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Mondays are traditionally Brian Miller's day but he is taking a much needed rest. I ( Moondustwriter) would like to introduce Gay Cannon. I featured her on Moondustwriter Thursday on November 4th, 2010. Please visit the archives to read about Gay. I'm excited to announce that Gay will be joining One Stop Poetry. As the site grows, we want to maintain quality and offer additional aspects for your writing needs. We will be announcing her project soon.
I'm Gay Cannon known to many of you here at One Stop Poetry as Beachanny. I've been invited to guest host One Stop Poetry this Monday so that I can introduce you to my very good friend, mentor, and fellow poet Hector Gutierrez. I have known Hector since we were both participants in a writer's workshop in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area in the 90s. An eclectic group of writers, eventually the poets splintered into a monthly group dedicated to poetry only. Even after that dissolved for many of us, the poetry group continued by e-mail hosted by Hector in a group called Poetry Express. There we continued to share work, critique and encourage one another. Hector's work is very fine and has influenced my approach to poetry in countless ways. I asked him several questions for this interview and here are his answers.
Who and what influences you in writing poetry?
My fascination with poetry started when I read Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”. Something in the words, “on little cat feet, ” made me actually “feel” the silent movement of the fog as I read the poem. The feeling stunned and fascinated me, and it left me wondering how the author could put together words that could produce such an effect on me. I’ve been trying to unravel the secret of that magic ever since.
What journey have you taken that has brought you to your current approach?
Early on, I came upon “The Raven” and “The Bells” by Poe, and my lifelong commitment to structure and rhyme began. As I worked to maintain an intricate structure or a rigid rhyme scheme, I developed a mental approach that occasionally discovered surprising relationships between words. As a result, my efforts to create pivoted in a particular way that led to my writing style. I have written some unrhymed poems with loose structure, but the verses that called for a challenging structure or rhyme scheme seemed to draw the most out of me.
Do you use traditional structures like the sonnet, or do you experiment with new forms?
I’ve written several sonnets and two villanelles that worked out well, but I have also tried many experimental approaches to structure and rhyme. I have a few poems that I wrote in what I call the framed couplet, for lack of a better name. I began with a rhymed couplet in iambic pentameter, but I decided to rhyme the initial syllables as well as the ending syllables. To add emphasis to the initial rhyme, I decided that the initial syllable must be accented. So I ended up with nine syllables per line instead of ten. “Minor Strain” is written in this form.
Part of the fun has been to try to “hide” the structure or the rhyme scheme, so that the poems appears to be free-form while still allowing me to work in the particular mode that works best for me. For one poem, I took a favorite line of verse from another poet and used it as a template for a new set of words. For example, “The Red Wheelbarrow“ by W. C. Williams“ starts with “So much depends / upon / the red wheel / barrow.” My line became “His mush descends / upon / the red tongued / sparrow.” I wrote two poems using this approach, which provided a well-hidden structure while producing a line that seems to flow freely. Some of my approaches have been less ambitious. “The Boy’s Tree” is simply a sonnet with the rhyme removed except for the final couplet. “Bourbon Street” focuses on varying the metric patterns to simulate the dancing and the music that the poem is referring to, while the words that rhyme with “Muse” act like a recurring base drum beat that provides a steady pulse to guide the syncopated rhythmic flow.
Short bio, publication activities:
With the guidance of an English degree from the University of Houston, I have been writing for more than 25 years. I have two self-published books of poetry with limited circulation. I published a periodic poetry newsletter, “New Winds”, for about five years, with participation from local and area poets, including a few college professors in Texas universities.
Sinless child, your face turns back toward ten,
innocence bruised, strained by careless men.
Clothes that push you up toward twenty-one -
loathsome need in you; for them, brief fun.
Tension pushes, pulls, to fill a void
men’s abuse created; what’s destroyed
time can never . . . child, you must not tease.
I’m your friend, or would be. Stop! Don’t. Please
The Boy’s Tree
This tree ain’t lovely - never was. It looks
like serpents rising from the ground, that want
to play. Not pray. A tree wants to be climbed.
Each branch is hard like Daddy’s biceps, and
the bark will scratch you like his chin at night.
The leaves caress and tickle as you climb.
In gusty winds, they sound like ocean waves.
A tree ain’t nothin’ but a tree. That is,
until they cut it down. Then it can be
a cradle or a coffin or a carved
figure that looks like Dad. A pencil, or
a sheet to hold a poem or a truth.
Ain’t no use askin’ who can make a tree.
It is the tree that makes, it seems to me.
Ageless stones resounding Satchmo’s chops
that wail from the bars for the smiling Muse,
stones worn smooth by steel tapped shoes
still dancing for the Man,
timelessly keeping time
to the jazz and the rhythm and blues,
while the strippers and the booze
bark their intent from the fringes
and the pallid crowds refuse.
Thanks to Gay and Hector for another look into the world of poetry. At this time Hector does not have a blogsite to visit. We may cox him to post on One Stop periodically.