Photo: Poet & Painter "Soulhearts"
Welcome to Center Stage, Soulhearts. You embrace a lot of passions. Painting. Writing. Paper crafting. Time spent with Nature: including work in your garden. All these loves require time. Especially since you often share your writing, art, and photographs on Social Media.
How do you “balance” these activities? And do you actually ever sleep? What’s an “average” day like for you?
Yes, I embrace a lot of passions, Mick. But you make it sound like I’m some kind of super human who does these activities every day and at the same time. How I wish I had all the time in the World to do these things!
But my day-to-day is actually quite mundane. Like every other responsible adult with lots of bills to pay, I go to varying work-week schedules and return home tired and exhausted.
Pardon the interruption, Soulhearts ....
Though I don’t pin the monthly report to my fridge, I’m quite proud of my credit rating. But no one refers to me as a “responsible adult.” Best to clarify that fact so our audience doesn’t get confused.
No worries, Mick. I wasn’t including you with the responsible adults in the room. Hmm. Now where were we? Right. When do I get the chance to pursue these activities?
My answer might surprise you but I don’t do most of these things on a daily basis. I’m pretty laid back when it comes to my pursuits. I wait for inspiration to strike so that I don’t feel pressured when I do engage them. I listen to my inner self and follow its lead. So most of the time my creativity just flows—and that could happen at any time.
I write, I paint, I love creating, I love being with nature because it makes me happy and I enjoy it tremendously. It’s my way of coping and grounding so I don’t get stressed out by Life’s mundane. These feelings are both rewarding and fulfilling. They’re good for the soul.
And yes, Mr. Rose, I do sleep. You can add that to the list of my many passions.
I’m a fiction writer, Soul, so I naturally wax dramatic. But even comic super heroes sleep and battle fatigue, so I’ll continue to keep you on a pedestal. Which artistic endeavor did you delve into first: writing or painting? Since you often write poetry, I imagine painting takes more time. Is that assumption true?
It was writing at first sight for me. I always loved literature growing up. But to actually put my own words on paper started much later for me. It was maybe 5 years ago when I started writing poetry.
I chanced upon an app called Heyku while browsing Facebook. Initially the app allowed anyone to write anything with a three-line, 15 word-count restriction. So this is where my writing journey began. At that time, I wrote every day, met a lot of like-minded people—and I count myself lucky to still have connections with many of them.
Haiku became my favorite form because it’s simple and concise, yet profound in its images and meanings. I was fascinated with brevity and how impactful a few words can be when used effectively in a haiku or poem.
The app later evolved, allowing longer word counts; and enabling users to choose colors, attach doodle images and move words around the page. All these innovations appealed to my creative side. So from that app, my interest grew to include not only writing but drawing and painting as well. I’d never drawn anything in my life—or knew that I could—until Heyku!
I do both for fun, but yes, painting takes more time. And I can’t do both at the same time. It’s one or the other. But like my short poems, my drawings and paintings are tiny, too—so it’s never taken more than a day for me to complete one. The mediums I work with don’t require a lot of drying time—and that certainly helps speed things along. Once, I start one though? I don’t stop until it’s finished.
Artwork by Soulhearts
Left: "Untitled" pen and gouache (opaque watercolors)
Right: "Cacti & Succulents" (pens and markers on black paper)
You’ve referred to your drawings and paintings as miniatures. Are they all the same size, Soulhearts—and what are their dimensions? Any idea how many you’ve painted? And how do you display them—or possibly store and preserve them after they’re done? Do any of them become gifts from you to others?
I call them tiny art, but that’s really an exaggeration. Some artists work with truly tiny dimensions and create amazing miniature art; mine doesn’t compare. The surfaces I paint usually range between 4'x4' to 8'x10' or any odd measurements in between.
I have no idea how many pieces I’ve painted. It’s not a lot … I would guesstimate maybe 50 on paper and 10 on canvas. I store the paper ones in file folders—while some of the canvas ones are hanging on a wall. And yes, I’ve given some away to friends and family.
Whenever I see your work on Social Media, some of the first thoughts and emotions that spring to mind emanate from the phrase “art for art’s sake.” You don’t presently sell your paintings, for example: nor have I chanced to hear you express thoughts of selling them. Creative expression seems to have evolved into “a way of life” for you—but perhaps as a direct result of your day-to-day observations and your historical “outlook on life.”
In a darker context it’s been said: Stare too long at the abyss—and the abyss stares back. After a similar fashion, you pen and paint your artistic works under the name “Soulhearts.” I imagine this wasn’t a name you used before you immersed yourself in these endeavors? And yet Soulhearts is now the name that many people know you by.
Do you think your engagement with artistic forms such as writing, painting, and photography have changed you—or your outlook on Life—in significant ways?
Yes, you can say artistic endeavors have become a way of life for me. I never dreamed about doing any of this when I was younger … but looking back, I was never one to shy away from trying new things. I always enjoyed art class in school as a kid, as well as sports and other activities. If I wanted to do something? I’d go do it. Fortunately for me, learning something new has never been hard. If I’ve committed to something then there’s no turning back. This applies to all aspects of my life. Why do something if only half your heart is in it?
I love creative expression and the joy I feel when seeing a project finished. Selling my work isn’t something I’ve ever thought about. I don’t think I’m at a stage yet where I can proudly look at my work and say, “wow!” So, for now, I’m simply enjoying the process.
