Settle in with a cup of tea and sink into this lovely interview with the delight.full Amanda Oaks. She is a superhero of mine as she gives others (and herself) a beautiful platform to share their stories at Kind Over Matter and Words Dance. Be sure to take time to watch her spoken word videos that I link to at the end of the interview.
To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you write.
- Robert McKee
1) How has poetry saved you?
I started writing poetry in middle school, in the 7th grade. There was a girl that moved into our school district who I became friends with, her name was Nikki.
She was terrifically prolific & when she became comfortable, she shared her words with all of us.
They were mostly poems about love & heartbreak in ABCB format, hundreds of them, love & heartbreak at a 7th grade level but nonetheless I was hooked, on both the reading & the writing of.
A few of us would pass our poems around within our group of friends, typing them & then printing them out on dot matrix printers, they were who we were.
They were our stories.
Throughout high school, I lost interest in writing for a bit, but just after graduating I dove back into it, full force, never looking back.
Among some of my favorite memories include living alone, coming home from work or school, sitting in the middle of my bedroom in my attic apartment on the hardwood floor in a tank top & skivvies & tip-tapping poetry out on a old typewriter. Fully enthralled in Beat Lit. Wine glass at arm's reach, of course.
Since then, I've been published online & in print, I've have met so many incredible poets. Small press poets. The underground greats. Who I deeply admire. Who are my dear, dear friends. Blessed.
But what stands out among all of that, all of it… is how poetry was so much a lifeline through the darkest times of my life. It was my light. It was the way I expressed myself. It was the words I couldn't say, no longer stuck in my throat. It was emotions laid bare in front of me, quivering. It was how I dove deep into the hurt & swam up from the bottom with insight. It was the there for me through unrequited love, through abuse, through the death of my grandparents, through the transition into mamahood, navigating the waters of wild & new love. It's been the most sweetest release for me. I always leave poetry, either after writing or reading, feeling on fire & free.
2) Who are the poets and poems you turn to again and again?
There are the well-known poets that I adore, that have been there for me over the years: Sharon Olds, Dorothy Parker, Diane Di'Prima, Pablo Neruda, the Beats, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Charles Bukowski, David Whyte, Sarah Key… oh there's so many.
But the poets in my small press community, especially the women, they blow me away, I'd love to share a few of them & a piece by each of them.
Tammy Foster Brewer : There Are No Instructions for This
Jessica Dawson : Just Add Oxygen
Rebecca Schumejda : A Row for Sinners
John Dorsey : even outlaws get the blues : John is a dear friend, he wrote this poem for me.
David Smith : This Heart
3) A line of poetry you would tattoo on yourself...
That's a really tough question. There are so many lines that have shook me to my core…
I've stated several times that I was going to get this entire poem tattooed - right-inner-thigh : all hooves and diligence by Miriam Matzeder
If I only had to choose one line from the poem, I'd probably modify it a little so it read:
no matter my stillness, i am always awake with loving you
4) Would you like to share a poem of your own?
Nan's Farm : Amanda : Circa 1985
we’re on our own out here | Amanda Oaks
late summer, pickin’ peas,
cornfield just feet away i would
tiptoe with the words of warning
looped ‘round every strand of
my hair, when wearing pigtails,
all those locks acting together
could be thunderous but i would
plug my ears & run in any one
direction until my lungs felt like
the tires of that far-off tractor who
i overheard many’a times was
plotting my death
out there though, i witnessed the
wind unearth harmony, the way
the stalks would touch, sliding
against one another hissing
like plastic bags clothespinned
to a wire & dangling from the
mouth of a paper-winged crow,
i found safety in the squeeze stuck
between clear-cut emotion, there’s
something in there that you can’t
close your ears to, like barn rats
or the secrets i found in the laughter
of ghost children jumping from
rock to stone in the creek bed
behind my house
standing still, before walking in
silence all the way back to the
alarm in my grandmother’s
voice, looking up to the clouds
for a way out, twenty years later
& i still have yet to find it
outside of these
© amanda oaks
5) Any other words about poetry?
This poem is by the now late Todd Moore, his poetry has a very unique style, all his own & often noir, I adore it -- he sums up writing poetry better than I ever could, the way it makes you feel when you & poetry dance together:
let the words
fall in love w/you
they will circle
you like a pack of
wolves around a
still warm steer
then let them
close in the heat
makes a long curl
of smoke rise off
the letters & seep
into the skin next
let the smoke invade
yr blood once inside
it will turn into
voices that roar
down the veins
suddenly the poem
will be dancing you
& the wind will stop
blowing & the clouds
will hold still &
the waves will stop
forming and nothing
will burn you while
the lines are all
flying & suddenly
in that flash of
light not even death
will be able to
say yr name
6) Something extra: Explore Amanda's spoken word videos here:
Hi, I'm Amanda Oaks, curator of connection & provisioner of benevolent beauty at Words Dance. Mama. Lover. Poet. Multi-Passionate Solopreneur. Kindness Advocate. I love laughing more than most anything.
If you are interested in checking out my poetry-type creative offerings, I have a book of spicy love poems called, Cohabitation.