Tell us a little about yourself:
Other than stories I wrote as a child, I began my creative writing journey at the University of Texas at Austin, where I studied under the novelist/poet Zulfikar Ghose. He was a fantastic professor and mentor, and really influenced how I look at literature, and he also liked and very much encouraged my writing.
That was 33 years ago.
Between then and now, I have married, taught high school English and Theatre Arts, served as Associate Publisher of a local monthly family magazine, had a son and a daughter, and I’ve been working with students with special needs since 2000. My son, the eldest, battled cancer 3 times between the ages of 3 and 13, culminating in cord blood transplant from an unknown donor, an experience that has profoundly impacted my entire family.
A few years ago, I threw myself back into reading classic literature in my free time. Tolstoy, Dickens, Camus, Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc, as well as acclaimed modern works.
This led me to bingeing on the works, letters, journals, and biographies of Virginia Woolf, Shirley Jackson, and Sylvia Plath. I was stunned at how these women were all able to write such masterpieces while living in patriarchal times and societies, while also coping with mental illness, marriages, and families. From these women, I began to feel this massive wave of inspiration to write about my own life experiences, both external and internal, as they had in their lives.
In the past 7 months, I have written over 100 poems, participated in 2 month-long online poetry retreats, had over 50 works, (mostly poetry) accepted for publication in print and online journals or anthologies, and have re-connected with my now-retired Professor Ghose, who, unbeknownst to me until recently, socialized with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes while they were all in London.
The macro and micro of life experiences really fascinates me, and I love it when I can discover simultaneous connections of the “infinite and infinitesimal.” I also tend to write about human struggles and existential questions, and the theme of dying and rebirth, using imagery from nature, mythology, stories from my life, and various characters, both real and fictional. Ekphrastic poetry is a lot of fun for me to write as well, since I love visual art..
What are your writing goals for 2021? In 2021, I would really like to improve my writing by reading more of the great poets. Elizabeth Bishop, Hart Crane, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery are at the top of my list.
I’d also like to continue “finding my voice” in my writing, while exploring new journals and magazines. I’m so happy that some of my poems have found their home in Quillkeepers Press!
Finally, even though the process of writing is rewarding in and of itself, I would be lying if I said continuing to have my work published isn’t also a goal this year. Being a former theater person, I know the power of the communal experience of art. For me, knowing that others are reading my poems creates a special relationship between writer and reader, and to me, art has always been about a relationship between the artist and the audience.
What are some valuable lessons you have learned about writing?
An editor once asked if I minded cutting the final line of a poem, and I have found that I could completely delete the finals lines or even stanzas of most of my poems, and it makes them stronger. Poetry doesn’t have to end neatly tied with a bow. I’ve also learned that I write best when I “get out of my head” and let the words flow organically. I’m less self- conscious and the words and images come more from the subconscious. Of course, I go back to edit, but this usually gets my creative juices flowing.
Favorite word(s) and definition(s)?
"Thank you for asking! After looking to all the formal definitions, I now know why I use these words so often. They are very “juicy” and perfectly capture much of what I want to communicate."
2. A cavity or space that resembles a womb in containing and enveloping.
3. A place where something is generated. 4. The interior of anything.
1. A disturbance on the surface of a liquid body, such as a sea or lake, in the form of a moving ridge or swell.
2. Any surging or progressing movement.
3. To move freely back and forth or up and down.
4. To curve alternately in opposite directions.
5. A swell, surge, or rush, as of a feeling.
6. An outward curve, undulation.
7. An act or instance of waving.
Least favorite word(s) and definition(s)?
I can’t think of a word that I really dislike- maybe when people refer to others who are educated and artistic as “elitist” in a derogatory way.
Most overused word(s) and definition(s)?
Probably I and You, since I tend to write from first person point of view.
Other overused words are:
Womb, waves, pulsating, universe, and resurrection.
Tell us about your previous publications and where people can find more of your work: (Social handles, blogs, website)
Where to find my works:
My writing blog: lisalitgeek.wordpress.com
(Some publications my work can be found:
Beyond Words Magazine,
The Ekphrastic Review, The Tiny Seed,
The Poet’s Christmas and Faith Anthologies,
Neologism Poetry Journal,
Speaking Cat podcast, Ancient Paths,