Poet Showcase: Deb Scott

Name: Deb Scott
Portland, Oregon and online

Blogs: Stoney Moss

How do you know Cara? We first “met” at the online poetry community Read Write Poem, and when that closed up shop in May 2010, we kept in touch at Big Tent Poetry, a different poetry site, one I also helped manage. Cara came to a “Big Tent” poetry reading at St Johns’ Booksellers in Portland and we met got to meet in person. I still remember that day, and it astounds me (although it shouldn’t) when life and words coalesces like that! All that online energy — and we share the same gorgeous Oregon air!

How long have you been writing poetry? I first wrote poetry in tender teen years, then found it again when I returned to college as a “mature adult” eight years ago. I wish there had not been word-less years between, but such is life, and I’m immersed in poetry now.

What kind of poetry do you write? I am most comfortable writing in free verse, and have a natural tendency to write condensed, short, abbreviated, concise poems, that are also fragmented and sometimes ambiguous. Nature frequently features, and I hope to be non-sentimental and use fresh language. It’s a goal I rarely obtain, but still I try. I also tend to write memoir-esque or confessional poems, but get bored with my own stories. I don’t tend to write formal verse, but would like to be able to write a decent sonnet. I think a good haiku is all one really needs in life, but love to read serial poems, or narrative poetry. And I love prose poems. Some of my favorite works I have read in the last few years have been long poems, such as Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Campbell McGrath or Lisa Olstein’s Lost Alphabet, a collection of prose poems that read like a strange and wonderful narrative.

Please share a poem:
Here’s one I wrote for the Read Write Poem community. It was later published in Ourboros Journal, and is one of my favorites. I used a talented poet’s line as an epigraph, a launch pad, although hers is very different and fabulous. (Please read Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s poem, which is linked, below.)

There is no otherness/there is only otherness

      ... I and all the girls of the world learned
      to run wild too, like wild flowers, no, no, wild, like men.
      All the women of the world, becoming just men.

      -- Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, from "In the Beginning" 


In becoming flesh we are
all soft lips, hard pricks
prickling soft we moan through closed
lips, pink mewling delights, we spit —
we split, so many skins dividing
so many cells clamoring to join.

You invade me with clear wings
touch me lightly and burrow deep
as if what you need is saturated
nectar or power or love or only heat.
I prod your vibrating tongue
motion you to come through
beaded curtains. They tinkle invisibly.

Who says only girls are flowers?
If some calculating statesmen set his pen
too far inside an ink well and dribbled
on the page, well then, he might be forgiven
but only out of sympathy, or mourning.
We are all flowers, pistils, pollen.
Waiting for another to linger.

April Poet Showcase

For three years now, I have participated in at least one daily poetry writing challenge in April, in honor of National Poetry Month. It was a great way to kick start my writing, and make new friends in the process. As this April approached however, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the idea of taking on yet another daily writing challenge. In the first place, I have been doing this for three consecutive months now, and am ready for a break! And in addition, now that I am regularly writing and submitting haiku, tanka, haibun, and rengay to journals, I feel like trying to write to daily prompts can sometimes become a distraction. So I sat back and gave some thought to what I could do this April. And the answer came to me at once.

I have met so many creative poets over the last few years. Why not showcase them, and in the process, learn a bit more about my poetry friends, many of whom I have not yet met in person. So I sent out a short list of questions, one of which is how they met me. I have been involved in many online poetry writing communities, including the Four and Twenty journal– the first place my poetry was published– Poetic Asides, Read Write Poem, Big Tent Poetry, Shiki Kukai, Sketchbook Kukai, Caribbean Kigo Kukai, NaHaiWriMoand most recently, I Doodle, You ‘KuAgain and again I see many of the same names popping up in various poetry publications and communities, and new ones being added all the time. So this April, I will be showcasing many of my poetry friends in guest blog posts, and hope you will follow along.

Just to whet your appetite, here is the line up, for the first two weeks, in order of appearance. (And if you haven’t sent in your answer to my questions yet, please do!)

Week 1: Kirsten Cliff, Cassie Premo Steele, Laurie Kolp, Terri L. French, Margaret Chula, Michael Dylan Welch, and Curtis Dunlap

Week 2: Aubrie Cox, Margaret Dornaus, Alegria Imperial, Gillena Cox, Angie Werren, Christina Nguyen, and Johannes S.H. Bjerg

So with no further ado…


I discovered the VoiceCatcher collective two-and-a-half years ago, when I was still predominantly a writer of prose. I submitted two prose pieces to VoiceCatcher 4. Neither was accepted, but with the second, I received a really thoughtful page of feedback for improving the story. I edited both stories, and the first one (“The Tao of Laundry”) ended up in a Cup of Comfort for Mothers, while the second (“The Power of Music”) won the first Chicken Soup for the Soul Wednesday Giveaway Contest.  Still, the VoiceCatcher stories and poetry tended to be a bit edgier than either of the above, so I did not submit at all in 2010, instead re-grouping. This was also the year I turned mostly first to general poetry, posted on Poetic Asides, Read Write Poem, and Big Tent Poetry, and then haiku. So when submissions for VoiceCatcher rolled around in February of this year, I was undecided on whether or not to attempt submitting again, and if so whether to go with poetry or prose. Finally, I decided to submit haibun, a form that had long intrigued me, but that I had only recently begun to write. And my haibun (“30 Degrees from the Horizon”) was accepted! I had the pleasure last night, of reading it aloud to a roomful of other women writers/poets/artist and collective members, at the book launch party for VoiceCatcher 6, an anthology I am truly proud to be a part of!

