Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Heidi Seaborn

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Give a Girl Chaos_front cover

Heidi Seaborn

is Editorial Director for The Adroit Journal, the author of the award-winning debut book of poetry Give a Girl Chaos {see what she can do} (C&R Press/Mastodon Books, 2019) and a New York University MFA candidate. Since Heidi started writing in 2016, she’s won or been shortlisted for over two dozen awards and published by numerous journals and anthologies such as The Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Penn Review and Tar River. She’s also the author of the chapbook Finding My Way Home (FLP, 2018) and a political poetry pamphlet Body Politic (Mount Analogue Press, 2017). She graduated from Stanford University and is on the Tupelo Press board. http://heidiseabornpoet.com/

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I really have no idea where the original inspiration came from. I wrote as a child, a teenager and then didn’t write for decades. When I returned to poetry a few years ago, it was as a dare to myself: would I be able to write anything at all after all these years?

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I’m sure it was my mother who read to us every night, mostly stories, but sometimes poems.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

When I was young and wrote, I found older poets quite helpful until I attended University. That was when I encountered an older poet in the form of my advisor who was so unsupportive of me that I ended up giving up poetry altogether. Now I am an older poet who spends a huge percentage of my time encouraging younger poets through my role as Editorial Director at The Adroit Journal (young staff and young contributors) and within my MFA program where my cohort is generally the age of my children!

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I answer emails, do any of my paid consulting work and then either read, revise, write, edit, submit or market my readings, book, etc. Generally, I spend at least 5 hours a/day on something poetry related.

5. What motivates you to write?

I don’t know if I would describe it as motivation, more inspiration. I find my inspiration everywhere. And then it just needs to land on the page. I am not a journal writer or adhere to a daily schedule. When I need to write, and it does feel urgent, I make the space for it. It is just such a joy, that it doesn’t ever require some sort of trick or motivation ploy.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’ve always had a strong work ethic and I’ve brought that to my work as a poet. It’s the kind of job that is never really done so for me, I really need to step away and do other things to keep my mind fresh.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Well, given that I took a long break from poetry, I feel that I am still in that mode (especially through my MFA) of reading the important writers and feeling the influence of so many poets. That said, when I was a teenager, I read a lot of Richard Hugo. He was a Pacific Northwest Poet that was very much alive and writing at that time. I admired how he could deftly create a detailed sense of place and people yet hold his language to its simplest form.  It was so intimate. I also adored T.S. Eliot and Marianne Moore for their use of collagist form and layered gesturing.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Oh, so many. I’m quite taken with Terrance Hayes for his use of form, and Ocean Vuoung’s beautiful brevity, and yet I simply adore Maggie Nelson’s complexity and density. I really could go on for pages.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I’ve done other things. I worked as a global communications executive running sizeable organisations and living all over the world. I enjoyed it but once I started writing poetry in 2016, I knew there was no turning back. This is who I am now and what I do.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Well that’s easy. Read and write and repeat that combination forever.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I have two streams of work that I am writing currently. I am working on a series of persona poems based on an iconic historical figure. I expect this work will form my thesis for next spring and my second collection. Alongside that project, I have been writing poems that reflect on the experience of being a woman aging. And then of course there is whatever else pops to mind. Today it was a political lament!

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