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Member Spotlight for the Month of November 2003 - Anne Engelen

Anne Engelen“I have a hard time seeing myself as a poet. I always thought to be a poet, one had to have a certain technical knowledge of literature and just a wide general literature knowledge,” she says.

Then, Anne Engelen, we are blessed.

Anne writes poetry that is far more approachable and heartfelt than those clinical things. Reading through her library is a lesson in writing straight out of the moment: “No longer on my mind but penetrated my soul I’m blind to see the whole.” Hers is a style that gets straight to the heart of the matter, opens it up and brings the feeling home.

A trip through her library shows you a playful writer with poems that joke and tease. She makes writing vivid limericks and acrostics seem easy. Take a turn, and you find a soul striving mightily, pouring feelings into short and distilled pieces that pack amazing punch. Another turn, and you find where she teases friends with sticky pancakes and syrup and ice cream, and she and her readers are all smiles.

Living in Stevoort, a town in Belgium, she's a mother of two children, a son aged 8 and a daughter aged 10. Anne herself grew up in that country, a place where Flemish, French, English and German are all taught, yet her writing is almost entirely in English. She has had experience in language school and worked in exchange offices, and anyone who has heard her knows she can speak those languages beautifully.

Why English? Quite possibly it comes from where her talent was awakened; an English class in Dansville, New York in the United States. She was an exchange student for a year when she was 18, and her first poem came out on the flight back home, and since about four years ago, she has been writing in earnest. The love of reading and writing came to her then, but her life before had seen other interests.

Anne grew up as an energetic, tough girl in love with the life her brothers had. “I always wanted to be a boy so much,” she says, “I thought boys had it so much easier. Gosh, I envied my brothers. They could do all the fun stuff like climb in trees, get dirty, get into fights... and I wanted all that too.” By contrast, she attended a Catholic all-girls school until she turned 18, chafing at the typical rules but still managing to appreciate the beautiful setting of the castle in the countryside.

It’s not hard to see that fun, feisty girl in Anne’s writing:

“Sometimes my craving can be too much
Just to have another touch
Of my tongue to let you melt the tastiest ice-cream
I’ve ever held ...”

You’ve never seen someone enjoy poking fun at “food freaks” so much.

Anne’s playfulness extends to her site nickname, “Miss Microwave.” The moniker evolved one day when she was describing to another poet a 1984 interview she’d given on WDNY radio in New York, where she was living as an exchange student. “They asked me what the most favorite American thing was I wanted to take home with me when I was going to go back to Belgium,” she said. “My answer was a microwave, because I had never seen one in my life before then! I thought it was the coolest invention ever.”

On the plane ride home from New York those 19 years ago, Anne wrote her first poem. She didn’t write again until four years ago. “It was while I was going through personal turmoil,” she said of her re-entry into the poetic arena. “My writing has always been some form of self-therapy, to deal with extreme emotions. It comes straight from the core of me. So the themes are mostly emotional.”

These personal traumas are the dark shadows that contrast the playful nature. Where the pain carves deep, the light fills up. Where the blackness outlines, the colors glow.

Whether it’s instinct or the prompting of a muse, she’s not sure. “I think if muses exist, they are what makes me ‘feel’....so it can be anything and anyone,” she says of her inspirations. And the point of it all?

“My only life passion is to be a good friend to the people I care for,” she says. “All I want in life is to know I made a difference of some kind to someone ... knowing he or she was happy to know me.”

She's living and writing from the heart, and that's why Anne stands out.

The following is a list of the highlights of Anne Engelen's poetry:

Author:

The member spotlighted in this month's "Member Spotlight" is chosen by the pathetic.org Spotlight committee, which is made up of a small group of site patrons and administrators. Each month a member is selected for this privilege based upon contributions to pathetic.org and the quality of work.

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