Today I have the sublime pleasure of being a part of a blog book tour for Morgan Dragonwillow’s new poetry book, Wild Woman Waking. I’ve read this book from cover to cover and can attest to its absolute deliciousness. Not only are her poems tiny, intricately laid stories that take you somewhere far away, but each one is also accompanied by Tui Snider’s stunning photography.
I am also spotlighted on Morgan’s blog today, where she said some lovely things about me. (check’s in the mail, Morgan)
I had the opportunity to ask both of them some questions:
Morgan, your poems are so evocative and heartfelt. How does a poem begin for you? Do they come from an emotion, an image, an idea?
M: Oh Wow, my inspiration can come from anywhere. If I’m not feeling inspired I will pick up a favorite book and open to any page to see if it will kick my inspiration into drive or I will pick up a dictionary, pick a word, and start writing. In Wild Woman Waking, Tui’s photography often inspired words to flow onto the page. Really my poetry can come from a feeling, a thought, a word, a picture, or even and especially when I dance. Dancing connects me with my Muse, my Higher Power, and my higher self.
How is this book of poetry different from your first one, Dancing Within Shadow? Or not?
M: I think it is different, first off it isn’t split into sections, and there is a progressive self-transformation that flows from one poem to the next. I allowed myself to dive even deeper with these poems and many are longer than in the first book. Of course Tui’s photography isn’t in the first book and they add so much to the poems that I know this makes the book unique.
When did you first realize creating was something you absolutely had to do, and what sparked the love of poetry?
M: This question makes me smile. I believe I have been creative my whole life but was too afraid to do much with it until I took hold of my perfectionism and told it to — but out! That’s why I say I am a recovering perfectionist, it stopped me dead in my tracks from creating much of anything. I couldn’t even color in a coloring book at 33 years old without having a panic attack. It was a slow process but by the time I was about 46 years old I was creating on many levels – writing, beading, crocheting, and drawing/coloring.
I finally started taking my writing seriously when I saw a photo poetry prompt on Shaw Wharton’s blog that a poem was suddenly in my head and I had to write it down. Not that I hadn’t written poetry before, I had, just not in a really long time.
When April came around and the Blogging A to Z Challenge combined with National Poetry Month (NaPoWriMo) I decided to combine the two and wrote poetry from A to Z. When the challenge finished poetry fell away a bit and by the time September rolled around I was missing writing poetry and started #OctPoWriMo, a poetry month in October. Now I can’t go without writing poetry, it is in my blood and it is my preferred mode of writing.
I love your book’s dedication. I can tell inspiring others to write is one of your main objectives. I sense a story behind this. Why is it so important to you?
M: I would do just about anything to help someone else that has shoved their creativity deep inside like I had. I wanted to write a book at 8 years old and allowed other’s negative words to keep me from writing, the one thing I wanted more than anything. Now when I see others with the same problem, I can’t help but encourage them. If I can help them feel better about themselves and see that it is safe to pour their heart onto the page, and they begin writing and enjoying it, well that feels amazing to me.
How do you choose the form of your poems? Do you have a favorite?
M: I have a favorite website called Shadow Poetry (http://shadowpoetry.com) that is filled with poetry types/forms both traditional and new forms that others have created that I absolutely love experimenting with. When I am not feeling as experimental, Free Form seems to be my favorite to fall back on, that and I happen to be one of the few that like to count syllables. My favorite short forms are Cinquain and Haiku.
What conditions help you with your writing process?
M: I usually like being by myself surrounded by my favorite poetry and inspiring books, listening to Johann Sebastian Bach radio on Pandora, while writing either on my laptop or in my notebook. Whether it is here at home on my living room floor (or in my bed) with my Coco Chai tea sitting next to me or at the lake sitting at a picnic table (taking photos and writing) both feel good to me and get my poetic juices flowing.
What prompted the collaboration with photographer/writer, Tui?
M: I absolutely love her photography; her creativity and unique vision inspires me! She and I have been writing buddies since the beginning of this writing journey started the end of 2011. I had been admiring her photo for some time; it’s so artsy!
When I saw another poetry book that used daily photos for inspiration for their poetry/writing, I decided it would be wonderful to combine her photos with my poetry, and I was so lucky when she said yes!
Tui, your photography is stunning and goes perfectly with Morgan’s poetry.
T: Thank you, Beth! It’s so fun to see Morgan’s words combined with my photos.
How long have you been a photographer and what prompted you to explore it?
