Why the name Shadow of iris?
This is too hard a question, and too long a story. The name was arrived at by trial and error. For very intense personal reasons, I knew I had to have the concept of rainbow as part the title. However, if I used the word “rainbow” directly, the connotations I wanted to emphasize would have been totally lost. So I needed another word. I tried the thesaurus first — no good. I started looking at how the word rainbow had been stated in foreign languages, and eventually started looking at some Celtic then Latin dictionaries on-line. When I came across the word “Iris”, that struck me as intriguing, so I looked it up at Wikipedia, and read about the goddess Iris. Wow … it was *everything* I wanted to convey as far as the concept of the *rainbow*.
Yet just “Iris” didn’t feel right. I needed something else. I must have thought up a hundred different titles the day I was working on this. I didn’t like anything, but I knew I had to use the word “Iris”, and I had given myself a sort of deadline to start my new site, so I was pretty frustrated. The next morning when I awoke, the phrase “shadow of iris” sort of popped into my head. I really liked that … it had an almost Jungian overtone. The rainbow is our hopes, our dreams, yet if we don’t temper them, we fall prey to them. I love what the phrase suggests.
That morning I typed the phrase into Google, I found this amazing passage by D H Lawrence, whom I love, from his book _the Rainbow_. The whole passage has to be read, but just to share two lines, it reads, “And forgetting, startled, she looked for the hovering colour and saw a rainbow forming itself. In one place it gleamed fiercely, and, her heart anguished with hope, she sought the shadow of iris where the bow should be.” It’s was so breathtaking. I knew I’d found exactly the title I was looking for.
Of course, I’m condensing a lot — and the truth is, what the title means is still something full of potential for me to explore. It’s not anything set in stone, I think. The title of the blog is a guide for me — to keep me on on course.
>> What does a poetry mean to you?
Art, in general, to me, is a means of exploration. I think the word poetry itself is huge, and I don’t see it as meaning any one particular thing. It’s everywhere. Just in terms of language, even when reading a very serious non-fiction work, I come across passages that strike me as being poetic in a sense that has little to do with the material actually being presented, and I feel the urge to take that passage and shape it into a poem … to see what happens.
You know, who can say what the limits are to what we can feel or how we can see the world? We can take just a few words and try to phrase them precisely thus — and from that we catch something, a feeling, a mood, an image — and what you catch might not even be the same thing I catch — even from the same words. If we can turn off our TVs for even just a while, if we sit back and just breathe, this is a creative process we can each participate in and share. Scribble a few words down and start to play with them. Watch them move around the sheet and take new positions — see what magic lies within them. It’s a kind of play that reveals stuff to us, sometimes really big stuff, but sometimes really small stuff that hits your right there. I really don’t know what poetry means yet, and I’m still learning about its inherent possibilities.
>>Tell us about the kind of poems you write?
When I write a poem, I see myself this way: I’m in a workshop, and I’ve got some pieces of wood lying around me of various sizes and shapes (free form thoughts scribbled on a piece of paper, word lists, sentences lifted from books, and so on). My job is to try and take what I’ve got in front of me, and to try and construct not only something aesthetically pleasing — but also something meaningful. If I’m really fortunate, what I want is an end product that resembles a kaleidoscope, so that depending on how you look at it, and under what kind of light, you’ll see something unique each time — and not just unique, but potent with meaning. Now, I don’t say I’ve *ever* achieved that — I don’t think I have — but that’s what I am always aiming for.
>>I see you have written some stories too and are working on a novel, tell us about it.
I’m always working on a novel. In the early 90s, it’s frightening to go back that far, I did several drafts of a novel … but the concept was too big, too awesome for me to handle. I wanted more time to work on it, so I did something completely crazy. I quit my job and went to Japan to teach English. It was my hope with a less typical job, and in a more stimulating environment, I could write more. I can’t say it was a mistake, because it certainly wasn’t, but it *was* the death knell for that particular version of that particular novel.
In Japan … I wrote two more drafts for entirely different novels … neither of which felt right. So what did I do next? I got married, studied Japanese, studied philosophy, had two children … and gradually have been trying to find my way back to writing. There have been many false starts, many half halted projects … the main reason for Shadow of Iris is to try and give myself just the right amount of push to get me producing. I love poetry — reading it, trying to write it. But I hope it is just the beginning of the journey (after so many false starts), and I hope I can take the blog in many new creative directions, especially by putting some fiction up on the blog. I have many ideas and this will be a very serious goal for me for 2011. 🙂
>>The audio part makes your poems come alive. Where did you get this idea?
I was very worried that some of my more experimental poems were going to be very hard on the reader, so I thought it would help if I read the poem — and actually, I’ve learned I really do enjoy doing this. I use a WordPress plug-in that I had seen used on a news blog.
>>One more unique thing is that you share works from poets you like. Not many people do that. Any particular reason for that?
People who blog poetry need all the help they can get. I also want to recognize the poetry of other bloggers. I don’t think I’m doing this nearly enough. I want to do it more.
>>Any inspirations? tell us something about yourself and some experience as a writer/poet that you remember fondly.
The number one inspiration is other on-line poets. I read a tremendous amount of poetry on-line, and I think this has had a big impact on me. Other than that, it’s a really weird, long, list containing a hodgepodge of writers and poets and thinkers.
>>Any tips for budding poets?
I hope I’m a budding poet … at least I feel it’s would be presumptuous to call myself anything more than that. As far as advice, the publishing industry is changing. Nobody really understands what will be the effect of not only the Internet, but electronic books, and delivery devices ranging from smart phones to tablet computers. I’ve heard people say poetry is in decline — really? There are so many people out there writing really good poetry on the Internet right now. It’s amazing. It’s a great time to start a blog, or to even just share poetry via Facebook or MySpace. I really don’t believe in the idea that we write only for ourselves, we write to communicate something … and sharing forces you into a greater degree of commitment; it pushes you to try harder. So my advice would be to write, share, and read as much as possible.