HUMAN INTEREST STORIESMusic & Art

SARAH WILLIAMS … a young mom and a poet

by Robert "Bob" Bussey

I love, love, love interviewing moms who are poets. Sarah is one of those.

I started off the interview asking her some general questions about poetry. She told me that she believes that poets have to have imagination, they have to be struck by the awe that surrounds all of us in this world. Poets have to have wonder … A big word … A word that incorporates imagination and so much more. Poets, she agreed, are big with wonder. They have to be. To cement that idea in stone, she has the word “imagination” tattooed on her arm. Not from the song, but from the inner quest that poets go on in creating their art.

I then presented her with a very old quote from Socrates: “I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort.” I’m confident that if you are reading this article, you know some people exactly like that, whether they are poets or not. Sarah listened intently, paused, and then gave me this: she first chuckled, then said, “Okay, I do have an answer for that. I think that sometimes with poetry we get too serious. Which is fine. I understand that. But we get to … oh, I just have to say this, people want to hear this. But, sometimes with poetry, you just want to say what you are feeling.”

She explained that her poetry is not governed by others, she does not try to cater to the feelings, ideas, politics of others. Instead, she writes down what she is feeling. In other words, she does not try to present herself as a wise man or a wise woman, as the case may be. Instead, she avoids the wise man/wise woman trap by setting what is going on inside of her at the time she is writing her poems. She is not, out to “awe,” anyone in particular. She approaches her poetry from the point of view of what she thinks, not what other people might want to hear.

Some people, she said, talk just to hear themselves talk. They want to hear their own words. She told me that she writes a lot, but she does not talk a lot. But, when she does talk, what she says is meaningful to her. If it is then meaningful, so be it. She writes for herself, not for some audience. If she is going to perform, speak the poem, then it might go through an editing process.

When she writes she normally has some idea already in her head, whether that is a general topic or an emotion, or a time in her life. She generally does not write for her work to be spoken at some event, although she has presented some of her work at some local poetry readings.

She told me that she has been writing poetry most of her life. She has her college degree in English. English literature to be more exact. A Louisiana Tech graduate.

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she moved to New York and became a hair stylist. (Ah, the fate of so many poets who must have a regular form of employment in order to afford what they love to do.) She has only been performing in front of people for one or two years. But she has been writing for a long, long time. Some of the writings are just little things, short, but still things that she wanted to set out on paper. “Even if you don’t tell anyone, it is still a way of getting things out. Even if it is bad.” She believes that even if it is bad, it is still a form of art and perhaps beautiful to someone listening to or reading her poetry.

Locally, she has been reading her poems at the Open Mike Night at Tamp & Grind, and has also performed 2 or 3 times at the Ignite the Mike events. She is also a member of the “Improvications” an improv group that has performed at Tamp & Grind, Huckleberry Brewery and other locations. Improv, if you have never been to a show, can be funny (most times is) and the actors spin off each other. A general theme is mentioned at the beginning, but where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. She also works with “Spectral Sisters” a local theatre group.

Poetry to her is a way to free your spirit. When she gets a feeling of happiness or sadness, she might start a poem but then stop so that she does not let the emotion completely consume her. Instead, she takes a step back and looks at what happened, what could have happened, and perhaps what she wanted to happen. A reflective viewpoint. Most of her writing takes place after her 4 and 6 year old children are finally asleep for the night. This affords her some quiet, reflective, time. She likes to write something every day. Not always long poems, but at least some writing that gets her wheels turning.

The first poem we discussed was “What Do I Do When I Fall?” Here it is:

WHAT DO I DO WHEN I FALL

What do I do when I fall?

Do I lay there?
Do I scream with all of my life for help?
Or, do I just quit?

What do I do when I fall in love?
Do I lay there?
Do I scream with all of my life for help?
Or do I just quit?

What do I do when there is no one to help me?
No one to embrace me?
No one to write me a script of what I am supposed to say!?
How do I move?
How do I heal?
Does my heart just adjust to this misery?
Do I go along like my ears don’t weep when I hear our song?

What do I do when “I love you” turns to sadness?
I walk around with this stab wound.
And it bleeds and bleeds.
I bleed until maybe I am cleansed enough.
Until I can sit next to her and watch our babies grow up.

Sarah wrote this in early 2024. It is written in the first person. A personal experience where she fell in love, was in love, fell out of love, and then learned how to adapt. If you read the poem again, you can easily sense all those events along with the emotions that were tied to each event.

This poem holds some universal truths for anyone who has fallen in and out of love, from being involved in relationships that started out good but then ended up bad. Do you just quit, do you seek guidance, do you seek your purpose in life? Even though written as a personal experience this poem can apply to just about anyone. You, the reader, can become the “I” in the poem, the
person asking all the questions, the person seeking the answers. The “stab wound” is metaphor for the tremendous hurt that so many of us feel when things just have not worked out the way we wanted them to work out. You can’t breathe, you are hoping for life. All of that is wrapped up in just two words. Bottom line question: Just what do you do when all of this happens?

The next poem we discussed is set out below. It is a love poem. I leave it up to you, the reader, to interpret the words, ideas, phrases:

FLOWERS

I could paint every emotion of her face.
She thinks I don’t see that flicker of her brow.
The quick twitch of her lips when she wants to laugh.

She thinks her accidental gaze doesn’t make me want to run and stay.
She thinks and she should think.
She has the right to think.

I’m not much.
I’m a skinny, no sleeping, anxiety ridden, mother of two beautiful babies.
She thinks.

I think.
When does she think about me?
Does she know I love her?
Sitting side by side.
That I want to love her.

I want to paint her in all the colors that she makes me feel.
The softness of her cheek.
The sharpness of her chin.
The delicate grace of her hands.
I want to Play the music she leaves in my head.
Close my eyes and Dance to the song she created for me.

I love her.
I loved her with the rainbows.
I would love her with the clouds.
I love her knowing she is one step away from me.
I love her knowing I’ll be loving her until my body runs out.
I will love her until my heart doesn’t beat,
doesn’t ache,
doesn’t keep me alive.
I’ve loved her since I bought myself Flowers.

I will leave you with one more of her love poems:

LOVE LETTER

Nothing will ever be the same between us.
I could show everyday my love, my love.
But I’ll never change your mind.

Scream from the rooftop.
Live in this pain.
Just so I can be close to you.
But I’ll never change your mind.

I’m not sorry I met you.
I’m not sorry I fell in love with you.
I’m not sorry for creating a world we would be perfect for each other.
I’m sorry it ended.

I wake up nightly in cold ache knowing we will never hold each other again.
I’ll never feel the nakedness of your gorgeous lips.
We will never know what we could have been.
What we should have been.

I’ll continue to love you from afar.
Maybe get a small moment of your eyes.
Or an accidental graze from the hands I knew would make me want to die
And want to live at the same time.
So, I put on my armor every day
In hopes I’ll be ok
And you’ll be ok.
Be well.
Always.

 

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