Mary: Toads, I am so excited about having the opportunity to spend time with Mama Zen / Kelli today here in Norman, Okahoma, which is Kelli's hometown. We are meeting here in Starbucks, enjoying our coffee drinks. (Just sayin', as we had to meet somewhere, right?) Time to start our interview:
|Mama Zen / Kelli Here|
Mary: Kelli, I am so excited about having the chance to meet you in this way. I have so much enjoyed your poetry, and I am wowed by having this opportunity to meet you here in person. I am wondering if you could tell us how you came up with your name "Mama Zen."
Kelli: Mama Zen is a riff on an old Aerosmith song called “Mama Kin.” It was all that I could come up with at two in the morning!
Mary: I hear you about that. 2:00 A.M. one takes what one can get. Kelli, is there also a Papa Zen?
Kelli: There is a Daddy Zen, and we are both interested in Buddhism, though I wouldn’t necessarily call us practitioners. We have an eight-year-old daughter.
Mary: I've always been fascinated with Zen, Kelli. Your profile says you are mom to Baby Puppy and Keeper of the Geckos? As a dog lover, I am wondering if you do have a puppy and geckos?
|Mama Zen's beautiful daughter|
|One of the geckos|
Kelli: Actually, the Baby Puppy referred to in my profile is my daughter! When I started blogging (five years ago!), my daughter was deep into the pretending to be a puppy phase. I started using Baby Puppy as her blog name, and it stuck. I do have an actual dog, though: a German Shorthaired Pointer named Big Snoop. As for other wildlife, let me do a quick head count . . . okay, we currently have one chameleon, three turtles, four geckos, two anoles, one axolotl, and two guinea pigs.
Mary: I see you have two blogs. One is "Another Damned Poetry Blog" and the other is "The Zen of Motherhood." Could you explain what is the difference between the things you write in both?
|"Baby Puppy" who obviously loves animals as much as her mom!|
Kelli: "The Zen of Motherhood" is my mom blog (for lack of a better description). There, I post pictures, book reviews, and pretty much anything else that pops into my head. I also posted poetry there until I started "Another Damned Poetry Blog" a few months ago. As the title suggests, "Another Damned Poetry Blog" is all poetry.
Mary: Kelli, I have read entries in both of your blogs, but now (admittedly) I concentrate on your poetry. What are the favorite things to do when you are not writing poetry?
Kelli: Well, I obviously love animals! And, books are my passion.
Mary: When did you start writing poetry? And, do you have any kind of answer to the question: WHY do you write poetry? (How is it rewarding to you?)
Kelli: I started writing songs when I was 13 or so. I spent about a decade as a working singer / songwriter. I misspent my youth (teens and early twenties) singing in bar bands. I sang folk, rock, and blues, and I had some modest success (hey, I got paid!). But, it can be a really ugly business, and it takes a toll on you after a while. Still, I’ve never regretted doing it. For a shy, bookworm kind of girl, it was gutsy thing to do. And, once you’ve performed at a few biker rallies, your days of being easily intimidated are pretty much over. As for why I write poetry . . . great question! I could ramble on for pages and still not find a satisfactory answer. I love words. I love the perfect distillation of a moment. I love carving something out of nothing.
Mary: What inspires you to write poetry, Kelli?
Kelli: I never know what might inspire a poem. It could be an interesting phrase that pops into my head, a song, or pretty much anything.
Mary: How would you describe the kind of poetry you usually write?
Kelli: I like to think of it as snapshot poetry; concise, focused, and, hopefully, clear.
Mary: I will speak for myself here; but I admire you for experiencing what you did in your youth. I doubt the time was misspent at all. I would have loved to have that aspect in my background. I think many of us may have wished for what you actually experienced.
Are you creative in any other way besides song-writing, song performing, and writing poetry? Do you draw, paint, quilt, cook creatively, or anything else of the like?
Kelli: Oh, I cook creatively, all right! Seriously, I do love to cook and bake. I also enjoy photography. I wish I could draw!
Mary: Kelli, I admire your creative cooking. I find that many times when a person is creative in one area they are creative in other areas as well. You mentioned that your passion is books. I take it you are passionate about reading books. What kinds of books do you read? Do you have a few favorites you could name?
Kelli: I am a voracious reader, and I will read just about anything. But, if I had to pick a favorite author I would go with Stephen King. His early books are amazing.
Mary: Do you have any goals for your poetry in addition to blogging them? Ever plan to do something like self-publish a book?
Kelli: I would love to, if my poetry ever gets there. Unfortunately, I have no idea where “there” is, and I’m not sure I’ll recognize it if I see it!
Mary: How has the poetry blogosphere enriched your life?
Kelli: The poetry blogosphere is incredible. I have learned so much and met so many talented people. And, everyone is so kind and supportive! I can’t imagine a better environment to put yourself out there, take risks, and grow.
Mary: Thank you, Kelli! I have really enjoyed this interview and have gained a deeper appreciation of you as a poet! Write on!!