Interview with NMSPS Poet Andrea Watson (Walking Rain Chapter Chair)
Naming Ours the Altar
Color, meaning innocence, floats
Nothing can be left unspoken—
If this is the altar of regret,
let me fashion each layer, windblown,
ring the past with forbidden's necklace.
How many stones in this necklace,
and what about the altar that floats?
I am lighting two votives. Windblown,
each burns memory-cut amethyst—
I wonder how you number your regret.
sleeps in the room that knows, unspoken
purchased the crystal necklace.
Your thousand thrusts of un-regret
are a dread that floats,
like my body melting (like weight of amethyst),
you want every accusation windblown.
In the photo we are smiling, windblown;
each hour strikes unspoken.
You caress my throat, flushed amethyst.
I am wearing your necklace
of fingers as darkness afloat,
my eyes are opals, starless with regret.
This jeweled mirror, witness to regret.
beneath a door, whispers: I want to float.
To be empty. Here is unspoken—
When you unclasped clouds as necklace,
sky in the attic window blazed amethyst.
I do not forgive you amethyst:
Without pity, there cannot be regret.
Mouth, plum, necklace:
Our shrine bleeds flame, and windblown
you wait at top of the stairs, unspoken,
hunter's moon still floats.
Our altar of the unspoken is midnight's necklace.
Adorn me in a windblown room where memory floats.
The gem of purity is amethyst. Now, regret.
Adobe Walls (#1)
Edited by Kenneth P. Gurney
Andrea Watson, Chair of the NMSPS Walking Rain Poets of Taos, has wide-ranging interests in the Humanities. An award-winning poet, she curates ekphrasis shows around the country and has recently launched an independent publishing house, 3: A Taos Press.
Watson's poetic credits are extensive. Her poetry has appeared in Runes, Nimrod, RHINO, Ekphrasis, Memoir (and), International Poetry Review, The Dublin Quarterly, and Adobe Walls. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times.
Born and raised in New York, she attended Simmons College, an all women's college in Boston. She is retired from a career of teaching English and serving as chair of the Humanities Department at Colorado's St. Mary's Academy and teaching Language Arts and creative writing at The Ricks Center for Gifted Children at the University of Denver.
When did Watson begin writing poetry? "I have always been writing," she says, quoting Neruda: "And it was at that age...Poetry arrived in search of me."
Watson now lives in Denver and Taos, travelling between the two every other week. "A good part of my writing life is in Taos," she says. Watson was instrumental in organizing the Walking Rain Poets of Taos, which has grown from eight to ten members.
The poet is the curator of ekphrasis events. The etymology of the word ekphrasis is Greek; it is a rhetorical device in which one medium of art relates to another by defining its essence and form. She collaborated with Southwest portrait artist Seamus Berkeley in 2003 for the initial ekphrasis show: Braided Lives: A Collaboration Between Artists and Poets. The Taos Institute of Arts sponsored the event, which travelled from Taos to San Francisco's SomArts Cultural Center in 2005 and was hosted by Tennyson Gallery of Denver, RANE Gallery of Taos, and Studio Rasa of Berkeley in 2006.
"Taos has such a wonderful array of artists and writers," says Watson. "I have always felt that different forms of the Arts truly communicate with one another. In the first shows, each poet responded to one work of art after reviewing a panoply of pages of art."
Watson has curated and participated in sixteen ekphrasis events across the United States. Among them was Interwoven Illuminations based on the telephone tag game in which each poet or artist responded to only one preceding work. In 2009 Threaded Lives required poets to interpret various forms of fiber art. Another show, Frida.Fractured, sponsored by J. Fine Art Gallery in Taos in 2010, focused on the life and art of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as portrayed by artists and writers from across the United States.
Last year she and Taos artist David Hinske brought an ekphrasis event to the Harrington Brown Art Gallery in Memphis. The show, Fragments: Poets and Artists of the South and Southwest, featured twenty-four artists and poets who responded to only a fragment of art or writing. The complex event took a year to organize.
Six of the twelve poets in the project offered fragments of their poetry to the artists with whom they were paired while the other poets received fragments of artwork. Poets and artists of the South were paired with poets and artists of the Southwest.
Recently, Watson has focused on publishing poetry. She co-edited HeartLodge: Honoring the House of the Poet, a journal founded with four other women over a discussion at a kitchen table. HeartLodge continued for four years. Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined is a new work she published with award-winning poet, creative writing instructor, and editor Madelyn Garner last year that was three years in the making. An anthology of poetry by modern writers, the book is a study of the anthropology of collecting and shares the personal, private, and imagined collections of eighty-eight well-known poets.
