Comment on this article

Interview with Kristin Roedell
by Ed Bennett

EB:  Before we begin, I must congratulate you on the publication of your chapbook Seeing in the Dark by Tomato Can Press earlier this year. I loved it so I think it fair not only to mention it but to encourage our readers to purchase a copy. Have I embarrassed you?

KR:  Not only have you not embarrassed me, I hope you have encouraged readers to buy a copy! I’ve learned that it can be a challenge to sell poetry books published through small presses. Books that sell are largely marketed by the author, through the development of relationships with independent bookstores. These stores are sometimes willing to carry books, host book signings, and hold author copies at the front desk during featured readings. Ultimately, it’s about developing a grass roots group of readers.

EB: Your biography refers to your past career as an attorney. How did you arrive at writing poetry?

KR:  As a child I was a poet; along the way, however, I became diverted by the need to feed and clothe myself. I took a high school aptitude test, and discovered that I would likely make a good lawyer. When I scored highly on my law school entrance exams, I quelled the small still voice within, sharpened my pencil, and pulled out the yellow legal pad. I have retired my pin stripes since then, and I am in my element again.

EB:  Your bio also says that you are a wife and mother. Many poets with a “day job” always found some time to write but I would think that being a wife and mother would provide fewer opportunities for this. How do you manage to find time to write?

KR:  I think mothering, writing, and being a wife is part of the same thing. Each of these things is so authentic and consuming that they become seamlessly woven together. I find time for writing in the everyday moments. When I look out the car window, or do the laundry, I think “what does this look like, feel like, or taste like”? It also helps that all day my daughter is at school; I have a quiet house on a lake where I can read, write, and do a modicum of housework.

EB:  What poets had the most influence on you when you began writing?

KR:  I am a voracious reader of short stories; and an unstoppable force in the Anthology section, but I did not begin reading and writing poetry until I took a class at the University of Washington with Jana Harris as instructor, titled “Beginning Poetry”. A year and a half later, I still work with Jana as a private student. I have reams of writing that lies incomplete in short story form; at some point I hope to come back to that. I have to take into account, however, the opinion of a writer friend of mine who read one of these “short stories” recently. He thought for a bit, and said: “this is really just a long poem, you know”. Hmmmm….

EB: Right now, who do you read? Are there any contemporary poets who influence or move you?

KR:  Right now, I am enjoying reading Laura Snyder, Phibby Venable, Linda Malnack, and Martha Silano. Both Laura Snyder and Phibby Venable have become influential in my writing through the exchange of poetry in progress; Laura and I exchange “free writes” loosely based upon postcard art.  She is a wonderful poet whose natural images are drawn from a degree in botany. Phibby Venable sends me her work on an ongoing basis. She is unusually prolific, and somehow manages to write quality work in what seems like an effortless fashion, while I labor over every piece! Martha Silano is a seven time Pushcart prize nominee who is the author of the book Blue Positive; she should win the Prize this year. Linda Malnack is co-editor of Switched on Gutenberg, an excellent online journal, and is an exceptional poet. She is well worth searching out in her many publications.

EB: A good part of your poetry is inspired by painting. Is there a particular style or period that has a stronger influence than the others?

KR:  I am strongly influenced by the Renaissance period. The lush lines of Botticelli, the intense tones of Titian, the spirituality of Raphael, inspire me and create the muse beneath the poem. I have a couple of poems appearing in a journal called Ekphrasis, which is a Greek word meaning “a literary description of a work of art”. This is an excellent venue for other poets who may be interested in working with poetry on art.

EB: Do you perform your works at readings or slams?

KR:  I would like to do more reading of my work; in fact this is a goal of mine. So, hear this, all you hosts of readings out there, this is a goal of mine!

EB: Robert Frost said “Writing in Free Verse is like playing tennis with the net down”. Your poetry is Free Verse yet your poems are as precise and disciplined as a Swiss watch. Do you work at line length and structure or does it just come to you?

KR:  I actually have greater difficulty writing lines that are “looser”, and less structured. Currently I am working with different forms in an effort to break out of my customary mold; I have been writing in essay form, in continuous line lengths, in sonnet form, and in the East Indian form, the ghazal.

EB: Poetry is a solitary art yet poets are collaborative by nature. Who comprises your group? Do you ever meet in person?

KR:  I do meet with other poets from time to time, over lunch or coffee. At this time in my life, friendships with other women who share my interests are increasingly important. Still, the technological era does allow me to become close to writers in corners of the universe who I would never have met in other circumstances; I have writer friends in England, Montana, California, and Spokane, via this new thing called the internet.

EB:  How do you use the internet to write and get your work out to the public?

KR:  The internet is my primary medium for submissions; it is the fastest method to receive replies from publishers. The average “turn-around time” by “snail mail” is at least six to eight months, as compared to three to four months online. It is also usually acceptable to simultaneously submit your work online. Readership online is far greater. While the print media should not be entirely neglected, I think online journals are the future of modern poetry.

EB:  So I have to ask, when is your next book coming out?

KR:  Right now I am trying to move away from focusing on publication; I think I have become stuck in a “writing rut” by writing towards that end. I am working with other forms, and keeping my work in a file to come back to over time. That said, I am a fairly driven individual, so this may be a short term goal. I do have a number of poems that have not been compiled into book form.

EB:  Finally, counselor, do you have any final comments?

KR:  As we used to say in law school, res ipsa loquitur. It speaks for itself.

Return to:

[New] [Archives] [Join] [Contact Us] [Poetry in Motion] [Store] [Staff] [Guidelines]