Poet speaks in Avon Thursday
AVON — April is National Poetry Month. Join the Eagle Valley Library District in celebrating at their scheduled poetry events. Things kick off today at 6:30 p.m. at the Avon Public Library for a reading from local poet Jodie Hollander. Hollander will be sharing some of her poetry, her experiences as a poet, answering questions and signing books. Hollander chatted with the Eagle Valley Library District about the art of poetry and what readers can expect tonight.
Eagle Valley Library District: Tell us a little bit about your various writing experiences.
Jodie Hollander: A deep quiet is really the best environment for a poet to create. Since the world is full of all kinds of noise and distractions, getting much accomplished in day-to-day life can be a challenge. Fortunately, residencies exist, which offer artists uninterrupted blocks of space and time to complete a particular project. I am very fortunate to have been awarded residencies in Australia, Scotland, France, Ireland and most recently at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. In addition to being able to focus solely on one’s project, residencies allow artists to connect and share ideas with other artists from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives.
Last month at MacDowell, I was given a private house in the woods in which to work. I had a long desk that looked out into the snowy trees, a wood-burning fireplace and a cozy bed, perfect for deep dreaming. There was no Internet or cell phone reception, and my only responsibility was to get as much writing done as possible. The deep silence allowed me to hear the music of my own poems and work without distraction. During my month-long residency, I finished my second book, “Horse Bones,” and began a new project of response poems to the French symbolist poet Rimbaud.
Some other writing projects I’ve done include being a resident poet for the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida, bringing poetry to underserved populations as a Fulbright fellow in South Africa; and next week I’m headed to Stanley, Idaho, to be the town’s inaugural artist in residence.
EVLD: What advice do you give to individuals interested in poetry and writing?
JH: First and foremost, I would say read as much poetry as possible — everything from the ancient poets to what is being written today. It’s important to have a broad sense of what’s already been done, and what’s happening now, and where there might be room to say something new. It also gives you a chance to decide what you like and what you may want to emulate in your own writing. Some of my favorite poets are Robert Frost, Phillip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, Ruth Stone and Donald Justice.
I would also suggest practicing writing as much as you can. While you’re writing, try to get out as much as possible, and make it honest and real. Don’t worry too much about how it sounds at first, you can worry about editing later. Also, all poets go through several drafts (in my case usually 30-40) before they come up with a version of a poem they’re happy with. A great reference book that describes this is Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.”
EVLD: What can we look forward to at tonight’s program?
JH: I’ll be reading short selections from my first book, “The Humane Society,” as well as some of my newer work from my recently completed book “Horse Bones,” as well as a couple poems from my latest project of poems that respond to Rimbaud. Then I’m looking forward to answering questions and having a conversation about poetry. The library will be providing snacks and refreshments, and it ought to be a wonderful opportunity to talk further about poetry and kick off a celebration of National Poetry Month.
The Eagle Valley Library District will also be celebrating National Poetry month on Monday, April 20, at 6 p.m. with an open poetry night. Individuals are welcome to share their own poetry, read from a favorite poet or simply listen and enjoy. Refreshments will be provided at both events. For more information, call the Avon Public Library at 970-949-6797 or the Eagle Public Library 970-320-8800.