WEB WEDNESDAY – De Miller Jackson – Part I

The first selection for Web Wednesday is De Miller Jackson’s “Whimsygizmo.” Her voice is quite familiar here at Poetic Bloomings, as well as at Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer.
De has a great blog and a fine body of work to present there. Marie Elena conducted this interview with De to get an insight into her poetry.

***

MARIE: De, I make no apologies and no secret of the fact that I want your brain. Your ability to manipulate simple words to form captivating poetry entertains and intrigues me to no end. The piece below is one of the first that caught my eye and charmed my senses:

spin cycle

found
a dirty note
in your clean laundry
in your handwriting
addressed to not me.

(Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer, 2009 April P.A.D.)

You begin with the inspired, more-than-one-meaning title. “Found,” which is the crux of the subject matter, sits skillfully alone on the first line. You move to describe the “dirty note” in “clean laundry.” Again, use of the double meaning “dirty,” and “laundry” is so very clever. You could simply end with, “addressed to her.” Or, “not addressed to me.” But your “addressed to not me” ends this little piece of brilliance, and makes it captivatingly “De.”

1. Your word-play style (as exemplified in “spin cycle”) is unlike any other with which I am personally familiar. Is there a poet who inspires you?

First off, I wanted to say thank you to both of you for this opportunity, and your encouragement. I’m loving this bloomin’ site, and feel so privileged to be here.
Okay, poets who inspire me. Oh, so many. I’ve loved E.E. Cummings since high school. I recently picked up a tattered copy of Theodore Roethke’s “Words for the Wind” (he had me at the title), and now I’m addicted to his penchant for lush descriptions and blatant disregard for convention of phrase. I adore Sharon Creech, who writes novels, with poetry at the center of each. And maybe my absolute modern favorite is the work of pithy poet/whimsical artist Brian Andreas. He rocks. Google his name or “Story People” immediately.

2. You often write of the pain of an ended marriage. Unfortunately, you write heartache very well. Do you find pouring heart to page therapeutic?

I think a more accurate word might be necessary. I hate to think of myself as an angst poet, but the truth is simply that tears and ink tend to flow at the same time. That particular heartache was 21 years ago, but I can remember scribbling my anger onto napkins, hotel brochure margins, anything I could get my hands on. As the Goo-Goo Dolls say, “scars are souvenirs you never lose,” so it’s easy even now, in the peaceful hollow of this second-chance life of mine, to channel that pain back to the page. I definitely write best when I’m…tumbled. And I breathe best when I’m writing.

3. Do you consider yourself to be a “poet?”

Ha. That’s a tough question. Sometimes. I do like that you can be unpublished and call yourself a poet, while you’re supposedly not an “author” until you’ve sold something. I’ve always considered myself a writer, and I’ve tried my hand at poetry since I could pick up a pen…but I think the title itself comes tough sometimes. And then there are days when I’d much rather be a zookeeper, or a pirate. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but sometimes it’s infinitely harder to pick up. But I would say I’ve definitely embraced Psalm 61:8 as my chosen job description: “I’ll be the poet who sings your glory, and live what I sing every day.”

4. Your faith shines in a good deal of your writing. How much are you inspired by the praise and worship music lyrics of today? What else inspires you?

Relevant, personal praise lyrics inspire me so much. We’ve got an amazing team at our church, and they share the newest songs as well as their own original works. Actually, poetic song lyrics of any kind get my muse fired up. I love that music makes poetry digestible for the masses. Even people who say they don’t “get” poetry know a great line when they hear one. A sharp movie or TV script makes me itch to write, too. We’re currently re-watching the series Pushing Daisies, and it’s truly one of the most brilliantly written shows ever. I’m also inspired daily when I’m able to keep up with the extraordinary work that’s being shared on sites like Poetic Asides, and now this growing place.

5. Is there a specific poetic form that tickles your “whimsy”?

I was introduced to both the Fibonacci and the Shadorma through Robert’s Poetic Asides site, and I love both. I like pieces that pack a punch, in just a few words. I’m most fond of short and straight to the heart (or gut) prose. The more formal forms tend to intimidate me – just the word “sestina” makes me break out into a cold sweat. Mostly I get enamored of a turn of phrase, a spill of words rubbed together in a certain way, a way I never would have imagined.

