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Molly Fisk | Tiferet Talk with Melissa Studdard

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Please join Melissa Studdard and her new co-host and publisher of Tiferet Journal, Donna Baier Stein on 04/29/14 at 7PM EST for a conversation with author, poet, life coach and creative writing teacher Molly Fisk.

Fisk’s books include the poetry collections The More Difficult Beauty and Listening to Winter, and a collection of radio essays, Blow-Drying a Chicken, Observations from a Working Poet.  

Fisk has appeared for Tedx Events and in the PBS documentary, “The Loss of Nameless Things,” and she is the recipient of many fellowships, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Among the many other honors she has received are a Dogwood Prize, the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize in Poetry, and the National Writer’s Union. She is also poet laureate of KVMR-FM, where she can be heard weekly.

To purchase Molly Fisk's books, and to learn more about her, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/mg4u5yk and Wikipedia: http://tinyurl.com/n3ds8nw

Tiferet Journal is pleased to also offer to you our multiple award-winning The Tiferet Talk Interviews book. This book includes 12 exceptional interviews from Julia Cameron, Edward Hirsch, Jude Rittenhouse, Marc Allen, Arielle Ford, Robert Pinsky, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Robin Rice, Jeffrey Davis, Floyd Skloot, Anthony Lawlor, and Lois P. Jones. It can be purchased in both print and Kindle formats on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/bu8m2zs


0:18 Melissa Studdard

Hello and welcome to the Tiferet Talk. I am Mellisa Studdard and this is the Blog Talk Radio Show for Tiferet, a journal of spiritual literature, where we publish writings and engage in dialogues to promote peace in the individual and in the world. We are thrilled that you are with us right now and we will love for you to also join our global online community. You can find it at www.tiferetjournal.com. There in addition to your interacting with other members reading their writings and hosting their own, you can subscribe to the journal which in each issue presents beautiful spiritually and intellectually compelling poetry, prose and arts. This evening our fabulous guest is author, poet, the life coach and creative writing teacher, Molly Fisk. Fisk's books include the poetry collections, The More Difficult Beauty and Listening to Winter and a collection of radio essay, Blow-Drying a Chicken, Observations from a Working Poet. On her writing, John Updike has stated Molly's voice is crisp and decided yet relaxed and just close enough, somehow--and the pieces are all impeccably shaped and written. Fearless, clear-eyed work. Fisk had appeared for Tedx events and in the PBS documentary, The Loss of Nameless Things, and she is the recipient of many fellowships and honors including grants from National Endowment for the Arts, The California Arts Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as the Dogwood Prize, The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize in poetry and more. She is also a poet laureate of KVMR-FM or she can be heard weekly as well. I am delighted to introduce to you Tiferet Publishing, Donna Baier Stein, who will be joining me as co-host for this and future episodes of Tiferet Talk. Hi Molly, hi Donna, how are you two tonight?

2:26 Molly Fisk

Hi Melissa. Thanks!

2:28 Donna Baier Stein

Very well! Thank you.

2:30 Melissa Studdard

Wow! We are so delighted to have you Molly. I wanted to start by asking you, the subtitle for your book Blow-Drying a Chicken, which I love blow-drying a chicken, but the subtitle, Observations from a Working Poet. I note you said before when discussing the book, that poets observe things differently. So I wanted to see if you could talk about what that means to observe the world as a poet

3:02 Molly Fisk

I think that poets are given permission. You know, we are sort of outcasts of the culture. We do not have to wear lipstick and we do not even have to wear berets and sandals anymore. So we have a little more leeway and I think a lot of poets are just good at noticing things. We are good at seeing the stuff that other people have moved a little too fast to notice. So, I think it depends on how you were raised. Also, my mother was a painter and she would, when I was a little kid, she takes me outside and sau look at the underside of the leaf, not just the front but the back, it is really pretty. She does go on to count, how many colors of green we could see on a walk and stuff like that.

3:48 Melissa Studdard

So is that some __3:48__ about looking at the underside of the leaf? What a wonderful person to have, as a mom.

