Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: As a child, I devoured books and, as I grew older, I started to think, “I want to learn how to do that!” I started to pay attention to how the books that I enjoyed drew me into the story. The first book that I remember really, really loving was The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley.
Q: How and when did you make this dream a reality?
A: In 1997 I had a really boring job at an insurance company. We were forced to take an hour lunch break, and so I started doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way at lunch. Those exercises reminded me of how much I had enjoyed writing before college, and I started writing more and eventually submitting my poetry to literary journals and contests.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your writing career?
A: Embrace rejection! For the first few years, every rejection I got was a big blow and I felt let-down and disappointed. Now, when I get a rejection, my first thought is what venue I can send the poem off to next. I’m always looking out for places where my poems might find a home, so rejections are opportunities for me now. This makes the whole submission process a lot more enjoyable!
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I’m working on a second book of poems. Lately, I’ve found science fiction springing onto the page when I sit down to write. So, I’m trying my hand at some short stories (something new for me!). Writing prose is a challenge for me, but I’m enjoying it and trying to learn as much as possible about myself in the process.
Q: Name some authors or books that have influenced your writing life in a positive way.
A: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird; Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life; Susan Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy and Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry by Jane Hirshfield are books about writing that I re-read often and recommend to others. One of my favorite books is Jazz by Toni Morrison. Her voice is so lyrical; I enjoy her tremendously. The list of poets who inspire and amaze me is a long one, but Anna Akhmatova, William Stafford, Adrienne Rich and Czeslaw Milosz are at the top of the list.
Q: What excites or ignites your soul?
I love reading and sharing poetry with people from all walks of life! Something happens when we read poems aloud. Both the reader and the listener enter a different place. The air in the room changes. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it, and I love that sense of sharing and being heard, of moving into a poem together as speaker and listener. It gives me great joy to be able to participate in poetry. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Q: Are you available for readings?
A: Absolutely! I would love to read, host/co-host an open mic venue, or lead a workshop. I was recently trained as a workshop faciliator with Write Around Portland, and that experience has given me new insights into how to guide (rather than teach) the writing of others.