POET INTERVIEW – MARJORY M. THOMPSON (MMT)
Today’s guest, Marjory M. Thompson, has been a consistent poetic voice “out here” for a while now. I’m certain I’m not the only one who sees her smile each time I read her words. What a pleasure to finally get around to featuring that smile here.
One of my favorite poems of Marjory’s is the first one she posted for the 2012 Poetic Asides April Poem-a-Day Challenge.
COMMUNICATION (by Marjory M. Thompson)
My Dear Friend, you are…
So many many miles away …
Was it yesterday or a hundred days ago
when I last felt your hand in mine,
gazed into your eyes and heard
So many many miles away …
While saturating my thoughts,
would that you inundated my space,
then the sun would shine brighter,
the birds sing sweeter and the
day be overall delicious.
So many many miles away…
Across deserts, mountains
and deep chasms.
regrets and tears.
Across oceans, across glaziers.
Across what might have been.
So many many miles away…
If I close my eyes
and make believe,
would the miles,
could the miles,
MARIE ELENA: Such a lovely poem, Marjory, infused with emotion and imagery. I can’t help but think there is a story behind it.
MARJORY: Yes, Marie there is a story. Over the years I have lived in over a dozen towns and attended eight separate schools, each with a different set of class mates. It led to meeting a lot of people, and seeing many places, but there was the disadvantage of losing touch with special friends. No e-mail or Facebook back then. I reconnected (after 35 years of no contact) with a special group of friends and a couple youthful flames. A lot of incredible memories surfaced and while (today) the group remains scattered across the USA we are all still connected. It was and is the shared fellowship with Christ that binds us together.
MARIE ELENA: Oh, I knew it. Your poem sings it. It’s why it is one of my favorites of yours. Thank you for giving us “the rest of the story.”
Now, forgive me if I once knew and then forgot, but I don’t recall knowing you wrote, illustrated, and published a novel! Go Marjory! What can you tell me about it?
MARJORY: In 2001, I considered the question: “What would it be like for a woman to walk a thousand miles through hostile land taking with her only what she could carry?” I had no thoughts of doing a novel. I just wanted to see where the idea took me. It was NaNoRiMo 2010 that informed me that the 50,000-word short story I was playing with qualified as a novel. By then, I knew that I wanted to finish it and share it with some friends and family. Illustrations came to mind to accompany the story, and I ended up doing 24 ink drawings. Since I could not afford to get an agent and publisher (I did have it proofed and edited), I designed the layout and cover, typed it, added the drawings, and took it (pdf) to a local printer to have 50 books printed.
The character (Mag) was a woman in her early 40s who ended up traveling two thousand miles on the quest to honor a promise made years earlier. Emotionally, I ‘felt’ each experience Mag went through, including sitting in my front room and “choosing what I would take.” I felt her fears, joys, sickness, pain, thirst … It was a very interesting experience to journey with her, and a challenge to get it finished and printed.
MARIE ELENA: Thank you for sharing an illustration with us. The whole process of this novel sounds intriguing. I love that you felt it all with your character. It was obviously inspired writing.
How would you describe your experience with self-publication?
MARJORY: It is a lot of work. Luckily, I have some computer programs and experience that helped me and also a great printing company that I had worked with over the years in my design business. The promoting end was low-key. It was more for my own satisfaction of completing it than for going for a large market. I wanted to share it with my family and a few friends. Beyond that, any sales would be icing on the cake. Sales work is just ‘not my thing.’
I also have a couple of self-compiled poetry chap books, some children’s letters (written by a couple little imaginary friends of mine), devotionals, women’s programs, and allegories.
MARIE ELENA: Do you have any plans to write more novels? Do you have one in the works?
MARJORY: Thanks to NaNo, I have two follow-up novels in rough form, illustrations started for #2 (about Mag’s son, a photographer and a bit of a rebel) and poems for #3, which the main character ‘writes’ on his journey. It is just a matter of getting my head back in ‘novel-mode.’
