Category: Interview

Interview with Poet Tricia Knoll

Poet Tricia Knoll

As we celebrate older women poets with our special Crone Issue that was released on October first, we thought it important to ask one of our contributing poets to share her wisdom in an interview. We chose to interview Tricia Knoll because she has appeared in our pages in past issues and contributed three pieces for the current issue. We were delighted that she readily agreed and are proud to present her insights here. 

GR: Tricia, you’ve been published a few times in Gyroscope Review. What made you decide to submit to our call for work by women poets over 50 that celebrated the idea of wise women?

TK: I’m 70. I’ve been very lucky to feel that I know many women my age who are wise, loving, kind – whose political fervor is balanced with a sense of how we are one with all parts of the universe. I’ve written many poems on this theme. I have an unpublished manuscript, “Gathering Marbles,” which I have recently revised heavily and am submitting once again. It highlights collecting marbles rather than losing them. And, I have a collection of marbles including some very old handmade German marbles.  We can find treasures in our life at any age. I feel blessed to know other feminists who live in resiliency and love in the face of today’s sometimes overwhelming challenges.

GR: We love the idea of collecting marbles rather than losing them! Do you feel that older women poets are well-represented in poetry journals today? Do younger women poets have it any easier?

TK: I have a library of poetry books, probably 90 percent are written by women. In online journals I’m drawn to the work of women poets to read first. I sense that a great number of the poets I read are younger than I am. Some have MFA’s. From my perspective the only reason younger poets may “have it easier” is that they have longer than I do to practice this craft. Possibly they have a more contemporary voice for whatever that might mean. I love to do whatever I can to encourage young women I meet at workshops and events to stick with it. To keep writing!

GR: What are some of your favorite women poets and why?

TK: I enjoy the work of Ursula LeGuin, who I started reading as a fantasy/science fiction fan decades ago. I lived in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, for decades and heard her read frequently.  I have her poetry books that have come out in the last couple of years and look forward to her collection coming out in Fall of 2018 from Copper Canyon. Grace Paley. Jane Hirshfield. Maxine Kumin. Lucille Clifton. Louise Gluck.

I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s work over and over again because it touches me deeply –I have had the privilege of studying with her. Just as I go back to Wislawa Szymborska over and over again.

The work of women poets in my community also matters to me. I wonder what are women writing who live where I do, those who are experiencing this changing world in the same timeframe and environment that I am. The upside of this is being able to hear their voices at poetry readings.

That said, I also have favorite male poets: W. S. Merwin and many others. I spent my high school years reading poems from anthologies, hearing predominantly the voices of male poets.

GR: As did all of us who studied literature. Male poets, male writers are the examples we were most often exposed to. It delights us to hear more women’s voices in poetry readings today, see more women being published in all kinds of places. Where is the most interesting poetry being shared today? Can you talk about that a little bit?

TK: What interests me is the popularity of hip hop. What I’m searching for bends toward the political and acknowledges the changes and impermanence we are experiencing due to climate crisis from the point of view of personal history and emotions. I love poetry that blends the traditional lyricism and emotional resonance of poetry with science. A poem that comes to my mind frequently as an example is Adrienne Rich’s poem “Power.” We all can welcome the news of poetry’s increasingly popularity among young readers and voices. I also admire the words of those who are aging.

GR: What advice would you give to a poet who is just starting out?

TK: That’s easy. Keep at it. Don’t stop. I did stop as I was enmeshed in a career writing press releases, scientific reports, newsletters, and annual reports, etc.  Find time to write even if it pinches other parts of your life. Carry a tiny notebook with you always to write down stray impressions, dreams or words that spark your imagination. Write about those when you find time. Find other poets in your community that you can share with, who can provide feedback on your work. Send poems out. Don’t stop because of rejections. I’ve written a poem about rejected poems as homing pigeons that come back to you for more petting and feeding, ringing a little bell as they enter their loft. Read poetry every day…it is so easy with the large number of online journals available now.

GR: Rejected poems as homing pigeons that come back for more petting and feeding is one of the best ways to look at rejections we’ve ever heard of. That gets right to the need for revision to make the poem something better rather than giving in to rejection dejection. What are you working on right now?

TK: I finished a collection of poems I’m calling One Bent Twig during a two-week April residency at Playa. These poems focus on my vision of trees as sentient lifeforms with whom I share a world and who are experiencing climate crisis along with other creatures. It is perhaps more lyric and narrative than that may sound. It is out looking for a publisher.

Two months ago I moved 3,003 miles from Portland, Oregon, to rural Vermont. The poems I’m writing now are about my experience in moving to be nearer my daughter, to “renuclearize” a nuclear family, to respond to a new (to me) eco-system with love, curiosity (why ARE all those barns red?) and respect. I don’t have a title for this collection yet. It acknowledges that I continue to age. :>) That I am a crone or walking down that road.

GR: That’s a huge move to make and we look forward to the poetry that comes from that. Any links to your work you would like to share?

My website (triciaknoll.com) offers links to all of my poems that have been published in online journals and lists others in print journals and anthologies.

