Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poetic Reflection on Lovely Annie by Tracy Harris (A special Tribe)

       Greetings! Welcome to this wonderful Wednesday at Jingle Poetry. Every week Lovely Annie and Tracy Harris will be offering the chance to brush shoulders with the elite, the powerful, and overwhelmingly gorgeous at Meet the Poet.  We will be interviewing a different poet every week. To start this new endeavor, and our partnership, Annie and I decided that we would devote the first two interviews to each other. Lovely Annie, interviewed me, the charming (hillbilly) poet, Tracy Harris last week, and will be interviewed by me for this weeks edition. This way we all get to know each other right away!
Spending time chatting with Annie actually made me laugh out loud…something that I found quite refreshing, she is blessed with a wonderful sense of humor, and charm. But, then again, she is practically a Southern Belle seeing how she hails from the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, just about 200 miles from where I'm sitting...heck, we're neighbors.
I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I have been enjoying the process of connecting with Lovely Annie. I'm sure the reader will find her just as charming and entertaining as I did.
Tracy H.
Meet The Poet: Lovely Annie

Tracy: Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 32 years old and live in Louisville,KY. I was born here and lived here until age 18. Then I moved on to Bloomington, IN and attended Indiana University. I graduated with a BA in English lit and minored in poetry, creative writing and sociology.

I attended Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpenteria, CA for a MA in Counseling psychology (Marriage Family Therapy clinical training). The degree emphasized depth psychology (CG Jung, archetypal, dream tending).

I completed my MA thesis in 2005 on self harm (cutting as my focus). My approach was depth oriented and highlighted the concept of wounded healers.

Tracy: Can you remember writing your first poem?

 Annie: I started writing poetry very young. At about 8 years old is when it became a noticed presence in my life, personally and in my family. I would write a poem for the Thanksgiving prayer or for birthdays, to be read prior to the meal. By the time I was 8, my family, including extended were aware that I had a “gift”. At least, “gift” is how they (they being adults) put it back then.
My poetry had a spiritual energy to it then (as it can now, but in a different way). I often wrote about or to Jesus or God in my poems; usually asking for guidance during rough times or reminding my intended reader that they could ask for guidance, and were not alone. I wrote these poems for other people! My mom can speak to the number of poems tucked in a drawer or left by the books she read that I wrote. All reminding her of the fact that she was loved, the dark times would pass, and not to forget that Jesus/God had a plan.
 To this day my father would rather me write him a poem than buy him a gift! And it all started when I was in the single digits…wow! 
The first poem I ever “turned in” was in the 10th grade. It was about 4 pages long and rhymed. I don’t have the original on hand but can remember the very beginning of it…which is rare; I cannot remember my own poetry.
Darkness prevails
Suffocating my heart
Ripping at my soul
And tearing me apart

How can I let go
And set myself free
Unleash this madness
Caged inside of me

There’s a boiling in my stomach
A pressure in my chest
Where is my release?
When can I put my mind to rest?
 Dark, huh? Well, the title does hint at a journey and the poem moves from dark to light. A passage through the dark places into the more spacious, light places of life…That is probably the most consistent theme in my poetry.
Its my own alchemical process of transforming the prima materia…the shadowed, dark, scary aspects of the psyche…into gold.

 Tracy: What style of poem do you write most often?
 Annie:  “Annie-Style”…ya dig? Just kidding. I really do not have a style I stick too. However, I do love haiku. Haiku has actually served a greater purpose in my life of late. About two years ago I was struck with a violent attack of vertigo while driving my car. The episode lasted for hours and only went away once the ER had given me their strongest mes for such into the vein. I have been on a bizarre medical/health trip ever since. I had vertigo every morning until this spring…I have other symptoms now, but don’t “spin” everyday! This experience has definitely had a cognitive effect on me. In fact; in May and June this year I actually lost my short term memory for a brief time…I wrote tons of haiku…some I don’t remember writing. I know that the structure of the haiku, the counting of the syllables helped keep me sane, and able to reach out for help before I lost the ability to do so. This spring was intense in regards to my cognitive ability, but the vertigo and other identified health issues started causing cognitive problems two years ago. I had trouble recalling words (losing words that were on the “tip of my tongue”), my ability to spell has deteriorated…what I found was that when I wrote haiku my brain would clear…a fog would slowly start to lift and I would relax.
Does that make any sense?
Tracy: Oh, for sure. I use Haiku as a form of relaxation too, especially to help me write.

Tracy: Are there any styles of poetry you find difficult or annoying, and why?
 Annie: I find the idea of poetry irritating at times! I have read poetry that is written in such an obscure manner that I can’t get any feel from it…and that is considered ‘good” poetry in some circles. At least, I had a poetry prof in college who was like that. He told me my writing was too simple…my response “I use simple words to convey complex emotions”.  I am not a fan of any sort of writing that isolates its readers.  What is the point of words and weaving them into poetic form if the pure ‘feeling” is obscured?

 Tracy: Do you write more than just poetry?
 Annie: I cannot write fiction! I spend too much time writing about the fog on the window of the room…pages are written before the reader knows anything about location, character, plot! I wish I could write fiction.
 Despite that weakness I am a skilled writer outside of poetry. I actually enjoyed writing papers in college and graduate school! People actually enjoy reading those papers. I would take the book we were studying and write about the underlying patterns, symbols, within the story and how that could be seen as a metaphor for life…the journey.
 I also am interested in memoir. Part of my MA thesis was to be creative. I chose to try my hand at memoir. I would like to write more, yet have been intimidated to try since then. I mean, in school I had a guide, support, thesis adviser…now, I’m writing out here alone! And memoir is intense!

