Monday, October 31, 2011

Calling All Toads

Open Link Monday

Happy Halloween to all members, followers and friends. This open link is dedicated to your creepy, ghoulish best. Many poets having been drawing on their darkest sides these last few weeks, and here's the opportunity to select the best of your best, or dig into your archives and share something from last October. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

Dance the night away...

'The Singing Butler' by Jack Vettriano

It was Lillian Susan Thomas who introduced me to the Waltz Wave Form several years ago.  She explained it to me thus:


As for the Waltz Wave Form, it's easier than haiku because it relies only on a syllable count without all the other requirements: 
The longest line has 4 syllables, for a total of 19 lines and 38 syllables. Each line is composed of the following syllable counts in succession:


She also offered this advice:
It works best with 1 -2 syllable words; use a thesaurus to find a short equivalent for the word you want to use. (We all get brain freeze occasionally.) If yellow won't fit, try gold, or bronze, or eliminate an adjective. 
And the other hint is you start recasting your sentence when it doesn't work.  When you find you are stuck, it is probably because you have fallen in love with one way of saying it. When you like the way some phrase sounds and can't turn it around or inside out, let go of the first phrasing to find a better one. 

Lillian kindly allowed me to use her work as an example, and you can read another on her blog, From the Heart's Garden, if you click HERE

*Fall Leaves Fly (A Waltz Wave)

leaves fly 
the bus 
moving through 
child's face 
pressed against 
the window looks 
out at folks, 
bus stops, 
walking on 
the streets 
a blur - 

Lillian Susan Thomas

This link remains open all week for anyone who would like to post a poem later than Sunday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life, Art, Laurie!

Hello Dear Toads! This week, I (Abin) have interviewed Laurie Kolp – a much published, much awarded prolific poet of wondrous poetic gifts who writes at Conversations With Laurie and Bird's-Eye Gemini. Hope you enjoy the following window to the life of this remarkable talent

What brought you to poetry and what keeps you going?

I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child. The poems started out as simple cards for my family on special occasions. Before long I was making booklets of poems and pictures. In high school several of my poems were published in the literary magazine.
Laurie as a child 

Unfortunately, I got caught up in college and career aspects of my life, followed by marriage and having babies (when I gave birth to my third child, I had three children under the age of four) which pushed my writing to the back burner. I never thought someone like me would ever have a chance at going somewhere, so why even try?

Laurie’s children

I remember picking up a pencil and notebook one day out of the blue because I had an idea for a children’s story screaming to get out. That single incident sparked the fire within me that had been buried for way too long.

I got serious about writing poetry again in 2008 when I participated in Poetic Asides’ November Poem-A-Day Challenge.  I also needed an outlet from my crazy life. At first I was very protective of my work and would only post poems on that blog. I wouldn’t even let my husband read it. A year later I started Conversations with Laurie and still didn’t post much. I was too worried about what YOU would think. But I soon got to the point that I couldn’t NOT share. I was doing it for me at that point. Poetry is a calling to me, like ministers are called to their vocations. What keeps me going? I can’t stop. I love writing poetry so much; it’s a part of me. I have this inner drive that compels me to keep at it, despite the rejections and isolation I experience at times.

As someone who rarely manages to handle forms well, one of the fascinating things about your poetry is the combination of emotional intensity with tight formal disciplines of all variety: sonnet, tanka, haiku, cinquain...the list goes on. How do you balance it and which form do you prefer most?

I love writing form poetry. It is challenging, yet it gives me a “formula” to follow. Initially all of my poems rhymed. It wasn’t until I became part of an online group, The Baker’s Dozen, that I began experimenting with different forms. They helped me branch out and try different styles including free verse. We wrote poems everyday and shared them with one another.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint my favorite type of poetic form. I love sonnets because they are beautiful. Cascades are fun. The ones I find the most challenging are the palindrome and paradelle.

Here is a sonnet I wrote for a Poetic Asides Form challenge. It received third place. I also read it at an open mic I attended last month. It pretty much sums up why I write poetry.

