Interview with Poet Carol Deering

Carol Deering

GR – Carol Deering, thanks for agreeing to let us interview you for Gyroscope Review. We’re pleased that you are one of our contributing poets. Will you please begin by telling us where you’re from, what you write, and why poetry?

CD – Sure. I was born and grew up in the Springfield, Massachusetts, area, and often visited relatives in Connecticut and Vermont. But I’ve evolved, also, from living in Arizona, Michigan, Washington State, 9 months in Germany, and now half my life a few miles from Riverton, Wyoming.

I write free-verse poetry, the most comfortable genre for me. I fell in love with it in my teens.

GR – Who, or what, are your poetical influences?

CD – Well, nature seems to be my strongest influence, though other poets (Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Danusha Laméris, Ted Kooser, and Tom Hennen, to name a few), art (Van Gogh and several other painters, black-and-white or sepia photographs, the mix of plaid and roses), and music (blues, jazz, classical, rock ‘n roll, and the mysterious rhythms and harmonies of other cultures) can all spin my wheels.

GR – How do you decide what ‘form’ a poem should take?

CD – I love to play with poems. I don’t decide much of anything at the start. Sometimes a form fits organically, and sometimes formlessness – or breaking a form – seems best.

GR – What is your writing process like? 

CD – “Process” seems a bit “intellectual,” to me. Once in a while I wake up and a poem spills right out. (Usually that needs tweaking!) But, yes, I do my best writing and editing in a dreamy state, usually soon after I wake up. Fresh words seem to arrive and/or drive out others. The rhythm in my head bristles at the awkward spots. I tend to scribble, then type, then scribble on that page, retype, etc. What I have the most difficulty with is sequence. That’s when I play with lines and stanzas. That can go on way too long.

GR – Do you belong to any writer’s groups – face-to-face or online? If so, are they part of your process?

CD – Yes. For years I have belonged to a poetry group called West Thumb Poets; we meet less frequently these days, but we’re still in touch. Also Westword Writers in town. We meet once a month and hear what each other is writing; their comments can be valuable. I try to keep up with and attend the statewide groups that offer annual meetings and contests – WyoPoets and Wyoming Writers, Inc. These help keep me focused and also refresh friendships. Just meeting with fellow writers is inspiring. I haven’t yet felt that online is a helpful medium for sharing my work.

GR – What do you look for in the poetry you like to read? Any favorite poets?

CD – Images are one of the most important things that grab me. The crazier they are, the more I dwell on them to understand what makes them work. Thinking outside the average box helps me feel brighter. Word play, when done well, can be fun and illuminating. Paring descriptions down to their metaphorical innards intrigues me. And powerful connection can come from writing, especially relating to death or social ills, when it’s held to the light of empathy. I have many favorite poets (see answer 2 for some that sprang to mind). They tend to best embody the features in this answer.

GR – What is the most important role for poets today?

CD – I think empathy and tolerance are extremely important. People are isolated, hurt, and disoriented by all the divisiveness in the world today. All the worry about war, sickness, death, drugs, the nightly news, racial conflict, flood or drought or mega-fire, the breaking down of age-old social and political norms, nations rocked to their cores, and children growing up in all this. Poets somehow need to address the issues of unrest in an accessible, literary, yet fact-based way, through words that topple barriers and resonate with people who aren’t used to reading poems. (One small step for poetry, one giant leap for humankind.)

GR – Which poets have you had the opportunity to hear read? Alternatively, what is the most recent book you’ve read?

CD – What a stroll down memory lane! Ive been blessed to hear many poets in my lifetime, some of whom aren’t still alive. I tried to limit the list to the book readings they gave. I alphabetized so I wouldn’t repeat anyone, but I’m sure I have forgotten others. Perhaps I should have opted for the most recent book I’ve read. 😊

Agha Shahid Ali, Alberto Rios, Allen Ginsberg, Brian Turner, Charles Levendosky, Colleen McElroy, David Romtvedt, Denise Duhamel, Denise Levertov, Echo Klaproth, Eugene Gagliano, James McKean, Joy Harjo, Kent Stockton, Kim Stafford, Laurie Sain, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Li-Young Lee, Linda Hasselstrom, Linda Hogan, Marvin Bell, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Frolander, Paul Zarzyski, Richard Fleck, Richard Hugo, Richard Shelton, Robert Bly, Robert Roripaugh, Rodney Jones, Ruth Forman, Samuel Green, Sandra McPherson, Scott Momaday, Simon Ortiz, Ted Kooser, Virgil Suarez, and William Stafford.

GR – Any future plans for your work that you’d like to talk about?

CD – Right now I’m working on a second book, this time about my husband. Tentative title: The Blue Hap/Hazard Sky: Poems of Love, Disabilities, Grief, and Healing. (The title poem has been changed a bit for the book, but it originally appeared as “Weightlessness” in the Winter 2019 Gyroscope Review!)

GR – What other interests do you have beyond literature?

CD – There is so much I want to pursue, but my book and recent events have kept me from that. I had my high school clarinet checked over and want to re-learn the fingering so I can play (a little) again. I want to try my hand at sketching and watercolors. Travel lazily, someday. Refresh my French and German a bit. Patchwork without the quilting. Keep up the hula-hoop and baton. I guess all that will keep me out of trouble… Oh, and I’m thrilled to have found Wordle!

GR – Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

CD – You’re very welcome!

Carol Deering
Carol Deering – This is (I think) a ribbon snake at Tohono Chul – a beautiful desert museum outside Tucson –  and me, last fall.

Books by Carol Deering

Havoc and Solace

Other Poet Interviews on Gyroscope Review:

Interview with Poet Ace Boggess

Interview with Poet Alexis Rhone Fancher

Interview with Poet Kari Gunter-Seymour

Interview with Poet Tricia Knoll


Search by “poet interview” to read many more interviews by our fabulous poets.