Better Off Without This Ink-Stained Heart
Better off not Caring Not loving these words so much Or leaving raw pen-shaped pieces of myself For the wolves to carry off into the darkness. Better off not Grieving Every long slow syllable of my tongue Or the way the graphite and the white become one Or when the black clacks merrily along, a song. Better off losing them Loosing them Only to wind and wave My torn lost soul To save.
She has been writing since she could pick up a pen, but her mom says she wrote and performed her first poem when she was 2, looking wistfully out the back car window upon leaving Disneyland she said: "All done fun." When I asked how long she has considered herself a poet, she responded with an astounding: “Maybe a couple of years. But it's a title I have to reclaim, and re-love, daily.”
She lives in Henderson, Nevada, with her husband, two tweens (9 and 11), a slightly neurotic pup, a brand new kitten, and a tarantula. She admits in her blog profile: her soul migrates between Lake Tahoe and the ocean (she visits it at least twice a year)
She is De Jackson of Whimsygizmo's Blog: Real Toads follower, parent, poet, Pro Crastinator, and above all a lover of words. De was kind enough to answer my prying (yet playful) questions about her writing and her life.
Izy: First round is on me...what are you drinking?
De: It's early here, so maybe a bloody Mary? Or a little Bailey's for my coffee. ;)
Izy: The photo at the top of your blog....everytime I see it, I am somehow jealous of you: where/when was the photo taken and why did you choose it as your banner?
De: Ohhhhh. Sigh. I'm jealous of that girl, too. That's Cannon Beach, Oregon. My feet are propped up on the porch rail of our suite at The Carriage House at The Stephanie Inn, and you can see Haystack Rock in the distance. We went for our 10th anniversary, and back for our 12th. It's just so beautiful there. My soul truly thrives near water. I also chose it because those are my feet, and so technically I'm in the photo, even though I'm quite photo-phobic.
Izy: In November you participated in a "Poem a Day Challenge"? What insight did you glean from this journey that you'd like to share? (writing or otherwise)?
De: This was actually my 5th November Poem a Day Challenge, in addition to one in April each of those years, both through Robert Lee Brewer over at Poetic Asides. And this past year, I've been committed to writing the equivalent of a poem a day. So combined with some everyday life busy-ness, this November's challenge wore me out a little more than usual. I do think writing is every bit as much a discipline as it is an art. So each day I try to "Get up. Dress up. (yoga pants count, right?) Show up." I love a good word prompt, and it's important for me to stay connected with other poets, so the challenges are awesome for that. For the past couple of days, I've taken a tiny hiatus. I think it's good to go what I call "acoustic" sometimes, and be with the three-dimensional people. I live in my head, and on the page, a lot of the time. It's essential to step out and be fully present in the world every once in awhile. But I'm so thankful for the writing community I've met here online. It's been a real game-changer for me.
Izy: You are quite a prolific poet, and write such tightly compacted poem powerhouses....how do you write a great poem so quickly?
De: Who says they come quickly? ;)
Seriously, though. Some days, the words just bump against each other, and stick. Other days, it's like pulling teeth. Or giving birth. Or herding cats. I've always been a big fan of small poems with big impact, so I do end up writing short poems often, hoping they've got punch. Who knows where it all comes from? Was it Stephen King who said he always laughs at this question? ("Where do you get your ideas?") I don't get ideas, so much as phrases. Snippets of words that just have a tendency for magnetism toward one another. I let them do what they want, and sometimes they reward me with something good. And sometimes the little rebels run off into the sunset without me.
Izy: Your poems stands on their own, but at the same time seem to speak from a universal "female" narrative. Who are the actual figures which inspire some of your poems and why? Do you have favorites which you revisit?
De: "Past De" comes up quite a bit. She was married at 20, and divorced by 21, escaping a verbally abusive relationship of 5 years. I don't revisit her on purpose, necessarily, but many times she still has things to say. Today's De is ridiculously blessed, and sometimes has to rely on that old angst for depth. I do like to climb into other characters, as well...but it's usually all about the words. When they start to flow, the voice just follows.
As far as female influences go, I've always loved Maya Angelou, as well as other famous names who would make anyone's list. But I'm currently addicted to a poet online who will kill me if I provide a name or a link. She's a stealthy one. It's so fun to watch her play with words, and I've learned so much from reading her.
Izy: It’s great that you can draw from a well of your own experiences for inspiration. You have a good grasp on what makes De the poet tick. What is your personal mission statement as a poet?
De: This one's easy: "I'll be the poet who sings your glory, and live what I sing every day." - Psalm 61:8
Izy: Here’s a scenario--You have arrived at the edge of the universe. You do not have enough fuel to make it home, and there is a jukebox with five songs of your choosing...which five songs are on it?