Over a year and a half ago, Watson founded 3: A Taos Press, a multicultural publishing house for poets. Five books are in the pipeline for next year, but each manuscript receives the time and care it requires. Manuscripts are by invitation only. "It's an old fashioned press," explains Watson, "with a modern viewpoint. It's wonderful to see how the poets' work evolves and the way in which each manuscript becomes the gem it deserves to be."
In the future, she is hoping to hold an ekphrasis show in Austin, Texas, with an emphasis on music, poetry and art. Watson may curate another Taos ekphrasis show preceding the Austin one. She is also working on completing her first book of poetry, Serenity of If, a cycle of poems about Taos.
Watson and The Walking Rain Branch of Taos were instrumental in soliciting and selecting the workshop speakers for many of the workshops, and the Keynote Speaker, Dana Levin, for the NFSPS Convention in Albuquerque in June 2013. Speakers include Dora E. McQuaid who will be opening the conference with The Alchemical Heart: Writing Into The Sacred. Veronica Golos will be teaming with Bonnie Rose Marcus in a profound discussion entitled Face to Face: Two Poets of Witness (and Provocation) Explore Death and Dying. Madelyn Garner and Andrea Watson will be offering a workshop on writing and publishing in the 21st Century, 5 X 5: The Learning Curve: What You Must Know To Publish In Today's Market. In addition, Keynote Speaker Dana Levin will be celebrating the conference on Sunday evening at the Gala Banquet, focusing on the internal landscape of writing in New Mexico. The Taos Branch also is working on a special poetry reading by and for the visitors who travel to Taos on Monday.
October 24, 2012
Interview with NMSPS Poet Hilda F. Wales
Tonight I Weigh Gray
bolted doors and craving sleep
I crawl into the hollow tube of night.
off the circling walls and qualms,
who know the daylight hiding places,
use the night to play.
splatters midnight pro and con.
I yearn to guarantee
an iridescent dawn, but fear
drifts through misty nights
untouchable as smoke.
My wadded pillow squeezes out new riddles.
Doves don't fly at night, do they?
Hilda F. Wales
In 2009 and 2011 she was named New Mexico's Senior Poet Laureate by the Amy Kitchener Foundation for her poems "Out of Storm" and "Purple Clouds." These poems were included in the anthologies, Golden Words.
The former NMSPS Treasurer has had approximately thirty-five poems published in publications such as "Sage," "Voices Along the River," "Adobe Walls," "Persimmon Tree," and "Gifts of the Great Spirit." Her work has appeared in the Texas Poetry Society's Book of the Year, "Encore," "Galaxy of Verse," "San Antonio Poetry Fair," and "Along the Rio Grande."
Wales has written the majority of her poetry while residing in Albuquerque since she and her husband retired in 1995. The wordsmith estimates that over one hundred of her poems have won or placed in various contests and/or appeared in anthologies, some multiple times. She tracks the status of her poetry on a spreadsheet.
The soft-spoken woman of words says that she has been writing poetry all her life. She had the solitude and silence that she requires to write when she grew up in the Colorado countryside without a radio or record player. "I had time to think," she says.
She wrote a limited amount of poetry in college, but she was encouraged to continue when both a poem she wrote and an article she penned about the family's foster children were published while she lived in San Antonio, Texas.
The poetic forms Wales most enjoys are the haibun, a mixture of prose and haiku, the triolet, the sestina, and the cinquain. She loves the search for precise words that express the exact meaning that she is seeking, and she likes finding the metaphoric connection between two unlike things.
She enjoys lyric poetry and won $100.00 for her lyric poem "Mortality," which compared a cup and life.
The poet was born in Durango while her parents, some of the last homesteaders in southwestern Colorado, lived in a one-room log cabin which she describes as being located "at the end of the road," south of Mesa Verde National Park. Her parents met when her mother was a schoolteacher and her father played fiddle at town dances in Bayfield.
After attending elementary school in various three-room schools where her mother taught all the high school classes, the family moved back to Bayfield, Colorado so she and her siblings could go to a "slightly" larger high school. Her father, originally a rancher, became a well respected real estate broker. Wales had an older brother and younger sister.
She attended Cornell College in Iowa and spent a year at graduate school at San Francisco Theological Seminary where she met her husband, Don Wales, a Presbyterian minister. Years later, she earned a masters degree in Multicultural Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Soon after their marriage in 1958, the couple moved to the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico where they lived for four years. Their two oldest daughters were born there. One day when she was hanging out diapers under a cottonwood tree, her husband asked, "How would you like to go to South America?"
