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?
I am 41 years old, so I found writing pretty late in life. I used to try to write poetry when I was in my early twenties, but it was all horrible. I would write show reviews and essays in high school, but it never occurred to me to show anyone other than a few friends or the teachers giving me the assignment. Then I stopped writing for many years.
Once my youngest daughter was born, I was home a lot and needed a creative outlet, so I started writing again. At first, I wrote just for me. I didn’t start writing poetry again until about 8 or 9 years ago. Mainly because I was afraid of it, but the more I wrote, the more courageous I became. I don’t really have any favorite poets, but John Dorsey, Natasha Head, and Felino A. Soriano are poets who come to mind when I think of poets who’s work has affected me.
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? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
I usually start with an idea that I’ve written on a random piece of paper in my pocket, or just with whatever is troubling me at the time. Lucky for me, I’m always troubled. My muse is generous, but she saves up all of her words and then pours them on me all at once out of a large dump truck. She leaves it up to me to put them all together in a way that expresses something meaningful before all the words grow legs and run away from me. For that reason, I don’t write every day or even every week.
My idea of what poetry is has changed completely since I started writing. It probably has to do with the people I mentioned above and also because of my friend, Stephanie D. Rogers. She serves as my mentor and editor and big sister. She’s a wonderful poet and writer among other things, but she helped me see things I previously never saw in the written word.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I’m on Facebook mostly. I’m on other social media, but only casually. Facebook is where I’ve had the most success being seen and seeing others. I used to publish a zine many years ago called Every Reason and I promoted it through Facebook. Every Reason was all submission based art and literature, and because of that I met so many talented, creative people that I still keep in contact with today. Many of them have become very influential and supportive in all of my creative endeavors. I would like to think I have done the same for them. I certainly try to.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
I don’t have a writing group or any community that I participate in. I’ve been to local poetry readings a few times, but I am an extreme introvert and my social anxiety is also problematic. I’ve never read my poetry in public for that reason. I used to participate in online groups when I first started writing again. It helped me find my voice and I got to read a lot of good and bad writing.
Right now I’m reading a book of poetry written by Christian Lawrence Alvarez called Dusty Hell Hounds On My Tail. This book was written in one evening.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Ignore all of the politics associated with large and small presses and just write. Write honestly. Write without fear. Find publishers you are a good fit for. If journal A rejects your work, send your work to journal B. Keep writing. Don’t compare your work to the work of others. Make friends with people who do what you do and learn from them. Keep an open mind, an open heart, and a thick skin. Criticism and praise go hand in hand. There are no rules. Don’t let anyone tell you that there are. Keep writing!