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One + One: Poetry Saturday (and AEDM Day 6: an interview with Charlotte Hamrick)

One + One: Poetry Saturday (and AEDM Day 6: an interview with Charlotte Hamrick)

Tammy November 6, 2010 11 comments

              Tammy Vitale

Cell by cell – transformation.
          Can stone hearts remember moonlight
sliding across bark skin,
         nestling in limb fingers stretching
into starry night?  Do dim
          memories of hot sun, long draught,
cool rain linger deep in cracked crevice?

Or is this merely a different form –
meditation, atoms changing
from wood to rock to dust just
as bone must – all of us slowing,
breathing breaths together

          in and out, turning
into someone else’s dream.

ZouxZoux (aka Charlotte Hamrick)

Heady with lust within the scent

of sweet olive, dusk

descends chasing sunlight

across weathered bricks into

intimate corners where the green faerie

and fingers intermingle across

wrought iron table tops.

A thin sheen of sweat glistens

above her upper lip,

a hint of saltiness that melts

on his tongue.
Charlotte and I met on line not too long into my own blogging career.  She hails from New Orleans (in case you can’t read it dripping from the above poem), and is one of those people who turns out an impressive amount of work:  several blogs (including ZouxZoux where I picked up this poem, NOLa Femmes (with several others), and The Traveling Mermaid), a presence on Facebook and Twitter, a job, and support of art in New Orleans.

Recently, Charlotte has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem Ten O’Clock in St. Somehwere Journal.  No small feat.  Published under her writing name ZouxZoux.  Very few people around her know her poetic calibre because until now she has chosen to keep it secret.  She has honored me with announcing to the world that ZouxZoux is Charotte Hamrick of New Orleans!  Well, I couldn’t let it go at that.  I figured people would want to know more about her and her accomplishments and how it feels to step into the shoes of being a Pushcart Prize nominee.

So here is the poem, and the interview.  Enjoy!

Ten o’Clock

She shouldered the weight of
her responsibilities by day with
proficient hands and simple faith,
treading lightly over stones immoveable,
through fields of sugar cane, sweet
but unyielding, skirting swamps of
quick sand waiting to suck her into
herself should seeds of regret find
fertile soil.

Her days were like this, bequeathed
to others, but the night….

The night was hers to covet
within a tub of steamy froth,
the earthy scent of tea olive
soap on a sea sponge
harvested from the Gulf, lather
from neck to breast,
from breast to thigh,
from thigh to toe.
Vapor rising as if from Vesuvius’ peak to mingle
into worlds imagined. Hercules
could not have been a more ardent
enthusiast of the goddess-born bliss
of her bath ~
(voyeur though he may be)

and within the vapor of her bath each night
rose also
her dreams, finally escaping
the daily incarceration of duty
to fly…

Interview with Charlotte Hamrick, Pushcart Prize Nominee

1.  Congratulations on your Pushcart nomination! What was your first thought when you learned of this nomination?

I learned through an email that began “Dear Contributor” so after I read it I thought it must have been sent to me in error.   The email stated the nominations would be posted in the newissue of St. Somewhere Journal the following Sunday and that’s when I realized it was really for me.

2.  How long have you been writing poetry?

Off and on since I was a child but it’s only about the last 3 or 4 years that I’ve made it a priority in my life.

3.  Who are your influences.  Share some of your favorite poems/poets.

I’m a big fan of Lucille Clifton* and Mary Oliver because their poetry is clear and, I think, speaks to women in particular in a way that fosters a comraderie that many of us resond to.  my very favorite poem at this tie in my life is Lucille Clifton’s There is a Girl Inside but a few years ago, when I began writing in earnest, my favorite poem was Mary Oliver’s The Journey, which I still read regularly to remind myself why I mustn’t stop writing. 

I also love Pablo Neruda – especially his more romantic poems such as The Stolen Branch.

New Orleans native Valentine Pierce has been a big inspriation to me since I read her book Geometry of the Heart  right after the storm [Katrina], and I’ve gotten to know her.  She’s a force to be reckoned with!

*[Lucille Clifton was the poet I chose for my first One + One Poetry Saturday].

4.  do you have a group you write with or do you write mostly alone?

I write alone but I have a few online buddies I’ve met through poetry sites such as Three Word Wednesday, Poet’s United and the now defunct Read, Write, Poem.  I cannot stress enough how the participants of these sites and other have given me the confidence to continue writing.

5.  Why have you used a pseudonymn for writing poetry?

I chose to use a pseudonymn when I began my blog, Zouxzoux, mainly because I was writing to work out some emotions I was going throug at the time and I wanted that privacy.  But also because I didn’t have confidence in myself as a writer to use my own name.  With no formal education in writing, I felt like an imposter.  sometimes I still do.

6.  Why are you now ready to drop the pseudonymn?

Several reasons.  I’ve come out of the other side of a very confusing time in my life and my writing focus has shifted so I feel more open to sharing.  I have more confidence thanks to my online poets community, my poetry being acccepted for publication by several different online zines and, now, the Pushcart nomination.

