Happy National Poetry Month! It’s day 18 and today I have interviewee Catharine Bramkamp:
Merriam Webster defines poetry as ‘the productions of a poet’. And as a ‘writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.’ But in your own words, how would you define poetry?
Poetry is like Woolf’s Moment of Being. Like Haiku, poetry captures a moment in time, a fleeting thought, much like a photograph but with different filters. The words a poet employs can change any view or moment from terrible to mysterious, from tragic to comforting. Poets are the consciousness of an age. It is the poets’ job to see clearly, to call out what is wrong with the world, or highlight what is right with the world. Poetry is seeing things better and telling it slant.
Our jobs as poets is to express what others can’t. Maybe the reader senses something, maybe they long for something, and it is not really discovered until they read about their own lives in a poem. We tell our story so our readers can recognize themselves. That’s why poetry matters, it brings us experience and a common language to express our innermost feelings and longings. Without that voice – we are little more than consumers, a terrible fate.
Who is your favorite poet and why?
I love TS Eliot, I love the rhythm of his words and his elevation of the modern and urban. When we studied poetry in grade school it seemed to me that all poetry not only rhymed, but was all about nature – daffodils, green hills, or highwaymen. Eliot was a revelation, the half forgotten streets, the tenements, the women gathering fuel in vacant lots, there was something about the pathos of all this urban life that spoke to me, gave me a view of another place and another time.
Name one poet you wished more people knew about and why.
I recently discovered Anna Akhmatova, a Russian Poet of the early 20th Century. I am sure others recognize her work but I cannot get her Instead of a Preface out of my mind. I think this, more than anything, not only explains why we must write poetry, but also why it is so important.
INSTEAD OF A PREFACE
In the awful days of the Yezhovschina I passed seventeen months in the outer waiting line of the prison visitors in Leningrad. Once, somebody ‘identified’ me there. Then a woman, standing behind me in the line, which, of course, never heard my name, waked up from the torpor, typical for us all there, and asked me, whispering into my ear (all spoke only in a whisper there):
“And can you describe this?”
And I answered:
“Yes, I can.”
Then the weak similarity of a smile glided over that, what had once been her face.
Explain your poetry writing process.
My process is terrible. The only time I really focus on poetry is during April when I write from 30 to 50 poems in the month. Then I spend about six months fixing them. Ideally I would write a poem a morning, when I’m fresh and not distracted by real life. But alas, sometimes the whole morning becomes embroiled in Social Media, which, for the most part, doesn’t seem all that poetic to me.
Bonus Catharine shares with us today a poem she wrote:
An Average Summer Day
when the fog did burn off
and the sun rang full
over a blue sky so that perfect
was close to attainable
we walked outside
me and my conscious
I passed by a huge picture window
framing the action of what hoped
to be an exclusive salon
Inside a woman with her back to
wearing CEO hair
Reads the local paper
the window is so clean
I can read over her shoulder
the headline reads
we both scrutinize the article
separated by glass and silence
Which one of us
Is still missing?
(c) From Ammonia Sunrise – Finishing Line Press
A California native, she divides her time between the Wine Country and the Gold Country. She and her husband have parented two boys past the age of self-destruction and into the age of annoying two word text missives. You can follow Catharine here:
Web site: http://www.YourBookStartsHere.com
Web site/blog: http://www.NewbieWriters.com
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