Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Hello, Toad friends. It is Sanaa and Sherry, chatting about poetry today. Thanks for joining us!

Sanaa: I have always admired your writing style, tell me about Wild Woman and her perspective on nature? 

Sherry: I have always been in love with nature. When I moved to Clayoquot Sound in 1989, ecstatically surrounded by wilderness, my wild nature came fully into being.  My inner Wild Woman began to appear in my poems. She had an ancient voice and, when she appeared, she was the one writing the poem. I sat back and let her do it.

Once I began blogging, in 2010, she began to show up more frequently. One April during NaPoWriMo, she wrote every poem. Each morning I sat before the keys and began tapping. It was like taking dictation. There is a definite difference when I am writing the poem and when Wild Woman is: her voice is an inner, wise voice. She knows things. Sometimes she tells me truths I did not realize I knew. When it’s just me, it is more like putting words down on the page. When it is Wild Woman, the poem feels like it is coming through me. Big difference.

I suspect she is my wildish nature, which is one with the sky and the trees and the creatures of the earth. I am always happy when she shows up, but I can’t make her do it. She comes only when she wishes.

Sanaa: That sounds wonderful, Sherry! I think it’s a blessing to be one with nature.

Sherry: When did you first begin writing poetry, Sanaa, and is there something, looking back at your childhood, that you think contributed to your becoming a poet?

Sanaa: I believe it was destiny that led me to writing poetry in 2015. I still remember my earliest poem “Looking for a Reason” whose words I penned down in a journal and later posted online when I had begun blogging. On the surface it might appear like an ordinary poem but people who are close to me know that there is story, truth, and deeper meaning; that there is always a hidden piece of heart and soul in my writing.

According to my mother, poetry runs far and wide in her family bloodline. Her father held a great interest in writing romantic poetry, whereas her mother’s paternal uncle, (my great grandfather), was a renowned poet whose work is taught in universities even in these times. So, it is safe to state that poetry was in my blood.

Sherry: I would say so, too. What an amazing background!

Sanaa: What are your views on poetry forms and how significant do you feel they are in terms of writing?

Sherry: Forms are a weak spot with me. I believe they are the true test of a poet, and am in awe of those, like you, who execute many intricate forms seemingly effortlessly. I usually avoid them, because I am old and tired, and tend to take the easy path these days. However, I know I should try the occasional form. Every now and then, I set out to write a pantoum, because that particular form, for some reason, comes more easily to me.

I very much admire your facility with forms. You are fearless. You try everything, and I applaud you for it!

Speaking of form and style, when you first arrived on the blogging scene, I was blown away by the way your poems echoed the style of the Old Masters. Your talent for poetry, at your young age, is impressive. Over the months and years, I feel we have been hearing more of your own personal voice emerging, with no loss of effect. If anything, I love your poems even more. Is there a story about this transition?

Sanaa: Thank you so much, Sherry! That is really kind of you to say so. It all started with a conversation in June last year with my dear friend Magaly, during which she gave me valuable advice. She told me that one doesn’t necessarily need to write to every other prompt that is out there; rather one should opt to write on a topic that speaks to the heart and soul. Her words left a huge impact on me and so the transition slowly began.

I started writing less frequently, and to prompts which I felt I could truly relate to. I learned that it was all right to be open about sharing feelings and viewpoints.

Now, whenever I come across a prompt, I take time to figure out how I perceive and feel about it before letting the words flow. For instance, on 22nd April when we were offered an excellent prompt by Susie Clevenger, “Poets of April.”

I had chosen to write on a quote by Carolyn Forche and thought to learn a bit of background about it before writing. As I read on, an unusual thing happened; before I knew it I’d logged in and written my poem “An Open Letter to Spring” in less than ten minutes! I guess I was overwhelmed by the emotions behind her words and was able to relate to them. Sigh, so yeah … that’s the story.

W.S Mervin once said: “Poetry addresses individuals in their most intimate, private, frightened and elated moments because it comes closer than any other art form to addressing what cannot be said. In expressing the inexpressible, poetry remains close to the origins of language.” 

I recently came across your poem “The Wild Bird of One’s Being” and fell absolutely head over heels in love with it, as it adheres to the quote by Mervin. Please share your feelings and views on both your poem and the quote stated above?

Sherry: I agree with the quote. In fact, looking back at poems I wrote when I was younger, I am amazed to discover my inner voice was speaking truths I consciously did not know that I knew. I could write the words, but did not fully comprehend the truth they were telling me at that time.

Birds cross the sky in covens,
this golden autumn-of-my-life.
My eyes follow their flight,
my soul quickening to the sound
of their honking admonition:
follow the predestined route!
Find your way home!

The Voice of My Tribe croons a chant
that murmurs on the breeze.
I feel the winds of change blowing through
the drafty chambers of my
just-before-winter heart.

The Old Ones are telling me:
Time to open the door of the cage
and free the wild bird of your being,
the one you have been hushing
and placating with crumbs
for so long.

Free her with joy, and,
as her wide wings swoop and thrum
across the shimmering sky,
traveling between the worlds
in the space-where-there-is-no-space,
along the-way-where-there-is-no-way,
heed the call of those wild birds.
They are giving voice to
the longings of your soul.

