Welcome to Meet The Poet Wednesday where we get to meet some of the individuals who have lent their talent and efforts to the Jingle Poetry Group. This week we get to meet Victoria Ceretto-Slotto!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, if you want the inside scoop, it’s in the About section on my blog. I’m a young person in a senior citizen’s body. I spent much of my life as a nurse, primarily in fields associated with death and dying. Things important to me include spirituality, friends and family, writing and art. I have faced death, lived in another country and written two novels, published short stories, poetry and articles. I enjoy life with my husband, David, and two canine kids in Reno, Nevada and Palm Desert, California.
Please tell us about your blog and what it means to you? How did you come up with the name?
I started my blog to promote my novel when I first got an agent. Its focus has morphed to poetry which has become, in the words of Joseph Campbell, following my bliss. Whether or not the book will be picked up by a mainstream publisher remains to be seen. I’m considering other publishing options in this dismal market.
As for the name of the blog, in my work with the dying, I found that the best way to deal with end-of-life is to live each day to the fullest. I tried to get “liv2day” but that was already taken so I just tacked on “2write”. Writing is not my primary focus in life, but it is for the purpose of the blog and a day without writing doesn’t feel complete.
Can you remember writing your first poem?
My 90 year old mother still has a copy of a “Roses are Red” poem I wrote for her when I was about six. What I do remember in the world of the arts was getting in trouble when I was in second grade (in a Catholic school) for drawing a recognizable picture of my mother in a bathtub shaving her legs!
Is there a style of writing you prefer? Do you write more than just poetry?
Not really. The only thing I can think of that I haven’t written is a script.
What is the favorite poem you have written so far?
I’ll share one that I wrote in the middle of the night after the campus shootings several years ago at Virginia Tech. The day that massacre happened we were having a carpet installed and had the TV playing in the background. I didn’t have time to process the whole incident but my subconscious worked on it in my sleep. When I woke up in the morning I didn’t remember anything about it except that I had written it. There are a lot of details in it that might seem obscure without referring to the perpetrator’s background.
April 16, 2008
The night before,
did he try to tell someone?
Say it to some stranger in a bar
who couldn’t hear through the boy-man’s
Did he wake up most days
at 2 AM,
hands balled in a fist
so that his joints ached?
Did pain creep from the ridge
of his gums and crest on the
sweet curve of his cheeks?
I once read that prodigies
are good at what they do
because they’re a little crazy.
That mask of smooth ochre skin,
could he peel it away for a moment?
Give a sneak peek of the gnawing
disease etched on his psyche?
In those hours alone in the library
or hidden behind undulating mounds of
did his swelling fingers clutch a BIC that bore
the phone number of his father’s
dry cleaning business?
Did he use the pen to scratch out
active verbs of destruction,
obscene adjectives that clung to
They say that Hitler went
to daily Mass as a child.
As a kid, did he have a dog?
When he blew through the screen door-
the one with the tears stuck shut using
silver patches of duct tape-
did the dog come running,
tap a welcome dance on
the linoleum (gray squares with
tiny clusters of flowers at each corner)?
And did he kick the dog aside with his knee?
ignore it until the same time,
the same performance
the next day?
would he go to his room
and shut the door?
Listen to rap cranked
up in his headphones
while he read the Bible and wonder if
he’d go to hell
because of Lust?
Did he go to the woods in Virginia?
Find comfort in leafy branches
that tickled his progression along that path
that no one else seemed to know about?
There, in the hollow,
beneath an old oak,
did he flail his fists at the void,
swallowing the scream rising from the
base of his spine like a snake of
the Kundalini species?
I understand it’s true of all
Creative People, if we didn’t do the arts,
we could hurt somebody.
Did he sleep the night before?
Or did shadows toy with his angst
while muffled snores from the other side
of the paper thin dorm wall
ripped through him?
Taunt him in his evil purpose?
In the morning, did he wonder
if this was the day,
or if today,
like yesterday and the day before,
he’d steal a nap before class and
find enough release in sleep
to buy a few more moments of time
from his accrued life span.
Lots of people, I understand,
plot the sequence of their lives every day,
ahead of time, step-by-step.
And after he played out the first Scene of his
journey, did he fade off stage
and savor the coppery taste of blood spatter
on his hands?
Wonder if that was enough or if he
should go forward with Act II?
Or, did the fog of numbness
propel him through his role:
the part that hours of mental rehearsal
engraved in his movement memory?
When he dropped the package off,
did he look the clerk in the eye,
or had he weighed it ahead of time,
calculated the postage and
slid it through the slot in the wall near the PO boxes
to be time-stamped?
Then, after the others died,
did he hesitate,
think twice before the grand finale?
Wonder what he’d do if someone
ran through the door and cradled
him in strong arms,
sob with him in Fear and Anger?
Wrap him in a blanket and lead him from the scene?
Care for him like he’d really wanted to
do with his mangy hound
after it’d peed on the carpet in his bedroom?
But what if he were preempted?
What if someone stole that final scene?
He couldn’t let it go down that way,
After all, he was the author.
And once it’s written,
it’s copyrighted, even though
you should register it with the Government.
When do you write the most?
Whenever my muse hits me. That’s often in the middle of the night or when I’m in nature. Today a poem came my way when I was in the shower. I had to hurry out and jot it down before it escaped.
Do you have a favorite poet or a favorite poem?
I tend to prefer contemporary poets: Mary Oliver, Jane Hirschfield, Ted Kooser, Jane Kenyon. Also Pablo Neruda, William Carlos Williams. I like poetry that is rich in sensory details and nature and those with underlying messages that aren’t preachy.
Do you enjoy reading books? What are the best books you have ever read?
Don’t most writers love to read? I’ve listed just a few of my favorites on a separate page on my blog. In general, I prefer literary fiction, something with a bit of meat to chew on, something that’s thought-provoking. I will give a book about 50 pages and if it isn’t working for me, I put it aside. At this point in life, you don’t want to waste time on something that doesn’t really grab you.
What poets in the blog-sphere do you like to read or visit most?
There are so many. I don’t feel capable of limiting myself. I do make an effort to pay return visits to everyone who comments on my blog.
What are your inspirations?
Nature and spirituality.
You have been a part of Jingle Poetry Potluck. What are the benefits of participating in it? Are you a member of any other poetry communities?
I think of two main benefits of belonging to any poetry community are the opportunity to receive inspiration by reading other fine poetry and the fact that participation has doubled the amount of poetry I write.
I wish I had time to visit more. I try to be regular on Poetry Potluck, One Stop Poetry and Big Tent Poetry. I enjoy some of the short term challenges as well such as SiS’ Daily Haiku Challenge.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting a poetry blog?
Just do it. Then visit other blogs, comment and watch your own site grow. I also suggest working in a couple of format and then decide which one is best for you. I’m not very skilled in the world of technology and I found Wordpress to be more user-friendly. It would be helpful, if you’re like I am, to have a tech-mentor. Most things I’ve learned by trial and error. For example, I still can’t figure out how to set up the Linky-thing. I just don’t know the language.