Monday, February 18, 2013

'Strengthening My Voice As a Poet'

Poetry isn't a profession.  It's a way of life.  It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that. ~ Mary Oliver

Our About the Authors series continues with Harriet Singer.

It came on me at 3 a.m. one Thursday morning. A partial poem was swirling around in my head like a television jingle that wouldn't let go. The only way to go back to sleep was to get up and write it down.

That was three years ago. I had never written poetry before; didn’t even read it. But suddenly I had to put words on paper even though I had no idea what I was doing. I felt driven to learn more about writing poems.

The first workshop I attended was for an entire weekend led by a well-known published poet. To this day I have no idea what possessed me to enroll. The other participants had been writing for years. Years!!

Some of them had been published in literary journals and magazines as well as on-line. Then there was me with five months of attempting to write something meaningful. Needless to say, I felt totally intimidated. But the verses kept coming. I needed help. I tried adult education classes without success. The other members in the classes did not have the same commitment to writing that I was developing. For them this was something they dabbled in; a casual hobby. For me writing was becoming an essential part of my being.

I looked into writers’ groups in the area. Meetings always seemed to be at the wrong time, wrong day, miles away. Just when I was despairing of ever finding a group, I received an email with a link to the Women’s Writing Circle. Meetings were twice a month Saturday mornings, fifteen minutes from my house. I could do this! My first meeting convinced me I was in the right place. I found a group of women writers ready to tell their story, each in her own way. It was a safe and supportive environment in which to read my work and strengthen my voice as a poet.

Until I joined the Circle very few people had read or heard my words. Attending the read-arounds gave me the courage to share my work. I also started telling friends and family that I write poetry. So when I had the opportunity to be part of the anthology I jumped in with both feet. (And a case of nerves.)

Three of my poems are in Slants of Light. "My Mother Never Told Me" was a phrase that popped into my head while I was driving. By now I was familiar with the symptoms so I knew it was the start of a poem. My initial reaction was surprise. I thought all that “mother stuff” had been resolved years ago. As the poem evolved I realized this wasn’t about blame but rather the recognition of all I have experienced and learned. My mother never would have found peace in silence, or looked to nature for wisdom. I now understand my mother’s path was very different from my own.

As a hospice volunteer I have seen wonderful people die much too young. The poem "Some Day…Soon" speaks to this. I used to see my life as stretching out like a weaving of colors and patterns that went on forever. It doesn’t. It can’t. Some day is now.

The third poem in the anthology is the recent situation of writing to a deadline. I never had to write to a deadline. Up until now, I had the luxury of writing and revising as long as I wanted. Sitting in front of the computer forcing words that aren’t there is devastating. "My Lost Art" examines the panic that I felt.
Working on Slants of Light has been challenging and exhilarating. I feel honored to be a part of this compilation of stories and poems.

Fifteen women speak;
A creative collection
infused with our souls.”

Harriet Singer was born and raised in New York City. She lived and worked in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years before moving back East in 2007. Harriet is an Energy Healer and volunteers with a local hospice. Slants of Light is her first publication and she hopes it's not her last.


LadyDi said...

Your poetry touches souls. Your themes are universal but your words are unique and heartfelt. Your ability to capture emotions and scenes wows me....makes me want to escape to a hiding place where it's just me and your words and my thoughts.

Jan Backes said...

Dear Harriet,
Like you, I consider myself a poet first and foremost. It is a pleasure to hear you read your work. It touches me deeply. You write about what is in your soul and that is what draws people to you. I love your poems!

Unknown said...

Harriet, your poetry not only paints vivid scenes, but expresses vivid truths that so many can identify with. It's so exciting and commendable that you are urgently pursuing your craft and not waiting for "some day."

ep said...

Dear Harriet,
.....Thank you to the person who sent you the email about the WWC. Thank you for responding to its message. Your voice and images enrich "Slants of Light" and carry your unique and vibrant energy to its pages. Don't stop!

kathleen pooler said...

Harriet, I am so happy to read about the person behind all those lovely poems in the "Slants of Light" anthology. Clearly poetry found you and you listened. Now we all are enriched by your vivid and poignant poems. Truly a gift!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Harriet, I love when you say that writing had surpassed the realm of "hobby." How it has become as necessary as breathing.

I am awed and inspired by your beautiful poetry, your growth as a writer which I have witnessed/heard in the Circle; the risks you are taking as you find and "strengthen" your voice.

Anonymous said...

Harriet, thank you for sharing your amazing story of connecting with the Women's Writing Circle. I envy all of you the beauty and encouragement of your group. More interesting to me is introduction into poetry writing. You see I cannot conceive of crafting lines of poetry; writing prose is a different story for me. You have given rise in me, however, to be more attentive to the raw phrases that come to mind which could end up in a poem. Thanks for stretching my thinking a bit.

Susan, this is a wonderful series and I've enjoyed it so much! Thanks.

Candice said...

It's fantastic that you take your feelings to heart and then are talented enough to share them in your poetry. Your dedication to crafting your skill as a poet is inspiring. I feel thrilled to be working with you.
Thanks for your spirit.

Unknown said...

Harriet - I love how you wrote that your one poem was not about expressing blame but rather recognizing your own experience and what you had learned. That is SO powerful and affirming! It reminds me that even if the people we hoped might honor our story do not, we still have a choice to write the story and honor our own experience - thank you for that!