I Am the Sea

The water’s edge laps rhythmic solitude
Enticing waves, the arms that call me in;
I drown in bitter sorrow from this feud,
Then like a buoy pop up once again.
Rejuvenating tides this cycle bears,
My fingers slap calm water freshening.
Hypnotic reverie from ocean’s prayers;
A dolphin diving up and down, I sing.
Am I insane to dream myself to shore?
To think white castles hold the golden key?
Each time a current pulls me to the floor,
An inspiration molds my destiny.
I am the sea, I write to fill this hole;
No storm or wind will crush my hungry soul.

@Laurie Kolp

Ever since joining this community I have greatly enjoyed the poetry of so many female poets including yours. Are there distinctive features of women's poetry? Can there be a thing called ecriture feminine?

Thank you. I don’t think there are particular characteristics that separate men and women’s poetry. I think each individual has his/her own style, so how can you compare? I know male poets who are sensitive and emotional, and women who are not. It just depends on the person.

 Many have different perspectives, though (remember men are hunters by nature and women nurturers). It’s like the whole men and women are from different planets/ spaghetti and waffle concept. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s a poem to enlighten you. I wrote this as a bit of a parody on this theory. It doesn’t have a thing to do with any differences between men and women’s poetry. And that ecriture feminine sounds like a form of the Freudian theory to me. I’m just sayin’.

Spaghetti and Waffles

He told me I was slurpy spaghetti
that my thoughts
wiggled and jiggled and whirled
without beginning or end
filled with saucy, spicy emotion
a predictable trend--

S            h          i
   p     g     e     t
             a           t

I said he was a square waffle
with ideas  compartmentalized
cut and dry,  nothing special
sticky syrupy thickness  like
his hardhead ever refusing to
budge; square waffle- - blah.

@laurie kolp

*Although I have never read the book, a friend shared the concept with me one day over ice cream. 
Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti
By Bill and Pam Farrel

Laurie and her family
Your poetry often combines interior landscapes of the mind with a vivid sensually experienced natural world. Is it a conscious technique or something that comes naturally?

Ooh, I like “interior landscapes of the mind.” I’ve been through a lot in my life; horrible situations and major obstacles you would not believe. One day perhaps I’ll gain the strength to share them publically, but if you read between the lines in my poetry I’m sure you could make your own conjecture. Many of my problems stemmed from misperception of things going on in my life and my obsessive thinking about those situations. Low self-esteem, depression and lack of self-love blocked me for many years. As a result, I got myself into some situational messes.

Someone once said, “Spend 24 hours in my head and you’ve been on one hell of a trip.” That’s how it once was for me. I’ll never forget those feelings of utter despair and loneliness I experienced at times. I’ve overcome my problems with the help of my higher power whom I choose to call God; but some of those thoughts still swirl around in my head at times.

I love to incorporate nature into my poems because I love nature! I feel at one with God when I’m outside. I notice God’s miracles outside. I strongly sense His inspiration when I’m writing, so much of my poetry comes from Him; but a lot of it comes through my life experiences. Most of it comes from my muse who surprises the heck out of me more often than not.

Laurie while fishing

We all have certain poets we look up to and try to learn from. Who are your favourites and why?

Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Edna St Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Elizabeth Browning; as far as contemporary poets go I’d have to choose Robert Lee Brewer and Nancy Posey, but there are so many more I admire and look up to. I simply don’t have time to name them all. Nancy is in The Baker’s Dozen. Her wise words of advice mean so much to me because I admire her work so much. I used to complicate my poetry with difficult vocabulary (I think a few challenging words are okay, but more than that is a distraction) and Nancy politely mentioned that one day. It wasn’t directed at me, but I could see what she meant. And Robert, well I met him at the poetry reading last month and he encouraged me to get up and read. That was huge because I’m usually very quiet. Both Nancy and Robert have poetry books I own signed copies of which I highly recommend. I love discovering each person’s unique voice and style. I appreciate every single person whose poetry I read. I see so much creativity every day.

As someone who writes almost a poem per day (293 this year and counting), where do you find such endless source of inspiration?

