Wednesday, January 14, 2009

POET: Patricia Neely-Dorsey

EDITOR NOTE: One of the best part of my job is I get to meet new writers. I love meeting someone who is excited about their book and their genre. I met Patricia online at the RAWSISTAZ online conference. She was everywhere and she was talking about poetry. She made me want to read her book.

Poetry is a hard sell especially when it comes to reviewers. Most people don’t want to read it which is why SORMAG stopped reviewing it. However Patricia enthusiasm has made me want to promote those hard working poets out there. If you like poetry and would like to be a poetry reviewer, please send me an email.

Patricia says she came on online in 2007, from her interview you wouldn’t believe it. Please say hello to our Poet of the month.

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia- A Life In Poems is a celebration of the south and things southern.

Using childhood memories, personal thoughts and dreams, the author attempts to give a positive glimpse into the southern way of life

HEAR Patricia read a few of her poems.

Gabcast! Patricia Dorsey #2

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south in general. I want readers to see that there is a flip side of the coin. There is much to love about the southern way of life. I want people to know Mississippi in a different light and I want to introduce them. My slogan is Meet Mississippi Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word.

On a more personal level, using my poems, I want the reader to connect or reconnect with some of the more enjoyable, pleasant memories and experiences that they have had in their own lives. For Mississippians and the youth in Mississippi especially, I want to encourage them to be proud of who they are, proud of where they come from and proud of the lives they live.

Why did you choose to write this book?

That’s funny. I must say, I didn’t choose to write the book, the book actually chose me (LOL). I woke up on Valentine’s Day 2007, with a poem swirling around in my head. I quickly got up and scribbled it down. So, I wrote my very first poem in 2007 at the age of 43, with no intentions for a book. After that, many other poems just started to flow in rapid succession. In a couple of months, I had well over 200 poems. A friend encouraged me to put them in print. I did and the rest is history, as they say. My book, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems was published In February 2008, exactly one year from the time I wrote my first poem, using about 75 of the hundreds of poems that I had written.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned how much I actually enjoyed and appreciated my life growing up in Mississippi, my childhood and the people who have played such a big part in my life. Also, in looking over the poems, I realized how obsessed I am with food (LOL) It seems like over half of the poems in the book have some kind of reference to food. But, anyone that knows anything about the south knows that food plays a very big part in almost everything we do.

What is the hardest part about writing poetry?

For me, there was no hard part at all. I simply, and I do mean simply, just scribbled poems down as they came to me. I have poems written on the back of envelopes, bills, receipts and everything.

I have been told over and over again and have found it to be true, that the hard work of this business is not in the writing of the book but in the marketing and promoting.

I think that for most writers, the writing is not hard because it is doing what they love to do. How does that saying go.. “Do what you love to do as a vocation and you will never work a day in your life”.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

A writer’s work, especially published work is like his/her child. A writer has a very personal attachment to his/her “baby” and can sometimes be very sensitive about that “baby”. I think writers would love to stamp a little Handle With Care message on all of their books.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Believe in what you do.

Know that everyone will not necessarily like what you write or like your style of writing but someone will absolutely love it. Appreciate and nurture your own unique style and “gift”. Always keep reading and writing.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Oh my goodness, I am so computer illiterate, and so much of what goes into publishing and promoting the product is done by way of computer these days. I am so technically challenged. I didn’t even learn hw to log on to the computer or e-mail until January 2007, at the insistence of my publisher (LOL). It has been an uphill battle coming into the 21st century in that aspect of writing.

What was your greatest challenge in self-promoting your book?

I have been told many times, by people in the industry that poetry is a “hard sell”.

I didn’t really know what they meant until I started running up against brick walls in getting reviewers to even consider reviewing the book. So many people told me that they had “no poetry” policies in reviewing books. That was very surprising to me. Of course, I didn’t take no for a final answer and some of those same people who said that they did not review poetry eventually gave in and I received some glowing reviews from them. On top of that, self-published authors can , in many cases, are given so little respect. I have been told, again, by reviewing sources that they did not do self-published books. I have been told by some venues that they didn’t have self-published authors on the roster for even giving a book presentation. Of course, again, I didn’t take no as a final answer. My motto is always: If you can’t get in through the front door, go in through the window. Needless to say, some minds were changed and some policies were broken.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I write so many of my poems in my car. They just seem to come to me there. Maybe, I feel like it is a quiet, sheltered environment.

Who is your favorite poet and why?

I must says favorite poets. I love Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. Nikki especially, wrote a lot about southern experiences when she would go to her grandparents’ home and overall her work is so gritty , soul bearing, transparent and in-your- face. As she says in one of my favorite poems… “I am bad”. That explains how I feel about her and her work in general. She is bad!!

Maya to me, is just the queen in the poetry world. I equate her as being to the poetry world what Aretha Franklin is to the soul music world. There is just a period behind it.

There is almost no explanation necessary in either case.

When did you start writing poetry and why?

Before I wrote my first poem in February 2007, I did not consider myself a writer or poet at all. I think that my first attempt at writing poetry was maybe trying to write an haiku for an assignment in the sixth grade.

In the literary world, I was strictly a spectator ..I just loved to read...not write.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1) how to type 2) a real working knowledge of the computer 3) marketing skills

How do you reach new readers?

I am very active on the computer social networking scene.

If you Goggle my name Patricia Neely-Dorsey. It’s unbelievable to see how many social sites I am on, for someone who basically just learned how to get on the computer (LOL). The connections that I have made have been invaluable. I really first came in contact with you through a RAWSISTAZ internet conference. (smile) Opportunities like this, to do interviews on well viewed sites, go a long way in getting the word out about the book to hundreds and thousands of potential readers. I would like to thank you for such a tremendous opportunity.

If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?

1) Maya Angelou 2) Zora Neal Hurston and 3) Alice Walker. Their lives and work fascinate me. I think that we would have a wonderful time together and I know that I could learn a lot.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a poet?

DO: Believe in yourself, Believe in your dream…Just Believe!

DON’T: Be dissuaded by Anything and Anyone

Our theme for this month is Family Literacy, what do you do to promote literacy in your family?

Oh my goodness, my family is a family of readers. We have hundreds of books in the house and we are always reading and talking about the things that we have read. It has always been a tradition handed down in my family that on every gift giving occasion, any child in the family will receive a book, along with any other gift that they might receive.. One of the happiest days of my life was when my son, who was six or seven at the time, walked up to me with a book in his hand and said “ I just love to read”.

With tears in my eyes, I hugged him tight and told him that he had just made his mother very happy.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)


Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I have poems completed for at least 2 or 3 more books.

The next book will basically be a continuation of Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia. Because, the readers seem to be clamoring for that; more of the southern life, feel-good, back-down-memory lane sort of poems . I had at one time considered publishing the more intimate poems next in The Secret Garden of Love, but that one is one the backburner for now. My publisher is encouraging me to do an illustrated children’s book with about 20 age appropriate poems from Reflections. That is something that I am strongly considering at this time.

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