Wombwell Rainbow Book Interview: “Keeping Afloat” by Samantha Terrell

keeping afloat by samantha terrell

-Samantha Terrell,

author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From
(Potter’s Grove Press), is an internationally published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in publications such as: Anti-Heroin Chic, Dissident Voice, Fevers of the Mind, In Parentheses, Misfit Magazine, Red Weather, Sledgehammer, and many others and has been featured on radio shows and podcasts from Wyoming to Glasgow, and beyond. She writes from her home in upstate New York, where she and her family enjoy kayaking on still waters.
Find her online at: SamanthaTerrell.com.

The Interview

1. How did you decide on the order of the poems in your book?

I tend to agonize quite a bit over the order of my manuscripts because I want the poems to logically flow from one to another. I’m usually working to form an over-arching story or carry the reader along a journey. It takes a lot of tinkering around until a suitable order emerges.

2. How important is form in your poetry?

When it comes to form, I don’t have any formal training in the field of poetry/literature (my college education was in the field of Sociology), so I’ve taught myself by reading and research. But I also like to get inventive with form, and I take a lot of creative liberties.

3. How does nature influence your writing?

Oh, nature! I love spending time outside, and like many poets, probably, I find it to be a great source of inspiration for writing.

4. How does nature inspire you?

I turn to nature to find peace and sort through life’s complexities. I incorporate many themes and metaphors from nature in my work. It’s a constant ever-changing source of inspiration.

5. How does writing from a first person perspective help you compose poetry?

Writing in first-person is a natural way to write, because it’s like speaking. However, I’ve heard writing in first-person can sometimes be frowned upon or overdone in poetry. But I often enjoy reading confessional or first-person poetry, so I don’t shy away from writing it myself.

6. In “Ever Upward” you quote from the psalms. How important is your religion to your poetry?

Although my own Judeo-Christian perspective shapes who I am and what I write, I intend to reach a broader audience than those within my own faith background. I’ve been fortunate to be welcomed into the international poetry community, and I appreciate people of various perspectives and backgrounds. I make efforts not to be overbearing or “preachy” in my own work. That being said, on the occasions that I have written explicitly religious pieces, I have attempted to publish them with an appropriate faith-based lit mag such as LogoSophia.

7. What do you wish the reader to take-away from Keeping Afloat once they have read it?

My hopes for a reader of Keeping Afloat are outlined right there in the title – we all need to keep each other afloat in this world! I like to say that my poetry is meant to inspire self-awareness as a means to social awareness. And, in this case, I hope a reader of Keeping Afloat will enjoy each poem – and the chapbook as a whole (along with Jane Cornwell’s beautiful artwork) – to spur them on both as an individual, and in the community of humanity.

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