When the inspiration hits, I try to write it down immediately. I love capturing the moment. It’s like taking a picture and posting it on Facebook (or another media source), only it’s an observation or thought formulated into a poem that I share. Sometimes that little spark inspires a memory which I poem about. I feel as compelled to post a poem as a new mother sharing pictures of her newborn. 

I think support and encouragement are vital because it’s so easy to get lost in the “galaxy of falling stars.” We need to pick each other up and help our stars (hope) shine again. I try to do that.

Also, through The Baker’s Dozen I wrote poems and shared them daily (as we all did) which got me in the habit. I’ve been writing poems daily for years now. I also visit a lot of prompt sites like Imaginary Garden with Real Toads and get prompt ideas that way.

"Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops ...... at all." ~ Emily Dickenson

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Exercise to explore

October has been a crazy month for me. I apologize for my lack of involvement. I do love all the exercises and prompts.  I am going to go back and see what I have missed and pick 5 exercises to tackle. I think the horror type poem, Kerry posted might just be up my alley.  I had surgery this month, my son had a car accident; he is fine, but has no wheels to drive. When his friends can't pick him up to go to college.  I'm the taxi picking him up from college, running him to and from work. This is also revolving around my daughter's involvement in Color Guard. It has been a bit hectic, to say the least.  Since we have so many wonderful exercises involving form. My exercise is to expand your view, sounds intriguing right?!  ;D

I would like you to try Guerilla poetry; what is that you say?  Well, there is such a thing as Guerilla Art. There is even a book about it, "Guerilla Art Kit" (Everything you need to put your message out into the world)~ Keri Smith      The author wants you to explore, put yourself out there. Some of her exercises involve writing a beloved quote in a public place with chalk, hanging fortune cookies from a tree or leaving a love letter you would like to receive in a public place.  I want you to write a poem and leave it in a public place. If you aren't comfortable with that, then write and leave one of your favorites. The Urban Dictionary term above it very brave; I'm not going there, but you can if you like.  Write it neatly and leave it on a table at the library or lightly crumble it and leave it in produce at your local grocery store, or on a park bench. You could punch a hole and tie it with string, so it won't blow away.  Leave it where someone can find it and enjoy it.  If you can watch and see the  and see the reaction; come back and tell us how it went.  You can post about it if you want to.

I found this Post it tape at my office n' supply store. You can remove it and stick it somewhere else.
I am going to write a poem on it and leave it on a park bench.  I think poetry needs to be explored. I think doing this exercise we may make someone else intrigued in the written word.  I challenge you to be brave and try this...Think of it as a way to express  beauty, a way to share something you love with someone that may not have been exposed much to this medium~  A gift, if you will....  I am going to leave my poem in the park tomorrow.  I will post about it on my blog and share it with you.  Many of us will not be published, so here is your chance to put your voice out into the world.... We might just inspire someone!
I'm still undecided about leaving my name; I will let you know what happens. I might try several approaches, since I do have to go to library and grocery store :D

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Da iawn!

Welcome back, everyone.  Grace here.  Last time we ventured into the twenty-four official formats of medieval Welsh poetry.  No, it wasn't a dream (or a nightmare).  This week, we'll continue our exploration with the Cywydd Llosgyrnog.

A second building block in the "cywydd" meter, this format is written using sestets.  The poem itself can be of any number of stanzas, but each stanza has a strict meter, containing two eight-syllable couplets and two interlacing rhymes on the third and sixth lines.  The third and sixth lines also rhyme with one another.  It's not as terrible as it sounds, now that we've attempted the awdl gywydd!

There are very few examples available on the internet, and most books I've found show the verses in the original Welsh.  So I had to call in a favor or two.  This one, from Marian, is called "poetic license":
hot tears flow as a rushing stream.
she jerks like waking from a dream,
glossy gleamed eyes, wet with rage,
turn hard against who waits for her
in chapter six. her muse can't lure
fraught demon purrs from each page.

