I spoke with featured poet, Corie Feiner, about her poetry insights. Here’s what she shared. LF: When did you begin writing poetry? CF: I grew up in Greenwich Village in the 1970’s. It was a wild and amazing time full of artists and activists. The parents were highly involved in our elementary school. They were constantly doing assemblies and teaching art workshops. One day, my best friend’s mother came into my 3rd grade classroom to conduct a poetry workshop. It was life-changing. As part of the workshop, she said something like, "Poetry cannot be good or bad, right or wrong. The point of poetry is to move somebody’s heart.”
Now this is arguable, but to an 8-year-old kid, who got in trouble a lot, and did not do well on tests, it was just…breath-taking. And I was hooked. I soon got a poetry journal and wrote what I hoped were poems.
LF: What are some of your favorite creative influences? CF: I grew up a a very multi-faceted and creative home so my influences vary. Both of my parents were designers. My father designed lighting and my mother designed colors and patterns for art frames. We couldn’t go for a walk without every color and every shade of light being pointed out. This annoyed me to no end, but I later realized that I looked at things not just for what they were, but for how they were designed and constructed. This attention to detail still informs my work to this day.
As far as poetic influences, one of my heroes in Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poetry is beautiful, she has a generous heart, serves her community, and has a successful life. You know, she is married, has kids, is grounded, and has an enlightened perspective on life. I never gave into the idea that one has to be crazy to be an artist. So I held her as an example of not just how I aspired to write, but how I aspired to live.
LF: Could you describe your creative process for writing poetry? CF: That is a funny question. I can’t do anything the same way twice. Even if I follow a recipe, it turns out differently every time. I wrote my most well-known poem, “Tattoos” on a street corner in New York City after seeing Sarah Jones perform her poem, “Your Revolution.” It threw me into a loop. I walked out of that show and the poem came. Of course I revised it and let it evolve over a few years, but it was one of those poems that literally spilled out of me in a desperate act of creation.
Nowadays, I have to force myself to write a little bit every day as I am a full-time, cook from scratch, homeschool mom. So I carry a journal and try to write down what is there in front of me. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is actually worth something and I pursue it.
LF: What are you working on now? CF: I am working on poetry about food, sustainability, and and the environment and sending them out into the non-poetry world. This ranges from poems about fracking to poems about my love of mason jars. Also, I am putting together a new collection of poetry to send out.
LF: Why is poetry important? What's its role in the world? CF: Poetry is, and is not, important. A person needs to have shelter, good food, and loving community of some sort. However, where poetry is important, is that it reminds us to feel our hearts, access our emotions, and look at things differently.
I got in deep in the NYC performance poetry and slam world, got an MFA from NYU, taught college and graduate school, edited a high-caliber literary magazine, and spent innumerable hours working on getting teaching gigs, and working on getting published — and I have one conclusion from all this. Although these worlds are all important, poetry belongs in the every day world. It is a tool that everyone needs to have available to them. Poems should be in mainstream newspapers, at political events, in corporate workplaces, and presented in fun and engaging ways. It doesn’t have to be whole books, but a poem, any poem, that helps remind people of who they are and what they stand for.
LF: What do you hope readers take away from your poetry? CF: I hope they walk away feeling connected, not alone, and somehow more alive. I hope to feel the same way from sharing my poems with them, too.