Interview with Heidi Seaborn, whose poem, ‘Small Deaths,’ is in Issue Two. Hear her recite it below.
Why do you write and what do you hope to achieve in doing it?
I write poetry because I can’t write anything else. It is how I think: in short, somewhat cryptic, images. Writing poetry should be easy. As Dean Young once said “you don’t write poems, you receive them.” On a good day, that is how it feels, as if the poem is arriving sometimes in little bits, sometimes in a rush. That first draft, “the mad poet” draft, should be effortless. The hard work for me comes in the craft, the critiquing. My poetry mentor, David Wagoner, says that Yeats was at his best when he let sleeping dogs lie and didn’t overwork his poems. Finding that balance is difficult.
As someone who just started writing again (after 30+ years), I am still finding my voice. I tend to start from my experiences, what I know. However, some of the best work I have done is when I write about something I don’t know and go deeply into a foreign space. I am forced to let go and really imagine. The imagery can’t be facile, as I too need to see it for the first time.
What influences and inspires you most?
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am naturally influenced by its wealth of writers—Wagoner, Roethke, Hugo, Hamill, Wright, Kizer—and the land and people that live here. Studying with David Wagoner and Carolyne Wright has given me a strong sense of how to find and tell the stories of my life.
What book are you currently reading?
On my bed stand is a pile of poetry books that I read from nightly. Currently it includes Odes by Sharon Olds, Bernadette Mayer’s Works & Days, Mark Halliday’s Keep This Forever, and a series of terrific journals including Into the Void. I have yet to read the fiction in Into the Void 2 but I am amazed to be included with such talented poets. Sandra Kolankiewicz’ “Overboard” especially called out to me for what was left unsaid. Beautifully crafted.
What’s on the horizon for you with your writing/art?
For the month of November, I am participating in the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge with eight other poets. We each must write a new poem every day. I wake up needing that “mad poet” inspiration and then the poems are posted in their raw state. It is terrifying. Otherwise, I hope to keep learning, writing, publishing and working on a book of poems.
Any background info to your piece in Issue Two?
The poem “Small Deaths” was written when visiting friends in Winthrop, Washington over the summer. We were each taking a little break to relax and I ended up writing three poems. The place and company was very inspirational. When I brought “Small Deaths” to my Sunday morning workshop, one of the poets was horrified. She said, “Who are these people?” Well, these people are my children, and me and frankly the family I grew up in too. I have shared this poem with my now adult children who find it amusingly accurate!
Where else can we find your work?
In wonderful independent poetry reviews and anthologies, and a few online journals. I have work in the current issues of Gold Man Review and the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, and forthcoming in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, 3Elements Review, Carbon Culture Review and Ice Dream Anthology. My published work can be found on my Medium page.