Lift up that expectant, waiting life
with the urgency
of not-much-time,
and, if you're ever going to fly again
as, once, you flew,
do it soon,
do it completely.
Do it now.

“The Wild Bird of One’s Being” is a truth-telling poem. When I wrote it, I was living in Port Alberni. I had been offered a spot in Tofino but had momentarily become anxious, overwhelmed, and influenced by others’ opinions. I declined it. Immediately, I knew this was a mistake. But when I called back saying I wished to accept it, the spot was already gone. I paid dearly for that momentary lack of courage and trust. I was depressed for some time. I knew if I were to be given another chance, there was only one possible response: YES!

The poem expresses how often, in my life, I have put others’ needs and wishes before my own, placating myself with crumbs, instead of attending the feast. Time to “open the door of the cage and free the wild bird of my being”. Given my age, there was the urgency of time. So “If you’re ever going to fly again as, once, you flew, do it soon, do it completely, do it now.”

It was three years before the call came again. I had almost accepted that it might never come. Needless to say, there was no hesitation this time!

Sanaa: Thank you so much, Sherry. I feel honored that you chose to share the story behind the words and glad that the call came again. Smiles.

Sherry: Me, too! Recently, I was blown away by your poem “Ode to a Passionate Muse”. Would you tell us about this poem? Can you go into more detail about what writing and poetry mean to you? What makes the words catch fire for you? What makes a poem sing? When do you know it is finished?

In my darkest days you are the first
glow of dawn that lights the sky,
your pain is as though splitting of
seashell that hems in understanding.

I am muse, I am song, yet I am woe
which others reckon their own,
as unadulterated heart I am sound
of the sea crashing upon rocks.

I wish to write words to delve deep
into the poetic mind and retrieve
irrevocable nothings that touch,
hear and taste a world which keeps
me from being myself.

I, am forever bound, to ameliorate
agony of knowing desire better.

Sanaa: Sigh... I remember this poem as if it was written yesterday. It was for Susie Clevenger's prompt where she had featured Frida Kahlo. The poem 'Ode to a Passionate Muse' is a glimpse of my sub-conscious. It's everything I have ever felt about poetry since the day I began writing.

I believe poetry is like a one-sided conversation where one has to express, keeping in mind that nothing should be left out and that there should be no room for confusion.

To me, the muse is as though a calling, a strong inner impulse toward a course of action. It's like listening to the heartbeat and attempting to translate rhythm into words and image. 

Keeping in harmony with the quote by Kahlo, I sought to describe myself in the process of fulfilling the desires of muse, hence the closing lines.

When I sit down to write, I focus more on emotion rather than imagery because I believe if a reader is able to relate to the poem, only then do the words truly sing. It's when I have managed to pour a bit of soul into my poem is when I know it's finished.

Sherry: That is a very good description: pouring a bit of soul into your poem. Thank you, Sanaa. Working with you has been a pleasure.

We hope you enjoyed this little chat, poet friends. Thank you for reading.


Kim M. Russell said...

I enjoyed this revealing chat between Wild Woman and our own true romantic!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Lovely to read. I enjoyed the further insights into each of you, including things I didn't know before about your personal poetic process. Many thanks!

Anmol (HA) said...

It's delightful to read about the writing style and motivations of the two of you.
Sherry, your wild woman avatar is resonant with the power of nature and your words and motifs imbibing the natural imagery and voices make for a great reading experience.
Sanaa, your romanticism and beautifully tender imagery always appeal to the heart. It's at once personal while also evoking a response from the reader.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Thank you so much, Kim 💞☕

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Thank you for reading, Rosemary 😊💞

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Good to know my writing resonates 😊 thanks for stopping by, Anmol 💞☕

Fireblossom said...

Interesting, Sherry, to hear you talk a bit about how you feel Wild Woman as being a tangible, separate entity. I've always wondered, "What is with the third person thing?" This interview helps me understand how it feels for you.

I am incredibly happy for you that you got a second chance to go to Tofino to live. It's where you meed to be, I know it speaks to your soul. And it's good indeed to hear you talk about valuing yourself and not always someone else first. You are important!

Sanaa, one always knows what one will get with your poems. You are a marvel of consistency.

Thanks to both of you for the opportunity to listen in on your chat.

Marian said...

Hah, Kim has it right... Wild Woman + True Romantic. Really fun combination!!

Sherry, I didn't quite realize the entirety of your recent journey to Tofino, the part about you passing on an earlier opportunity and carrying regret. I'm so glad the newer opportunity came to you, as you are so obviously exactly where you should be! Yes, do it NOW and value yourself, bears repeating over and over.

You both are so lovely and I really enjoyed peeking on the conversation and learning about your processes. Thanks so much for sharing.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Thank you, my friends. Between time differences and a bout of vertigo, i am late getting here. Smiles. I am pleased you enjoyed our chat. Yes, Wild Woman feels like another entity, though an inner one, when she speaks through my poems. She is rather quiet these days, as i get older and more tired, lol. Hopefully, she will speak again. Sanaa, thank you for the pleasure of this chat, which came together so easily.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Thank you so much Shay and Marian 😊 I am glad you guys enjoyed our Toad chat💞

It was a pleasure working with you, Sherry 💞☕ Yayy 😊

Kerry O'Connor said...

