CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (12): Sharon Frye, Last Chance for Rain

SharonSharon Gariepy Frye – a.k.a. Sharon Frye -is a photographer as well as a poet with one chapbook published, Last Chance for Rain (White Knights Press, 2014) and a new collection, Red Dashboard (Elizabeth Dillon, 51T8-CyhKSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_2016) to be published later this year, the exact date to be announced.

Last Chance for Rain offers us twenty poems. Each presents a compassionate look at the complex architecture of everyday lives – occasionally her own – with all their bays and battlements, their facades and their niches. Understanding comes with small intimate descriptions like this one of an elderly gentleman:

“She noticed his wrist, a small pear stone,
silver hair planted, bloomed over stone.”

excerpt from the Last Chance for Rain, the poem that lends its name to the book

When I first encountered Sharon’s poetry, I was impressed with the detail, the sense of a spiritual journey, and with her compassionate imagination, which is both her strength and her distinction. No surprise that Sharon was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry and most recently made the shortlist for the 2016 Blackwater International Poetry Festival.

JAMIE: Congratulations on making the Blackwater shortlist. It was so pleasant to see the announcement go up. I think it’s not the only award you’ve received. Bravo!

It seems to me your interests are as eclectic as most of us who read and/or are featured here: art and photography, music and dance, literature and poetry. I think I’m not alone in enjoying your nature photography. With the wealth of your interests, how and why did you come to focus on poetry?

SHARON: Thanks for the warm regards on making the Blackwater shortlist. I was a little surprised myself.

From an early age poetry dazzled me. I remember my first anthology of poetry was called Reflections on a Gift of Watemelon Pickle. I was mesmerized by the play and dance of words across the pages. I have been hooked ever since.

I began writing more as my children moved into adulthood, one by one. Now that I have an empty nest, I have more time to follow the muse. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised where it has taken me, from reading to FDNY firefighters, to Ireland and Sacramento…to various stops along Route 66.

JAMIE: This is a question people think is reserved for women, but I ask it of everyone I interview: How do you do it? How do produce a fair amount of poetry, well-crafted and well-considered, and juggle all your interests, your job with the U.S. Postal Service and your family responsibilities?

SHARON: It’s not easy, all this juggling… and I get frustrated. I try to be a good daughter to my aging parents, a good parent and an active grandmother. I also work full time as a rural mail carrier and am an active member of a local writing club. I think the experience and interaction with what has become my focus is also what inspires and serves as a catalyst to express – or record – some of my feelings and observations that result from these experiences.

I once wrote about the Asian man who was giving me a pedicure. I felt my heart expand as I considered what his life and history might have been. It’s a good practice, trying to perceive the worldview of those you come into contact with throughout the day. It gives the gift of empathy, which then always circles back to gratitude, always.

JAMIE: Do you find inspiration in the landscapes of Wyoming, where you come from, and Oklahoma, where you live now?

Jamie, you are a keen observer. I do love the landscape of my birthplace Wyoming and now those in my home of Oklahoma. There is just as much beauty in an Oklahoma sunset as there is on a snow-capped range nestled in the pines. I have learned to love Oklahoma’s red-dirt roads and often meander on a Sunday afternoon, taking pictures of abandoned farms and rusted Studebakers, forgotten in fields.

JAMIE: If I’m not mistaken, you have a strong affinity with what is probably your ancestral country, Ireland. You come honestly then by your love of and gift for poetry. Who is your favorite Irish poet and why?

SHARON: You are right, my maternal grandmother’s family hailed from Kilkenny. Of the Irish poets, I love Seamus Heaney, the earthiness of his words. You spoke of landscape: Heaney seemed to meld the inner landscape with the outer world in a mystical way. I also like some of Yeat’s work…The Stolen Child and A Prayer for my Daughter.

JAMIE: Tell us about Writing Knights and Equador Das Coisas.

SHARON: Writing Knights Press is an independent publishing company in Ohio. They publish many aspiring poets’s chapbooks, as they did my book, Last Chance for Rain. I was pleased that the publisher, Azriel Johnson, nominated one of my poems, Dollar Store Princess for a Pushcart Prize in 2015.

O Equador Das Coisas (the equator of things!) is a lovely journal of art and literature from Brazil. Editors Carol Piva and Germano Xavier have invited me to be a regular contributing poet, with my own page in the journal. Carol translates my poems from English to Portuguese for this endeavor… Oh, sometimes the world is so wonderfully small, you know? 😊

Poverty Line

It started with my back tooth,
much cheaper to extract wisdom.
Now tongue swirls in dark abyss
around black cavity, nothingness.

I feel unbalanced as I walk
one molar gone, orthodontic
shift in class, the have­-not caste,
one millstone followed by another.

How much grinding bore holes
in enamel, uprooting the bed?
Babies sucked from natal stream
drained the marrow, shriveled the bone.

Frayed blue collar underscores
my lopsided, one­-less­-tooth smile
while white starched collars
curl below rows of faultless teeth.

—Sharon Frye

Here is a slide show of Sharon’s photography ~

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You’ll find some of Sharon’s poems in past issues of The BeZine. (Just type her name into the search feature.) We are sharing some of Sharon’s poems in the April issue – due out on the 15th – which celebrates poetry month.

© 2016, poem, words and photographs, Sharon Frye, All rights reserved