• Deborah P Kolodji and Kathabela Wilson

      Deborah P Kolodji and Kathabela Wilson

      An interview with Deborah P Kolodji.

      By Kathabela Wilson

      Deborah’s haiku steps into outer space to discover an inner universe we all can feel.

      A telescope on the poet in the contemporary world

      How do you see yourself as a poet in the world of technology, in this time, and literally, space?

      Today’s world creates hectic lives. Everything needs to be done now, often with little time for deep reflection. As a “road warrior,” a technical consultant for a business software firm, my moments for reflection become scattered, in different places and time zones. Haiku is the perfect poetry for me because I can catch glimmers of inspiration in the moments between catching flights, deadlines, drives to clients, etc.

      Haiku also helps me appreciate the moments of my world more fully. Whether it is a wildflower unexpectedly growing in the old railroad ties by a cabinet factory, a painted poinsettia on a taco truck, or a moment of quiet in a historic battlefield, haiku helps me remember and also see moments I might have missed otherwise.

      Focusing in on Planet Poet

      Deborah P Kolodji at USC Pacific Asia Museum

      Deborah P Kolodji at USC Pacific Asia Museum

      I know you have a special love for science and a scientific background, how does this create a point of departure for your views and poetic observations?

      I often gravitate to natural science topics, as well as astronomy. Soon after my divorce, I wrote an entire series of seismic poems…poems about earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, etc., all of which were really about relationships. One of my earliest published poems was called “Cal Tech Divorce Study,” which was published in Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an organization that I later joined and became president for five years.

      A microscope on the poet

      Deborah P Kolodji reciting one of her poems

      Deborah P Kolodji reciting one of her poems

      Your childhood and natural inquisitiveness and inventiveness, how did this lead to poetry?

      I’ve always loved poetry. I think most children do. I loved the Owl and the Pussycat and nursery rhymes and other poems in children’s books. We stop reading aloud to our children once they can read for themselves, and the sheer enjoyment of hearing something read and how it sounds is lost.

      Dr. Francis St. Lawrence was one of my teachers at Hamilton Junior High in Long Beach. Although he taught math and science, on Fridays he would stop class a few minutes early and read a poem to us. He would read us poems he loved, like “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, and “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. I found his love of poetry contagious. In his class I also I built a seismograph, with my father’s help for for the science fair. It actually recorded an earthquake, which is how I came to win a regional award in a national science essay contest (Future Scientists and Engineers) as well as an award at the Los Angeles County Science Fair. Although I did not go into seismology, I still am interested in the forces of the earth and they crop up in my poetry.

      A microphone to the poet

      Deborah P Kolodji

      Deborah P Kolodji

      How did you come to be the great leader organizer of poets and events that you are today?

      When I started writing poetry again, after the divorce, I was immediately drawn to writing short scientific, sci-fi poetry called scifaiku. I became part of an e-mail list, where there would be a topic – binary stars, for example, and then everyone would write these little short poems, some might be about binary stars. Then, we might write poems about entropy or clones or Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. I also became part of local Pasadena poetry groups and of the Southern CA Haiku Study Group. When the founder/leader, Jerry Ball, moved to Northern CA I decided to become moderator so it could continue. We now meet at the Pasadena Library – Hill Avenue Branch at 2:00 pm on the third Saturday of every month and all are welcome! It is important for me to “give back” to the communities that nourished my growth as a writer. I also served as president for the Science Fiction Poetry Association for 5 years, and in 2013 I co-chaired “Haiku North America” conference on the Queen Mary. I was recently elected to be the Regional Coordinator for California for the Haiku Society of America.

      A pulse on the poet

      Deborah P Kolodji on her Birthday.

      Deborah P Kolodji on her Birthday.

      Your enthusiasm easily inspires others, including your own family, why do you love haiku?

      Haiku is the perfect poetry for the world we live in. It is short enough to tweet, it is short enough to fit into a busy life. By its very nature, it helps the poet focus on the tiny details, the egret that flies across the street, the peacock wandering a neighborhood in Arcadia, a wildflower blooming at Arlington Garden, that we might otherwise miss.

      And yes, two of my children, now past college age, write and publish their haiku, attending meetings sometimes, and helping with events. We had a family vacation to Arkansas a couple years ago, where some of us were in a van traveling from the Ozark Mountains to Little Rock and while I was driving, the car erupted into haiku about our visit to the ruins of my mother’s house, deep in the forest, where she was born. Even my sister ended up writing some haiku that day. It helped us crystallize all our feelings about how we felt being there, deep in the forest, where nothing but the old well and remnants of a foundation remain.

      By Deborah P Kolodji

      shadows in the folds
      of our napkins

      dark chocolate
      the radius
      of your smile

      all the birds
      in my neighbor’s tree
      custody agreement

      gull cry
      a morning’s layers
      of gray

      fresh squirt
      of a kumquat
      trash pickup day

      short day
      the cop doesn’t give me
      a cell phone ticket


      counting sheep
      a stack of bills
      after Christmas

      arriving flights
      on the lower level

      neighborhood dispute
      that woodpecker outside
      my window

      lengthening days
      and even then
      not enough time

      wave of godwits
      shifting, turning …
      orange surfboard

      marsh stillness
      my voice hoarse even before
      our argument

      on Mount Wilson
      furnace repair estimate


      Learn more about Deborah on her website.


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        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

        • Latest posts by Kathabela Wilson

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      1. Gregory Longenecker says:

        Deborah is such a positive force in haiku, I’m pleased that she’s been featured. She can say so much with her poetry that it’s always a pleasure to read her work.

      2. susandiri says:

        what a joy, reading this exploration of your life & poetry, Deborah and Kathabela!!

      3. Toti O'Brien says:

        Deborah’s haikus are so dense that in fact they “still” time. They force our attention to focus so intensely, that we “have to” slow down and enter a deep, telluric rhythm. They expand time and space immensely…

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