With her fourth collection of poetry, architect, visual artist and author Hollace M. Metzger once again proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. Despite her formal education, her Bohemian leanings have brought a new voice to the modern world of art--a voice which is existentialist in nature, always true to the philosophy of art for art's sake. I truly believe she is an artist who will be remembered throughout history as one of the greatest artists of our time, and hope this interview will inspire others as it has inspired me.

Male and female energies is a recurring theme in some of your poetry. What is it about this spectrum which interests you?

"It is rooted in many things, one being that I was raised in a very traditional family and I watched my mother juggling between being a mother and wife, but also a professional who set aside her career to raise children. This caused me to question the traditional role of women in society from that era, of course, but I also recognize a kind of collapse of family structure, now, as man and woman generally seem to have more of an independent coexistence rather than union. In my writing, I think many can detect I’m trying to find a medium between these, to understand why we find ourselves together so often but so different, probably for my own life.

I was also the only female in a family of many boys, even cut my hair, dressed, acted like and was often mistaken for a boy. So, I suppose this allowed me to take on two identities at the same time while also teaching me to be a little more balanced, able to understand both females and males... because no matter how much I denied it, there was a feminine biochemistry working inside of me.

What interests me, now, is balance, not only being comfortable in my own skin but, as a writer, in the skin of others, in different cultures, and developing my ability to empathize with all - not just women, caucasian-Americans, heterosexuals, whatever people may think I am. I know I will always be attracted to the unknown as it does often verify what I am or what else I could be."

Was your poetry originally meant to be enjoyed as literature, or did you always intend for it to be performed and recorded as spoken word?

"My poetry began, almost five years ago, as a way to communicate emotions that did not mesh well with others socially, that would be read online. In this way, what I was being told was extreme, “too honest” or “too sensitive” would then be labeled as “creative writing”. Then, when I was getting whatever it was out, I also felt liberated from the professional and politically-correct world I was working in. It quickly received a response that applauded my ability to express myself, so I rolled with it. I realized it was a talent to be able to do this, sometimes called “brave” by others although I like to call it a necessity in life. Presently, it’s simply what I know I must do for me.

I also like to integrate contemporary, perhaps post-modern, philosophies into texts juxtaposed with another side of my thinking and education - the romantic and idealized. Like a contemporary building designed for an historic site, it requires a lot of thought, sensitivity, respect and a true genuflection outwards. Applying this technique orally, even forgotten words or extinct expressions, is my own imaginary and microcosmic opportunity to design a building next to the Louvre, the Roman Forum, in San Marco, etc. and preserving something sensitively.

I only began to record to feel as if I was speaking to people, to reach closer, and was quite terrified to hear the sound of my own voice in the beginning. I think, like many things in my life, this was a method of working that could also allow me to overcome an obstacle rooted in fear. Overcoming fears allows me to feel as if I’ve progressed in my personal development. So, it was a way I could concurrently touch others while doing something for myself."

What do you enjoy most about collaborating with other artists when recording your spoken word poetry?

"If it weren’t for the collaborations, I would probably never read my poems again. So, I do enjoy when the words are re-lived in a shadow of when they were written, particular moments in time are then not so fleeting. Not nostalgia, but more so respecting my experience and cherishing it because, whether positive or negative, it is part of what I am and I have to respect that. With collaborations, I practice meditation to assure I am returned to a place so the sensation of it takes more control than my professional side – it is the time to let go. The artist(s) I’m working with at the time then become a part of that moment and it is truly shared. The musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and others I work with usually come to me already inspired by the words, so it leaves me feeling quite free in what I do and where we go together. They also bring an entirely new element to the scene, a new mood, and I have to be prepared for that especially working with international artists who may have a different take on what a poem means from their experience with the language or in their own culture. I think what I offer them from the beginning is a natural rhythm to work with then they usually surprise me with their response. This past year, I’ve been commissioned to write for other artists’ work and to do this, I need to be immersed in their world or imagine myself to be. The entire process can be very personal and connective as I have yet to work with another artist who has not revealed more than his or her professionalism."

How old were you when you first started writing poetry, and what inspired this?