There is so much to take away from this chat. Sherry, I have known you my entire blogging life, and I appreciate so much the way you have shared your journey through poetry. It has inspired me halfway across the world for years. And, Sanaa, I have grown to know you as an enthusiastic and giving person, whose passionate nature is revealed in poetic verses.

What I most enjoy about your chat is the way you describe your growing as poets. Sherry, coming into the persona of Wild Woman as a means to achieve personal independence; and Sanaa, you have found your space in which to evolve and the voice you wish to sing with.

Two most special poets, so well matched in this chat.

Laura Bloomsbury said...

What a well suited pair!

Thanks Sanaa for drawing Sherry out about her poetry and the wild woman who inhabits her Muse - normally she is the one introducing us to others and we appreciate her time and effort

And thank you Sherry for eliciting so much from Sanaa - behind that gentle romantic is a bloodline of other poets having their say - I feel she is developing her style more and more

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Aww gosh💞 thank you so so much, Kerry and Laura for your warm and loving words 😊☕

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Thank you, friends, for your lovely words of support and encouragement. Kerry, I remember finding you way back when and encouraging you to come to Poets United. Look how far we have journeyed together. What a wonderful trip it has been.

Anonymous said...

Sanaa and Sherry --- I really like the pairing here, and I hope my comment offers no offense, but I'm struck, by the "young one and the elder" - and love the exchange between the two of you. It's a wonderful conversation, where you share and explore your processes and influences, and it's like a blending of two voices, in some ways ~ the elder listening and offering wisdom, the younger, listening and sharing new ideas too - and both, walking away with something more, for it. What a lovely compliment to each the other, and for us too.

I've enjoyed reading and learning more about you both personally. And so, may you both continue to pen and poem, and create and imprint yourselves on the world, and on our screens. 😁

Sanaa Rizvi said...

No not at all😊 in fact I too was in awe during my conversation with Sherry, it was a lot of fun sharing and discussing ideas and writing process. Thank you for reading😊 so glad you enjoyed it💞☕

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Pat, I love your observation. As our poetry community crosses all ages, I had missed the thought that we were young and elder, sharing........that is very cool! Now I like our chat even more. Smiles.

Jim said...

This was a refreshing and inspiring conversation for me, thank you Guys. I'll read it again and maybe make notes. But what I am seeing is talent. Two with talents polished and controlled (by their muses?) each with different styles. I'm thinking it was hard to get a grasp on what was transpiring and harder still to explain it. I do hope I learn, even a little bit, from 'listening' to you two. I'm glad you shared. 
Sherry, please don't worry about being old. As my former NASA boss would tell us in report and critique writing, "Write faster." :) Ha. I am not a writer, I just write and like to write 
what will please most of those who choose to read me. I am much older than you and won't be bothered by that. My saying, "I've done everything I need to do and most of the things I have wanted to do."

Margaret said...

LOVE this... I have the feeling that if we could all have a destination weekend, we'd have a wonderful time! I appreciate all of you and love these chats and "interviews". Glad to get to know each of you more.

Susie Clevenger said...

I love this conversation. It is great to get a chance to know what inspires poetry and the roots of its beginnings in someone. Thank you for sharing not only your conversation, but the beautiful poems to accompany it.

Sumana Roy said...

This is a lovely conversation with such beautiful poems Sherry and Sanaa. It's wonderful to know about the thought processes behind the words. Enjoyed every word of it :)

Old Egg said...

What a joy to read this as two of my favorite blogger poets chat with each other. Love and the wild world, what better subjects as the basis for one's poetry. What a lovely chat this was and to find Sherry being asked questions this time too.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

That sounds like a wonderful idea, Margaret!💞 Would love to spend some quality time with you all😊 so glad you enjoyed the chat☕

Sanaa Rizvi said...

And thank you, Susie😊 for your kind and loving words💞☕

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Thank you so much, Sumana 😊 so glad you enjoyed it💞☕

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Aww thank you so much Robin😊 so glad you enjoyed our Toad chat💞☕

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Jim, far from worrying about my age, I am very grateful to have made it this far! LOL. I hope to stick around a while yet. Margaret, it would be SENSATIONAL if we all could meet for a weekend of chatting about writing, and sharing some poems, wouldnt it?

Maude Lynn said...

Oh, how I envy you your Wild Woman, Sherry!

Thank you, Sherry and Sanaa, for sharing some inspiration. said...

An absolute delight to see the background of what forms a poet and their poems. Thank you.

tonispencer said...

This was such a delightful read, getting to know the two of you better. I love the wild woman and am so glad to learn of your second chance at life in Tofino. The Wild Bird is part of your soul. Sanaa how interesting to have a family member involved in poetry. I am sure his example inspired you.

annell4 said...

I came to read again, and am surprised not to find my comment? Maybe I forgot to hit the publish? I love the chat, I love both of there poets and their poetry!!! Thank you so much for the post.