Q: Ruth, it's awesome to be talking with you once again about your latest book! Congrats on "Handfuls Of Time"!! Can you tell us a little about how this collection came together? What pieces in the collection are most meaningful for you?
Ruth: Kara,that's a difficult question. When I work on a poem, I pour all my energy into it and it becomes the most important poem I've ever written. Of course, the poems keep coming and I become more selective and less involved although each poem means something special for me and I never lose my affection for it. I write each day so there's a great deal of material to choose from, and when I finally decide to gather all the poems into a book, then the work starts. First, there's the problem of a title, and the name of the book has to represent what the poems are about. Since, I'm a mature woman, time has great meaning for me and inevitably I think "How much time is there left?" "What have I done with my time?" "Have I used it well?" "If I had it to do over again, what would I have done differently?" Thinking along these lines, I realized that so many of the poems dealt with time....my definition of it.....how I used it. So the book fell into place easily once I had decided on the title. Then, of course, the book had to be organized and divided into different sections. The first section is my woman's group of poems. They belong at the head of the book. I think they're very powerful and yet there is humor and variety in them. There are women who suffer but find their strength. There are tough women like Eve who is not afraid to bite the apple of knowledge. I have artists, dancers, singers and dreamers. The book falls naturally into five sections, love poems, family poems, nature and environmental poems, and the last group is where I allow my imagination to spin and come up with poetry that plays with time. I won't describe each group, but I think you understand what's going on. I think the poems that border on music (since my first career was that of a singer) are most meaningful to me. That would include the love poems, the nature poems.... probably something in each group as long as it has a lyric quality.
Q: I see that this book was released from Small Poetry Press in their "Select Poets Series." Will you say a little about how that came to be and what the experience has been like since publication?
Ruth: Small Poetry Press is owned and operated by my good friend, David Alpaugh. He not only writes prize winning poetry books but also edits a poetry magazine, and has had articles published in Poets & Writers. His press began as strictly commercial where he produced books for people who wanted good, artistic work and paid for it. As time passed and his business grew, he was not satisfied in just printing up books on order, he wanted to do more creative, more selective work. By now, he knew many fine poets, and he decided that his Select Poets Series would consist of poetry he chose to publish and that the artist he invited would have very little to do with financial arrangements. This was a God-given gift to so many wonderful poets who were knocking themselves out sending their books to the large publishers and having them bounce right back. A very discouraging business and we all have experienced that. When the publisher who had first rights to my book went bankrupt (and it often happens), David offered to publish HANDFULS OF TIME in his Select Poets Series. I have worked with David before, and I knew exactly what to expect...meticulous, imaginative and creative work. And that is exactly what I had in mind and exactly what I got. After publication, the real work began and I'll tell you about it when I answer your next question.
Q: I see endorsements from the likes of Margy Piercy and Jane Hirschfield. What have your contacts with other established poets been like since they read this manuscript?
Ruth: The poets I know, established or not, have been very enthusiastic and supportive of my book and they let me know. Some of them have been glowing and I cherish them.
Q: Are you getting feedback from readers yet? Your works are so emotionally powerful, that I imagine readers responding with an immediacy. What kind of emails and letters are you getting?
Ruth: Yes, I am getting feedback from my readers. I wish there was room enough for me to quote them, and the E mails have been equally enthusiastic. Of course, very often a young poet will write a beautiul letter and then ask me to comment on his or her poem which I always do. If someone takes the trouble to write, I would certainly spend time with their work. The reviews coming in are more than satisfactory and since they're on the large E mags. they will be read by many again I wish I could include the in this...perhaps a few lines
Q: How can others, those who haven't yet read the book, how can they get their hands on a copy?
Ruth: The best way to get a copy immediately is to write
to me. My publisher also handles the sales but he's overloaded with work
and I can make it easier for him. my E MAIL is firstname.lastname@example.org...my address
is 86 Sandpiper Circle, Corte Madera, CA 94925
Q: Do you have a personal, author website where readers can find out more about your entire body of work?
Ruth: Yes I do and here it is http://members.aol.com/RUTHART
Q: What's next on the horizon for you? What's happening short-term? Long-term?
Ruth: My life is so crowded I can't even see the horizon.
Short term...readings to perform
ALSOP REVIEW ON THE WEB
Handfuls of Time by Ruth Daigon
........Take any poem from Ruth Daigon's latest book, Handfuls of Time.... Whatever their ancillary subjects, these poems are about breath, about heartbeat, about that struck moment between our observation of anything (including ourselves) and our response. They are about the space between contiguous objects, the felt moment that registers itself in that part of the mind which is still capable of wonder, and that resides there as a permanent reminder of our tenuous citizenship in a world still awaiting definition.
Although almost every poem in the collection offers its own fullness and completion, many readers will agree, I believe, that the most delightful thing to be discovered is the persuasive charm of so many unexpected images, just popping out from any poem selected at random:
the gorgeous realm of the forgotten,
a hummingbird light as a spill of sugar
A note for readers so unfortunate as not to know Daigon's work: she was founder and editor of Poets On for twenty years, and is the author of seven previous books. What a joy it is to have the opportunity to encounter a poet of such mature achievement. Check out her work in the AR Poets section.