In our efforts to put a face and personality to the fine poets we present, it is about time we offer for your perusal and enjoyment one of Walt’s favorite poets. She is a multi-faceted individual as you will read and very talented at that. We sometimes wonder when we stop learning; when the student becomes the teacher. This woman has found the balance of that quandry in her inimatable style. Both an educator and a student of the world around her, she shares her insights with our readers.
Here is Patricia A. Hawkenson.
Poet Patricia A. Hawkenson
Welcome Patricia. I’ve been looking forward to profiling you and your work here at POETIC BLOOMINGS.
1. In following your many works, it has become apparent that as the saying goes, “You learn something new everyday.” As an educator, do you find yourself as a receptive “student” of the writing process and the craft as a whole?
I consider myself a ‘lifelong learner.’ Something new catches my attention every day, and it is an on-going challenge to sort through what I have time and energy to absorb, and what I have to set aside. My firm belief in thinking there is no right way to do anything, struggles when my writing must conform to a form.
2. Also in that regard, do you find that you use your writing as a viable teaching aid for your students? Does it lend itself to getting them to express themselves more concisely?
My writing slips in to many of my classroom lessons. I often write my students in as the characters of sentences, paragraphs, and short stories. They are encouraged to write in a variety of styles, and I do hold them accountable for appropriate grammar and spelling. Then we share their work with each other, in the hallways, and on line.
3. You have published a few collections of your works. The one I find most intriguing is MAGNETIC REPULSION (100 Poems From Desire to Disgust). Upon what was the concept based? Can you tell us a bit about your journey through that publishing process?
When I divorced, I had a lot of quiet evenings to fill when my young daughter was asleep in bed, and I was alone with my thoughts. The poems share events that I experienced with my husband, a transitional relationship, and then the man I finally married. The poems do not follow a chronological path, but I have collected all the “positive” poems in the beginning of the text. Then it moves through the “neutral” phase and then progresses to the “negative” aspects as all three relationships seem to run their course. Being a creative writer, I have included a few imagined poems, as well. The magnet concept also connects to my classroom, as I coach a Technology Team of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. To earn money for needed technology equipment in our school, such as projectors or headsets, our team designs and sells locker magnets. I am often seen in our building pushing the ‘magnet cart.’
4. Creativity seems to course through you. Along with your writing, you list your activities/hobbies/creative endeavors as: Poet (of course), Jewelry Designer/Maker, and maker of Handmade Handbags. In the summer you teach students to create videos with Movie Maker. You create stained glass works of art, specializing in 3D objects (kaleidoscopes, jewelry boxes, etc.). You draw. You paint. You enjoy camping. Do you ever find yourself spread a bit too thin for your own good? Touch on a few of these points of interest.
It is true that my artistic interests spill over into too many baskets. There is just so much fun in trying it all. My husband is in the process of building a 3 season room that will serve as my studio and allow me a space to continue my stained glass work. I haven’t been able to work on that due to lack of proper ventilation. Since I couldn’t work on glass projects, I began sewing handbags. I kept telling myself I needed to have something in place as a back-up career when I retire from teaching. It boils down to ‘idle hands.’ I just need my hands to be producing something.
5. As long as we’re pushing the envelope, you expressed a desire to participate in the NANOWRIMO as well. Which do you find as a more productive use of your writing acumen, poetry or novel writing? I’ll tell you, I attempted the NaNoWriMo, but found myself too tied to the poetic process and my other avenue of success, playwriting. How are you able to keep the processes separate? Do you attempt to accept both of the challenges: the NANO and the POETIC ASIDES NOVEMBER CHAPBOOK CHALLENGE?
Insanity does not run in my family. I may be the first, but yes, I am attempting to complete BOTH this November. Since June, I have had the impetus of a novel that is insisting it must be written. Unfortunately, I have been suffering with back pain that has left that project simmering. The novel will be historical fiction, but one of the characters will be a poet. The entries to the chapbook challenge will be the character’s entries into their journal. It will be interesting to see how I can incorporate the given prompt to fit what I need the character to feel or express. Of course, I may not use all the poems in the book.
6. I’ve reached back into the archive to present one of the first poems of yours that brought your work to my attention:
There is a lifelong
that artists suffer
causing them to abruptly wake
from a sound sleep
as if from an electric shock
with their shifting eyes thinking
resting on nothing in the blackness
until they frantically
reach for the notepad
and pre-sharpened pencil
on the nightstand.
The ability to write
without seeing the line,
a compelling genetic defect,
is causing them to break
from the rest of night
to rise with their thoughts
before the dawn’s activity
can flood them away.
Their lovers have come
to follow in their wake
turning off curling irons
and moving pots off the stove
have carried them away
drowned in thought.
That seems to play into the stereotype of one of the devices that writer’s use to stir their muse. Do you have other “tricks’ that you are conditioned to use to bolster your writing? Is writing ever the distraction that has to be set aside?
If you have a specific writing routine, can you divulge a bit of it?
Writing often has to be set aside, as during the school year, my students and their needs have to be the most important driving force of my day. But when I am away from school, my best trick to be sure I write is to tell everyone that I am going to write. Guilt and being held accountable are a good task masters.
7. Where do you find your inspiration? With all you do, have you ever felt uninspired? What actions brought (bring) you out of your expressive funk?
I find inspiration through many online poetry sites, such as Poetic Asides, Poetic Bloomings, Clever Fiction, and the need to add content to my own blog.
If I find it difficult to write, I will take some down time to watch tv. My favorite shows are challenge shows, such as Project Runway. I enjoy imagining how I would meet the challenges. I have also been known to play a FB game of Bejeweled, or two.
8. You have a background in Smartboard Technology and Visual Artistry. Have you ever experimented with combining your poetry and your skill with the Movie Maker program to make your words come alive visually? If so, is there a link to something our poets may find inspiring to attempt the process? Do you see the advances in the technological realm affecting this poetic life?
Technology has been an interesting side step and it has definitely taken HOURS of my life. Speech to text and text to speech programs are great for encouraging reluctant writers. I think some poets may find audio recorders a great way to record ‘must be remembered’ thoughts while busy with other activities. http://animoto.com/ is a fun place to start creating simple, yet professional videos. I have used Windows Movie Maker successfully with students. http://www.xtranormal.com/ mixes cartoons, your writing, and movie camera angles. Great for teen writers – and adults with a sense of humor.
9. What advice do you give your students about following their interests/dreams? Do you practice what you preach? How happy are you of your success? What are you still looking to achieve?
I always tell students that they don’t have to wait until they are grown up to achieve their dreams. The first step can be taken today. I think I have become better at following that advice. It took a while for me to be able to say, I am an artist and a writer, but I finally got there. When my family gathers to say their final goodbyes to me, I hope they each bring a piece of my artwork or a poem I wrote to share. Looking back, it might make quite a show.
10. Another of your gems of wisdom:
Trying to Find Myself
My large kitchen spoon
bent too easily
as I tried to dig
the rock below.
by my efforts then.
I just kept
Sometimes, that is the only thing to do, isn’t it? To just keep digging? What has Patricia Hawkenson found out about herself by which others would be surprised? What has been your “A HA!” moment? If you had a motto, what would it say?
I am unable to separate myself from metaphors. They pour through my writing and poetry. My advice for students, and myself, is another metaphor posted on my desk: Calm Waters. The rock drops with a big splash, but given time, the waters calm. I try to teach and live by that motto. When I find time to be calm, reflective, and write, I find I enjoy life more.
Thanks Patricia, for that glimpse into your “Expressive Domain”. We appreciate your candor and are happy you have allowed us to present you to our ever growing audience.