Happy National Poetry Month! It’s day 14 and today’s interviewee is fellow Scribber Beatriz Fernandez:
How old were you when you read your first poem? What was the name of the poem and poet?
My mother says one of my favorite books in preschool years was Edward Lear‘s The Owl and the Pussycat,so I imagine that and other rhyming texts were my introduction to the magic of poetry. The first poem I remember reading and memorizing was High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. I first read it in a middle school English textbook; it had an illustration of a bird flying against the sun–the poem and the tragic fate of the poet made an immense impression on me.
If you had to interview a poet from a specific poetry movement, what would you ask them? (Name the poet and the movement).
I would love to interview Emily Bronte (Victorian period) and ask her about the Gondal poems–to tell me more about this childhood world of imagination she brought to life in her poetry.
Which poetry school, community and or movement you wished to read more of? (Romantic, Beat, Confessional, etc.)
The Beats, definitely, because I know very little about them and they weren’t covered extensively in my classes.
What do you love most about poetry?
What I love most about poetry is its ability to synthesize human emotion and transcend time–prose from a different era can be cumbersome to read or hard to understand but we can always relate to the emotions that poetry communicates, no matter the language or style.
What advice would you give to others so that they’d read and or write more poetry?
I think some readers and potential poets think poetry is some type of code they have to break but it’s usually just a case of not exploring different writers and finding the style you prefer. There is something for everyone in poetry–it’s just a matter of discovering who is writing for you. As far as writing it, again, don’t limit yourself to the poetry styles prevalent today–go back in time and explore all eras of poetry. Somewhere, sometime, there is a poet who will speak to you. And remember there is no law that says you have to write in the presently favored styles. Don’t worry so much about getting published as getting it right–for yourself, first and foremost.
Bonus Beatriz shares with us today a poem she wrote and from her chapbook:
reads the cardboard sign
she holds against her stomach
like a shield in her white hands,
a litany of headlights blinding her,
she stands unsteady on the dotted traffic line,
takes timid steps toward rolled up windows
behind which any horror could crouch
unrevealed, tinted glass reflecting
only her own face, distorted
in a way her mother wouldn’t recognize.
–I’ve seen that look on a face before,
as I stood in a crowded plaza
full of hooded penitents
beneath a Sevillian moon,
their keening voices singing saetas
to the statue of the Macarena Virgin
as she swayed under a gold embroidered canopy
held high on their black-robed shoulders,
wax tapers lighting her crystal tears,
her lips parted in a silent cry,
her blind glass eyes dark–
she gazed down at me
with the same petrified grief.
Tonight I see her again, stranded
amidst the Miami street hawkers
who heft bunches of olive quenepas,
and bags of peeled oranges.
I wonder which demons drive her worse–
the ones on the road, or her man back home,
or those hiding deep in her clouded eyes–
She starts at the gentle tap of my horn,
eyes round in a pale face–
I press the price of a cafecito
into her small cold palm,
she blesses me, twice–
the light changes
Beatriz F. Fernandez is a university Reference Librarian in Florida. She grew up in Puerto Rico, the daughter of a Peruvian mother and Puerto Rican father. She has read her poetry on South Florida’s NPR news station, WLRN, and she was a featured writer on the Latina Book Club blog. She was the grand prize winner of Writer’s Digest 2nd Annual Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Falling Star Magazine (2014 Pushcart Prize nomination), Verse Wisconsin, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Label Me Latina/o, When Women Waken and Writer’s Digest. www.beasbooks.blogspot.com or @nebula61