Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in South Dakota and lived in Australia, Ethiopia, Wyoming and California before moving to Mexico 15 years ago after the death of my husband. When I moved, I sold my silversmithing and papermaking equipment and tools and began doing mixed media retablos, storyboxes and sculpture. In Mexico I’ve published three books and a women’s anthology as well as writing for three English language Mexican news magazines.
When you create, what inspires you?
In both my writing and my sculpture, I am inspired by the people, events and natural world that surround me. I usually write memoir—either of my past or present life–sometimes as prose but usually as rhymed poetry. Every day for the past two years, I have written to the WordPress daily prompt on my blog and posted daily photographs that echo my writing or meet the several photographic prompts that I follow.
Tell us about the specific inspiration behind one or each of your accepted pieces.
The poem, “Routes Laid Out by Heavenly Bodies” was written in response to two daily prompts. The NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem about a bridge and the WordPress prompt was “When the full moon happens, you turn into a person who is the opposite of who you normally are. Describe this new you.”
What is your medium of choice? Why?
I love working with found objects. Somehow, they seem to call out to each other as though I’m just the agent used to bring them together. Then they talk to me and reveal some truth that is new or forgotten. I never have a preconceived idea when I either create art or write. It is always an inductive process for me.
In writing, although I started out writing prose, I quickly turned to poetry. My first book was unrhymed poetry about growing up in South Dakota. My second book, written eight years after the death of my husband and prompted by eight years of journal entries as well as alternate chapters written by a grief counselor, was prose written on the subject of grief interspersed with poetry written by myself and my husband. My third book was an illustrated rhymed children’s book. Four more children’s books await illustration and publication.
Why rhymed poetry? Somehow the restrictions of the form actually stimulate my mind. The limitations of having to make each line rhyme with the last make it easier to write and to create those “leaps” that Robert Bly and many Latino poets describe and illustrate in their writing.
Although I have always enjoyed taking photos, it only became a compulsion over the last few years, when it was stimulated both by a need to illustrate my writing and to meet daily and weekly photo prompts—mainly those of Cee’s, Jennifer’s and Hugh’s blogs.
How did you first discover your love for creating?
I grew up in a very small town that didn’t have art programs, other than small art projects we did with our regular teachers in elementary school. Coloring, scrapbooks, cut and pasting and making May baskets and valentine boxes were pretty much the extent of what we did and I don’t think I did any creative writing in school other than writing a sonnet when I was a junior in high school. My mother was a natural rhyme-maker, however, and she and I would write funny rhymes for cards for my dad and sisters. It wasn’t until I was put in an honors English class in college that I discovered a natural talent for writing and I ended up taking every creative writing class available and going on to do a double major in creative writing and curriculum and instruction.
I taught writing for ten years without ever picking up pen again except to grade my students’ papers, then quit my job to move to California to write full time. It was when I married an artist at the age of 39 and took a metalsithing class that I discovered that I was a three-dimensional artist. For the next 14 years, I earned my living making silver jewelry and handmade washi paper that we used in our collaborative art lamps and sculpture.
fēlan is old English for feel. What makes you feel joy?
I feel the most joy when I am laughing with friends, creating my mixed media sculptures or writing. Walking on the beach or observing nature are where I draw the most inspiration for my writing, and my sculpture is often influenced by what I am writing.