Sunday, November 11, 2007

Floots........Fluting image and words

Floots
~Fluting image and words ~

I decided to take the opportunity to interview Floots, who I know through his blog , i-land-i-site ( http://i-land-i-site.blogspot.com/ ). Though I'm his regular visitor and fan, I had it in mind that it would be an easy to go through his poetry and photos and guide my journey through the interview and, therefore, I was surprised when I found there was no archive on his blogspot. However, that challenge did not stop me going forward with the interview for LIP.

Floots is based in United Kingdom, the land where you feel the country side flavor. No wonder his poetic inspiration does not only tie us on poetic words, our eyes also are fulfilled not only with poetic imagery where words paint explicit images in our mind; with Floots there is an added treat to words: photographs, a treat for our eyes and soul. Each poem of his connects words and image, the two arts woven together in an inseparable union.

Let us start our interview, just getting a bit far from image and poetry?

"Floots?" We know you under this pen name. What is the meaning behind it?

There is a Scottish expression - “Hoots mon” - often used in a jocular way to show surprise or disbelief and, when I was planning to move to Skye, many of my friends would say it to me. Then, because of my love of wind instruments, the term became “floots mon” and, finally, when searching for a nom de plume, Floots. It began as a foolish joke but seems to have stuck.

Who is Floots without poetry and photography?

I was a secondary school English Language and Literature teacher (pupils aged 11 – 18) for over twenty years but had to retire early when I developed a problem with my vocal chords. Though this was obviously bad news in many ways, it has meant that I can now lead a simple life in beautiful rural surroundings. I very occasionally do a little part-time work but generally I spend my time reading, playing music, writing, sawing firewood and, of course exploring.


Your inspiration seems to be intertwined with nature. Is this a reflection of where you live? Do you believe an artist is a reflection of his environment and surrounding?

Certainly landscape and wildlife play an important role in my life and my writing. I love them for themselves and so some of my writing is simply a matter of observation but, of course, the Natural world is also a rich source of inspiration and metaphor. I think that we all draw on our surroundings and, as I grow older, the cartography of my past seems increasingly rich in ideas. I think that retrospection is unavoidable on a personal level but, it is also a universal phenomenon, and I would hope that it engenders empathy rather than seeming self-centred.

Tell us more about your land (Isle of Skye)? DO you still live there?

Skye is a large island off the northwest coast of Scotland. It is approximately fifty miles long but has a total population of only ten to twelve thousand and almost a quarter of the people live in the one main town. Until 1995 the island could only be reached by ferry but then a bridge was built, enabling much easier access. There was a great deal of ill-feeling over the high toll charge but this has now been scrapped and free travel between the island and mainland Scotland is simple. It is a beautiful place with its mix of mountains, glens and lochs and a variety of wildlife.

not so much a poem
more
a walker’s guide to absent friends

at the end of the walk
settled back in the car
all i could hear was the silence

i’d not done it before
down across the open glen
and
up into the lower slopes of the mountains
all the while hugging the banks of the stream

pausing

periodically

to gaze at waterfalls
and
rock pools

(alas no naked nymphs)

at one point i had to cross a mini-torrent
on
semi-submerged stepping stones

it was like playing leapfrog with analogies


then up the slope

loose stones and sheep shit

(damn - musta got one of those analogies stuck to my boot)

i reached the point where my map said the return path cut left

too bad the landslide hadn’t read the pamphlet

when there’s nowhere to go
go on

so I did

into a vast gulch between the mountains

water glistening on the wrinkled rock-faces
courtesy of october sun

i sat awhile

became a part of it

then

turned for home
skipstumbling back down the slope
towards
a distant peanut butter sandwich



once
settled back in the car
all i could hear was the silence

for two hours
that stream had talked to me
made music from rocks and air
given itself to the day

had i stopped listening
or
taken it into my heart



that mountain stream flows on

and on

and on

but

like

the whisper of a lover

it’s

loudest

when it’s gone


……………………………………………………..

