Apr 112016

Like all the arts, poetry involves artifice, and can never be merely the stating of a feeling. Wordsworth said it best: ‘Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility.'”



How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

From the time I was a young child, I was an eager reader and was also lucky to be encouraged by my father who read to me from Shakespeare, the Odyssey, Dickens, Kipling, Scott, etc. I began to write my own little stories. I think I always knew I would be a writer. In my day jobs, I’ve worked as a journalist, editor and teacher of writing, so it was always a focus.

Describe your writing process.

Process is such an individual thing that I don’t know that one person’s experience is valuable to another. I’m a great believer, especially with poetry, in grabbing the moment. Often poems arrive as if dictated and it can be critical to capture them. Dangerous too in the event you happen to be driving. I advise pulling over, but confess to scribbling down the gist of a poem while haphazardly steering. I tend to be rather prolific so generally I write daily. Of course, much of what one writes is expendable, so it is also important to put a piece on ice for a while before exercising one’s critical judgment.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

The poems in Ribcage arrived as more or less gifts. That is, after the first couple occurred to me, I determined to continue with the “body” theme. I did a certain amount of research obviously, but my intent was to focus on metaphor rather than precise description. Some of my other poems such as the title poem of The Wingback Chair came directly from actual situations as do many poems. The trick then is to obtain enough distance to create a poem while retaining emotional impact. Like all the arts, poetry involves artifice, and can never be merely the stating of a feeling. Wordsworth said it best: “Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility.”

What are you working on now?

I have two collections underway, both accepted by presses, but I’m still in the process of revising. One which will be titled The Seven Heavenly Virtues for a poem sequence is what I sardonically call the poetry of a baffled agnostic. The other titled Three Ring Circus has three sections: the first a bunch of quirky poems imagining the futures of literary or mythological characters, the second a group of circus-oriented poems, and the third is subtitled Carnival, another sequence of poems that came in a rush. I’ve also been writing a lot of short fiction–I actually began as a fiction writer and segued into poetry.

  One Response to “Interview With Joan Colby: Reading at Waterline on April 17th!”

  1. Great interview! I wish I were close enough to be able to make this reading.

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