Here, we note that the meter and rhyme are extremely similar to our previous work, with an extra couple of lines:
My first attempt is called "apothecary":
The scent of rain and stormy air.
A Pumpkin King's candle-lit stare.
Candy corn, preserved, bottled
with hot toddy and some cut grass,
one blazing leaf stuffed in the glass.
Then age the label mottled,
and on first glance, it looks right.  However, I've moved my internal rhyme to the fourth line and dropped the second link entirely.  For a better example, here is a rough-drafted verse of a longer poem I'm making now, with the cross-rhymes italicized:

Questions answered, or denied flat,
all cards are laid out on the mat.
We stand at a bound'ry thin.
Tonight, the night wins over all.
The dimming waltz awaits our call.
With our fall, the end begins.

The cross-rhyme, or interlaced rhyme, can again shuffle between the third, fourth, and fifth syllables.  It may look difficult, but it's more like putting together a puzzle than anything else, especially with the flexibility of the interlaced rhyme.  Just be sure to put it in the correct place, unlike my first attempt!

Our final example comes from Jan Haag's "The Desolation Poems: Poetry Forms Used in English".  It doesn't adhere strictly to the meter, but I enjoyed reading her interpretation.  It is named, simply, "Cywydd Llosgyrnog".

The rain, the black night, the siren
are not claimed by morning's garden,
nor is the pen on its trips --
gliding so smoothly within each
phrase, sour-powered and inky
-- into pale parse-hidden pips.

Another explanation of the cywydd llosgyrnog can be found at Poetry Magnum Opus, including a pronunciation.  I'm excited to read what you link up for this challenge!

Next time we'll touch down on one of the easiest (I promise!) building blocks in Welsh traditional meters, so please do your best, and stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Calling All Toads

Monday's Open Link

As always, this is an open invitation to our members, followers and friends to share their work on Real Toads.  If you have something new, we would love to read it; if you have a poem tucked away in your archives which shouts to be read again, let us have it.  Feel free to invite other bloggers, who have not yet used this opportunity, to share their work. All are welcome.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

Bridging the Gap

                                                                                            Storms River Bridge, South Africa

Today's quick challenge is the Puente form.  

"Puente" means "bridge" in Spanish, and the so-named poetic form is built around one. This intriguing form was invented by poet James Rasmusson and described by

Constructed in three stanzas, the first and third are separate thoughts, conditions or elements, but share an equal number of lines (at the poet’s discretion) and the center "bridge" stanza. This middle stanza is but one line and is enclosed in tildes (~) to distinguish itself as both the last line of the first stanza and the first line of the last stanza.
The meter and rhyming are at the poet's discretion, free verse being perfectly acceptable. The title has no guidelines;  it doesn’t have to match the bridge stanza like the example below.
(Author: Jack Huber)
To Find a Better Life

“I can’t read or write
but experience taught me
wrong from right”
were grandpa’s final words as Roberto
began his journey on the migrant trail

~to find a better life~

he’d suffer hunger, thirst
and blistered feet to
leave the Mixteca world
of the Zapotec to become
a stranger in a strange land.

Copyright © 2008 James Rasmusson
As printed on

This link remains open all week for anyone who would like to post a poem later than Sunday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Word with Laurie

Poetry is a packsack* of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

My husband is taking our two boys on a Boy Scout camping trip this weekend called the Spook-O-Ree. They have been preparing for the trip all day: grocery shopping, packing clothes, getting out the tents from the shed, sleeping bags, canteens, backpacks, flashlights, bug spray… and the list goes on. I guess my daughter and I will start Christmas shopping while they are gone which also involves a bit of planning and list making.

Therefore the word for today is list; I want you to write a list poem.

List poem: A poem comprised of a list of specific things connected by an idea which progresses from the beginning to a desired solution at the end. It should make a point or tell a story. The title reveals what/who the list will be about.

The Catch: As always, there is a catch. I want your list poem to involve directions or an element of how to get somewhere. What I have in mind is How To (Not) Get Lost in the Woods because I always worry about my boys when they go camping. Here it is:

How To (Not) Get Lost in the Woods

Wear that neon yellow
t-shirt I packed for you
the one that says
“You’re a Star.”
Carry a whistle
compass rose
water bottle
the big stick
your cell phone
in case you get lost;
aww, heck- put it all
in a backpack
but bend with your knees.
Never go into the woods
alone; remember the buddy
system? Follow the river.
Watch out for spiders,
snakes, bramble, branches,
bears, wild hogs;
aw, heck- never go into
the woods without your dad.