3:56 Molly Fisk

Yeah, yeah, it was very... I did not know, I was going to be a poet but it turned out to be quite useful.

4:02 Melissa Studdard

Wow. Well that actually brings me to the next question. I did read somewhere that you started writing at the age of 35 and has a way of going through trauma. So I would love to hear your thoughts about poetry as a method for healing in general but also specifically about the world that poetry plays and your own recovery process.

4:27 Molly Fisk

I was not... You know, I have a college degree. I'm sure I took some English classes. I don't remember much about them and the only real exposure to poetry I had was that my mother would read a lot of Robert Frost when she got lonely for New England. We were out in California. So I have this one reference point for poetry and I did not know much of anything about contemporary poetry until someone handed me a Mary Oliver poem that was, this was before the internet, so she gave a Xerox copy and I put it on my icebox. Mary Oliver was probably the first contemporary poet I had ever read.

5:10 Melissa Studdard

Do you remember which poem that was?

5:12 Molly Fisk

Oh yes. It was Wild Geese, one of her two very popular ones among middle-aged American women. And when I started to go through the trauma that you were talking about, is the recovery of memories of childhood sexual abuse and when I started to go through having those memories come back which I originally thought was an acid flashback, that seemed highly unfair because I have not taken very much acid. I just did not know how to talk about what I was experiencing and it seemed as though the language for it was in this one particular poem. So I went and got a book of Mary Oliver's, and read the book and then I just tried to write something myself and I would not say it was very good. But about two or three weeks after writing a lot, my plumber came over to fix the kitchen sink and looked at the poem that I had put on my icebox and said, "Who wrote this?", and I said, "I did." and he said, "Oh you should keep going." The reason to pay attention to plumbers in California is that most of them have a PhD in English.

6:33 Melissa Studdard

That's right? Well, I read somewhere that you also said that whenever you get stuck, you always go back to Mary Oliver and I was kind of wondering what that looks like for you, I mean, how does she, is it just reading her? Or do you recite her? I mean, how does she get you unstuck? Because I thought that was really cool.

6:54 Molly Fisk

I think it is the, it can be anything. I have memorized a couple of her poems so I could recite one to myself and that can help, or just reading them off the page, usually out loud. I just get back into that rhythm of conversation that she is so good at. Her poems are so well-crafted and she is always telling you there were eighty drafts and stuff which appalls me because the most I have ever done is six. But she just had mastered a kind of conversational tone and is very good at going from the collective you that she likes to use. You know, you do have to be good, out into the world and describing something from the natural world and then coming back to that you. I just feel as though maybe because that's where I started, hearing her voice again can open that door that I have to poetry.

7:56 Melissa Studdard

Uhm, that's. Donna, did you think you had a question that was related to that?

8:01 Donna Baier Stein

I do, and I actually also just wanted to, you mentioned Molly, that thing, that Mary Oliver's poems showed this wonderful rhythm of conversation and I thought that you are, the book of, the radio essays. Blow-Drying a Chicken also had this wonderful rhythm of conversation. They said it felt like you were sitting across from me and chatting as a friend. And you use to you herself, certainly beautifully and Melissa had asked you about using writing in your own healing and I know also in that book, you talked about using writing and workshops with cancer patients and how there was book you mentioned by maybe Panabaker, about how writing helps us heal and I wondered if you are willing to say a few words about that.

8:49 Molly Fisk

Sure, Jimmy Pennebaker is a sociologist, I think, from one of the Texas universities and he wanted to know whether writing which anecdotally we all think is very good for you, really had a scientific baseis of healing. So he did a bunch of experiments, probably now 25 years ago and discovers that writing, if you are doing it using both sides of your brain, really does help boost your immune system for about six weeks after you, I think the experiment was for 20-minute sessions in four days and he tracked all these people's health service attendance then he did blood work and stuff like that. So using both sides of your brain and I am not sure how he decided that was the reason it worked nor am entirely sure how to get people to use both sides of their brains, just as a writing teacher because I am not a doctor or a scientist but what I do with my cancer patients is have them go back and forth between what is logical and as much left brain that we can figure out. You know, something, describing something that is precise and clearly defined and then I have them write about their emotions about it, which it seems to me would bring in the right side of the brain. So we do a lot of laughing and a lot of crying and I asked them what they wore to the prom and things like that and seems a lot of them over there, 60s and 70s, that bring a lot of laughter. So...

