Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Anne Tibbitts responds

Anne Tibbitts: I’m from the show-me state of Missouri or as some say I was born in a state called Misery. I was born here but it was living in other countries that truly brought me to life. It was while living in South Korea that I got born as a real writer and poet: typing on a thrift store manual in an upstairs apartment in Huam-dong I paced myself through page after page till all the essays' typos disappeared, and riding on an army bus past Camp Garry Owen with Melissa Etheridge filling my headphones I drafted out a love poem for the Polaroid ajimah, and drinking Styrofoam-cup coffee on a hill near the DMZ I bled out tribute poems to used combat boots...in the ROK was where I truly came into my own as the poet of the ovary--on a dimlit stage in a basement coffeeshop on a Sunday night five subway stops from downtown Seoul. After living in Korea I was never again the Misery Girl from a podunk town. In her place was a woman writer who thrived on kimchi and peanut tea. All the countries thereafter populated my wordcraft till I spilled outside all previously drawn boundaries into the karmic cosmos where poets come from. And it is in the huge country of Love where I now reside.

DV: I'm sure most people just scratch their heads if anyone asks them why poets write. Why do you write? And, especially, why do you write poems?
AT: Poems are gifts which often come unexpectedly. I like waiting for poems to happen to fully form and get born into words.

DV: I envy you. My normal experience is quite different. They almost never just come fully formed, like Venus from the brow of Jupiter, or Eve from a sleeping Adam. They lie deep within me and I have to struggle to get them out, but they just won't let go of me until I do. When did you first discover that you had a poetic gift?

AT: I first discovered I had a way with words and telling stories when I was three or four. But I didn't write my first poem until fourth grade. You'll be able to access the juvenilia collection in the years to come! LOL, I wrote many many fine poems in the three years I lived on Okinawa--that's when I realized I was "the poet of the oVary."

DV: What do you mean by that expression?

AT: Poetry informs my body of work; this is  indisputable. My very life is poetic. I live a poem. I am a poem. So you ask: what is the significance of Poet of the oVary? I shall say this—a little baby girl, when she is born, has two fully stocked little ovaries—eggs within her, eggs which will wait to become part of life’s cycle in one way or another. Is this not how poems have emerged from me myself? Indeed. It is. I have too many times to count sat down at a typewriter or piece of paper and outforth comes something line by line by sentence until it is whole and one thing unto  itself. These poems come through me, not from me. I am but an agent. And that is what ovaries are: they house the eggs until it’s time. And so one rainy dark Sunday evening in Seoul  South  Korea with a couple of fellow poets, we made a trail through several  subway stops up to the street and into a basement where it was dim lit and a concrete stage held a microphone and a stool and it was there that when my turn came I introduced myself quite unexpectedly as anne tibbitts, thee Poet of the oVary. The year was 1997. Maybe it was January.

DV: Actually, I remember that night. But I thought you said that epiphany occurred in Okinawa, not Korea. Can you clarify?

AT: I had been teaching and living in Okinawa for two years and had a chance to go back to Korea for a couple of semesters--it was while in Korea that I fell in with a group of fellow teachers and writers who were active mainstays at various open mic poetry nights around Seoul and that's when the inspiration came to me out of nowhere that I was the poet of the oVary!!! Those words just came out while I introduced myself in a dimlit underground reading...

DV: In any event, it's an arresting metaphor. But it entirely discounts any effort on your part. I view the process more like Michelangelo, who explained how he made his most famous sculpture: "It's easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn't look like David." An inspiration grabs me from somewhere, but I almost always have a lot of chipping to do, and it's never easy. But the poem becomes an obsession, I have to try to get it right. Do you believe, from your own experience, that your poems were ideal Platonic forms just floating about somewhere, waiting to lodge themselves in some artist's psyche? Could they have been written by someone else, or only by Anne Tibbitts?

AT: Yes, I believe, through the many experiences I've had, that most all of my poems have been "sent" through me to paper. The from where were they sent question is a mystery. I could give it any number of names, but rather choose to honor the mystery--with gratitude and awe. The poems which Anne has written--or sometimes "delivered"--could only have been  written by anne. That is what makes each poet's works unique. Some poems I spend time revising, or rather tweaking...but mostly poems come whole. Just the other night, for example. I awoke from  a terribly vivid nightmare. Crying and shaking, I retreated to the bathroom so as not to wake my companion...I first began to interpret the nightmare as meaning this and that....but soon after I purged the details into the voice memos app on my phone, I went back to bed. And within ten minutes, up I sat, grabbed my phone, and this came out whole. Let me say that anyone familiar with my work knows that I don't usually write in rhymes or traditional forms. But here's what I pecked into my notes app:

The sheets are gone girl where u lay
I'm sorry its your loss
So come and get ur things right soon
Before they gather moss

U had ur chance to love this man
Beside me who does sleep
I gather u would rather fly
Than plant ur roots down deep

And so it goes
It's my turn now you'll never get back in
Cause clearly girl u played a hand
That simply cannot win

I was star-struck at the accomplishment. I read it again and again and was as if I already had it memorized. I'd been thinking about the situation I was living and though I wasn’t sure how, the poem which was born hit the nail on the head, proverbially speaking! I showed it to my companion the next morning and he agreed that the little ditty said everything that needed to be said. This is just one example of how the bits and pieces of words and thoughts and experiences often culminate in the birth of a whole poem. which is also why I am the Poet of thee oVary...for me, writing is a reproductive process. One which I must always honor, not question, and one which i joyfully celebrate. I am not one to scoff at or squander such amazing gifts!!!

DV: Very interesting account, Anne. With that, I guess it’s time to wrap things up. I want to thank you for all you’ve done for this blog, your poems, your generosity, your encouragement. And this interview.

Anne Mcgee Tibbitts

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed! For reasons unknown, I'd been thinking about poet of ovaries. I'd been blessed to have had a class taught by Anne Tiddbit. I enjoyed! However, I had a misfortune and lost my album of poems that I did in a fire. In 2014. I have not been able to get back to writing again. Please if contact information is available. Let Anne know that I was never able to publish my works. Although I do have one daughter who published Beyond Flesh. Kandice Mason.
    Respectfully Always
    MaryAnn Mason


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?