Monday, January 28, 2013

Haiku Poet Deborah P. Kolodji Reading Feb. 3

Deborah P. Kolodji, whose poetry appeared in the anthology After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events, will be reading Feb. 3 in the literary journal RATTLE’s reading series. The reading will be held at 3 PM at the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 1010 Foothill Blvd., La CaƱada-Flintridge, CA 91011.

Ms. Kolodji is a haiku poet. She also writes speculative poetry. Her poem from After Shocks reprinted here with her permission:

lingerie drawer
after the divorce
skimpier

After Shocks is an anthology of poetry of recovery comprising 152 poems by 115 poets from 15 nations in these topics: recovery from grief, war, exile, divorce, abuse, bigotry, illness, injury, and addiction. Follow the After Shocks blog postings at Poetry of Recovery.

Two other examples of Ms. Kolodji’s haiku, reprinted with her permission:


cottonwood rattle
the wordlessness
of his final days


we promise each other
nothing will change
slack tide


Reprinted from The Temple Bell Stops, Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss, and Change," an anthology of haiku and tanka, edited by Robert Epstein.

Interview with Deborah P. Kolodji

How did you come to write this poem?

After my marriage broke up, I wrote a lot of poems about divorce. Some of them were longer and more metaphorical than this one. For example, I wrote about a dozen poems about earthquakes and every single one of them was about the divorce!

Being primarily a haiku poet, many of my haiku and senryu evolve out of simple personal observations about my environment – my yard, the street I live on, my house, the people I encounter. They are word snapshots of a moment in my life.

After the divorce, my lingerie budget became much less important to me and I was consumed with putting food on the table for my children and seeing to their educational needs. One day I happened to notice that my lingerie drawer seemed a bit “skimpy” and the poem just came to me, pun and all. It made me smile so I wrote it down.

How did writing this poem affect your recovery?

Finding humor in my situation helped me cope with the break-up of my marriage. If I can laugh about something, I can get past it. Writing poetry was therapeutic and really helped me get through those first difficult years.

Can you tell us something about your process of writing that helped this poem come to life?

I have a small notebook that I carry around with me and jot down little things that catch my eye. These observations become seeds that sometimes turn into haiku or longer poems. I live a hectic life, at times, with work and family obligations. It has calmed down in some ways, now that my children are grown, but I also have an aging mother and a job that sometimes involves travel. Writing short poetry helps me take little pauses in my day, to observe the things I might miss otherwise – the egret that flies across the street on the way to the nearest body of water, the wildflower growing out of a crack in the sidewalk and other moments of beauty, moments of humor, moments of sadness.

So, regardless of what I am doing, there is this part of my mind that notices little things and says, “hey, Deb, look at that.” And, I’ll pause, and turn my head slightly and suddenly see a moment that I want to capture, whether a moment of truth like “I don’t need sexy lingerie since I no longer have a significant other” or a sudden glimpse of beauty like the reflection of sunrise in my car’s side mirror.

So, this particular poem came to life because I opened a drawer and it suddenly looked “skimpy” to me.

Who are your favorite poets or poets new to you whom you'd recommend to others?

Most of my favorite poets are contemporary haiku poets like Roberta Beary, Margaret Chula, Michael McClintock, Christopher Herald, Ann K. Schwader, and Penny Harter. My favorite classical haiku poet is Chiyo-Ni. I also enjoy W.S. Merwin, Gary Snyder, Robert Haas, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and many other poets. (I am sure I am forgetting to mention at least a dozen poets!)

As for my favorite poems, I am very partial to “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes and “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, as well as a haiku by Tom Tico about a black umbrella breaking down at a funeral graveside service. (The Tico haiku was published in Modern Haiku about two years ago and I still love it today as much as I did when I first read it.)

What are you working on now?

I’m always writing haiku – right now I am trying to write at least one haiku a day. I am also working on a book-length haibun.

Deborah P Kolodji is the moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group and the former president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Acorn, bottle rockets, and many other journals. In addition to After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events, her poems have been anthologized in various Red Moon Anthologies including the 2011 Red Moon Anthology, Carving Darkness, several Haiku Society of America anthologies including the recent anthology Haiku 21: An Anthology of Contemporary English-language Haiku, edited by Lee Gurga & Scott Metz and published by Modern Haiku Press.

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