Dear Site Visitors,
The March featured poet is Charles Burrell ("S.T."), a military technician for the U.S. Army Reserve from Conway, Arkansas. I am very pleased to have Charles as this month's featured poet because although I have never met him, I almost feel like I know him and talking to an old friend. We have exchanged e-mail for some months now and I have spoken to him on the phone while preparing for this interview. He is articulate, quite interesting, colorful - and a gentleman. It is truly an honor to have him featured this month.
I was introduced to Charles by Dona Lou Pearson (the January featured poet) and immediately took a liking to his work once I read it. I find that Charles is quite versatile in his expression and I find his work fascinating because of this versatility and his imagery. Never dull or common, his poetry radiates his images from the page. I think his poetry is very entertaining and thought provoking as well. I like his imagination. He has several of his poems posted on this site and is no stranger to it. (He takes credit for his poetry as "S.T.").
Charles has chosen "Trinity" as his featured poem. And he has selected two favorite poems to be presented for this feature. The first is "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley (an excellent choice and a poem I am quite fond of myself) and the second is "Desiderata".
In this interview, Charles talks about himself and his poetry and gives us a glimpse of "S.T." which I am very certain you will find very interesting and entertaining. I hope that I am correct about that. (I have to be right, it's my site!). I will refer to Charles as "S.T." in this interview. Your questions and his answers are posted here on the website. The following interview was conducted online via e-mail and by telephone between February 5, 2000 and February 10, 2000 and also on February 28, 2000.
Thank you. Poetheart
March 2000, "S.T." Interview sections you may visit (click)
Other poetry by "S.T."
Poetheart: Charlie, tell us about yourself. Give us some background on "S.T." Where are you from and what do you do?
"S.T.": I reside in Conway, Arkansas, 30 miles northwest of Little Rock. I work as a military technician for the U.S. Army Reserve. I have lived in North Central Texas, Oklahoma, and now in Arkansas for the past four years. I am 53 years old and married for 21 years. During my adventurous life, I have been a soldier, oil field roughneck, laborer, salesman, ladies' escort, and a lot of odds and ends- a lively mosaic actually. Poetry has become my method of expression, whether written or verbal. You see....Life is my canvas!!!
Poetheart: Your life does sound like it has been quite adventurous....Tell me....How seriously do you take your poetry?
"S.T.": I take my poetry seriously, but with an eye on the beauty of life.
Poetheart: What exactly does writing poetry mean to you, S.T.?
"S.T.": It gives me an outlet for expression. I believe poetry should entertain as well as teach.
Poetheart: And what inspires you to write?
"S.T.": Life is my canvas and the people are the brush strokes and hues.
Poetheart: I asked you to choose one of your poems to be featured this month and you chose one ("Trinity"). Why did you choose this particular poem, S.T.?
"S.T.": "Trinity" is special because it is dedicated to all of the Ladies everywhere and the unique fabric and fragrance that makes up the bouquet that is the lady.
Poetheart: "Trinity" is well done. What was your inspiration for this insightful poem?
"S.T.": Concerning "Trinity", I was in Indianapolis, IN and was noticing that a lot of men didn't address the ladies as "Ma'am" as we gentlemen do in the South. At the hotel desk were three ladies of varying ages. They complimented me on my manners and how I treated them as ladies. So I left, went upstairs and out came "Trinity"! I gave the original copy to the ladies. It made a difference because someone noticed and said "Thank you, Ma'am".
Poetheart: What is your favorite poem by a well known poet and why do you like this poem?
"S.T.": Actually, I have two. The first is "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley because of the powerful desire of survival I have known most of my life. The other is "Desiderata" because of the beautiful simple wisdom it presents.
Poetheart: You use the signature "S.T." Since your name is Charles Burrell, these are clearly not your initials. Why do you use this?
"S.T.": S.T. stands for "Soul Totality", in the Eastern metaphysical sense, where you are part of everything and everything is part of you.
