Thursday, July 23, 2015

Writing From The Heart: From An Interview With Ginny Brannan

Welcome to The Women Behind The Poetry, where we interview women from the 'Journey of The Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry Project'! 

Today we introduce you to the lovely Native New Englander and country girl, Ginny Brannan, who believes that it's never too late to pursue something you love! 

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.
Virginia “Ginny” Brannan, a self-described native New Englander and country girl, resides in Massachusetts with her husband of 34 years, her grown son and five cats—2 domestic indoor cats whom she adopted, and 3 feral outdoor cats who ‘adopted’ her!! Growing up an only child, she was blessed at age 16 to be welcomed into a “family of the heart,” who embraced her as their own. She describes herself on her blog as: “…coming to this ‘dance’ a bit later than some, but the most important thing is she’s come ” proving that it is never too late to pursue something you love! You can find Ginny on her blog Inside Out Poetry  here, listen to her recite her poems here or connect with her Ginny on twitter or Google plus here. Ginny has been published in The D’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, Journey of the Heart: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry by Women, And is proud and honored to be included in the soon-to-be released “Where Journey’s Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry” to be available from Dragonfly Press. Our “sisterhood” rocks!!

~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!~  


  1. Many thanks to you dear Catherine, for recognizing my writing and welcoming me to Journey of the Heart Women's Spiritual Poetry, and for allowing me to be a part of this amazing sisterhood of inspiring female poets and writers!

  2. Ginny, your journey is full of depth, insight and love. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us along your poetic journey. I too can very much relate to poetry as having a "cathartic and healing effect" on life. ~ Carolyn Riker

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Carolyn. Our journeys are all different, and yet there are similarities that brought us to this place together. So glad to be connected to such an amazing group of women such as yourself, and that our roads have connected here!

  3. What a great interview. I have enjoyed your poetry over the years and am glad to read about you here. Makes me wish we were neighbors.

    1. Margaret, when I mentioned my friends in today's poetry community, surely you know that you are one of them. Your beautiful words come straight from the heart, and should you ever care to share with this group, you would be a most welcome addition! Thank you for your kind words about being neighbors, I feel the same about our friendship!