Nothing Left To Lose – Natasha Head


I would like you all to welcome Natasha Head, author, poet and artist!  Natasha lives in Nova-Scotia, East Coast Canada, a Province I have always wanted to visit because I have heard only wonderful things about its beauty and charm.  Paraphrasing her profile on Winter Goose Publishing , poetry is a longtime form of expression for her, and Natasha was able to publish a collection of these in her NEW book Nothing Left to Lose.   I love the way Natasha shares herself in her poetry, raw, emotional and so authentic.  The latter being a huge attraction for me.

Speaking with Natasha this week, I could feel her enthusiasm and excitement about her work.  I could feel, through the vibes of cyberspace, her love for life.  She exudes beauty and charm.  You will see these qualities in her in the answers to her questions.

So with no further ado:

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The Interview

If you were to write 1 sentence to describe yourself, what would it be?

I am a self-proclaimed freak on a leash.

What brought you on the poets’ path?

I have been writing poetry since I was a little girl.  When I was a teen and would have to baby-sit my little sister, I would punish her and her friends with a poetry reading if she broke the rules. I’ve been very passionate about poetry for a very long time.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Life is inspiration.   I think many of my poems are more personal than journal entries if you want to know what’s up in my bubble. I cry, bleed, fight and love with my pen.   

Tell us about your Newest Poetry Collection:  Nothing Left to Lose. What is your favorite Poem? 

Nothing Left to Lose is a collection that chronicles a difficult period in my life. If I had to pick ONE poem as a favorite, it would have to be “Think About It”.  It’s longer than most I write, and came to life on my blog as a dVersePoets OpenLinkNight offering.  It’s my thought process now, after having endured this difficult period, and states pretty clearly where I am right now.

So tell me…whose life have you been living?

Could we take a moment…perhaps strip away
the dogma that has been taught to you?
Force fed on spoons and forks

that have never once left your mouth.
Who are you I ask, and without thought
like a perfectly timed reaction

you toss me a name. If it is unique
to who you are, then yes, perhaps
you are truly special. I prefer to see it

as the first attack. Who named you?…

You can read the entire “raw” poem on my blog,  or the edited and prettier version in my book.

What was your favorite childhood story?

Gulliver’s Travels was a favorite, along with Hansel & Gretel,  once I learned to read I was unstoppable! The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland…so many fantastic tales that still bring a smile to my face.

What book are you reading now?

I just received Emmett Wheatfall’s “He’s Sees Things” and this has been providing my most recent poetry fix. It’s an amazing collection.  On the reader it’s Stephen King all the way.  Working my way through The Regulators AGAIN.  

What do you do when not immersed in writing?

I immerse myself in music! I LOVE to sing and lose myself in a good song.  Those rare moments when I get the house to myself, I blast the tunes and rock out with my dog and cat as audience.

Who designed the cover of your book, why the chair?

Wintergoose provided the art work for the cover.  I fell in love the moment I saw it. The chair? Well…that’s all I had left 🙂 The chair is a focal point so you can appreciate the space and the state of the nothingness that surrounds it.

What would we find in your fridge right now?

OMG…Really? Lots of salad dressing, bottled water and a case of Diet Pepsi (do I have to describe the leftovers? They’re looking a little fuzzy!)

Note to Natasha:  I have a case of Diet Pepsi in my fridge too!

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?

That’s a tough one…would love to live in the mind of Salvador Dali, to be able to create with the wild abandon and lack of fear that I get from his work.  There are so many voices in my head when I write, telling me what should or shouldn’t be, creating excuses for not really being true to my vision.

If you had to give yourself a “theme song” what would it be and why?

I am partial to Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” (see 1st question!) but honestly, I have a different song for every circumstance. Bleed it Out by Linkin Park is a favorite go to tune.

What advice would you give new poets, young and old?

Never stop! The world is desperate for your words…even if it doesn’t know it yet.  Poetry is an amazing reflection of our times and you never know when you will find yourself being a mascot! The internet is ALIVE with poetry.  I really thought I was alone in my love until I stumbled upon Twitter.  Get online, share your words, and contribute to this fantastic movement.  The world is waking up, and the arts and their importance are regaining ground…if you bleed words like I do, then you have to join the army!

