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Beatles poet to speak at Beatles symposium

Terri Whitney, fondly known in The Beatles World as "The Rockin' Rhymer," is the author of a Beatles poetry book called "Any Rhyme At All." This is sample of her poetry from the poem "Beatles Music Therapy":

"A smile on my face as I listen to the sound
It's Beatles music of course, the best songs around
Listening to their music wakes up my soul
It makes me happy and makes me feel whole

It takes me away when I need my space
Then helps me get to my happy place
It makes me happy when I get sad
Calms me down when I get mad."

Below is a recent interview of Terry with Beatles at the Ridge Symposium Chair, Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series.

Jude: Terri, (or Rockin' Rhymer as I know you're called) I've read that as a teenager you loved both poetry and The Beatles...so you rolled these two loves together in your first book, Any Rhyme at All. What poets inspired you?

Terri: Actually, I started both my passions about the age of 9, and each of them have stayed with me throughout the years. My elementary school teacher inspired me to love poetry and to write as a way of expression. And, I fell in love with The Beatles during that fall of 1963, when I was sick with the measles and had to be in a complete dark room for 10 days. I was given my first album from a local DJ who said they had just gotten 2 of them in at the station. He and his wife were friends with my parents and had come over to play cards. He told me then "to keep an eye on this band as they were going to be sweeping the land." From that day forward, I was hooked!

As for poets who have inspired me, I would have to say that the two who come to mind would be Edgar Allen Poe whose poem, "The Raven," I had to memorize and recite in class (which I doubt I could do now) and Emily Dickinson. Both of them taught me that you could write about anything and compact that story into a poem.

Jude: What Beatles songs inspired you, Terri?

Terri: Wow, what Beatles songs inspired me? Well, many of their songs have worked their way into the memories of my life. From the first time I heard "I Saw Her Standing There," I fell in love with their music.

Being an only child, Beatles music became a type of therapy for me. In my room listening to them, I was inspired to be creative in my own way. I knew that I would never become a star athlete, but I did have a natural writing ability, so their music and songs fostered the dream that I could perhaps someday be an author or write a song. I would credit "Hey Jude" with being the song that touched my heart when I met my first true love. That song has inspired many of my poems, including one that's in my book, Any Rhyme at All. And I also love, "Dear Prudence," which is one of my favorites because of its simplicity. It speaks to me about the potential for life to be better, if only we open our eyes.

Jude: Do you see The Beatles as poets?

Terri: Yes, I truly believe that the Beatles were poets, especially John and Paul. As most Beatles fans know, John actually wrote poems that he published in In His Own Write and Spaniard in the Works, and I believe that he considered himself a poet.

When I was younger, when kids would tease me because I enjoyed poetry so much, I used The Beatles (especially John) as a source for why it was "okay" to love poetry. I would always ask the other kids, "Well do you like the Beatles...John Lennon?" (Of course, at that time everyone loved The Beatles.) I would tell them, "You know John considers himself a poet, so I think it's pretty cool that I can be one too!" Needless to say they quit teasing me. The Beatles all had great minds, and their poetic tendencies and imagination brought their music to life for me.

Jude: There is an old quote that states: "A song is a crippled poem that leans on music for support." Which Beatles song lyrics, in your opinion, are good enough to stand alone as poetry?

Terri: I actually have read many of the lyrics that The Beatles have written and discovered that the boys used some kind of poetic signature in each of their songs. Whether it be single line rhyming, double rhyming, or just free verse - often combining a rhyme scheme and free verse together in one song. Three of their songs that I feel could be read aloud as poetry are "In My Life", "Things We Said Today," and "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."

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Jude: Is Any Rhyme at All only about The Beatles or do you write about other things?

Terri: My book, Any Rhyme at All, is certainly about The Beatles but also about the people who surrounded them. I also write about my memories growing up with Beatles music, and I pay tribute to those who are still keeping their music alive for our younger generation to hear and learn about them. I write about the way I saw The Beatles and my inner thoughts as I was growing up with what I consider to be "the best band ever."

I do, however, write poems about other things than The Beatles. I write about everything - some funny events, some sad ones. I write about love, heartache, and friendship. I have been known to write "specialty poems" about someone or something (when asked to do so), such as a tribute for someone who is retiring. I write when an event strikes me, stirs me, and gives me ideas. It could be "Any Rhyme at All," any time at all.

Jude: Now Terri, I hear you have a new book coming out soon. What's the topic of this new work? And will it also be a volume of poetry?

Terri: Yes, I have been hard at work writing, and I am once again going down memory lane. My new book is about 50 of our great musicians who have passed away. Thus, the title is Music Legends in the Heavens.

I was very fortunate, growing up, that my parents believed that music was a contributor to a healthy life, and they made sure that I had access to all types of music: B.B King, Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper, to name a few. As you know, we've lost some of our most accomplished musicians the past couple of years: Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, and Prince, for example. So, my poems will serve as a tribute to them.

Just as in Any Rhyme at All, each poem will include hand-drawn illustrations of the musicians by gifted artist, Amy Heintzelman. Let me say I had "a little help from my friends" and family, who shared their ideas about some of the musicians in the poems; with those thoughts and my own, I have lovingly composed each one. In my mind, music would not be what it is today if it had not been for many of these great musicians and their influences on music.

Jude: Terri, tell us what you'll be doing at the Beatles at the Ridge Authors and Artists' Symposium. Are you inviting other writers and poets to participate again this year?

Terri: I am looking forward to my second year at Beatles at the Ridge, as I met so many great people there last year. Once again, I will be sharing poetry from my book Any Rhyme At All. My new book, Music Legends in the Heavens, will be completed prior to The Ridge, so I'll be able to read some of those new poems as well.

I will have a booth in The Studio on Main Street along with the other authors where I will be signing and selling my books on Friday, 14 September from 2:00 PM - 5:30 PM and then from 7:45 PM - 8:15 PM. On Saturday morning, 15 September, I'll be signing and selling books from 8:30 AM-10:00 AM and then again, at 3:45 PM in The Studio.

I am also scheduled for an "Open Mic Session" again this year at the Spider's Webb Bookstore, on Main Street, on Saturday, 15 September at 10:45 AM. I'll share some readings from both of my books.

This year, I'm really encouraging people to come to the book store with their own poems (whether they are about The Beatles, music, or any topic!). And as an added benefit, we'll be giving prizes to anyone who reads an original poem at the Open Mic Session on Saturday afternoon!

You can keep in touch Terri Whitney to find out more about her speaking engagements and her new book, at her website www.therockinrhymer.com, and check out her Events Page that will show any current festivals or speaking engagements she will doing. Also, you can contact her on Facebook at The Rockin' Rhymer, or on twitter @TheRockinRhymer.

You can also contact nicole@910pr.com to request setting up speaking engagements or events with Terri.

To learn more about Beatles at the Ridge, please go to www.beatlesattheridge.com or visit their Facebook page.

Related articles:

• Music expert and author Kit O'Toole to close Beatles symposium (9/10/18)
• Liverpool film maker and author to be featured at Beatles at the Ridge (8/24/18)
• Beatles at Ridge 2018 to kick off with Lennon concert (7/27/18)
• Memphis teen music star to shine at Beatles Symposium (4/24/18)
• Former fan club president to address Beatles symposium (2/19/18)

Published March 27, 2018

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