I was skeptical when I started sharing my writing online …. After all, I was being brave by sharing my words with people I don’t know. People whom I might not even meet in my lifetime.
If I wanted to be judged, so to speak, I wanted it to be through the words I write and not through a profile pic or a name. The readers appreciated Soulhearts, my words carried me through. I rarely share personal information, but I’m not completely hidden from public view these days in terms of social media.
After a fashion, you could say I created Soulhearts and that’s who I’ve become. I’m blessed and grateful for this particular journey. Writing, photography, and art haven’t changed my outlook about Life. If anything, they’ve enhanced it.
I’ve always been in awe of nature’s beauty all around me, and touched by the kindnesses of people. I find joy in simple things. But being able to express this awe through writing, painting, photography or any form of self-expression is certainly rewarding. And if what I create inspires or moves another in some way, then I’ve done some good in this world, Mick.
Speaking of good things, your words have been published in print book collections that include Luminous Echoes and Light Lines, as well as the first PoetsIN 2018 anthology Stop The Stigma. And despite your early poetic love for haiku and its simplicity, you’ve since ventured into writing longer and more complex poems. Congratulations.
Thanks, Mick. PoetsIN is an award-winning non-profit creative mental health charity. Since the theme for this anthology was mental health, I titled my poem “Broken.”
we are all broken
torn pieces of faded fabric
all frayed at the edges
flapping in the wind
hanging on to a rusty clothesline
drying under the sun
we are all part of a pattern
in a loom that never
ceases to sew
composed of you and I
in different colored hues
*published in the 1st PoetsIn collection Stop The Stigma
One particular poem you've penned that made me marvel is called “Last Breath”—and it's found in the 2019 collection Yearnings by Filipino poet Ayo Gutierrez.
Like many of your poems, this piece draws from nature and involves “personification”—giving human qualities to objects or animals: in this instance a leaf, the wind, and tree branches.
The poem also contains the subheadings “Doha” and “Sortha.” What’s the name for this form of poetry, Soulhearts? And what can you share with us about this “form?”
Thank you, Mick! Someone marveling at my poem truly makes this poet’s humble heart happy. While I love learning about different poetic forms, I find writing in strict verse, meter, and rhyme difficult. Usually I just admire those that have the knack for such disciplines … but I try my hand at some of them every now and then. So out of a huge challenge, I was able to compose this poem.
I learned specifically about the Doha and the Sortha from a writerly friend in India—very fitting because the Doha’s a poetic form common to Hindi verse—and consists of rhyming couplets that contain twenty-four syllables each.
If you like, Mick, I can share this poem with your audience—and also provide a Link that explains more about the Doha.
Thanks, Soulhearts. That’s a splendid idea.
On the grayest day when only one leaf is clinging,
with the grass still wet on a sun kissed morning.
I’ll escape the silence filled emptiness of this room,
four walls of sadness in every corner loom.
The leaf falls to the music of the whispering wind,
I let breath go and my heart did not rescind.
With the grass still wet on a sun kissed morning,
On the grayest day when only one leaf is clinging.
Four walls of sadness in every corner loom,
I’ll escape the silence filled emptiness of this room.
I let breath go and my heart did not rescind,
the leaf falls to the music of the whispering wind.
*published in the poetry collection Yearnings
Just as some of your poetry’s grown more complex, so have some of your artisitc endeavors. Sounds like you may be addicted to paper crafting what are known as “junk journals.” Care to share a few illuminating thoughts about these creations, Soul?
Photos: Junk Journals created by Soulhearts
My love for paper and stationery started when I was a kid. I love bookstores not just because of the books but also because of the many pens, pencils, stickers, and paper etc. You know the cliché, like a kid in a candy store? Well that was me, only like a kid in a bookstore!
I was the kid who’d be so happy if you gave me a stationery set, a pencil or a puzzle book for my birthday. I’d do stationery swaps with my classmates and friends. I grew up when there were no cell phones or internet yet. I had pen pals that I exchanged letters with, so I always had a stock of stationery.
When I started writing—which led to drawing and then painting—I suddenly had to buy pens, journals, sketch pads, color mediums and paints. I was back to being a kid in a bookstore again.
Then one day I saw this post on Instagram about junk journaling. A junk journal is like a home-made book that allows you to creatively store memories by making envelopes, tags and pockets, while using things like paint, drawings, stamps, old paper and fabrics. This really appeals to my creative side because I get to make them my own and use all the stationery supplies I’ve acquired through the years. More than keeping my own junk journal, I enjoy the creative process of making one.
What kind of books do you like to read, Soul? And do the books you read inspire any of your poetry?
I like poetry books. Surprise, surprise. And yes, I think they do. Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Kahil Gibran and Pablo Neruda are my favorites. But I also pick books at random. I like Michael Faudet and Tyler Knott Gregson, who started as social media poets. I have their books, too. There’s also a crime writer named Mick Rose who sometimes pens a decent poem, usually haiku. But his stuff’s in anthologies.
When reading fiction? I don't stick to a particular genre. My books include works by Anne Rice, Khaled Hosseini, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Paulo Coelho and Mitch Albom. I’m the same way with music, I listen to anything.
Thanks for mentioning my haiku, Soulhearts. You’ve been a splendid guest—and the first here at Center Stage as the New Year gets underway. So I propose a toast: and wish you and our fine audience a rewarding and rocking 2020!
I’ll raise a glass to that—thanks for the chance to chat, Mick.