An Interview with Elizabeth P. Buttimer

Congratulations! Your poem was selected as the winning entry in the Haunted Waters Press Poetry Open. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Writing poetry has always been part of my life as a form of expression and release. Words, their meanings and etymology fascinates me, so word-smithing emerges as my passion. The search for the bon mot always seems the most exciting road to travel. For some, the love of music prevails but for me it is the love of words, their combinations and interactions.

What was the inspiration behind Ars Poetica How to Wear a Scarf?
Ars Poetica How to Wear a Scarf was written as part of a poetry workshop, we were given the prompt to do an Ars Poetica poem.  I let it roll from there. I remembered a compliment my stepbrother, John, gave me regarding how I wear my scarves and that to me seemed the way one creates a poem without constraint, free and flowing. So, that unrelated compliment seemed to be the cornerstone for the poem. From there, I thought of other large and free gestures and then, their opposites. The tiny, restricted movements and tasks with consequences that form the counterpoint for creating poetry. Prior to that time, I had thought that Ars Poetica was something other people wrote about or thought about but this workshop experience made writing about poetry interesting and exciting to me.

What fuels your writing?
My writing is fueled by life experience, people I see or meet, history, family tales, and sometimes just a word I hear or see written. Like many writers, I come from a large extended family with many eccentricities and stories. Then, add to  that the fact that my family is mostly from the rural American South and you have just piled on tons of angst, uniqueness, musicality and oral tradition.  We have a strong retinue of family stories which creep into my writing and thinking.  Having a well grounded sense of place helps strengthen the writer’s voice. 


Carpe Diem is one of my mottos, seizing the day in writing or life.

—Elizabeth P. Buttimer


How long have you been writing? Was there a defining moment that led you down this path or a person who encouraged or helped shape you as a writer?
I have been writing all my life. Even when I vigorously pursue other work or professions writing remains a huge part of my life. A school teacher I had inspired me, my late mother spoke it into me and some dear friends have encouraged me. My work permits me to have the time to write and express the creativity from within.
FROM THE DEPTHS 2018Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?
Robert Frost, E.E.Cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Claudia Emerson, Tom Lux and Ginger Murchison. The songwriter, Guy Clark, whose songwriting was much like poetry.

Of your other published works, do you have a personal favorite you would like to share with our readers? Where can we find it?
My chapbook, “Perfect, Broken or in Jagged Pieces” is pending publication with Finishing Line Press.  

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?
I enjoy writing historical fiction and historical fiction poetry, inspirational non-fiction, and women’s fiction.

What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?
I am finishing “Tales From the Land of the Worm Moon”, a poetry chapbook which brings together people and legends from the agrarian American South. I am working on “What a Difference a Letter Makes” which is a hilarious story of letters, funny calamities and misdirection in a small Southern town.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
Carpe Diem is one of my mottos, seizing the day in writing or life. My father used to always encourage me when things were tough or the world seemed crazy, not to dwell on the negative but to turn to this thought:  “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Press forward to your dream. You can do it. Surround yourself with other writers either on line or in person, go to workshops or writing groups, but most of all, write. Everyone has a story to tell and yours can make a difference.



About the Author

Elizabeth P. Buttimer, an entrepreneur, a manufacturer and former educator, received her Ph.D. from Georgia State University and her MSC and BA from Auburn University.

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