Walt’s and my mission for Poetic Bloomings is to “propagate poetry and the poets who pose it.” To that end, our Web Wednesday interviews feature veterans, novices, and everything between. This week, we are excited to feature Sara McNulty. Both of us have enjoyed her work since our arrival on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides scene. For Walt and me, that was April of 2009. Sara was there ahead of us, having participated in the P.A. 2008 November Chapbook Challenge.
Sara’s work has been published in Underground Voices, Flashquake, Still Crazy, and Poet’s Espresso (among others). “Wrapped in Fog,” below, is one of her personal favorites.
Wrapped in Fog
If a fog unfurled
across the ocean
blotting out sky,
waves to view
as I stood, toes spread
in twilight sands,
I would be home.
Beautiful start to our interview. Welcome, Sara!
I am honored to be chosen by two excellent poets, whose work I have admired for several years, M and W, the same upside down as right side up.
“The same upside down as right side up.” Love it! 🙂
So, you recently became a blogger! The title, “purplepeninportland” is intriguing. Tell us how you came up with that.
Purple is my favorite color, with red running a close second. During my too-long years of office work, I discovered that I could order lavender pads and purple pens. I was off and running after that.
There are probably as many different reasons for blogging as there are bloggers. What made you decide to create a poetry blog?
My intention to keep my life private did not seem to mesh with having a blog. However, reading articles on the benefits of getting your work circulated, combined with the fact that I could have control, changed my mind. I’m still trying to figure out all the techie terms involved in using a blog, but I’m coming along.
Your opening poem on “purplepen” is an Ovillejo. Is there a reason you chose to kick off your blog with that particular form?
The Ovillejo had just come to my attention by way of a Poetic Asides member. I found the form intriguing, but difficult. Something different is always worth exploring, but I do not relish the thought of creating another.
You have stated that the Shadorma is your favorite. What is it that draws you to this form?
I love the Shadorma! It disciplines you to be concise, while having the attributes of a jigsaw puzzle.
And speaking of forms, one of my favorite poems of yours came on Day 12 of the 2011 P.A. April Poem-a-Day Challenge. The prompt was to write a form poem, and/or an anti-form poem. This is your anti-form response.
Oh the horror
inside the lines
of sitting clenched
in your seat
until the bell rings
one book to read
out of ten.
Do not put me in a cage
I’m not a lion filled with rage.
Do not tell me how to dress
I night wear more; I might wear less,
and when it comes to iambs,
iamb not interested.
Does this piece speak to who you are as a person? Or is it simply a creative piece from a poet’s mind?
This piece absolutely speaks to who I am as a person. I like feeling free and not fitting on a line under someone else’s column.
So, what does a typical no-lines day in the life of Sara McNulty look like?
The first thing I do is fill a large mug with black coffee. I curl up on the couch and read various poets for a time. If there are no daily challenges going on, I write for an hour or more. Some mornings I do Yoga, others, free weights.
My husband and I take the dogs for a walk – well, let’s say they take us along for amusement and tugging practice. On any given day, we might drive into downtown Portland or explore new places we have discovered since moving to Oregon. We both do crosswords, and we are avid readers (particularly murder mysteries). I love cooking and baking, and we bowl once a week.
Last September I took a drawing class, and to my shock, discovered that it is true-anyone can learn to draw. I love it and find it relaxing, so I try to set aside some time each day to pursue it. I started out by doing all the Alice-in-Wonderland characters, culminating in the Tea Party (no, not that one).
At night I catch up with writing magazines, contests, blogs, submissions, and usually work on revisions. I am fortunate to have a husband who has always been able to make me laugh, and has given me space to do whatever I wanted. When an opportunity arose after quitting my last office job in breakdown mode, rather than seek new employment, he suggested that I take time off to write. That was five years ago. I never went back to an office.
Your lifestyle sounds right up my alley. It helps to have a wonderfully supportive spouse. What a blessing!
I know you have at least one loved one whose daily routine was tragically pilfered on 9/11. The following beautifully written, gripping poem was born of this heartbreak.
The World Without Your Smile (a Terza Rima)
The world gathered all its colors in your smile
like rich fabrics of satin, velvet, and silk,
like each hybrid flower amassed in a pile.
Oh how your charm and vibrancy did beguile,
melting my heart like a sweet cream candy.
Your twinkling brown eyes said you knew all the while.
The touch of your skin scorched my gut like brandy.
We lived life to the fullest within that room,
never needing the safety of a Plan B.
On a sunny morn, came the sound of a Boom!
Midst the flames and ash, your life ended too soon.
If it isn’t too difficult for you, would you please tell us how this shattering event shaped your life and poetry?
I live in the shadow of those towers, but ultimately the tragedy forced me to consciously live life in the present. I enrolled in writing classes at NYU, followed by small writing groups with the teachers. I had not found my niche in poetry yet, and was writing short stories. Finally I felt confident enough to put work out there for discussion.
Good for you, Sara. I’m glad you found constructive ways to cope, and positive people to encourage you. And along those lines, is there anyone in your life (teacher, parent, friend, neighbor, author, child) who initially inspired you to write?
My fourth grade teacher was a lovely, encouraging woman. Oddly enough, my first English assignment was to write a poem. Some of the students, myself included, were chosen to read their poems in front of the fifth and sixth grade assemblies. My knees knocked together for the whole minute I was up there.
Unfortunately, I was plagued with emotional problems from the age of thirteen. I am thankful for the doctor who eventually found a combination of medications that helped me to balance. I did not write seriously again until turning forty.
As a writing goal, you state on your site that you “hope to touch a nerve.” What type of poetry touches a nerve in you, Sara?
Maya Angelou, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others touch me deeply with their sense of everyday beauty, horror, laughter, and melancholy.
If we could know only one thing about you, what would you want us to know?
My sense of humor and sarcasm has never failed me.
Fabulous! Thank you again for your willingness to share yourself with us.