Interview With Poet Bernadette Geyer

I’ve been working on a interview project with Deborah at 32 Poems magazine, and she kindly allowed me to interview past contributors to the magazine. We will be posting the interviews throughout the coming months, and our third interview posted on Deborah’s Poetry Blog of 32 Poems on Feb. 9.

I’m going to provide you with a snippet from the interview, but if you want to read the entire interview, I’ll provide you a link for that as well.

For now, let me introduce to you 32 Poems contributor, Bernadette Geyer:

1. Not only are you a contributor to 32 Poems, but you also have a chapbook of poems published, your own website and your own blog. What “hat” would you consider the most challenging to fulfill and why?

Before “retiring” to become a stay-at-home mother, I worked in public relations. So to me, the website and blog are fairly easy for me to keep up with when I think of them as marketing tools for my writing. The most difficult hat for me to fulfill is being a “writing parent” — it is challenging to find the emotional/psychic space I need to really get into the poem — or article-making frame of mind. I usually cannot create if she is awake and in the house. But I have developed some internal ways of keeping a “creative train of thought” active in my head even when I am doing something completely different.

2. What prompted you to start a blog? How active are you as a blogger? And what types of posts does your blog focus on? Also, do you believe a blog is essential to marketing your work or is the Web site more useful for that purpose?

I started my blog a long time ago, back even before I had “retired” from my full-time PR job. I think it was originally a way of engaging my mind by blogging about the poetic process during my lunch breaks. But I wasn’t a very active blogger. Even now I don’t consider myself very “active.” My posts tend towards the short side – thoughts on poems, references to interesting articles I read, news on my own writing, upcoming readings, or random tidbits I just feel like sharing. I do think a blog is an essential part of a writer marketing his/her work. A web site is a great tool, but very impersonal. I think readers find blogs give them a more personal relationship with a writer than just checking out a static web site. Blogs are great ways of building or broadening an audience for your work.

4. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any “writing” books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)

I have done all of the above over the past 10-15 years that I’ve been writing. Lately I find “how-to” books to be not very useful in inspiring my work. Exercises are sometimes useful if I just want to get the pen moving (In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit and The Practice of Poetry ed. by Robin Behn & Chase Twichell, in particular). I find articles, essays and books on poetics to be more inspirational to me in thinking about how I approach my own poems. American Poetry Observed (edited by Joe David Bellamy) was a book I recommend as a collection of poets discussing their own poetics.

I also enjoy and find useful the essays and articles in The Writer’s Chronicle. I don’t have a post-graduate degree in writing, so I try to read everything I can to educate myself. Workshops are not very useful to me anymore except that I have a few good friends who I trust to read my work and provide comments.

I’ve tried forming a writing group among local writing moms, but it’s been hard to keep a regular meeting pattern. I do teach poetry workshops in public elementary schools, and have found Kenneth Koch’s Making Your Own Days and Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? to be very good reminders of how fun it can (and should) be to write for the love of words and language.

Check out Bernadette’s collection of poems, What Remains.

Want to find out what Bernadette’s writing space looks like? What music she listens to while she writes? Find out what she’s working on now, her obsessions, and much more. Check out the rest of my interview with Bernadette here.
Please feel free to comment on the 32 Poems blog and Savvy Verse & Wit.

***Here’s Bernadette’s recently published poem from 32 Poems, here, “Thumbelina’s Mother Speaks: To the Toad’s Mother.”

***Check out
The Bookword Game poll on Suey’s Blog***