Tuesday, 18 January 2011

One Stop Spotlight - Gerald Barret aka Jerry

Your sure would agree that there are many interesting, talented and highly likable people around in the blogworld. "Very likable" was the first thought that jumped to my mind when I met Jerry through One Shot Wednesday a few weeks ago.
I would describe his poetry as fresh and unconventional and you can clearly hear his heart beat when reading his words.

He approaches everyday happenings with a twinkling eye and in a healthy down to earth style.
Jerry is a people person - you can sense this in his writing and commenting - he easily connects to others and I'm sure many of you, who have met him somewhere on the One Stop trail will agree.

Jerry blogs at "Under the doorframe" and today he allows us a glimpse into his busy life, tells us about his big family, how he came to write poetry and what inspires him - enjoy

~ Claudia


The other night the wind and the rain
slapped a lot of beauty out of their canopies.
The rain fell on the leaves,
the leaves fell like rain.
The colors lay dead.
I tried to rally my kids to pick them up.
I gave them Elmer’s glue and a stapler.
I had a few ladders too.
The suns out now and how much
I wanted to see the colors against
a cool blue sky instead of faded green
and asphalt and gravel.
I almost prayed for the resurrection
of these expired tree totalers.
But then my kids dropped the glue
and staples and the disbelief
their faces were showing me.
They ran for rakes.
Their faces flush with autumn air
they piled up the colors on the runway.
They carelessly overlaid color on color,
like when they were much younger with crayons.
Their excitement rose as did the pile.
Then I saw the clear blue sky in their eyes
as they lay laughing in the colors.
I smiled as their redemptive act
fell on me like cool rain in the night.

(copyright gerald barret 2011)

A little background:

I grew up in Michigan as number 8 out of 10 children. My mom pretty much raised us on her own, which is a long story worth writing about sometime. I'll be married to my wife 25 years February 16th.  She also hails from a large family.  If memory serves me she is number 10 out of 12 children. We have 4 biological children and 8 adopted (2 sibling groups of 4). I am a UPS delivery driver of almost 25 years. No need to say my writing is in the cracks of audible words and busy real life experiences.

Sometimes I'll say to people that I have been in a mid-life crisis for 30 years...and writing became a cathartic resting place between depressive dips and turns. When I came to faith the particular vein of the Christian church I was a part of thought of art and creativity as non essential.  If it wasn't utilitarian I set it aside. So most of my writing was journaling in the beginning...a private affair.

Then about 15 years ago a music minister in the church I was attending intergrated a Luci Shaw poem into the worship service. It about sliced my heart in two. It was as if I was given permission, freedom to create and drop the utility knife that kept shaving off a good portion of who I was. (The poem, by the way, is Spring Song, Very Early Morning which is found in her book The Green Earth)

Then I started writing and sharing with family occasionally (The most gracious audience. :)) Then after attending 3 Festival of Faith and Writing conferences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan I was informed I needed a platform for my writing.  I didn't know what a platform was and I thought maybe it was nessessary in case I needed to jump.  Anyway I started a blog last spring and started a new one (underthedoorframe.blogspot.com) when I read L.L.Barket's interview in Christianity Today.

I like writing in other genres like memoir and essay and am chipping away at a short story. But poetry is my first love. I think maybe because I can finish poems within those cracks in my life. I used to think of it as the lazy writer's "out" because of its commitment level.  What a self deception. It is a craft that is intense, all consuming at times especially when a word or a line or an image pops up and the knee jerk reaction is to drop everything and find a keyboard or a pen and napkin.  Sometimes I drive and deliver with a sentence in my head and I repeat it aloud throughout my work day so I can deliver it to the keyboard that evening or next early morning. Early morning is the largest crack in which I write before the first child stands next to me with a "good morning" or a request.    

You will find that much of my poetry is about people. Of late a few more have risen about my mother who is getting on in years. I love to write about overt and covert spiritual experience. Sometimes I think maybe I should start another blog with a mainly overt Christian experience. Yet for now this network provides a wide range of personal and spiritual experience which I feel better represents the world out there...don't you think?

