Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed poet Tami Belt about her writing style, what inspires her, and the work that went into her new poetry book, Poetic Justice.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I wanted to be a rock star but couldn’t sing on key, so I sing the praises of others.
As a 2nd generation Las Vegas native who grew up playing golf before golf was cool (dad was a PGA teaching pro), I gained a unique perspective of the stories people believe and how they shape their life, work and relationships.
I love stories! From changing the ending of ghost stories in elementary school to avoid a deadly demise to using poetry as therapy, stories saved my life.
When did you first WANT to write poetry?
I never wanted to write poems; they wrote me.
Poems poured out of me as I tried to make sense of love, life and relationships; first, during my tumultuous teenage years and later, as I left an abusive marriage at age 20 and dealt with being stalked as I became another one of his addictions.
Poems became my therapy.
When I didn’t think anyone could see, hear or understand me, my poems told the Universe what I needed to say. Later, re-reading the poems once a year helped separate the emotions from the events and I was able to step back and look at what happened from a different perspective and re-solve life’s puzzle by re-membering the pieces and re-write the True story.
Even though I never wanted to write poetry, I needed to write poetry.
When did you take a step to start writing poetry?
Poems started writing me at age 12.
I was surprised because, as a bit of a tomboy, I thought poems were sissy. However, writing the poems helped me feel seen, heard and understood so I let them flow.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
While the poems were written over decades, it took about a year to organize the poems into chapters, capture photos, write captions and go through the editing process. The editing took the most time which I thought was ironic because all the content was set.
What made you want to write Poetic Justice?
When I looked to expand my services to include online classes and public speaking, I knew a book would help increase credibility. While I could have written about many topics related to Public Relations, that didn’t interest me. Then I realized I already had a book, my poems!
This book represents a full-circle of my story-telling career. My intent for publishing a collection of my poems was to encourage everyone to express themselves, whether through writing, music, art, dance, etc. The medium doesn’t matter, getting your story out does.
I believe everyone has a story someone in the world needs to hear for insight, inspiration or to know they’re not alone.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Poetic Justice?
Writing the poems was easy, living them was sometimes harder.
Do you keep to a theme with your poems, or just go where the mood strikes?
Feelings poured onto pages, napkins and scraps of paper faster than I could write. It wasn’t until I organized the poems into chapters for my book that I identified the themes of love, life & relationships.
What is your favourite poem in Poetic Justice about and what inspired it?
I have a special affection for Poets are Madmen.
When the poems stopped writing me, a friend was upset and wanted me to continue writing. I explained that the poems stopped coming and it was OK because needing to write could be painful. I rarely wrote poems for others, but I wrote this one to explain what it was like to write poems.
Poets Are Madmen
Poets are madmen
who see visions and dreams
they look inside of souls
and tell you what it means
A psychotic little world
nobody can understand
they bring the strong to their knees
it’s a universal plan
Tears of joy and sorrow
aren’t expressions of grief
as they make the masses wonder
and stare in disbelief
You think you understand
the translation of their words
but if you read between the lines
you might see what they want heard
In desperation they try
merely to fit in
a normal reality
to a poet is a sin
For without experience
of places where most run and hide
the poet can never express
your deepest feelings inside
Thoughts of lust and freedom
tears of grief and joy
the hidden soul comes to life
you lost with your childhood toys
Dare to taste their wine
and drink from their cup
at a table set for one
you’ll never grow up
© Tami Belt
Poetic Justice: Lessons of love, life & relationships
Does music help you write or is it a distraction?
Music was definitely a muse!
Music is a magical time machine that connects us with our feelings by translating them into songs. A few poems were inspired by such classic rockers as RUSH and Led Zeppelin, among others. I didn’t write while listening to music specifically, but songs inspired poems when they touched my soul.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Poetic Justice need?
Since the poems , photos and captions were complete, only the layout that required editing.
It involved filling out a spec form. The process was very different from collaborations with graphic artists I’ve worked with in the past. Translating the creative into a literal spec layout was more challenging than I anticipated.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write poetry?
If you feel it, think it or wonder about it write it down.
Follow curiosity. Let your imagination lead. Riff on words.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I would love to help women who have been abused re-write their story. Maybe a book about the process of my journey through poetry is start.
Also, I am passionate about nurturing children’s imagination. I have a dream project that’s been percolating for a while now.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes! I never intended to publish a collection of my poems because it’s my diary. The heartfelt responses from friends and readers recounting how the poems helped them has been overwhelming and humbling.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
The book is available at Balboa Press https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/657122-Poetic-Justice
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/tami.belt
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