Having lived in Miami, Washington, DC, and other cosmopolitan locales for decades, Gloria (McGowan) Wimberley, M.A., a Pushcart Prize nominee (2013), now lives in the woodsy warmth of her West Virginia hometown in serene Appalachia. Published in BlazeVOX of New York and Red Fez magazine of Los Angeles, Gloria’s poetry also appears in various other print and online publications in the U.S. as well as abroad in England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Canada. A college professor for many years, she is also a freelance book-editor, and contributor to several works including the Amazon BestSeller, In The Company of Women: An Anthology of Sass & Class, Wit & Wisdom (Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House, Los Angeles), Mistletoe Madness anthology (Kind of a Hurricane Press), and Potters Wheel Anthology–Vol.1. Her forthcoming publications include The Digital Dulcimer anthology (Raven Publishing) , Potters Wheel Anthology–Vol. 2 (J. Benson Publishing, Canada), Mapping Me: A Landscape of Women’s Stories (New Zealand), Poems From The Panty Drawer (Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House), and Return to Rural America: A West Virginia Anthology (S. Ferrell Productions). An unabashed chocoholic and passionate fan of David Lynch movies, she is the author of the Amazon BestSeller, Dialect of Dahlias, a darkly delicious 102-page poetry collection published by Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House of California.
(“Coffee With the Poets” interviews
are conducted by Christina.)
Greetings, Gloria! I am gratified to enter spring of 2013 in the company of one of West Virginia’s brightest poetic gems. You know I like to begin by asking, “How do you take your coffee?”
Christina, thank you for having me; it’s a genuine thrill to be here… I take my coffee with organic half & half and TruVia. When at Starbuck’s, I’m a sucker for Caramel Macchiato or Mocha Cappuccino, being that I’m an unapologetic chocoholic with Godiva, Lindt, or Andes Candies chocolate brands on the brain…during the merrymaking holidays–or any time of year, really.
[smiling broadly, understandingly…] Christina is going to assume that you’ve plopped a Lindor truffle or two into your coffee! Truffle?
Yum! You know me too well. 🙂
…Now there is poetry that falls flat to the ear, and there is poetry that is music to the ear, and I hear the music of words when I read your poetry. Do you have experience rhapsodizing, and have you considered audio recordings?
I’m glad that you hear musicality in my verse; I strive to eschew tin-ear clunkiness in my writing as much as possible. Being an uber-nerd, I often will rhapsodize in the [college] classroom during the Poetry component of the English courses I teach. My students seem to enjoy the passion and soul-bearing sincerity that goes into rhapsodizing for an audience, and then to feel more comfortable to openly rhapsodize their own poetic creations during PeerShare…Hearing my students’ confidence when rhapsodizing their own poetry is truly gratifying for me as an educator.
Positive exposure via audio recordings is a brilliant idea; thank you for suggesting it a while ago to me…In the interest of sharing my poetry with a vast global audience, I now have poetry readings on YouTube…hopefully my accent, (which has been pegged by others as originating from Georgia or Tennessee, is actually an accent rooted in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), isn’t distracting or (eek!) irritating to viewers/listeners.
“Sequoias” (dedicated to my friend Sheenagh) is my first YT video, in fact. All Likes and Comments by viewers are sincerely appreciated. 🙂 Make sure to press “Show More” to read all of the pertinent information listed there.
I didn’t notice your accent (I wonder why that is?) 😉 but what I did notice alongside the gorgeous setting is how pleasant your voice is for reading. Very nice, both video readings!
My YouTube poetry readings are pure Nature–in all seasons, even the dead of winter. In fact, I do much of my writing while sitting in my “woodland office” in the woods. As my rustic “desk” and “chair” are fashioned from sturdy Maple logs, and a herd of deer is literally 20 feet away from me in a spacious meadow, I’m thankful to be able to pen poetry, musings, etc. in my humble cornflower-blue leather-bound journal, all in the midst of this peaceful sylvan setting.
It does sound like a blissful melange of creature comforts: decadent chocolates, woody surrounds, deer-watching…let’s daydream for a minute. Tell us what your ideal vacation setting would be if you were to go with the expectation of feeling inspired to write. What one poetry book would you take along?