10:30 Melissa Studdard

Well. Oh! Go ahead please.

10:33 Molly Fisk

It's just been really fruitful. I have been teaching this one class for 15 years and we have lost some people, but we have also got people who have been in the class that whole time, and to see them 15 years out after their cancer experiences is incredibly wonderful. I just love, I love being in a population of people who went through something hard and lived and are able to just get right down into things. They are not pretending in anyway.

11:11 Donna Baier Stein

And do you meet with them weekly or...

11:13 Molly Fisk

Yes, an eight-week session and then we take a couple of weeks off.

11:17 Donna Baier Stein

Uh huh. And you have like writing in class or in group writing exercises and then discuss, talk and...

11:22 Molly Fisk

It is really the trading and sharing, the writing and sharing, yeah. There is nothing in there about craft or punctuation.

11:31 Donna Baier Stein

Right. That's wonderful.

11:34 Melissa Studdard

It sounds wonderful. Molly, I would love to make sure that our listeners get to experience your writing first hand. Would you read one of your essays for us?

11:47 Molly Fisk

I would be delighted.

11:50 Melissa Studdard


11:52 Molly Fisk

This is called Sentimental Value, "Today, I went to my mother's house for the final time. She has been dead for six years, four months and three days, not that I am counting. When she died, we were bereaved and unorganized and left a lot of her stuff. The things we did not immediately want or have to deal with, in the garage, the attic, the linen closet, and one of my brothers moved in on top of it all. Now that it's time to sell the house and my brother has moved out, the rest of us congregated one last time, partly to sort things and claim many Tupperware containers or mismatched linen napkins we might want and partly to say goodbye. I devoutly wished we had dealt with this junk six years ago. When I got there, the house looked like a bomb had gone off scattering papers, pot lids and hand towels in every direction. Some of it was anonymous and therefore disposable. But there were dangerous pitfalls. It is amazing what happens to middle-aged persons, suddenly faced with a pale green washcloth they used in childhood, little black penguins still marching across its pen. Objects I could not have dredged from my memory at gunpoint suddenly matter more to me than my left arm. Try to dissuade your parents from dying. You were not yet old enough to deal with the family face club. You were never going to be old enough.

13:01 Melissa Studdard

That is amazing. My favorite part is when you say, it is amazing what happens when middle-aged persons suddenly faced with a pale green washcloth you used in childhood. That is wonderful, and to dissuade your parents from dying. You know your humor is wisdom. It is really wonderful. I would love to know more about the radio programs that the essays were written for and also what your audience is like because I feel such a strong sense of community in the writings.

13:18 Molly Fisk

To be fair, my mother died on the youngest side and by the time she realized the chemo was working, she did not have energy left to purge the garage. Many parents are able to do several rounds of divestiture so by the time you have to cope with odds and ends, most of them have already been sent to third world nation by the goodwill. I took some things here and there, a battered silver bowl that none of us had ever seen before, fabric my mother had never cut or sewn, something they bade goodbye to, the penguin face clock which was shredding at one and would have looked ridiculous framed on my wall. The plum tree, my mother had loved and the view out three of her windows that nearby wooded hills. I made my farewell to the frayed purple ribbon attached to the over headlights pull cord above the washing-machine. I tied that ribbon up there when I was 28 so my 5 feet 3 inch mother would stop risking her neck climbing an unsteady ladder to rich it. The thing about memory is that it does not mean anything to anyone but you. It is almost lonely if you think about it. My siblings do not react to the same things I do and likewise they have relationships with stuff in that house that I know nothing about. It is not a fancy house and the layout is peculiar so the new owners will probably pare it down and build on the footprint. Maybe they will replant the plum tree, who knows? The pull cord and its ribbon hanging down in front of the washing machine will definitely be history except when every once in a while I remember them."

