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


Kerry O'Connor said...

This gives us wonderful insight into the life of a remarkable writer. Thanks to both Abin and Laurie for all the effort that goes in to a successful interview.

Laurie Kolp said...

Thank you Abin for even considering me!

Kay L. Davies said...

What a wonderful look into the life and soul of the poet that is Laurie. Abin asked questions with real depth and Laurie responded in kind, thus giving us an interview to remember.
"compelled to post a poem as a new mother sharing pictures of her newborn" is so apt, Laurie, as is the much-loved quotation from Emily Dickenson.
I enjoyed this very much.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Marian said...

excellent! so nice to know you better, laurie.
i find it hilarious that i also love to write in strict forms but the two you love, sonnets and cascades, are my least favorite. hah!

Ella said...

Oh, Laurie, I do seem seams of life unraveled in your words. xo I loved your view and the poems you shared!
Thank you for being so kind to share so much, yet maintain your privacy.
A difficult balance to achieve~
Great interview Abin and Laurie!
I love your view of "galaxy of falling stars" yes, this rings so true! I enjoyed getting to know you a bit more~

Linda H. said...

Laurie, I love this interview (and not because you mentioned The Baker's Dozen but because it is all about YOU) Great answers.
Oh, and who took that lovely picture of you and your family? That is a great photo :-)

hedgewitch said...

Lovely to learn more about Laurie. I am in awe that she can write so much with her responsibilities--children are not something that can be put on the back burner while you chew over an idea for hours. Enjoyed the interview, just as I enjoy her writing.

Titus said...

Thank you both, enjoyed this.

Mary said...

Abin, thank you so much for interviewing Laurie. Laurie has long been one of my favorite poets to follow. I enjoy her diverse styles and diverse subject matter and the way she sometimes comes up with something that totally surprises me!! Laurie is indeed a gem in the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

i really love getting to know everyone a little bit. laurie, i picked up on this one phrase you used, '... inspires a memory which i poem about.' using 'poem' as a verb is brillant. and so geniusly poetic!

Abin Chakraborty said...

Thanks to all for enjoying the interview.The pleasure and privilege was all mine!

Liz Rice-Sosne said...

Laurie not only is your poetry an inspiration ... but so is your life. VERY cute kids! I really enjoyed this interview.

Laurie Kolp said...

Thanks to all of you...

...and yes, Linda took the picture of my family when we had the chance to meet this summer.. = )

Scarlet said...

It was nice to know more about the writer and her passions...Laurie, thanks for sharing your story and lovely pictures.

Nancy said...

Laura,great interview. Thank you for your kind words. I value our poetry friendship and love your work. One of these days, we'll meet "in the real world."

Jinksy said...

I'm glad I spent the afternoon wandering back to this part of the garden. It answered my earlier email to Laurie! ♥