Henry C. Timm (HCT): When did you start writing poetry?
Sharon Auberle (SA): I began writing poetry in high school. After that, usually at times of crisis or sadness. But at such times, though I loved poetry and the idea of poetry, I never, ever considered myself a “writer” or “poet.” My poet days actually began in 1988, with a Clearing class taught by Norbert Blei, who gave me both the practical knowledge and the passion for writing poetry.
HCT: Who are and/or were your models and/or inspiration?
SA: Absolutely Norbert Blei was and is model, mentor and inspiration. Mary Oliver would run a close second as model and inspiration. I love the poetry of Li Young Lee, Jane Hirschfield, Naomi Shihab Nye, Pablo Neruda, Demetria Martinez, Anna Swir, Galway Kinnell…the list goes on and on.
HCT: What writers do you read other than the above?
SA: I find the ancient Japanese and Chinese poets fascinating – their brevity, sensuality, attention to details of nature – how they capture a moment from across time that is similar in every way to today – Basho, of course; Li Po; Ono no Komachi; Yosano Akiko; Ixumi Shikibu.
HCT: What book are you reading now – poetry, fiction or other?
SA: Sherman Alexie’s short stories in The Toughest Indian in the World and Li Young Lee’s non-fiction Breaking the Alabaster Jar. Poetry is Kathryn Mosby’s beautiful book, The Book of Uncommon Prayer.
HCT: What role does poetry play in your life?
SA: I use poetry to satisfy my creative urges (along with photography and painting). If I don’t write, I feel less connected to my days and events – the small moments – people, places, emotions that would otherwise be forgotten and go unnoticed and uncelebrated. I love the quote by Studs Terkel: “I’m celebrated for celebrating the uncelebrated.” Poetry celebrates the uncelebrated for me.
SA: There are two poems, “Prayer for Village Earth” and “Prayer for a Child While Listening to Rachmaninoff” published in a beautiful anthology called Woman Prayers. I’m most proud of these two, because they appear in a book with women poets from across the ages, as well as contemporary heroines.
I was recently honored to have two chapbooks published: Saturday Nights at the Crystal Ball by Cross+Roads Press and Crow Ink by Little Eagle Press. These are currently available in the county at Novel Ideas in Baileys Harbor, Passtimes Books and Base Camp Coffee Shop in Sister Bay. Ordering information is also available on my website: Mimi’s Golightly Cafe
HCT: Why do you write?
SA: Because I have to. It keeps me sane. It helps me understand what I’m thinking. Because it’s fun. Because it makes me feel good about myself. Because it can be excruciatingly painful and difficult. Because it heals me.
HCT: What advice would you or do you have for beginning poets?
SA: Fall in love with a particular poet. Devour him or her. Then start reading all the other poets who speak to you. Copy them for awhile, till you find your own voice. Play with your poems – a lot. Don’t throw any early efforts away. There are many gems buried among them. Resurrect them years from now. You’ll be glad you kept them.
HCT: What are your concerns for the world and how does your work address those concerns?
SA: Peace, of course. I have five grandsons (and two granddaughters) and the thought of them someday going to war breaks my heart. As well as the thought of any parent’s child anywhere in the world going to war ever again. The environment, next, and what we have done to it. How can we preserve what’s left? My feeling is what you know you will love and what you love you will save…be it a great lake, a small river, or a single tree.
HCT: How do you see yourself as an author?
SA: I see myself not as an “author,” but just a person who writes about what she loves – what moves her, angers her, touches her. Given the fact that many people so generously shared their time and talents with me, and continue to do so, I feel a responsibility to pass on what I can of my own time and talent, such as it is. We are all teachers, I believe.
HCT: What questions would you like to ask yourself?
SA: I continually ask myself how best to remain in the moment, because this is where it all happens – good poetry, good writing, good health, peace. And it sure isn’t easy to stay there! But if I am in that place, it’s easier to put out into the world what small contributions I can make for the common good whether it’s peace, relationships or the environment. There’s some saying I’ve always remembered about St. Peter asking someone at the pearly gates not why didn’t you become a great this or that, but rather, why didn’t you become you? I like that a lot.
HCT: What other questions should we be asking of you or of any other poets we interview in the future?
SA: I think an important question that I struggle with most of the time is how do you find the universality in a poem? And I’m not sure what that answer is, other than it’s extremely important to do so. Whether it’s tragic, funny or sensual, it needs to show the common humanity of the subject. I guess the answer is to see if it could ring true across centuries, as the Japanese poets I mentioned earlier manage to do so well.