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.

Big Tent Poetry Reading

In all the years that I’ve lived in Portland, 19 to be exact, I had never visited the St. Johns Booksellers or even been to the St. Johns part of town before– at least until today. It was a Big Tent Poetry reading that drew me there. I had a lovely, if tortuously twisty and turny ride through Forest Park, to get there there, but it was worth it. It was fun to discover that not only is there an indie bookstore, but there was a Saturday Market going on as well, right next store. In fact, the poetry reading series is offered in partnership with the market.

Today’s reading featured four poets from Big Tent Poetry, one of my favorite online poetry websites. It was only recently that I discovered through the latest Voicecatcher newsletter, that Deb Scott, one of the three co-founders of Big Tent Poetry, lives right here in Portland. So of course that made this a must-see event for me. Joining Deb were Carolee Sherwood, another Big Tent co-founder, visiting from New York, and local poets Tiel Aisha Ansari and Dale Favier. The poetry was wonderful, the turnout great, and the venue was perfect. A morning of poetry– what better!