Happy National Poetry Month! It’s day 22 and for today’s interview I have poet Katherine Felix:
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… words written with a rhythm and flow that evokes images and emotion; although not always as the writer intended. For me, for it to be great, I believe it has to be genuine; from the emotional core of the writer. It is a form of art that allows for personal development, as it allows the artist to work through their own life issues, and yet touch the intellect and heart of another. Writing poetry is self-expression, working out how we feel about situations that most deeply affect us, regardless of the emotion. It can as easily be joy, awe, anger, gratitude or pain. Poetry is the expression of and sharing of the emotion by the writer in a manner that captures the essence of whatever the poet felt deeply enough about to reach for their pen. I think that it is also a social commentary of both a timeless nature, relevant always; as well as representative of the period of time in which the artist lives.
Do you believe poetry matter? Why?
Definitely. Poets think about issues deeply – distil them through their own unique life experiences and present to others, how their shared world has affected them. Sometimes a reader/listener will be exposed to an entirely new way of looking at a topic. In other cases they can relate to the author’s work on a very personal way, often being given the first hint that they themselves are not alone in feeling what they are feeling.
Poetry is often the first way that injustice comes to light in times when society seems to be casting a blind eye on an issue, poets are often those who are among the first to give Voice to the emotion of the society when it goes against the values of its citizens.
And finally, for those of us who write it, poetry is as much a part of our lives as our breath. I do not have any idea how I would have emotionally coped with my life if I had not been able to express myself, work through each crisis in the words that just flow when they are ready.
Often poets- all artists I think, know that the poem, the story, the painting that develops right in front of them – is not really from them. Inspiration that comes out of nowhere is spiritual; a kind of obligation that is owed to the source of the talent we have been blessed with. To close off that connection, ignoring those messages is not only self-damaging to the artist, but the world loses the gifts of those amazing moments of pure inspiration.
Who is your favorite poet and why?
I have so many favorite poets. I do not have a single favorite. I am a visual artist as well, and that is like asking me my favorite colour… I go through periods when I fall in love with a colour pallet, and when I discover a new poet it is like that, or hear a new work from someone whose work I consistently admire. It changes all the time as I see and hear and read. I think it also has to do with where I am at as a person- what touches me now, I would never have gotten when I was 21, but the poetry I loved then still resonates with me, because it is part of my history.
Some of my favorite poets are not even known outside of Barbados… but some of the poets who I love areKamau Brathwaite, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Derek Walcott, Adrian Green, Ayesha Nura, Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Emily Bronte’, the Beats and even Homer. Maybe my consistent favorite since I discovered his work though is Rumi. Timeless.
Name one poet you wished more people knew about and why.
That is a hard question because I am passionate about the development of poetry and spoken word as art forms. I wish more people knew more about all of the poets in the League of Extraordinary Poets here in Barbados; you can’t meet a more diverse and talented group, who consistently mentor and share their skills with other, developing poets. Outside of them, I think Rumi would be my pick, because the fact that the words he wrote- thousands of years ago still touch us today, are still relevant to our lives as human beings should speak to all of humanity about our ingrained similarities – rather than our differences.
Explain your poetry writing process.
I have found over the years that I have several distinct processes. There are periods when there is a theme that I feel strongly about and my subconscious keeps a running dialog going with God I think until all the details are crystalizes and then, when I sit down it just sort of writes itself.
Then there are the crafted pieces – an idea, a spark will come to me, but not the words themselves. These pieces are researched, and words carefully chosen, edited and re-edited until I am satisfied.
And then there are works that just write themselves – I have woken from sleep and a whole piece just writes itself and very little editing has to be done. Or something that has been under my skin for years, but some specific event triggers a strong emotional response- it’s as if years of having to deal with something comes to a head and I just write… “Who I Am” was one of those.
Bonus Katharine shares with us today a poem she wrote, a a Silver Award winning entry at NIFCA:
Still this thumping crescendo
beating against blocked cage,
veins fear constricted -
dark thoughts circling;
mental birds of prey,
perpetually prepared to pounce.
Defending against – comes light
burning bright within;
each day sees one or another
extinguished and replaced;
gutted buzzard’s feathers become repurposed memories,
inspiration for creation; muses birthed in battle.
Art is born as each dark cloud is lanced
by sun beam sabres, Illuminated by love’s gaze.
Love captured, was entwined;
art and music joined;
neither suspecting reciprocal lessons
such collaborations bring.
Strength follows confidence
climbing up canals; one chakra to the next;
clearing away past wounds; breaking vessels blocked
insecurities escaping through the exit paths…
leaving not rubble, but cornerstone for new foundations;
better balanced, in harmony.
November 23, 2014 at 8:59pm Katherine Felix ©
Katherine Felix is a Poet, Writer, Visual Artist and budding Spoken Word Artist, residing in Barbados.
She is an award winning Writer, Poet and Visual Artist having won three Silver; multiple Bronzes for Poetry and Prose in Literary Arts and five Bronze awards in Visual Arts from Barbados’ National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) over the years since 2011.
A Project Manager by day, Katherine is a founding member of the League of Extraordinary Poets, (LXP) a Non-Profit organization devoted to the holistic development of the Arts and Artists.
Her short stories and poetry has been selected for and published in three separate anthologies.
The 2011/2012 Arts Etc NIFCA Winning Words Anthology is only available at Days Books in Independence Square and the Barbados Museum’s Gift Shop, in Barbados.
Senseisha: Memoirs of the Caribbean Woman
The Ink Spot Presents: Spoken Ink Written
You can follow Katherine on her:
Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/CaribKat?ref=hl
LXP Web site: http://lxpbarbados.org/
And listen to the audio of “Who I Am” on: