The Flapper Press Poetry Café: Collecting Words with Poet Gaby Bedetti

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

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:

Haiku & Other Small Poems blog. I love how in his travel diary, Narrow Road to the

Interior, Basho left poems along the road, or the way lovers sent haiku in The Tale of

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

human.


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

provocative question.


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

coherent.


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

readers.


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

contemporary.


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.



Survivor


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.



Rooster


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.



Transient


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!


AUTUMN 2022 POETRY CONTEST!


The Flapper Press Poetry Café.

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.


Submission Guidelines:

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: info@flapperpress.com

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