My ideal vacation setting would be the sublimely ethereal Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. …Two poetry books are better than one, so…I’d bring along Georg Trakl’s Autumn Sonata poetry collection and the collected poems of Emily Dickinson for inspiration.
Many poets and readers – women in particular – can relate to Emily Dickinson, but I am assuming that most people are unfamiliar with Georg Trakl. What is it about him and/or his work that you find so engaging?
Trakl’s use of vibrant visuals, surrealist imagery, and brooding tone as a poet resonate with me…also, his keen introspection and most-commonly explored themes seem very contemporary. Secondly, Trakl in his personal life is believed to have suffered from schizophrenia, and a cherished life-long friend of mine, now-deceased, suffered from the inexpressible horrors of schizophrenia. Some of Trakl’s most disconcerting, eerie, and haunting imagery remind me of my friend’s daily trials of the mind, that she courageously shared with me.
That’s a beautiful testament of how personal each reader’s preferences can be, how poetry isn’t about what’s fashionable. Just curious, so back to your poetry, I witness careful crafting beyond rules but with alliteration, assonance, all major qualities applied. Share with us your thoughts/feelings on the importance of expressing yourself freely without restrictions of formal structure.
I genuinely love this question because conscious wordplay is one my strengths as a writer. For me, looking through a narrative or surrealistic lens, is a challenge that compels me to respect the unfettered brain-space afforded by Free Verse, as well as the reverberating and resonant power of literary devices. Creating neo-logisms like “wordwhip”, “greenswanic”, wombwalls”, “slugslump”, “roseruddy”, “rootright”, “pearlsticky” et al. is my favorite because they marry two worlds of disparate associations for different readers with equally-different filtering processes.
I see your analytical process at play here!
Engaging readers in the satiating act of multiplicitous interpretation is the hope and goal of my poetic efforts. And careful crafting through important writerly tools such as assonance, alliteration, neo-logism, metaphor, enjambment, slant rhyme, pregnant pauses via ellipses, etc. is a huge part of my creative process. If a poem I’ve written doesn’t contain at least one literary device, then I’ve not succeeded as a capable wordsmith.
It’s good that you realize your responsibility in what you do – and that you take it to a professional level!
As a poet, I feel that it’s my responsibility to infuse my content with a vibrant soi-disant style marked by what my editor Apryl Skies of Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House of Los Angeles, and I refer to as “intentional idiosyncratic sway.” It’s my job to be as fresh and electrifyingly original as I can be in the ever-widening sea of poetic voices extant in the world today.
Good! Some time back, I read a review of your Dialect of Dahlias. I found the “sure-footed” description to be most fitting (no pun intended). How did such a level of confidence come about in your poetry?
Truth be told, I am surefooted in writing poetry because I am so woefully untalented at everything else. I discovered and accepted early on in life when I was diagnosed with learning disabilities (dyscalculia and dysgraphia) that due to these limitations, I probably would not be suited to most professions. So I focused/focus my energy and dedication onto two things that I’d been told by others that I do well–write poetry and teach English.
Excellent! The mind finds ways to express its brilliance.
Also, I am forever inspired by the long-held idea that who I am as an artist is my truest self; Who-I-Am on paper via my distinctly different love & light “Lily” poems and dark & gritty “Leper” poems is really Who I Am. As an albeit-proud eccentric who is decidedly more interesting on paper than in person, I figuratively open a proverbial vein and bleed my best onto the page and hope that my Personal will be someone else’s universal…universal life-experiences that readers can identify with and make their own, hearts-&-minds-wise. My poetry must be of some value to readers or it does not succeed, in my opinion.
You do set high standards, and I love that you can admit to both light and dark aspects of yourself. Which (“Lily” or “Leper”) do you find your readership most drawn to, most responsive to, and why do you think that is?
