Better Off Without This Ink-Stained Heart
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!