Find details about my four collections of poetry:

  • How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House) explores meditations and narratives to discover how I experience white privilege through ancestry, education, work experience and more. How I Learned To Be Whitereceived the Gold Prize for Motivational Poetry in the Human Relations Indie Book Prize for 2018. Available on Amazon;
  • Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press) focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat;
  • Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) describes changes (environmental, social and personal) in Manzanita, Oregon, a small town on Oregon’s north coast, over the 25-year span of time when I owned a vacation rental there; and
  • Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box) collects my love songs about the people and creatures on a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington on the slopes of Mt. Adams where I was a regular farmsitter.

GR: Thank you so much for your time and your wisdom, Tricia!

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Jacqueline Jules

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. With this interview, we wrap up our series and thank our participating poets. And we thank you, too, for reading and sharing these interviews. We hope you found them inspiring; perhaps they encouraged you to pick up a new poetry publication for yourself.

And, now, for the final interview in our series for 2018.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Jacqueline Jules

Poet Jacqueline Jules

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? I will attend local poetry readings and be involved with a local initiative called Splendid Wake which celebrates the history of DC area poets.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Usually, computer.  I often use images which require a bit of research before I begin. I like to focus my poems on a concrete image so I will Google the image or idea first.

Who/what are your influences? Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.  I remember reading this book in high school and being very intrigued by the way this series of free verse poems created an atmosphere akin to a novel. Since then, I have always enjoyed collections of linked poems, which carry a particular narrative.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? While being outside in nature feeds my soul, I don’t write a lot of nature poetry. It is hard to describe the natural world without cliché or imagery used more successfully by big name poets.

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? There are no bad writing ideas. Some ideas are simply waiting to mature into the best arrangement of words.

What authors do you love right now? I recently read What Blooms in Winter by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and totally fell in love with it.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? We have become an impatient society. We like soundbites. We like to read on our phones. Poetry can offer a literary moment readers can experience while standing in a grocery store line. Poems should be brief and accessible to the average reader. We shouldn’t need a key to unlock the meaning of a poem.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? I take walks around the neighborhood or at a nearby park. When my legs move, my mind does, too. I love to write poetry when I walk. I always carry a small notebook.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink?
 I like coffee in the afternoons. It perks me up and gives me a few more hours of energy to work. Fortunately, it does not keep me up when I am ready to go to sleep later in the evening.

Jacqueline Jules lives in Arlington, Virginia. Her most recent publication is Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String (Evening Street Press),  winner of the Helen Kay Chapbook Prize. Visit her website at www.jacquelinejules.com or follow her on Twitter  @jacquelinejules.

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Kate Bernadette Benedict

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Kate Bernadette Benedict

Poet Kate Bernadette Benedict

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? Curled up with my cat, writing.  And helping to host a glorious reading on April 8th at Carmine Street Metrics featuring the superlative poets Moira Egan, Erica Dawson, and David Yezzi, and co-hosted by Wendy Sloan and Anton Yakovlev.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Computer. I’ve been “penning” my poems on a computer since the days of Wang word processing, when the screen was black and the font was bright green.

Who/what are your influences? The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins seduced me into our “craft and sullen art”—and Dylan Thomas, too (whose quote that is), and Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and Richard Wilbur.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? Er, s-e-x, maybe because I’m still a good Catholic girl? Still, one must force oneself if one is to be honest.  One must be that . . .

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? A poem about boiling water in a pot.  Really, it was so boring!

What authors do you love right now? I keep rereading the works of James Hillman, the late, great maverick psychoanalyst whose work gave me courage to write a full manuscript of archetypal dream poems.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? No matter what the year, no matter what the political situation, poets use ringing language to bring us deeper into experience.  Poems pour forth from the human soul—and if we can mine the human soul, then we can get through the bad times and even move forward as a species

Where do you go when you need to recharge? I take walks in the leafy parks of my neighborhood (Riverdale) and for a major “recharge,” I travel to the south coast of Maine to walk by the sea.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? Manhattan cocktail, straight up!

Kate Bernadette Benedict lives in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York. Her most recent publication is a series of poems in Peacock Journal. Visit her website at http://www.katebenedict.com/ or follow her on Twitter @Poeta_Non_Grata.

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Joe Cottonwood

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Joe Cottonwood

Poet Joe Cottonwood

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? I’m building a Poetry Box to place along the road in front of my house. Rustic-style but similar to those boxes where realtors put handouts when a house is for sale. These handouts will be poems. I live on a popular hiking/jogging/biking/horseback trail, so passersby will be moving slowly enough to stop and look.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Computer, mostly. If pencil, it ends up on the computer sooner or later.

Who/what are your influences? My day job for 40 years has been construction work, so I’m influenced by the tradesmen who surround me all day, what they talk about, what they listen to. Lots of story-telling. Lots of humor. 

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? Meta-anything. What the duck is meta?

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? I tried to write a “Young Mother’s Story” for Redbook magazine because they were paying $500. Somehow I couldn’t pull it off.

What authors do you love right now? Sherman Alexie. Langston Hughes. Donna Hilbert.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? To keep us grounded in our common humanity. To remind us that we all have heartbeats, no matter the outside package.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? The beach. I live 10 miles from the Pacific. Winter days especially, walk a hundred yards from the parking lot and you’re all alone with pelicans and driftwood, seals bobbing their heads up from the surf. 

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? Beer.

Joe Cottonwood lives in La Honda, California. His most recent publication is 99 Jobs: Blood Sweat & Houses. Visit Joe’s website at joecottonwood.com.

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