Poet Gwen Gunn

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 poet Gwen Gunn had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
I played at writing poetry from high school days, but got serious when moving to Guilford and becoming part of Richard Raymond’s workshop in the mid-seventies, the group that became Guilford Poets Guild.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
No. Fortunately.

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I’ve recently taken up drumming.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
It’s in the future.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
Forty-five years. I began while in diapers. At first it was messy.

What inspires your writing today?
The pandemic, of course. Climate disasters. Love and Beauty.

Describe your poem-writing process.
I get a thought or impression that whirls around in my head awhile before I write it down.

Where do you like to write? With what?
Anywhere, with anything.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Emily Dickinson, ambiguity and all. I admire poets who write imaginatively in narrative like Marilyn Nelson and Gray Jacobik, and those who dare to try to write political poems, with wit, like Gemma Matthewson, with loud ferocity, like Norman Marshall, and with quiet ferocity, like Carolyn Forche. I will never forget the latter speaking at the Yale Historical Society without notes her prose poem, “The Colonel,” soon after returning from corrupt El Salvador in the late seventies. I love Margaret Gibson’s amazing way of writing about our environment with rage and love, hope and despair, and all the poets in my writing groups who continue to be my support, my inspiration, and my dearest friends.

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
Eleanor by Gray Jacobik, a fabulous biography in verse about Eleanor Roosevelt. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14h Century by Barbara Tuchman. It puts our present state in perspective.

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?
I was going to say “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, but then I ran across this most-appropriate-for-this-month poem by W.S. Merwin:


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

Any last words?
Not yet, thank God. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Probably not the first to so respond.)

Gwen Gunn has had poems published in Connecticut River Review, Fresh Ink, and Caduceus, among other places. She co-edited the poetry magazine Embers. With her partner Norman Marshall she performs Poetry’s Greatest Hits. Her book of poetry and paintings, Tastes, is for sale at the Clinton Art Gallery.

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