The word affair, it is often not linked with poetry. However, poetry is a passion that takes a large part of ones emotion? Would you agree with the term The Poetry Affair ?

Certainly I have had a long love affair with poetry. My mother read poetry to me from a very early age and I am sure that her love of metre, rhyme and narrative has stayed with me. Even as a very old lady, the slightest “cue” in a conversation would set her off, reciting some snippet from a favourite poem. I am eternally in her debt for this (and so much more) and sense that poetry will remain my constant lover and confidante.

When did you realize your passion for poetry? Did you nurture this passion within you?

As I said above, I have loved poetry since childhood. I began with the simple rhythms of nursery rhymes and moved on though the variety of poetry enjoyed by children. Nonsense verse and narrative verse were always particular favourites. I think that writing poetry followed naturally and, as my father used to write poems and illustrate them with sketches, albeit his style was different to that of my own adult writings, he was undoubtedly a valuable early example.

What does the word Poet means to you?

To me a poet is anyone who looks inside themselves, and at the world around them, and tries to share their discoveries through the medium of words. Words such as “style” and “quality” are largely subjective when dealing with the written word and should never be allowed to detract from a poet’s self-image. In John Barth’s novel The Sot Weed Factor, the hero describes himself as “poet and gentleman” and I would be happy to work towards that for myself.


Many of us enjoy poetry but have never had the courage to explore it. Can poetry be taught in ways which help the person to become a poet at some stage of his or her life?

Simply sharing words with others will always be the mainstay of poetic communication but I do believe that some of the basic “joy” of poetry can be taught. Certainly, as a teacher, I was always attempting to do this. Links between poetry and song are a great help and there is no question in my mind that the memorability of poems can be a great help for younger readers/writers. I think that a knowledge of the terminology of poetry can prove useful but, as in many artistic fields, I think that it is a case of learning the rules before breaking them. Writing-by-numbers - simply adding adjectives, figures of speech etc will never be a substitute for a writer’s real emotions.

Do you have favorite place which inspires you and helps you to write?

I have too many to count. The Isle of Skye provides enormous inspiration but I also have so many memories of particular beaches and stretches of moorland which have special meaning for me. I can remember one place in England which I could never drive past without thinking of an old friend. She had never been there but this place, the run-off from an old mill, a haven of shadows, willow and still water, always brought her to mind. Where I live now, the jagged silhouette of The Cuillin Hills (Skye’s mountain range) never fails to thrill me and set me thinking.

Which is your priority: photography or poetry? Or are they equally important?

Words are my first love. Their meaning, sound, variety and rhythm are at the heart of what I do, but I enjoy photography and it will often provide the starting point for a poem though, if we are being wholly accurate, I suppose that this could often be seen as an extension of my love of the Natural world which we have already discussed. I enjoy experimenting with forms such as haiga and taiga where the text is incorporated in the image but I also like to think that with much of my work the words could stand alone. Having said that, I think that when words and picture work well together that is a bonus.

Does a photograph always prove to be the starting point for a poem or is the pattern sometimes reversed?

There is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes a long walk will provide me with a series of photographs, some of which will be crying out for words. On other occasions I will write a poem and only later start to think of possible illustrations.

Where do you want to head with your talent? Do you believe every talent, whether photography or poetry, has a peak or is it limitless?

Really all I wish to do is continue writing. My publishing successes have been few and far between and as I grow older my ambition fades. I am human enough to admit that I would love to be “discovered” by some publishing genie but, in reality, I have little time for such thoughts and very rarely submit poems other than by invitation. I would rather be writing than waiting for rejection slips. This does not mean that I disapprove of such ambition in others - in fact I find it admirable in many cases - simply that I am happy in my laziness and with what I produce. I do not think that artistic talent has a peak in any real sense. There may be times when “best” works are produced but, once again, that is largely subjective. The last, tired musings of a dying man may not seem relevant to the angst-filled forward-looking youngster (and vice versa) but time will always prove that there is common ground. I am always looking forward to the poems which I have yet to write.

