Carly Volpe, Bucks County Poet Laureate, shares some of her creative inspirations and why poetry matters. Enjoy!
LF: I know you as a talented poet in the local community, and then discovered you’re a darn good artist as well! How does your work as an artist serve as a source of poetic inspiration? CV: My parents read to me a lot as a child- wonderfully illustrated books. A few really stuck with me. I always feared that I would have to keep my art and poetry separate. But I loved the idea of illustrating my poems and thankfully had a publisher who was equally taken with the idea. The words informed the art for my book- the process of finding a detail or catching a phrase and then pulling on it until an image came was powerful for me. Art and poetry are both just taking snapshots of moments, of emotions, and seem to go so well together to me.
LF: You’ve written and illustrated your new poetry book. Do you have favorite artists, music, poets that inspire your art and writing? CV: I almost always have music on low in the background when I write- I feel like it helps me slip into what I call a “dream space.” I know it sounds silly, but I need part of my brain to be working on something else while I am chewing on a new line or idea. I think the rhythm of music really drives my writing; I have had to pull over while driving because of an idea that came on suddenly. Beat and pacing matters a lot to me when I write. I grew up listening to indie and folk singers who sang, more often than not, confessional narrative. That also informed my writing more than a little bit I think.
LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? What was it about? CV: My older brother was in a band and he had binders and notebooks full of lyrics all over his bedroom. I wanted to write and would emulate the style and subject matter- an 11-year-old writing about lost love and being a perennial outsider in a cold world. I was frustrated that I didn’t have the words or ability to convey my own feelings. I wanted to start pushing up against the walls of my inability and was frustrated by my lack of knowledge and skill.
LF: Could you describe your creative process for writing poetry. CV: I had this line, this one line, rattling around in my head for three years. And then one day, while driving down River road, I suddenly had the rest of the poem. There it was, given to me, as if from someone or somewhere else, complete. That is my writing process sometimes, but only the first step. Now I understand the importance of having a trusted table of people with merciless pens to help me whittle and improve.
LF: What are your future poetry plans? CV: Hopefully I will be able to write in the near future! I was so consumed over the summer with putting the finishing touches on my book, and the stress of uncertainty that comes with a new process for me, writing slowed to a halt. Now that things are returning to normal, my hope is to actually write again in a meaningful way. Beyond that, I have nothing but joy and curiosity.
LF: Why is poetry important in the world? CV: Poetry is, for me, a way to heal a deep ache. It is a way to let light in, brightening dark corners and telling the truth. Poetry is a language of joy and celebration and it is a way to share common experiences. Anything that can do all that feels important to me.
LF: What do you hope readers take away from your poetry? CV: I think that there is beauty in even very difficult moments. Or, if not, we can take those times of grief and trauma and make something good and fine out of them. Art can be transformative for the artist and the person it touches.