@laurie kolp

Have fun writing your list poem with directions and/or how-to _____. I can't wait to read all your wonderful creations! Thank you.

*packsack: The combination of "knapsack and backpack"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A is for Abin

Hello Toads! It's Kenia here. This week I've talked to Abin Chakraborty, a poet from India whose young age doesn't stop him from writing thoughful deep poetry. Hope you enojy getting to know a little more about him.

Tell us a little about yourself and describe your work.

I am a senior research fellow at the Department of English, University of Calcutta and also a Guest Lecturer at Presidency University. I am now pursuing my doctoral research on Indian Theatre. My love for literature has brought me to the study of English literature and my poetry is largely born out of my studying of literature. This apart, I am an avid football fan, I love Manchester United, idolise the cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and play chess, occasionally. I am a rather introvert person with only a select few friends. Poetry remains the one avenue through which I connect with others in the world.

How did you start writing Poetry?

I've been writing rhymed lines in my vernacular Bengali ever since I was a child. I started writing in English only after I entered college, that is around 5 years back. Needless to say, my writing has gathered momentum from the poets I have studied. T.S. Eliot, Yeats, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Agha Shahid Ali are some of the poets who inspire me.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you work in silence or do you listen to music? How often do you write?

It can come from many sources. A bus journey, a look at the sky, lonely evening walks, other people's poetry, a hurried glance at something/someone beautiful - anything can set things in motion in the mind. The thing is, I dont have much control over it. The moment of origin happens unconsciously - I can only shape the rest. I prefer silence. That's where the central idea/image generally originates. But those moments of inspiration have come amidst urban cacophony as well. And my frequency is determined solely by the caprice of that inspirational flash.

How did growing up in India influence your work?

Profoundly. My images, rhythms,themes, diction - all of it is conditioned by my personal setting and what I have grown up with. But as I said, my reading of English poetry, as well as people like Neruda, Cavafy, Faiz and others have also shaped my sensibilities. So I would say that my Indianness is always synthesized with such international influences.

I see everyday life in India is a recurrent theme in your poetry. Where else do you find inspiration to write?

everyday life in India is the external and at times thematic setting of my poems. But ultimately what matters is what happens within the chambers of mind. And as I said, its difficult to pin down how inspiration works and what exactly would inspire me.

Who is your favorite poet and how do you connect with his/her works?Who are some poets you’re reading now?

my favourite poet is T.S. Eliot. His poetry is part of my being and whatever I write, consciously or unconsciously owes a lot to him. What I love most about his work is the way in which it deals with urban squalor and sordidness, the hypocrisy and artificiality of life and how the consciousness always seeks some source of renewal beyond the pervasive ennui and disjointed wholeness we are thrust with. Right now, I am mostly reading Agha Shahid Ali and also Usha Akella.

Out of all the poems you have written which is your favorite and why?

Probably, The Swansong of Abinash C. Halder, as it is very close to my heart and represents things that I have not been able to achieve in other poems.

If you could not be creative through the medium of poetry, what other medium would you choose?

Maybe drama. But I really don't think I have the patience to write anything other than poems.

What do you wish to see happening to Indian people and arts in the world scenario in the next years?

Ah! That's too big a scenario for me to comment on. I only hope that in this gizmo-centric, commercialised world, art retains the power to provide alternate visions and continues to provide solace, courage and inspiration to people.

I’ve tried my best, to fit in as I can
In crowds of rust and wrinkled old masks:
I’ve dotted all the ‘i’s and slashed all the ‘t’s
Smiled just so, and wore what I must,
And nodded all day at players on stage
Who rant their lines and paint in the air
And vomit into wind all verbiage of dross
Seeking yet still all statues of gold
With glass-loaded eyes and dimples of grace
That wrench in the entrails with force,
Questions of unacknowledged spleen...

