I believe I am safe in stating that all members of the Poet’s Dream community have read the magnificent work of Garry. Garry hails from England, tried Australia and now resides in the Land of the Long White Cloud, our neighbor New Zealand; Aotearoa I believe. He enjoys writing poetry, singing and photography – a very talented man supported by his loving wife and children. Garry also enjoys playing guitar and does so regularly most Sundays at Church. It has been my privilege to ask Garry a few questions about his poetry.
Most of us would attribute the start of our writing to some (what I might call) significant event in the past. When did you first start writing and were there any incidents in your life that made you want to write?
As a child and even now my handwriting has always been atrocious, but I always enjoyed the use of words. I could read and pronounce quite complex words as a youngster, but I had a very short attention span; so reading voluminous books was not my idea of fun, but I always enjoyed Dr. Seuss and the rhyming structures that he used. My first attempts at writing poetry were short lived. I wrote an alliteration at the age of about seven or eight and sent it off to the local community newspaper for their kids section and it appeared that week. It was very simplistic it went like this:
eleven lazy lions licking lollies on the lawn
but that was about it until I started to play guitar and tried my hand at song writing again. I was no great shakes at that more recently. The big event (or one of them) was when we had to put our dog to sleep and it helped me to deal with all the feelings that went with that. That poem was called Ode to Sid which was written in September 2013, and from there I wrote a couple; more notably my Kapiti Island poem about the island that lies just offshore from the place I grew up in, and a poem for my mother-in-law’s funeral. So all in all from about September 2013 to September 2014, I wrote about maybe four or five poems, but from then on I have become somewhat consumed by my desire to write poetry and write something most evenings. I have never studied it at all, and I am somewhat ignorant of most of the great poets (although I have read some of them). My attention span is now a little longer than when I was a child ha ha.
Today we see a lot more use of technology in many aspects of our lives; the computer, phone and tablets being just a few tools now at our disposal for producing our work. Tell us about your process: Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks … How do you write?
Technology! Well that has been my go to for writing and sharing my writing. As I mentioned, my handwriting is terrible, so the keyboard or phone takes care of that. Occasionally I will use spellcheck, but mostly my spelling is not too bad, although my grammar isn’t the best. Technology is absolutely vital in the sharing of my works especially in the communities on G+ and also on Facebook Instagram and Pinterest. If it weren’t for the social media then I would have no readership, and it has also been a fantastic place to read the poetry of other like-minded people; to interact and form wonderful friendships with talented wordsmiths whom I will most likely never even get to shake hands with or embrace them, but they remain good friends none the less.
When you start writing, do you sit and think through every word of each line or do you just write freely and allowing the words to flow?
Sometimes I will write with something specific on my mind to say and will construct my lines with meter, alliteration and rhyme. Other times, I will just think of a topic or subject and just let the words take over as they come to me before tidying them up after each burst verse or stanza. At times, during walks with the dog or at work or other mundane situations lines will just pop into my mind; I will mull them over, stretch them, play with them. There are those time unfortunately, when I come to write them they have disappeared for me and this is very frustrating.
Who is your favorite poet and for what reason are they your favorite poet?
My favourite poet hmmmm … that’s a hard one as I haven’t really read much classical poetry. Probably Dr. Seuss initially, as he was my first introduction to it, but I do like Edgar Allan Poe. I got turned onto him through watching an old movie as a teenager The Telltale Heart and so I started reading Tales of Mystery and Imagination and was then enthralled by the Alan Parsons Project, put out an album of the same name and again I was drawn into the mind of this wonderful poet.
I have read some poems by Longfellow and enjoyed those too, especially Day is Done. There are one or two New Zealand poets that I quite like; namely Sam Hunt (he used to live in a boat-shed where I walk my dog). He gained much inspiration from the very same places where I walk the paths that he walked and I too have been inspired by that same place, but really I guess that my absolute favourite poets are my peers who post alongside me in the online communities some of them continue to mesmerize me with their words time after time and I think to myself, Hey I wish I could write poetry like that. Sometimes I feel that I have a long way to go to be able to write as eloquently as some of the others, but I do aspire one day to have an actual physical book published with my best work in it.
