POET INTERVIEW – ERIN KAY HOPE
Last month I had the honor and absolute pleasure of interviewing our eldest Poetic Bloomings poet, Marian Veverka. How much fun would it be to interview our eldest and youngest, back-to-back? Heaps of fun, as it turns out!
It is with great joy that I finally get to introduce our freshest blossom: sixteen-year-old Erin Kay Hope. Welcome, Erin!
ERIN: Hello, Marie! Thank you for having me here.
MARIE ELENA: It’s truly my pleasure. I’m sure our poetic family is going to be pleased to finally be able to place a face with the name, and get to learn a little about our young prodigy. Many “out here” have expressed that they can hardly believe your age. I’ve actually had two poets contact me privately to ask if I knew you outside of the internet, and could verify that you are indeed 15 (your age at that time). Your poetry has the quality and maturity of someone much older. You are also wise beyond your years, I must say. How do you account for that?
ERIN: Wow … I’m not really sure how to answer this. All I can say is that, if anything I have written seems wise in any way, it is a reflection on my parents. Anything I know, I’ve learned from them.
MARIE ELENA: What an uplifting response! I wish all parents were such that their teenage children would feel that way about them … and that all teens were such that they would recognize when they have wise parents.
Erin, much of your poetry reflects your obvious and contagious love for God. I’m sure this is at least in part due to the input of these wise parents of yours.
ERIN: Growing up where I do, I can’t help but love God. Ever since I was born, I have been brought up in His word, starting with the Ten Commandments and the Apostle’s Creed when I was little, and then moving on to daily Bible reading. I am daily washed and renewed by His word, through other people. I have received so much, and am learning to give it away as well. I definitely think that poetry is a good avenue for that.
MARIE ELENA: “Growing up where I do, I can’t help but love God.” It sounds like you live in a beautiful area of the county. Where are you from?
ERIN: I am from Tacoma, Washington. I believe that the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
MARIE ELENA: I’ve never lived near mountains. Your photos are breath taking. And speaking of photos, your blog, Picture Perfect, is just charming! You’ve managed a nice mix of photography, poetry, food, family life, friendship, and art. What prompted you to create it, and what is your goal?
ERIN: I basically started my blog as a way to share all the photos I was taking with my new camera. I really had no idea of posting my poems, but several of my friends gave me the idea, and, after starting The Inklets with Amy and Anna, I took them up on it.
MARIE ELENA: I know The Inklets (cute name!) is a poetry/writers club you three started. How cool! How do you know one another?
ERIN: I’ve known Amy and Anna all my life. We go to the same church, and Amy and I have been in the same class for most of our school years. She lives right next door to me, so we see each other basically every day. We were very inspired by the Inklings group (J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are two of my very favorite authors). We wanted to name our group something similar, so we chose “The Inklets.”
MARIE ELENA: Is it easy to blog together, or are there difficulties in agreeing on how to go about it and what to post? (Behave Walter! 😉 )
ERIN: The difficulties that arise are never really a result of the blog posts (I’m always the one who posts them, as it is on my blog). What we do disagree on sometimes, though, is the actual writing. I am very into keeping to strict forms and meters, and never writing free verse; Amy and Anna are exactly opposite. They usually groan when I bring in a form to use. 😉
MARIE ELENA: Oh, so you’re the slave master! Just teasing, of course.
Erin, what prompted your interest in photography? Do you take photos for the simple enjoyment of it?
ERIN: I think what first sparked my interest was a photography class that we had last year in school. The teacher is a good friend of mine. She would always show me her nice camera, and even let me use it on occasion. I decided I had to have one of my own. So I saved up and got one. I love taking pictures! Especially of flowers and nature in general. What usually attracts my attention is lighting and shading and colors. That’s generally what I try to capture with my photos: the color.
MARIE ELENA: I always share a favorite poem from each of our interview guests. It is seldom easy to choose just one, and I had a very difficult time whittling down to just one of yours. I finally chose Inside the Ashes, as I believe shows off that natural feel of yours:
Inside the Ashes
He’s taken my closed mouth,
And filled it with His own word;
Taken my stopped ears, and
Let them rejoice in hearing;
He’s taken this burnt-out,
Black as hell heart, and planted
Something beautiful and green
Inside the ashes.
This is lovely, insightful, and comes straight from your heart … and I love the photo you chose to pair it with. Very nice work.
