Today I’m talking to Imelda de Castro-Santore. Grab a seat and join us. Hi, Imelda. Welcome. Let’s start with a poem.
Thunder rolls on the pavement
where hurrying feet pass by
unmindful of the cardboard hut
where some children lie.
They thought they’re quite lucky
for that roof over their heads
sheltering them from the world
as they curl on their newspaper beds.
In that little corner
excited voices rise
while they tell their stories
of alms received and pockets sliced.
A tinkle of a coin
betrays a merry game
to quell the loud thunder
that has nothing to do with rain.
The rumbling in their bodies
keep the rhythm of their day.
Is hunger such a friend
that it won’t go away?
When all’s been done
and still they fail
that bag of rugby gives solace –
with deep breaths, ‘peace’ they inhale.
Tell us a little about yourself, Imelda.
First of all, thank you so much Laurie for this interview. Only in my wild dreams did I ever entertain the idea that I’d be featured on this page. Whenever I read one of the featured poets, I am always left in awe of their talent and works. Without making myself at par with the Pub poets I admire, I am therefore quite honored to be here myself. If anyone told me that I’d be featured in a Poetry Place like DVERSE, I would have laughed and called the person “Silly!” “Poet” was something I would not have dared call myself. While I dabbled in verse once in a while, my work was and is certainly not like the beautiful, polished, magical verses that I have associated poems with. I imagined Thomas Gray turning in his grave if I even gave the slightest indication that I am inspired by the lyricism of his work. In fact, the few times I showed my poems to some friends, I was either rewarded with free psychoanalysis or gentle ribbing. I do not blame my friends for their reaction. Some of the pieces I wrote were emotion driven and almost melodramatic, while some were filled with flowery words and phrases that I thought were what made poems.
I was named after Imelda Marcos who was at the peak of her beauty and popularity in 1968 when I was born. I guess, that is my way of saying that I am from the Philippines. I grew up in a small barrio/village that I often described as back-of-the-beyond to friends from the big city. A lot had changed in my hometown, but it is still a place where most of the neighbors are relatives and everyone knew everybody’s business. When in my teens, I went to Manila for university and advanced studies and perhaps to have a measure of privacy. 🙂 Now, I live thousand of miles away from by hometown with a wonderful husband who I met online and our four boys, ranging in age from 2 ½ to 9 years old. We live away from family and friends and sometimes, I miss the relationships that I sort of ran away from.
How long have you been writing?
I always struggled with writing. When I was in college, I was quite happy to receive a B for composition. When my professor asked us to write a How-To Essay, I wrote a piece that had nothing but a list of steps to take in order to make something (that I have long ago forgotten). Any extensive writing I had came from drafting legal opinions, documents, and briefs when I was still a practicing lawyer.
Although I wrote poems on and off since I was about fifteen when I met the likes of Williams Blake, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare, and had always had a fondness for poetry since then, it was only recently, perhaps three years ago, that I focused more on writing poems. By then, I had three children with another one on the way. I am a stay-at-home/homeschooling mother who is mostly ran-ragged during the day. I looked for some adult conversation and activity to keep me sane. I did not want any activity that would make too much noise and wake the children I so wish would remain asleep for the night. I could not learn the violin again. Since I am mostly in front of the computer anyway, I decided to make a blog. At first, I wrote about family life, then I encountered photography and writing blogs. So started taking pictures and writing short stories. From there, I rediscovered my desire for poetry. So write poems, I did.
How do you usually become inspired……using an image, an emotion, an experience?
Images help me a lot. They are the gateway to emotions, experiences, and associations that I may have filed somewhere within me all these years. I need to be able to see the scene in my head, and see them in a more or less coherent fashion, to find the words to write.
If you had your life (thus far) to do over, is there anything you would change?
Ah. This is a tough question. 🙂 Sometimes I wish that I did not make the mistakes I did in the past. There was a time when I wished I was richer, taller, smarter, etc. That was when I did not know what to do with my life. Now, it’s different. I have found my niche in life and I am very happy and thankful in it. I have a wonderful husband and children and the kind of family I always dreamed to have. I can say that I am living my dream. This happiness puts all past heartaches in perception. I would not be where I am now if I changed anything in my past. I believe that all things I went through were necessary to get to where I am now. However, I am still trying to be a gentler and more patient person. Somehow, patience always manages to elude me.
What do you think of social media’s impact on poetry?
I think social media has done poetry a lot of good. First, because of social media, people who may otherwise be not interested in poetry, as a reader or writer, get exposure to poems created by their friends and to the different poetic forms and styles. At the very least, this generates more awareness of this less popular form of creative writing. For those who are interested in poetry to begin with, this awareness can awaken their latent desire to write poems themselves or to follow and encourage those who write poetry. Second, social media has made it easier for aspiring poets to put out their work and to get feedback. People like me no longer had to corner a friend to read a work and watch that friend search for non-hurting ways to say her comments. 🙂 🙂 Last, and in a more serious note, social media opened doors for talented poets to shine and be known.
A rose in November bloomed
through wind and frost and chill
blush of life from earth doomed
to fading into winter’s spell.
Velvet petals embraced the dawn.
A rose in November bloomed
dancing on its cane of thorns
blessing the air with its perfume-
wrapped promise that life entombed
will conquer darkness in its wake.
A rose in November bloomed
Hope, through adversity, breaks
to cheer hearts at the bleakest hour.
That while beauty’s shadow looms
courage will never falter.
A rose in November bloomed.
What is your best time of day for writing, and does this coincide with the rest of your life?
I do most of the physical writing/typing at night after the children have been put to bed. During the day, when I am inspired, I use the quiet times I have to visualize a poem and find the words that fit, and the direction the ideas lead to.
How, would you say, is your work valuable?
My work is valuable to me because it came from me and all of them tell a truth about me. They are something about me that I can share with the people I love. As for my poem being valuable to others, I don’t know. 🙂 I will be amazed if somebody tells me so.
Do you remember the first poem that you wrote for the sake of writing poetry, and not a school assignment? Do you still have a copy of it?
Yes, I think it was a sonnet about an ant. I was talking about the poor ant not being a toy. HA! HA! HA! It may even be about death – “why do people love, only to cry?” Woohoo! I was fourteen then. And I think I was alone at home since everyone was still in the cemetery for All Saints’ Day. Ah, I must have written those two sonnets on the same day because I was alone and a teenager with nothing better to do.
Unfortunately, I left my old journal in the Philippines. I might cringe to read the whole thing now though. 🙂
When you get discouraged what do you do?
I cry and grump. I will call my husband and say “I have no poem.” I would do other things like crochet, or read, or take pictures. But that was before I discovered Candy Crush. 🙂 Then I will get mad at myself for wasting too much time Candy Crushing, and try to write a little. When I find that I managed to finish a poem, I am encouraged again.
Ah yes! I spend time with my children, too. 🙂
If a child, your child or another, asked you why poetry matters how would you explain it to them?
I will tell my child that poetry is like singing. It makes the mind and the heart soar. Poetry opens the heart to joy and to a different way of thinking and seeing things. It elevates the mundane to something special. Poetry helps one order his ideas and sort his relationship with himself and the world.
Where can we reach you, Imelda?
Thank you so much… now it is time for our dVerse friends to ask questions in the comments.