The Flapper Press Poetry Café: The Poetry of Beate Sigriddaughter

By Annie Newcomer:


The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets from around the world. This week, we highlight the work of Beate Sigriddaughter.

Beate Sigriddaughter, Photo by Cheryl Thornburg

Beate Sigriddaughter grew up in Nürnberg, Germany. Her playgrounds were a nearby castle and World War II bomb ruins. She lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA, where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her two latest collections are short stories Dona Nobis Pacem (Unsolicited Press, December 2021) and poetry Wild Flowers (FutureCycle Press, February 2022).


We reached out to Beate to ask her about her work and her passion for poetry.


Meet Beate Sigriddaughter!


 

AN: Welcome to the Flapper Press Poetry Café, Beate. I love the aura around you and am so grateful to you for publishing my work in your Writing in a Woman's Voice. So let's begin with my asking, "Why is women's writing so important to you?"


B: Because I believe our planet and our species are ailing from a competitive, combative masculine spirit that's been dominant for at least the last 5,000 years, and we are not doing well. Women are by no means perfect, but I do believe we have the feminine spirit of nurture and peace and cooperation that are so necessary to balance out the current destructiveness in our male-dominated world.


Beate Sigriddaugther - Photo: Michael Schulte

AN: Is your blog, Writing in a Woman's Voice, a lot of work to run? What do you look for when selecting pieces for it?


B: The blog is, indeed, a lot of work—takes me an hour each day, sometimes more. I do it because I know how important it is to hear each other. My selection criteria are not easy to describe. I look for authenticity and a creative spark that shows a writer's uniqueness. After all, we're all creatures that have never been before and will never be again. I'm also looking for variety, in age, topic—sometimes I have to turn down something excellent because I've just posted several similar pieces. The main criterion is authenticity, though.


Submission Information for
Writing in a Woman's Voice :

Submissions are open year round. The guidelines are simple. Send me something to writinginawomansvoice@gmail.com, 2–6 poems or 1 prose piece as a word file or in the text of an email (no PDFs, please). Previously published work is fine so long as you own the rights. If you want me to post a short bio with your work, please include a third-person bio of 100 words or less with your submission. All rights remain with the author of any work posted here.


AN: What did you learn the most from your experience as poet laureate? How did your city grow as a place of poetry under your tenure?


B: Curiously enough, what I learned most of all was that, as in my poem "Imperfect Flute," our visions of what we want to do often far exceed what as limited physical beings we are capable of doing. I did what I could. I wanted to do more. My favorite contribution to my town was a regular monthly poetry reading at a local coffee house that featured one or two poets, followed by open mic. It was an inspiring gathering for many of us, and it was continued by other MCs until the pandemic nixed it. Perhaps it will be revived some day.


AN: Let's take a moment and look at "Imperfect Flute" right now:

Photo by Michael Schulte

Imperfect Flute

She knows how it should sound, clean, jubilant, a jeweled riff of rapture. It doesn't sound like that. Not yet. Perhaps it never will. She plays anyway.

 

AN: I think that readers might be surprised to know that "Imperfect Flute" is a prose poem. Also a poem can be short but still say so much in just a few words. Might you share a little more on this poem?

B: This short poem goes to my realization that what we see with our souls is often (always?) far grander and more beautiful than what we then manifest in music or words or painting. But we do it anyway, and sometimes it touches another soul who can contribute the missing grandeur and beauty. It is from my prose poem collection Kaleidoscope, published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, May 2021.


AN: In the world of poetry, poets often feel that we know one another while not actually ever having met in person. So we "see" each other without ever having "seen" one another. In our case, why do you think this is true?


B: Annie, I think we are both creative spirits in this world who not only want to be heard but who also want to hear other voices wanting to be heard.


AN: With that said, I'd love to share some of your poems that you chose for our readers, with a brief backstory on each poem. Thank you, Beate, for taking time to visit us in the Flapper Press Poetry Café. And all the best with Writing in a Woman's Voice, as well as all your future writing endeavors.


 

"Wildflowers" (first published in Desert Exposure as a grand-prize winner of their annual writing contest in 2017 and now part of my collection Wild Flowers, published by FutureCycle Press, February 7, 2022)


Wildflowers is a poem written in praise of the beauty of the natural world that I visit almost daily on nearby mountain trails (and by the ocean when I get lucky to spend some time there) in contrast to and also as solace for the disturbing world of politics I cannot avoid witnessing daily.



Wildflowers


Hello again, sweet morning

primrose at the parking lot, dew drops

in rice grass, I am in love, I am

with you, day

flower, deep blue morning

glory, goldenrod, globe mallow, mullein.


