Poetry is a form of writing that allows for succinct yet deep communication of an idea or emotion, a realization, a vision. It allows for sharp edges that cut to the quick in ways other forms of writing do not. Bonus: poetry is often short. It allows for completion of a piece in less space and, sometimes, less time. For those of us with a tendency to work on a lot of things at once, this is a great thing; I also work in creative nonfiction and flash fiction. Notice I stick with short forms.
Poetry: what you love and what you hate.
I love poetry that is clear, sharp, and twists the reader around by the end. I love free verse. I adore poetry that is firmly grounded in a place, such as Robert Bly’s collection, Morning Poems, or Mary Oliver’s work. I’m also quite fond of some of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry. I like sharp commentary on war, poverty, and other injustices.
I hate sing-song rhyme and obscure references that leave the reader feeling stupid. Good poetry should pull the reader in and leave enough clues so that they can figure out what is going on. If a reader can’t engage with the work, they leave.
Tell us a bit about these poems you’ve written.
My poems are often grounded in Minnesota, in trees and water (including the frozen state) and rich soil. It’s taken me until the last few years to realize that my roots here are undeniable, that I have no intention of leaving this place that has nurtured me and my family, formed my politics and my appreciation for nature. When I was younger, I thought I would move to New York City or San Francisco or some other large city that seem appropriately exciting. I was wrong. Here I am, living not very far from where I grew up, and I appreciate this place more every day.
That said, my poem Leaving the Garden is really about roots. My husband Mick and I are very connected to our gardens, which has been a constant theme in our marriage. Mick’s father died a couple of summers ago. Mick and his dad did some gardening work together when Mick was a kid. I tend to think of these things in the larger cosmic connections as well, so take from that what you will when you read the poem. This was clearly a poem that I could not have written well the summer my father-in-law passed, so it had a good long simmer.
The other two poems link an emotional state with the feel of the season. I love Minnesota’s seasons, especially the turning inward that happens during the winter.
Some memories of editing at Every Day Poets:
I loved those poems that would arrive in the slush pile and everyone on the team would have their breath taken away. There were may talented writers who gave us visions from all over the world in such dazzling lines that touched our hearts again and again and again. Couple that with an amazing team of editors and readers, and there you have a recipe for the best kind of stew.
My favorite EDP memory is the first time I met Oonah in person, which happened to be as she emerged from the doors to the international terminal at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, suitcase rolling along behind her, ready to stay at my house for two weeks. We had been working online together for three years by that point, but I still had this moment of utter panic as I thought, what if she doesn’t like the real-life me? But it all worked out and, bonus, our husbands also got along.
And then I got to visit Oonah in her home just this year. What a glorious result, this friendship with someone across the ocean, whom I would not have met but for EDP.
I have another favorite memory of this funny-looking squishy large envelope that appeared in my mailbox at home last winter. Lo and behold, there was a pair of mittens in the most awesome turquoise shade made by my fellow editor Constance Brewer, who not only knits, but also spins her own yarn. We’ve never met in person. Since she’s just a few states over from Minnesota, I am going to have to change that.
Yes and we also met Dave Morehouse because of EDP, Kath and I met Jody Costa, Catherine Edmunds and Colin Will too 🙂 and you met Pippa Little when you were here. Oh damn I am bound to have left someone out. Suffice to say we’ve made friends.
Your achievements/ambitions as a writer:
I’ve had good luck this past year publishing my short fiction at Postcard Poems and Prose, where the editor-in-chief Dave Morehouse is a former contributor to EDP, and Saturday Night Reader. We are taking submissions of flash fiction and small format art for the first issue of a new print quarterly called Fine Linen and, bonus, writers and artists whose work gets accepted will be paid. Please visit our website at www.fl-mag.com for more information.
I’m also working on plans for a quarterly online poetry journal with two former EDP editors, Constance Brewer and Jeff Jeppesen, (also on this Blog with three poems and Interview) but we are in our early stages of getting everything set up. Watch for more news on that at the beginning of 2015.
Just in case you’re all thinking ‘what about Oonah…’ I was asked. But I am currently at The Linnet’s Wings and hey — if you guys ever need a guest editor… I’ll probably be still sitting here twiddling my thumbs 😉
I want to create stories, essays and poems that appeal on a broad level and I never want to forget my roots as a writer. My interest in elevating those details that make up our lives will continue to be a prominent theme in my work. And I’d like to continue editing fiction and poetry when there are opportunities for that. You never know where I’ll pop up next.
Anything you want to promote?
Come visit my blog, One Minnesota Writer, for pieces of creative nonfiction, writing prompts, and occasional photos that I hope will inspire you. I also have an up-to-date list of my publications there. And I run a photo blog on Tumblr called One MN Writer in Pictures.
I have two poems in the Autumn 2014 issue of The Linnet’s Wings.
Thank you, Oonah, for this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote.
Thanks Kath. And you can see a poem by Kath here for the next three weeks and they are wonderful!