15:36 Molly Fisk

It is a very, community-based place here. I live in a small mining town in California and the radio station, it is not a college tent, one of the stations that sort of like a college station. It is really a good station and there are probably 18,000 people in the local area and then we probably reach another 4000 people down in the Sacramento Valley. So it is not a huge population that hears me, but everybody in town knows who I am and they always say that was a great poem you read last night when instead it was an essay, and I do not mind because if they think it is a poem, it is good. And I was asked, just off the cuff by the news department, I think in 2004, if wanted to do some radio commentary and I did not know anything about it and so I said sure. And they give me no parameters whatsoever except for time. I could write about anything I wanted except I could not use the FCC-banned forewords. And I was kind of petrified and I wrote five or six essays right away so I would have some spares and it just turned into this really wonderful outlet for me in a way. You know poetry I feel as though, that poetry has a lot of history and I was not trained in it, I have learned a lot of it by myself or from my first poetry teacher, Dorian Lock, I learned a lot of poems in her living room. But I feel as though, it is much more of a serious matter and some of these radio __17:28__ I can just __17:30_off and say whatever I feel like. So there is something liberating about them.

17:37 Melissa Studdard

That is interesting though, that people think of them as poems. Do you notice similarities yourself between, maybe the structure or the rhythms or anything that you know, I mean, do you notice some more similarities or more differences in poetry and your essays.

17:54 Molly Fisk

I think I notice the differences, I think that they have in their minds as a poet so everything I say is going to be poetry. And you really cannot complain about that. They are not, you know, they are taken into a different world for three minutes and I think that people also love to be read to. There is that aspect of magic that is involved.

18:19 Melissa Studdard


18:23 Donna Baier Stein

It does sound like you have an incredible community where you live and that you spend a lot of, or I do not know, a lot, but sometimes at the cafés and coffee shops and with friends and neighbors and weddings etc, etc, etc, and I was really curious reading it and listening to you now talk about the community with the radio show like, sometimes in our culture we think of writers as introverts and I wondered how you balance, I guess I am curious specifically, do you do your writings in a coffee shop or do you socialize and then go in retreat and do your writing in private?

19:00 Molly Fisk

I was raised doing my homework at the kitchen table with the dishwasher on and usually Neil Young or Elton John on the stereo, my siblings milling around and there were some dogs and a couple of cats and my parents were probably there some place. So I feel very comfortable in a big loud place trying to do something mental and specific.

19:27 Donna Baier Stein

Uh huh. Okay.

19:28 Molly Fisk

But having said that, the coffee shop does not work anymore because everybody knows I am there. So now my friends will come in and want to have coffee. Now sometimes I'll go to IHOP or some place where none of my friends are and do a little riding there or I'll go a nearby town where people do not know who I am. Ana a lot of the time I just put on my own sofa or go to the river and sit on a rock. I like the outside noise. I mean, myself just like to know that I am not alone.

20:03 Donna Baier Stein


20:04 Molly Fisk

There are other people in the world.

20:05 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, that is a real good thing. Yes.

20:08 Molly Fisk

Yeah, after I have had a hit of that every morning at the café, I can come home and write all day long if I feel like it.

20:14 Donna Baier Stein

Yes. Yeah.

20:16 Melissa Studdard

Now, sort of related to this, I have heard you say that, some actually really eloquent things about why it is important for writers to have a down time and not for them to do too many events. I think you said you were invited to do 40 or 50 events that you accept for. And could you talk a little bit about that, about how downtime, even of things like you are not doing anything sort of feeds into the writing in an important way.

