Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Tricia Johnson, author of Sway.
FQ: How much of your poetic observer is authentically you?
JOHNSON: Yes, I am 100% the poetic observer. The epitome of this is found on page 7 of Sway, in the poem “Traveling Between the Two”. “Part of her grounded/ part of her soaring/ she leans further back/ in the striped sling chair” I sit upon my chair, gaze out upon the hillside, hedgerow, meadow, where the trees touch the sky and I am trying to capture the exact sensory experience I am in. As my poetry is so much of me, it makes it very intimidating to share my work, to put myself out there on such a personal level.
FQ: Does positing and writing about nature’s wonders give you a sense of hope?
JOHNSON: Absolutely; nature’s wonders are my hope. In her mysteries and continuous cycles, I find the definition of hope: a simple bird in flight, an insect, breeze, summer song of cricket, a butterfly come to pause on my pant-leg.
FQ: Explain the satisfaction that a poet experiences when s/he finds the “perfect” opening or last line for a particular work.
JOHNSON: When you are in the flow, words tumble down effortlessly onto the page and then the perfect ending strikes you, you breathe in and out slowly, eyes go soft and look to nothing, as it is finished. It is a cerebral, reverent and thankful moment capturing the perfect turn of phrase that lets you know, to your marrow, that the poem is captured. One of my final lines that reemerges into my mind often is, “As sun keeps shadows bold” page 78. In comparison, it is similar when writing a beginning line, that takes you on your way, begins the journey as words cluster about in your head begging to be chosen.
FQ: What poets specially influenced your desire to explore this medium?
JOHNSON: I was gifted an anthology of poetry for my 18th birthday. It opened my eyes to the sweetness of a short phrase, layered meanings, urging me to explore them. The book is filled with all the classic poets I have come to love: Wheeler Wilcox, Poe, Emerson, Longfellow, Barrett Browning, Byron, Shelly, Moore, Wordsworth—the list goes on. This book is yellowed and dogeared and still has a place of prominence on my shelf. I enjoy the classics, even though my own poetry is so very modern.
FQ: Did the isolation of “Covid times” spur you to write more, share more?
JOHNSON: With the isolation that Covid wrought, I feel that it forced us all to stop. The small things became more noticeable; we had the time to observe. I am an avid observer of nature with all its intricacies and savory imperfections. It drives my creativity and makes me want to share what I see with others. In this virulent climate we now live in, I want to share a touch of light and hope.
FQ: What would you recommend to someone, a young woman perhaps, hoping to pursue a career or avocation as a poet?
JOHNSON: Somewhere along my path I heard the expression “write what you know,” and I find this to be very true. I feel you write best when you do exactly that. If you live in the mountains or on the shore, inner city or small town, write your own experience and you will find your true voice.
FQ: Do you have plans for more writing of a similar nature?
JOHNSON: I have many poems about nature; she is one of my muses. How could she not be? So, yes, hopefully I will have more to say and share with the world in the future.
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