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- Q&A

Describe your ideal studio or workplace.

I have learned to make due with almost any space. I have written poems at home, in fast food restaurants, with a baby in my arms as I pace the room to get her to sleep. But ideal? Maybe a beach. Or Disneyland. I’d definitely take Disneyland. Physical location doesn’t tend to be a problem for me, it’s the head space. I need a time where I don’t have my head crowded with tasks, worries, etc. piled up.

Describe your makeshift studio or workplace in a time of social distancing or isolation.

That would be my basement/garage, unless I’m awake well before everyone else. In that case, the couch in our front room, with the birds and the wind chime on our front porch singing.

How has sharing your work with co-creatives or others shifted?

I feel I’ve missed a lot due to canceled readings and other events. I had a lot on my calendar which of course had to go away, and I look forward to being able to go out again, hear poets read. That said, it’s good to see how much has stepped up online, with good, creative work like kitchen concerts and Zoom events happening.

What is your favorite non-art oriented activity that inspires you?

Riding my bike. It’s good to get outside to clear my head, get away from media, and also get some exercise.

How has working in a socially distant environment affected your work?

My way of writing poetry has always been slight socially distant anyway, so it’s worked okay. The interesting part for me is, as State Poet, asking myself if this brings more responsibility to share what I’m working on in a time like this. I’ve been putting more poems than normal on social media with that in mind. Which of course stresses me some, as there are few things more dangerous than sharing new work which, in a week, I might look back on and have a completely different opinion on!

What is your favorite go-to snack after long hours working on you artistic practice?

As we’re not getting out to the grocery store much right now, that’d be whatever is available. Today it was a granola bar. Other days it might be baked cauliflower. I’m thinking of trying a churro recipe later today, so, if successful, that could be it.

What are one or two books that resonate with you and/or your practice?

Almost anything works for me, books and literary magazines, because when I am reading, it keeps my mind working on poetry and ideas. Among my favorites, I'd list the journals Sugar House Review and Plainsongs and poets like John Keats, Denise Duhamel, Ron Koertge, and Patricia Smith.

Who are one or two artists that inspire you?

Ted Kooser is an inspiration for me due to his discipline, his body of work, and just how he puts a poem together which makes sense on the surface but can have so much more going on underneath. He's not that interested in getting in front of audiences, he loves the process and the work of it and is so talented at finding the right metaphor. The goal for my poetic life is to write a poem half as good as his "After Years."