Meet the Poet on Wednesdays!
Greetings! Welcome to this wonderful Wednesday at Jingle Poetry. Every week Lovely Annie and Tracy Harris will be offering the chance to brush shoulders with the elite, the powerful, and overwhelmingly gorgeous at Meet the Poet. We will be interviewing a different poet every week.
Hi everyone, Tracy H here. It's again my turn to offer a closer look at one of our poets. I hope you enjoy this week's edition of Meet the Poet.
When I first began posting poetry specifically in the online poetry community for the review of other poets I was a bit nervous; I had never had my work read by strangers, much less by scores of other poets. I soon realized that most were truly peers; I liked their poems and they liked mine. But a very small handful of the poets that read and commented on my work stood out as being excellent writers, even professional writers on some levels...so, when they commented on my writing I really took note. The first and, as it turns out, still the foremost writer/poet whose comments and approval I truly (sheepish grin and red face) covet is this week's poet at Wednesday's Meet the Poet. She is absolutely fantastic as a writer, with so much variation in her subject matter and true knowledge about each subject. Each time you visit her blog, Musing By Moonlight, you get something fresh and exciting, from pieces on artists and writers, to poetry and recipes. Anything she writes is going to be entertaining, educational, and always insightful. And when she writes a poem...Wow! Incredible poems. She is kind, generous, and always thoughtful. She is the first poet from our community that I truly considered my friend.
I'm just beside myself to be the one to offer this Wednesday's Meet the Poet: My friend...Jamie Dedes
Tracy: Will you tell us a little about yourself?
Jamie: Well, foremost is that I'm a mom. My son is grown, but that's still the most important role and the most valued relationship in my life. I love and enjoy him. He's my hero, and I've learned so much from him. I think he's broadened my perspective far more than I've broadened his.
Reading and writing is a lifestyle for me - always has been - and I have four blogs. I appreciate reading other blogs, particularly poetry blogs, and the special camaraderie of our community. Such delight to find so much talent, sincerity, and like-minded virtual friends. Some people are quite proficient. Others are evolving. It's absolutely delightful to watch the growth, changes, and experimentation.
I'm saddened when I realize that some of our poets don't take themselves seriously as artists. You may be a programmer by day to pay the bills but, if your spirit is a poet, then you're a poet. You do programming, but you are a poet. That's that. You define yourself. You are not defined by where you paycheck comes from. I'm also saddened when someone says, "I'm just an amateur." Every professional was an amateur once. I think Oscar Wilde reminded us of that.
I love animals, birds, plants, trees, oceans and rivers, and the sky. I collect stones and crystals, occasionally enjoy making a few pieces of jewelry. I enjoy cooking, but the need to do it the way I used to years ago is not there any more. The good part about that is it leaves more time for writing than I've ever had.
Tracy: Please tell us about your blog, and what it means to you.
Jamie: My main blog is Musing by Moonlight. It's important as creative expression and to do what I can to plant seeds for positive change.
I've revised it several times. November 11 is its second anniversary. In December I'm going to make some changes. It's evolving to be mostly poetry, the arts, and social issues. There will be more book and movie reviews in the future. I have a food blog now for recipes.
When I first started, I was a bit uncomfortable posting poems. They're so close to us and can be revealing. I've had quite a lot of material published under my married name, including a few poems but mostly columns, feature articles, and press pieces. There was just an insecurity about blogging though. I was so new to it. On the other hand, what joy to write something and hit the publish button. No posting manuscripts in the mail or even emailing them. No waiting for editorial responses. I don't have to accommodate the "market." Such a freeing experience.
I had a hard time finding a template I like. I used to say that while most women clean house when frustrated, I "redecorate" my blog. One night, I accidentally locked myself out of my son's place. They were vacationing. It took the locksmith about three hours to get to me. I was worried about the cat. It was long past her dinner. I had my laptop and, anxiety driven, I redid three blogs while I waited for him. My biggest frustration is that it is hard for me to see the screen, even after eye surgery. Hence, copy editing and proofreading is problematic, more so because I can't spell. Never could.
Tracy: Can you remember writing your first poem? Can you tell us a little about it?
Jamie: Oh my, yes. I was about seven or eight and found a little brown book of haiku in the library. I was sitting there watching an elderly lady with her grandchild and I wrote this awful thing:
the leaves are brown now
the city will soon hibernate
the aged think of death
Too silly! Where were the cherry blossoms in my poem? I think even then I knew it was not a good piece.
Tracy: Hey, I know it may not hold to strict Haiku rules, but it's very good, especially for an 8 year old.
Tracy: Will you give us some insight into your style of writing, or the style/form you prefer.
Jamie: I never think about it. I write as it comes. I'm never not writing. Something in my head dictates and I take it down.
