Sunday, 1 September 2019

Guest Poet & Author Richard Doiron of New Brunswick.





As a poet and writer, Richard has a long, long list of accomplishments.  Actively writing for over forty years, his first book of poetry was published in 1978 and there has been no looking back. In the small amount of space on the Scribbler, it would be impossible to know everything about Richard but he’s agreed to a 4Q Interview and I trust we will all get to know him a little better. As a bonus, he is sharing some of his writing.






Born Jan. 22, 1947 in Moncton, NB. Second of nine children. Quit school at age 14. Started writing poetry shortly thereafter. A decade later, in Ontario, took upgrading and got a certificate in journalism. First published in a letter to the Editor, Feb. 1964, Moncton Times, 1000 words left intact. Have never known a"dry" spell since. First poems published 1970. Published in well over 100 anthologies, periodicals, personal books. Also published two novels (one I consider

my best writing ever), also two biographical works. Participated in local, national, and international literary festivals; invited to festivals in various parts of the world, including the Middle East and Asia. Profiled extensively in mainstream media. Usually introduced as "peace poet," which is consistent with my writing.

Nominated for numerous awards, including the Governor-Generals Award (2), the Griffin Prize, and 2019 for the Order of New Brunswick.











4Q: When I visited your website – www.spiritsinpeace.com – I am overwhelmed of all the highlights of your writing journey, specifically the World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award you received in 2012 in Richmond, British Columbia. Please tell us about this.






RD: First, Allan, let me thank you for inviting me to your prestigious forum.

I first got online in early 2001. The Internet opened up a whole new world for me. Always curious, I was soon a member of many poetry groups, where I was mostly well-received and made lifetime friends. At that time, writing profusely, in whatever poetry genre I encountered, I posted poems daily. I eventually cut back on the number of groups, now posting in about ten daily. That has represented a lot of poetry over 18 full years. There were key groups for me, such as World Poetry Canada, out of Vancouver, that group headed by Nobel Nominee, Ariadne Sawyer, a tireless worker. Ariadne has done a live radio show weekly for 21 full years, the show now heard live in 124 countries. I was invited to read on air a few times. Eventually, I was nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award, at the time having had poetry published for 42 years already. This was a big deal. Not one for travelling much, especially by plane, that was rather daunting, too, and there were costs to such a venture; enter my friends, artist Jesus Salgueiro and Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey; I had written the wedding vows for the pair two years earlier, vows that had brought 500 celebrities to tears, as per the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune; I was asked for my bank account info and told to go to my bank. Sufficient funds had found their way into my account to cover a return flight to Vancouver and for me to spend 8 days in BC, where I got to spend quality time with numerous people, most notably Ariadne Sawyer; there, I also connected with the Poet Laureate of New Westminster, Candice James, whom I later assisted in writing a book of sonnets. As well, I got to meet one of the most underrated poets on earth, Mr. Marc Creamore, who gifted me with one of his books. Then there was time spent with Dr. Epitacio Tongohan of the Philippines; better known in the world of literature as Doc PenPen, this man facilitates literary festivals in various countries of the world yearly. I already belonged to his group, Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry, where I posted the usual poems. In 2017, Pentasi B also gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award and, this year, named me World Poet Laureate. Doc PenPen is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. Known in the world as "The Father of Visual Poetry," the pathologist/philanthropist is a living legend, received by heads of states wherever he facilitates a literary event, this year doing his thing in Uzbekistan and China (I being a participant in the latter, via one of my books).

Of note, too, I was nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award with ARTeryUSA, by former Senator of the California Senior Legislature, James Pasqual Bettio, who chanced upon my writing in 2017 and wrote me asking for a bio for the purpose of nominating me. Mr. Bettio is a man of renown in American artistic circles.

Because of my ongoing involvement with such groups as named, I am now regularly invited to participate in other international groups. Suffice it to say that I have an appreciable following.






4Q: Ancestor’s Dance is an amazing and impressive publication of two hundred and twenty-two sonnets. Please tell us about the collection.




