How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?
My cat, Stir Fry, aka LKP (Lord Kitty Potato) is the first to hear my poems, because he sticks nearby (often on) me as I work and I read my work aloud as I write.
In addition to his insightful feedback, I am extremely grateful to currently be working with Solmaz Sharif, who is my mentor for my final semester in Warren Wilson’s MFA in Poetry. I’ve also had the immense privilege to get support and feedback on early drafts over the past two years from from Airea D. Matthews, Connie Voisine, and Sally Keith. After cats, poets are my favorite people.
And I feel so lucky have a few poet and writer friends who I often share early drafts with, including Jay Ponteri, Sebastian Merrill, Dane Slutzky, Aaron Hauptman, and others. They’re all so incredibly smart and kind! For several years, I was a regular member of poetry workshops with my friend, the poet, novelist, and visual artist Zachary Schomburg. These workshops profoundly shaped my understanding of poetry and Zach’s voice is still present with me as I work.
True to my extremely introverted nature, for many years, I didn’t share my poems with anyone (other than LKP). I had a wakeup call via my closest friend, a person I’ve known for 20+ years and with whom I speak regularly. I mentioned in a conversation that I was working on a poem. She responded, “You write poetry?” So… I realized that I needed to be a bit more public with my work. I am so grateful to now have what feels like a wealth of diverse voices with and from whom I can learn. Because poetry is meant to be shared. In the words of Miłosz: “The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person.”