Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'!
I discovered poetry in High School.
I went to an open-concept school, pretty forward thinking for the small Vermont town where I grew up in the 1970’s, and Poetry was one of our class choices for English.
I loved reading and studying the classic poets, but when it came to writing our own poetry, I felt stifled; discouraged by a teacher who was more about her own vision of structure and content rather than encouraging our creative expression.
Disheartened, I shelved my own writing, and many years would pass before I would seriously attempt to write poetry again.
Fast forward to 2009: after losing my job of 18 years and spending several discouraging months job hunting, I had fallen into a rather dark place. My brother and dear friend suggested I attempt to write again, to express what I was feeling, and suddenly I discovered a creative outlet for the emotional roller coaster I was on.
For me, poetry has had a cathartic and healing effect on my life. When I was at my lowest it pulled me up, helping me to find perspective and balance again.
I find that my writing flows best when I draw from what I know, whether it is what I am feeling, where I’ve come from, what is around me or touching my life at any given moment.
I also find great pleasure in trying to capture in words the beauty of the place where I live— the ever-changing seasons, the flora and fauna of my New England home. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, and have discovered that in writing what I know, that the words flow naturally.
The hardest topics I’ve written about are the ones that make my heart ache.
I wrote several poems through my sister-in-law’s struggle with cancer and eventual passing ranging from frustration, to anger, to the eventual acceptance of her choices and what was to come. I have written and captured current headlines from the Aurora, CO theater shooting, to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT, to the loss of the Robin Williams, one most brilliant actors and comedians of our time. I also work with the elderly and often write of their struggles with aging and loneliness—important topics—but also a sad and constant reminder of the road we will all be facing one day.
The inspiration for my poetry comes from many places: more often than not from real life events— something happening in my own life or from the news of that day.
Perhaps a place I’m going or somewhere I have been will call me to pick up my pen. Sometimes photo or an image will pull up memories or emotions from the past to prompt a poem. I find that my best writing comes when I tap my inner self and examine the feelings and emotions that an idea evokes.
In my experience, I have learned that forcing words leaves a piece feeling ‘flat,’ whereas drawing from my inner being—exposing a piece of myself and allowing it enter into what I am writing—allows the poem to live, to breathe.
My biggest hesitation with sharing my writing is that ultimate feeling of ‘vulnerability;’ the fear of being judged, criticized, and torn apart as not being “good enough,” a feeling that stems from the low self-esteem I felt in my childhood years.
Losing my mom at an early age and being raised by my dad, I frequently felt awkward and lacking of the social graces that my peers seemed to be endowed with. This turned out be both a blessing and a curse—I learned to be independent, self-reliant and developed a tough outer skin, but I also learned to hold many feelings and emotions inside.
Spiritually, the gift that poetry has given me is that it has allowed me to examine and express my past, my life, and has endowed me with the balance I have always craved but never knew where to find until I started writing.
There are many poets and writers who have influence me and have had a profound effect on my writing. I have an affinity for classic form poetry, such as the Villanelle; ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath is a favorite of mine. I am very fond of all of Emily Dickinson’s works; an under-appreciated poet during her time, she made her home in Amherst, MA just short distance north of where I reside. My “darker side” loves the writings of Poe.
My all-time favorite poet is Robert Frost, whose words capture my New England home and lifestyle as no other poet ever has.
The words, the passion, the honesty that shines in the works of these poets continually inspires me to follow in their footsteps and write what I am passionate about.
I feel exceptionally blessed and honored to have been invited by Catherine Ghosh to share my work at Journey of the Heart and to be a part of such an amazing community of contemporary female poets.
Also I would be remiss not mention the many other writers and friends in today’s poetry community whom I have come know to admire— men and women who aren’t afraid to share a piece of their hearts in their words.
Whenever a piece of writing stays with me or touches me in some way, it inspires me to strive for improvement in my own work; my ultimate hope being that perhaps my words will touch and inspire others as their words have inspired me.
My best advice to new poets and writers starting out on this path is to write with honesty and passion from the inside out; write what you know, what you feel.
Write from your heart. Do not obsess over perfection—form, format and meter come with time.
Just reach out and embrace your creative side, let the words flow, and never let criticism from others discourage you from following the path of your poetic journey.
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~If you are one of the poetesses from 'Journey of the Heart', and would like to appear in this blog, just click here to request an interview. We are excited to learn more about you!~
~If you write poetry and would like to share it on 'Journey of The Heart', click here for submission -guidelines. And thank you for your interest!~