Coven of One; Early Astronauts; When Asked if She Regretted
By: Kathleen Holliday
Coven of One
She laughed when called
a water witch, and yet,
a y-shaped stick in her hands,
divined water in the earth.
so far from the source:
Show me, mother, where to look,
show me again how it’s done.
Now you’re gone,
Those early astronauts
chimpanzees baring their teeth
gums exposed, careening in space,
were not, it was later learned,
like us revolving around
the dark star of our father,
doing what he told us:
Smile for the camera.
Like our faces every time
we passed him by:
the rictus of fear.
When Asked if She Regretted
When asked if she regretted not
marrying again, my mother said,
No, though it would have been nice
to go out to dinner once in a while.
Her never-married daughter,
how I’ve lingered over wine lists,
forsaken all others but one on the
not always resisting the temptation
of dessert, how often I’ve regretted
the handing back of the menu.
Kathleen Holliday lives on an island in the Salish Sea. Her poems have appeared in The Bellingham Review, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest Press, New Ohio Review, Nimrod International Journal, Poet Lore, Poetry Super Highway, SHARK REEF, The Write Launch and other journals. She is a graduate of Augsburg University, Minneapolis, MN. Her chapbook, Putting My Ash on the Line, was published by Finishing Line Press, November 2020. Her second chapbook, Boatman, Pass By, will be available to order Jan. 2023.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press: from Kathleen Holliday
How long have you been writing poetry?
Since I was a teenager. After a long hiatus I joined a writers group ten years ago and began submitting again seriously. My first poetry chapbook, Putting My Ash on the Line, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020. My second chapbook, Boatman, Pass By, also by Finishing Line Press, will be published in 2023.
CNP: Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
From my parents’ small library at home, I remember loving Shakespeare’s soliloquies and sonnets, The Odyssey, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Also, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. Perhaps it was that line “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me singing in the wilderness” that made me fall in love with poetry.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
Just a few out of many: Tess Gallagher, Diane Wakoski, Philip Larkin, Cavafy, Wislawa Symborska, Ethna McKiernan, Billy Collins, Ilya Kaminsky, Diane Seuss, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Jane Hirshfield. Two favorite poems are Cavafy’s Ithaka, and The Melancholy of Jason Kleander, A.D. 595.
CNP: Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
No specific rituals but I take time to pay attention. All I need is a pen and notebook. I’ve found I can write really engaged only for two or three hours at a stretch; the rest of the day I’m still tuned to that frequency or channel that is sometimes receding, sometimes closer, louder. I’m always listening in.
CNP: How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
I never begin with a form in mind. I write in longhand and revise a lot on paper first, then transcribe it into a word document and then begin editing or shifting the line breaks. How it sounds out loud usually determines the shape.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
Write what you must write. Keep writing and reading. Seek out a writers group that will support your writing and your growth. I’m fortunate to be in a group that meets weekly. I’ve learned so much from those other writers, and from reading, writing, and hearing others read their work.
What is your editing process like?
KH: While editing, sometimes a poem opens up to something else and I follow that. Sometimes a different word appears, sometimes a change in beat. I will read out loud to find if the rhythm works or not. Editing will often suggest a change in line length or number of stanzas, sometimes a surprise, a change in the poem’s direction. Feedback from folks in my writers group is also part of my editing process.
CNP: When do you know that a poem is finished?
KH: I’ve revised some poems after they’ve been published so it’s hard to say. I will arrive at a point where I leave it alone, when I feel nothing could be added or taken away from it. I rarely submit a poem that has not been critiqued by my writers group or read by a few family members. After a lot of dress rehearsal, is it ready for a larger audience?