Poet Interview #44 – Barbara Turney Wieland

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?

Was I always a poet? I think so, yes, I just didn’t write down what I was sensing with wonderment, about the world inside and outside of me. I have always been an artist; drawing and painting since forever. The door to expression is an archway to be walked through at will; effortless and sometimes painful as well as beautiful. Two sides of the same coin to spend at will. However, I was a poet, who didn’t write.

I used to write poems and short stories with the angst of young adolescence in junior high school, but I had forgotten that until a friend I hadn’t seen for 30 years reminded me. How could I have forgotten something about myself like that? Life gets all tied up in details and choices, I suppose. But it was a revelatory moment.

Attempting to capture, create, communicate portraits, conversations, dreamscapes inside soap bubbles of inspiration; this moves me and surprises me. I stretch into communion with myself and my place in the universe….and now I write this down, pen to paper. It has been about 2 years now.

I am not a student of poetry and certainly not an intellectual. My first inspiration, all those years ago was Pam Ayres. I adore Roald Dahl and I have read some WB Yeats and, quite horribly, Charles Bukowski. But my favorite poet is Rumi. He takes my breath away.

I want to read poetry that moves me and am bored by what is scholarly generally. I want to feel something.

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 like to write in cafés and hotel lobbies where I am surrounded by life. But walking to places is important to me. A long walk or bike ride unwinds things.

From the same place from which I paint, now come words. (different doorways, perhaps). An unconscious place of absolute trust and childish playfulness. No planning, mind disconnected, emotions in gear and picking up stray thoughts like wild flowers, and laying them down in some sort of random pattern to see what happens. Everything can hold inspiration.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how? 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 have a presence on Facebook, but not really as a writer. I am part of a closed poetry group that I joined after participating in an online poetry course from the University of Iowa last year and that makes me open Facebook regularly. I enjoy the exchanges and encouragement, but rarely post my own poems.

However, I am mistrustful of the seductive power of social media to distract me from being totally present in the real world.

I have a website for my art and I created a blog this year so as to participate in Napowrimo in April (a poem a day for 30 days). It was a nice challenge.

I live in Switzerland and am part of the Geneva Writer’s Group. This group of very talented international writers, who write in English are an inspiration and a source of information and camaraderie…once a month. I am a little in awe of them to tell the truth, but try to disguise it.

At the moment, I am re-reading a little Tim Winton, but have read a couple of great books this summer: ‘The Storied Life of A.J Fikry’ by Gabrielle Zevin, which is on a par with ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, ‘The Odd Sea’ by Frederick Reiken and  ‘Grand Central,’ a collection of post war short stories

I don’t read poetry on purpose, but it tends to find me.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

As a beginner, I hesitate to offer any advice at all. Write and submit. Take a risk. And embrace rejection as a step on your path. A rejection doesn’t mean your work is no good. Just not a good fit in that place. You got an answer. Ask again

I have a rejection jar. At each rejection, I offer the jar 5chf. When I have enough, I will take my husband away for a weekend. It’s all positive that way.

Keep writing. Keep asking. Keep listening.


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Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a Best of the Net and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Scott's poetry books include: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015), Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016), Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016), and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). Scott is a member of The Southern Collective Experience; he also serves as an editor for Walking Is Still Honest Press, The Blue Mountain Review, The Peregrine Muse, and Novelmasters.

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