Please follow the link above to read the entire poem at Abin's Literary World.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kerry's Wednesday Challenge

"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
Stephen King

Let me say from the very beginning that I am not a die-hard fan of Stephen King’s novels but I have to admit that King has a way of creating remarkable characters and placing them under pressure in the most intense way, and his prose is poetic when the need arises. 
In the spirit of the spooky season, I thought we could take our cue from his brand of the macabre and grotesque, and do it with poetic precision. No pumpkins, bats or ghouls... let’s make this more about psychological terrors... though a touch of the super-natural would not be misplaced.

For inspiration, you may like to peruse things Stephen King has said on the Goodreads website. Once you get there, it would be best to refine your search by typing ‘Stephen King, and add the title of a novel’.

Please share the quote which sparked the poem, if applicable, and in the spirit of the challenge,  only link new poems written specifically for this post.  The Open Link on Monday, 31 October will be dedicated to any Halloween poems, old or new.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Post

The Tuesday post on Real Toads has been shared by Grace O'Malley's Form Challenge, and Robb Lloyd's Critique Corner. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Robb is no longer able to host his Corner, which leaves a slot open for any member who has an idea he or she would like to share and is willing to commit to hosting it every two weeks.  We have a lot going on here at Real Toads, so a day off may not be a bad thing, but I'm always open to trying something new.

We are privileged to have so many talented and knowledgeable writers who are willing to share on this forum to the benefit of all.  However, I don't want any of these contributors to feel they are stuck here, once they have offered their time. If ever you feel your idea has run its course, we will all understand and offer the vacant post to another member. In this way, the pond in the Imaginary Garden will never grow stagnant.

I leave you with this clip of Anis Mojgani performing his poem, The Fisherman.  Shawnacy shared a link of his work, and I was blown away. Listening to this poem, makes me want to throw away everything I've ever written and start again.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Calling All Toads

Open Link Monday

Ready to jump into a new week?  Help us get started by sharing your poetry, and dispelling the Monday blues.
As always, it is a free for all, bring and share, anything goes kind of day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

Working 9 to 5...

Last week, in throwing a mini-challenge out there, I selected the Mirror Oddquain, a form I was introduced to by a writer whom I met on two years ago. It was only when I read the responses and some of the comments that I realized that this form may not officially ‘exist’, so I did some research.
The Cinquain is defined on Wikipedia as being a class of poetic forms that employ a 5-line pattern. Earlier used to describe any five-line form, it now refers to one of several forms that are defined by specific rules and guidelines.

American poet Adelaide Crapsey invented the modern form, inspired by Japanese haiku and tanka. In her 1915 collection titled Verse, published one year after her death, Crapsey included 28 cinquains.
Crapsey's cinquains utilized an increasing syllable count in the first four lines, namely two in the first, four in the second, six in the third, and eight in the fourth, before returning to two syllables on the last line. In addition, though little emphasized by critics, each line in the majority of Crapsey cinquains has a fixed number of stressed syllables, as well, following the pattern one, two, three, four, one. The most common metrical foot in her twenty-eight published examples is the iamb, though this is not exclusive. Lines generally do not rhyme. In contrast to the Eastern forms upon which she based them, Crapsey always titled her cinquains, effectively utilizing the title as a sixth line.

The form is illustrated by Crapsey's "November Night":

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

I believe the Oddquain was developed from this form, using an odd rather than even syllable count. Here are other variations on the form:

Reverse Cinquain - a form with one 5-line stanza in a syllabic pattern of 2 8 6 4 2

Mirror Cinquain – a form with two 5-line stanzas consisting of a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain

Butterfly Cinquain – a 9-line stanza with a syllabic pattern of 2 4 6 8 2 8 6 4 2

Crown Cinquain – a sequence of 5 cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one longer poem

Garland Cinquain – a series of six cinquains in which the last is formed of lines from the preceding five, typically line one from stanza one, line two from stanza two, and so on.

