I would invite Federico García Lorca. I want to ask him if he envisioned the metaphors he used in his poems. I want to know what frame of mind he was in when he wrote: We live beneath a giant mirror. Man is blue! Hosanna!”
How did you discover that you were a writer?
As a child, I fell in love with words and realized I could best express my yearnings in written form. I felt trapped by the sameness of the farming community I grew up in. Also, opportunities offered to girls were severely limited (no sports, years of dreary Home Economics classes, 4-H. etc.). Fields of corn seemed prison walls. Books provided escape to other places. I wrote poems, plays, and stories to give myself a voice.
Describe your writing process.
Since I now have two dogs, my writing schedule has changed. My writing day doesn’t begin until nine o’clock in the morning after I’ve responded to their needs. Then I take a cup of tea up to my study, read my email, go through Facebook postings, and spend the rest of the day writing, editing, or sending off material. Because I often write from a historical perspective, I do a lot of research, a great deal of it online. Within arm’s reach, I have several reference books: a dogeared 1977 edition of Roget’s Thesaurus; several dictionaries; Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; King James Study Bible; the Chumash; A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch; a couple of atlases; two editions of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations; and Clement Wood’s The Complete Rhyming Dictionary. I try to write every day. If I’m writing a novel or short story, I outline. I haven’t outlined a poem yet, but I might.
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
My southern ancestors were slaveowners in the Carolinas and Virginia. Several years ago, I discovered a court record, telling of abuses slaves suffered at the hands of my forefathers. That record figured in the writing of this book. So did the present political climate.
What are you working on now?
I’m trying not to get inspiration for anything other than poetry. I want to publish another poetry book, maybe with a short story or two. Nearly all the poems are written. I need to get them in order.
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
I’m currently enjoying John LeCarré’s A Legacy of Spies.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
I would invite Federico García Lorca. I want to ask him if he envisioned the metaphors he used in his poems. I want to know what frame of mind he was in when he wrote: We live beneath a giant mirror. Man is blue! Hosanna! I want to tell him how much I’ve learned from his work.