Tracy: Are there any styles of poetry you find difficult or annoying, and why?
Jamie: Yes. For the most part, I don't care for rhymed poetry. I think you have to be brilliant (a Robert Frost) to pull it off without making your subject sound trivial. I think there's only one serious rhymed poem on my site. The few other rhymed poems are light things like the two I did for Halloween.
Tracy: Do you write more than just poetry?
Jamie: Yes. I do particularly enjoy creative nonfiction. I've done some fiction. I'm playing now with two short stories, but those are on hold until after the end of November when National Novel Writing Month is over. I've completed that two years running. I trashed the first novel when I wrote two poems that said what need saying. I no longer felt compelled to write the novel. I'm mulling over the second. This third is a serious, not experimental, effort.
Tracy: What poem, written by you, do you like the most, and why?
Jamie: I believe I like “Baruch, The Baker” best. It was gestating for nearly fifty years.
Tracy: Do you have a favorite poet?
Jamie: Whomever I happen to be reading, including some in our community. I'm particularly enamored of Luke's work for his technical skill and precision and diversity of themes. I enjoy you and Amanda because you both have a sense of romance I seem to have lost. I appreciate your humor. I love Charles for his skill, refined sensibility, and common sense. Ji is always delightful for her humor. She makes me chuckle. If you need a smile, go see Ji. There are more, but I would go on forever. Remember, there were times and places when people wrote poetry for each other, not for publication. Blogging has revived that. Charming, no?
Tracy: Indeed,I feel the same; most everything I write if for, or because of, someone.
I adore Lowell, Frost, Dickinson, Browning, and Borges .... The list is endless. How's this one? Borges is so precise and mystical.
To A Cat
by Jorge Luis Borges
Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.
Tracy: Do you have any mentors?
Jamie: Yes, in the sense that I starting reading magazines for writers when I was about twelve. Writer's Digest and The Writer. The writers in those magazines were my teachers. I read many, many books on writing. And I ate fiction books up: Pearl Buck, Betty Smith, John Knowles, James Agee, John Steinbeck, and Herman Wauk were probably my earliest creative influences. That's pretty predicable given my time and place. I particularly admire Ms. Buck's values and the good work she did socially as well as artistically. She was a great lady in all the best senses of that word.
Tracy: Do you have a favorite place to write? Are there certain emotions that inspire or trigger writing?
Jamie: Everyplace is perfect. Everything is grist for the mill.
Tracy: What is your favorite type of music?
Jamie: I love the Arabic music of my childhood. I used to like rock and jazz as well. In my maturity though, it's largely classical. I do enjoy Opera.
Tracy: Your favorite book?
Jamie: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Tracy: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you or your writing?
Jamie: "Poetry's work is the clarification and magnification of being. Each time we enter its word-woven and musical invocation, we give ourselves over to a different mode of knowing: to poetry's knowing, and to the increase of existence it brings, unlike any other." Jane Hirshfield
I so agree with that. I know writing as a way to live hugely and as a mediation. To write is to enter sacred space, to know what is true.
Tracy: Any other creative passions?
Jamie: Not really. Writing is my natural habitat.
Tracy: If you could have dinner with any famous deceased person, who would it be, and where would you dine?
Jamie: Oscar Wilde. He had an exquisite sensibility and fine humor.
I would serve him dinner at my place, set a beautiful table, something on violin softly in the background, and I'd choose a menu delightfully "ethnic" and obscenely unhealthy. Then I'd grill him about his life and his writing.
Tracy: This is my own addition to the questionnaire...If you will, tell me one of your favorite foods and a favorite movie.
Jamie: I love a perfectly roasted lamb embedded with slivers of garlic and bits of fresh rosemary and made with orzo in the Greek manner.
I have so many, many "favorite" movies. Most recently I saw Cairo Time and it's been on my mind. Elegant and beautifully crafted. Generally though, I like old romantic classics. Fred Astaire movies and without a doubt The African Queen.
Tracy: Roasted lamb is my favorite...I just love it, and you can't go wrong with Fred Astaire ( my favorite is “Sky's The Limit”), and The African Queen is a true classic.
Tracy: Now, the final three "trademark" questions...If you had your own band:
What would it be called?
Jamie: Sweet Nothin'
What would be the title of the first album?
Jamie: Arabian Nights
What would the title of the first single be?
Jamie: Desert Kiss
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Well folks, there you have it. Jamie Dedes is one of the best in this vast community, she's certainly Tops in my book. It was really a treat for me to do this interview, I just can't say enough about Jamie, so I suggest you all check out Musing By Moonlight, and you'll know what I mean.
Thank You, Jamie, for your time and all your kindness.
Everyone tune in next week when Lovely Annie will wow us with another invitation to Meet the Poet.