Updated: Nov 1
By Annie Newcomer:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets from all over the world. This week, we interview Gaby Bedetti and feature three of her poems.
Gaby Bedetti’s poems, photos, and translations have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Los Angeles Review, and World Literature Today. A grant from the Kentucky
Foundation for Women supported her work exploring issues of aging and collecting oral histories with her students at a senior-living community. She is circulating a co-translation of the poems of Henri Meschonnic, a French poet who believes in language’s ability to dissolve borders.
Visit Gaby Bedetti here to find out more!
Meet Gaby Bedetti!
AN: Welcome, Gaby, to the Flapper Press Poetry Café! We're excited to talk to you about your specialty, short-form poetry. Please share why you write in this form and why you find this form valuable.
GB: I started writing poems for Lexington’s June poetry blog, where the time crunch of
writing a poem-a-day for a month resulted in short poems. More important than my
situational beginning, however, my short poems are attempts to curb my tendency to
narrate. I would love to be able to write haiku as good as the ones on the Tinywords:
Genji. I leave poems at Airbnbs. In a never-ending effort to master the form, I’ve written
sixty haiku on lexpomo. My aim is to capture rather than document the moment in the
way William Carlos Williams and Emily Dickinson help me recognize what makes me
AN: Do you believe that writing in such a tight way impacts how you view the
world? By this I mean, it seems that you seek to find moments that can be
fleeting. Do you carry a notebook with you to document these poetic moments so
that you catch and remember them? Do you write the poem in that moment or
wait until later to create your piece? How does being present and welcoming to
these moments enhance your life?
GB: The connection between short form and my sensibility may be that I am a
dilettante, dabbling lightly rather than thinking deeply. Alternatively, the short form may
be a therapeutic way of reining myself in from my scattered attention. You ask a
I try to remember to bring my camera and notebook with me. When I’m carrying a
camera, I seem to see more. When I’m moved by a moment, I’ll mull on it, talk about it,
start making connections. Later, the photo helps me recall the moment. Like an ukiyo-e
painting, the photo invites me to relive the moment of the frame to be part of “the
floating world.” The poem “Transient” enhances my self-awareness. With “Survivor,” I
give voice to the voiceless, “backsquawk” (play on backtalk, an Appalachian term). In
“Rooster,” I connect experiences that happened thirty years apart. Writing poems
makes me pay attention and gives me pleasure in having been able to articulate
something that has left a mark on me. An accomplished poem makes me feel more
AN: I think that there can be a misconception that it is easy to write short. Might
you share what skills a good short poet needs to develop?
GB: I agree that writing short is not easy. In a short poem, there’s even less space for
any kind of explanation or context. A short poem features the image. In a good short
poem, you must be able to treat something that covers a small field but on a large scale.
Whatever the poet does to complete the jump—to make a leap that you don’t expect—is
refreshing. The takeaway is inarticulate, ineffable. The poet tries to find those lines that
are striking and talk about something conventional in a new way. I’m still fond of my first
poem, “Evening at the Rectory”: "after a baptism and a funeral / the parish priest in his
undershirt / making a sandwich" (Off the Coast, Nov. 2016). Walking by the rectory one
evening, my spouse and I were surprised by the silhouette of Fr. Gino in the kitchen in
what appeared to be his undershirt. The shared humanity, like the splash of Basho’s
frog, hit us both in an instant.
AN: If I understood correctly, you have translations that have appeared in Cold
Mountain Review. Do you need to be fluent in other languages to translate
poetry? Please share more on your relationship with translations with our
GB: Teaming up with a prize-winning poet is more important than fluency in the original
language. My co-translator, Don Boes, and I have translated Henri Meschonnic (1932–2009). One of the most innovative thinkers of his generation, Meschonnic was the
most uncommon of poets: a life-long advocate of rhythm with a prevailing anti-lyric
voice; a literary renegade who nevertheless garnered many distinguished awards; a
writer who spoke of the self, exile, and boundary, and whose poems were epigrammatic
and obliquely autobiographical, yet whose poetry remains at once historical and
In the last two years, twenty-three editors have chosen to publish our translations. My
working relationship with the poet while he was alive, my translations of his critical work,
knowledge of French, awareness of previous work on the topic (or lack of) all
contribute to my desire to bring his work to English-speaking readers. Like Basho,
Meschonnic considers his short, untitled poems part of an epic journey. Translating him
has also helped me streamline my writing.
AN: After only touching on your involvement with the written word and your
community in this flash interview, I am already looking forward to when we can
invite you back to visit in our poetry café. Right now I want to ask you to share 3
of your poems with their backstories.
Of all the parrots on display one afternoon at the local cidery, I was most taken by
Larry Bird. He seemed less engaged with and less doted on by the people there.
Seventy years old, arthritis-ridden,
scruffy, his back
to others — a survivor
of the Aztec bird heaven.
No onlookers pet this rescued creature,
an Amazon parrot perched in the sun,
flying days over. On earth
the wind gently ruffles his feathers.
During a break from singing, I overheard our choir’s music director bantering with the accompanist about a tone cluster at the end of a hymn we were rehearsing.
I love singing harmony
but a dissonant closing chord
holds tension and motion
and makes the moment beautiful
like the crow of a city rooster.
When my five-year old would ask
a question I couldn’t answer,
she’d announce, “It’s a mystery!”
We preferred the mystery.
I love watching for the graffiti on the freight train that runs through Lexington, Kentucky. The messages often seem at once timeless and timely.
the sun orbits my life
a clacking freight train
my timeline runs off the tracks
graffiti on the last car
Never Grow Up
Annie Klier Newcomer founded a not-for-profit, Kansas City Spirit , that served children in metropolitan Kansas for a decade. Annie volunteers in chess and poetry after-school programs in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, David, and the staff of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are working to develop The Emily Dickinson Garden in hopes of bringing art and poetry educational programs to their community.
Annie helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to both read and write poetry!
Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.
1. Share at least three (3) poems
2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.
(Plus any website and links.)
3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem
4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems
5. Send all submissions and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org