MARIE ELENA: Please tell me how you came to desire to write poetry. Did that precede novel writing? Which do you enjoy more, and which do you feel you have gained more “success” in?
MARJORY: I had a good introduction to prose and poetry in Jr. High and have been an avid reader (mainly prose) since then. My unique way of spelling, using grammar and composing sentence structure, however, did not draw encouragement from others for me to write, or to share any of my writing. I took only the required English classes, and put my efforts into math, science, art and drafting.
I did save some of the writing. In the mid-1960s I was bouncing poetry with a friend. I wrote the following poem, and then did not see it again until the mid-80s when a counselor encouraged me to write (thoughts, feelings, etc.).
Having returned to the US from Australia, we joined my husband’s large extroverted family. They proceeded to attempt to correct my extremely introverted personality. When I found this poem in its original rough, pencil form, I realized that I am, and have been who I am as far back as I can remember. Being an introvert is okay. I do not have to change.
I want to run away and hide
deep within my being.
To be the me I want to be
without another seeing.
To feel the world and I
as one in quiet solitude.
To feel the burdens of my day
fall from my shrouded brain,
and wash away the dross of day
as doth the falling rain.
My writing (both prose and poetry) comes in spurts. It became more steady starting in 2001. I was not aware of form poetry until I joined the Garden. I delight in the challenge of writing to a given form, and enjoy using several forms I have learned in the Garden.
MARIE ELENA: Being an introvert myself, I can appreciate what you are feeling. Your poem is lovely and touches me … especially the final stanza.
Besides poetry and novels, you have a talent for art and photography. Please tell me a little about your art.
MARJORY: I have works in various media and have held two one-woman art shows. I regard art as a gift given to me by the Master Artist. Something to nurture, use and share. I like realism and detail, but not a photograph-type reproduction. That is what cameras are for. A painting, like writing, should reflect the artist or writer; style, subject, form, media – where a subtle (or bold) essence of the producer lies within the product to identify the artist and author. Then hopefully as one grows, develops and expands, that essence is retained. The ‘you’ never melts down to become ‘just one of them.’
MARIE ELENA: Such an elegant description, Marjory. Have you dabbled in it since you were a child, or did this desire and discovery of talent come later in life?
MARJORY: My first memory of ‘art’ is of coloring pictures while living at our log-home in Alaska. We moved from that home when I was five. Yes, it has been a life-long interest. I took the regular art classes in high school, and a couple of art classes in college. I kept some work from both high school and college.
MARIE ELENA: We’ll get to that log home in a moment. But first, what art media do you enjoy?
MARJORY: My favorite media-of-the-day has varied over the years: oils, acrylic, watercolor, ink, free form on the computer, pastels, stained glass, even clay and ceramics and bead work. I have been doing mostly ink for several years (I put one in the Garden Gallery), but am returning to acrylic, which I use as a cross between oil and water colors.
MARIE ELENA: The ink drawing version hanging in our Garden Gallery is impressive.
I know you also dabble in photography. You had provided an evocative photo for a photo prompt here at Creative Bloomings.
MARJORY: For me, getting a really good photo is mostly about luck, and taking hundreds of pictures to get one I would want to share. But I keep trying, ‘cause I like it when I do get “That One Great One.”
MARIE ELENA: My husband would completely agree with you, and I’m sure he is thankful for digital cameras. They are great for taking hundreds without having to pay to get them developed to see what you’ve got. 😉
Speaking of photos, that’s a lovely one of you and your family. Please introduce us.
MARJORY: I met my husband, Ernie, in college. We were married in 1967 and have two sons (Edward and Michael). Ernie was a chemist and teacher. Right after we were married, he spent 2.5 years in Army Medical Research, San Francisco, California. In 1972, we went to So. Australia for 4.3 years (he taught high school science). We then spent twelve years on the family dairy farm (Custer, Washington) before returning to the non-farm world of lab research and design/drafting (architecture).
MARIE ELENA: Thank you, Marjory! Now, back to your family home in Alaska. I saw this absolutely fascinating photo, and found it completely enchanting. It seems it could prompt a novel all on its own. Please tell me about life here.
