Their jobs, chasing dreams, as poets

As promised, today I’m featuring two fabulous poets for my own little “writing week.”

Why poets and poetry?

  1. poetry is underrated
  2. if prose were music, poems would be the symphony
  3. how and why poets–Maureen, Curtis, and others–write is absolutely fascinating
  4. I’d write you some poetry myself, but compared to them, what I write resembles something my mind regurgitated after a much-too-heavy brain meal
  5. Some writers see with their eyes. Poets see with their hearts.
  6. Enjoy these poets and their work today!

Today’s first featured poet is Maureen E. Doallas.

Maureen’s been a writer and editor professionally for more than 30 years. She wrote poetry for her senior thesis work at Vassar, and says she’d, “disavow most of it now, or certainly rewrite it.” She mostly stopped writing poetry after 1980 until about three years ago. Maureen says the experiences in the between-time, including becoming a late-age mother of one, being baptized at age 50, and losing a brother to cancer, changed what she writes now, and she writes every day.
Age is just one of a writer’s best friends, I think. I know I couldn’t have written in my 20s and 30s the poems I’m writing now in my late 50s. And what I’m writing now is so much better,”” she says.
Officially retired from editing. Maureen started a small art licensing company, Transformational Threads, and started blogging in late September 2009, because she wanted to participate in RAP. She writes about what she loves — art of all kinds, books, and the people and circumstances that move her. She rarely writes about herself , because she says, “I just don’t find it that interesting.”
Sore Chasing Dreams is Maureen’s featured poem today, although you can find a plethora of spectacular ones at her website. Maureen says, “This poem was literally written off the top of my head. I went to read L.L.’s post for Random Acts of Poetry that week in April and took up her challenge to ‘write a sentence with a picture in it.’ I decided to use the same words —  ‘sore’, ‘scatter’, ‘wheeling’, and ‘passion’ — that L.L. had used.

“I wrote the poem as a comment, in maybe 5 minutes, and later posted it to my own blog. The poem is what nAncY calls a ‘comment poem’ or ‘poem comment’. I first started writing and leaving comment poems at nAncY’s place and occasionally leave them elsewhere. They come out of nowhere, with no forethought and completely unplanned, simply in response to what another has written. I cannot explain them beyond that.”

So, without further ado, here is Maureen Doallas’ poem:

Sore Chasing Dreams

Sore with chasing

dreams, I scatter

fresh-bought seedin un-neat rows.

Ravens, wheeling

through cotton clouds,

show me the meaning

of passion

at ground level.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas
“One Thread Connects Us All”
Maureen E. Doallas
Owner, Transformational Threads
Arlington, VA 22207

The second poet is Curtis Honeycutt.

If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s a pretty darn hilarious guest blogger over at John Acuff’s place, Stuff Christian’s Like. Curtis and I also happen to be members of the same cool church family.

But that’s not why I asked him to share his stuff.

I asked him, because when he’s not writing prose, he’s writing poetry. Poetry that rocks. 

Curtis is so cool, I’ll let him tell his story and share his stuff himself.

Take it away, Curtis!

I hope you don’t think I’m narcissistic for sharing a few of my poems you’ve never read to talk about writing poetry. To be honest, I haven’t read your poems, either. That’s just the way it goes in poetry. How do you get it published-“out there” for people to read and experience (without starting a publishing company out of your own basement)? I don’t know the right answer; I’m a novice at best at this process. However, if I ever get a book published, I’d like to lead off with this poem:

Draft #19

I want to offer

something honest,

bold-faced truth

just eeking to unplug

its nose and come

up for air.

I want to give

thoughts that create

an effect much like

exiting a dark theater

into the sunny reality

of a parking lot,

squintingly bright,

startling you back

to Norman.

Here it is,

good as it will get,

maybe better than ever

(or at least different)

after a few pen-bloodied edits.

This pretty well captures my approach to poetry. There’s something inside that needs to get out, but it’s going to need extensive editing and tweaking. I may even have to share it with an actual person to get her feedback. This is not fun, and just thinking about it makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Sharing your art (whether it be visual, written or otherwise) feels like exposing a weird body part no one else has ever seen. You have to fight the urge to blur out parts that feel too revealing.

Even if it what you write turns out to be strange, more than slightly avant-garde, that’s okay. At least it’s honest. One of my favorite poets, Carl Sandburg, said: “I’ve written some poetry I don’t understand myself.”

Here’s another poem that captures my approach towards poetry. I wrote it when I was seventeen, but I still like it:

My Job as a Poet

My job as a poet,

my call, my desire,

is to consider with you

details of love and death,

laughter and gloom;

to instruct you

on the quirky habits

of the whippoorwill,

gliding through showers

of cottonwood

in the summer.

My job as a poet

is to weigh the differences

between the music of serenity

and the drumbeats of conflict,

between paper and plastic,

as if the world rested

on the shoulders

of my grocery preferences.

My job as a poet

is to skip rocks with you;

to tell you

what the shapes

in the clouds mean,

then to whisper

into your ear

there’s a good chance

I’m wrong.

My job as a poet

is to paint you a portrait

of anguish,

of understanding,

of reason,

careful not to mix the pink

with brush strokes of brown.

Never mix pink with brown.

My job as a poet

is for you to identify with me,

to see through my eyes,

to break down in my tears,

to feel my pain;

for one second,

to experience my passion

in unison,

if that’s what you want me to do.

That’s the best way I can communicate my thoughts on writing poetry. I’m currently dipping my toes into the pool of manuscript publishing. The water’s freezing. No one asked me to do it, and I’m not sure anyone will give a rip about an entire book of stuff I wrote. But that’s how it goes with poetry. With the exception of Emily Dickinson, poets have to put themselves out there in order to share their art.

I suppose you can still be considered a poet if you store your poems in boxes that will collect dust in the back of the closet, but I think most poets instinctually want to share their ideas. These ideas and word moments need to be written down (immediately, before you forget!), they need to be revised, they need to be read aloud, and they need to be beamed out to the world by any technological capacity Apple invents. I definitely still have a nine to five, but I agree with this sentiment, again from Sandburg: “I’m either going to be a writer or a bum.”

Do it. Write. Share. Give. You’re running out of excuses not to.


10 thoughts on “Their jobs, chasing dreams, as poets

  1. Oh, I do like Curtis’ work, and his wonderful comments here, especially about testing the waters of poetry publishing and finding them “freezing”.

    It’s an honor to share this space with him.

    Thank you, Amy.

  2. Great post, Amy! So enjoyed reading about Curtis and Maureen, who is one of my favorite poets. I’m particularly excited to read another one of her poems. Thanks for spreading around some poetry love!

  3. Holy cow! It is a small world–especially in the blogosphere. I “know” Curtis from SCL and Maureen from High Calling. I knew that Maureen was a poet, of course. But I had no idea Curtis was. Loved both here! Thanks.

  4. Maureen wrote that poem at my blog. And I loved it the first moment I set eyes on it. 🙂

    You should tell Curtis to come on over and share his stuff at RAP. Always so pleased to have a new poet among us.

    1. When I asked Maureen if I could feature her, and I perused her blog for which poem to use, that one stood out like a beacon to me. Love it. In so many ways. I’ll tell Curtis, too! Thanks so much for visiting, L.L.!

  5. Cool post! I find that I usually end up writing poetry on accident. Like, I intend to write something in prose but poetry comes out ’cause there wasn’t any other way to express the thoughts.

    I did a post on poetry a little bit ago, too.


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