“Poem” – for me – is often a verb: An online interview with Jamie Dedes

Jamie Dedes: Poet, Writer, Inveterate Blogger

Dupur Mitra: When did you start writing?
Jamie Dedes: I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t exploring the human condition and savoring the riches of life by creating poems and stories in my head. I have ever loved to spin story and to toss words like others might toss a ball, drop them here and there to find a good fit, weave them into fine lace. I began by mimicking the poems and stories I read, which is a good way for a autodidact to learn. You end up engaging the best teachers.

Dupur Mitra: Why do you write poetry?
Jamie Dedes: Poems are canny little nuggets of life and the human condition, captured moments of insight and reality, offered in a lyric package that I find appealing to read and to write.

I can often tell the same story in a poem that I might tell in some fiction or creative nonfiction piece, but I think the brevity of a poem gives it a power that other narrative forms may not offer. It may even make my point in a way that is accessible to more people.  Poems are so portable. The American novelist and humanitarian, Pearl Buck, seemed to feel the same way as illustrated in her poem Essence …

“I give you the books I’ve made,

Body and soul, bled and flayed.

Yet the essence they contain

In one poem is made plain,

In one poem is made clear:

On this earth, through far or near,

Without love there’s only fear.”

Dupur Mitra: How long does it take you to write a poem?
Jamie Dedes: I have poems – usually not ones that I post on my blog, The Writer by Day, which take a long time…weeks, even months to write. These are my “big” poems. The “little” poems posted online that are taken from the events of my days and my memories. They may be experiments I put out to see what reaction I get. These are usually written in a few hours.

Dupur Mitra: How do you write your poems?
Jamie Dedes: “Poem” – for me – is often a verb. When I see, hear, or experience something that I’m drawn to poem about, I may pull out my laptop and start immediately on it. If it’s a little poem for the blog, I don’t stop until I’m done. I’ve been know to miss meals and appointments. I’m completely unaware of the passage of time when I’m writing. I might not even hear the phone or the door bell ring. Writing is my meditation.

If I am out or with other people, I’ll jot down key words as they pop into mind and then begin work when I get home or find myself alone again.

If I have a “big” poem to write, I work pretty intensely on it until I get it right. For these though, I do stop for other writing projects and the daily grind of chores and responsibilities or I’d never get anything else done.

Dupur Mitra: Where do your ideas come from?
Jamie Dedes: Honestly, I have no idea. It’s like I’m in some sort of wind tunnel and words and pictures fly past. When people say they don’t know what to write, I’m flummoxed. Life is a juicy experience. Ideas, beauty and passions are everywhere. We don’t live in a void.

Dupur Mitra: What part does music play in poetry?
Jamie Dedes: Classical music may sometimes be a stimulating accompaniment that enriches a poem and the writing experience. Generally, though, all I want to hear are the musings of my mind.

Dupur Mitra: Do you get inspiration from your readers?
Jamie Dedes: Probably. I don’t pay much attention to who or where. A person can say one word or phrase that will capture me and a poem will evolve that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual discussion. So, yes, probably people have made comments that trigger an emotion or a mental picture and then off I go ….

Dupur Mitra: What was the first poem you wrote?
Jamie Dedes: I wrote a lot and so don’t think I accurately remember what came first. I do remember writing a poem about my turtle when I was very little and a poem about death when I was twelve. The first was to honor my little friend. The second was an attempt to understand … and isn’t the latter a common reason for writing? My first published poem, Make of Me a Tree, was a froth of religious idealism written at seventeen. I would include it here but in my maturity, I disagree with its theology.

Dupur Mitra: What’s your favorite poem that you’ve written? Do you illustrate your own poems?
Jamie Dedes: My favorite poem is always the one I am working on now. I love finding photographs to illustrate the poems on my blog. Sometimes I use my own photographs. My plan is to do sketches to illustrate my evolving chapbook collection.

Dupur Mitra: What else do you like doing when you’re not writing poems?
Jamie Dedes: I love spending time with my son and daughter-in-law, reading the work of others, talking with my friends, and going to movies. I enjoy cooking for the people I love. Cooking is another form of poetry.

Dupur Mitra: What makes your poems different from other people’s?
Jamie Dedes: Well, they express my own obsessions, which is why I don’t like to use prompts. There’s always something buzzing in my head that wants to get out and have its say.

Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?
Jamie Dedes: Simply put, without getting into technical definitions, I believe that poetry is the sound our spirit makes when it sings … or, occasionally, roars.

Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about the trending of world poetry?
Jamie Dedes: I think the trend that most intrigues me is online interest in poetry. Despite what the some pundits say, non-academic folk love poetry – both the writing and the reading. I think there is more – not less – interest in poetry today then there was when I was young. Blogging gives amateur creatives  – “amateur” is not a pejorative – a public outlet for their work and a semblance of community. It provides professionals with another platform. Blogger poets can write in a back wood and still connect with poets anywhere in the world who share their interests and values.

I also like the idea and practice of poet activists collaborating on events for world peace and human rights. 100,000 Poets for Change 2012 was a huge and worthy effort: 800 events in 115 countries. Poets and artists breaching the ramparts for peace. That is so exciting. Without a doubt, poets have always been at the head of movements for human rights, peace, fairness, and ethics. With brevity, clarity, lyricism, imagery, color, and passion, they create works that speak the truth and raise consciousness. Poets and their poems are formidable antidotes to social and economic injustice. Hence, given their loam of truth, many are killed, imprisoned, or dispossessed in repressive regimes.

Dupur Mitra: Can a poetry movement improve the poetry? If yes how, if not why?
Jamie Dedes: Yes, I believe so. They enhance reader appreciation and involvement and offer poets – amateur and professional  – support, encouragement, and standards. They enrich the poetic experience, diversify platforms, foster the sharing of information on techniques and values, raise standards, and invent new forms. Totally worthwhile.

Dupur Mitra: What is your opinion about today’s world poetry movement?
Jamie Dedes: Any movement of human beings examining the human condition and expressing their highest ideals in the most exquisite language can’t help but make us better and happier human beings. It can’t help but foster improvements in our world. Improvements may happen inch-by-inch, poem-by-poem, but as the old saying goes “slow and steady wins the race.”




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