RD: You know, Allan, I am tone-deaf, meaning music is out for me. But poetry is its own kind of music, especially the metrical kind. I don't read much, but one day I came across a write-up in the Saint John paper showcasing a few of Shakespeare's sonnets. I thought I would give the form a try. That first year, 1999, I wrote 275 of those; the second year, I wrote over 1500. Writing has always been a mystery to me, so when I say I wrote poems, it needs a bit of clarifying: sonnets have come through me within five minutes, intact, with great impact. On April 9, 2011, I stopped writing sonnets. By then I had written 5,555.5 of them, which may get chuckle from some people; see, I had initially set a goal of 5000, but then discovered that if I multiplied this number of sonnets exactly, I would have 77,777 metered lines, sonnets containing 14 lines (and 7 was my lucky number eh). So, the last one is not finished. I still write metered poetry, and it would be easy enough to add two extra lines, but I promised myself no more sonnets. As for the title, Ancestors Dance, I have always had a strong affinity with First Nations people, and I will add the sonnet at the end of this interview. I don't think anyone had ever published 222 sonnets before - Shakespeare in his life had penned a mere 154 (although there were all those plays, eh). Anyway, I had co-edited a sonnet periodical for some time and had had quite a few published along the way, so doing my own book of sonnets seemed apropos at the time. But sonnets are only one of maybe 100 forms I have written in, as well as free verse and prose poetry. While I don't publish much anymore, my overall body of poetry would no doubt fill several hundred volumes at this point.






4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.





RD: Allan, most of my schooling was done in a one-room schoolhouse, in an Acadian village, where one teacher was actually younger than some of the students; at 16, she only had grade 8 and taught 8 grades; English was not taught at that time in that place; we moved to Moncton in the fall of 1959, and I was suddenly in a big school, with things done far differently. We suddenly had electricity and a television set; my marks were exceptionally high despite the initial schooling. Still, times were hard, and I struggled to adapt in certain settings; by the fall of 1961, I had quit school; shortly thereafter, I found myself at the Moncton Library, where I picked up a book of poetry by the American poet, Sara Teasdale and I fell in love with the poetry (and likely the poet, too). I had a dog and he and I spent a lot of time in the woods, where I would take a note pad and sit on the bank of the local stream and write poetry. It was all in English. It always had to be for me. In 1964, we lost two homes to fires; at the time, I still managed to save whatever writing I had produced to that time; however, a move to Ontario in 1965, my writing left behind in Moncton, a year later that work had disappeared; so I have no copies of any of my original work. But one thing I must say is this: I was always different, pensive, attuned to something I may not have quite understood, suffice it to say, however, that I was aware of that "force" within me; as such, then, I consider myself a channel, deeming poems already written, waiting somewhere in the ether to be accessed. See, there is a phenomenon at play here, and that will not be denied. For tens of thousands of poems to have been penned by someone seems impossible, I would think, but not if looked at from a certain perspective. I like that part of it. I once read in a group, and man yelled, "Boy, I wish I could write like that," to which I replied, "So do I." It's never been hard to write, but reading, now, that is not something I have mastered doing.






4Q: With such a large body of work, you must find inspiration in many things. How do you get your writing ideas and what are your writing habits, Richard?





RD: Well, Allan, I don't know that I have writing habits at all, though with a novel (no longer on the market, though it should be), I got up faithfully each morning and penned a chapter, if rather in a trance-like state at times. I had been walking down the street, when the title came to me: StraightWalk - whoa! I ran half a mile to my computer and penned 7500 words; I shared that with a friend via computer, and he would call me for the next chapter. I knew something unusual was happening, and I went with it. In less than five weeks, that novel was done, and I don't think much editing was necessary anywhere; the book tells of a Native man who has visions (I have two copies and would gladly lend you one). One thing, though, I always know something special is happening when a first line comes to me. All I have ever needed is that first line; then I get out of the way and let the poem happen. I can always tell when I have endeavoured to write a poem, as opposed to when a poem decided to be "born." I have written poems in loud places, in quiet settings, on birch bark when no paper was available. When the poem comes, one has to accommodate it then best one can; that's being true to your calling. I have been asked, "Why do you write?" I have occasionally answered, "Why do you breathe?" Over the years I discovered something interesting: if I put, say, 12 random words at the top of the page, I could write a 12-line poem from those words; that has never failed me; over time, people, from various parts of the world, have had occasion to send me 12 words, or 20, even 40, oftentimes total strangers; poems have appeared then that have jarred some people, as there were things in the poems I could not have known. You can try me on this, if you wish, Allan. Any 12 words, no proper nouns. No explanations of what the words may mean. Now, mostly, I write in English, yet on several occasions poems or lyrics have come to me in French, out of the blue, one such piece being the lyric to the quite-famous Acadian song, "Mon Acadie," to which Richibucto musician Yrois Robichaud added a most incredible melody. 25 years later, the song remains timeless and likely will forever. I will include a link to that as well. Oh, and speaking of songs, this past year, I have developed a collaboration with a man named Joey Bernados, a Filipino now living in California, a gifted musician; we now have 18 completed songs and are hopeful that something good will come from that undertaking.





