(Ed. Note: Entrevista con Nata. In this section, our correspondent Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna shares with us his creamy and delectable stories, 100 % inspiring yet zero in fat.)
Bumping into a good book can be dismissed as coincidental. But finding a book that is not only engaging, but also inspiring and at the same time refreshing, I call it serendipity. A few months ago, while visiting a friend, I chanced upon a wonderful book, I Shot an Arrow into the Star. It is a collection of poems written by Filipina poet, Eva Tabaosares Kohr.
Reading it from cover to cover gave me this strong desire to know more about the author. Contacting her turned out easy as the award-winning poet happened to be my friend’s classmate in high school.
“Why not? Poetry is the crowning glory of literature. It is a refreshing alternative to mundane prose. Poetry is the language of the soul. It is a magical world wherein a poet interacts with the gods who not only inspire but delight. My muses give voice to my thoughts in iambic refrains that float like a distant melody.”
A self-confessed “accidental poet”, Eva Kohr was born in Tubungan, Iloilo, Philippines. She majored in Accountancy and graduated cum laude at the University of San Agustin, Iloilo.
Did you dream to be a poet?
“I’ve never dreamed of becoming a poet. When I wrote my first poem as a contest entry and won an award, it paved the way to nurture my talent into a life of poetic achievement.”
Her foray into poetry did not come until 2003 when she attended poetry conventions and symposiums and poetry readings at the invitation of the International Society of Poets. There, she learned from the Masters the tricks of the trade, different techniques, forms and styles of poetry writing. Her first poem “Just Ride the Waves” received the Editor’s Choice award from the International Library of Poetry that same year.
Can you still remember the feeling the first time you wrote a poem?
“What a great feeling it was when I found just the right words and the right rhythm for my first poem. I would describe it as my “eureka” moment.”
Who was the first person that you showed your first poem to?
“I showed my first poem to my husband who was also my staunch critic.”
A year later, she released her first book, Echoes From The Heart which was a critical success. Her other poem, New Orleans Was A Wet Canvass was the second prize winner in the International Open poetry competition sponsored by Poetry.com and was awarded a silver medal and the Editor’s Choice award in June 2007.
Who influenced you to write poems?
“I am a great admirer of poet Elma D. Photikarm (also a Filipina). Her writing style and strong sense of language can be an inspiration to all aspiring poets. Worthy of mention, I’d like to add my English teachers in high school, my alma mater, Iloilo City High School, Philippines. They helped shape my destiny by cultivating in me the love for the art of poetry.”
Has your childhood got something to do with your poems?
“As an apt pupil in the school of hard knocks and a keen observer of my surroundings, those childhood memories, bitter and sweet, formed the colors in the artist’s palette, a poet’s tool to paint with words.”
From then on, poetry has become a passion to this prolific poet. Her works have been published in several anthologies both in the U.S. and in Europe. She is a member of the Academy of American Poets in New York and of the International Society of Poets. She is also an established member of the Poems of the World, a quarterly publication for worldwide poetry sharing.
As a poet, how do you describe yourself?
“I am but a dull mystery
The why and the who
A tiny spark in the vast universe
A conduit of energy
Perchance to entertain
To share and to instruct
While I’m passing through”
How do you describe your poetry?
“I would love to think that my poems “breathed” and draw the reader to the scene with my vivid imagery. My verses reveal and conceal emotions to tease the senses. Like an autumn breeze nipping at leaves of trees in late summer. “
What is your most favorite poem?
“Crossing The Bar by Alfred Tennyson”
Do you like rhyme?
“Poetry can be written in any form or style as long as the three elements are present: rhythm, metaphor and imagery. I prefer rhyming poems because they have music.”
How often do you write?
“It all depends on the poet´s mood. If my muses are awake, the words just flow.”
Does it take a while to finish a poem? Where do you get your inspiration when you write them?
“Poetry is an art form in which a poet paints a masterpiece using colorful words with a brushstroke of imagination. So one cannot rush art. The inspiration for my poetry comes from different events in my life. It could be a celebration of life, death of a friend, watching a bird drinking from a fountain or simply listening to the music of the falling rain.”
Have you written poems in Ilonggo or in Tagalog?
“No, I haven’t. Maybe I should try to write one in Ilonggo. But to write a poem in Tagalog poses a great challenge for me because of my limited vocabulary.”
What inspired you to write the poems in your book, I Shot An Arrow Into The Star?
“When I decided to write my second book of poetry, I already selected for my title, I Shot An Arrow Into The Star. I thought it is an eyecatcher and has a magical sound to it. I was determined that this book was going to be my best one yet. I studied the work of my favorite poets and developed my own style. Some of the poems in this book have already appeared in poetry publications and I also wrote new ones.
This book was divided into six parts and each section has its own personality, such a way that they flow from the prologue to the epilogue. When it received an award, it was like the stamp of approval by my peers and being inducted to the literary hall of fame. What a humbling experience.”
Do you have a particular favorite poem from your books?
“Yes, I do. It’s The Rose from my first book, Echoes From The Heart.”
Are you currently working on anything?
“Besides writing poems, for the quarterly publication, Poems of the World, I start painting again. I’m not working on a particular project right now but still collecting ideas. I’m like that old woman with a basket in the woods, collecting a leaf, a feather, an odd-shaped stick and a pebble at the edge of the stream. She doesn’t know what to make of it but at the back of her mind, she envisions a form, a shape.”
Who is (are) your favorite poet (s)?
“Among my favorites are the poets of old such as Percy Shelly, Wendell Holmes, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, Longfellow and Emerson. And for modern American poets, I love Robert Frost and Richard Wilbur.”
What are your other interests?
“I am also an artist whose favorite medium is watercolor. I also taught myself how to play the piano. I love reading history and biography. On the domestic side, I enjoy gardening, cake decorating, baking cookies and sewing.”
An accountant by profession and an entrepreneur, she is also an award-winning artist whose paintings, often described as evocative of Beatrix Potter, received numerous awards in juried exhibits. Besides poetry and painting, she currently works full time running her own business, Kohr Soft Ice Cream/Pine Cone wholesale and retail cream.
What is your personal philosophy?
“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. As we journey through life, we hit bumps and curves along the way. We easily get discouraged by rejections and defeats. Instead, turn failures into opportunities to do a better job next time and take one step higher as we climb the ladder of success. After all, the world is a stage where men are actors in a real-like drama of trials and errors.”
What is your favorite word?
“Perseverance. It’s like an inner voice cheering me on when the going is tough. If I stumble and fall, I just get up and go. If I hit rock bottom, I don’t settle there but learn to tread and float. Only those who preserve to the end will succeed.”
Some people can play good ball. Others can be expert on politics. While several are good at money. Then there are the poets…
“Yes, it’s true that there’s no money in poetry. But there’s no poetry in money either. But then, one cannot place a tangible currency on a product that is of the spirit. As a poet, I write because I must. To share, to instruct and to entertain. And oh, what an undescribable feeling if only a reader sets his spirit free on the wings of poetry. “
…And one of them is Eva Kohr.