About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

3 Questions for Dale Harris

Miriam’s Well Blog Interview
Dale Harris

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.?

Dale: I most enjoy poetry that’s written to be spoken and heard, like music. So, the line lengths and line breaks serve as clues for the reader as to how the poem is “played,” like sheet music. And for me, about how I’ll read it aloud later. I may omit pauses and articles (like “and”) from the written- down poem that I say in a recitation but usually it looks the same. Some poems are written for the page rather than as a spoken work, so at-a-glance is important in the formatting. Those lines may be short and succinct or long and winding, depending on the mood of the poem and how I want it viewed. Todd Moore, an Albuquerque poet I greatly admire, sadly now passed away, wrote “poetry noir,” true crime poems about outlaws and gangsters, His distinctive writing style looked like texting, before we had cell phones and did that. Todd wrote in short, terse bursts of dialogue, maybe just two or three abbreviated words per line. The poems often continued for pages without a pause. His staccato lines served to build momentum and were mesmerizing. That takes skill.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Dale: If you notice me tapping my fingers and silently counting, I’m writing a haiku and figuring out the syllable count. Or, looking at my wrist watch and mumbling, I’m timing a poem. Years ago, I learned to write poetry in my ear. When my husband and I lived in a rural area, I commuted an hour each way through the mountains into Albuquerque for work. Since there was no radio reception I drove in silence and the glorious scenery inspired lots of new poems. I couldn’t safely jot the words down so I’d repeat the phrases aloud over and over so I wouldn’t forget them, adding new lines as they came to me. Those poems remain fixed in my memory. I can still recite them without notes. Today, I edit my poems that way, reading them out loud to hear the sound, often replacing words to achieve better tone and resonance. 

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

Dale: I think of myself less as being a poet but instead as something I do, that I write poems. Fashioning an identity out of being a poet smacks of pretentiousness. I view my ability to write as a gift to be appreciated and not trivialized. Emily Dickinson’s poem comes to mind: “I’m nobody! Who are you? / Are you nobody, too?” and continues “How dreary to be somebody! /How public like a frog! / To tell your name/The livelong day/to an admiring bog!” That seems good advice on protecting one’s poetry from hype and hoopla.
That said, I more easily identify as a community poet, enjoying the company of other poetry lovers at readings, workshops, and in art & poetry collaborations. I’ve edited and published poetry anthologies, books and journals, organized Poets Picnics at the Shafer Hotel in Mountainair and in Albuquerque at the Open Space Visitor Center, and produced theatrical events celebrating National Poetry Month. My idea of a good time!

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Music & Poetry Streaming on Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify Download individual tracks at Amazon MP3 Store and iTunes

Lakenenland, Michigan

Outsider art with a cheery feel.

Wikipedia: Lakenenland is a sculpture park located in Chocolay Township, Michigan. The park was founded in 2003, when artist Tom Lakenen moved his collection of scrap iron sculptures from his yard to a plot of land near the Lake Superior coast. Lakenenland contains more than 80 sculptures in the creator’s “junkyard art” style.

After Roe vs Wade by Miriam Sagan

I have some advice for you. If you don’t like my approach, feel free to skip this post.
My advice is about action, not attitude. Like many women, I feel panicked and degraded by a loss of rights. However, I am almost 70 years old and I’ve learned that my emotional response is not that important in most situations. My ethics and actions are a better place to focus.
So I suggest not allowing your self-worth to be determined by a corrupt society. I may be in a minority in that I’ve never trusted the USA to be much more than a capitalist and nationalist country that supports oligarchy. Since I’ve always felt this way, I’m upset but not disillusioned.
Step 1: Accept that you live in a society that does not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
Step 2: Right now, social change and electoral politics are important but probably too slow to give you peace of mind. Do vote, but prepare in the meanwhile.
Step 3: Protect your fertility in your reproductive years with contraceptives and barriers to STD’s. Support your friends and family in this. Yes, contraceptives can fail, but lack of them really does. Is this anti-spontaneous? You bet. Try and stay awake to your sexuality and to communicating with a partner. The opposite won’t help you.
Step 4: Focus on self-help, in the older sense of mutual aid. I myself am setting up an affinity group for 2-4 women to fund raise and volunteer for reproductive rights.
Step 5: Have a plan for yourself and others. Is abortion still legal where you live? Investigate options before you need them. Perhaps most importantly, start an emergency fund for expenses. That way you can also help other women.
Step 5: Find an organization that supports reproductive rights and support it. Fund-raise, donate, volunteer.
Step 6: If you are comfortable protesting, march in the street.
Step 7: Don’t feel powerless. Contrary to Facebook memes, your only options are not handmaiden or warrior. Your real option is to be yourself.
Yes, terrible and unexpected things can happen in this as in any arena of life. You can be prey to assault, violence, accident. However, I would not catastrophize. Taking care of yourself and others–in a profound, even radical way–is worth doing, particularly in difficult times.
I’m a mom, and a grandmother. In high school I was part of a group that had an abortion fund–in cash, hidden in a sock. We used it once, then replenished it. My mother, and her mother, felt very strongly about reproductive rights. My approach is not perfect, nor does it address all eventualities. But I do know something about how to decrease suffering. And I know things go better when I am not alone.

James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden

There are so many ways to understand a piece of land, even Wisconsin woodlands that are now just green spaces in suburbia. We saw effigy mounds. Worn down by time, it is difficult to discern the shapes. However, we did see wildlife among the deer-shaped graves of ancient people who once lived here.
A wild turkey burst out of the underbrush, purposively leading us away from her nest. Of course we walked away to leave her and her family in peace.
Outsider artist James Tellen built sculptures of things he cared about–often religious imagery–and placed them on leafy paths. It is now curated, with his work done elsewhere also placed there. We saw a deer nibbling.

First Eats of the Trip

Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin–

Then the first but not the last frozen custard. I might rank Kopp’s best ever–just a smidgen creamier than Caliche’s in Las Cruces.

And finally exhausted from too much outsider/visionary in Shebogan, Wisconsin at the Kohler museum.

Meg Nicks: Forest Fires

Meg Nicks is an artist living in the Canadian Rockies. I know her through Art Loves Science–now called Biophilium. We share a profound relationship to wild fires because of the similarities in our environments.

I’ve enjoyed her work for several years, and it seems to have acquired even more depth and feeling.

Title: Turbulent Dissolution

Lost Creek Fire

Red Moons: Shaman’s Jacket from a Season of Fire and Ash

I love this piece–not only about fire but a memorial to a deceased friend.

I’ve posted this in “Climate Change Haiku.” If the work inspires any poetry, do send it to the blog–msagan1035@aol.com

Lounging Through The Flood by Jenny Kendler


Editor’s note: I recently completed a two week residency on water, Submerged with Biophylium (formerly Ayatana/Art Loves Science. https://www.artayatana.com/). As always, working with this group is an incredible voyage of discovery. I’ll be sharing some of what I learned about as we move into summer.

Also, Miriam’s Well (that is, me!) will be on the road in upcoming weeks, mostly in the Great Lakes. So expect more water!

However, fire is always with us these days. Just a reminder, the blog is continuing to publish forest fire haiku and climate change haiku, with any approach. I started receiving fire haiku at all hours, and I just post them as they come in, so do send–msagan1035@aol.com