Poet of the Week: Warren J. Devalier

Poet of the Week: Warren Devalier

Warren lives in Japan. I met him on Twitter and was impressed with his style, photography and graciousness.   I asked him to send me some of his poetry.  He sent so much beautiful work it was really difficult to choose. I just selected a small amount to put here. I have not included the usual question and answer format because Warren expounded on poetry in such a wonderful way I thought you would like to read what he offered as is. 

If you know of anyone who would make a good Poet of the Week, please let me know. See below how to be one of Warren's almost 33,000 followers on Twitter!


If truth be known I am a day laborer, an MBA consultant and leadership coach. Poetry is an avocation.

I have traveled to most places on this planet, at least to the ones I want to visit, and studied or worked in a lot of countries, including Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Japan, US (in a long list of cities). Most of the poems I have written have been lost, misplaced, or discarded.

I have written poetry all my adult life— as usual based on experience and as a catharsis of the soul, a creative outlet, and a relief from the quotidian tasks of everyday life.

My favorite poets are Dante Alighieri and Pablo Neruda. Perhaps no one will ever top Dante for the profundity of his poetry in the Divine Comedy, and Neruda, the so-called surrealist poet, is inimitable in his ability to capture in poetic language the beauty of natural things. Both poets wrote natively in phonetic languages, enabling them to capture sound with a certain rhythm that speaks for itself, a kind of beautiful music to the ears, even without understanding the lyrics that go along with it.

I’ve appreciated Japanese haiku ever since I came to Japan, most particularly that of the masters Bashô, Buson, Issa (technically haikai artists) and Shiki, who coined the term haiku.

Haiku  benefits from the phonetic characteristic of the Japanese language.

Like most things in Japan there is a strict form for composing haiku, classically, 17 mora, or units of sound, in three praises of 5, 7, and 5 moras each. Traditional haiku also contain a kigo, or seasonal reference.

In English, this traditional structure is not strictly observed. For one reason, more meaning can sometimes be captured in a single English word consisting of one syllable than in its Japanese equivalent with more units of sound. For example, dance (noun) is one syllable; its Japanese equivalent is odori (3 syllables) or dansu. In a free-form style English haiku writers may not include a seasonal word either.

I generally stick to a 5-7-5 structure or a 3-5-3 structure. The beauty of haiku is that they are concisely expressed short poems that lend themselves to twitter, fitting the twitter 140 character format.

I especially enjoy writing haiku with an attached photograph, combining a hobby interest with poetry.

Warren Devalier's Poetry

Thus I wrote this haiku to accompany a classic Japanese screen painted during the Tokugawa era (feudal Japan) of a samurai warrior and his partner:

Samurai swords,

the warrior’s métier

in halcyon time.

What does Buddha think

of all the tourists basking

in the skyline bliss?

Everest Challenge

Please take my hand,

walk with me,

or let me carry you on my back

into the high cordillera,

or better still

to the Himalayas,

to the Heavens

where the gods play

and angels dance through the eye

of a needle, resplendent and quintessential.

On one side India

on the other Nepal:

look at the village kids,

their eyes velvet with curiosity;

their longing for knowledge;

their search for a level playing field;

a chance to beat the odds

of the wannabe slumdog millionaires—

light up their eyes with the splendor

that is you, with your magnificence.

Fuel their hopes,

nurture their dreams,

kindle their imaginations.

They need nothing but

equal opportunity.

A penny for their thoughts,

a pencil for their minds:

little-by-little, the tiny steps

that fire the magical journey to

a better world. 

Micropoetry by Warren J. Devalier

2011 All rights reserved.

 Follow Warren Devalier on Twitter @devalier_warren to see more of his lovely work!

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Interview with the Leader of My Writing Workshop

Writers' League of Texas

Q & A With Summer Writing Retreat Instructor Scott Wiggerman

In Summer Writing Retreat on June 23, 2011 at 10:51 am Scott Wiggerman is an Austin poet and the instructor of the WLT’s upcoming Summer Writing Retreat course, Working Out Your Writing Muscles: A One-Week Exercise Program. This course will provide dozens of exercises–both orthodox and unorthodox–toward generating new ideas for writing, whether you write poetry, fiction, or memoir, whether you are a new or a seasoned writer.
To read more about Scott’s Summer Writing Retreat course, click here.
To register, click here.
To learn more about Scott, read on!
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets (I usually have two books going at once, one of which is always a poetry book).
When you’re not reading or writing, what do you like to do with your time?
Besides reading or writing, which seem to take most of my time (okay, Facebooking too), I like to make collages, walk, watch movies, and eat.
What’s your favorite opening line of a book?
A line from a recent book that totally hooked me was Jeannette Walls’ opening for The Glass Castle: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”  How could anyone not want to read this book?
What life lesson did your last book or project teach you?
Be patient.  Trying to rush only leads to errors.
What word do you love? What word do you detest?
I have so many words I love, but one I’m really into right now is “wingbeats.”  A word I detest is “putrid.”
What is a little known fact about yourself?
Many people don’t realize that I was born in North Carolina—on a Marine base—though everyone else in my family is Chicago-born.
How do you deal with ups and downs of the publishing business?
Since I write poetry, I don’t have to deal with ups and downs—the business of publishing poetry is always down.
How do you balance writing with work and family?
I’m lucky, as my partner is also a writer, so he totally understands the need to be apart and write.
What is your writing routine and where do you write?
I don’t have a routine, per se, though afternoons seem to be when I most often write.  I am usually on a sofa in the living room, as I write longhand till it gets to the point where I have to keyboard the mess!
Do you outline or just start writing?
I often start with a single line, which many days comes from a morning walk (I always walk with pen and paper).
Do you have trusted readers you turn to as you write, and if so, who and what stage?
My partner, David Meischen, is the first person who sees my writing, but I trust the WLT’s poetry critique group, which I joined more than fifteen years ago and which I now lead.  I have come to rely on them.  However, no one sees my writing until it’s well beyond a draft and had considerable revision!
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
As a child I wrote short stories, and as a teen I thought I’d be writing novels, but in college I took a serious turn toward poetry—and I’ve been with it ever since!
Cyndi’s Fast Five
1. What are three things in your office/writing space that would surprise someone who popped in?
A photograph of me with Janis Ian, a Rusty Speck print with a misspelled title (“The Shepard”), a painted gourd.
2. What book first influenced you as a child?
I hate to say it, but those cheap series—Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys—truly captured my imagination.  I read and reread them many times—and I still love mysteries (though somewhat darker, like Patricia Cornwell).
3. What time of day do you write?
Afternoons, often with several cups of coffee.
4. If you could have a beer or coffee with a writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Probably Sylvia Plath—just so I could get behind the mythology and see for myself what she was really like (though I suspect Anne Sexton would be more fun!)
5. Beer or coffee?
If I could only have one or the other, coffee would win hands down!


Update from Shaindel Beers on The Children of War

Some poems from the collection I'm working on now, The Children's War. I look at drawings by or related to children during times of war and write poems about them...
Shaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary. A Brief History of

One Piece of Advice for Poet's from Robert Brewer's Blog

I really liked this post by Robert Brewer, one of our prior Poets of the Week 
You'll find quotes by some of our other Poet's of the Week too!
 "Poetic Asides" blog, Poet's Market editor Robert Lee Brewer gathers interview responses to a question he always poses to writers: "If you could pass on only one piece of advice, what would it be?"