January Poet of the Month: Marian Kent
Our intent is to make writers of all forms and genres—from non-fiction to poetry to flash to novelists to short story, essay, and fiction, etc.— feel at home. This is why we decided to scour the internet and honor one deserving poet a month.
Our Write Side is honored to present Marian Kent as our January Poet of the Month. We chose Marian not only for her talent, drive, and great personality, but also because she is a friend and a publisher who deserves the honor.
Marian Kent lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Heart Container is her third full-length collection of poems. SUPERPOWERS or: More Poems About Flying was published in 2013 and Responsive Pleading in 2012.
Marian is the founder of the poetry and short-fiction collective ALL CAPS PUBLISHING. Please visit www.allcapspublishing.com. You can find a great quantity of Marian’s poetry and other missives at her website: www.runawaysentence.com.
Name: Marian Kent
Purveyor of Pretty Words and Superheroic Verse
Most Recent Release: Heart Container
Preferred Genre: poetry
Hello. We are delighted to honor you as our Poet of the Month here on Our Write Side. First, let’s discuss your writing…
What inspires you to write poetry?
Most of my poems start as a simple observation of something in the physical world, which triggers a memory or musing. My job is to Write It Down.
What does being creative mean to you?
My writing is the thing that keeps me grounded. That keeps me being me. It can be tempting to tuck away the creative side when pressures mount, but I think times of stress are when it’s most important to access the real me, my creative side.
Which do you enjoy more: the writing, revising, or sharing of a poem?
Writing, for sure. I usually let poems (or any writing) sit for a long time before attempting revisions. (For example, I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo in 2011 and haven’t touched it since. But I will! I do love sharing poems on my blog and via readings. But ultimately, the writing is the prize in itself.
Can you describe the time when you first realized writing poetry was something you had to do?
I wrote poetry when I was young and as a college student and young adult, but put it away for many years. I’m grateful for the “gotta do it” realization when my children were babies, though I don’t have a specific memory of deciding that. I think I decided I was a poet as a kid, when I discovered the Archy and Mehitabel poems by Don Marquis, whose style inspires me to this day.
Do you have a ritual or routine you must complete or have while you are writing?
Not at all. I’m lucky to steal time for writing when and where I can get it. Used to be I wrote well into the night, but things have changed for me. I no longer drink, and life is so full that I tend to fall into bed as soon as my kids are asleep. So now I get up before the crack of dawn and write with coffee, so maybe that counts as a ritual? Are our rituals more aptly called addictions? Hmmmm.
What are you trying to communicate with your writing?
The human condition, darkness just under the surface of things, beauty and pain, family, I don’t know. How I see the world. Observations of an over-tired woman. I do think everything I write is a love poem, one way or another.
What are you currently working on?
I just now am launching a new book! (See below, yay!) So right now I’m working on promoting my book with the intention of a number of local readings this winter and spring, and the hope of taking some of them to the internet. I have a couple of other projects in the works that are so nascent, maybe I’ll just leave them as a vague tease here, but if they come to fruition they’ll be super-fun.
Do you have any works published or coming soon?
I’m so pleased to announce that my third full-length poetry collection, Heart Container, was just released by ALL CAPS PUBLISHING. So exciting! It’s gorgeous and I’m all proud and stuff. Here’s the description:
Purveyor of pretty words and superheroic verse Marian Kent reveals love’s hiding places in her new collection of poems, Heart Container. Where do you stash precious moments for safekeeping, or hide dark truths? Fantastic yet real, stark yet celebratory, this volume from ALL CAPS PUBLISHING proves that Marian’s words cannot be contained.
My two previous books of poetry are Responsive Pleading (2012) and SUPERPOWERS or: More Poems About Flying (2013).
What makes poetry “good?”
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it,” like obscenity. *wink*
Thanks for discussing your writing. Now, let’s talk a little bit about you…
When you aren’t writing, what do you do?
I am extremely protective of time with my family, and am also a voracious reader and lover of movies, pizza, Minecraft, and candlepin bowling.
If you could have a do-over, would you choose your “calling” or non-writing job again today?
I wouldn’t call my day job my calling, though I am grateful that my work is rewarding. If I had it to do over, I’d write best-selling novels and/or be a high school civics teacher.
Tell us about a favorite childhood memory.
Is it cheating to share a favorite teenaged memory? This poem was published in my book SUPERPOWERS or: More Poems About Flying.
Lakeside Drive-In (in memory of Don Martin)
There was that time when my mom offered
to take us to the drive-in with her friend
and we got to sit in the back seat together.