What inspires you to write? In the process of writing, do you find yourself?

Dependent on my mood, almost anything can inspire me. I have written on just about everything from death to marshmallows and would stand by the validity of them all. It is the poem which matters. Form and content should be a blend. It is not enough to choose a “serious” topic or adhere to some clearly defined form: there needs to be harmony. I’m not sure that I have found myself - but I intend to keep looking.

Can you define the style of writing which you prefer to write in and which other poetic style you would like to explore further?

I would say that I prefer free verse and certainly, in my earlier days I tended to avoid rhyme. However, as already mentioned, I don’t think that there should be rules. I now find it irritating when people say that they “never” read/write one form or another. Life is too short and varied to make time for absolutes. I always found it sad, when asking students to write, that “does it have to rhyme” was the perennial question. “What do I want to say?” is the important point. Sometimes the rhythmic fluidity of a sonnet may be the perfect choice for expressing oneself but at other times a chunk of rambling free verse, written in colloquial language, will do the job best. The same can be said of all forms. For example, Narrative verse is not superior to haiku: the two forms have their functions and should both be lauded. I would never wish to tie myself to any one form and hope that I never tire of trying new ones, happily making and breaking rules as I go.


What have you gained from having a blog for your work? Do you also have another website where you present your work? Please mention the site where we can find you creativity?


I enjoy writing for the blog. It provides a gentle spur, if such an oxymoron makes sense, keeping me diligent, while giving me the knowledge that a few people will read my words. I also like the thought of those friendly virtual faces writing for me - letting me share their dreams.
I do not have another website. I do not keep an archive on the blog but, periodically, I will re-post poems; either because I particularly like them or because I am short of inspiration. Sometimes, when browsing my own records, I will find a poem which I have forgotten writing: another good reason for a re-post.


Each creativity or art takes the person who pursues it on a journey and at times it becomes a process of give and take. What has your creativity given back to you and would you recommend that we pursue our creativity?

Creativity is all. The joy of producing something is an end in itself, whether we have built a drystone wall or a poem. I get as much pleasure from letting the wind steal notes from my tin whistle as I sit on a hilltop as I do from writing and both activities are vital ways of expressing myself. Emotions and thoughts build up inside us and need to be explored through whatever medium suits us best. Whether we share it with a huge audience or a silent piece of paper, whether it is stylistically perfect or hesitant and stumbling does not matter. What matters is that we have an inner voice - and listen to it.



Landscapes

One can’t destroy the landscapes of the heart
For mem’ry’s canvas won’t allow a crack
To mar a lovetime’s aggregated art.
Staid sages say there is no going back,
And yet there is, for nothing that we’ve held
Or cared for for a time is ever left.
The path’s o’ergrown, the forest may be felled
But lives on in a heart that can’t be cleft.
Each beach I’ve walked on, field in which I’ve lain,
Exists for me as if I dreamt there still.
Those mountains, rivers, inlets form a chain
Which even death cannot destroy. My will
Leaves them to you, to all of us a part -
One can’t destroy the landscapes of the heart.

As we reach the shore, ending is always hard. You can dive more in to Floots words and images in his blog http://i-land-i-site.blogspot.com/

All poems and images are copyright of Floots ....



20 Comments:

Blogger Russell Ragsdale said...

Nasra, this is a wonderful interview about a wonderful subject. It felt like a leisurely stroll through a beautiful and interesting landscape. That landscape, fortunately for us, is to be found between the ears of our good friend floots, who considers himself always only partway through some life process. I, however, would already consider him as having achieved the status a poet and a gentleman (and have done so for some time).

4:34 AM

 
Blogger Janice Thomson said...

How wonderful to have a small peek into the mind of a great poet and a gentleman. It is not often one gets that privilege. A fabulous interview Nasra with a poet whose words have a special place in my heart.

8:21 AM

 
Blogger Eden said...

this is awesome!tnx for sharing and i really salut floots for being so artistic and creative in writing poems.

a great interview with the gentleman,very nice nasra!

