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 Elizabeth Possidente had to say:
How did you come to being a poet?
I think “being” a poet was underlying everything I have done with my life and I suppose that wasn’t practical. While I identified myself in other ways over the years, poet was always lurking in the shadows, lifting me along. My mother read and sang poems all the time to us as children and I have done the same with mine and my grandchildren.
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
I wish I could. I have a very bad memory. I made up songs to my cat and others.
What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
Hmmm. It seems I am writing all the time something, be it a letter an email, poem elements. I wrote all the time in my work life. I love to putter in my garden, be in nature, to play my flute and sing with others. I play chamber music with a wonderful group, and have sung in various choruses since childhood. I am learning to play guitar a bit and bass recorder as an adjustment to my hearing impairments. I teach Yoga still, dance, do Chigong, Tai’chi. I draw some, but gave my paints to my daughter-in-law.
What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
Although I had thought college was my leap to becoming a writer, I went in other directions. In my professional life I wrote all the time and used poetry as one modality to help others express or frame their experiences. Joining some poetry workshops later in life convinced me that this was how I wished to express myself in a less ephemeral way than dance/movement or music. Then, having the opportunity to read my poems at a memorial for a dear poet friend slid me into saying to myself that perhaps I really was a poet. How grateful I am to Edwina Trentham whose presence and workshops inspired and enlightened me. Presenting my poems at readings at the Clinton Art Gallery and the Guilford Library for GPG have been real boosters.
How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I think I have been a member for three years now. This is an injection of plasma and red blood, mixed with laughter and intrinsic tears. Challenges. I love these people. Rising chi always. Arms around them all.
What inspires your writing today?
Life life and life. Ordinary, lush and tragic life. My own history, nature, family, and people around me. Everything and anything. Witness. Reflection.
Describe your poem-writing process. Where do you like to write?
Moments. Sensations. Feelings. Words. Memories. It can happen any time. Or not. Over coﬀee, on a walk, in the shower or oﬀ to bed. Paper scraps are essential, backs of envelopes. I write by hand in a journal, and after some reflection and composting the poem will evolve to my computer, and then another part of my brain steps in. It is like my cooking. Messy. And when a poem isn’t there, it just isn’t.
Where do you like to write? With what?
I write most at my kitchen/dining table in a sort of greenhouse where the light is wonderful and nature is just a glance away. I am surrounded with papers of all sorts, plants and the smells of kitchen and sometimes bustle. But otherwise I write anywhere on anything. I use a found pen to write and an old MacBook Air which I am afraid to update. Computer space is outer space as far as I am concerned but connects with another part of my brain
Who are you favorite poets and authors?
This may depend on the season or the year. Emily of course, G.M Hopkins, Naomi Shahib Nye, Wm Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Dr Seuss, Rumi and Tracy K Smith. Barbara Kingsolver, Sy Montgomery and others.
What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
I am always reading several:
The Overstory by Richard Powers just finished
As well as The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser
The Open Heart A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by Dali Lama
Writers and Lovers by Lily King
Elizabeth Possidente, MA has returned to poetry after many years of jotting on envelopes, paper scraps etc while she worked as a Creative Arts Therapist and raised a family. She has published articles in her field and in the Connecticut River Review. She is a member of the Guilford Poets Guild.