Poet Evelyn Atreya

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what GPG president and poet Evelyn Atreya had to say:

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
No, but I know that it was my English homework that I wrote in my high school Chemistry class that met right before English. My English teacher praised the poem and read it to the class. Positive feedback is pretty powerful!

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I’m big on To-Do Lists that keep me organized so I have time to write poetry. I find just living is a creative pursuit whether it is cooking, gardening or playing Tai Chi.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
Ten years of sharing

What inspires your writing today?
The natural world and our relationship to it.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Jane Kenyon, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks), and Buson to name just a few

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
The Essential Haiku, Robert Hass
Chances Are… , Richard Russo

Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated during National Poetry Month in April. What’s your favorite poem to carry about or share with others?
“The Summer Day,” Mary Oliver.

Any last words?
Mary Oliver’s question at the end of “The Summer Day” inspires me each morning as I pull up my window shades to ask myself: So what are you going to do with this wild and precious day?

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Evelyn Atreya lives in Guilford where she is a member and past president of the Guilford Poets Guild. She is a member of the Connecticut Poetry Society and attends its Greater New Haven Chapter workshops. Her poems have appeared in Caduceus, Long River Run, San Diego Poetry Annual, Plainsongs, Connecticut River Review, and in a chapbook, Olives, Now and Then, honoring Donald Hall on his 83rd birthday. Her first book, Regarding Rock, was published by Grayson Books in November 2015. Evelyn also is involved in the Guilford community as an active member of both the Guilford Rotary Club and the Leete’s Island Garden Club.

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