Interview

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Laura Foley

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 Laura Foley

Poet Laura Foley

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? Two towns in my area post poems all over town and put on poetry readings. I love to participate and to walk around the streets, reading poems posted in all kinds of venues. One year, my poem “Gelato” was placed in the window of an ice cream parlor. I went in, and the owners treated me to a free ice cream cone!

Pen, pencil or computer first? Always pen first, in a leather notebook I carry everywhere. Later comes computer.

Who/what are your influences? Main influences are meditation practice and Buddhist philosophy (I’ve had a daily practice since 2003), chaplaincy, working in the field of death and dying, meditation groups in prison, and a foundation in American and English literature, especially poetry (I studied up to PhD level at Columbia U.). Also, life experiences, raising three children alone after the death of my husband, one of my children being diagnosed with autism, discovering at mid-life my attraction to women, finding a partner and marrying her, becoming a grandmother recently.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? What was the worst writing idea you ever had? (Editor’s note: the author chose to answer these questions together.) I think usually what seems hardest opens and yields a treasure. For a long time, all I wrote about was the death of my husband. I was tired of the subject, but it kept coming up. A workshop leader once advised me to change topics, and I felt so restricted by that, so angry, that I sat down and wrote an anapestic rant poem, which, by the way, went on to win an award, was published, was nominated for a Pushcart. (It starts: “She’s dreaming of the hole in the ground in the field where he lies, again./The field of alfalfa they hayed for twenty years, again.”)

What authors do you love right now? I love Rilke, Rumi, Roethke, Neruda, Oliver, David Ferry. Adrienne Rich. Pat Fargnoli. Barbara Crooker. May Sarton. Ruth Stone. Many many others. Jane Kenyon. Donald Hall, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Whitman, Dickinson…

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? I think it’s important in 2018 and any year for the poet to be the one to take the time to “do nothing.” Just being, being a “human being” rather than a “human doer” is important. Someone who looks around, who isn’t lost in the vortex of worry, who steps away and perceives the greater wisdom. It’s a separation suffused with caring. It’s a kind of prayer.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? My wife and I like to spend time at the ocean, in Cape Cod (we live in the hills of Vermont). We love to walk on the beach, observe tidal pools, seals in the surf, water birds of all kinds, even whales, spouting just off shore. We also like to walk the busy streets of our favorite town on Cape Cod, a gay mecca.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? I like peppermint tea after dinner, with a cookie and dark chocolate. My wife is a wine connoisseur, and I do enjoy taking sips of her fabulous wines (I drink almost no alcohol myself).

 Laura Foley lives in South Pomfret, Vermont. Her most recent publications include WTF (Word Tech Communications) and “Fractalization” on Swwim Every Day. Visit Laura’s website, www.laurafoley.net, or find her on Twitter @laurafoleypoet.