20:50 Molly Fisk

I think that writing, I think that any art, but I can only say this as a writer, but I've talked to a lot of other artists about this. I think there is a certain level of sinking into yourself in order to be expressive and if you are running around doing things even wonderful things, you are not able to sink into yourself. It requires solitude and often for me it requires nature and it is often for me a longer process than I ever could imagine. So if I don't get at least about an hour and a half everyday of noodling around, not doing anything important and being by myself, I start to feel as though I am overdrawn in my account. And if I have been away travelling, I need to come home and really settle into my own spaces again. And I think that, you know, certainly this modern world does not allow for that for most people. Everybody's got jobs and then they got kids and then they've got __22:03__. The other thing in people just do not spend any time with themselves at all. But I think if you are going to be able to produce the art, the writing that you want to, you have to sit with yourself and say hello for a long time.

22:23 Melissa Studdard

That is great, thank you.

22:26 Donna Baier Stein

I actually have opened here on my computer Molly's manifesto from your book, about which ties in to what you're just saying. You wrote, "I want to help people be more fully themselves, find their core strengths and beliefs and hold to those against the deep distractions of our culture. I think the work of a life is to stealing oneself down to the richest possible essence." which is what you talked about. And so, I love hearing you say it and reinforcing the importance of this.

23:00 Molly Fisk

I just think we can't get anywhere without it and it is the big fight against the culture in the sense that people are always saying that, "Oh you know, artists and writers are radicals." and we have to be. The rest of the world is about commerce and it is heading in another direction.

23:20 Melissa Studdard

You know, I want to make sure that we have time to hear a poem from you too. So would you share one with us.

23:30 Molly Fisk

): Yes. I am gonna share this particular one, for two reasons. Speaking of commerce, I won a thousand dollars for it. Yeey! So I am fond of it and also since I wrote it, I started to learn how to paint. So now I'll read it and I think how did I know all that stuff, I was not painting yet. It is called Washington Square, New York, 1941, "When Edward Hopper finishes his painting for the night, sets the boar bristles to soak in turpentine, wipes the thick not-yet-crusted-over drips from his smock with a blue rag and tips his palette up to incubate tomorrow's luck. He isn't thinking of greenish light from a street lamp, how it hits the plate glass and fractures through it, or the counter's corner in an all-night city diner. Most of the time he is just hungry, already smelling the stew his wife likes to make from white beans and bacon. His eyes lost focus and his other senses - so long ignored in deference to saturated color - come alive more vivid now because of their confinement. How clear the little click as the lamp's wick sinks below its silver mouth, scritch of bootheels on the tile stair when he descends. He inhales the evening, the butcher's bloody work, stale malt that drifts from a window. The snowy world receives him. Flakes melt and run down his cheeks."

23:41 Melissa Studdard

I was charmed by it, you know. And then this one statute, __34:43_ which is like, which actually felt like a really strong sort of feminism where you said you can't stand to bowl with an ugly colored ball because of picking the ball with. (Laughter).

25:15 Melissa Studdard

That's so visceral and sensory. And this is before you started painting?

25:21 Molly Fisk

Yes. Yeah.

25:22 Melissa Studdard

Wow. Okay. You know I like thinking of it in relation to your description of yourself as a working poet because this very much in the midst of him as a working painter.

25:35 Molly Fisk

I love, about work. I let my students to write about it. You know I am always reading Sol Levine. There is just lots of kinds of works that I do not think is used enough as a bridge matter and it is really interesting.

25:51 Melissa Studdard

I agree. Will you tell us a little bit more about the prize of this one? That is exciting!

25:56 Molly Fisk

That was the Dogwood Prize and I had just begun writing in syllabics. I worked a little bit with the poet Molly about the manuscripts that I had actually, it was this manuscript, The More Difficult Beauty. And she had said, "I think you should try to use, form a little bit more and she is the more formal poet than many and so, and I'd never even thought syllabics before. So, this is one of my earliest syllabic poems, and I submitted it to a contest that I knew that Marilyn Nelson was judging and I know that she is a more formal poet than many. And it was nice thing then to win because I got to meet her and make friends with her. It was a fun to have a thousand dollars around the house.

26:48 Melissa Studdard

Yeah and to get a thousand dollars for a poem, of all things.