De: Counting Crows' "Raining in Baltimore," GooGoo Dolls' "Iris," Alanis Morissette's a cappella track from Jagged Little Pill ("Your House"), Oren Lavie's "Her Morning Elegance," and the worship song "How He Loves" by John Mark McMillan.
Izy: What’s your least favorite thing to do on a Saturday?
De: CLEAN. Isn't it Erma Bombeck who said "Cleaning done properly can kill you?" Good thing I'm so abysmally bad at it.
Izy: What is one book every poet should read before writing their next poem?
De: Patrick Rosal's BONESHEPHERDS. And the book of Psalms, in The Message translation. Sorry, you said one. But I don't do numbers.
Izy: Here’s another scenario--You've invited me on a picnic, and I sleep late and never prepare. What have you packed in the picnic basket?
De: Fun pens in all colors and pretty journals and parchment paper. Great music. Red wine. Hope you ate breakfast, cuz the food wouldn't fit. ;)
Izy: What three adjectives people use to describe you that are far from accurate?
De: Organized. Confident. Together.
Izy: What’s your favorite curse word?
De: My husband sometimes says "shingadoogie." It cracks me up, every time.
Izy: What are three things you never write about and why?
De: Xylophones, Yacks and Zygotes. Not sure why. I love a good yack poem. Maybe I'm going alphabetically, and I just haven't gotten there yet. ;)
No, seriously...nothing's off limits, but I guess I never write about pop culture - TV, music, or movies.
Izy: One poet people do not read, but should and why?
De: There are so many astonishing "unknown" poets out there, many of them more prolific - and in my opinion every bit as talented - as those who line the bookshelves. Since Shawna would kill me for outing her, I gotta go with Hannah Gosselin. Hannah is truly a poetic soul, an amazing light in the world...and the way she puts phrases together is magic. She is quite simply the best nature poet I know, and I consider her a poetic soul sister.
But if you can figure out who Shawna is on your own, that wouldn't be my fault. Check her out, too.
Izy: What is one thing about writing poetry you wish you had learned sooner?
De: Just keep swimming...just keep swimming...just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...
Izy: Flintstones or the Jetsons?
De: Flintstones. I'm a primitive soul at heart.
Izy: What’s a quote to end this interview with?
De: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The pen might be mightier than the sword, but sometimes it's infinitely harder to pick up. Do it anyway. - De Jackson
Izy: And....what is one question you'd ask the real toads (and of course, they'll leave their response in their comments!)
De: What's your favorite word on the planet, and why? (And then, let's write poems using all of 'em!)
De also is a published poet. She has recently enjoyed some success with publishing poems in both print and online journals. I have included some links to some anthologies where she has published alongside some astounding poetic friends. Thanks so much for your time De!
Let me again say many thanks for a fantastic conversation De! And let me be the first to answer her question to the toads. My favorite word: linoleum!
I have long been fascinated by De's style of writing poetry..in awe would be more accurate. How wonderful to come to RT this morning and read all about her world. Both poets she has mentioned are high up on my list of the best of the best in blogland and I think it is heartening to know that De finds inspiration from the poets who are right here, putting out their work online every day.
Thank you both for sharing your conversation!
I have no particular favourite word, but the first that popped into my head was 'ubiquitous'.
Lovely to learn more of De, a fun interview. The odd word or phrase is always my kick-off to a poem, so I'm glad to see that so admirable a poet thinks the same!
Favourite word(2) serendipity and synchronicity
I have wanted to talk with De, and this interview is a great beginning. Thanks to both of you! De, the truths that emerge in your lightly worded poems fascinate me. You attain a great depth with very few words. Peace and silence are great words, an today I liked the vibrations in voice again, how you have to use the entire mouth to say "voice." And it rhymes with rejoice.
Was just on De's blog yesterday! Love reading these interviews and learning more about the blogs/writers I've visited!
My favorite word: gypsy
Excellent interview! Today, I'm liking "slumber."
Thank you, Izy, for this fun opportunity! :) You made it so easy to chat with you.
At the end of the day or sometime this week, ya'll, be sure to collect all the words here and write a poem, and leave me a link!
Kerry, Viv, Susan, Robyn, Fireblossom, Mama Zen...
(I wanted to respond individually, and then realized it won't "nest" anyway.)
Thank you so much for your kind comments, and fabulous words! There's a poem a-brewing here already. :)
Great to read another one of Izy's fascinating and often hilarious interviews, and to learn more about De, as I've always loved her WhimsyGizmo moniker, not to mention her writing. Wordwise, while I might want to pick something convoluted like 'cthonic,' I notice that I have a predilection for using 'endless' a lot.
Hi, Hedgewitch! :)
Thank you so much.
