Here's my interview with featured poet, Phyllis Purscell, talking about her creative writing process and the significance of the arts.
LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? PP: Like most teenage girls who fancy themselves “sensitive and creative,” I wrote some terrible poetry in high school. Not a lot. They were scribblings in the back of my diaries.
LF: What are some of your favorite creative influences? PP: The first time I thought about writing seriously was when I read “Anne of Green Gables.” After I finished the book, I knew I wanted to write. I don’t think I did anything about it, but it is the first moment that I recall thinking of writing anything myself. I’d always loved to read, but hadn’t thought about writing. The creative urge comes at me from various sources – other writing, music, observation of human interactions, fear, pleasure, celebratory impulses. I often write to hang onto something -- a moment, a person, a place.
LF:Could you describe your creative process for writing poetry? PP: When I started writing poetry, I already had a writer’s sense that I needed to be at my desk whether I was feeling creative or not. I don’t believe my muse has any responsibility to follow me around, nagging me to get to it. I try to set aside specific times in the week to write. That’s not to say that I’m not delighted if a poem assaults me and wants my immediate attention. I guess my theory is that the best way to keep writing is just to do it. I have written dozens of poems that will never see the light of day. They make way for the ones that just might.
LF:At what point do you decide to stop revising your work? PP: I keep the poems I’m currently working on on my desk in the bedroom. I look at them while I make my bed, etc. I make small changes through several drafts. When I think a poem might be done, I run it past people I trust, take any suggestions that makes sense to me, then put the poem away for about a month in an attempt to see it with fresh eyes. When I put them away as “done” that doesn’t mean that they can’t be reworked down the line. I think some poet said a poem doesn’t get finished, it gets abandoned.
LF:What are you working on now? PP: I have a poem about my granddaughter and me that I want to get right and I haven’t figured out how just yet. It’s about a confession we made to one another that we wave to animals, mostly dogs.
LF:Why is poetry important in the world? PP: For the reason that all the arts are important. I believe we are privileged to have the opportunity to live our lives and in a way are obligated to make as much of our time here as we are able. The arts open us up in a way that the dry world of facts is unable to do.
LF:What do you hope readers take away from your poetry? PP: I don’t think about that, I guess. I just hope it speaks to them in some way, that it establishes a connection.