Readers who are drawn to the figuratively-termed “lilies” seek cut & dried, love & light, life-affirming, family-themed poems with a narrative hook. Due to these aspects, fans of the lilies have told me that these poems are quite accessible. Many non-artists favor the lily poems. In contrast, readers–artists, especially—seek ambiguity, ambivalence, and explorations of dark, gritty life-experiences written in a surrealistic poetic style typified by enigma and intensity; they are the biggest fans of my Leper poems. Lily poems have the effect of lighting a candle of hope in the face of Chaos, whereas Leper poems have the effect of snuffing out that metaphorical candle with one monstrous exhalation.
Would you care to share one of each from your book?
“Sepia & Song” (Lily poem)
into the Perfect Picture
but there’s no camera around
our gentle swaying
in the kitchen
or her baby head lying
warmly on my shoulder
or my arms enveloping her lovingly
as I mint
in my weary mind
this mother-daughter moment
(Plaintive Scottish fiddle-song on the radio)
hugs us parenthetically
as we continue swaying
silently as one
her tears long since dried,
her eyes long since closed;
her long, dark eyelashes are doll perfection…
as the song lilts to an end,
my own eyes are moist;
with a mother’s wistfulness
that the permanence of sepia
could seep in…
in wordless bliss
for a lifetime
“Cotillion Eye Glinting Down” (Leper poem)
The scythe of earth
hangs like a hammock
between cenicitas (“little ashes”)
to shimmy like a shark
lithe phallic symbol: Breathing
inside the tapestry-rose
lining of the executioner’s mask
he filled the guillotine
with bloodblisters of stars
until a Spanish galleon
of “Blue Gato Delong”
the spectral trail
dredge the air
and unchidden children
Where are their piratical parents
to Jolly Roger
them into a sirensong
To chatter, nay,
like a Fauvist parrot,
but to float sirenly and serenely
on a patina-pond
as a Monet waterlily
sprouting from Gala’s
Remarkable contrast with equally exquisite signature craftsmanship! Who or what inspired you to achieve the level of accomplishment that you have arrived at?
It would be remiss of me not to credit an early influence in my life, an inspirational middle school teacher in West Virginia, James Brandolino, for believing in my writing abilities and encouraging me to pursue Writing as a life-goal. His generosity of spirit and keen guidance helped me to believe that I could actually succeed at writing, and his steadfast support helped me to overcome debilitating shyness at that angsty adolescent time of life.
How fortunate you are that you accepted Mr. Brandolino’s influence. A little side-step here: Because of your shyness (I can relate to that), did you find yourself realizing that a pen can impart a certain social grace and give you an advantage in the world?
Yes…Writing always has helped me to spiritually soar above an earth-bound reality painfully punctuated by shyness and social awkwardness…People in general, are friendlier and kinder to me in various social situations when they learn that I’m a writer; it’s a boon, definitely. 🙂
Everyone loves artists, literary and otherwise! Back to your influences…
…Among other influences, the work of the Modernists, Symbolists, Imagists, the Beats to an extent, and Confessional poets galvanize me to create. Specifically, I am inspired by eminent Georg Trakl, Emily Dickinson, Pete Winslow, Sylvia Plath, Rita Dove, Gertrude Stein, Cathy Song, e.e. cummings, Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Taylor Mali, and talented poet-contemporaries Apryl Skies, R. L. Jones, Juliet Wilson, D. M. Aderibigbe, Aliciia Winski, Alice Shapiro, Gillian Prew, and Petra Whitely, etc. Like all scribes, an eclectic collection of artists and ideas have shaped my worldview. The following spring to mind: The Plathian “private blitzkrieg”, Lynn Truss–with respect to respecting the 21st century relevance and sublimity of punctuation in prose–and poetry. “Poetry is language at its most distilled and powerful”–Rita Dove; “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”–Leonard Cohen; “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”–Emily Dickinson; and most viscerally for daily inspiration: “Get black on white” –Guy de Maupassant.
That’s a great note to conclude on, an illustrious flash of your learning that has earned you the title of professor in this literary realm, and of course your full-length book, Dialect of Dahlias, is the icing, the cream of your experience and influence. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to get to know you, and I look forward to reading more of your poetry.
~~Happy Spring to you, Christina!