How old were you when you read your first poem? What was the name of the poem and poet?
While I don’t remember when I read my first poem, I do know that it was most likely either a nursery rhyme or from a fairy tale. I have never felt that what I first read was pivotal to my later interest in writing.
I wrote poetry in my teens, before I really started reading it. Most of my writing had to do with the usual angst at the time. I then turned to books, mostly literature, for more answers. Through this process, I eventually began reading poetry.
I read widely and don’t tend to seek out poetry or writing from any particular movement. I am more attracted to particular themes, such as nature and the spiritual. Due to my Greek heritage and studies in philosophy, I am also interested in some Ancient Greek poetry.
If I had to interview another poet, it would most likely be an Ancient Greek poet that wrote about nature. I would ask them about their motivation for writing their poetry. Were they writing to satisfy political or social ends? Were they trying to get a better understanding of nature? How did they understand the role of poetry? Was it important to them?
Which poetry school, community and or movement you wished to read more of? (Romantic, Beat, Confessional, etc.)
As I am more interested in themes, I usually look for poets that write about nature and spirituality, including our relationship to both. That’s why I am very interested in writers like Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, who analyse folk tales into meaningful expressions of life experiences. I would also like to read more Sufi poetry (especially Rumi), and Zen Buddhist poetry.
What do you love most about poetry?
I love that poetry is beautiful. I love that certain poetry can never age, that it never tires in giving. To me, poetry is like the moon. Though the moon is sometimes hidden, it is always there. Whether we are aware of it or not, the moon pulls at us, then lets us be. It gives us tides, waves onto the beach that bring shells and all sorts of curiosities. It can take them away, but it always brings back something new. This is beautiful. This is poetry.
What advice would you give to others so that they’d read and or write more poetry?
Live a full life. Write with integrity. I feel that it is important to be immersed in the world, to value life, and your time on this planet. You need to be impeccable with your words and ideas as they are messages to others.
I think people come to poetry themselves. Just like life’s realisations. You can’t force things. For me, it’s a life thing. Poetry is not just about reading or writing. It’s a part of life.
Bonus Ion shares with us today a poem he wrote:
After a Study of Lizards
When I wake, the red gum tree has elephant feet
swollen at the base of its trunk, as if an elephant stopped too long,
its feet embedded in the fertile earth; and the rain that poured
last night, that sprouts roots on things that stay,
bound its feet to the underground.
This has happened before, but no one says anything;
one day the spell will be broken. I warily climb the trunk,
but do not feel the rest of the animal hidden inside the bark.
Its branches have fingers that reach to sky
for the blood of sun. I soak up the heat.
Leaves whisper together, murmur that they’re feeling trapped,
stunned in a nakedness they wanted all along;
to be part of the world without having to think about it.
Noisy miners congregate on nearby limbs,
rouse each other’s angry little spirits, create a colony
I won’t back down. The tree is a place for me to find eggs,
my scales for courage. I like the black cockatoos that sit stately
on the uppermost limbs. They growl like lions, fly the sky
as if they have been flying since the dinosaurs.
It’s like the sun is a candle, snuffed out
by the ocean at dusk, while below little people relight it
ready for dawn. At night ghosts flutter with insects,
bees tend love, and the trees bring the African plains.
Elephants, lions, and in the distance, Mount Kilimanjaro.
I have been listening to humans for too long. I have a hard skin,
but inside I am soft. I find new ways of seeing;
the tree is really an elephant; an elephant is really a bird
that mourns; a bird is really a bud escaped from a tree.
© Ion Corcos has the sole right of After a Study of Lizards. It was first published in Axolotl September 21, 2014