9:27 AM

 
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Nasra,

One can not help but be inspired by Floots. He has taken a hold of so many hearts and allowed us to breathe him. His is man with gentle with gentle hands and a heart so endearing. I feel honored that he permits me to join him on his journey.

10:49 AM

 
Blogger Ričardas said...

Fabulous interview. I've read it with a great interest. I admire Floots' art and it was so interesting to know more about him as person. Thanks a lot.

12:24 PM

 
Blogger cocaine jesus said...

the man is a master. poet and gent. proud to have made his aquaintance if only via the web. great interview. shows his sharp wit to its best but also his depth of character. i like the fact that he is honest to confess that he often republishes his work either because he likes them so much OR because of lack of inspiration. (boy do i know how that feels). all in all a 'real' bloke. would love to meet him and buy him a pint. would also love to work with him on a blog. maybe one inspired by the music of the incredible string band, ivor cutler, richard thompson. something very much of 'albion'.
as i said, great interview, great man.

12:36 PM

 
Blogger trinitystar said...

Thoroughly enjoyable interview into Master Floots.
I only wished I would of had him for an English teacher ... what an inspirational man ... a free spirit
I love his earthy personality.
Big hugs for Floots.

4:00 PM

 
Blogger Kai C. said...

this is wonderful interview. i love it.

4:33 PM

 
Blogger mystic rose said...

Nasra,
thorughly enjoyed reading this and getting to know another writer!

the few poems you have chosen are gentle and deep. Thank you for introducing him to us.

8:38 AM

 
Blogger steve said...

You know, floots has another kind of presence on the web, it is his encouraging comments to others on their attempts at writing (poetry especially). He is indeed an educator, drawing out efforts to express those songs that shouldn't be left unsung. I'm inspired by his wonderful puzzle-solving skill for fitting the pieces together, now wistful, now earthy, always the gentleman. Thanks, floots :)
(and thanks to both for doing this interview!)

9:07 AM

 
Blogger Ruth said...

Lovely, Nasra.

I did a post on Rumi, I hope you'll visit:

http://ruthie822.blogspot.com/2007/11/music-dance.html

12:33 PM

 
Blogger Azer Mantessa said...

interesting :-)

2:57 AM

 
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

excellent interview!

1:13 AM

 
Blogger Queen Neetee said...

What a complete joy to have this opportunity to crawl into the mind of such a marvelous thinker and writer.

Nasra, you made such a great choice for your up close interview. I thoroughly enjoyed this well done journey that you've given us.

The constant even flow of brilliant words from Floots always causes me to pause in awe at the way he takes everyday words and arrange them into thoughts sublime. I thank him for those moments with smiles, deep thoughts, and wonderment. He is truly special.

12:50 AM

 
Blogger Alok said...

Thank you Nasra for this interview ... I am amazed and always in awe with what this poet and gentleman writes ... Its so inspiring. I cant recollect the poem that exact lines of one of his poems but if u manage to read "death's dominoes' you wld realise wht he can do with words ... a brilliant brilliant writer ....


Thank u again

Alok

11:56 PM

 
Blogger Paul said...

Inspiring just to know that there are still people out there with both the opportunity and interest to lead this kind of simple life in natural, beautiful surroundings.

10:25 AM

 
Blogger floots said...

everyone: thank you all for taking the time to read this interview and for leaving such encouraging words
and especial thanks to nasra for allowing me the privelege of taking part
cheers

12:05 AM

 
Blogger adam brown said...

look this is the "diet" i told you about you should really enter the site :) bye enter the site

6:13 AM

 
Blogger fragmented said...

floots always makes me smile, be it through his wonderful art, or through his encouraging words.

a wonderful artist with a beautiful spirit :)

1:39 AM

 
Blogger Sean Jeating said...

20 months later.
Now I getting close to understand at least a little why it's said Better late than never. :)

A pleasure (not only) for my eyes to read this interview with Floots.
Chapeau.
And thanks.

6:19 AM

 

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