(Continued)

WEB WEDNESDAY – De Miller Jackson – Part II

6. You have expressed desire to write for children. Do you write children’s poetry? If so, may we see a sample?

I’ve devoured Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and others my whole life, and now share them with my kids. I have written a couple of (wildly rejected) rhyming children’s books, which are too long to share here. Even the titles are a mouthful: Wilhelmina Wendelworth and the Worrywarts, Molly Melancholy and the Mirror, and Princess Penelope and the Procrastinators. But just for fun, here’s a shorter piece:

Hippo Hoopla

The hippos are having a party,
Some merriment in the mud
Their faces are all full of mischief,
Just grinning and chewing their cud.
No one says they hippo-poto-musn’t,
And so they stay dirty all day
As they wallow and they wander,
In their hip-hip-hippo-ray way.
And when the day is over,
They take a little rest…
After making a wonderfully,
Toppy to bottomy, flip-flopopotomy
Hippo-poto-MESS!

7. We “met” in 2009 through the Writer’s Digest /Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge. How did you hear about this challenge? Was it your first “public” venue?

A good friend and fellow poetic soul, Tonya Root (now Schulte), invited me to that April’s challenge through Facebook, and it was indeed my first far-flung phrase in a long time. I shared some writing in college, and have been in a writing group for the past 15 years, but I was kind of in hiding for a while there. I’m profoundly thankful to have landed in the midst of such an incredible community of poets.

8. The name of your blog, Whimsygizmo, makes me grin. Tell us about it.

My daughter, who is as whimsical as they come, has loved the word whimsy since she could talk. A little over a year ago when I got my laptop, I knew I would name it Whimsy. The Gizmo just sort of happened, and she became Whimsy Gizmo MacIntosh the First. The blog was born soon after (thanks to my techie hubbie; I’m a hopeless technophobe). The name seemed to fit there, too.

9. Do you have plans for a book of poetry? (If so, is there a particular publisher you have in mind? Or would you consider self-publication?)

No immediate plans. The administrative side of writing both flummoxes and frustrates me. I just want to sit around and play with the pretty words. But I have recently surrounded myself with Poetic Asides inspiration (literally, right here on my desk): RJ Clarken’s “Mugging for the Camera,” Jacqueline Hallenbeck’s “Poem-atic,” Patricia Hawkenson’s “Magnetic Repulsion,” Bruce Niedt’s “breathing out,” and of course Nancy Posey’s stunning 2009 November Chapbook Challenge winner “Let the Lady Speak.” Robert’s first book “Enter” is headed my way, too. There’s just something intoxicating about the feel and smell of paper…I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to begin, but the prospect of my own little poem book does excite me. I’m just waiting for a healthy kick of audacity, I suppose.

10. Finally, would you consider sharing your brain with me (Marie)?

It would only be fair, since you’ve shared your incredible heart so generously with me. But fair warning: it comes with quite a bit of “most mad and moonly” much of the time. Seriously, though, your encouragement means so much to me. I wouldn’t even sometimes call myself a poet if it wasn’t for the support of everyone at Poetic Asides. Poeming can be such a solo gig. We really do need each other. It’s now on my bucket list to one day share a cup of coffee with each and every one of you.

De Shares Some of Her Poetry:

Canvas
 
Paint me indigo
turquoise
cobalt
aquamarine
colors of sky and sea,
sprinkle sand at my bare feet.

Trace ink
tears
ocean
lake
along my veins,
brush eyes with sunlight.

Shade heart
with oils
of scarlet
ebony
purest white
and crimson scars still healing.

Sketch face
in colored pencil
erasable
changeable
long thin lines
waiting to be filled in.

Color me
blend-in earth tones
backdrop silhouette
with a splash of flash
pink, perhaps or periwinkle
because I like the way it tastes on my tongue.

Paint me incomplete
untitled
hues unknown
bold lines
willing heart
and then pause, unfinished, hungry brush still in hand.

*
surface tension

she is tired
of pasting on the faces
tightening the laces
of proverbial social corset,
the mumblings of
carefully weighed words
heavy in weary mouth.

she longs to
flee barefoot through roses
strike scandalous poses
of provocative social force, yet
the rumblings of
quiet quaking anger
steady her shaking hand.

she wishes
to file all masks on the shelf
just be her raw self
a profoundly flawed source, set
for tumblings of
bare phrase, true words
rare heart, real love.
 

*
stones
(a shadorma)

her own glass
house long shattered, she
piles them high
stacks her odds
nods at untruths now known, then
leaves them there unthrown.