26:52 Molly Fisk

Once I think I said it was $41 a word or something like that. I figured that part out but that's what really excite me for.

27:01 Melissa Studdard

Uhm, great. Well, Donna, just you, I wanna make sure you have the opportunity to ask the questions you wanna ask as well. Is there anything else that is really important that you wanted to know?

27:13 Donna Baier Stein

A couple of things. You mentioned swimming a lot and I know there is nothing literally spiritual in these essays and yet and the concern for other human individuals and then the concern for the world. There is a spiritual element, I believe and I wondered if you see swimming or anything else as a particular daily practice in your life or weekly practice or?

27:45 Molly Fisk

I definitely see swimming as a daily practice but only in the summer. Because I'm swimming in a lake.

27:53 Donna Baier Stein

That sounded wonderful, actually, so...

27:55 Molly Fisk

I just want you all you of you to come here and swim with me. (Laughter). Right now, it is a wetsuit weather but in a couple of weeks, we will be in there.

28:03 Donna Baier Stein

That's so great that you do that. And then I also read you said that you have a walking desk now. I was curious how that's working out?

28:10 Molly Fisk

That's been actually somewhat annoying. I made this desk. I sort of produced this desk. I got someone to give me a treadmill and I got someone to make me a little tray that fits over the controls where I can put my keyboard and my mouse and then I lifted up my monitor on a big cardboard box and turned it sideways an so that instead of sitting at the chair I am standing on the treadmill, and it is taking me a while to figure out how to get the treadmill to go with the tray on top of it but I have now figured that out.

28:45 Donna Baier Stein

Are you liking it now?

28:46 Molly Fisk

I'm liking it and I don't use it for work-work. If I need to think straight, I need to be quieter, but for Facebook on which I spend a way too much time it's perfect. So now if you see me on Facebook, you know that I am walking.

29:03 Donna Baier Stein

You're walking. (Crosstalk) Right, right. I also wanted to ask, you know, I was delighted when I read the blurb on your book from John Updike. I was saying. Wow, what a coup, and I wondered what he, he was your uncle, I learned later in the book and obviously loved your writing. And I wondered what he was like as an uncle. Oh also, it also connected because you talk a lot about gardening and I once had a dream where John Updike was working in my garden.

29:42 Molly Fisk

What a dream!

29:46 Donna Baier Stein

Uh huh.

29:47 Melissa Studdard

I think that is the only gardening ever worth it.

29:49 Donna Baier Stein

I wonder what he was like as an uncle and as a fellow writer.

29:52 Molly Fisk

Well I would never say he was a fellow writer. I would say he was an amazing writer and he paid almost no attention to his nieces and nephews or their writing. That quote is from a letter he sent me.

30:03 Donna Baier Stein


30:04 Molly Fisk

After I sent him some of the essays in an auditory CD format, and it was completely out of the blue. It was first he had ever complemented me for anything. And when I was putting this book together, I wrote to him and said, "So that was stunning letter and I am amazed and I am so happy that you like its pieces. Would it be alright to put it on my book jacket. And he wrote back and said, "Well what a famous a book for, anyway. Of course you can put it on your book jacket."

30:36 Donna Baier Stein

That's sweet, that's nice.

30:38 Molly Fisk

That was very sweet, yeah. And it was very, it was stunning and adorable to be noticed after many years of just sort of being his niece. You know, he was not, he was very, very much in his own world as a writer. He didn't teach a lot. He didn't mentor people that much. He didn't do a lot of blurb rating. And then I think he was really following his own path and not into that much of the social writerly niceties.

31:18 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, I was thinking when I saw the book, that I don't remember seeing a lot of blurbs from him, so I don't know if he did or not, but...

31:28 Molly Fisk

I think he blurbed Billy Collins once, but I'm not positive. He certainly wrote about some of his work. Well. And having him around, I mean, we have this, the family, he wasn't just the star and then the rest of the family kind of listened to him. I had two very smart stocky parents and then John and his first wife, Mary, my mother's older's sister. So we grouped at a dinner table full of repartee and goofiness and bad puns and stuff.

