Angie Werren says that she “lives and writes poetry in a tiny house. She (sometimes) stands in the rain with a dishtowel on her camera.”
For me, she is one of the delightful discoveries (and an even better friend) one makes as a poetry blogger. With a smile and blush of pride and as part of the couplets tour, I offer a glimpse of feathers and smoke, a few of the words and images that compose her empty nest.
1. Where did your interest in writing originate? When did you know you had a passion for writing?
I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. I don’t think of writing as a focus of passion — anymore than I would think that of breathing or talking. It’s just something I do.
2. Do you read as much as you write? What book are you reading now?
Yes, probably more. I’ve just started reading Margaret Atwood’s “The Year of the Flood.”
3. What is your writing process?
Most of the writing I do originates from one prompt or another. I usually get online, check prompts and go about my day. Things will come to me in the shower or when I’m driving to work. I don’t have a lot of time to spend actually writing a poem (when school’s in session), so I have the same philosophy about cooking that I have about my poems — if it takes more than 30 minutes, I’ll probably do something else.
wandering around the house
trying to remember
which room, what reason
words written in the air
4. What do you consider the best thing about writing? How about the worst?
The worst thing about writing for me is the actual physicality of writing. My head is full of words, and by the time I get around to writing them down, quite often they’ve flown somewhere else. The best thing is being able to get what’s in my head out, and when someone actually sees what I saw I feel a little burst of validation.
5. What’s some writing advice you’ve received, that works for you?
My high school English teacher always said — less is more.
6. What inspires you to write?
If I’m in the right mood, anything can inspire me — but especially the strange things I see on my way home. I live down the road from a farm filled with wonderfully random animals (miniature cattle, white peacocks), and almost everyday I see something that gets me thinking about something else.
7. Out of all of our human senses what do you consider the most important one? How is that reflected in your writing?
I don’t know if I can answer that. I work with special needs kids, and I see how everyone adapts to fit into this world without something that others might think is essential. I might say sight is the most important to me, when I see all that green outside dripping with rain — but then I might say smell, because I love the smell of this sleeping puppy. I don’t know what’s most important; I think it depends on the moment and what you’re bringing to the table.
8. You have blog sites which display both your short poetry and photography. Why short poetry? How do your photography and your writing inform each other?
I actually have a long poetry site, too. I haven’t written as much long poetry as I’d like lately (I have grandiose plans for NaPoWriMo…), but I broke my blog into three parts a couple of years ago. If you tread carefully into the archives on ‘this empty nest’ you’ll see it was my original site. I got into taking pictures a few years ago (I still have no clue what I’m doing!) when I bought myself a little Fuji finepix. I have all my photos on Flickr, and I like to add words to them. Most of my photos are taken with the ultimate goal of becoming something else.
9. Can you say a bit about the genesis of your blogging sites?
I started my original blog to participate in the now-defunct ReadWritePoem a few years ago. The short poetry site came about as a way to save the micro-poetry I had posted on twitter. I don’t tweet much these days. I’ve tried a lot of platforms — blogger, posterous, tumblr — but I’m quite happy with WordPress. I actually have five WordPress blogs, three of which are public.
10. What quote would you share that is a driving force for you, either personally or professionally?
“Last night it did not seem as if today it would be raining.” — Edward Gorey,
“The Sopping Thursday”
11. Who has been the greatest influence in your writing? Any favorite works?
When I started writing poetry again (2008 — I wrote some in college 150 years ago), I was struck incredibly by Lucille Clifton — her plain voice delivering messages that just bust your head wide open. Her poem “the message of crazy horse” is probably my favorite, if I really have to choose. (If I could write a poem like Lucille, I’d be done).
12. Do you think writing poetry helps you to understand more about yourself and the world, or is advancing as a poet more about learning how to communicate the things you already know? Something other than these?
I think the main thing poetry does for me is that it clears the fog out of my mind. It sharpens my focus. I think of poetry as more like a camera: I’m taking a picture of what I see and the words are my film.
13. It is National Poetry Writing Month. What does that mean to you?
It means that I will probably get even less sleep than usual, because I’m going to try to write long poetry again.
14. How would you explain your love of poetry to a non-poetry person?
I don’t think I could. My family doesn’t understand it, and I’ve never been able to explain it to them. I think as far as poetry goes, you either get it or you don’t.
15. Where can readers find your work online?
To end the interview, here is one of Angie’s poems that she plucked to share, and I am so glad she did. It is a is a mirror-poem of the “abandoned farmhouse” by Ted Kooser. Enjoy.
she is a small woman, says the touch of her hand
on these scattered flowerpots by the backyard gate;
diminutive too, says the strength of her bones
on this man-sized shovel; and a strong, goddess woman,
says the moon with a bright milk face
on the wall beside the window, silver with light;
but not a woman for burial, say the trees,
unencumbered with leaves and the solid wood.
children lived with her, says the orchard hill
littered with blossoms and the bushel baskets
loaded with ripe fruit, and they have a home,
says the bird’s nest made from day lily stems.
love is plentiful, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed the same way her grandma did.
and the winters warm, say the quilts folded on the bed frames.
there was family here, says the grooves worn into the road.
some things are meant to be, says the house
in the sunlit yard. honeysuckle on the fence
says she is a mother; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she plans to stay awhile.
and the children? their toys are strewn in the yard
like wildflowers after a storm–a fairy house,
a board-and-rope swing in the maple tree,
a tiny wooden horse. some things are meant to be.