One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Interview with Shay

A while back I had the chance to catch up with our very own Shay for a long over due interview with her.  You all may know her as her alter ego Coal Black, but this is your first chance to get to know Shay as she writes on her Fireblossom blog.

One of the first things I asked Shay for, even before our interview, was for some favorite poems.  Two written by her and two by others. Just to get us started!

Shay told me her  favorite is The Dime Priest.  I can see why this is a favorite. There is so much going on here.

And another big favorite is Love Poem For STWIASD.  I'm in love with this poem Shay! So very good.

She confessed she is very partial to The Succubus Athena, but in style it is a lot like The Dime Priest.

As far as poems by others, Shay's favorite is, hands-down, is on a stand alone page at her blog. It's a Dickinson poem called I Cannot Live With You. She also loves God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Walt Whitman's Animals.

If you have spent some time around the Garden you know Shay's poetry, but how about knowing the poet.  I sat down with her, virtually, and we had a wonderful chat about poetry and life.

Shay, can you recall your first poem, or the first poetry you wrote and shared?   I am not sure about the oldest poem, so I'll go with my first publication, which was in Speakeasy, when  was 18. I had written the poem in the summer between high school and college. They liked it so well, they asked for more, but at that time, there was no more. At least, not of the same caliber.

You really hit some powerful emotional notes in your poetry, where do you find your inspiration?  I just listen to what speaks to me and then turn the emotions loose.

You’ve been interviewed under your alter ego here with Real Toads before.  How is Coal Black different from Shay?  How are you alike?  Would Coal Black and Shay read each other’s poetry?  Coal is simpler, more straightforward. I can be stuck trying to write as myself, and go to Coal's and write something easily. Coal edits less, sweats it less, and has no illusions about making it art. Myself, I edit, sweat, and want to write a masterpiece every time. (I don't, but I want to.) And yes, I think we would read each other, though Coal would think I was a little highfalutin'. ;-)

When I asked Shay about her poetic goals, she smiled and told me, "My goal is always the same. For the next poem to utterly kick ass."  I think she is doing very admirably in achieving that goal. 

What is your proudest poetic moment?  How did it make you feel?   A friend of mine who can write really well didn't seem to realize it. I didn't do much, I just said so, to her. When I saw her poetry blog go up, that was the coolest thing ever.

What advice would you give to other poets?  Have you been given advice from other poets? Dig deep, write it honest, write it fearless, use the best words you have in you, and keep it as brief as you can. The best advice I ever got on writing was from a teacher who gave me hell for not staying on point.

 If you could meet and write with any poet, living or dead, who would you choose and why? I can't narrow it down further than three. My mentor, Emily Dickinson, and songwriters Laura Nyro and Emmylou Harris. Emily because she is my soul sista and spiritual shining light. Laura Nyro because I would love to ask her all about her particular poetic songwriting genius. And because she had all that passion for what she did. People who have that are always fascinating. And Emmylou cos I want to know why, when she can write songs like "Michelangelo" and "My Antonia", why didn't she start writing her own songs sooner? Plus, as everyone who knows me knows, I simply have a massive crush on her!

 If one of your poems was set to music, which artist would you have play it and in what style? What a great question, especially since my ambition when i was young was to be a songwriter. Off the top of my head, it might be "Bring Me All Of Your Dreams, You Dreamer" sung by Adele as a slow sweet blues.

Your blog has a wonderful image of hands and a journal, do you journal?  Is that you? People ask me that a lot. No, that isn't me, but she expresses me. It's just a picture I found on And, yes, I write all my poems longhand in my journals. 

 Fun questions:  favorite color, coffee or tea, favorite song, favorite flower, insect and mammal. My favorite color is red, definitely coffee, my favorite song is "Unchained Melody", my favorite flowers are black "Queen of the Night" tulips, I don't like very many insects, but I like red ladybugs, and my favorite mammal is dogs.

If you had a dream meal prepared for you by a world class chef what would they make? Another really cool question. A nice tossed salad with bleu cheese dressing, definitely a nice hot soup, because I am a fiend for soup. Let's say some sort of bisque, maybe mushroom, then, since I have a world class chef to prepare it, cajun blackened fish, baby carrots, Russian bread with sweet butter, and for dessert, chocolate mousse pie. Then coffee.

What would you like your fellow Toads to know about you that they may not already know? I'm very particular about my pens that I use for composing my poems. I like Pilot G-2 07's, and Bic Velocity. I keep about five on my desk all the time because nothing is worse than being deep into writing a poem, and the ink runs out. This way I just toss the offender aside and grab a new one, all without breaking my concentration.

 If we were doing this interview in person, where would we be, what would we be drinking and eating? My town has a lot of very cool little funky coffee places and restaurants. We would be at one of those, drinking iced mochas.

This line is at the bottom of all the emails from Shay.  I just love it!
"The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of."
Shay, thank you for your time in doing the interview with me, and for your patience!


