Over the course of the last two weeks or so, I have had the pleasure of being involved in a fantastic discussion about writing and living well. As interviews go, this one offers insight and sincerity, and I hope you, dear reader, appreciate the self-depricating wisdom of our very own Uncle Tree.

#1. What made you an Uncle and not a Father or a Cousin or a Step-son Tree?

An anonymous young fellow, or dame, named Diablo, penned Tree on me. At a site called Intentblog (now closed), I talked about camping by the Missouri River, and mentioned a few of the things, including spiritual awakenings, that I’d experienced at my favorite spot. He must have thought I sounded like I was stationed there, or had put down roots there, in order to call me a tree. Since he claimed to be in his 20’s, I thought of him as a nephew, which made me his uncle.

Father Tree would have made me look like a priest, and Brother Tree sounds to me
like a deacon, and I really didn’t want to be cornered into anything too specific, such as Elder Tree, Sir Willow or Mr. Elmwood.

#2. If you had to choose between wilting in the sun or crumbling from the cold, which would you prefer?

Uncle Tree would prefer a climate ideally situated on this earth. That place would be a habitat that allows all of nature to express itself fully throughout the four seasons in equal measure. He feels that the coldest part of the year is the toughest to endure. Summer’s sun is warm and penetrating. In good years, when spring brings plentiful and copious amounts of refreshing rain, he reserves some of the moisture in defense against the blazing heat, and only wilts on top.

#3. Your cheekiness and wit in your writing (blog, poems, AND comments) are rays through clouds. How do you maintain a sense of humor?

I don’t believe anyone can timelessly maintain a sense of humor, no matter what is going on in their personal lives. Ups and downs, and highs and lows are to be expected, and they definitely contribute to my so-called moodiness. That I cannot deny. I never intentionally wish to bring someone down, just because I feel a certain way at the time, but I do suppose it happens sometimes.

Before I had my own blog, all I used to be able to do was comment, so I learned to make the best of them. For the most part, I try to say something appropriate, and attempt to keep my views on-topic. Humor has its place, and laughter is the best medicine, but we can’t always rely on them to get our point across. I can sympathize with Al Franken in that regard.

Me2 was my first moniker. This symbol contains a few meanings for me. It’s not funny or sad, in and of itself. It is rather more neutral than Uncle Tree, which I see as putting me in the category of goofy and kooky, but in a familiar, unassuming sort of way. It’s been fun to play with, and I’m still growing into it. I don’t always write from his perspective, as if I were actually a talking tree. That’s impossible! I do have a couple of poems which he wrote though, and I hope to create more at some period in the future.

My outlook on life is not always positive or optimistic. I accept the full range of emotions as a matter of course. It’s only natural. To deny is to lie to one’s self, and when we do, we’re not fooling anybody but ourselves. The reasons I have for writing poetry the way I do are too numerous to go into here. I want to read your thoughts for you and speak about it, when you can’t seem to find the right words to use yourself.
And of course, if I can bring someone to tears, whether they be joyful ones, or sorrowful ones, I would rightfully call that my crowning achievement.

#4. If you were me and Bryan cyber stalked your new boyfriend, how would you make him pay?*

Dear lady,

Your wish for revenge is in jest, of that I am sure. Nevertheless, it was your boyfriend, as you said. Paybacks are a bitch, but we can be fair about it. You don’t have to raise the ante. The punishment should be a fitting one; one that matches the dastardly deed that Bryan has committed. Unless, of course, you wish to start a war, for wars are not required to be just.

I can’t imagine that ‘Facebooking’ someone is a serious crime. Having said that, I came up with this as I was toying with the idea:

If I were you, I’d tell Bryan that I need to speak to him and his beloved at their place of residence. I would persuade, or talk him into setting aside a time, say 9 or 10:00 o’clock in the evening. Make it a Friday or Saturday night. I would tell him that I had an important announcement to make, and that I wanted the two of them to be the first to hear of it. I would leave it at that, and not hint around or make any wise-cracks.

As soon as I can get him to make a promise about the date, then, in advance, I would hire a professional to perform a session for these young men at said time. And by professional, I mean a dancer. And by dancer, I mean a blonde, gorgeous, well-proportioned, sexy and provocative female stripper.

