by Becci Noblit Goodall

Silverthought associate editor Becci Noblit Goodall interviews Jim Bainbridge, author of
Human Sister and Cloud-Glazed Mirror, now available from Elm Ridge Books

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R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E



the poetry of Jim Bainbridge

Publisher: Elm Ridge Books, a Silverthought Press imprint
ISBN: 978-0-9841738-7-7
82 pages

the poetry of Jim Bainbridge

"Jim Bainbridge’s poems in Cloud-Glazed Mirror capture a wide range of human experience in language that is fresh, vital and precise. Whether tender, playful or meditative, the poems are fully engaged with the world of the senses, nature, emotion and consciousness, calling us to a deeper level of awareness of what it means to feel and experience life fully. Beguiling and luminous, these are poems to savor and return to."—Paulette Bates Alden, author of Feeding the Eagles and Crossing the Moon

"Cloud-Glazed Mirror is a book of beautiful poems having great clarity—of memory and celebration; of pain and beauty; of meaning and place; of a man wrestling with death, the fact of it in boyhood to late adulthood; of the sorrow and joy of parents; of marriage; of one’s life and personal story. Jim Bainbridge’s treatment of these vital, emotionally charged, and at times ominous themes is more than impressive, it is stunning poetry."—Sharon Doubiago, Love on the Streets, My Father’s Love

Click to purchase your copy from Silverthought Press.


Becci Noblit Goodall: One thing that struck me as I was reading your work is that this largely felt like an internal conversation you have with yourself. This resonated with me and is, I think, what makes it immensely readable. It is the constant spin we all have in our heads. Life. Death. Memory. Grampy. Daughter. Son. Can you speak a bit about that?


Jim Bainbridge:Cloud-Glazed Mirror is a collection of poems written over many years that addresses precisely what you noticed; namely, various issues that affect nearly all of us profoundly on a human level: life, death, memory, our family members and friends—all issues about which I carry on a more or less continuous internal dialogue with myself.


BNG: I particularly enjoy the way in which you poetically capture the frustration of what it's like to be a kid asking a question that you really just want Dad to answer but he says...


One day, while meditating with

me cross-legged on the floor of his study,

he suggested that I become

fully attentive to myself and

answer my own question


That's fantastic. You put that there and then proceed to be fully attentive and find that emptiness. That question—do you find your poetry pushing you to find the answer or has writing been the thing that fills the empty?


JB: I have come to accept the emptiness, the essential nonexistence, of self; so I am not driven to search for an answer to, or to fill, this emptiness. I write because I find it immensely enjoyable.


BNG: Life. Death. Bones. I enjoyed the earthy feel of this work. It manages to not be macabre because the book is laid out in such an organic way. I almost felt like each poem was a different section of a loamy garden. Does that make sense? Was that intentional? We go from urns to flower to rose tea perfume. It all works together nicely. It marches forward with life. Can you speak a bit about how you use the natural world of daffodils as imagery and backdrop for life? Do they provide comfort? Why do you return to these images throughout?


JB: I feel much more "at home" surrounded by a relatively "natural" world (i.e., where the sky is not in part, or mostly, hidden by human structures) such as one can find in much of Sonoma County in northern California. Those who have read Human Sister will recognize my fondness for Sonoma's flowers, trees, orchards, and vineyards. I return to those images as one returns home—for comfort.


BNG: Solitude is always a theme. You brought that home in stanzas like this:


His cremains were portioned in thirds—

to Mom, my brother, and me.

I brought my share here, sat

for a while amid gauzy patterns of gnats,

remembering him and

our ceremonies of solitude


Do you enjoy solitude or are you still learning to accept the inevitability of its place in your life? Do you ever crave solitude, and what role does it play in your "writer space?"


JB: I imagine that some readers of this passage will think: Well, there you have it. Men just don't talk. I do not wish to say that such a sentiment is wrong (except in its generality); however, in this poem I was praising silence and the solitude that silence permits to exist—solitude that I believe every writer craves because it is a necessary place in which to write and to think deeply about something for an extended time.


BNG: My favorite poem is "Joy of Having a Girl". It is so very well done as it shows the flash of life. Baby toes and then BOOM empty book spaces and she's gone off to college. I really feel that. The reason I like this poem is because you wrote about something that's spoken of in terms of cliche. You know, enjoy them while you can because before you know it they'll be gone. What you did with this poem was truly just show how it happens. I can feel the empty. Was this poem difficult to write? How much reworking and thought went into making it say so much with so little?


JB: "Joy of Having a Girl" was actually the easiest of the poems in this collection for me to write. One of my hobbies is writing haiku. One day while reviewing some of them, it occurred to me that with a few slight alterations these six could find a cozy place next to each other in a longer poem.


BNG: Are there spaces on the web where you release poetry in singular form, or do we have to wait for the next full length book?


JB: I do not have a website on which I publish my work. Many of the poems in this collection have been published in various literary journals.


BNG: How have you seen your writing evolve over the years? How has it changed or stayed the same?


JB: I hope that my writing keeps improving; however, I believe that the style has remained fairly constant.


BNG: Can you speak a bit about the experience of working with an indie press?


JB: Working with Paul Hughes at Silverthought Press has been a joy from the beginning. He has been constant in giving encouragement and insightful suggestions.


BNG: What's on the horizon for you? Are you already thinking of the next work?

JB: I have been working on new poems and another novel. I write slowly, however, so don't expect anything soon.




Copyright © 2012 Becci Noblit Goodall

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Becci Noblit Goodall is an associate editor of Silverthought.

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