On Monday, May 5, Carmen Erna Jacobsen will be the featured guest for the Nokturne First Monday Reading Series at 17062 Saturn Lane in Webster at 8:30 p.m. Her reading will be followed by an open mic. In addition, Carmen will be raffling off a copy of her book, Saudade, to one of the first five people who sign in.
Carmen was born in Missouri but grew up in Mexico City where she taught English as a Second Language to pay her way through medical school. She received her degree at the Universidad Nactional Autonoma de Mexico in 1987. Since then, Carmen has moved back to the United States and has continued her work in education. She has directed and set up plays for a Montessori school at University of Houston Clear Lake. She is also a creative writing teacher for Writers in the Schools and has been published in Rice University’s Entrepreneurship Educational Program Blog.
Saudade is Carmen’s first book. Carmen agreed to answer some questions for us about herself and her book.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell us about yourself?
A: I make my living as a teacher, I dream as a poet, and I write life stories of those I meet along my pathway. I love dogs, but also love all expression of life in the animal world.
I love to travel, but learned that living in the place that you travel to, will give you a different life experience unlike from visiting the place as a tourist.
Q: How long did you work on this book?
A: As crazy as it may seem, the book was not planned. I just realized after being surrounded by a community of poets and writers that I had enough material to publish my own book. It was the poetry community in Houston that inspired me to put it together. Many of the poems talked about events in my past. I would say it took me at least two years to get it together.
Dustin Pickering, Editor in Chief at Harbinger Asylum and Owner at Transcendent Zero Press wrote the following review about the book. “Saudade is not merely a personal history; it is also a lesson and a record of thought. There are portraits of lost loves, of lost friends and family; but, there are also visions of life’s direction and essential purpose. Like any poetry collection, the speculative nature of the writing draws in the reader and guides his or her curiosity.” The review will be coming out soon.
Q: Is there a theme to the poetry that appears in this book?
A: Definitely. This is why I titled it “Saudade” – “(n.) a nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and then lost; ‘the love that remains.’”
The book is an insight of what remains in one’s life after those that you love or the things that you love are no longer there. Then again it is a record of the things that we long for in the future, too. There is nothing more human than the feeling of longing and how we respond to it.
Q: What influenced or inspired your poetry? Your family? Being part of the Writers in the Schools program? Your life experiences?
A:What has influenced my poetry is that same thing that inspires every poet to write, the feeling of passion. What is your passion? Mine has been the feeling of love and being loved and its loss, the feeling of justice and injustice, the feeling of wonder awakened by the beauty of our world, but also the feeling of disgust at the horrors of inhumane events.
Poetry for me has been an effort to find an answer to the so many unanswered questions. It is a personal quest for a reason to be, a reason to live and the adventure in finding the responses received to such questions that seem to change with time and age.
Q: Do you have any plans for future books?
A:Yes, I am currently working on a collaborative project with David Little a photographer from Cordova, Alaska. The book is called Men of Fish. It is a collection of haiku poems inspired by the pictures of a place I once lived in several years ago. The book is in its final stages. I have also another non-fiction book called Blood Tears waiting to be released. I have several projects lined up and in different planning stages.
Q: What advice would you give other poets who are working on their first poetry books?
A: I have met many poets and writers through Writers in the Schools and in the Houston area who have an incredible collection of their own. Many of them I have met through the different literary venues that I have had the chance to go to and participate in. My advice to them is the same one that was given to me once, “Keep on Writing.”
Go out and meet other poets, support and be supported. Go to critique groups as often as possible. Support poetry groups like “The Gulf Coast Poets” that support and promote poetry. Talk to people who have been published, learn the ropes to making a book. I got support from other poets. I am still in the learning stages.
In the process of making a book I learned one thing - you have to create a team of experts – Especially graphic designers and those who may know a thing or two on typesetting and text graphics. Find people who are willing to volunteer their time, experience and effort in the making of the book in exchange for having their name published. - Especially as a beginner artist where self-publish is an out-of -pocket expense. The truth is I have met a lot of talented people in the process, and I hope to meet and support more as my work grows and matures.
Be sure to come out and see Carmen on Monday, May 5! You can also purchase a copy of her book from Amazon.com.