*Note: I must mention that Uncle Tree answered this one with characteristic grace and a kind sensibility that is incredibly endearing and almost makes me question my urge for seeking revenge. ;)

#5. What makes a poet “good”? (And you are good, Uncle!)

Thank you! It’s nice to know you think of me as such.

Success in any endeavor is highly personal, and the meaning of it depends on where one currently fits into the mix, and one’s general expectations, hopes and dreams. Like happiness, once you’ve had a taste of success, you inevitably wish to savor it again. If at first you only receive a morsel, the next time you’ll want a bigger bite, and so on and so forth until you believe your plate is as full as the possibilities allow.

I take the title of poet very seriously. Within the elite literary circles of today, I honestly do not know the requirements necessary to earn such a lofty label. Personally, I do not consider myself to be worthy of the name, nor can I say that I will ever rise to those heights of grandeur. Therefore my thoughts on the subject will pertain to the ladder as I see it, and the steps that might be involved in the process from beginning to end. Again I will stress that this is my guess, my opinion, my estimation.

Anyone with a firm grasp of their own language is capable of writing. That doesn’t make them a writer. We can say the same thing about poetry. By the age of 10 or so,
most anyone can create and produce a finished product, but that doesn’t necessarily
make them a poet, however easy and natural it seems to seep forth, as if it were on it’s own, and only needed a little direction.

When first starting out on this road, success would simply mean a piece of work that pleases its author, and brings to them a sense of pride and satisfaction; a poem with which the originator may be well pleased.

The next step might be to show off, or to display your new wares to family and friends in order to receive some friendly feedback. It’s up to the author alone to decide whether or not the praise is worthy, or if the unwanted criticisms are well intended. It is highly likely that you will procure positive, reinforcing encouragement from this group of readers. The worst bit of advice you may hear is familiar to all: “Don’t quit your day job just yet.”

If the author is attending a school of higher learning, they could gather up enough courage to show their beloved poetry to a teacher, or professor of literature. Here one would hope to obtain an objective viewpoint, constructive criticism, and maybe even noteworthy praise from an ‘experienced’ reader of letters.

Another venture might entail a step that would allow complete strangers to freely read what you have done, as in the case of internet exchanges such as we have at wordpress and blogspot. Just how difficult it is to get a comment from someone you don’t know at all is another short story that I’ll not get into at this time. Again, if you do get one or several replies, it’s up to you to determine their trustworthiness. Your perception of these can then be the deciding factor in the measure of your success.

My personal knowledge of the ladder ends at this juncture. That doesn’t mean I’m done here, nor does it mean that I’m through climbing myself. Moving on up —

If you are now more certain of your abilities, entering a poetry contest may be in
order. From what I’ve heard, there are usually a lot of competitors, and taking the first prize would be akin to winning the lottery.

One more option would be the act of submitting your unpublished work to a magazine or journal that specializes in art and literature. Let us say you are successful. Let us say that you are now one of the critically acclaimed authors of your generation. You may choose to write a book that contains a selection of your finest poetry. The meaning of success from this point forward will depend on the quantity of books sold.

Let us assume your book of poetry becomes a best-seller. I would have to say, “You’ve made it to the big time!” Certainly, at this point you should be deemed worthy of the label, and have a right to think of yourself as a poet. Others will now call you by that name. They may even take a vote, and choose you to be worthy of holding the honorable office, and dignified position of Poet Laureate. This is what it means to be highly successful. And yet there is still more to be had.

You may become world famous. Your work may be translated into several, if not hundreds of languages. You may be nominated, and you may win the Nobel Prize
in Literature. What a success you’ve now become! But have you finally reached the highest heights? Have you reached the pinnacle of success?

Nay, not if you ask Homer and the Bard! If your name, your poetry, and your achievements are remembered, talked about, and taught in educational systems all around this homey globe of ours for hundreds, or even thousands of years, that my friend…that must be the zenith. That deserves the praise of The Masters. That is when we all can say, “You, dear poet, you have shown us the true meaning of success, and the ideal way to live and love that leads to a successful life. Thank you!”

Please visit Uncle Tree’s House at http://me2watson.wordpress.com/.