Poetheart: You sound like you have studied many things, S.T. And you also sound like you have philosophies. Do you? What are they? Can you tell us more about what you have studied and what you have learned?
"S.T.": Yes. I have studied many things: literature (which I consider a chronology of a space of time), philosophy, political science, psychology, history...many things....In the '60s the "inner child" thing was common. The Beatles brought it to the forefront back then. The Koran, the Bible, whatever - all have a moral basis. But you have to go inside yourself and look in the mirror. Ask yourself who the person is on your driver's license and passport, etc. Your image society owns....it is who you are expected to be....who society thinks you are....but your soul or spirit belongs to you. Be a deep thinker. Don't waste time with BS. Dance a dance with life and have a good time.
Poetheart: When did you start writing poetry, S.T.?
"S.T.": I was out of the Army and studying under the GI Bill. I was about 25 years old. I tried to mimic the classic poets at first. Then I got into life as poetry and prose.
Poetheart: What is poetry?
"S.T.": It is my perception of what I see and what I feel. Poetry is a form of expression. It is like painting. Poetry is life and life is a canvas. I always find beauty. You must go to beauty because it does not always come to you.
Poetheart: S.T., many times your poems contain quotation marks in certain portions. Why is this?
"S.T.": The quotation marks are used to emphasize a part where the "entity" is speaking in the flow of the poem - the energy that gives it its life.
Poetheart: You are obviously a talented poet. When you write poetry, how much of it do you think is natural talent to convey an idea, thought or feeling and how much of it do you think is inspiration?
"S.T.": Thank you for the high compliment. Personally, in my opinion, I feel that talent is "earned perception". In order to write poetry from whatever source, I feel you must have some kind of disciplined understanding that is entirely non-judgmental, so you witness the "flow" of idea, feeling or inspiration, without taking it out of its uniqueness "flow", but not attempting ownership.
Poetheart: I have to ask you about your poem "Lady". What exactly is this poem about? It is obviously about a woman, ("Yes, you are battered, but not broken, your head is bloody but unbowed....") but who is she? What kind of woman are you writing about? What inspired and prompted you to write this poem?
"S.T.": "Lady" is a very special poem that I wrote about a very special Lady and a friend of mine named Tracey S. This poem signifies the struggle women have to endure to "make it" in a male-dominated society - hard work, taking no short cuts and making no compromises. This special lady, Ms. Tracey, worked her way up from the bottom to a position of bank Vice President for Mortgage Lending, without the benefit of a "friend" or a college education. But all the while, she remained the "Lady"!!! I feel heroism should be celebrated in life, especially for the underdog!!!
Poetheart: This is unusual territory for a man to tread and write about. There are those who say that when a man writes to reveal woman, her "situation", her feelings, her experiences, he is merely projecting what he THINKS she is about and not who she really is. They might say that you can't possibly know her experience because you are a man of this culture. How do you feel about this?
"S.T.": First of all, when I was a young "stud", all of 19 years of age and who thought he knew everything, some mature ladies took this young "stud" and quickly showed him how dumb he really was! For about three years, these ladies taught me to "see" the world that 99% of men never know about. Most of all, they taught me patience, focus, how to understand life and not be judgmental. This invaluable knowledge has proven more valuable than anything else I have acquired since. But to answer your question, another person's opinions really do not bother me anymore. I am the only one that knows me besides God and it is still a free country!!!
Poetheart: "Eyes of blazing coals, a smile of cold steel wrath, the lady swaggers unscathed through the macho crowd..." These lines are very visual and the reader can almost "see" this. These lines are easily understood, but the lines which follow to end the poem are not so easily understood. "Yes, I am come of age, as all my sisters must, to be the mistress of our destiny, accomplishments of our time...." Who is saying this and what did you mean by it?
"S.T.": The "Lady", (who is the personification of all the ladies who have gone through "hell" in order to achieve their idea of the American Dream) is speaking to all the other ladies out there, saying, "Yes.It is possible, if you are prepared to pay the price, to retain your own identity.
