, Mom, Feral Writer and since roughly 2012 at Transformative Blogging and Mother Writer Mentor. While blogging is a satisfying extension of journaling and single poems appearing in online journals benefit from possibly a wider readership than those in print journals, nothing replaces the feeling of holding a physical book of one's own poems for the very first time.

photo by Robyn Beattie
When I lost a friend to cancer in 2011, I decided to stop leaning so heavily on (and waiting for) outside validation. To grow as an artist, I began making short poetry videos. So far, I've "video illustrated" seven of my poems and dedicated the first one, She Dressed in a Hurry, for Lady Di to my late friend Barbara Robinette Moss. The others to date are: Amelia, Nefertiti on the Astral, Nefertiti Among Us, The Corridor (Guinevere), Thumbelina, and Mordred's Dream. New projects are underway for The Three Oranges, Black Angel: Scripted, Never Shot, and several Joan of Arc poems.

I’m also working on a manuscript about an Illinois commune I lived on as a child from the age of five to eleven.  The blizzards of Illinois coupled with disillusionment regarding the group’s spiritual path--disintegrating under post leader exile--inspired our family to leave. My father built a wooden camper for the back of our maroon 67 Chevy and off we trundled to California.

Memories of a sincere longing for spiritual beauty mingle with memories of witnessing human fallibility, and as an adult, I'm left with questions. Why do people join communes or other groups? Why do they leave, and what becomes of the children, parents, and leaders of abandoned communes? 

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

During the first blog tour, I talked about the process of writing poetry; here I'd like to talk about poetry videos/movies. I love the collaborations between Nicelle Davis and Cheryl Gross; watching In The Circus of You you'll find drawings and animation with narration (there's a lovely bell tone to Nicelle's reading voice). Through Erica Goss’s Connotation Press Video Poetry Column mentioned earlier, The Third Form, I fell in love with Nic Sebastian’s, "let me tell you about yourself" (scroll a third of the way down to see Sebastian's video with its amazing Hubble generated imagery). Goss also interviewed two pairs of video poetry collaborators about their process.

Photo by Robyn Beattie
I haven't ventured into animation--my collaborator photographer Robyn Beattie and I call our videos "photo poem montages;" in comparison to animated work or videos with actors, ours are more static, frames fading one into the next. Robyn and I are both drawn to images that suggest or imply but don’t necessarily correspond directly to the line of poetry at hand. 

The third collaborator is often my father (composing and selecting music and performing it on keyboard/piano). Years of kinship make each project flow effortlessly, and each time we finish a new one, I'm relieved to have mapped another portion of the heart. A fourth collaborator technically is a group made up of the artists Robyn encounters. We have been blessed to receive permission to use photographs of work by painters, sculptors, assemblage artists and more. 
Feedback regarding the photo poem montages continues to be overwhelmingly positive, though we also have heard that the words of the poem stimulate one set of images in the viewer’s mind's eye that in turn compete with the photographs. And that the voice recording of the poem also potentially competes with the music.

Trying to finish any particular project given raising my three children always seems a miracle--I get a little crazy trying to nail as much beauty down as possible when the opportunity arises. Or maybe the desire to have those competing strains (photographs, narration of poem, music, motion of the images bleeding one to the next) reflects the effects of our media conscious culture of burgeoning stimuli. I only know I am flooded with happiness when I sit down with Robyn to sort through her gorgeous images and listen to my father's choices for music. 

Why do you write/create what you do?

Lighthouse Eye by Tania Pryputniewicz
Point Loma
I write to ground. As a compulsive empath and eldest child, I have a habit of scanning and jumping ahead of the moment. I see in layers if that makes sense--I’m not sure why. It's great for night time dreaming, though in other instances--dipping into the past, or trying on incarnations from other times--the psychic/emotional projections can be intense. Poetry is a perfect place to channel that kind of seeing. If I had my way, my art would move past siren's lament to bring others closer to their own soul forms of unbridled asking, listening, and responding.

How does your writing/creating process work?

I keep my journal with me and write throughout the day as I ferry children to and from their activities. Without the luxury of portioning out time slots for the various kinds of writing (poetry, blogposts, etc.), I lift blog paragraphs and poem starts directly from the seedbed of the journal.  I run poems by members of my writing group (a beautiful array of friends, many I met through A Room of Her Own Foundation retreats). I subscribe to a number of online newsletters with calls for entries; these calls for entries become deadlines to create new work.

Up Next: 

Jill G. Hall uses found objects to create whimsical mosaics that are displayed in galleries, private homes and downtown San Diego street corners. Her poetry has been published in A Year in Ink, Serving House Journal, City Works, The Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poetry as well as Wild Women Wild Voices. She plans to publish her first novel in 2015. At Inspirations Gallery she curates themed work by local artists and facilitates workshops to help others find their unique paths. Her blog posts share personal musings on the art of practicing a creative lifestyle. Find Jill at: www.jillghall.com

Cathe Shubert is currently living, writing, teaching and learning in Wilmington, NC, where she is enrolled as a MFA student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington during the academic year. During the summer, she participates in a MA program called the Bread Loaf School of English. She's taught all over the country and world, having spent two years teaching Spanish and English in Philadelphia, a year abroad teaching ESL in Andorra, and a year in Detroit teaching creative writing in public schools. You can read her Virtual Blog Tour post here and follow her blog at ilmwritinglife.wordpress.com