Interviews with Anna Marco & Tanya Dixon – Spectacular Saturday Zoom Open Mic April 15, 2023
By: Carla Joy Martin
We had a delightful time of sharing poems and discussion at our Spectacular Saturday Zoom Open Mic on April 15, 2023. Participants were Chris Nielsen, Anna Marco, Tanya Dixon, Irene Sinopole and Carla Joy Martin.
Anna Marco and Tanya Dixon both shared profound poems that touched on loss. After they read them, we had an illuminating discussion about grief and the roll poetry can play in the process of getting through to the other side.
Here are Anna Marco’s poems and thoughts:
Billy Brew by Anna Marco
This poem was inspired by my dear friend, Wild Bill Carter. He was a character and a famous custom car painter. He was a protege of Larry Watson and Bill took custom car paint to the drag strip among other industries. I was blessed to know him… he was wise, funny and a non- conformist. He called his custom paint mixes, “Billy \Brew,”and they were secret recipes of candy-flake and pearl paints. All award winning.
This poem was read only twice, once at his memorial and once for our poetry reading, and it’s very special to me because it is printed in colored ink in honor of a great man.
of your passing
This poem was written for my father who passed at Christmas. I was alone in the house, and it was so quiet that was deafening and i was struck by that. At that moment I realized I missed his goofy personality.
I thought, “wow this quiet is loud”, and the poem came as simply as that. I believe that you never lose someone you love because they are always carried with you in your heart.
Q. One of topics we discussed at Spectacular Saturday Open Mic was creative inspiration. As you think about your own creative process, how do poems come to you?
A. Ah, this is the million dollar question. There is no real explanation…my poems just come on their own. It’s kind of like a song that keeps playing in your head. I catch the lyrics and put the words to paper. I always carry something to write with. I never know when its gonna hit me.
Q. Do you feel you are a conduit for inspiration that comes from elsewhere…
A. Yes. For me its not hard to do but If I force it, it doesn’t work out. I have learned that when reworking a poem, i can change a single word and the entire tone of the poem morphs into something different. Its fascinating. However I try to stay honest to the initial feeling of it because too much tweaking can ruin the purity of a poem.
Q. …or are you a creative machine that produces from your own head?
A. Not with poetry but I am a mean machine when story writing professionally.
Q. How does writing poetry help the grief process?
A. It’s very soothing and healing. I express my grief self better in the written word. The love for the lost one comes through my spirit easier. Many years ago, I took a 10-week program of a group grief counseling sessions and was unable to move through my pain and let go. The last spiritual assignment was a goodbye letter, and I couldn’t do it. I wrote an “aloha letter poem” instead. Aloha means neither hello or goodbye, or it means both. That worked. I recited the poem at the memorial because I couldn’t think straight to speak, but the poem said it all for me.
Q. Has there been a time when you experienced grief and poetry poured out?
A. Yes profound grief opens your heart to the beauty of truth. Don’t fight it. Oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure…
Q. Did it help heal you or help others with their grief? How does creative work help folks deal with grief?
A. Writing hand is connected to heart. I think truth touches all who hear it…good or not so good. For me poems are feelings and thoughts channeled as softer ways of communication between human beings. It helps everyone. When you think of great poets such as Kahlil Gibran or Rainer Maria Rilke, etc…their words still resonate today.
Tanya Dixon shard the following two poems at Spectacular Saturday Zoom Open Mic. Her words of encouragement through hard times are particularly helpful. Here are her insights:
Excerpts from Tonya’s book entitled, “Keeper of the Chapel.”
Change the Channel on the radio
To a groove that suits your soul
That helps you to remember your prom
And the glitz and glam
Select a tune that makes you think of the cabbage patch dance
And the running man dance
Perhaps the polka dots of the 90s and the high-top fade
|In this field, B A L A N C E is a must
Knowing your likes keeps you sound
Laughter is medicine, lightening up is wise
Our being needs to breathe
And we have to leave for a sabbath periodically
Maintain B A L A N C E
God instituted rest, Joy and solitude
It’s not rude to take a break
B A L A N C E
Dance to Aretha, chill by the sea
Oh, weary one, get some rest, be free
For the Elders
Wisdom cries in the streets
That lead to our hearts
The gray haired experienced one
Look out for the young’un’
We see them
But we need to listen
These who marched in the sixties
Whose prayers honored God and His galaxies
Who wore the only dress they owned
Who revered their parents
Elders, we thank you
There was no history book
You engrained our memories
At the dinner table
When hearing us chew food
Was a sacred moment
Elders we thank you
For teaching us how to be
Bona fide warriors with a cause
You didn’t need applause to act
You paved cobblestone roads
So that we would find our own strength.
It is often helpful to read about other’s experiences to get us through our own troubles. Here are Tanya’s thoughts about creativity and grief:
Q. One of topics we discussed was creative inspiration. As you think about your own creative process, how do poems come to you? Do you feel you are a conduit for inspiration that comes from elsewhere – or are you a creative machine that produces from your own head?
A. I get inspired by my interactions with people and life activities. I also believe that I am God’s vessel. So, I share poetry that is divinely inspired. I endeavor to encourage the listener with the intent to bring love, hope, and peace. Sometimes I pray for a poem. God is the ultimate Creator. Then sometimes I’m inspired after engaging in something practical like having dinner with loved ones. It varies. My recent poetry was inspired by observing the older generation in my life and watching documentaries. It’s all about respect. I don’t want to ever forget who opened the doors for me and those who helped me to get where I am.
Q. How does writing poetry help the grief process? Has there been a time when you experienced grief and poetry poured out? Did it help heal you or help others with their grief? How does creative work help folks deal with grief?
A. During the pandemic I lost over 30 family and friends, so writing was and still is what I do to manage the ever-changing faces of the grief process. It seemed like dealing with the undercurrent sadness in others became my main focus for the past few years. What I have found is that as I have written, I’m able to release emotion and the hard truths. I had a bout with migraines and discovered that writing and drawing helped to release the pent-up pain of loss. These activities were/are sacred, and I encourage anyone who is grieving to try and write or draw the feelings. Also, find someone to talk to (i.e. Pastor, Mental Health Professional). Talking and processing feelings is healthy for the soul. Move with grief and don’t get stuck in it. Most of all to the reader, don’t judge your thoughts and feelings. Give yourself grace as you dance in the tango of grief.
I want to add the I helped some of my clients to process their grief using poetry.