…Now I write when something–and it could be ANYTHING–captures my attention. I have learned not to try to control the poem too much but to let it have its way. I am aware of an inner muse who leads the band, and I try not to get in her way.”
How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
I always had a nudge to write. However, being raised in the 50’s, most women didn’t aspire to be writers as gender roles were pretty specific: teacher, nurse, secretary. So, I became a teacher. I taught Creative Writing, among other classes, as East High School (Rockford) for many years. During that time, I enjoyed doing the assignments with my students. Eventually, the nudge to write became a burning desire, which led to sabbaticals in which I honored the writer in me. I spent a year working with Lucien Stryk at Northern Illinois University and later another year at the Vermont Writers’ program working with Lynda Hull. They were both inspirations in different ways. Working with Lucien taught me to be more concise and tight, while working with Lynda taught me to be more lyrical and expansive. I navigate poetry both ways, depending on subject and mood.
Describe your writing process.
My process has become more spontaneous after decades of writing. When the burning desire first took hold, I wrote every day in the wee hours of the morning. It seemed like I was drawing from a bottomless well. After writing furiously for several years, things tapered off a bit. Now I write when something–and it could be ANYTHING–captures my attention. I have learned not to try to control the poem too much but to let it have its way. I am aware of an inner muse who leads the band, and I try not to get in her way. I used to revise so much that I sometimes took the life out of the poems, but now I tend to trust my own process and revise just a little here and there. I am more aware now of shaping poems rather than rewriting them altogether. Since nature informs my work, I do enjoy learning Latin botanical names, which in themselves are remarkably poetic. I don’t outline my poems, but I do outline my books, and see groupings that seem to fit together thematically. I write at home. For many years I had to use long hand for the kinesthetic sensation that went along with the poem, but gradually I have grown more comfortable at the computer.
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
I was inspired by a newspaper article on Oppenheimer many years ago. Travel and aging are inspirations as well as politics. Sometimes they all spin together.
What are you working on now?
I am excited about my book just released–Wild Fruition. I am looking forward to readings.