Poetheart: Your poem "Through the Mist" is really good. Do you care to talk about this poem at all, S.T.?
"S.T.": "Through the Mist" was written for another special lady and friend, Carol M. This lady has supported my position when no one else in the business world would. That means a lot to me. In return, I have supported her when she needed support. This poem is a very special tribute to her - a very special lady.
Poetheart: In this poem, you end with "Courage is your armor, Truth is your sword, Honor, Your mantel." What is this all about?
"S.T.": "Courage, Truth and Honor" are three words of the same meaning. If you have the courage to speak the truth and stand by it regardless, yours will be a place of honor. It will not be immediate, but it will become your way of life. Such is with my special friend.
Poetheart: S.T., "The Stranger" is very "different". It is reminiscent of one of my own poems called "Conversation" and I see some similarities. At the end of your poem, the stranger answers "I AM". This is pretty powerful. Who is "The Stranger"?
"S.T.": This is a dialogue of an ordinary "Joe" and GOD! Joe isn't trying to solve his problem until God gets a belly full and adjusts his thinking. If you look in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, you will find where God tells Moses, "I AM".
Poetheart: "My Lady, My Lover" is a romantic poem. Do you write much romantic poetry?
"S.T.": I wrote this poem to Rita, who is first my best friend, then partner and buddy, and then spouse. I write a lot of romantic poetry for ladies. I seem to have an ability to write material which ladies enjoy reading. I feel that ladies are not appreciated enough, so I try to cover that, with Rita always being my first lady!!!
Poetheart: "Mr. Jive Man" is very different from all the other of your poems I have read. Care to comment on this one, S.T.?
"S.T.": This was a dig on spin-doctors. Here I used some "street jive" to reflect the utter uselessness of their method of madness!!! Or, better stated: "Nothin' don't mean nothin' "!!!
Poetheart: The first of your poems which I posted was "The Journey". It was one of three poems which you submitted to poetheart.com. I remember your writing and asking me why I chose that particular poem (over the other two) to post first. Subsequently the other two poems were posted, with your selected feature poem "Trinity" next and then finally "Little Girl". The answer to my next question is obvious now but I will ask anyway. If you had to select one of the these three poems, which one would you have selected to post and why would you?
"S.T.": I would choose "Trinity" simply because I feel it is the most powerful yet has the most elegant "flow".
Poetheart: Have you ever been published? Where and when?
"S.T.": With the exception of your site and Contemporary Literature Press, the National Library of Poetry and the International Library of Poetry have published most of my poetry. I have been a Distinguished Member of the International Society of Poets since 1988. (Hopefully, I will make it to the Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. this September, where I will finally be formally inducted). On the commercial side, I have begun to explore different avenues. None have yielded any success yet. However, onward through the fog!
Poetheart: Are you satisfied with your poems?
"S.T.": I am very satisfied with my poetry because every poem is a new adventure.
Poetheart: Do you have any advice for others who want to write poetry? Particularly younger people who want to write poetry?
"S.T.": Pay attention to what you "see" and "hear" in your own mind. Walk your own road and sing your own song. This is YOUR adventure, so go for it! Make every moment as much fun as possible. Try to say more than words in poetry. If you feel you have to take creative writing classes, take the "form" but do not study "substance". Remember: when it flows, it flows. And when it doesn't, it doesn't. Get to know who you are and express your own ideas, thoughts and feelings. You see, life is my canvas and the people are the brush strokes and hues. Make it your canvas too - and paint.
Poetheart: How did you find out about poetheart.com?
"S.T.": Donalou turned me on to your site and here I am!
Poetheart: Did you have any reservations about being "interviewed"?
Poetheart: Well, what do you think? Do you feel this interview turned out well?
Poetheart: Me too! I think it turned out great! Thank you for this interview. (I will forward questions for you to answer as they come in).
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