Paula Yup

J Journal has published eight of my poems in the past five years. When it comes to process, influences, themes and inspiration, I’m hard put to describe something that has mystified me since I was a child and wrote my first poem “Colors” in class. I know that that was what I was put on the earth to do.

I’m an intuitive writer and have very little control over the words. Somehow, the poems have come to me. I’m lucky.

Feasting with my Friend Juliet I wrote after a move from Spokane, Washington to Majuro in the Marshall Islands where my husband had a teaching job. I saw my college friend Juliet on a layover in Honolulu.

Captain Carl I wrote after I met Captain Carl while taking the trash out. I wrote what happened.

The Strange Day I wrote after I had homesickness in the Marshall Islands where I got unwanted attention when all I wanted to do was to live my life. After I wrote the poem I was going to throw the poem in the trash. The poem showed me in a bad light, and I didn’t want to be reminded of my troubles. J Journal published The Strange Day before I could throw my words away.

Water II I wrote after another such incident. So Feasting with my Friend Juliet, Captain Carl, The Strange Day and Water II are incidents in my daily life.

I also had what I call my on the road poems – Martine the West Nile Virus Specialist, Waiting in Line, The Laundromat and On the Road – which I wrote on trips I took.

I write poems about myself. When nothing is happening I don’t have anything to write. Poets I liked in high school are Vachel Lindsey, e.e. cummings, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Carlos Williams. I also liked the books Spoon River Anthology and The Shropshire Lad.

Since high school I’ve read too many poets to name. As an English major at Occidental College I read many poets. I enjoyed reading The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I also had to study Robinson Jeffers. I also read Gary Snyder for fun.

My short story writer friend Hisaye Yamamoto used to write when something stuck in her craw. Maybe that is as good a reason as any. The writing life has given me much satisfaction over the years and many wonderful colleagues.