"I have always seen combinations of words as poetry, the different speaking rhythms of people as well. I played with writing poetry since I was a child, but only to young boys who struck my fancy it seems! I did not begin to know my own position as a possible writer until after I had taken graduate courses of Shakespeare, not required but for some reason needed by me because I truly found social pleasure in nuance, in saying many things at once and allowing others to interpret words for their own needs. I was so overwhelmed by a self-induced standard of work in architecture school that I never had the time to respond with feedback of that experience, however. Or, maybe I wasn’t ready yet. Then, I went to New York and worked even harder... It wasn’t until I had lived in New York for seven years that I needed to capture the rhythm of the city and of my life in other ways than designing stagnant buildings. So, movement became part of my independent creative process after-hours – in painting and writing, often conducted together with both hands. Poetry also became a way to connect with people I couldn’t immediately start a conversation with on the subway, personal exercise in affirming how I feel, at times, and stating what I observed on any particular day. With nobody watching or present to criticize, I could test how free I was with my opinions which eventually proved to be very strong."

Is a poem like a novel taking days or weeks or months to compose? How long does it usually take you to compose a poem?

"I construct it once and do not return to it except if it is required to be recited or recorded. For me, it is an intimate moment in time and belongs as a temporary reflection of that time. If we keep living experiences over again, for whatever reason, then I do fear we will live in a cyclical fashion and never move forward. When I write a poem it is like giving each moment a greater sacred space in time in my life, more respect and appreciation – then, I feel better in leaving it behind. If I need it again it will be there. So, I never sit down for my “writing time”. Sitting down is administrative and, once called a job, I will no longer enjoy it. Poetry, or life-rhythms, come at very peculiar moments and usually not the most convenient. This is why I live with notebooks everywhere in my home. (I’d like to get specific with that, my favorite place, but will spare the details.) It can take between 5 minutes to a couple hours but often my hand moves faster than my mind and writes words even I don’t think I understand. When the inspiration comes, it comes and I cannot stop it. So, I do have to stop everything else I am doing and let it flow although I do wish it would inform me beforehand that it will wake me or how long it will sometimes require to complete."

Eternal Story is the title of your latest book, but it is also the title of a poem found in your book Transcriptions of Time. What significance does this poem have for you?

"It is my journey in life, in discovery, growth and in romantic love. The poem has appeared in the first two books, became a music collaboration and was represented in a self-produced preliminary film response to Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema before its current production in a true film. It’s become a sort of woven vein through my process as a writer, really, which is particular because it was one of the first poems I’d written.

I think the text returns because, as it lists the many places one could have fallen in or made love while traveling and realizing the temporary nature of such experiences, the revival of that poem, to me, perhaps plays with the idea of it being a poem in continuum, composed with multiple “endings” – and I do believe our lives will feel eternal as long as we do not close our minds to new experiences and beliefs. It often reminds me that life will continue and one ending will not paralyze me. This is why it goes through a list of beautiful and painful memories of parting, then simply says “Thank you” to all who have assisted in writing the story. Sure, there is a lot of rage in the mix as well. Often hidden in my writing is such cynicism, recognition of a personal peaceful end-state as revenge... or, more sweetly stated, as a mirror."

Who are some of your favorite poets and/or artists?

"I am most inspired by visual artists but, more so, by people with a story who seem to be seeking something deeper about life with that art: painters, architects, sculptors, poets, musicians, composers, philosophers but Seekers, really, most going against the grain, a bit more rebellious and forthright, the unedited storytellers. What I also like is that, often, their work – because it has no historic model – is non-linear in thought, especially words, is random and often more telling than art that is so polished – the sketches, the roughness, the truths.

When a work inspires me, I often learn as much as I can about the life of the artist, not so much his or her entire scope of works. People who have inspired me in this way (adding their own essential personality) and by their method of creating include: Neruda, Anais Nin, Jackson Pollock, Alberto Giacometti, Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Glass, Arvo Part, Bach, Bob Dylan, John Dowland, Fabrizio de Andre, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Henry Miller, Ayn Rand, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Brassens, Desnos, Keith Jarrett, Vivaldi, Roland Barthes... Well, the list is quite long. It seems many of them lived what they created as if their creating was professing their religious belief. And I think when someone is true to his or her art, has lived it and is not only creating for public appeal, we can sense its sanctity.

Also and very personal to me, artists who worked in a cross-disciplinary fashion because they needed to, as I have learned exercising all senses each day heightens my consciousness of living, gives me strength feeding each other art while even expanding my ability and confidence into other forms of expression. Artists who seem to have lived this way are my gurus, at present, and I always hope to visualize what I write, hear what I paint, write what I hear, feel or see, etc. and eventually be able to build it all."

Which one of your poems do you feel most proud of?

"I am not so much proud of what I write as I am moved by the response of others. So, it’s not my artistry I rely on for this as much as feedback from people who have felt something personal to me – again, connectivity. I’ve had a few people inform me of how pieces I’ve written have helped them through difficult periods in their lives, one saying she read a poem repeatedly the night she was prepared for suicide. Then, she did not proceed with it.
I am moved when somebody else feels, smells, tastes, touches and lives an experience I try to share – often effective in a rhythm like the poem “Return Ticket”. Or, when someone feels empathy towards an outcast in society, as has happened with the poem “Twitch”.
If I have to say which I think are most successful in conveying an experience or opinion it would be those where I state something most cannot bring themselves to say, where I state something of my person most attempt to hide, the poems I’ve been told are “brave”, have been judged by or have lost or gained friends with. If I must answer this question, the poem I will write today I am most proud of – I am proud I still live reasons to write."

As an American currently residing in Paris, you have lived in several countries. Which city, place, or person do you think of as home?

"Apropos, “Where the heart is.” For me, this constantly shifts. When I live in a place where people know too much about me, I am not drawn to remain there. I do live a life of high disclosure, a promise to myself I suppose, so maybe this makes it easier to move on as I have not yet found my place.
I often write about a home, the sensation of feeling at home, but this is more so a feeling of physical comfort, meditative space and acceptance from people. I enjoy small towns and communities for their closeness and how their inhabitants rely on each other, but also appreciate anonymity in metropolises like I had in New York. Somewhere in the middle would be nice, but suburbs always prove to be distasteful as well. For now, I have friends and reminders of different homes I have made in many cities and I like being able to pop into see friends or family wherever I find myself because my life led me there at that time.
New York allowed me to have most freedoms I desired but the one that seemed to me hampered was an ability to express myself with passion – not just in art, but in life. I had always imagined this could be more acceptable in a place where language and the body were used in a more communicative way culturally and I did feel this to quite an extent in Italy. I lived in Venice for two years, and continue to try to live there again, because not just did I feel I had these freedoms, but its mystery and temporary life span also maintained my intrigue."

What advice would you give to other aspiring poets and artists?

"I believe the visionaries and true reflections of society will be rewarded after their lives. Those being rewarded now are giving the public what it needs now, usually applauding its current state and clearing consciences.

I’d advise others it won’t be easy if you are motivated by the truth within yourself and exposing it with honesty. If we begin from there, I would give two lists: One, to be a successful writer publicly and be paid for it. Two, to feel success under your unpolished skin, as if you have rightly stated your case in this life. Like most studies and professions, there are always two schools and I have chosen to follow only one, the one I can live with."

To learn more about Hollace Metzger, please visit her website www.hollacemetzger.com or visit her on Facebook.

The following books may be ordered online through: office@hollacemetzger.com,amazon and lulu.com

Observing the Labyrinth From Heaven Vols. I & II (2008)
Transcriptions of Time (2009)
Why The Willow (2010)
Eternal Story (2011)
 •  flag
1 like · like  • 
Published on July 24, 2011 11:26 • 524 views • Tags: art, christina-westover, eternal-story, hollace-metzger, inspiration, interview, poetry, visionary, writing
Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Brent (new)

Brent Fantastic interview and a great look into the process! Lot of food for thought here, and I've read it several times. THanks for sharing!

message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina Westover Thank you, Brent! Hollace's answers were intriguing--and I learned a lot as well. I feel so lucky to connect with so many talented and gifted writers and artists via the internet. Thank you for always being so supportive!

message 3: by Carrie (new)

Carrie White This is golden~!! and your inspired ones from Frank Lloyd Wright to Keith Jarrett make perfect sense to me. I also add Rainer Marie Rilke.

and I especially love how you write, "I am not so much proud of what I write as I am moved by the response of others. So, it’s not my artistry I rely on for this as much as feedback from people who have felt something personal to me – again, connectivity.'

It is the connection of two that make (three) the wholeness of writing and art and LIFE. Thank you. Carrie White

[my book]:Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life|10617047]

back to top