A limited run of VoiceCatcher 6 is available at Wordstock, any of the VoiceCatcher readings, Powells (Burnside and Hawthorne only), and New Seasons Markets, or it may be ordered directly from VoiceCatcher.

All proceeds support the VoiceCatcher mission:

“VoiceCatcher is a non-profit collective that nurtures women authors and artists in the Portland/Vancouver area and strengthens the local creative community by offering publishing opportunities, educational grants, and respectful editorial guidance.”

Laws of Attraction

And while we’re on the theme of science, one more:

A Scientist’s Take on Marriage

“Chemistry—what is this chemistry
you always talk about,” he scoffs,
as he puffs on his pipe, his eye roving
to the headlines of today’s New York Times.
No one could understand better than he
the laws of attraction—
of quantum physics, anyway.
Unfazed, I blunder on. “You know…
when two people, like… click…
His right eyebrow shoots up,
speaking volumes.
No one could understand better than he
the laws of attraction—
he married my mom.
I await the final conversation-ending clincher
and am not disappointed.
“It only takes one, kiddo,” he proclaims
as he settles back with today’s headlines.

Alien Life

Great prompt(s) this week on Big Tent Poetry. In fact, I liked the prompt so much, I wrote to each one. (The second poem originally was written to a Poetic Asides PAD challenge prompt, but works here as well; the other two are new.) Click on the links to see the whole article that inspired  each prompt.

Prompt 1: “Alien life might have been found in old meteors”: “The implications are that life is everywhere, …”


Alien life may have been found in old meteors,
he says. I ponder this. Perhaps we’re not quite
as unique as we think.  Perhaps the same combination
of atoms that we’re made up of,  are the building blocks
for other life forms too. Perhaps there are other life forms
even now among us, and we simply don’t recognize them
as such. Or perhaps… I simply shrug, and gaze up at the stars.

Prompt 2: “The junky interior of the International Space Station”: “Clutter adorns almost every surface and is held in place by duct tape, Velcro and metal clips …”

Have Glue Gun, Will Travel

My father believed
there was nothing you couldn’t fix
with a hot glue gun,
some twine,
and a whole lot of duct tape.

But when it came to people
Dad’s sage advice
for mending anything
from skinned knees
to a broken heart, was time.

It will get better
before you’re married,
he’d always say
and wouldn’t you just know it,
it always did.

Prompt 3: “That Antarctic ice is created from below as well as above”: “… the ghostly shapes of the Gamburtsevs and the giant freeze-on “beehive” structure … .”


It’s a little known fact that Arctic ice is created
from below as well as above. That while we’re
concentrating on the surface and what we can
see with our own two eyes, deep within, an
unseen parallel process is also taking place.
Things are never quite what they seem. And it
is also a little known fact that sometimes
we unravel from the inside out, while the surface
still shines.

three holiday haiku

I love holidays and I’m on  day 25 of the NaHaiWriMo challenge. So here are three holiday haiku for the Big Tent Poetry prompt. The rest of my NaHaiWriMo haiku can be read on the NaHaiWriMo Facebook page, along with a myriad of other wonderful haiku from others across the globe.

groundhog’s day –
looking for
lost shadows

Valentine’s Day –
the queen of hearts
trumps all

Caribbean Kigo Kukai #21

President’s Day weekend –
crocuses blanketed
by a layer of snow

Frogs, He Said

I have a special fondness for the first poem I ever published, so when I saw the Big Tent prompt this week to take the title of a manuscript we’d like to write, and then go back and write the title poem, I kind of did the process in reverse. I took the poem I already wrote, which was published in Four and Twenty, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Nov/Dec 2008,  and based on that, titled the manuscript: Frogs, He Said

Sleeping With an Open Window

Frogs, he says
Crickets, I insist
We stop again to listen.


Other responses to the prompt here.

Waking Dreams

The Big Tent prompt this week was to write the cure for something that’s got us down. Now admittedly it hasn’t been a terribly cold (or terribly long) winter around these parts, but still, I’m ready for spring!

Waking Dreams

In my dream, I am walking through tall grasses,
a light breeze softly playing with my hair. The sun
is so bright I have to shield my eyes with my hand,
and the sound of chattering birds grows to a
crescendo. I find myself thinking, this might just
be spring. I awaken suddenly to the sound of
birdsong, with sunlight pouring through my window
and a gentle breeze playing with the curtains,
and find myself thinking, this might just be spring.

Read more responses to this prompt here.

Smile for the Camera

The Big Tent prompt for this week was to take a photo and write about it from the point of view of the photographer. This was a fun one as I’ve been looking through old photo albums all this week. I was originally going to write about my long ago relatives (and I still might some time!) but the photo that caught my attention was one I look at every night of my mom and me. It is my favorite photo of her. I have no idea when or where it was taken, who took it (although I imagine it must have been my dad), or what we were laughing at…

Smile for the Camera

I said smile, not laugh, he says, clearly peeved.
What are you laughing at anyway? Oh, not you,
I hastily assure him, wiping tears from my eyes.
Then what? he insists. I don’t know, just…
He looks so perplexed, I can’t help myself, and
soon her silvery laughter joins mine, as we give
ourselves over completely to mirth. He stares
at the two of us for a moment in bemused silence.
Women, he mutters, as he snaps the photo.

Read other Big Tent poetry responses here.