Below is a Linky which can be used from today, and will remain open for anyone who would like to try one or more of these 5-liners.  If you have written in this form before, we would love you to share those poems with us too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kenia Fascinante

Greetings, Toad-kind. 
Over the past week, I have had the extreme pleasure and privilege of digging in to the amazing mind of the gorgeously gifted Kenia Cris. I am relatively new here at the Imaginary Garden, but her work struck me immediately. Poems like this one, titled simply #436, :
The Poet

I walk
When I’d rather float in space,

People live like comets
And die like stars.

Sometimes I feel as old
As the universe,

The road I have not taken
Also showing
On my footprints.

speak in a voice that is both knowing and powerfully pensive; yet contain such vibrance and life. Kenia, your work is fabulous and it was such a joy getting to know you and asking you all sorts of prying questions. 

So i'll step aside and let Kenia tell you a little bit about herself.

I live with my parents, a sister and four dogs in a non-coastal state in southeastern Brazil. I’ve spent most of my life traveling places in paper boats inside all sorts of books once I had no free unlimited access to the sea!  I’m 33, a Gemini and single. I have a degree in Education and I’ve just applied for a post-graduate degree in Psychology of Education. I’ve been teaching English as a foreign language for 12 years. I love reading and learning things about the world and people. My main interests are writing, photography, surrealism in art and literature, cinema, anthropology and philosophy.
How unbelievably cute is baby Kenia!?

I would literally like to talk with you about EVERY SINGLE THING you just said (Mental note to self: have all sorts of fascinating conversations with Kenia very soon), but as our time here is somewhat limited, I'll ask you the question that I most love to ask people. What was the first book  you read that changed the way you thought about the world? That tore your sky to pieces and showed you a new bigger brighter one that you hadn't even imagined? And how old were you at the time? 

When I was a teenager, I had a friend who challenged me to read all the books in the school library and we did it together. I’ve read Flaubert’s ‘Bouvard andPécuchet’ then, I was 15 and it was the first book that opened the sky for me.  It’s the story of two  middle-aged men who happen to sit on the same park bench one day and end up becoming really good friends and their adventures and discoveries in landscape gardening, biology, geology, architecture, history, politics, philosophy, music, and urban planning, just to mention a few. I’ve always had great pleasure in learning new things and this book felt like encouragement.  

Such an encouragement. It's an amazing thing to feel that one is understood by a book. But let me get to the things I'm dying to know. If I understand correctly, English is not your first language. Yet your command of it is exceptional. How and where did you learn?

That is right, my first language is Portuguese. I had to teach myself English because I couldn’t afford studying abroad or taking English classes here. I’ve always loved words, and dictionaries were my first learning resources (back when I started studying by myself there was no Internet!).
In 2000, I passed the Cambridge Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English, it was the year I started teaching.
Because I had no formal education in English I still make many mistakes, but I try my best, I read a lot and I study everyday. 
The Poet's inspiring bookshelf

That is completely inspiring. Learning on your own is such a daunting thing, but so rewarding. How has knowing two languages as intimately as you do contributed to your worldview?
My friends and students think the advantages of knowing English are two: Being able to understand song lyrics, and skipping movie subtitles! English has always been about understanding the world to me. I have access to originals in my areas of interest (I read many books much before they are translated, not to mention the ones which won’t get a translation to my language) and the News; I happen to be able to talk to real people whose life experience are amazing lessons.  

It's so incredible how speaking another language allows your world to expand and becomoe so wide. Do you feel that the two languages speak differently? Is there one that you prefer to write in? to speak in? or perhaps, are there times when you prefer one over the other?
They definitely do. I start writing in English most of the times, but now and then I find something that doesn’t seem to have any depth in the language. Then I say it in Portuguese only at Coeur de Poétesse. When it’s the other way round, I say it in English only at The Sky Clears.

Not that two aren't enough, but do you speak any other languages? Or have plans to learn any others? 