Do you have other work you want to share?  What are your projects now?

I was honored to be included in the premier edition of “Inspiration Speaks” compiled by the wonderful Jessica Kristie and ArtPlatform which Wintergoose released earlier this year, and I have a new compilation of poetry and art coming up.  I’m also a recurring host and resident tweeter for dVersePoets, a fantastic community of fellow word weavers launched by Brian Miller & Claudia Schoenfeld.  This is a great place for those just starting to share their words to start out, they are amazing folk! I’m also part of a great team of folks over at The River Journal. (And still working a crazy day job to boot!)

Where can we find you?

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/TashtooParlour

Twitter  https://twitter.com/#!/Tashtoo

Website http://tashtoo.com

How can we purchase your book?

Books are available online through Amazon.com  and Barnes & Noble, or you can order signed copies direct from me via email tashahead@gmail.com

Thanks!!!

Thank you so much Natasha, I cannot wait to read more of your poetry.  Good luck with your book Nothing Left to Loose, and please let us know, here at Muse In the Valley, when you publish again, or just drop by to say hello!

Carry On Dancing – Heather Grace Stewart


I am happy to introduce to you Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Poet.  This week, I asked Heather if she would accept an interview for my blog and she graciously accepted.  Just last night Heather found out that her book Carry On Dancing is currently #2 in bestselling Canadian Poetry on Amazon.ca.  Congratulations!

About Heather Grace

Heather Grace Stewart is the author of two poetry collections, ‘Leap,’ and ‘Where the Butterflies Go,’ and two non-fiction books for youth. Her third collection, ‘Carry On Dancing,” is published by Winter Goose Publishing, which was made available in March 2012. A member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets, she lives with her family in Montreal, Canada.

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An interesting fact: 

“Heather wrote her first poem at age five, inspired by falling down a lot while trying to figure skate. At the Arena was published in her school newsletter. (ref:  Winter Goose Publishing)

The Interview

Describe yourself in 5 words

Bubbly, creative, passionate, adventurous, spirited

How did you come to live your passion?

It’s been a lifelong process, and I am still growing every day.

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young child. I loved writing poems and short stories for Mrs. Nash’s grade 2 class. I thought journalism was the route for me, and I did love working at a paper and for magazines, but I felt I wasn’t able to be as creative as I wanted to. In 1999 I decided to forge ahead on my own, with my freelance writing  and editing business, Graceful Publications. By working from home as a freelance journalist, I found I had more time to try creative writing projects on the side,  and that’s how my poetry books were published. Last year it became an official publishing company too, with the release of my first children’s book, The Groovy Granny, which I wrote with our then-five-year old daughter, who illustrated the poems. I still write and take photos for magazines, but I’m focusing on creating books right now, because it’s what I most love to do.

That was the technical answer to how it all came to be, but the process of deciding that I deserve to do what I love every day was a long one. I don’t think it was until my  friend and mentor died of a brain tumor when I was 24 that I realized, truly realized, that I wanted to live every day as if it were my last. Now, I can’t throw my caution with money or my own health or anything out the window, as if I may die tomorrow,  but I do try to treat each day like it could be my last. I try to leap at unique opportunities (like working for myself). I try to learn something new or try something new every day. I try to send friends snail mail and surprises and if they call, I call  right back so I won’t forget. If I catch myself losing my patience with my daughter, I’ll go apologize to her a few minutes later, so she knows parents aren’t perfect. I sometimes forget and slip back into taking days for granted, but it’s almost a way of life for me now, and I think it has made a great difference.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to play with my daughter and husband. We do a lot of gardening and flea-marketing in the summer, but we kind of hibernate in winter. We toboggan some times, but our daughter likes creative games like playing ‘spa’ – soaking my feet in a bowl of sea salts by the fire! – and I am just fine with that! In my own free time, I love to inline skate, take photos, scrapbook, cartoon, and I just love walking along a  beach,looking for pretty shells, sand dollars, and other tiny miracles.