From somewhere people in expensive suits

intrude, how they negotiate how far

we can within reason poison each other

for profit, allocating

blame elsewhere.


Asters, let me stay

focused, fireweed, fuchsia,

goldeneye, small red morning

glory, open chalice of joy,

and a tiny yellow flower

whose name I do not know,

eight sunray petals,

close to the ground, while I feel tender

reverence.


Some bloom only a day, don't worry

about clichés or repetition or how to market

themselves, or for that matter how

they would affect the world economy

and whether anyone notices them

or not.


Cosmos, mountain parsley, desert honey

summer concentrate in marigold,

yellow peas, wild carrot, bear grass,

white stars.


Sometimes it is hard to breathe

as I try to balance

your joy with that unyielding other

world of tension, suspicion, and greed,

with war around the corner even as I live

so far undamaged.


Silverleaf nightshade, milkweed, field

mustard, penstemon, Indian paintbrush,

moss on north faced rocks, and fern,

crimson, magenta, dayflower blue, keep me

a while in your wild

cradle of joy.


 

"Sartre by the River" (first published by Figroot Press in 2017 and is part of my chapbook Emily, published by Unsolicited Press 2020)

This poem is a coming-of-age story describing the conflict of rebellion against the status quo while trying not to hurt anyone in the process. Yes, it is autobiographical.



Sartre by the River


Emily sees her former self read Sartre

by the river on a misty Sunday morning.

Nobody, she believes, knows where she is,

what she is doing. Her parents think

she went to church, she thinks,

to the late morning sermon, her hymnal

in her baggy red purse instead of

Being and Nothingness of which

she doesn't understand a word, even

in translation. No matter. The title,

lovely, certainly intrigues. She wants

to say no to something without hurting

anyone. And so her life begins

with secrets and the scent of grass,

ducks on the water, words on the page,

wind in her problematic hair.

 

"The Seven Ravens: Notes on the Fairy Tale" (first published in Salome, a now no-longer-existing online journal, in 2010 and part of my chapbook Dancing in Santa Fe and Other Poems, published by Červená Barva Press, 2019)


"The Seven Ravens" was always one of my favorite fairy tales because the girl actually does all of the adventuring in it. And of course, I couldn't resist adding my feminist twist at the end.



The Seven Ravens:

Notes on the Fairy Tale


Once upon a time

a princess found her brothers

had been turned into ravens because

her father, the king, wanted a girl

and at her Christening one of the boys

made a mistake. So the king cursed

them all to live as ravens evermore.


Of course once she found out,

the girl immediately set out

to save them. The journey took her

as far as the sun and the moon

and some especially helpful stars.

She cut off her little finger when

she noticed she had lost the key

to the glass mountain door

where her raven brothers lived

under the glass ceiling.

Her little finger did the trick,

unlocked the mountain, reunited

her with her brothers and unraveled

the careless curse.


Interesting, though, if seven girls

were cursed because of one son,

it wouldn't even be noticed.

It happens all the time.


 

"Archer" (first published as the 2014 Jack Grapes Prize winner in Cultural Weekly—now Cultural Daily—and part of my poetry collection Xanthippe and her Friends, published by FutureCycle Press, 2018)

This poem tells of the inner betrayal that women can experience when attempting to get the kind of respect we see men receiving for acts of aggression. It is based on a neighborhood incident, a teenage girl proudly killing her first deer during hunting season. I see it as a kind of allegory of what also happens when women join the military to be honored as men are honored for acts of war and only too often end up betrayed and disillusioned.



Archer


She has always wanted to belong. Now

it looks like she does. Dad offers

a sip of his beer. She giggles, shakes

her head. Heartthrob Rogelio nods,

his dark eyes gleam with admiration. First

time he looks at her like that. Nobody

says the dread words, "for a girl."

The men offer to skin and gut

the deer. She ponders this, accepts.

She still feels the sinew of the bow,

her strong and steady arms, the whistle

and velocity of death. The wounded eyes

film over, lifeless, without accusation.

"Well done," someone says. She wants

to ask back: "Have you ever looked

into the eyes of a deer?" Their calm

and dark acceptance, shy round

innocence with just a hint of question.

And the bold nose. But no words come.

She is in a different league now.

Tomorrow she will be sixteen.

They promise her first taste

of the meat. She feels empty, silenced,

betrayed. No one explained triumph

would feel like this. She remembers

wide surprise in eyes so black that

they could make you weep. The finches

in the juniper have lost their charm.

 

Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Pointa place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing.


Annie is also helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to write poetry!


FlapperPress launches 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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