"Why not?" was her reply.
The couple, with children in tow, spent a year in Costa Rica learning Spanish. Then they traveled to Chile where the last two of their four children were born. They lived in Copiapó, a small mining town in the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. This is the same town on which the world's attention was riveted in 2010 when thirty-three miners, "Los 33," were trapped in an unstable mine. (All thirty-three men survived.)
The couple spent four years in Chile and four years in Monterrey, Mexico. Then they set off for San Antonio, Texas where they lived for ten years and where Wales joined the Texas State Poetry Society, another NFSPS affiliate, of which she remains a member.
While living in San Antonio, Wales worked as director of a foster care program for children who had run away from home but were not involved in serious crimes. During the years when their own children were teenagers, she and her husband housed eleven foster children.
In 1982, the couple moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico. The United World College (UWC), an educational movement now comprising fourteen high schools around the world, had just opened near Las Vegas. Wales worked at the UWC for fourteen years as both a Counselor and Student Services Coordinator. She also planned programs including introducing students to Las Vegas families and coordinating sizeable events such as graduations and a visit by the current President of the UWCs, Queen Noor of Jordon. South African President Nelson Mandela is a Co-President of this international movement.
Don Wales was Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas. Both he and his wife retired on the same day in 1995 and moved to Albuquerque. The couple has seven grandchildren.
Wales' poetry is not without use of personification to express the mystical:
Through a small cloud hole
one star watches lightning
examine the night.
March 4, 2012
Interview with Former NMSPS President Jim Applegate
one star seen through fog
bids the world not to mourn
for the sky still is
greet me and early autumn
deer crosses road
The poet recalls that the Roswell Chapter spent 1996, its initial year, as a chapter of the Pennsylvania State Poetry Society. Then Joe Shaffer and Victor Benton invited the chapter to become part of NMSPS, and the Roswell Chapter accepted.
Applegate, a retired research engineer and chemist, has published over one hundred poems and four short stories since his retirement. He is Southwest Regional Coordinator of the Haiku Society of America.
The Haiku Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the writing and appreciation of Haiku poetry in English. Membership is open to all readers, writers, translators, and students of the poetic form. The Society has 663 national and international members at present.
Applegate coordinates the region including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. He has published six volumes of his small canyons anthology which accepts Haiku from any poet in the region.
In November 2009 he was the poet featured in SciFaikuest, a magazine devoted to Haiku related to science fiction. He has had "SciFaiku" published in it several times.
The former engineer says that he began writing poetry in speech class in high school when he forgot to bring a Christmas poem he was to read. The teacher called his recitation "a nice selection." He was not published in a nonstudent publication until after he retired and had more time to devote to writing.
Applegate graduated from Southern Utah University and went to graduate school at Brigham Young University.
He plans to teach a class in short poems at the Roswell Museum and Art Center at the end of this month. Aside from Haiku, the poet writes sonnets, villanelles, and rhyming poems.
Applegate and his wife Beth Ann, also a poet, have four grown children and thirteen grandchildren. He is a docent at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
The poet was born in Cedar City, Utah, near Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. His father worked for the Forest Service. His mother Kathryne Murie Applegate wrote poetry and was a member of the Utah State Poetry Society. Applegate sponsors an annual poetry award in his mother's name in the school poetry contest HPP sponsors.
He says that he uses the word "haikuesk" to refer to any short form of syllabic poetry. Haiku, senryuu, tanka and renku are Japanese forms that have become popular in English in the 20th Century.
Traditionally Haiku was a poem about nature or man's relationship to nature with three lines with five-seven-five syllables. It also had a "kigo" or word relating to the season. Modern or Contemporary Haiku has three lines of seventeen syllables or less; the kigo is optional. Haiku is untitled, and many Haiku poets do not use capital letters or punctuation in their poetry.
Several Haiku poets in New Mexico have influenced Haiku enormously. These include Elizabeth Searle Lamb of Santa Fe, former President of the Haiku Society of America and editor of the Society's journal, "Frogpond." William J. Higginson, also of Santa Fe, wrote The Haiku Handbook, The Haiku Seasons, and Haiku World.
Two other contributors to the world of Haiku reside in New Mexico, John Brandi and Charles Trumbull who edits "Modern Haiku," the oldest and most prestigious journal for Haiku outside of Japan.
Applegate says a trip to Japan is on his "bucket list," though he has no idea when or how he will get there.