7.  Did you have any fears about dropping your writing name?  If yes, what and what are you doing to over come them?  If no, tell us a bit about coming out as yourself, as a poet.

I do feel nervous about it and I’m not sure why.  I suppose I still feel like I’m not good enough and, too, I’m pretty-thin-skinned.  I think if a friend or family member criticized my work it would upset me.  This is something I need to work on. [Charlotte then asks:  Any suggestions?.  Any of you writers/artists/lovers of poetry out there have any advice you’d like to share?]

8.  Talk to me about growinginto a Pushcart nominee:  does this change the way you feel about your writing/yourself?

It has made me feel really good about myself and my writing.  I really needed that validation at this point in my writing life.

9.  What plans do you have to support yourself and this talent?

I just plan to keep doing what I’m doing – writing online and interacting with my online poetry communities.

10.  Can you share what’s next for your writing?

I hav no idea!  I’ve never been much of a planner or goal setter but one loose, longterm goal is to be published in The Oxford American.  That would be amazing!  I have submitted a couple of poems to publications in the last few days, so we’ll see what hapens.

11.  Share a bit about your writing practice:  how often do you write, how do you set up your space to write, do you have any exercises that help you focus and write, how many revisions do you do, when do you know the poem is done?

I keep a notebooks with me always so I write down thoughts and dreams pretty much every day and sometimes they make their way into a poem.  Lately, some of my more creative phrasing has come to me at the moment of awakening or the moment of dropping into sleep.  However, when I sit down at the compjter to write, the poem almost always fully writes itself – if that makes sense.  I just go with it and almost never revise.  A blog I read has the tagline “Writing is only real on the first draft” and I find that’s true for me.  whenever I’ve tried to “work on” a poem it just doesn’t feel authenitc.  I certainlyu can’t force myself to write, I know that for sure!  I ned to be inspired by something…a thought, a memory, music, art, nature…and at that moment, I have to write it down or it’s lost.

And, of course, as I said earlier the poetry prompt sites are great for inspiration.

12.  Anything else you’d like to share?

I just want to thank you for giving me the push to “out” myself!


In Category : Poetry Saturday


  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 6, 2010

    Your poem, Petrified is wonderful! I love how it slows down like rhythmic breathing and ending with creation (“dream”).
    Have a lovely weekend.

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 6, 2010

    Oh I love reading poetry but haven’t done it in a while. Thanks for reminding me of this love of mine, I think it’s time to break out some of my poetry books and curl up with a nice cuppa tea.

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 6, 2010

    I recognize ZouxZoux from ReadWritePoem and 3WW! So grateful to read of her award and to find the connection her.

    AEDM is the best… .the BEST!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 6, 2010

    Congratulations to Charlotte!
    Very interesting to see how our seasons and general environment influences our work.
    I wrote as Happysnappy for almost ten years and then re-claimed my own name, I understand what Charlotte says about not being sure of being “the real thing”. 😀

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    November 6, 2010

    Dawn – thank you!

    B -I know. I forget poetry a lot too, which is why I started One + One – to give me a reason to go back and fall in love all over again with poets I’ve read over the years (I have 2 book shelves of books)and to make me go back through my own (there’s a lot, and they’re even organized. I just don’t
    visit often).

    Julie – I know it’s a big blog world, but there are certain circles where you run into people over and over. AEDM is one of those circles. Charlotte is participating this year too – watch for her.

    Paula – I’ve no doubt about either of you being the real thing. Love that you are modeling
    it for others who might be having the same qualms. I forget who said that when one woman shares her experiences it makes room for others to say “hey, that happened
    to me too.” Not so scarey. Courage breeds courage. Congratulations to you too!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 6, 2010

    I am so glad you commented on my blog because that allowed me to find yours. I’m going to have to sit down and spend some time with this – you have so many interesting things. Plus the poetry. I’ll be back.

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    November 6, 2010

    Susan – you are kind to say such nice things. I hope you enjoy your browsing.

    I love AEDM – it gives me such a great opportunity to (easily) find wonderful
    new blogs!!!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 7, 2010

    OMGosh, I am in love with this line:

    “meditation, atoms changing”

    YES! Meditating at the top of Big Rock in Sedona last weekend, I swear I could feel my atoms changing! Love this post!


  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    November 7, 2010

    Well if rocks and petrified wood can meditate, Sedona would be the spot to join in!

    Was out there in June. My first sightings of the big red rocks. There are simply no words!

    This was written before I saw the petrified forest. At the time, that visit was still on
    my bucket list. But I think about it a lot, and the things we can learn from the earth. How language can shape what we feel (like Charlotte’s “Courtyard” – I swear I am transported to a NoLA courtyard every time I read it).

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    November 7, 2010

    Tammy, I just want to thank you again for all of your encouragement and inspiration. And thanks to all who commented, read and followed the links back to my place.

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