Sunday, March 6, 2011

Author Inteview - Barbarians in the Kitchen by Ginny Connors

Ginny Lowe Connors

poetry collection: Barbarians in the Kitchen, Antrim House Books, 2005

chapbook of poems: Under the Porch, Hill-Stead Museum, 2010 (Winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize)

poetry anthologies edited by Connors: Essential Love (2000), To Love One Another (2001), Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge (2003), all published by Grayson Books

Describe your book in five words or less. (book: Barbarians in the Kitchen)
tension between civility and wildness

How did the ideas for your books come to you?
The poems in Barbarians in the Kitchen came one at a time, for various reasons, some of which remain mysterious to me. When I noticed that a number of my poems express something of the tension between instincts toward the wild and the necessity for civility, I was able to put the collection together.

The chapbook Under the Porch is a small collection of some poems written fairly recently. I’ve always loved the Sunken Garden poetry venue at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut; they put on a fantastic series of poetry readings (with music) every summer. So I put the chapbook together mainly in order to enter their contest, and was incredibly lucky to have it selected as the winning chapbook.

The first anthology I edited, Essential Love, was developed because I was unable to find any good, comprehensive anthologies covering the parent/child bond, its evolution over the lifespans of the individual parents and children, and the difficulties as well as the joys of that connection. Many of the poems I was writing at the time were inspired by family relationships. I saw the need—and filled it. The other two anthologies I’ve edited are about marriage. Initially I planned only one book, but it developed into two: the smaller To Love One Another contains poems that celebrate marriage; the more comprehensive, Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge, includes poems on all aspects of love and marriage, including some about the difficulties of marriage. Each anthology features contemporary American poets, some of whom are widely published and nationally recognized, and others who have a smaller number of readers, but are very talented writers.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
I often begin with a vague idea or an image or a line and during the writing process I have to discover what it is I truly want to say. This may involve a good deal of wandering around in the writing, and I run into dead ends or come up with something that doesn’t satisfy or meet my own standards of excellence. That feels frustrating. Being willing to wade into the wilderness of the subconscious and find the right path toward a decent poem can be difficult for me. The process is an active and deliberate sort of passivity, if that makes any sense: opening myself to the spirit that is waiting to be known, and allowing it to flow through me. I listen for it and try to translate what I hear. The effort to translate the untranslatable is what makes me write. Once I get into a certain zone, where intuition takes over, the writing starts to flow with more ease. But then, there will be revision to do, and that mostly needs to be done outside of the zone. It can be hard to stay true to the mystery that makes the poem tick, while also making it into a well-crafted art form that can communicate to others. Still, when I’ve “finished” (no poem is ever completely finished, at least for me…) a poem that I’m satisfied with, I feel completely alive and joyful

What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I have a new collection of poems that I am fine-tuning. I also have a good idea for another anthology, but haven’t begun working on it yet.

Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
I love to read poetry, and the writing I do tends toward that form. In fiction writing, for instance, I can never think of good plots. I can and sometimes do write essays, but they don’t satisfy me the way a good poem does. Poetry is the most distilled form of writing. It gets to the heart of things. I also like the sideways approach to truth that poetry often takes. A good poem is so much more than the sum of its parts. I like the sounds of a good poem, the way certain images can suggest so much, and I like the way white space works with the print.

What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
Since more people seem to write poetry than read it, I’d like to know the answer to that question too.

What was your road to publications like?
It has been an interesting journey, or series of journeys. I think what’s most important to me is the actual writing, and yet I must say that when my work is chosen for publication, I value it more. Someone somewhere must think it’s worth reading, and so I look at it again and think, this is pretty good writing. The ego should be less involved, but there it is.

Author Bio

Ginny Lowe Connors is the author of a poetry collection, Barbarians in the Kitch(Antrim House), a chapbook, Under the Porch (Hill-Stead Museum), and editor of three poetry collections: Essential Love, To Love One Another and Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge (Grayson Books). She has won numerous awards for her poetry, including the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Competition Award, and the Winners Circle poetry contest sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her poetry appears in numerous literary magazines as well as in many anthologies. One of Connors’ poems was performed by the East Haddam Theater Company as part of their Plays and Poetry program; another poem earned a Pushcart nomination. Connors holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. An English teacher from West Hartford, Connecticut, she was named “Poet of the Year” by the New England Association of Teachers of English in 2003. Connors is on the executive board of the Connecticut Poetry Society.

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