32:03 Melissa Studdard


32:04 Donna Baier Stein

And thinking of puns, you also said you looked every year you'll choose the word for the year, and I wondered what your word is this year.

32:09 Molly Fisk

This year, it's empty.

32:10 Donna Baier Stein


32:12 Molly Fisk

And I meant that not in the sense of being not full of zest, but really more in the sense of it where you're available to be felt.

32:26 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, yeah.

32:27 Molly Fisk

What I was thinking out.

32:35 Donna Baier Stein

To receive.

32:36 Molly Fisk


32:37 Donna Baier Stein

One of the things that I notice in your poems and your essays is that you have this really incredible sense of self-acceptance and to me it's remarkable and beautiful and it's really even constructive. And I began to kind of wonder if this is something, because I know you're a life coach, is this something that you help other people with than your life coaching?

33:05 Molly Fisk

Yes, yeah. Definitely. I think I came to that somewhat through finding out that my life as I really thought it existed was wrong, when I recovered these memories about child abuse. I've been the golden girl of my family, the eldest child, smart, did all these things, and just was restless and couldn't settle down and figure out. I just felt like something was missing, and when it turned out that this was what I was searching for, I was horrified and got thrown out of my family for a little while, and lots of people said they didn't believe me, and I sort of went through an experience of rejection like nothing I had ever even thought of knowing about. So I think some of my self-acceptance started there, where I was the only I had to rely on, and I was either gonna start relying on myself or I was gonna off myself somehow. And the poetry really helped me not do that. I think it's about really where things started.

34:20 Melissa Studdard

I think that that would be the case that you would have to accept yourself, now when you're being rejected at that level, and I mean, there are just so many places where you take some trait that someone like__34:31___something that you pointed out as charming. (Laughter)

34:40 Molly Fisk


34:41 Melissa Studdard

I was charmed by it, you know. And then this one statute, __34:43_ which is like, which actually felt like a really strong sort of feminism where you said you can't stand to bowl with an ugly colored ball because of picking the ball with. (Laughter).

34:58 Molly Fisk

This is who I am. It is who I am.

35:00 Melissa Studdard

No one knows things this way. This is a really...I think that when you think people love to ask you so much. Well, also, you said that, I saw this in many poetry that you used to be a type A personality. So I see no more about that. How did you learn not to be a type A.

35:27 Molly Fisk

It was boring. I mean, I went to Harvard. I got a business degree. I was for a while a banker in Chicago, and I just wasn't having any fun and then I looked at the older bankers, the people higher up in the hierarchy and they were older than I was and I think, I didn't really wanna be like you. I wanna be like some women who comes in her with their baby in the stroller and teaches us how to not to write in bankerish but instead to write in normal English. So, at some point, my interest in making lots of money and working for a big corporation to see what that was like to _36:06__ away. I totally felt it so, the people I was working with were sticking their first language in finance and I was speaking a second or third.

36:18 Donna Baier Stein

And how were you when you left that world?

36:20 Molly Fisk

I went into it when I was 29 and left when I was about 33, 34. So it was right before I started poetry and poetry was definitely my native language. But what if I had not known it?

36:39 Melissa Studdard

Well, thinking of poetry, this is sort of a difficult question and you may not be able to answer it, but I wanna give it a shot anyway. I wanna do a few lines from one of your columns. I just ask if that will be fine if __36:54__, but what I wanna try to ask you is, I was fascinated by the mental cause that went on to create these lines and I wanted just be if you could further remember what was going on that made you make this connection or how you worked this on, so, I will read them to you and then we'll see what happens. Is it okay? "Words are still a comfort even if _37:21__daybreak _37:24__ how is breaking enter someone's mind when life crusted the highest hill, flooding the world with yellow. I like to think it was a woman at her baking, one who glanced to that gold with the dust of flower, the china bowl, who watched the sun's yoke spreading out across the hill unbroken. Daylight pouring now into the jagged shell to have into her open palm." So I am interested in this disconnection, I mean, I just keep seeing in your writing how you take these things that, simply no one else would think to put together like a _38:00__ and world peace. You know, from looking at different things, how did you look at the sun and take a daybreak and then go to yoke and I don't know, I'm going to process words for you.