T: Long story short, Morgan Dragonwillow is to blame! ;p I love taking photos, but – much like my writing – I kept it to myself for many years. I mean, I’d share straight-forward photos, but nothing too abstract or artsy. I got tired of people wrinkling their noses and pronouncing me a weirdo. It didn’t stop me from taking photos, mind you, it just kept me from showing them to anyone.
Roughly 3 years ago, my step-daughter told me about an iPhone app called Instagr.am (IG.) Since I live in Texas and she lives in London, I am always grateful for ways we can connect online. So at her urging, I timidly began snapping photos with my iPhone and posting them on Instagr.am.
The Instagr.am community is so friendly, that before I knew it I was sharing everything – even my weird/artsy photos. IG makes it easy to connect with others who share your aesthetic.
Nearly 3 thousand photos later, it’s hard to imagine my creative life without Instagr.am. I should add that before IG, I turned up my nose at cell phone photography. I carried a small digital camera with me everywhere, however, and was always snapping picutres.
Even so, it wasn’t until Morgan asked to use my photos for her poems in Wild Woman Waking that I realized I had something to “say” visually. That project made me look at my photos with a new eye. In one of our email exchanges, I compared it to, “realizing I talked in my sleep, then getting a chance to listen back to the recording and being shocked by what I had said.”
Right around the same time, I also started getting encouraging messages on IG and Facebook from professional photographers. So it’s been an exciting time for me photography-wise!
Your photos are very unique, what motivates or inspires the photos you take; what are you looking for when you take the shot?
T: It’s hard to explain what inspires me because it is nonverbal. I rarely *plan* to take a photo. It’s more like the photo finds me. It sometimes feels as if an image walks up and says, “Hey there, busy-bee! Slow down and look at this. Pretty cool, eh?”
My favorite photos get me out of my harried head and plop me into the present. Y’know how it feels when you read a good Haiku? How it wakes you up to a simple moment? That’s the feeling I chase with photography.
Photography is an intuitive and non-judgmental place for me.
I’ve had no training in the visual arts. That works to my favor with photography because it keeps my internal critic out of the way.
I also love to write and make music, but I have had so much training in those areas that it can get in the way. My head is stuffed with grammar rules, music theory, and so forth. With photography? Not so much, and I find that quite freeing.
What kind of camera do you use, and is there anything special you do with your photos after taking the pictures?
T: All the photos in Wild Woman Waking were taken with my iPhone. I use the Instagr.am filters and app, so that’s why they are all square-shaped.
I noticed many of your photos are of nature. Is there a certain place you love to go for photos?
T: Oh, yeah. I love nature and seek it out wherever I am! Even when strolling in a big city, I zoom in on the chamomile prying its way through sidewalks, birds nesting in store signs, and any other vestiges of the wild. I’ve even toyed with creating a bird-watching guide for citydwellers called Urban Birding.
Do you have any other photo projects or future plans for your photography?
T: I have a few plans, but I am also very open to letting my photography lead the way, if that makes sense. I don’t want to impose too much of a game plan on it. I would definitely like to have a gallery show, and I plan to include photos in my upcoming travel books. And, yes, I would also like to get a small DSLR to supplement my iPhone addiction.
Thanks again, Beth, for showcasing me, Morgan, and Wild Woman Waking today on your blog.
Check out this amazing book and download Wild Woman Waking on Amazon now!
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Prizes! We have prizes for you as a thank you for participating! Morgan will be giving away personal poems, soul messages (you can read one here), and paperback copies (which aren’t for sale yet) of Wild Woman Waking! The Winners will be announced on Monday, March 24th, 2014. Enter for your chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway (this wordpress sites can’t host the widget, so just follow the link to the rafflecopter giveaway contest)
Morgan Dragonwillow is a shadow poet and recovering perfectionist that strives to inspire other poets and writers. She especially enjoys helping those that have had trouble letting go of the fear holding back their words from landing on the page. It thrills her to her marrow when her words inspire someone to write; it is one of her greatest joys. Morgan released her first poetry book, Dancing within Shadow, in March 2013. She is intimate with shadow and dances into the heart of it. She believes that diving into what most people try to avoid makes great fertilizer for all types of creativity, especially writing and poetry. She writes poetry to be able to say things, feel things that she can’t seem to express or feel anywhere else. Morgan lives in Marietta Ga. with her partner, their Pekinese, and their long haired Tabby. She loves creating of all kinds but words are her passion. You can connect with Morgan from the links below.
Tui Snider a writer, travel blogger, and photographer specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book. For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas. You can find Tui all around the web.