I spoke with featured poet, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, about her poetry inspirations, her writing process and some poets she admires. Here’s what she shared. LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? DSG: Absolutely, because that was when I started to write poetry, at the Minister’s urging to read and /or write something about my father for his viewing ceremony. I wrote “Ode to a Fisherman” and read it, as he was laid out in his open casket. It changed my life.
LF: What are some of your favorite creative inspirations? Do you have a favorite poet? DSG: Life is my creative inspiration, especially people, usually the underdog, who has no voice. Also, nature inspires me. With the writing of people and nature poems – sense of “place” comes into play, so I also write about place(s). I read many poets. Although I don’t have a favorite poet, some of the poets who have inspired me and remain with me are: Currently, Charles Wright’s poem “The Southern Cross” is very inspirational to me, as he has masterfully crafted images and time travel with a splash of philosophy. The speaker “I” travels through time, with the beautiful interplay of place and nature. The universal “I” is what I am going for in my newer work. As quiet and patient observer, Oliver has inspired me to look more acutely into the tenderness and mischief of nature. Neruda has inspired some of my love poems. Lorca inspired me to look at moon in a new way; hence my poem “Faces of the Moon over Philadelphia,” which appears in my third book, Night Sweat. Frost inspired my use of narrative poems about people, place, and nature. I’m very fond of his poems: “Birches;” “The Help of the Hired Man;” & “Home Burial.” This style is apparent in my first three books, especially my second book, Light’s Battered Edge, where the second section of the book is a narrative, historical poem titled, “Philadelphia 1925.” Merwin’s utilization of “tension” in his poetry inspired my use of it in my poem, “Laundry,” and others. Thomas and Plath use bold musicality, which I am mindful of. Sexton’s confessionals, unapologetic honesty, and “original” images were very inspirational in my earlier poems and first book, Images of Being.
LF: Could you describe your writing process? DSG: When an idea, situation, dream, experience, place, person, event, and /or a relationship inspire me, I write it down. Then when I am ready I type it and revise it for however long it takes for a poem to come to completion. If upon revisiting the “inspiration” I find that it is not a poem or could never become a poem (that is a journal entry or me just emptying myself) then I leave it alone and spend no more time on it.
LF: What do you like the most about writing poetry? DSG: Its healing powers and its ability to teach me new things - forever, a follower of the Muse(s).
LF: What are you working on now? DSG: I have just completed my fourth full-length poetry manuscript (fourth book), so I am sending out for “Acknowledgements,” working on the ordering of poems, and researching publishers. Of course, there is always the temptation to revise, revise, and revise.
LF: Why is poetry important in the world? DSG: Poetry (in its purest or truest sense) is one of the few forms of “truth” left in the world like Pandora’s hope.
LF: What do you hope readers take away from your poetry? DSG: Whatever they can connect to. It is my hope that something I have written will resonate in some way with someone and they might say, “Yes that’s it.” and / or “Yes, I can relate to that.” - a shared human experience, perhaps?