Hello Pretzels and Bullfighters… I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve seen you. Summer will soon be over, and I will return from my break. I couldn’t stand it, though, and just had to pop in to say hello.
Guess who I ran into? Mark Windham!
Here he is with his wife waiting to get started, but I insisted on a poem first.
Degrees of Desperation
We dream in degrees
each thinking the other
should be persuaded
by our own particular vision
I asked her once
if it was her heart or her head
which caused her to stay,
or some tribute
to the ideals of love
It seemed a period of years
before she answered.
I stay because of vows uttered
and moments remembered.
I stay because children should
not suffer from a rash decision.
I stay because I refuse to believe
a life is nothing more than things
nestled into a corner of the room.
I stay because I still cry when
your space at the table is empty
or your side of the bed is cold.
I stay because I long for the future
we planned, and I have never
longed for another to hold my hand.
I stay because I believe love that was
can be again, if we wish it to be.
We dream in degrees
Tell us about yourself, Mark.
I have lived in the southeastern US all my life, but in several locations: Mississippi (2 places), Kentucky (3), Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Georgia. I have been in the Atlanta area since 1994. I have been married to my wife, Kathy, for seventeen years. We have two children; Jake (15) and Katherine (11). Both do well in school and run cross-country and track. I also have a daughter, Ashley (22) who lives in Florida and is attending college. (Also three dogs with no useful skills or occupation) Kathy and I own our own business, Windham Business Services, providing management accounting and consulting services. Which really takes time away from writing, but those kids insist on eating. Every day! The reason I write and how it started is on my blog. Some publication credits include a couple of dVerse projects (Nain Rouge contest and The dVerse Anthology), The Poetry Nook & The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature among others.
In what direction do you think you feel you would like to go?I don’t think I have a clear idea of what I would like my poetry to evolve into. My hope is just that it keeps evolving. I like trying new things: new forms, new structures, playing with punctuation, etc. Most of what I write is free verse, but I do enjoy the challenge of structure and form. Even if the form/structure is one that only I recognize.
How do you really feel about straight-forward constructive criticism, particularly if it is very pointed?
I love it! I even ask for it on my blog. Two of my favorite readers are Margo Roby and Viv Blake because they are not timid about pointing out mistakes and offering that constructive criticism. I have no illusions about how far I have to go as a writer and how much I have to learn. If someone is willing to take the time to offer constructive input as to how I can improve then I hope to be a sponge and take in as much as I possibly can. This might be my only complaint about the blogging environment: we all feel compelled to offer praise or say nothing at all and move on. I am ok with knowing why someone does not like a poem of mine, especially in matters of technique, style, structure, etc.
When writing a poem, how do you know you’re done? Do you ever get satisfied?
Short answer, no, keeping in mind there is a difference in an ending and being done. I frequently write with the end in mind. The rest of the poem is figuring out how to get there. Being done, though, is rare for me. Every time I go back and look at a poem I will find another word to change, a comma to move, line break to change…something. There reaches a point where I may be done with a poem, but I never feel the poem is done.
Do you have an audience in mind when you compose?
That depends on the inspiration for the piece. If it is in response to a prompt then it is obviously intended for the audience on the prompt site. The poems which are not prompt related generally are not audience driven. It is more a circumstance of having to write, I will figure out what to do with it later.
On average, how long does it take for you to write a poem?
I should probably be embarrassed to admit it, but a first draft (most of what I post is a first or early second draft) is usually finished in a sitting. Which may take five minutes up to a couple of hours. The revision process depends on the current motivation and time available.
Are you ever surprised at which pieces of work your readers respond to?
Constantly. There are times when I feel good about a poem and the response is in line with my hopes, other times, nothing. Or, the reader finds a completely different meaning. Other times a poem that I throw up with very little effort or expectation gets rave reviews. I have learned to embrace the different responses, but they are times surprising.
The Suicide Forrest
In the Aokigahara Forest of Japan,
in a place called the Sea of Trees,
people go to die,
not the diseased or elderly,
but those who view life
as an abstract,
a feasible idea
lacking in structure, purpose
Bodies are found hanging
from the trees, their belongings
stored in tents below.
A dense forest,
where once Samurai
came to preserve their honor.
I’m so glad I ran into you, today, Mark… if you’ll stick around for a bit, I’m sure our readers have questions for you, too.
Where to find Mark:
Web Pages: www.awakenedwords.wordpress.com & www.windhamservices.net