Greetings! Today's featured author interview is with HWP frequent contributor Christa Lubatkin. Christa's poem tough-as-nails flowers is featured in the 2020 issue of From the Depths. You can also find her work within the pages of SPLASH! Enjoy!
The first poem that inspired me was probably a little posy in a school book. Soon, I began to scribble my own—mostly directed at my mother to ignite delight in her eyes. Then suddenly, there was Rilke from whose book my mother would read to inspire me. Later one day, I came home with Hafiz and Emily Dickinson, whose wisdom impressed me.
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?
So much has changed since my early writings and is still changing. But then I look back sometimes and find an early poem that still sings to me. I use fewer words now and am still paring down. Yet, again and again, I surprise myself with a long narrative poem. I love shaking it up.
Don't fret; you cannot go wrong if you write from your heart.
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?
I learned from my academic husband to do my important work during my best hours. My best hours are in the still of the early morning. My office is just steps from my bed. I write a couple of hours each morning, sometimes with my first cup of coffee while propped up against pillows. By the time the sun comes up, my dog demands we take a good long walk. Good for all three of us .... If a restless night offers an idea, I have a pen and notebook nearby.
Do you find your poetry driven more by truth or fiction? How much personal experience makes its way into your writing?
Interesting you should ask this question. My writing group often is surprised when I confess that a poem is pure fiction. I do write from experience too, but most often, I go beyond the actuality of my own life. I find truth in fiction. If I were to write a book it would be titled My Life—Real and Imagined. The poem in the 2020 issue From the Depths is a good example of that.
What advice do you have for the self-conscious aspiring poet?
My advice is the same one I give to myself regularly—write from the heart and when it is all down, polish, polish, polish. Use strong images, and don't lean too heavily on adjectives. Also, trust the reader, don't explain the poem at the end.
Writing is already a fairly solitary endeavor. How would you say the pandemic has affected you as a writer?
I am happy in solitude. Not being distracted by complications of normal life has freed me up to write more.
When you’re not writing poetry, what might we find you doing?
I retired to Tucson for the mountains. I'm an avid hiker though you find me on the lower and shorter trails now. I love to travel but not to sight-see, I always travel to enjoy nature, dive into different oceans, and hike (or cable) up to different mountains. I read, I dance, and I enjoy the company of good people.
What are you reading right now?
I'm reading The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan after having just put down An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, which I loved.
What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
A friend's son has the motto: I'd rather be kind than right. This is as close to a motto that I live by. I also like Mary Oliver's expression: "what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I remind myself to ask this question every now and then.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don't fret; you cannot go wrong if you write from your heart. Write with a light hand; writing should lift you up.
Lightning Round with
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christa Lubatkin lives, hikes, and writes in Tucson, Arizona. She is a transplant from many places beginning with her place of origin - Germany. Much of her early writing was dark, occupying herself with her birthplace's sinister history. Unburdened now, her work has become more far-reaching. She is proud to be appearing in HWP and Splash (2x). Her work has also been published by many other journals.
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