I’m so delighted to introduce to you our featured poet, Carie Juettner, to help us celebrate National Poetry Month! Carie is a poet, short story author, and novelist in Austin, TX. Her work has been published in Nature Futures, The Texas Observer, and The Texas Poetry Calendar, among other places, and she has a story forthcoming in Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. In addition to writing, Carie substitute teaches, shelves library books, and speaks to students about poetry. You can learn more about Carie, find links to all of her published work, (along with some great photos of her pets) on her blog, cariejuettner.com
Below are two poems that you will love along with a short interview with Carie!
Highways are bridges across red seas,
oceans of blue—
bodies of color that wave
when the wind blows.
Tourists in our own land, we wade
through ankle-high blooms, then venture deeper—
trying to capture something
that can’t be caught in a photo.
What we want to remember
is our moment of awe
when we crested that hill
and gasped at the painted landscape.
One bluebonnet looks just like the next up close.
They are not zebra stripes, nor snowflakes.
Their power lies in the collective,
beauty in numbers.
Let’s put down our cameras,
keep our kids in the car,
stop stopping on the side of the road
to see the blanket turn to threads,
the ocean of blue become a dried up lake
of bald spots and litter.
Let’s just drive, look,
enjoy with our windows down.
Make a U-turn if we must.
© Carie Juettner
This poem won first place in the Austin Poetry Society’s Mary Oliver Award in 2015 and is published in Best Austin Poetry 2014-2015. Follow this link to get your copy!
The Bohemian Freethinker chats with Carie Juettner
BFT: Carie, has Austin and or Texas, always been your home? Your poem “Wildflower Season” about the beautiful bluebonnets indigenous to Texas reveals an inspiration from your specific locale. How does sense of place inspire you? Give us an idea of where your inspiration comes from.
Carie: I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I grew up in Richardson, which is near Dallas, then came to Austin to attend college at UT and, like a lot of people, I stayed. I’ve been in Austin for over fifteen years now. It’s a great town.
I’m definitely inspired by place. I’ve been published several times in the Texas Poetry Calendar, so most of those pieces are Texas-themed, and I have another wildflower poem, a haiku actually, that appeared last August in The Texas Observer. I also love Big Bend National Park in south Texas and am always inspired to write when I go there.
BFT: In one of your essays about teaching, you state that you knew you wanted to be a teacher as early as the 9th grade. When did you discover that you were also a writer, and a poet in particular?
Carie: I started writing poems in 9th or 10th grade. I still have them. They almost all rhyme and most of them have dramatic titles like “Dancing with Danger” and “Flirting with Disaster,” things I never actually did. 🙂 I started journaling and writing poetry more seriously in college, and I got my first poem published in the 2009 Texas Poetry Calendar.
All throughout my teaching career I wanted to “write a book someday.” But that’s about as far as the thought went. It was just this vague notion of something I wanted to do, but I didn’t know what the book would be about or when I would write it or how. In my last year of teaching, I got an idea for a novel and started making notes. Then I made the big decision to quit teaching and jumped into writing with both feet. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about both the craft and business of writing over the past four years. And there’s still so much TO learn.
BFT: Although our focus is on poetry today, you are actually a published author in other genres including horror, and young adult fiction. Does one inform the other, or one flow from another? Do you usually have a work in progress in multiple genres simultaneously?
Carie: I do think that the practice of writing, in any genre, makes you a better writer in all genres. I think the succinctness of poetry and the focus on imagery and language aids my prose, and sometimes when a short story is getting too long and I’m having trouble reeling it in, I try to visualize it as a poem in order to focus and find the heart of it.
I ALWAYS have multiple projects going at once, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. In one way, it’s nice to have something else to work on when I get stuck in one piece, but at the same time, that makes it easy to jump from one work-in-progress to the next over and over rather than making myself focus and struggle through the hard parts.
Right now, while I’m looking for an agent for my first middle grade novel, I have a poetry chapbook and a horror short story both in revision and another middle grade novel draft I need to get back to.
BFT: Your poem, “Poetry Tumbles,” was published in the 2015 Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival. The festival has already occurred in 2016, yes? Was it well attended? Is poetry alive and well today?
Carie: Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend AIPF this year, but I do think poetry is alive and well today, at least in Austin. I’m on the board of the Austin Poetry Society, where we have a fairly small but very devoted group of poets who enjoy attending our meetings and listening to our guest speakers and entering our monthly and annual contests. We’re always looking for new members and volunteers though, so if you’re a poetry lover in the Austin area, consider joining. http://www.austinpoetrysociety.org
In fact, Austin has is a great community for writers of all types. A few months ago, I raved about all my favorite local literary events and organizations on my blog. You can check it out here: https://cariejuettner.com/2015/09/01/writerly-resources-in-austin-tx/
Poetry tumbles down the street
skittering into gutters
wrapping around crepe myrtles
and live oak branches
sailing out from under parked cars,
marred by tire treads
Poetry collects in doorways
lurks in bushes
pastes itself to fence posts
like flyers for lost cats.
It teeters on rooftops
threatening to jump
Poetry rings the doorbell
in the middle of the day
then runs away, laughing.
It digs holes in the garden,
then lounges on a lawn chair
nibbling ripe plums
Poetry yawns, stretches
wiggles its bare toes
and rubs its eyes,
curls up in a bird’s nest
and falls asleep
camouflaged as eggs.
© Carie Juettner