Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
My name is Elaine Walton. I started writing poetry when I was in elementary school thanks my teacher, Mrs. Gleason, who introduced our class to Shel Silverstein’s book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” His work, along with those of Dr. Seuss, ee cummings, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, and Emily Dickinson instilled in me a life-long appreciation of poetry and reading in general. I’ve been in love with story-telling in all of its forms—be it written, spoken, visual—ever since.
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come?
Inspiration for a poem comes from a germ of an idea, event, concept, or experience I encounter, which then percolates in my brain. When I have it completely worked out then I just sit down and write it out. I test every poem by reading it aloud then tweak it according to how it sounds to my ear, then days or weeks later I’ll go back and read it “fresh” to make sure I’m happy with it.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
My concept of poetry has remained the same over time. I still think of poetry as a means of expression using words arranged in a way that’s unusual. The only thing that’s changed over time is me and my expanding repertoire of life experiences. I write to express an emotion, observation, and/or idea from a unique perspective based on my personal experiences so from that perspective my work has universal appeal, while the poetic form changes based on the subject matter/concept of the poem.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
The Internet and social media has certainly changed the way I work and present ideas. I have several Facebook pages, one Twitter account, and I’m on LinkedIn, but I’m not ‘on’ every day. I view these things as tools to be used to share, promote, and market myself as a brand—and not as a way of living or a lifestyle.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
Since moving from Alabama to New Jersey over 2 years ago, I’ve enjoyed being part of both on-line and in-person writer’s groups. I subscribe to a bunch of newsletters, journals and feeds, but I especially like 92Y, Writer’s Digest, and Poetry Society of America. I attend the Somerset Poetry Group at the library in Bridgewater, NJ and other local events as often as possible. While the Internet and social media gives everyone a voice and provides an audience willing to listen, I still believe the best way to establish and nurture a relationship is through physical and social interaction. Yes, I can enjoy the experience of hearing an author read their work on-line, but I can’t look them in the eye and shake their hand afterward as I say, “thank you.”
What are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m reading 3 books: “Techno Matter: The Materials Behind the Marvels” by Fred Bortz; “Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade” by Joan Tapper; and “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Advice I’d give to any aspiring poet/writer: Educate yourself; Read the classics to learn style, technique, and craft; Write about what you know and are passionate about; and be fearless and persistent in pursuit of your goals.