Today we are traveling and learning a bit more about Mary Kling. We are escaping to one of the emerald islands, surrounded by calming, turquoise water. We are in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. We are sitting in the front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, also known as the Pink Hotel. Mary n' I are having a Mai Tai, so grab your favorite drink(in Hawaiian that would be inu) and join us. It is sunset; you can see Diamond Head in the background. Listen you can hear faint guitar music strumming, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
Mary is so refreshingly honest. I was curious to know more about her. Mary is a poet, retired teacher, a mother, grandmother, a Toad, a huge contributor to Poets United, and a member of an online writers' group, called Skywriters. I was a bit nervous, but Mary put me at ease.
Ella: Mary I love the name of your blog, "In the Corner of My Eye". What place has had the most visual poetry and attracted the corner of your eye?
Mary: That would be Hawaii. Any of the islands, my favorites would be Oahu and the Big Island.
Ella: When I chose to interview you, I noticed a photo on your blog. You are walking, a favorite exercise of mine. The photo looks familiar, tell me about it.
Mary: Yes, on my blog title page is a photo of me walking along the Alawai Canal. I just love walking around Waikiki. One can walk everywhere and I love that. (Mary resides in Wisconsin, but I think her heart(pu'u wai) frequents Hawaii.
Ella: You are a retired school teacher(kumu). I so admire your dedication to this field. Was it a calling?
Mary: I like teaching very much. Both sixth and fourth grade. And yes, I think it was a calling. Oddly enough I always considered myself a 'shy' person. So, it was strange to me that I chose a profession, where I would have to speak in front of people every day. My theory about this was that I knew being 'out there' was difficult for me. I chose a profession where I would have to overcome this difficulty. And I did.
Mary is standing at the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu
Ella: You have done it beautifully. I admire you for being so brave. When do you think this all turned around for you?
Mary: I gained more confidence with age. Sometimes I think youth is highly over-rated(chuckle). I also began at some point in my life to "Act as if..." and found out I really WAS. Gaining confidence for me, took a lot of self-talk, taking advantage of opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone. It still isn't easy. I realize that it is really not easy, for many people. As far as poetry goes, I have found the blogosphere extremely supportive. I think most of us realize what we blog may be an early draft to be revised in the future.
Ella: Your poetry reads like a journal entry, raw and full of emotion. Has this always been your signature style?
Mary: I really DO write for people who care about me and will care about my words, after I am no longer on this earth. I blog my words, but out of my blogged words will come poetry books. I will GIVE to those I care about. I have done two poetry books, already. I do think it is important for me, for all of us, to be sure our words are preserved. I think our words are out greatest legacy. Some may not realize our words' importance, while we are alive. Someday they will.
Hawaiian proverb: "I ka'olelo no ke ola"-in language there is life, in language there is death. Words have power.
Ella: I love the idea of words being our legacy. What would you like readers to gain from your view of the world?
Mary: I write poetry that is fairly easy to understand. I am not a poet who writes obscurity. Much of my poetry comes from my life. I hope my readers might find something they identify with. I hope that what I have written might trigger an experience, a memory or a feeling. If so the poem was a success.
Ella: You had some of your student's poems published. How did this come about?
Mary: I was teaching 6th grade at the time. I was working on my Master's Degree. I loved poetry. One of the professors at the university was writing a book, on encouraging children to write poetry. He asked me, if I could share some of my processes and the resulting poems with him. My Master's paper(not thesis) was on how to encourage children to write poetry. Thus, my name is listed on the book, as a contributor and a lot of my student's poems are included.
Ella: How can we as adults channel a bit of our inner child?
Mary: That is a good question; I think we have to throw away the censor, in order to become our inner child. Truly, for a long time I did not share my poetry with anyone. Then I shared it with my online writing group. I took a big leap of faith. Short answer: Be authentic, allow that authenticity to be known. Take the risk.
Ella: Think fast what comes to mind, when I say:
Hawaii-paradise Teach-once a teacher, always one!
Mood-variable Voice-active, positive
Poet-honest, trusting Fear-disease
Family-closeness, love Home-refuge, strength
Song-Joy to the World Verse-free verse
Ella: Do you have a special place where you write poetry?
Mary: My living room, by the fireplace. Warm and cozy!
Ella: I am sure your online writers' group, Skywriters is thankful to have you, a teacher amongst them. What have your learned from them?
Mary: My online group is very important to me. We have been together more than twelve years. When we first began, we ran it in a similar way my deceased partner's real life writing group was organized. It was she who organized a lot of how we operate today. Skywriters gives each other challenges each week and we critique one another's work. We have met in person, most often yearly and have had our own writers' retreats.
Ella: I'm so jealous, sounds wonderful. Your partner was an amazing woman, so talented. Thank you for sharing so much with us! What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
Mary: Find other poets that you like(published poets and/or poets in the blogosphere, and read, read their work. Write a poem, each day, even if it is a short one. The best way I have of activating my muse is forcing myself to sit there at my computer, until I write something, not allowing myself to make excuses for not writing. I would advise aspiring poets to give this a try. It sounds so very simple, but it works for me. I cut myself no slack.
Ella: The header on your blog intrigues me: "Raise a glass, make a toast, know I'm not far away. As you look for me out of the corner of your eye or find me in your dreams, picture me with a smile and happy, know that we will meet again". Ahuhi ho is the closest word in the Hawaiian language that means good-bye. It means until we meet again. Ahuhi ho(until we meet again) Mary!
Mary: Mahalo(Thank you) Ella, ahuhi ho.
Ella: It was a pleasure to learn more about the spirit that encompasses Mary! Mary will be publishing another book in Feb 2012. Her next book will be called(she thinks) "Just as I am". I look forward to it. Mahalo Mary!
Aloha Spirit Law: "Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring, with no obligation in return". A65-7.5 of Hawaii Revised Statues.