Tracy: What poem, written by you, do you like the most, and why?
 Annie: My favorite poem changes. From my college years one of my favorite poems is called Crush.

CRUSH (written in 2001)

"I've got something for you." I whisper.
He flicks his tongue
across his bottom lip,
as he fantasizes about crotchless panties,
hidden cam corders,
and my breasts.

I carefully remove my shirt,
allowing him to gaze
at my nakedness.
Moving my fingers across my chest,
I rest my palm over my heart.
Flesh parts with ease
beneath the sharp tips
of my fingernails.
Cupping my palm
around my heart,
I feel the beat
With a swift ripping motion
I hand it to him.

"I don't want that," he sneers.

As he turns to leave
my heart falls to the floor.
Walking away
he manages to grind
his steel toed boots
brutally into it.

When he is gone
I pick my heart up
and brush off the dust.
I place it back in my chest
and put my shirt back on

And out of my current poetry I like Night 3 ( ) out of a three part poem made out of haiku (not traditional) called Three Nights.

 Tracy: Do you have a favorite poet?
 Annie:  David Whyte: Well of Grief, That Day, Easter Morning in Wales, and News of Death 9 (especially when you listen to him reading)
William Stafford: Your Reading This, Be Ready
I also like Robert browning…for some reason in high school I was taken with Porphyria’s Lover
It’s a dramatic monologue, which I do love as a poetic form! The psychology of self disclosure in poetry…now there is a book I should write!!
Then he popped back in my life when I was reading S. King’s The Dark tower series…King’s opus was inspired by a poem written by Browning: Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came 

 Tracy: Do you have any mentors?
 Annie:  Yes. My thesis advisor Dorothy Boswell in regards to writing and writing as a form of healing. I consider a Joe Zorontanello to be a mentor in poetry, meditation, and bringing the two together. Check out

 Tracy: Favorite place to write/emotions that inspire/trigger writing?
 Annie: I write poetry when the poem decides its coming. It’s always a birth of sorts. When its ready to hit the paper, I best be ready!
I write about suffering, healing, transformation, my own search, love: experienced in all ways from passion to loss to true containing unconditional love, and guess what? My poems are about me…and my life! Yet, I believe that what comes out on the page is universal and hope that the words I write can offer insight, comfort, healing, inspiration to others. I hope my writing is accessible to each on an individual basis. It is raw and honest.

Tracy: What is your favorite type of music?
I love music and would not be alive without it. It has saved my life time and time again.
Can I just make you a mix tape or something to answer this question?
Tracy: I think I'll be wanting one of them mix tapes (read cds) LOL :)
As a kid I had a Jukebox with 45’s on it…spanning Charlie Price, Dylan, Rolling stones, Tennessee Ernie Ford, to ‘My Boyfriend’s Back”. I loved it!
When I was 13 I fell in obsession with Pearl jam
At 19 the band Tool became a mirror for my insides, and served as a guide through my inner world (Especially the albums Aenima and Lateralus)
 Currently: David Ford, Neko Case, Otis Redding,
 Always always always love Loreena McKennit. The song Full Circle was my “walk down the aisle song”

Tracy: Your favorite book?
Dark Tower series by S. King
Catcher in the Rye
Earthsea Chronicles by Ursula k Leguin
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
 To name a few. Reading fiction is my healthy escape. Still wish I could write it.
Oh, I need some new recs on novels to read, so any suggestions would be much obliged!

Tracy: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you? Your life or writing?
 Annie: “At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, fr…om which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us…It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face of and the blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”
-Thomas Merton

Tracy: Any other creative passions?
 Annie: I have just started drawing, with charcoal…I did not know I had it in me! I used to act in high school and college and I really wish I had the pipes to be a singer!
 I love to dance and have natural skills but that’s it.
I make the BEST mixes ever…tailor made for the individual…anyone want one?
Dreams. Working with dream symbolism as part of your journey to heal, to BECOME and continue BECOMING
My husband says I am a translator and a connector…meaning I have the ability to connect different aspects of this world with others and translate a “more personalized, deeper meaning to others”.

Tracy: If you could have dinner with any famous dead person who would it be, and where would you dine?
Annie: My favorite question!
I would have dinner with Carl Jung at bollingen…outside. We would eat pot roast. The Sweeney (my moms maiden name) family slow cook recipe. I am a vegetarian, but I would be eating pot roast and tater’s while dining with CG Jung. Pot roast symbolizes safety and comfort for me. Carl Jung is the most influential famous person in my life…He has brought safety and comfort in my life by merely existing.

 I wrote waaaaaaaayyyyyy too much didn’t I?
Tracy: Not at all, you were very forthcoming, and open, things many readers will appreciate.
Annie: This was a challenge for me. Answering questions about myself. The only way I can approach such a challenge is to let  what comes flow freely so this is really just that. Sorry so long, and I hope I made sense.

Tracy: Oh, yes, just three more little questions...If you had you own band:
What would it be called?
What would be the title of the first album?
What would the title of the first single be?

Annie: The band would be called “Annie and the Third Shift Shakers” with our first album, “Because I'm A Woman, Babe” featuring the hit single “Duces Wild”

Tracy: And there you have it folks; this weeks Meet The Poet...Lovely Annie
* * * * * * * * * * * *
On a personal note.
Annie, it was a delight to have you as my first interview for Jingle Poetry. Your poetry is a joy to read, and at times, a deep experience as well. Your sense of humor is wonderful, and makes being your partner in this exercise quite fun. Thank you very much for your kindness and friendship.
Tracy Harris

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