You appear to vary your work on occasions. Occasionally we will see photographs with your poetry and other times not. Do you have a particular reason for including photographs? Do you think that photographs enhance the meaning of your work when you use them?
I enjoy taking photos and sometimes a photo will inspire me to write about what that photo says to me. This started by writing for photo prompts online and moved to writing for my own pictures. I think in some cases the photos do enhance my poems but really, if the photo wasn’t included i would like to think that the poem could still stand alone. I recently installed an app on my phone to add text to pictures so I can write a poem directly on a photo usually I only do this with short poems.
I also went down to the local art shop and with my camera and some pictures of Kapiti Island and commissioned a 1000 mm by 500 mm stretched canvas print of my Kapiti Island poem. It was rather expensive and I would love to hang it in a Gallery (not for sale just for exposure) but it currently hangs on our lounge wall.
What would you say is your favorite or more comfortable form to write in? For example; prose poetry (free verse), haiku or structured forms. What sort of reasons would you say there are for you to determine ‘how’ you should write your poetry?
For me the most comfortable style of writing is free-form. Not having been trained in structured poetry, free-from gives me the opportunity to just write directly from my heart. I have tried my hand at and will also again, haiku. Originally I thought easy-peasy, three lines; five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables; but how wrong was I ha ha. Now. I’ve been giving much more thought to my haiku style writes. I have also recently tried my hand at sonnet, fourteen lines of rhyme but again they are just fledgling steps into the art form. The most important thing for me in that my writing is honest, and to not cause insult or injury to anyone who reads my words.
From what we read, you are definitely enthusiastic about your poetry. How do you think you could impart your enthusiasm and interest in poetry to others?
Indeed i am enthusiastic and if enthusiasm was a criteria for a best-selling book then I would be a Laurette by now, but it’s all about enjoyment. I really do enjoy playing with words and making them artistic in order to try and pass on my enthusiasm. I think that one needs to be confident in posting their poems and acknowledging a kind comment posted on their work. Humility is important too; the poet is never greater than his words. He or she is a servant of the gift of writing that they are blessed with and always try and avoid trolls. I have encountered a couple of them and they can destroy ones belief in their own abilities so if you come across one then block them straight away.
Do you think poetry is important to and for the younger generation? If so, why do you think so?
Yes poetry is certainly important many of the youngsters of today are losing the ability to articulate their feelings; poetry is a place where words can be explored, feelings can be given names and conversations within one’s own mind can bring about healing. Poetry can also cross social, economic and cultural barriers helping to hopefully replace the damaging negativity that prevails in much of today’s society.
Postlude: I guess that I am a dreamer and a previously stifled artist, but poetry has helped to liberate me from my own self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. I am blessed to have met online so many encouraging and positive people. Poet’s Dream was my first online community that I ever posted in and from here I have joined other communities and have been promoted to moderator in some of them. I have had some of my work published in an e magazine; an ebook and even one poem in a paperback which is still in the pipeline as far as publishing goes, but I will keep on writing because I feel that I am doing that which I was put here on earth to do.
Perhaps you were wondering about Garry’s poem, Kapiti Island.
Well here it is and Garry has allow me to include a photograph of his print.
Stronghold of Te Rauparaha the Island Kapiti .
ever since we moved here you’ve been never far from me.
Angular and Jutting rising from the sea .
on a blue sky day she’s oh so close you can almost count the trees
I’ve only been to see you once , just once stepped on your shores
surrounded by the birdsong you soon forget your chores
tranquility , peace ,and harmony are attributes of yours .
you used to be a whaling place where blood would stain the water
and countless ocean mammals would meet their grizzly slaughter
and just like then theres little trace of buildings bricks or mortar
Mana to the south of you is similar but shorter
you are an icon of the coast, a beauty to behold
you’re not a piece of real estate to be rented ,bought or Sold .
there’s many myths surrounding you as yet remain untold
known only to the Kehua, and the very old .
Constant and Majestic , You define that piece of Sea
that stretches on from Pukerua bay out past Otaki
Strong hold of Te Rauparaha the Island Kapiti
Ever since we moved here you’ve been never far from Me
September 28, 2014