No ideal, of course. I mean, chaperones
on a drive-in date? But it was all we had.
So we went, and I remember kissing you, even
with the grown-ups watching. And I can see,
even now when I close my eyes, your skinny
legs in skinny jeans, splayed out, and just
how serious you were about the whole affair.
In another year I’d get a boyfriend who lived
right next door to that very same drive-in
and I’d spend many an evening not watching
movies there. But that night, you and I
were on the cusp of something, on the line
between kids from camp who wrote letters
and young adults learning what pining meant.
That was it for us, as far as it went. Awkward
silence and downward glances were our style
next and every time we met hence, for years.
But that was the moment when we could see it
and touch it for the first time; what we’d
seek forever after. To see ourselves in
our lover’s eyes, to feel love in our bellies.
Name one poet most people don’t know about, but should.
Siv Cedering was a visiting professor when I was in college and I was privileged to take several courses with her. She greatly influenced your Young Poet, for which I am extremely grateful. Sadly, Siv Cedering passed away in 2007. I wish everyone knew about her. Here’s one of my favorites of her poems, from her book Letters from the Floating World (University of Pittsburgh Press 1984):
Night and Day by Siv Cedering
“Look at the pigeons,” you say
And we watch a flock
Fly out over the street, to loop
Back toward the roofs, showing first
The soft gray of their bellies,
Then their darker side.
In Escher’s woodcut,
The light birds fly toward a dark
Town, while the spaces between them
Are dark birds flying toward a light
Town. I have lived with Night and
Day for years. Now that I am aware
Of my aging, only such opposites
Make sense. Like Ann, I will stand
In a dark pool, observing how my light
Skin, and the muscles beneath,
Are changing. Everyone is aging.
And yet, when I stand here looking up,
I am aware of the dark space
Under the light skin of my belly,
Our child, and the light that would
Fly, in the dark of his eyes,
As he lifts his face toward the sky,
Because you say: “Look at the pigeons.”
Where do you see yourself as a poet in five years?
I am so much not a planner that I really cannot imagine what life five years from now will look like. I will be writing poems and throwing my missives out into the universe, for sure. I’m turning 50 in 2016 and expect to have a major revelation about how aging is all empowering and shit. So who knows what I could accomplish in the next five years, watch out!
How about sharing your favorite poet? Author? Book? Song? Movie? Food?
You realize these are impossible to answer, right? I don’t have one favorite of any of those things.
Some favorite poets are Nikki Giovanni, e.e. cummings, and William Butler Yeats. Some of my favorite authors are Michael Chabon, Terry Tempest Williams, and Stephen King.
A favorite book of last year was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I also loved The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie too) and am so inspired by its genesis as a self-published novel!
I can’t possibly name a favorite song but I’ve been listening to the music of Charlie Chesterman on a constant loop. His song “A New Lease on Life Parts 1 & 2” is the soundtrack for my book Heart Container.
My favorite movies of 2015 are Mad Max: Fury Road, When Marnie Was Here, and Krampus.
Been working hard on perfecting my pad thai recipe, which was proclaimed by my family to be better than the restaurant’s. Win!
If you could pass along only one piece of advice to other poets, what would it be?
Write what you know. Write what you see. Show, don’t tell. Stop it with old tired metaphors. Use words like “soul” judiciously or not at all.
And in conclusion, would you please share your favorite poem penned by yourself and tell us why it is so special to you?
Like with anything else, my favorites change as I grow and change and view things differently. But here’s a favorite from Heart Container that’s very special to me because it describes the huge impact of a real-life one-off moment:
Waiting on Parades by Marian Kent
My notebook falls open
to a page of ballpoint pen drawings
by my son, who had been sitting
on a curb waiting for a parade.
My own scratchings scarce, inspiration
is welcome when it surfaces.
Who could fail to be moved
by his steady requirement to draw now,
on this curb, on a restaurant placemat,
a napkin if that’s all there is?
(Put this in your purse, Mama.)
My children remember the admonishment
of an artist to never stop drawing,
evoking this advice constantly
and with reverence, as though told
from on high instead of under a tent
at the Westhampton Fall Festival.
Obviously, this is a good thing,
a lucky thing, a moment’s one-off words
etched deep in the psyche of youth,
the notebook that is life’s pleasure
treasure a mother hopes
will be unearthed over and over,
the mind’s riches providing sustenance
for a lifetime of waiting on parades.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today.
Now that she’s teased you with some poems, you can read the rest of her work by clicking on the covers below.