Meet the Poet: Gwen Plano

Welcome to Meet the Poet, a Word Craft Poetry feature written to introduce you to the poets in our writing community.

This is a great way to get to know more about the poet and their work. Did you know many of our poets are accomplished fiction and non-fiction authors? Some of our poets are also artists, crafting their magic through watercolors or other artistic means along with the written word. There are even a few musicians in our poetic community!

Every couple of weeks, I’ll be introducing you to the poets in our community! Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and meet the poet!

Our guest this Monday is Gwen Plano.

Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the high desert of Arizona, where she writes, gardens, and travels with her husband.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It has received multiple awards and is an Amazon Best Seller. The Choice, the unexpected heroes is the sequel to The Contract. It is also a thriller, involving the attempt of an unfriendly nation to take over the world. The third book in the series, The Culmination, a new beginning is an action-packed military thriller that spans the globe and involves multiple Heads of State and the threat of World War III. Only love can change the fate of humanity.

When Gwen is not writing, she’s often in the beautiful Red Rocks of Sedona, where she finds inspiration.

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our chat.

Thanks so much for stopping by Gwen. I brought coffee! So, who is your favorite poet? Why is this poet your favorite?

This is a difficult question because there are many poets I read and love. However, two immediately come to mind. Pablo Neruda and T. S. Eliot. Though very different in their approach, both capture the mystical and the human through images that linger.

Neruda’s poems about love are unsurpassed in their beauty. For example, here’s the first stanza of I Love You Without Knowing How (link to poem):

"I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul." ~ Pablo Neruda

T.S. Eliot writes of the mystical. He focuses on love but from another angle, and yet, the two poets overlap. I’ve read Little Gidding countless times and remain entranced by Eliot’s choice of words and his ability to manifest the mystery of love. (link to poem)

In section IV, he writes:

"The dove descending breaks the air

With flame of incandescent terror

Of which the tongues declare

The one discharge from sin and error.

The only hope, or else despair

Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre—

To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.

Love is the unfamiliar Name

Behind the hands that wove

The intolerable shirt of flame

Which human power cannot remove.

We only live, only suspire

Consumed by either fire or fire." ~ T.S. Eliot
Gwen – tending her Arizona garden

Gwen, are there any spiritual practices you follow to help you get into the right headspace to write syllabic poetry?

Walking alone in nature helps me fade into the wind, the crunch of the snow, the majesty of the surrounding mountains, and the vastness of the sky. My mind quiets, and I stop thinking about what I need to do and shift into a world of immediacy. From this inner stance, words arise. Then when I return home, the images can more easily fall into syllabic beats.

Gwen at Sedona, Arizona

Your poetry is always so expressive. Do you use other mediums, such as photography or artwork, in your poetry? What message do you want your readers to receive from this collaborative effort?

I typically use photography to complement my poetry. I do so because I’m very visual. I partner with a photograph of a related theme and interact with words. In a way, my writing does on paper what I do on my walks.

Here’s a sample of Gwen’s tanka poetry from The Moons of Autumn, Word Weaving No. 1, Kindle & in the print version of the journal.

the empress rises
summer and winter curtsy
nature holds its breath
while the symphony begins
fireflies dance in the moonlight

© Gwen M. Plano

Connect with Gwen on her blog: Gwen

Amazon Author Page: Gwen M. Plano

Thanks for stopping by to meet Gwen Plano. See you next time, for another opportunity to Meet the Poet!

98 thoughts on “Meet the Poet: Gwen Plano”

  1. Hi Colleen and Gwen it was a treat to read your chat and a great chance to learn more about you Gwen. I rely was interested in your choice of poets Gwen. I always enjoy your poetry. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, Gwen. You’re all part of my poetry family. It was so fun to feature you. Everyone loves your tanka poetry and the lovely photos you share. PLUS… your books! How great to get to know about you! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous interview with Gwen! I loved all the questions, as well as Gwen’s answers. And the poems she chose to share are both exquisite, each in their own way. Thank you, Colleen, for featuring this beautiful soul today! Congratulations, Gwen!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s so very kind! Thanks, Colleen. I’d love to. Perhaps when I get this darned pain and fatigue under some semblance of control? I so need to do a blog post to update all my wonderful online friends, as I feel I’m missing so many of you lately. That and WordPress dropping blogs from my following list, argh. Hugs 💕🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Colleen for highlighting Gwen’s poetry. I enjoy good poetry and you bring a lot of it into the light. Gwen’s poetry always makes me feel good.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have Eliot’s complete works, Gwen. The poem you mention of his is one of my favorites. And I love the one you wrote. All the best to you.

    Thanks for hosting, Colleen.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great interview 🙂 I love the poetry shared. There is something magical about nature. I felt that specialness of the red rocks and open landscape, it is a place to inspire poets. Beautiful example of Gwen amazing work. Hugs xo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wonderful to see Gwen featured here, Colleen. I love her choices for favorites. Neruda is one of mine too, though the imagery in Eliot’s poem is stunning. It was fun learning that Gwen’s very visual. It seems that a lot of us are inspired in that way. I certainly am. Her poem from The Moons of Autumn is exquisite. Thanks to you both for the lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Diana. I love these posts because we get to know more about each other. I think many of us are visual. I write most of my poetry that way too! Gwen’s poetry inspires me every week. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kerfe. We lived up near Prescott a quite a few years ago. My issue was they had limited health care. You had to drive two hours to Phoenix for most things. But it is beautiful in northern Arizona.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. “Walking alone in nature helps me fade into the wind, the crunch of the snow, the majesty of the surrounding mountains, and the vastness of the sky. My mind quiets, and I stop thinking about what I need to do and shift into a world of immediacy. ”

    I love that statement, Gwen. It represents a wonderful place to be. I enjoyed this feature.

    Thanks for sharing this, Colleen.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Colleen, thanks for your series and including Gwen.

    Nature is a wonderful inspirational muse!

    I remember visiting in AZ and going through a cacti forest to get to a man made lake for a paddle boat tour. That is when I learned that one catus arm takes 50 years to grow! Amazing landscape. Cheers. ~Jules

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The cactus in Phoenix were amazing! Once you got higher up where Gwen lives the cactus changed. I lived in the Prescott area for a couple of years. At least it wasn’t so hot there as you had the elevation to counter the heat.

      Liked by 2 people

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