I now want to use both "endless" and "predilection" in a poem. Must google "chthonic," but I bet I'll like it, too. ;)
What a fantastic interview..a great way to greet the morning! My favorite word is peace...oh and butterfly. :) I can't count. :)
Ha! I can't count either, Susie. And the more the merrier when it comes to words! :)
"tightly compacted poem powerhouses"
YES. This suits De's writing to a T.
I'm glad to see De basically everywhere in cyberspace these days. It's about time my absolute favorite poet is making a name for herself.
And De? Thanks for pointing to Sweet Hannah. As Dan Paicopulos has said, "I believe Hannah has no ugly words in her vocabulary." Amen, brother.
Izzy, thank you for this fantastic interview.
Thank you so much, Marie.
And YES, everyone, everywhere should read Hannah. Her poems in my email inbox are like little gifts waiting to be opened, and breathed in. Along with you, Hannah is on my bucket list of poets to meet someday. We shall take a walk in her beautiful part of the world, and write poems in the air.
I think this might be the first time I've read an interview and thought, "Hey, it might be fun to be interviewed." The thought usually terrifies me. This was a BLAST to read, especially your continual attempts to plug me. You are such an adorable nerd. :P I'm pretty sure I'm out of my quiet-time hiding now, in case you haven't noticed. :)
Seriously, this is one of the most engaging interviews I've read; holding my attention is nearly impossible, which is one of the many reasons I adore your tiny poems.
Quite clearly, my favorite word is now "shingadoogie." My other favorites are those that have other words hiding inside, as you well know.
This was such a pleasure to read, De. I love what you do with words and that you refuse to give them boundaries.
You did forget to tell everyone that your muse is a mermaid and that your favorite word/color is "indigo." I thought they should know. ;)
What a FEAST this was. The opening poem is spectacular, the questions are responses so entertaining and what a cool challenge at the end. I absolutely enjoyed this interview to the hilt!!!!!!!!!
Favorite word since I was eight years old: paw.
Yes, let's do a poem with all the words!!!!!
Informative, full of great tidbits, a lovely interview .. I count Cannon Beach as one of my favorite places too .... surreal and so peaceful there.
You always inspire me with your masterful, controlled flights of language, but then you aggravate me because you do it again and again and again, with no loss of quality.
I don't envy many others talent, but I do yours. Enjoy your talent - you've earned it.
Sending good wishes, respect and luv, el Mosk
I really loved reading this interview, thanks so much ladies
LOVED this! Fascinating questions and answer. Way to go girls!
My favorite word: alabaster
Great interview of my dear "Sunday Sister" De! I am always BEDAZZLED by you. How is that for a word? I can't think of one right now b/c I have Christmas on my mind.
Great interview! Fun questions and wonder to ponder~ :D
Fav word: idea
De!! You ARE my poetic soul sister and your timing is magical...just when a poet's feeling out-of-the-loop and when the words are struggling to "play well," here you are lifting up my poetic soul. This touches my heart SO much, De.
I look up to De and her fresh-creative spirit so often...she is so inspiring as a faith-filled friend-mama and poet and she has an awesome sense of humor as well. :)
I feel so lucky to have met her and Marie, (our dear friend-thank you for your kind words, Marie), and so many of the other poets in 2009 around Poetic Asides...it has been life-changing becoming involved with the writing community such a blessing.♥
This is such a fun interview, Izy!!! Thank you SO much for featuring De...I'm seriously so proud of her. Gearing up and writing everyday is harder than it looks sometimes and she makes it look so inspired and fun.
Speaking of fun and inspired that other sister of ours...Shawna, De's right about her...Love that poetic gal as well!!
I ♥ the word magical.
This word speaks, for me, as a definition for the awe of it all...the things that happen that send goosebumps and cause pause for appreciating the magic within the seemingly ordinary things of life.
♥ Thank you De and Izy...this made my day.
Izy, this was BRILL1 De is one only one of my first friends from the Poetic Asides days - I also stayed with her and Justin and her abnormally wonderful sparkling kids, Abby and Zack, on a cross-country trip.
De, it's true- you love the shorter poems, and I wish I had your talent for getting to the point. You are also unafraid to share your faith, yet you do not "bludgeon" people to hop on your bandwagon. (Ditto Sweet Hannah of the Balloon Bearers and Marie Elena of the Shrinking Erie Void.)
I'm not going to attempt a poem based on the words, but since Viv chose my word, "serendipity," (showing a remarkable "synchronicity" with me once again!), I shall use my favorite quality, one I lack: Patience.
Love to all, and thanks, Amy
Great interview, De. I love your "I don't do numbers" (which is so true) and your response to what you never write about made me smile.