Kerry O'Connor said...

It's like Shay and I have been friends for ever so long, and this interview has brought her even closer to me, to us all. You cannot ask for more in an interview. Thank you so much for that Shanyn.

Mama Zen said...

Shay inspires me every day. Great interview, ladies!

Marion said...

I'm impressed that one of my favorite poets uses my favorite pen. Fabulous interview, Shay! xo

hedgewitch said...

Always good to see my favorite online poet get some well-deserved attention--every time I read one of her poems I'm humbled--why isn't this woman famous, published, taught in schools across the nation?? Anyway, great job Shanyn, and wonderful to see into the complex artist that is Fireblossom.

Kim Nelson said...

Always wanted to know more about Shay. Now I do! Hooray! And do we all favor the same pens? Eerie.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I have to check out those pens. I am ALWAYS trying to find a good one! Shanyn, you did a great job with this interview and asked some way cool questions. And I agree with Hedgewitch. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why Shay isnt massively famous already.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, Shanyn, this is a great interview. I've often felt Fireblossom and Coal Black must have been my twin daughters in another life, or in a parallel universe, and now I know why.
Shay, I love what you chose as your proudest poetic moment. And I love "Unchained Melody"!

Hannah said...

what a wonderful interview~such a great treat to learn more about the person behind the amazing poetess!!

Shay, thank you for sharing bits of yourself so freely with us and Shanyn, thank you for asking such personality revealing questions!!


Marian said...

well hello, Shay! i love seeing a photo of you. er, i am assuming that is you :)
i was lucky enough to see Laura Nyro perform once, not long before she died. it was outdoors and a storm rolled in and it was like she was of the storm, ethereal. i'd love to be able to talk with her, too. yay!

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Duh! I knew Shay was Fireblossom but didn't know she was also Coal Black. Interesting...

Shay is a many-faceted poet; she treasures the classics, yet she has an entire wing of her ever-expanding mind set aside for grit, for bitter truth served up straight, no chaser. I love her in any incarnation. Thanks for an excellent interview, Shanyn! Peace, Amy

Fireblossom said...

Thanks you, Shanyn, for coming up with such a great assortment of wonderful questions, and to everyone for their extremely kind comments. They put a big smile on my face!

Helen said...

Thank you, thank you! Shay's poetry fills a place in me that's actually hard to put into words .. much less leave comments that make any intelligent sense whatsoever. This glimpse into her life, into her processes, her favorite things ~~ just great! (Shay knows Emmylou is appearing in my city next week, she is insanely jealous) :)

Ella said...

Fun interview you two! I feel like I know Shay better~ I love a lot of your picks!Your email quote is gorgeous as is your bold poetic voice ;D

Herotomost said...

YAY SHANYN!!!!! Great interview of one of the most charismatic writers on the web. Creative does not even begin to cover her talent, I feel like I am watching a great independent film every time I read her work. I have set many traps for Emmylou Harris to try and bag her for you Shay....I am trying....believe that.

Isadora Gruye said...

this was a nice pause in my day. Thanks to the author and thanks to Shay, your poems have inspired me at many times. I love your goal to make every poem kick ass. Grab your warrior princess gear and head this way, the Twin Cities needs a great poet.

viva la

PS....I too am very particular about what pens I use. For me it's all about the uniball jetstream, thick and bold.

Margaret said...

Yes! Soup year 'round. Can you believe, here in the south, they don't have soup on the menu! It's killing me. I'd love to sit with you in a cozy cafe enjoying strong coffee (with flavored cream), Morel soup/salad with bleu cheese (my favorite!) and mousse for desert, with a bit of Adele in the background! (my daughters just introduced me to her) I'm particular about pens too... but my six kids clean me out and they disappear into a black hole...

Very enjoyable and it is so fun to find out more about you!

Susan said...

Everyone has said it already, I think, as in Wonderful questions, great interview, fun new info. I do not know you, Shay, but sometimes I think I do because as FireBlossom, you have expanded my mind multiple times. I will make soup tomorrow in your honor.

Heaven said...

Thanks so much for the lovely interview Shanyn ~

Shay, great to know more and and more of you ~ You have a unique voice, so thanks for sharing this with us ~

Laurie Kolp said...

What a great interview with such unique/interesting questions Shanyn!

And Shay- I really enjoted getting to know you better. Coffee, soup and a journal... diggin' it (& I loved highfalutin').

Lolamouse said...

Great interview ladies! Shay as both FB and CB never ceases to amaze me with the spells she weaves with her words. I agree with all the other Toads that you should be famous, Shay! When you do publish your first book, I want a signed copy!

flipside records said...

Oh my, that is a delicious meal you described.

Mystic_Mom said...

Love all your comments and love, thanks y'all!

Karen said...

I missed this in July, but I'm so glad to have found it now. I've always been curious about and full of admiration for Shay!