Thanks to Bikurgurl for hosting last week’s #100WordWednesday flashfiction prompt. Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art.” The A to Z Challenge GoodRead’s Prompt begins with the letter U.
“To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself.
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet”
(Sorry finding a Q name for this piece impossible but there is Q in Disquiet!)
The photograph is lovely at first,
A brilliant blue sky, soft winds of cool breezes,
The Atlantic still icy, but forgiving.
Trees rise and guard the home, the lighthouse,
Ancient ones in slumber as spring yet approaches.
Rock walls prevent a fall below, to the unforgiving chill.
Hypothermia comes quickly here,
But the scenery makes up for the inherent danger.
Bright pink of the house stands out and the tower above matches,
Glows in the night when the boats pass by,
Protecting and guiding ships.
The long grass still waiting to be verdent,
Not dry crumpled straw.
And the owners of the house are silent, keeping to themselves,
Their only sense of existing, is the light that glares, when outside the tower is dark.
Spring is slowly birthing, but the ocean’s still freezing,
And the danger is too real for ships too close.
And a stranger walking watches from the dim,
Holding back a dog barking in madness.
The bulb has burnt out, now disaster is unhinged,
The ship clips the cliff, the house crumbles and the ship sinks,
Screams in the night, in the Atlantic’ waters cold numbness.
And when all is said and done, only the lighthouse stands,
With a burnt out bulb of fault.
How can this photograph be a work of art?
Is there art in dying?
Or is art and death as a perception, to ambigious to be real?
Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.
Please Tell Us About Yourself.
My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medievalfurniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.
I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA. My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania towork. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).
I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.
2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?
I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while incollege. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.
As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.
I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have torespect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.
” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch
3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.
I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.
4.What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?
Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.
“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?
Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.
Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).
6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?
I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is asong to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be somethinglyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.
It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.
While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted averse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often indramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.
I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.
“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch
7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?
I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.
For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lentenobservance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.
8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?
I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literaryagent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a groupwhich might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.
On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?
“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch
9. What is Your Writing Process Like?
I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).
I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why orhow. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer) I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about somethingdifficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.
10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres forfun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wifeCharlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adultliterature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.
“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!
When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.
If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like.Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.
12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?
I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.
“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch
Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces?
The first poem is playful. Grandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:
“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”
By Christopher Leo Couch
Crimp pie crust,
Not too hard, ‘cause,’
Dust to dust.
Enjoy the crimp,
With elf and imp.
When fall is crisp.
We bake our wares,
To cool on stairs.
Magic food alert!
My second poem is more soberly reflective:
By Christopher Leo Couch
Just after five,
I have not been asleep.
Pain shoots through,
My leg, a single line,
As if a wire was pushed,
Then something threw,
A supernatural switch,
And a low current of too-
Warm electric sting,
Courses through tired,
Having surrendered the,
Day’s labors into,
Aspiration’s night of,
Barely keeping guard,
Letting go of awake,
To turn into dream.
In hope to re-knit and,
Measures in the body,
And the mind.
It’s a cycle that’s supposed,
Why then is pain,
Ruining what I’ve made?
I want to rest then rise,
With normal consciousness,
Beneath the skin.
More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.
Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.
Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.