Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Karen Waring Lives - Poetry Then and Now

I used to be Karen Waring. I am, of course, still Karen Waring though my name has legally changed from Waring to Sykes.

When I was in school (1960) our creative writing teacher (a beatnik!) brought in a portable phonograph (that's what they were called then) said we were to "listen". She put a record onto the turntable. We sat still, never knowing what to expect from her.

The voice of Dylan Thomas filled the room. I don't know about the other students in the class but I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck and chills ran up and down my spine. The words and the tone Thomas used to present his words stirred a hunger and a yearning within me that nothing has ever been able to satisfy. The closest I came to being able to "feed" this yearning was to become a poet myself.

And so I did.

As Karen Waring I fed the hunger through reading, writing, publishing and giving readings at various bookstores in Seattle, Washington. Thanks to Charles Potts (Litmus Press) and Douglas Blazek (Open Skull Press) my poems found their way to the page in the late 1960s through the 1970s. From the 1960s until 1979 I lived the life of a poet and you can take that any way you want to.

I changed, my writing changed. I spent the 1960s/70s in bars. Today I spend my time in the mountains.

But the hunger to read and write remains. I am still hungry for words. The words of other poets and finding my own words again. I still get chills up and down my spine when I read poetry. If you don't get chills up and down your spine you're probably not a poet.

What now? Time will tell but in the meantime I'll share my poems, old and new.

Karen Waring/Karen Sykes

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