Where does your creativity come from?

For me, it’s a bit like a natural water cycle. There’s the source, which is inside my heart and soul and mind, always ready to be tapped into, and a constantly flowing stream, but that can get interrupted by dams – like my own laziness or self doubt or just a really rotten week. But when  it’s flowing, the water or my creative work eventually moves up and is spread out into the clouds, until it all returns to the earth as rain, and, the cycle continues.

What book struck you as a child and why?

A friend gave me a hard cover copy of The Neverending Story for my 11th birthday. I remember pouring over it many times, especially up in my tree fort. I liked the story line -the boy was bullied but he managed to overcome that – and I loved how the real world was written in green ink and the fantasy world was in red ink. It was magical; and that’s how I think books should be.

What is the last book you absolutely couldn’t put down?

“Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks. When I am writing poetry, I try to stay away from poetry, because I want to do completely my own thing, so right now, I’m reading quick-read-fluff-fiction. I do enjoy autobiographies and there’s a series of books by physicist Michio Kaku about the physics of the future and the physics of parallel worlds that I’m finding so fascinating, but with my recent book release I’ve been in need of very easy, mentally easy you know? reads at night, to just unwind. Safe Haven was predictable in its characterization and how the  story was resolved – by now we all know what to expect from Sparks – but the plot was a little more mysterious and darker than his usual work. I liked that. I love studying his work, because I’d like to try writing a romance novel one day. One day!

Who inspires you?

My parents and grandparents inspire me – they’re just damned good  people. My daughter and husband make me laugh, and that always inspires my work. I’m inspired as a writer by so many poets ~ Frost, Thoreau, Sara Teasdale, Mary Oliver ~ but mainly by people who took/are taking brave stands: Terry Fox, Rosa Parks, our war veterans, the single parents of 911 babies. Their stories remind me not to be a wimp when I’m having troubles writing a piece, or achieving any kind of goal. I think of them and I say to myself, Suck it Up, Buttercup!

Can you tell us about your new book?

Carry On Dancing is out in bookstores and on Amazon.com and bn.com now! It’s a book of poetry that I wrote in the last year and a half. It’s a mixture of poems about the world we live in – the world of Twitter and war and tsunamis and money-hungry marketers – set against our private worlds – those of our loves, our loss, our partnerships – and how we can balance both worlds and carry on dancing, through it all.

Where did the inspiration for the book cover come from?

I took that shot on our daughter’s fifth birthday. We’d just made this colourful tutu for her together after school (it was really easy- from a kit! I’m a poet, not a seamstress) and as she put it on and started twirling around, I started snapping away. I have such happy memories from that day.

What are your future projects

I have a lot of projects in the works. I have an illustrator finishing up my children’s bed time story; I’m working on my next book of poems but I’m going to take my time at that one, and I’m thinking about writing a novel. I’m also open to opportunities that come my way.

5 things you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years.

Gosh, can we just do the next five minutes? I’m trying to live in the moment more. I do have goals, but having just realized the biggest one – getting a poetry book published by a publisher before I hit 40 (I’m 40 on April 11!) I don’t want to push myself. I’m in coasting mode: sit back, enjoy the ride and the view, and see what comes my way. I just want to be a good wife, mother, friend, daughter, and to continue writing, and living with passion.

Do you have anything you wish to share with aspiring writers? Any advice?

Write what you know. Write from your heart. Don’t over edit. Don’t second-guess yourself. Volunteer. Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

How can we purchase  a copy of your Book?

Carry On Dancing is now available on Amazon.com, bn.com and signed copies are also available from me, via Paypal, by writing writer@hgrace.com

Click here to all my books on Amazon and my children’s book:  The Groovy Granny

This is my new web site :  http://heathergracestewart.me

This is my blog:   http://heathergracestewart.com

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Kim!
Heather

Thank you Heather!  Such a pleasure getting to know you more.. and a fellow Montrealer to boot!  We should do coffee soon!  Congrats on being no 2 NOW!!  at Amazon.ca!!

You can also follow Heather Grace Stewart on Facebook 

Hope you enjoyed your stay,

Kim