Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interview With Mama Zen

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.

Mama Zen's beautiful 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?

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.

"Baby Puppy" who obviously loves animals as much as her mom!
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?

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!!


Jinksy said...

Another fascinating peek at the person behind a blog name! I think most of us would have liked a 'mis-spent youth' such as you describe - I'd have sung along with you, like a shot! *smiles*

Fireblossom said...

Mary, thank you for doing such a marvelous interview with Kelli! Not long after I started blogging, in 2008, I bumbled my way over to The Zen Of Motherhood, and MZ has been my favorite ever since. I think she's one of a kind, and I was totally stoked when she started Another Damn Poetry Blog. No one writes like she does...all of her poems have her distinct genius to them.

(She held out on you, though...she didn't tell you that she also writes the "Dear Daphne" advice column on my Objets D'art blog!)

Janet Martin said...

Thank-you Mary and Mama Zen for taking time out of busy schedules to share with your readership. Interesting and well done!

Maude Lynn said...

This is wonderful! Thank you so much, Mary!

Kerry O'Connor said...

There is so much to absorb from this interview - and images of you singing to bikers is only one - but what resonated the most with me were your words: "I love words. I love the perfect distillation of a moment. I love carving something out of nothing." I find it difficult to put into words why I write - I think you have spoken for many of us here.
Thank you both for the effort involved in putting this interview together.

hedgewitch said...

Enjoyed the closer look at one of my favorite on-line poets. I think you can still hear the song-writing influence in a lot of Kelli's work--the hooks she thinks up, especially, and her frequent use of refrains. I'm so glad to see her getting this coverage, as she is extremely talented, always well worth reading and extremely adept with both her short, hard-hitting free verse and the rhymed cadenced style she does so well. Great interview.

Unknown said...

Similarities and connections abound. Reading this well-organized and revealing interview assures me of the common threads that bind passionate moms and poets, whether they live in Oklahoma or Arizona. This space and its frequenters offer community, and Mama Zen is one of the key figures. Thank you!

Hannah Pratt said...

It is always interesting to read about why a person does what they do.

Helen said...

You profiled one of my favorite poets ... thank you!!!

Marian said...

did you really hook up at a Starbucks in Norman, Oklahoma? because if you did, i am supremely jealous! xoxo

Laurie Kolp said...

Thank you both for this wonderful interview... so glad to learn more about the person behind MZ!

Margaret said...

I have to second, third, and fourth "One of my favorite on-line poets". I can see a blend of everything "Mama Zen" is in her poetry. As far as I'm concerned, she has enough awesome poems to create a book... I know I would buy one, maybe two!

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

Great interview! How terrific to learn more about one of my favourite people :)

Unknown said...

Great interview. Nice to find out more about someone you read everyday. Colors the outline you make in your head a bit better. Great job. Thanks for running this piece.

Ella said...

Great interview ladies~ I enjoyed learning more about Mama Zen! Your daughter is adorable. I love the peaceful, serene vibe of your surroundings~ Mama Zen fits!
I love your view on words! YOU are ready to write your book; get busy :D

Mary said...

Interviewing Kelli was such fun; and I really would like to hear her sing. Kelli, maybe you could put a small video up on You-Tube and link it to your blog? No, Marian, we didn't really meet in a Starbucks in Oklahoma. But if I ever pass through Oklahoma, I will try to arrange it. LOL. I'd like to thank you all for the very nice comments in regard to this interview!

Scarlet said...

Thanks Mary for this lovely spotlight on Kelli. I second your request - can we hear you sing or even read one of your poems~

Great interview

Lolamouse said...

Mary and Kelli,
Thanks so much for the great interview! MZ is one of my favs also! Her poems are like a snapshot of a little moment of life, perfectly captured.

Brendan said...

Thanks for an inside peek into Zen's sanctum -- well written and a subject well, well worth the writing. MZ is developing verbal chops that really soar. But Norman, Oklahoma? I figured somewhere in New York. Place really has little meaning, when we congress in cyberspace ... Brendan

Susie Clevenger said...

Mary, love the interview. It is great to get to know the person behind the blog. Also I agree that it would be great to hear the voice of the poet. Mama Zen I would say you are "there" as far as your own book goes.

BTW Mama Zen I lived in Tulsa for nine years and our daughter still lives there.

Kelly said...

How much fun to learn a little more about a great blogger that I've only recently discovered! Thanks!

Kay L. Davies said...

I loved this interview, Mary and MZ Kelli, although I had to look up "axolotl" — I'll bet it's cute!
Congratulations, both of you, on an interview well done.

Katherine Krige said...

Fun to learn a little more about a talented poet that I have the pleasure of knowing in the blogosphere. Way to strut your stuff Mama!

Peggy said...

Nice interview write-up, Mary, and thank you Kelli for sharing a bit about yourself. I love knowing more about the people behind the names in the poetry blogosphere. Really makes it all come to life for me.

Anonymous said...

FABulous interview, ladies! i really enjoyed it.

Lydia said...

Marvelous! I love this kind of interview, especially when I am fond of the interviewee and interviewer!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Mary, what a great interview. I didnt know Mama Zen was a singer. How totally cool! Yes, she lived what I dreamed when I was young. Mama Zen, it is way cool to have you posting at Toads. Loved getting to know you better through this article. Your zoo is amazing. Baby Puppy must love it!

Judy Roney said...

I have enjoyed reading about Mama Zen and all her talents, her beautiful daughter and animals, too. So much information here that I am going in for a second reading. :) wonderful interview.

Victoria said...

i love seeing more of the person behind your poems, Mama Zen. People's stories never cease to enchant me with their wonderful contrasts - bar bands, motherhood, Zen, geckos. I love it. Well done Mary.

Other Mary said...

Great interview, both of you! Thanks!