Celebrating Our Own!

When I agreed to this assignment, I immediately determined that one thing I’d do would be to celebrate and share poems by some of the Rogue Valley’s own poets.

And what better way to begin than by singing the praises of Angela Decker, the spirited woman who launched this column so many months ago and kept it going with eloquence and enthusiasm.

Readers of this column are familiar with Angela’s blogging style, and I hope many have heard her read.

The Big Three

Part of this feature will include brief interviews with each poet. I’ll be asking what I call “The Big Three.” Here are those questions, with Angela’s replies:

1. Why do you write poetry (when you could be doing so many other interesting things!)?

I used to write poems when I was a kid just because it was such a kick to play with words.  I loved the compact neatness of a poem.  Now, I still get a great deal of pleasure in playing with language and telling a small story. There are millions of things to do other than write. Some days I whine about the difficulty of finding the time and energy for poetry, and I swear that I’ll never write another poem.  Of course, I eventually write something because not writing would be worse. Afterward, I think, “What fun. I love poetry.”

2. Who are your own favorite poets?

This isn’t an easy question because I keep finding new poets to adore. My two poetry heroes, the ones I return to again and again, are Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton. Brooks says poetry is life distilled, and she and Clifton had such a gift for taking small moments in life, whether beautiful or painful, and turning them into something universal, something we can all lean into.  I’m also a fan of Elizabeth Bishop and Mark Doty for all their big, gorgeous images.

3. What would you like to tell other poets, or those who aspire to take it up?

I’d say don’t wait for the perfect moment or some shot of inspiration or when the kids are quiet and the dishes are washed. Just write when you can. The best poetry happens when life is happening. Write whenever you have a pen and paper handy. Always have a pen and paper handy!

Poem by Angela Decker

Since it was impossible for me to choose a “favorite” poem of Angela’s, I just picked one that celebrates an old writing tool, and a man who cherishes them.

Typewriter Repairman

After dark, the typewriter repairman is still busy.
A shelf in the corner holds
a Selectric with a broken spring,
an Underwood 5 with a cracked roller,
a Remington convalescing beneath a plastic shroud.

At his work table he gently deconstructs
a Smith-Corona, lifts each key with
a small pocket tool, compresses springs with
ink-blackened hands.

He’s happy in his small room with one light.
Understands why people still fix their typewriters.
It a thrill, really; the careful placement of paper,
the musical whir of the winding knob,
the brimming potential of a freshly inked ribbon.

He likes the old ones best.
Those shiny, black lacquered machines,
beauty queens with glass-topped keys and silver rings.

When the typewriter is fixed, when he’s healed it from the inside out
he’ll check his work with a short standard,
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
He’ll type this until the carriage returns,
make sure the bell has a nice sustain to it,
the sound should be bright and fade out slowly.

Angela Decker
from Splendid Catastrophe, ©2014

Enjoy more of Angela’s talent at her website http://angeladecker.com and be sure to purchase her book.

Nominate a Poet!

Surely you have a favorite local poet, or perhaps you are a poet yourself. Send me a poem you’d like to see featured in this column, and information on how to contact the writer so s/he can answer The Big Three interview questions.

Remember, all poems shared are under copyright and the poet must give written permission to have the poem published here.

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