Excellent interview of a very favorite poet! Fun and entertaining and just plain De-lightful! But... still waiting & wondering when we can expect that book-of-De-poetry! :-)
Not surprisingly, one of the most entertaining interviews I've read in a long while. De - one of the long-timers - as I've come to think of the poets who've stuck around the "street" from the very first PAD ... we should a count some time and see how many are actually still checking in, huh? (No, no - not you - I didn't mean you; I know you don't do numbers De ... me and Amy maybe ... lol) In any case, I loved reading about you brilliant one and also learning about a new interviewer (new to me anyhow) Izzy - good job. I agree with everyone else that it was wonderful of you to point people towards sweet Hannah but you're pretty sweet yourself so it's good you did this ... thanks again to both of you.
This was so interesting to read. And the comments to this post as well. Thanks for thinking of something like this. :-)
I read this interview earlier and forgot to comment. Now I have so many wonderful things to say about De, but they've all been said. And I have to agree, Izy, this is a great, great interview!
My favorite word is one that's hard to find on this planet. My favorite word is peace, and closer-than-second is hope.
My favorite ejaculation is one my mother used: horsefeathers.
Such a witty, wonderful interview - learned a lot about De! Thank you for sharing her with us!
Had to jump over to Amazon to look up Boneshepherds. I always learn something new from De! Wonderful interview!
Rushing off this morning, but wanted to say THANK YOU, again, to all of you for your generous comments, and fun words. Back later to reply individually...
Here's the full list, so far. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem using as many of these words as possible:
bonus word: cthonic
Have fun! :)
De, I think everyone should interview you! You are so creative and fun, never the same and you always make me laugh :-) Great interview Izy, love that picnic question and love De's answer too..
Words I love? Mariposa, Briar, Snicklefritz (that was the name of one of my dad's cats when he was a kid...)
Thanks to all for their warm response to De's interview. I will make a special post on Tuesday, 11 December, so that those who want to write a poem based on De's word-list can share them here.
Thanks so much for the lovely interview ~ I have read De's writing before and continue to be amazed by her talent ~
Thanks for the challenge ~
what a fantastic interview and i too am intrigued by your writing, De. wow. also i have to say that if my nine year old is a tween I'M IN TROUBLE. sheesh!
can i add a word? i love color words, how about: alabaster, periwinkle, orangey?
Izy, I enjoyed your interview with De and I love De's poetry. Great to learn a little more about you two. Can't say I have a favorite word, so I'll just leave a word...sacred.
Sabra, thank you so much. I love the word "sacred," and how close it is to the word "scared." And how sometimes they can be one in the same.
Marian, thank you. The technical definition of "tween" starts at 8, which is terrifying. Mine is almost 10, and oooo boy, in the throes. Color words are my favorite, especially "indigo," but periwinkle is a close second. I love that "wink" is in there. And it feels good on my tongue.
Thanks so much, Grace, for your generous comment.
Kerry, what a great idea. Thank you! That will be a much more organized approach. Ha. (Somebody called me organized again last night and I laughed so hard. I must somehow be masking my chaos well, still.)
Patricia, thank you! And backatcha.
Sara V, Snicklefritz is seriously one of the best.words.ever.
J.lynn, I hope you enjoy Boneshepherds as much as I have. Some of his images and lines are simply breathtaking.
Thank you, Ina and Zeba. :)
Thank you, Kay. I'm tempted to throw the word "ejaculation" in there along with "horsefeathers," which I love. ;)
Thank you, Sharon. My first PAD was April of 2009, which I'm pretty sure was the second annual? But yes, I'm an old-timer, and happy to be. ;) I admire your work so much. Thanks for your generous comments.
PSC (in CT...which you shall ever be) ;) ...I am still waiting, too. For organization, as much as inspiration. ;)
Thank you, Linda.
Amy! You are the only PA-er I can say I've actually met, and delightfully so. Thank you!
Hannah, I adore you. But you knew that. ;)
Thank you, Ella and Laurie and Margaret and Emma. So much.
Buddah! What a generous comment. I love the honesty in your work. And you will always be the poet who made me get out of my comfort zone and read some stuff out loud. THANK YOU. :)
Helen and Sherry, thank you so much. I've loved getting to know both of you here at Toads.
"Jasmine," thanks for outing my indigo mermaid. She tries to hide, a lot. Mutual mwahs backatcha.
Excited to see everyone's poems on Tuesday! Thanks again, Kerry, in advance, for organizing the word list!
Life has annoying gotten in my way lately, so I'm terribly late in reading this wonderful interview. Anyhoo...it was a terrific and fun read, and I'm so glad that I finally got around to doing so. Great to know you! And great questions too!
Izy, a wonderful, unusual interview with an amazingly talented poet, yes De, you are. Now every time I go to Cannon Beach I will think of you.
Pickle, is a wonderful word, crisp and funny.
Thank you so much, Linda and Sara. :)
Sara, I love the word pickle. :) I might just have to write a pickle poem today.
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