May 13th, 2008 14:39 EST
Chase Von Interviews Talented Rising Poet! Dawn Huffaker
Poet Who Has Given Nature a Voice!Chase von: Hey Dawn and on behalf of the Student Operated Press and myself, I really want to thank you for taking the time to give us this interview! I've read your book Flights of Fancy Vol. 1 and you truly write beautifully! I felt as if I was transported back to another world that use to exist, one where things were a lot more peaceful than they currently are in this world of ours, but before we discuss your writings, I would like for our audience to learn more about you, the author. Can you tell us what some of your first memories were, when you realized due to the mysterious illness you suffered while you were only eight months old, how you might have felt differently than perhaps other children? Dawn: Thank you, Chase! I’m happy to be here.
My first memories weren’t all that different from other kids. I knew I couldn’t run and play like my younger sister, and yet, it didn’t make me feel left out. My family just found a way for me to participate, even if I was just the scorekeeper at times. I do remember trying to learn to stand by myself, and attempting to walk with crutches. Neither was very successful. I fell a lot. Mom worked with me every day for several years.
By the age of ten, I had to give up on the idea of using crutches. I needed surgery on my back to fix the scoliosis curve that I had. Spent a year in a cast from my neck to hips. I was sad at first that I couldn’t keep trying. However, Mom had told me from the start that I was no different from anybody else. This philosophy gave me a basis to grow from - that the inability to walk would not hold me back.
Chase von: You've spent a great deal of your time living in New Mexico, and your love of the beauty that the state has to offer is truly evident in your writings. Also you've shared with me that some of the teachers weren't apparently all that pleased to have to deal with a student in a wheelchair. I also know from first hand experience that children themselves, can be quite cruel when it comes to people that they perceive are a bit different than themselves. How was it going to school for you and do you think that over all it was a rewarding experience and that people in general are becoming more accepting of those who have different challenges bestowed upon them by life? Dawn: Yes, New Mexico is a very beautiful place.
Mom was wise to start me in first grade. I was with the same kids for twelve years. We learned to rely on each other like one extended family. When I was in first through third grade, my friends thought it was neat that I had wheels. During school time, I used either a wheelchair or walker. At recess, we’d play that I was a train, and they’d take turns pushing me. It was fun.
In fourth grade, I was teased by a couple of bullies for a few weeks, but they were cruel to several kids. It stopped when I told on them. School was great. I loved to learn new things, and found it very rewarding. The problems with certain teachers were difficult and upsetting, but other staff members would step in and offer their help. I was very blessed to know these caring people.
I think people are more accepting of people with challenges, now. It helps that they see us out and about, and living our lives. Chase von: It became evident to me while reading your life synopsis, that you have done some incredible things in your time! You'd managed to fit in with your classmates and despite having to deal with a world that wasn't quite made for your particular situation, i.e. just getting access to the buildings because they weren't always accessible by wheelchairs, you managed somehow despite that! However, something else deeply disturbed me, and that was that you went on to make straight A's in every class from seventh through twelfth grade because some of the teachers thought you might be slow or retarded. And continued on to do that in college as well for a total period of ten years! You graduated co Valedictorian in your class, and then went on to major in Computer Science with minors in English and Biology and again graduated at the head of your class with a 3.975 GPA from Western New Mexico University!
So the first question I wanted to ask here, is do you think if you hadn't have been the one who was forced because of fate, to be in a wheelchair, that you would have applied yourself that hard in your studies? And the second one is, do you think that you, who were the student, ended up teaching the ones that were the teachers far more than they perhaps taught you, because it's clear that they had already reached some inaccurate judgments and preconceived notions concerning yourself and who knows how many others? Dawn: I don’t know how hard I would have studied under normal circumstances. I am a go-getter though, so I think I’d have still done my best. Besides, my parents were both teachers and they valued education.
Yes, I did. I believe I changed their minds about associating academic ability with physical limitations. They do not go hand-in-hand. In fact, in my computer business, I met up with some of my former teachers. They told me that they were very proud of me. I even trained a few on how to use their computers.
Chase von: How long do you believe it will be before the state of New Mexico recognizes you as one of their state treasures? Because you have certainly made it evident in your writings how beautiful a place it can truly be! (Smile). I would think travel brochures would be hitting you up constantly to get the go a heads to use pieces of your work, and that's a serious statement as well! Dawn: (Smile.) I honestly don’t know. It takes time to get noticed, and develop a readership. It would be a great honor, though.
Chase von: You ran your own computer business for 16 years! That's a feat for anyone of us! And I'm especially awed because I who manage somehow to jack them up on a regular basis, love them but often end up with crashed ones! (Copy righted, by Chase von on this date, May 6, 2008, Chase von and Dawn Huffaker have sole rights on the disposal computer! (I like to copy right ideas, and it would sure be nice to have computers you could do all the various things I do on them and when they crash, just take out a small piece that saves everything, go to that "Disposable Computer" box of ten disposables and grab another one, and put it in and keep rolling! I know you're supposed to back up and save things to disk but I certainly can't be the only one that is instant messaging, checking emails, writing another piece and down loading another program and posting messages on blogs and then looking at a frozen screen and saying. "You've got to be blank, blank, blankedy blank kidding me!!!(Smile).
