15 December 2011

In Her Own Words

I was recently asked by Theron Kennedy to do an interview for TeamPoetry at his website In Their Own Words.  Please click the link to read his interviews with other writers in the spotlight. I am a great fan of Theron's poetry, which you will find here Between the Rhymes.  It was an honor to be invited to participate and I'm grateful to Theron for his dedication to poetry and his untiring promotion of writers whose words might otherwise go unread.
Diana Matisz: In Her Own Words

What is an Artist?

An artist is anyone who has the need to create, in any format. I have a friend who cannot understand why I love the paintings of Jackson Pollock. To my friend, he did nothing but throw paint onto canvas. To me, Pollock's passion to create is apparent in every spatter and drop. His need literally flowed from his body to the canvas. The 'need' to drop everything and sit down to pen words, scribble notes onto a scale, capture something different through the lens of a camera, paint a sunrise before it disappears forever, that 'need' is a component of a true 'artist'.

What are your passions?

My passions are slow-simmering private ones. Although I have strong feelings regarding politics and religion, you won't ever see me discussing them on social networks. If we had a face to face discussion, you would find that I'm rabid about the rights and treatment of the elderly in my country. If you know me well, you know that music and musicians live rent-free in my heart. On an artistic level, photography is a main focus these days. I'm a novice, I have no expensive equipment but I'm quite pleased with some of the work I've shown. I run two online stores. One at RedBubble, solely for the purchase of prints and the second at CafePress, another outlet to share my photography in other formats. They're both doing well and although the monetary factor is nice, the idea that a piece of my art is hanging on the walls of someone an ocean away or just around the block, is even nicer.

What are your favorite styles of poetry? What are your favorite styles to write in?

I really don't know how I would categorize my style of writing. I am in awe and have great respect for those writers who tackle forms such as sonnets, rondeau and triolet. I've attempted form but never published anything. I don't think I have the discipline in my writing. I enjoy reading form much more than my poor attempts at writing it. Haiku are favorites. I love the simplicity and elegance of expression in so few words. Rhyme used to set my teeth on edge until I learned to read it aloud. There's a richness and flow to the structure that wasn't apparent to me immediately. I'm a sponge, I want to read everything.

Who are your favorite poets and have they influenced you? How?

Other than the required reading in high school, I hadn't read much poetry until later into my adult years. Musicians were the poets that spoke to me first. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Joni Mitchell and yes, even Led Zeppelin. Lyrics opened doors to new worlds and ideas for this small town girl. I'm not sure I remember why I began reading poetry but I do remember what started it all. I'd bought a series of books by Winston O. Abbott (writer) and Bette Eaton Bossen (illustrator). Four little books that I picked out of a sale bin, signed no less, elegantly written and beautifully illustrated. I still have them and they are still go-to favorites. I've buried myself in Pablo Neruda, puzzled and marveled over Fernando Pessoa and José Saramago, fallen in love with Seamus Heaney and Robin Robertson. I've devoured the modern Greek poets, thanks to the recommendations of an accommodating friend in Greece and, give me the gift of a big thick poetry anthology and I'll love you forever! Despite this plethora of knowledge, I've found that some of my favorite poets are those writers in my social network. Those whose work I anticipate. To hold the first published book of a friend in my hands means as much to me as the work of a well-known poet. I'm not influenced so much by how another poet writes as I am by how I feel after I've read them. And then I want them to taste the flavors in my writing that I've tasted in theirs.

When did you start writing?

If I remember correctly, my first official piece of artistic writing was for an art class in grade school. Our assignment was to write and illustrate a small book. My book was about autumn and it was in the shape of an oak leaf. Although the book has long since disappeared, I do remember the joy I felt over the finished product. My art and my words bound in tangible form. I'd always wanted to write and over the years have kept half-filled journals, scribbled ideas to be used in the future for....something. It wasn't until the death of a family member a few years ago that the desire to write became a reality. Grief became the catalyst to writing, writing became the outlet for grief. A blessing from tragedy.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I lived away from this area for many years but am currently residing in the 'Burgh again. It remains to be seen where my next 'home' will be.

Why do you write?

Simple, I write to express myself. I'm a fairly private person and I've found that writing allows me to share a little more of my life in a way that's more comfortable for me than just blurting out the facts. Early on, I was very unsure of myself as a writer and shy about sharing my work. I was always comparing my writing to that of so many others until I finally had to convince myself that if I liked what I'd written, that should be enough. I published a poetry book in 2010, mostly as an experiment. I wanted to see if my poetry would sell, which it has. But mostly, it was the satisfaction of opening that book and seeing my words in ink and again, holding the tangible result of a creative effort in my hands. I'm astounded and grateful, always, whenever readers share my work or take the time to comment about something they particularly enjoyed. My joy is when readers tell me they felt as if they were 'there' with me while reading. I want a reader to see what I see, hear the undercurrents running beneath the words.

What inspires you?

I look to anything and everything in regard to inspiration for my writing. I love to eavesdrop on conversations while sitting on a bus or on a park bench. I have a musician friend who creates whole songs from one-line phrases given to him by his listeners. That's what I anticipate, a catch phrase that will trigger a flow of words. Two years ago, during a walk in the snow with my five year old nephew, an idea for a book surfaced out of nowhere while listening to him tell me about his imaginary friends who lived in the pine trees at the end of our yard. Music is also a huge source of inspiration to me. Often, when the words seem to have fled, listening to music will quite often pull buried emotions to the surface and along with them, the missing words. My natural environment, the Allegheny River valley, is at the heart of much of my writing and particularly in my photography. I also love that chance meeting with a stranger, someone who takes you out of your comfort zone for a short time. One of my own favorite poems, "The Carney Man", is a perfect example of that and I've included it below.

Have you discovered what is unique in your voice as a poet?

I believe the voice of every individual poet/writer is unique. How could it be otherwise. My writing doesn't fall into a niche or follow rules and form. It is what it is. I suppose if there was one 'voice' for which I would like to be known, it would be that of a storyteller. I'm an apprentice hoping to improve with patience, practice and experience.

The Carney Man

Seated on a city bench sipping lemonade
lost in clamor of squealing children and
mechanical skeletons kissing summer skies

a body settled down beside me and
out the corner of an eye I saw
blue bans

and when he smiled, gold-toothed grin.
Defensive walls clattered upward,
body language stiffened until he nodded

and said 'good evening miss' and smiled
once more, this time with green eyes.
An hour later he had quoted Heaney, Cave

and Cohen and spun my head with tales
of Memphis belles, delta blues and

We said goodbye and as I walked away
he called out 'Hey miss, come back anytime.
For you, the rides are free'.

Links to Diana Matisz's poetry and photography:


  1. your musicians sited are also very much my favorite poets also Oh and Tom Waits lol I so enjoyed reading this interview with you about yourself and feel like I know you as much you say is very much related to how i feel and think :)) I also think you are one very amazing talented writer and artist and have felt very privileged to have had the luck to have met you and share with you online here at twitter words .. the very best to you always beez :))

  2. wishing you the happiest of holidays and i hope 2012 brings you many smiles!
    *giant glittery squishy hugs*
    dani ♥