An Interview with Bobby Sidna Hart

An Interview with Bobby Sidna Hart

Welcome! We sat down with HWP Contributor Bobby Sidna Hart to learn more about her life, her poetry, and her creative process. Her poem Granite Street, Mt. Airy is featured in the 2020 issue of From the Depths. Her works Any Day, The Great Effects of a Good Wine, and Aging Out can be found in the pages of SPLASH! Enjoy!

Do you recall the first poem that really spoke to you or sparked your interest in writing your own?
Absolutely! And it remains a cherished poem that I love to read again and again...The Highwayman by British poet, Alfred Noyes. To this day I can read it and become involved in all the ambiance, the moonlight, the cold, shadowy roads, Bess's black eyes and long black hair, the tragedy of her imminent death. Few poems have used 'onomatopoeia' as beautifully and effectively as this poem did (in my humble opinion). Even today, I will look up at a 'harvest moon' and think of the 'ghostly galleon'.

How long did it take you to find your voice in your poetry? Do you look back on your early writing and see the ways in which you have grown as a writer?
The first question is a little tough. I can't think of a specific time where I can say something I wrote was like...Aha! That's my voice. Even today, when I read my early poetry I think I wrote with a lot of romanticism and naivety. Second question: Yes! I do see many ways in which I have grown as a writer. In my youth, I was so in love with forms and structure. It was hard for me to move away from structure to more the free form style of writing so many use today. If you read any of my free form, you'll notice I'm always sneaking in literary devices or bits of structure from time to time. Writing poetry can be like solving cryptograms...looking for a structure, revealing a message or secret. That's what makes it challenging and fun for me.

I would tell the aspiring poet to write . . . no matter what . . . if it pulls together or falls apart . . . it's good to write.

—Bobby Sidna Hart

We’d love to know more about your process for writing poetry. Do you sit down to write on a schedule, or rush for a pen and paper when an idea strikes?
(Laughing) When I was younger, I did stringently discipline myself to sitting down at a specific time every morning for writing—even when I was working days. Honestly, I wrote more back then, but so much of it was really not very good. So I loosened up, and now I really do rush for a pen and paper (and I do mean an actual pen and any piece of paper) to write down a good title, subject, even a phrase of two. These are the seeds that may or may not 'grow' into a poem. I chuckle because many ideas come to me in the shower or when I am driving. I'm retired, but I enjoy a drive around my county (very rural) and often see things that stimulate my thoughts.

Do you find your poetry driven more by truth or fiction? How much personal experience makes its way into your writing?
Wow! What a question! With hindsight, I can tell you most assuredly that most of my poetry was fiction-based. There were a few poems that resulted from personal experience, but gobs were fictitious. I will say this, my better poems written during my youth were often rooted in personal events. Now that I am almost 67, just about everything I write comes from my life. There are an enormous amount of remembrances I reflect on—those of joy and, of course, those of great, personal loss—things we all relate to.

What advice do you have for the self-conscious aspiring poet?
Hmmm. Another tough question because I am still and probably always will be self-conscious. I am easily unnerved these days because there are so many, many wonderful and great writers out there ... everywhere! In my mind, I think they all write better and probably with more patience than I do. I think for myself, I like self-expression via poetry, plus I still love the challenge of integrating (a bit of) structure with free form. I would tell the aspiring poet to write ... no matter what ... if it pulls together or falls apart ... it's good to write. For the most part, poets (like actors, artists) need that day job. Write because you enjoy (perhaps love) writing, and if you ever make any money with your poetry (while you are alive), I will live the rest of my life in awe of you!

Writing is already a fairly solitary endeavor. How would you say the pandemic has affected you as a writer?
Oh my god ... what a loaded question. We're almost a year into this pandemic. At first, I thought ... this won't affect me at all because I am a hugely solitary person. Muse or no muse, I will write. I do have a few composition books where I jot down those ideas, titles, and phrases. Over these past few months, I've looked at some of the notes and thought, "This stuff just stinks! " Then I'd look again and saw depression...moodiness. I thought, with time, my poetry would find balanced footing again, with my writing poems that are poignant along with others that had indicators of hope ... somehow reconstruct the ecstasy and not just the agony. To be blunt, the grief-rooted topics I (may) write about have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic.

When you’re not writing poetry, what might we find you doing?
(Laughing!) Online shopping! I do have my fave websites! And I love YouTube. I can't tell you how many walking tours I have taken all over this planet and in all imaginable types of weather! Simply wonderful! Self-educating with concerts, musicians - revisit the past and marvel at the present and future. Wow!

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Alex Trebek's The answer is. In the interim, I am reading a few more of Arthur C. Clarke's collected short stories. The book is enormous, and to date, I don't think I've read them all. They have intelligence, imagination, humor, fear ... the gamut of life. I wish I could have had a drink and a conversation with both of these wonderful men.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
Lovely words I try to live by ... do unto others! I have never constructed my own personal motto, but I try, try, try to live with a mind to be forgiving of people though I give fewer folks the 'benefit of a doubt' like I used to.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don't waste time writing about boyfriends and break-ups! Sheesh.


Lightning Round with Bobby Sidna Hart


Bobby Sidna Hart lives in North Carolina. She attended Nyack College in Nyack, NY in the 1970s. In 1986, 1987, and 1990, Bobby was a Sam Ragan (NC Poet Laureate), Writer-in-Residence, Weymouth Center, Southern Pines, NC. Her poetry has appeared in The Crucible (1987), Weymouth (1987), The Pilot (1987, 1995), Pembroke (1989), NC Poverty Project (1989), Book of Days (1997, Wake Forest University), Kakalak (2018), SPLASH (2019, 2020, Haunted Waters Press) and From the Depths, (2020, Haunted Waters Press).

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  1. This was so much fun! Thank you Haunted Waters Press for the opportunity! ?

  2. I have known Bobby since we were 14 years old and we have remained friends for life! What she didn’t tell us that she is a talented singer and painter. What a character! I love sense of humor and her innate curiosity!!

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