38:18 Molly Fisk

So, two things. One is, I think probably for a year, I was mulling over that question. What on earth, what is day has break in it. What is going on there. What does that have to do with anything. I mean and I understand daybreaks over the hills or whatever that it might be an old fashioned construction, but I am a literal person and I was looking at it in a literal way and kind of chewing on it. I think not really making any decisions about it but sort of thinking that's really odd. Who named that anyway. And the second thing is, I was trying to write a poem that was longer than one page. And it was driving me crazy. I could write lots of little vignettes and put them together in sections and get to past one page. But I couldn't just write a poem and keep going. And this was a poem that came when I was just furious about it. Then I sat down at my computer one day and almost all of my poems are written by hand in notebooks. But this time, I sat down at the computer and I just started going. And I followed my brain wherever it was trying to go and I got to be on the first page and I kept going. And I was very happy. So, I don't really, you know, a lot of the time after I opened that door in my head and whatever comes out is what comes out. I don't feel as though much of my work is very planned, except in the sense that I might have been mulling something over for a year. And suddenly it will appear in a poem.

40:02 Melissa Studdard

I love that, where in your head, I love that.

40:05 Molly Fisk

Yeah, I mean it's, people talk about channeling and I wouldn't know, but I feel forced away that I just don't know when I'm gonna say it, so I start writing and then I say things I didn't know I was gonna say and they are amazing or not. You should see the bad ones, I mean there's a lot of bad ones. But the process is so much fun and it's so surprising. That I feel as though I will never need to, I'll just never get bored. I'll always have this way of looking at the world that startles me as well as everybody else. And that's a lot of fun.

40:47 Melissa Studdard

Well, okay. You're getting so close to the end and we're about to run out of time, so I'd love to know if you have any other publications or events coming up, a website you would like to point, anything you want to announce in closing.

41:01 Molly Fisk

Sure. If you would like to work with me, the best way is to do that online, and I teach this five-day long intensive called poetry boot camp. The next one is on June 8th and you can reach me at molly@mollyfisk.com Molly with a Y with no E. To find out more about that, I'm bringing in another book of essays and it is called Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace.

41:26 Donna Baier Stein

Oh, great.

41:27 Molly Fisk

That will be in early August. And my website is completely under construction, but next week you can go find it. It's mollyfisk.com. And I'm also all over Facebook so if you wanna say hello in Facebook I'd love to meet new people and talk poetry and all that stuff.

41:47 Melissa Studdard

Hooray, thank you. I think that title make her ever.

41:55 Molly Fisk

Thank you so much for having me on your show. I've had such a lovely time.

42:02 Donna Baier Stein

Me too.

42:03 Melissa Studdard

Donna, thank you too.

42:05 Donna Baier Stein

Thank you, Melissa for letting me participate. It's been a pleasure talking to you both.

42:10 Molly Fisk

Yeah. Let me have a key somewhere. And swim, exactly.

42:17 Melissa Studdard

Okay, good night and I look forward to talking to you both again.

42:23 Donna Baier Stein

Thanks, Molly, thank you so much.

42:25 Melissa Studdard

Before we close, I'd like to remind our listeners that our website www.tiferetjournal.com you can subscribe, donate or purchase single issues of Tiferet Journal and find out about upcoming events. While you are at the site, be sure to also check out the new Tiferet Talk Book. It's a collection of our best interviews from the first year of Tiferet Talk Radio and is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores as well as at the website where we offer a free copy monthly for our giveaway. I'd like to thank Producer and Tiferet Editor or RJ Jeffrey and contributing editor and assistant producer, Udo Hintze for their work every month in helping the show to run smoothly. Our next interview will be with novelist Richard Bach on May 26 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We hope you'll join us then and in the meantime, we would shoot peace, love, happiness and fulfilling work. Until then, goodbye.