I think we've all spent a great deal of our lives in this present world wondering how in the "blank" we can get what was lost back, or am I the only one? We'll have to go more in depth on that one later. (Smile). You also created your entire book yourself to include the cover image which is beautiful! Do you operate from a belief that there is really nothing any of us can't do if we put our minds to it? You are already working on Vol. 2. How soon before that is shared with this world of ours? And do you ever plan to do more than write poetry? You know like branching out into writing stories or other things as well?
Dawn: (LOL) Yes, I believe that talents are meant to be explored and honed. You never know until you follow your heart and try. Volume 2 is being composed as we speak. I want to include a lot of new poems. It will probably be out in twelve to eighteen months.
I plan to branch out into short stories, magazine articles, and, perhaps, novels. Chase von: Who are some of the writers you yourself admire?
Dawn: Hmmm…let’s see. I admire Chase Von, Tony Prewit, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Christopher Paolini, and JK Rowling. Chase von: Well thank you so much Dawn! (Smile). I went to my first poetry reading in years about two weeks ago. I also want to publicly thank the Camp Pendleton Main Library for having me.
Unfortunately I also had to abbreviate my stay there because my son had taken ill and you were aware of that also. I truly appreciate your prayers and support. He's back to his old young self again, but one of the things that I was asked to recite by the head librarian really struck a nerve with one of the one's present. They actually left the room in tears which really made me feel bad until another one of the ones present said she was glad I had said what I shared. It gave her a better view of things so to speak. Do you ever find that some of the things you have penned are well accepted by some and not accepted by others? And how do people reach you if they would like for you to come and share some of your poetry? And how can learning institutions like elementary schools and high schools and colleges order your book in bulk for usage in their curriculums and will they get a discounted price if they do so?
Dawn: Congratulations Chase! A reading is a great honor. Yes, I was sorry to hear about your son’s illness. I’m glad that he is better now.
I’ve had people react differently to a poem. Most will love it. Some will not understand my use of anthropomorphism. There’s always one who wants me to expand a poem. Others say they want it to be shorter. I’ve learned to listen to their suggestions, but ultimately I have to trust my inner voice and go with what feels right. For now, I can do readings via webcam. My current health situation does not allow me to travel far. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Institutions can purchase multiple copies for 40% off of the retail price of $11.95 at https://www.createspace.com/3334396. They can e-mail me at the above address for a discount coupon code. Single copies can be purchased through my website at http://flightsoffancypoetry.googlepages.com/index.htm. Chase von: Can you share one of your shorter pieces? I know I told you I was going to give my daughter, who is seven, your book to read for her Reading Log. I'm also going to share it with her teacher because I really think that so many things in it will touch her and be things she can use to teach her students both present and future about the wonder of nature. I think your writing is really in so many ways a reminder of what it is that we as children seem to know instinctively, that being nature is in fact full of wonder, beauty and mystery! And unfortunately, the older we get, we seem to lose interest in many cases because of a rush and it was supposed to be done yesterday world, that appreciation for the beauty that is ever present and around us or the time to give it its just due.
Dawn: Yes. Here’s one: Summer Storm
Rich, blue skies greet the rising, summer sun.
Clouds soon begin to puff higher and higher,
As the heat reflects skyward.
Black, they become, When the sun is shut out.
Lightning suddenly dances to the ground,
And thunder returns to the clouds.
Rain slowly drips in patterns
Like a sprinkler on a hose. Expectation is a hush all around.
Drops fall faster and faster.
The air is sliced with their decent.
Thirsty ground drinks gulps
Of cold, sacred water. Thunder chants an ancient song.
The rain lessens with time.
What remains of the clouds move on.
The ground sighs with happiness.
Trees soak their dusty roots.
Balance is restored. The sun returns.
2008 © Flights of Fancy – Volume 1
by Dawn Huffaker
Chase von: How important is family to you, and what is your take on the state of our current world? And who are some of the people you consider your heroes? Dawn: Family is very important to me. Children need good role models in their lives. My parents and grandparents were mine.
The world is like a top that is spinning way too fast, and out-of-control. Few find the time or energy to remember that life is about the journey and the people in their lives. We are to reach out and care for others. The majority of the world’s problems occur when people forget this. My heroes have been my parents, sister, grandparents, friends, teachers, doctors, and nurses. I’ve been blessed with heroes that were always there in the nick-of-time. I feel that God sent them to look after me.
Chase von: What would you say, if you were in front of a microphone and could be heard by every child on the planet and, regardless of what language they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible? Dawn: I would say to them, “Believe in yourself! Have a dream and see it through. But most important of all, care for those around you. They may not be perfect, but you can learn from them, and they from you.”
Chase von: How can our readers find your book? I know it is available on Amazon but are there other places as well? And do you have any websites where they can learn more about you and your writings, because we certainly can't cover your life which has been a truly remarkable one and an inspiration on many levels to all? Certainly to myself! Dawn: (Smile.)
I’m looking for other booksellers besides Amazon, but nothing is firm yet. My website makes it easy to order a copy, though. The address is: http://flightsoffancypoetry.googlepages.com/index.htm. More information can be found at the AuthorsDen – including new poems. Once you log in, go to: http://www.authorsden.com/dawnhuffaker.
Chase von: On behalf of The Student Operated Press and myself, Dawn, I want to thank you again for taking the time to do this interview with us. A lot of our readers are College Students and I really think the sharing of your story and all the obstacles you have had to over come is something that will inspire so many! So once again thanks for not only sharing your poetic talents with the world but a portion of your story in this journey we call life! Dawn: It’s been a real pleasure, Chase! Thank you!