Books: Maria DellaPorte's Magical Heart, Part Two

Express yourself...

By , Columnist

In this, the concluding installment of my two-part interview with Maria DellaPorte, the poetess and author discusses her working methods, how she chooses what project to work on next, why she found herself speechless after a recent revelation by her daughter, and much more.

You mentioned that you’ve already begun work on your next book?

Actually, I have several different things, and this is what I typically do—I get a rush of different ideas. Right now, I have enough of a collection for another book of poetry, which I absolutely will do. That, and the editing, is a lot of work. That’s what takes the longest time.

I have that, and then I have this new book…

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Anyway, I get several ideas at once, and I’ll usually start all of them. And that’s what I did with these books. I’ll start all of them—just the beginning of the idea, the concept, and where I’d like to go with it—and then I kind of find direction with just one, and then I’ll go through with one, and eventually get to the rest.

Like right now, I have probably five different projects that I’ve started, and then I’ll pick one, and go with that one, and focus only on that one.

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And after you’ve worked through the first one, the rest just sort of open up for you, so to speak?

Exactly! For instance, once this book was done, I felt so good about it that I jumped right into the next one. And then I might go back [to the other ideas] because I have a couple of different things to work on.

As far as children’s books, I have this new one that’s more like you said, almost a book with an adult meaning, which is in memory of my other sister. [Laughter]

Not all my books are going to be in memory of lost loved ones, but with this one, I’d like to reach out to a whole different community. You know, children with special needs—and also the adults, and the caretakers who are involved with their lives—and how they really have an effect and change the lives of everyone around them.

So, this is an idea that I want to do, to bring that idea about kids with Downs Syndrome more into the mainstream.

And then, I also have a children’s animated series in the works, it’s more complicated for me than telling a single story. Picture something almost like Winnie-the-Pooh. The idea was developed during story time with my daughter years ago, where the two of us actually developed our own characters and would use our imaginations together, playing and making up stories. So, I already have the whole concept down, and that’s the next thing that I want to do. That’s going to be very challenging as far as illustration and art work, because there’s a lot to it, and I have to find somebody very specific that I can work with.

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Does your poetry do something different for you than writing the prose books, or do all forms of writing pretty much serve the same purpose, and provide essentially the same kind of experience and satisfaction for you?

Well, it’s definitely satisfying to have written Magical Heart. However, it’s a totally different voyage for me. I think there’s two separate parts of myself. Children’s books, which I know I will be doing more of…

I’ve been told by other people that my inner child is very much alive. So I keep that innocence and that playfulness as part of me. And I love to do that. With this children’s book, I had the most rewarding experience because I had a nine-year-old girl contact me on Facebook to let me know how much she loved the book, and that she was starting her own book. So, that was wonderful.

But my poetry is something very different. I mean, it’s still coming from my feelings, obviously, but it’s a different voice. It’s very adult, and it’s sometimes sensual, and sometimes dark, angry.

I think I feel very different when I’m writing poetry. I almost feel like a different Maria, another Maria.

Waiting in Stillness

An instant evolves into eternity,

I wait in stillness.

Staring across the platform, train delayed,

my view, endless wondering of ordinary people.

Here in gray and silence, we stand

in a rusty city

of lights absorbing energy,

ceaseless action.

Delicately balanced, precise and instinctive,

Connected, enduring—

Captured in reciprocal gaze.

With a hush we explore space,

replacing the hum, the drum,

feeling beyond darkness,

for delight of touch and taste and color;

Wrecked from the pursuit,

anticipating the reward

of convivial lips.

Longing for the sum, to confiscate

the residual near death,

and subsequently, a train five minutes past due.

You, who sees me from the other side,

can you hear me through my eyes?

Your chest rises, falls, in momentum

with my own,

I believe you listen,

can almost catch your breath.

Silent communication dances between.

