Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Questions with Ashley Eichner

Ashley Eichner is a poet, multi-media visual artist, spoken word performer, secret shaman, and gentle spirit from Toledo, OH. She's a member of the Back To Jack Reader's Theater, and the organizer behind the annual Charles Bukowski memorial reading, held at a local watering hole called The Attic. She's also a dear friend and a enthusiastic supporter of local art and artists. Here we discuss poetry, briefly, and a few of her favorite poems. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Do you read poetry?

Yes! I very much enjoy reading poetry. I like to bring along a poetry book and read it aloud on long road trips. Or if my mind can't focus in on a book I love poetry. It sinks in easier to an anxious mind.

Do you have a favorite poet?

I do have a favorite poet, well many favorites but two really that get me. I should say I get them. Charles Bukowski is one of my all time favorites. I love his gruff exterior and warm, lovely interior. Bukowski has the ability to stop and really see the beauty in the moment, even if that moment is shitty or mundane. He understands those dark moments in life and can turn them into poetry, literally.

James Tate is also a favorite of mine. Tate's work is at times bizarre. He can be unexpectedly violent and then so whimsical in the next moment. I love what I perceive to be his inner child, channeling through his work. His poems can be silly and down right ridiculous but always lovely.

I identify with these two poets so much because their personalities, as reflected in their work, are pieces of my own personality. We all speak the same language, if you will. I get them.

Do you have a favorite poem?

I have many favorites but these couple really sink into my soul.

Once In a While Charles Bukowski

it is only
once in a while
that you see
someone whose
and presence
matches yours
at that
and then
usually it's
a stranger.
it was 3 or 4
years ago
i was walking on
Sunset Blvd
toward Vermont
a block away
i noticed a
figure moving
toward me.
there was something
in her carriage
and in her walk
as we came
the intensity
i knew her
entire history:
she had lived
all her life
with men
who had never really
known her.
as she approached
i became almost
i could hear her
footsteps as
she approached.
i looked into
her face.
she was as
as i had
imagined she
would be.
as we passed
our eyes fucked
and loved and
sang to each
and then
she moved
past me.
i walked on
not looking
when i looked
she was
what is one
to do
in a world
where almost everything
worth having
or doing
I went into
a coffee shop
and decided that
if i ever saw
her again somehow,
I'd say
"listen, please
i just must
speak to
I never saw her
I never will.
the iron in our
society silences
a man's
and when you
silence a man's
you leave him
finally with only
a cock.

And then one from  JamesTate:

Five Years Old
The iceman had been very generous that day
with his chips and slivers.

And I had buried my pouch of jewels
inside a stone casket under the porch,
their beauty saved for another world.

And then my sister came home
and I threw a dart through her cheek
and cried all night,

so much did I worship her.

Why does the poem stick with you?

The poems stick with me for different reasons. Tate's because it was the first of its kind for me. I was a teen who had just discovered all these wonderful poets. Then there is this guy. A grown up, professional poet writing such bizarre works. I loved it so much I made a painting of it. Tate uses such wonderful imagery. Another cool example I will share with you is from his poem entitled Coda. "Now on our backs in Fayetteville, Arkansas the stars are falling into our cracked eyes. With my good arm I reach for the sky and let the air out of the moon. It goes whizzing off to shrivel and sink into the ocean." I just really love his view of the world.

Bukowski's poem sticks with me because he speaks the truth. It maybe ugly and gruff but it is the truth. He gets those moments that happen in life. He feels so deeply.

Do you remember the first poem you read? And the circumstance surrounding it?

I am certain I read many as a child. I loved Shel Silverstein. But I really started to get into poetry in my teenage years. I read all of the books in the young adult section at the Washington Branch Library, one of my favorite haunts as a cool teen, then moved to the art /poetry section.  I found Jack Kerouac's On the Road and I fell in love with the freedom he spoke of. I started reading more of his work. I loved the excitement and soulflness of his work. I found Bukowski after that. I remember thinking in my teenage mind "Wow! A dude more depressed than Kurt Cobain!". He was a rebel. I was in love. The older I get, the more life experience I have under the belt, the more I appreciate his work and see the depth in it.

Docent Notes: The poem Once in a While, by Charles Bukowski is included in the posthumous collection Come On In! New Poems, published in 2006 by ECCO/Harper Collins, and the poems Five Years Old, and Coda, by James Tate, are included in his Selected Poems, published in 1991 by Wesleyan.

1 comment:

  1. Mike you do a wonderful job in these interviews. Keep it up man!