Merriam Webster defines poetry as ‘the productions of a poet’. And as a ‘writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.’ But in your own words, how would you define poetry?
Poetry is the expression of the soul on paper. It's medicine to heal the pain life brings and a celebration of joy and love. It's emotion in written form.
Poetry definitely matters. All of humankind's experiences can be distilled into poetic form, and reading poetry can help others work through similar trials. I know poetry has saved my life on more than one occasion.
Who is your favorite poet and why?
My favorite poet is probably Andrea Gibson. There's a rawness and a realness to her poems that just grips you and won't let go. Reading her poetry, it's obvious she's writing from the heart and her own experiences. She's incredible live, too.
Name one poet you wished more people knew about and why.
Everyone should know Beth Ann Fennelly. She twists language to suit her needs in such a way it's like you're just learning to read for the first time, so everything is fresh and new and wonderful.
Explain your poetry writing process.
I write my own poems when the words come to me. Sometimes I'm feeling lonely or sad, so I use that. Other times, a poem will just hit me. I'll go running for a pen and paper, pretty much no matter what I'm doing—I've pulled over at the side of the road before to write. I've also written about direct experiences. My poem "Chain," for example, is based on an event that happened last year.
Regardless of where my inspiration comes from, I'll start by simply getting it on paper. I still prefer to write in black-and-white composition books instead of typing, at least for a first draft. There's something about the physical act of writing something down that makes it feel more real to me. When I go to type up the poem later, I'll make a few general edits as I go—word choice, line breaks, switching things around for rhythm, and so on. Then I'll put it aside for awhile and come back to it later. I like to let my poems marinate a bit before calling them "good enough for now." Occasionally when I look at them again I won't change a thing, but often I'll do some more edits. When I'm getting ready to publish, I have a few trusted friends look at everything for me and make suggestions.