The train rushes in,

steel wheels grind the tracks,

sparks like fireflies,

we untie across the bleak platform—

receptive flesh tingles.

A step

Suddenly on my way—

Our encounter lingers.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it sounds as if writing both poetry and prose has had a profound effect on your life on a variety of levels.

When I said the little girl in the story is afraid to grow up and lose her magical imagination, though the character is part fiction, obviously, it is also me in combination with my sister—we are both the young character in a fictional, imaginative way. Though Marilyn was older, she kept her childlike innocence and heart alive always. We connected on that level. I connected to her most above anyone in my life.

As I mentioned to you, when writing poetry, I strive to have my emotions understood, to connect. Well, my sister got me—she was one of a couple people who have gotten me. You can say I struggle finding a comfortable place to "fit in" but coming to my age now, I'm realizing it may be more important, and worth more, being different.

To this day, I hold precious the pure goodness and honesty of that inner child, so to speak, no matter how serious or rough life may be. It's actually been suggested to me that I lose that vulnerable part of myself and become guarded, more adapted to the reality of this sometimes harsh life. That holds weight but also—for me—certain sadness, as if it is to give-up hope or belief in goodness. 

I guess the point of the story, personally, was to let my sister, Marilyn, know that I haven't given up the fight, and that she is very much alive in my heart. But I also want to touch people with true love and awaken that sense of goodness inside them, the importance of it in this life and then, with the right motivation and determination, encourage them to build their dreams, and always to remember the truly important stuff.

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What do you hope that your readers get from Magical Heart? You mentioned that you would like the world to get to know, and ideally love, your sister as you do. Is there anything else you’d like them to get from the book?

The importance of following your heart, the importance of keeping that magic of childhood innocence alive—even if the idea’s doing something like, as I said, this children’s book for adults. Because we’re so busy in our lives, and we get so lost in daily routines, and stress, and we can forget the simplest of things that are most important.

That’s the impact I’d like to make: the importance of keeping that magic, that love, alive in your heart. I just think that’s a very important message to send into the world today. I think that that message is meant to be put out there, now more so than ever.

This Concludes

This concludes—

A struggle to sum up, complete

the unending void, destroy its death,

restore

expectation, peace, freedom joy.

Working, in the doldrums

for

heartache, calluses, emptiness;

Clawing, reaching, building promise on

lies, goddamn lies!

I want

to scream, tremble,

snarl,

grunt,

spit it out!

Wake up

oblivious—

twirling, smiling, singing,

breezy in pink—

with God and a cigarette.

How about your poetry? What do you hope that your readers get from that?

Me? [Laughter] Or maybe not, actually, I think I prefer to surprise them.

I like to show another perspective, to hit the reader in the face, so to speak, with an emotion or notion that may even make them uncomfortable in having to feel a certain way. To expand the thought process you know… I want to take the reader outside of the box, ‘cause it’s kind of cool to see how far you can go…

I always intend to evoke emotion in a powerful way, through my own thoughts and emotion, in order to have the strongest impact. Of course, I want to stimulate and awaken all the senses through imagery and importantly in a way that reaches people and makes them say, “Wow that’s something, to go through that, to see things or experience something that way.” And hopefully, to have them find a connection, through something in their own life. And then, hopefully, people that have been in those same situations or something similar can find some peace in that. To say, “I get it,” or, “Wow, I didn’t know there was somebody else out there feeling this way.”

It’s like my quote in my book, The Sum of Something Meaningful: “Expressing one’s self is a beautiful release.” My daughter, Laura, she’s 19, had it tattooed on her arm and there was nothing I could say. [Laughter]

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That really does seem to be a good summation of everything we’ve talked about.

In a way I guess it is.

(You'll find part one of this interview here.)

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A veteran journalist who has covered the comics medium since 1998, Bill Baker is also the author of Icons: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee and seven previous books featuring his extended interviews with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and other notable creators. You can learn more about Bill’s work…

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