So, when did you become interested in poetry, and what (or whom) sparked that interest?
ERIN: I first became interested in writing poetry last summer, but I have always loved to read it. I think reading different poets like Tennyson and Shakespeare and Wordsworth definitely sparked my interest.
MARIE ELENA: Who would you say is your favorite?
ERIN: That’s a difficult question to answer, as I have at least ten favorite poets and a lot more that I really like. 😉 But I think my all-time favorite would have to be Alfred, Lord Tennyson. There’s something about his style of writing that I love.
MARIE ELENA: What do you look for in a poem? Or what do you think makes a great poem?
ERIN: Hmm … I think for a poem to really get to me, it has to make me feel what the poet felt as he or she wrote it – whether it be joy, sorrow, pain, longing, etc.
MARIE ELENA: What is your goal as a poet? For instance, do you write simply because it gives you pleasure? Is your goal to earn income? Perhaps make your name known? Leave a piece of yourself for future generations?
ERIN: I won’t lie, making my name known and leaving a piece of myself in the future would be great! However, I really don’t have much hope in that. I think I just write for the pleasure I get out of it. There’s nothing like the feeling you get as you complete a poem, put down your pen, and survey your completed product.
MARIE ELENA: It seems we all have certain topics, events, or people in our lives that spark our best poetry. You often write about the loss of your brother. Your pieces are tender and poignant, while being beautiful and respectful. If it isn’t too painful for you, can you share what happened?
ERIN: Cameron was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. He went through very severe treatments for two years, including chemo therapy and radiation. I went with my mom to almost every appointment in the course of those two years.
He died on April 20, 2008 at the age of 12. That night is very hazy. I have a vague recollection of waking up at one point and hearing sirens outside, and someone knocking at our door. But the next morning is still vividly clear to me. As I walked downstairs, I peeked in his room. He wasn’t lying in bed, and his oxygen tank wasn’t being used. I guess I knew right then that something was wrong.
When my dad told us that he had died, it was like the ground had been pulled out from under me. I burst into tears – we all did. I can’t remember another time that I’ve seen my dad cry. The days that followed and the funeral are all a blur of crying, comforting, and preparing. I really don’t know how we would have made it through if it hadn’t been for the love and support from everyone in our church.
MARIE ELENA: Having never lost a member of my immediate family yet, I truly cannot even imagine the pain you and your family felt, and I’m sure continue to feel. Does it help you to write about it?
ERIN: I find it very difficult to talk about, so I don’t very often. I do think, though, that writing helps. I’m not really sure how, but it does.
MARIE ELENA: Erin, thank you so much for handling this difficult topic with such sensitivity and grace. You really do impress me.
Now, in contrast, what would you say is the very best thing that has ever happened in your life?
ERIN: I’ve been blessed with everything. I have a wonderful family, friends, and lots of other things: my whole existence is a blessing. How can a person that has been so blessed bring all of that down to only one best thing? I think, though, that if I had to choose it would be this: about six or seven months after my brother died, my mom told me that she was expecting. On June 26, 2009, my little sister Joan was born. I can’t even explain how thankful we were. She was like an answer to a prayer. She’s been a continual source of wonder and delight ever since. I wrote down all these feelings in what is one of my favorite poems that I have written so far: “The New Dawn.”
The New Dawn
My heart lay
On the shores of desolation,
Beached and breathless;
My mind, numbed,
Unable to comprehend it,
Comfort, for strength to endure, as
Bitter tears fall.
And God, in
His everlasting mercy sent
The comfort I
Had asked for:
Girl, brand new sister, filling the
Gap in my heart;
But relieving the sense of
And I looked out my window at
The golden sun:
Freedom and life reborn,
The new dawn,
Fresh opportunities beckon,
A time to start again.
Not in a strict form, but it’s the outpourings of a very thankful heart.
MARIE ELENA: Oh, Erin … I had to wipe away tears. She is adorable, and I know you love her dearly. You’ve even suffered a special diet with her, just out of love for her. What a super big sister you are.
MARIE ELENA: Okay kiddo – one last question, and I’ll let you off the hook: If you could tell us only one thing about you, what would it be?
ERIN: I am a very blessed daughter of God. I don’t deserve anything that I have, but God has given me everything. I am definitely blessed.
MARIE ELENA: And you have definitely blessed us. Thank you, Erin.