Photo Credit: Claire Gearen
In their most recent issue, Bamboo Ridge: Journal of Hawai’i Literature and Arts featured Language Arts teacher Claire Gearen’s poem titled, “Twin Bloom.” Gearen’s poem presents a twist on the Narcissus myth, connecting it to the idea of what it means to be a twin.
“I have an identical twin and interestingly enough, when I was in middle school, I used to occasionally get confused when I saw my reflection and think it was my sister. You know like if I just caught my reflection out of the corner of my eye, I might open a door for her but then find out it was just my reflection in the window or something like that,” said Gearen.
In the Greek mythology, Narcissus, the underlying theme of the story revolves around a fixation with one’s own reflection. Gearen connects her experience growing up as an identical twin and mistaking her reflection for her sister with the myth, focusing on the idea of how one views their own reflection. “So, It’s kind of about my relationship with my sister and myself, growing up as a twin, and I make a play on the narcissus myth in it. I was also experimenting with, you know poetry is usually not narrative, there are narrative poems and narrative poetry is one kind of poem, but most poems are lyric in nature and so I was experimenting with a more experimental type of narrative poem that wasn’t quite as story-like,” said Gearen.
Though Gearen has been publishing poetry since 2005, she primarily identifies herself as a teacher. It was her efforts to become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable teacher that motivated her to start writing creatively. “It (writing poetry) keeps me fresh because I understand, I feel like I can understand my students’ experience if I continue to be a learner myself and also a practitioner. So if I continue to practice writing, then I am better able to understand the student point of view as a writer when they’re writing, and I think it makes my writing assignments more authentic. And I just think it’s important to continue to write and have real world writing experiences so that I can prepare students for real world writing experiences that they may actually do after school,” said Gearen.
In regards to working with the Bamboo Ridge, Gearen has always considered herself a fan. Having her poem published allowed her the opportunity to be a part of something she always enjoyed. “I was very happy because one of the poetry editors was Cathy Song, so that felt really good to have a poem picked by her. And it was just a wonderful experience that whole way through with the generosity of the Bamboo Ridge managing editor and poetry editors,” said Gearen.
When it comes to publishing poetry, Gearen believes that having a good relationship with one’s publisher is of much importance. With many stories nowadays being published online, relationships can also be made through the internet. “There should be a familiarity with the poetry editor of the journal, like even if you haven’t met that person, you know what kind of poetry they like and that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t just like blindly send things out everywhere, but I would pick and choose,” said Gearen.
As of now, Gearen’s poem is only available in the printed issue. There are other stories and blogs available to read on the Bamboo Ridge website at www.bambooridge.com. The Bamboo Ridge also has their Aloha Shorts radio program archived on the website www.bestofalohashorts.com.