4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?



RD: Well, Allan, I'm a straight-shooter, so here goes: when we have a phenomenon in our midst, we look into it, we don't hide it, or make it near-impossible for that bird to take flight. To have produced such a large body of work, so well received globally, yet to not be known locally makes little sense to me. Twenty years ago, Margaret McCain stated publicly that I was a New Brunswick treasure. The Lady had used my poetry in Government House throughout her tenure as Lt-Governor of the province. 






There is a lot of pretension in the world. Ten years ago, I read in a NB city and got a standing ovation, the only one there to have that; one person, with a Ph.D, who had stood up and applauded, came by and shook my hand, saying a job well done; then that person asked what university I had gone to and when I replied that I had not gone to university, that person stomped off without another word. 




Here I will close with a quote from Kahlil Gibran:


"Poets are two kinds: an intellectual with an acquired personality, and an inspired one who was a self before his human training began. But the difference between intelligence and inspiration in poetry is like the difference between sharp fingernails that mangle the skin and ethereal lips that kiss and heal the body's sores."

- Kahlil Gibran (1883 -1931) - The "Prophet of Lebanon."







A Sample of Richard’s writing:

(Copyright is held by the Author. Used with permission)







1

Let There Be Peace

Let there be peace

Peace in the Four Corners, that it should be
a promise, and real;

Peace in our nations, that the spectre should be
turned on its heel;

Peace in our cities, that fear should abandon
our streets and walkways;

Peace in our schools, that violence should be
routed, and always;

Peace in our churches, that God’s children should be
families, assembling;

Peace in our homes, that our young ones should
cease in their trembling;

Peace in our hearts, that our tempers should be
cancelled and curbed;

Peace in our words, that our masses should be
studied, and stirred;

Peace in our creations, that our galleries should be
temples, adorned;

Peace in our visions, that Love, in our time,
should be born, and reborn;

Peace in our deeds, that never a doubt should
awake, and arise;

Peace in our souls, that it should be
mirrored in our eyes.

Let there be peace. 







2

Ancestors Dance
-a sonnet-

Ancestors dance upon each blade of grass
the fields alive for everyone to see
and dreamers dream to see paraders pass
their eyes now cast upon that family tree.

Ancestors dance upon the mountainside
the hills alive for steps upon the stone
and dreamers dream such dreams as coincide
with things that are if are too little known.

Ancestors dream whereas the rivers run
the streams alive for gurgling that is heard
and dreamers dream the dream has just begun
as will be dreamt forever afterwards.

Ancestors dance upon the dashing dawn
let dreamers dream the dance is dreaming on.









Thank you, Richard, for being our Guest this week. All the best in your writing journey. 





Thank you most sincerely, Allan, for this wonderful opportunity. The Scribbler is of great service to both artists and to the community at large, a great initiative on your part.






For those wishing to discover more about this talented writer, please follow these links:





www.spiritsinpeace.com

https://www.facebook.com/richard.doiron.7


Mon Acadie:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjnG5ASLfPk

14 comments:

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    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?

    Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I think it's different for everyone. I like to do the social media thing first and that helps me prepare for my writing. And you need to think ahead a bit so it's not wasted.

      Delete
  2. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the image of a user in his/her
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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the nice comment and for visiting the Scribbler.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the nice comment and for visiting the Scribbler.

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  5. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much,
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment and for visiting the Scribbler. I'm not sure about the RSS, don't understand those technical things but thanks for bringing to my attention. Will try to fix.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by the Scribbler and for leaving a comment. I recommend and use Blogger.com. Very easy to use and free. Don't need any special training. Good luck.

      Delete
  7. Great interview. And the song is fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for visiting the Scribbler Bernie and leaving a nice comment. Hope you'll be back.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.