MARJORY: During WWII, with the fear of Japan coming to the U.S. through Alaska, there was a big push to set up bases and ‘protection’ in various places in Alaska. One place was Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Men (and families) were shipped up to build roads to facilitate the movement of personnel on the mainland and on the Island. My dad helped build the Kodiak road. I was born there.
Land was available to homestead. Friends of my folks built the log house, then asked us to live there to fulfill the homesteading requirements. It came complete with an outhouse in the woods, wood stove, outside water pump, oil lamps and a sometimes-used generator. There was a large barn with dairy herd, a pig pen with a sow my sisters and I tormented (until the day she jumped the fence and chased us), large chicken house which chickens and ducks. There was a horse or two (not for me to ride) and a fantastic ocean bay where we played…and we lived a mile from the city dump which we thought was a fascinating place to check out and throw rocks at the rats. There were berries and roses growing at the edge of the woods behind the house, but we did not venture into the woods. The statement “there could be bears in the woods” kept us out.
MARIE ELENA: The photo completely captured my imagination. The way you describe life there sounds tough and enchanting at the same time. I’d love to see it in person.
As I was snooping about, trying to find some information on you, I discovered that you are the owner of MET Tech Design and Drafting. What can you tell me about this business? I assume you started it, and it is privately owned. What does it entail, and what do you do?
MARJORY: I started drafting my second year in high school when I learned it was a ‘form of art” I could get paid for. I worked in mechanical and architectural drafting until I became a mom. I returned to architectural drafting in 1990.
I have been self-employed for the past thirteen years, and am now trying to become full-time retired. I do design and drafting, and prepare drawings for permitting and construction. I have been working mostly with tenant improvements (redesigning area use for one business which is moving into an area previously used by another business) for businesses like retail sales, offices, banks, restaurants, doctors, gyms, etc. I have also designed a number of homes and do home additions and remodels.
I am moving into a new area of art under the business name “Miniature Art.” In Birch Bay and Blaine, we get a lot of tourist traffic. However, to find and buy a distinctly Birch Bay or Blaine souvenir– not very possible. I am working (again all home grown and put together with the help of my favorite printing shop) on a line of magnets, coasters, decorations, bookmarks and postcards that reflect the two places. I am using some local photos and paintings of my own, plus also reusing numbered prints of some of the art from my past, including a set of quilt-block drawings (coffee coasters), the colors of which I can change at will on the computer (using Auto CAD). I also have some 4×4 paintings of distinctly local events and places.
MARIE ELENA: These are so pretty! Your many-faceted talent is something to be proud of. You really are blessed. Would you say you have been pleased so far with the life you have led? Why, or why not?
MARJORY: Hmmm…. done a lot of things, been to many places, met a lot of people, been though rough and challenging times, and some wonderfully good times. Would not want to repeat the years, nor throw too many of them away. The road behind me has lead me to where I am today (physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally – the whole lump of clay). The road ahead – I cannot see beyond the bend. I only know that whatever tools I need to use on that road, God will give to me as I need them.
The goal for me, beyond the personal satisfaction (of writing and doing art), is to produce a product that is meaningful to the viewer and reader. They look at a picture or read something and it brings to mind an experience, thought or person. Then the picture or the written word lives to become a part of them. When someone stops to ponder or reread; there is life and a connection is made.
MARIE ELENA: Lovely response, Marjory. Now one last question, as is customary here at Creative Bloomings: If you could share only one thing about yourself, what would it be?
MARJORY: I believe there is more for me to do, and at the right time, God will show me how to use the tools He has prepared for me.
Marjory has 2 Chap Books for sale. One is a compilation of 20 poems written during the Nov. 2012 Poetic Asides PAD challenge, entitled “My Poetic PAD.” The second is entitled “Strength in Prayer.” Each may be purchased for $5.00 plus shipping.
Her novel “Forever Promise” is available for $15.00 plus shipping. She may be reached via Facebook or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).