I chose to share the poem "Fall" because it is layered with depth and humor and transcendence which I feel is representitive of the spectrum of my poetry. Some of the influences of poetry have been of course Luci Shaw, Wendell Berry, and a dash of Billy Collins and now many One Stop additions.

Around our house humor is very needful. You know, as they say if you don't laugh you cry. Having adopted children really made the pain of our world more poingnant and sensory. We heard stories but until the stories came to stay in our home they were just stories. My brother once told me that proximity is everything. There are plenty of sad stories from which to harvest poems.
I am a little leary of writing about my children, especially the adopted ones and their fractured souls. I think in time more of these will surface on my blog as wisdom serves. 

Entering this network through High Calling Blogs and One Stop has been a stretching experience and it is fantastic to listen with those who share this passion, and sometimes compulsion, to mess with words.  I used to think that there was no point to write...there were already enough pages to turn, turn, turn and yet... We all have something to offer through our individual filters with which we see the world and if our calling is to write then write we must, and somewhere down the line there are people whose filters allow our words to penetrate their souls, sometimes right down to their very spirit where words dissolve to graft into their being.
I bet you the core of any poet's desire is to have their words settle into places such as these. I know mine is, why just today my wife told me that my poem today is her favorite...she has said that before and I hope she will say those words again.


Anonymous said...

yep, jerry.
your stuff shines without the spotlight.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Thanks, for sharing the poem Fall and the
Congratulation! on his upcoming anniversary too!

Very interesting read indeed...the life Of a poet and what inspire writer(s) to write...amazing!
DeeDee ;-D

Anonymous said...

I liked your poem "Fall" very much. I am glad you found your way to write poetry. I could never believe God wanted the world not to rhyme.

Roary Williams
@CoyoteSings on Twitter

Jerry said...

Thank you Claudia for such a sweet introduction. Again, I am so thankful for this network that so often turns my crank and for those who do the leg work!

the walking man said...

I too have thought it might help to get those leaves back on the tree's to hold off for a bit, just a few months, a MI winter.

The piece I liked because you took what to most is a chore needed doing and you saw poetry in it. That is the true, in my opinion, heart of a poet. being able to see the poetic everywhere.

Glynn said...

Jerry is one of my favorite poets. Thansk for the spotlight.

Brian Miller said...

jerry, one of the things i like about you is that you come across completely authentic and that says something to me...

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Three cheers for Jerry!

I've been enjoying Jerry's posts for quite awhile. He's always got something interesting to say.

You'll never meet a more reflective, introspective UPS driver, that's for sure!

dustus said...

Having become better acquainted with Jerry's poetry, in particular through the excellent posts he shares for the Sunday prompt & through OSW, I find his poems attentive to fine detail. He always provides a novel spin on subject matter and displays a polished respect for craft. In addition, I appreciate that Jerry takes time to provide pointed feedback on peer work. Great spotlight, Claudia.

Myrna R. said...

I haven't met Jerry, but I'm off to read his blog. Claudia it looks like you selected a truly sincere and talented person. He really does sound like a very nice guy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another Michigan poet... Is there something about our beautiful landscape, seasons and LONG winters (although this year has been strangely short and mild) that drives a person to write?
I loved 'Fall', and it made me giggle to imagine the "dad's being weird" expressions on the faces of the children. I could feel the joy that those kids bring you in those last lines and I found myself thinking "yes, that's how it is to be a parent, I know that feeling".
Thanks to Claudia for introducing Gerald, and thanks to Gerald for sharing.

signed...bkm said...

Very nice and congrat's to Jerry for being in the spotlight....his work is straight from the heart and filled with honest emotion...best to you Jerry and your family...blessings...bkm

Pete Marshall said...

i have known a few UPS drivers over the years and i wish they were like Jerry...an honest man that writes a great poem...great spotlight claudia..all the best pete

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading this weeks collection

Jerry said...

Thank you all for your insights and aprreciations...It does a poets heart good!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Jerry, I look forward to reading more...much more.
Ready to roll with another exciting One Stop! Thanks to everyone for sharing slices and slivers of life.

jen revved said...

what a loving "dad" poem-- tender, delicate imagery. Dispelling the notion some of us left with that guys aren't sensitive- i love the steady hand in this poem. xxxj