Apart from English, I also speak Italian. I can read in Spanish, too. I’ve had Latin classes in College and it was lots of fun to me! I’ve studied Hungarian (just because I was very curious about the structure of the language!) for a year, but one needs much more time to actually learn it, it’s hard! I would love to learn Hungarian, German and French.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing poetry for 3 years and a half. My thoughts on poetry have been mainly influenced by the Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık, whose works were introduced in my life when I was 20 by a Turkish boyfriend. After Orhan Veli, I met Pablo Neruda, David Ignatow, Alejandra Pizarnik, Vera Pavlova, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Alexander – poets whose words speak loud to my soul and inspire me profoundly.
The poet and her best friend.

 A list of Masters; though each have a very distinct voice. What about your voice? What is your goal with your work?
I’m still ripening poems in the middle of the night. Sometimes I think I’d like to have a book published but poetry in books is not very free. I’d rather see my poems fly and fill people’s eyes and hearts with all sorts of good feelings. Words that can’t touch people in a positive way are not worth being said or written.

 What a beautiful idea. Do you have a philosophy of writing? or of poetry in general?
Writing to me is all about feeling and poetry has to speak to my heart with easy words. I don’t write form poetry and it’s the reason why I called my main blog Poesia Torta (Crooked Poetry). I’m most likely to enjoy free writing, my favorite readings (and I call them my Fantastic Four) being:  Andreas Andersson (Love as poetry), Andrew Phillips (Pied Hill Prawns), Ash Brones (Perilously Precocious), and Marian Kent (Runaway Sentence).

The fantastic four! Brilliant. So, as writers, we're always out feeling for the lightning. Where do you find inspiration? And what does it feel like to you?
A Brazilian poet called Manoel de Barros has this poem I like very much that begins like this:
All the things whose value can be
disputed over a long-distance spitting challenge
are good subject for poetry.

A man who only owns a comb
and a tree
is good subject for poetry.

Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes it’s on my way and I stumble it. Sometimes it’s prompted and challenges me. I just wish I had more time to write.
Ask her to tell you the story of her tattoo.

'Time' is the ugliest of four-letter-words. But when the inspiration comes, do you have any particular rituals you do when writing? A specific place you like to go? Certain music you listen to? A favorite snack? Do you just pull up a page and start? … let us in on your process.
I usually write in bed at night, when the house is asleep, but I also write on the bus while commuting to work – I get good insight from what I see on my way to work. I always have paper and pen with me because you never know when a good line will become a good line for a poem!
I like listening to Beirut, Explosion in the sky, The Cinematic Orchestra and A Weather while writing.
When I have too many things going on my mind, I start writing by doing surrealist automatism - it helps to declutter my head and write better poetry.
Can you explain surrealist automatism? 

Surrealist automatism is spontaneous writing, practiced without conscious aesthetic or moral self-censorship. André Breton (the founder of surrealism) and Philippe Soupault wrote together the first automatic book, Les Champs Magnetiques in 1919, but Breton’s most significant theoretical work about automatism is  The Automatic Message.
Alastair Brotchie has the best description of the technique in his book Surrealist Games:

“Sit at a table with pen and paper; put yourself in a 'receptive' frame of mind, and start writing. Continue writing without thinking of what is appearing beneath your pen. Write as fast as you can. If, for some reason, the flow stops, leave a space and immediately begin again by writing down the first letter of the next sentence. Choose this letter at random before you begin, for instance, a 't', and always begin this new sentence with a 't'. Although in the purest version of automatism nothing is 'corrected' or re-written the unexpected material produced by this method can be used as the basis for further composition. What is crucial is the unpremeditated free association that creates the basic text.”

What a great exercise. To wrap this up, do you have a favorite quote or inspiration you'd like to share?
I’d like to share this beautiful poem written by Jayne Relaford Brown which reminds me of the woman I want to grow up to be.

Finding her here
I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor –
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
weathered basket.

I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll emcompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
but knows she’s not scarce –
who knows she is plenty,
plenty to share.

'Who remembers she’s precious, 
but knows she’s not scarce –' that is a difficult balance. Thank you so much for sharing your vision, and  for opening your door to us today. 

Kenia can be found at her main blog
as well as at 

Kenia is also a photographer, (as well as a philosopher, poet, linguist, teacher, NaNoWriMo novelist, and all-around person of inspiration) and her work can be seen 

Posted by Shawnacy