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In Conversation With Charles Dowling Williams Author of Echo Ridge
From:
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Friday, January 21, 2022

 

Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest Charles Dowling Williams author of Echo Ridge.


Charles is a Kentuckynative, a graduate of The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, DukeUniversity, and the University of Kentucky School of Law.

Charles has practiced lawin Kentucky since 1979. He has earned numerous accolades andrecognition for his work as a tree farmer. Named Kentucky Tree Farmerof the Year, Charles has also been awarded the Aldo LeopoldConservation Award for conservation stewardship, and the CentralRegion Tree Farmer of the Year, a prestigious honor spanning 13states.

Norm: Good day Charlesand thanks for taking part in our interview.

What do you consider to beyour greatest success (or successes) so far in your writing career?

Charles:  My greatestsuccess comes from people who write me to say that my haiku broughtthem joy or comfort or inspiration.

 Norm: How did you getstarted in writing haiku? What keeps you going?

Charles: I was in Honoluluand a friend took me to a Japanese Buddhist Mission. I wasimmediately enraptured. I could hear haiku forming in my mind forseveral days in Hawaii. That was August, 2006.

What keeps me going? Haikuis a great adventure, a never-ending progression of revelations.

Norm: What is sospecial about haiku?


Charles: Haiku istiny—only 17 syllables—but sometimes, it can reach the power andmajesty of a great oak tree.

 Norm: What inspires youto write haiku poetry?

 Charles: West Wind Farminspires me, its trees and forests, its caves, its dogs, deer,donkeys, the rain and the wind, the sandstone, and limestone.

 Norm: Do you have anywriting rituals

 Charles: Yes, I have kepta daily journal for 40 years that includes what has happened on thefarm that day, as well as the temperature and weather conditions atthe hour I begin my entry.

Always important are thebirths of pups, colts, and calves. I note the first asparagus harvestand when we find our first morel mushrooms in April, and on throughthe seasons until we are gathering persimmons, fall mushrooms andblack walnuts in October. And in winter, finding fallen trees andharvesting firewood or logs.

Those journal entries arethe basis of many haiku.

 Norm: What haveyou learned from writing haiku?

 Charles: I’ve learned toobserve the wonders of the natural world widely but to write aboutthem succinctly. As Mark Twain once advised: “Never miss anopportunity to shut up.”

With haiku, that speaks tome, as it means to leave things unsaid or only implied.

Norm: How has yourwriting of haiku changed over the years?

Charles: I’ve changedthe time of day for composing. Years ago, I wrote haiku at the end ofa day of office work. Then I came across this sentence in “The OldFarmer’s Almanac”; “The Muses love the morning.” I took it toheart.

Now, I begin composingbetween 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. The phone never rings then, and even thesheepdogs are not stirring.

Norm: What advice canyou give to newbie poets of haiku?

Charles: The same advicethat was given to me: Write about what you know, and Revise, Revise,Revise!

Norm: How can teachersfoster a love of poetry, rather than a fear of it, in their students?

Charles: I do not know,because I have never been a teacher. In secondary school, college andlaw school, I studied with a dozen great teachers. They were allkind, patient, and encouraging. That last trait, encouraging, is thetouchstone.

Norm: It is sometimessaid that people in times of need turn to poetry. Is this true and ifso, why?

Charles: I have neverheard that, but I believe it. Poetry transports the reader to anotherplace.

Norm: What purpose doyou believe Echo Ridge serves and what matters toyou about the collection of poems?

Charles: Echo Ridgeserves the purpose of capturing moments of wide-rangingobservation of the natural world in a specific place over a period ofone calendar year, 2020.

It matters to me that theverse be presented in a clean, spare format with plenty of whitespace and few printed words.

Norm: What wouldyou say is the best reason to recommend someone to read EchoRidge?

Charles: The best reasonto delve into Echo Ridgeis to be transported to a forested farm in the hills of Kentucky, andfind there a few haiku that resonate with the reader.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Echo Ridge?

Charles: To find out moreabout me, one can visit THIS LINK to the Aldo Leopold Awards: West Wind Farm | Sand County Foundation

To find out more aboutEcho Ridge, or to order a copy, one can go to Amazon.com, sendan email to kytreefarm.com, or contact me at West Wind Farm, P.O. Box157, Munfordville, Kentucky 42765, 270-524-5621.

Norm: What is next forCharles Dowling Williams?

Charles: To take a longwalk in the Pine Woods and listen to the wind.

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could invite three poets (dead or alive) toyour dinner table, who would they be and why?

Charles: Dinner for fourat West Wind Farm! What a delicious prospect.

First would be MasaokaShiki, the Japanese master born in 1867. He said that he wanted to beremembered as one “who loved poetry and persimmons”. I’m withhim on both.

Second would be ThomasMerton, the Trappist monk who lived for 27 years at the Abbey ofGethsemani, which is 27 miles from West Wind Farm. Merton once saidthat “Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn’t alreadybeen better said by the wind in the pine trees.”  I knowexactly of what he spoke.

Third would be WendellBerry, a Kentucky farmer and poet, whose writings have alwaysinspired me. 

I would serve themKentucky persimmons, Diospyros Virginiana, the sweetest fruit thatgrows in the woods of West Wind Farm.

 Norm: Thanks onceagain and good luck with all of your endeavors.

 FOLLOW HERE TO READ NORM'S REVIEW OF ECHO RIDGE

 

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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