Editor: Mary Anneeta Mann
Publisher: Author House
Bookpleasures.com is once again pleased to have as our guest Mary Anneeta Mann author and playwright of ThuGun & Natasha a Drama With Rap and Editor of Mentoring Poems: Four Centuries of Selected Poetry. Mary holds a Ph.D in Communication and Drama from USC.
Good day Mary and thanks for participating in our interview.
When we first
met, I interviewed you concerning your play ThuGun & Natasha
a Drama With Rap. Today, I wish to talk about poetry and
your anthology Mentoring Poems: Four Centuries of Selected Poetry.
motivated you to compile your anthology?
It came to my attention that children today are not exposed to poetry the way I was exposed to it in Australia when I was a child. The poetry stemming from my childhood helped me so much throughout my life that I decided to create an anthology primarily for today's youth but valid also for everyone, bearing in mind the increasing global awarenesses that challenge the equanimity of even the wisest among us.
It is sometimes said that people in times of need turn to poetry. Is this true and if so, why?
I believe it is true. It is certainly
true for me. There are stresses in everyone's life at all
stages of life. It is always very comforting to be able to
pick up a slim volume hidden in some special place and find something
that tells you you are not alone, you are indeed connected to
some strength greater than your own that understands you and that
will help you through your present problem. For instance, it is
comforting to know that
even Shakespeare had his moments of anguish. 'When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes', and each time you return to this passage, it says the same thing.
Can you describe the process of selecting the poems for the anthology? With so much to choose from, where did you begin?
Over half of the poems came from anthologies that I read, studied, analyzed and memorized when I was in school. The compilers were dedicated scholars and my own study as I got older, reinforced their selections.
As I grew wiser and more educated, other poems
moved me deeply and challenged me to think more about our
civilization's progress, our relationship with the planet, how we
as human beings have been mutilated by war and befuddled
by technological advances that impersonalize our world. Poems
that addressed these issues had to be selected, yet these poems
also, had to maintain the faith that humanity itself will
prevail and survive.
Did you have any guideline in deciding what to include?
I studied how my childhood anthologies were arranged and I chose headings as 'character', 'love of the land and the planet' that are relevant today, to group the poems together. This makes it easier for the reader to find a
poem. Having decided on the groupings, the main guideline was that each poem, in its own way, would leave the reader more inspired, more elevated, more thoughtful, more impassioned, more joyful, more happy, more peaceful.
Philosophically I now understand that to be transporting people's senses to where they intuitively understand their innate and intimate connection to the Life Force of the Universe and the mental and emotional stability that
results from it.
Were you sure as to what to include or were there surprises along the way?
I felt sure I would be able to include approximately half of the poems that were written by women. I was not able to achieve that. I knew I had to include the wars but I was surprised at how powerful the war poems were in
evoking the bereavement of war and how few poems really celebrated peace as peace. While all the natural poetry celebrates the peaceful life, the conscious choosing of peace was not as powerful as the condemnation of war.
While I loved Nineteenth Century Australian poetry, I was surprised at how well it stood up to my requirements and how well it described the Australian
character that was so severely tested in World War I and thrust a former colony on to the world stage.
What sources did you use when choosing poets and poems?
My first sources were the childhood anthologies. Then I took an honors degree in English from Sydney University where we studied poetry from Beowulf to the present. I spent time in Berkeley in the 1950s and there I
added more American poets. I keep somewhat abreast with contemporary poetry. I am the co-organizer of UNBUCKLED NO HO POETRY, a monthly poetry reading in North Hollywood, California where a few of the contemporary poets that I included have read their poems including the youngest poet in the anthology, Radomir Vojtech Luza who is the co-organizer and Host.
What was your greatest discovery in the course of putting the book together?
Poetry is alive and well within the existential parameters of the 21st century. I do believe however that it would benefit contemporary poets to have a slim volume of more traditional poetry at their fingertips - one that
celebrates the infinite variety of the English language for the last four centuries, a language that has delivered to them a legacy beyond compare.
What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to
read your anthology?
This anthology is unassuming, slanted a little toward the poetry of Australia and the Great Wars of the 20th century but the poems chosen, in their simplicity, candor and rhythm may inspire people to search their own
hearts and minds and realize that they too can contribute something to the well being of humanity and the planet of which they are the natural custodians.
What advice do you have for readers who might dream of becoming poets?
Dream your dreams and never let them go. Poetry can be written in a coffee shop, on a train, on a lunch break, in between appointments. Poetry is patient. It celebrates whatever you want it to celebrate - your joy, your
pain, your resolve - it celebrates YOU. Polish it, refine it and as Shakespeare says, 'To thine own self be true'.
How do you feel as to the way language and words are used today?
Poets today are writing about everything
as they always do,. Their reaction to the quagmire of moral
uncertainties often plays havoc with rational English words yet
the English language itself is surviving and accommodating
it. Poets however have a rare place in the universe. They are very close to the source of all life as described in the Philosophy Diagram on p.167. If they could be encouraged to rise above the quagmire, they could lead the
world towards actualizing Percy Bysshe Shelley's vision 'Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world'. While they can still live and write poetry in their own cocoon or revel in the chaos around them, I feel
that the universe is calling on them in so many ways to come to its aid and reveal to humanity its natural destiny of being the self appointed guardian
of all life.
Where can our readers find out more about Mentoring Poems; Four Centuries of Selected Poetry?
Mentoring Poems may be found on my WEBSITE or on AMAZON.COM.
As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
As usual you have asked me questions that have made me think very deeply about the function of poetry and again I thank you for it.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Follow Here To Purchase Mentoring Poems 4: Four Centuries of Selected Poetry