Interview with Andrea Potos

Your piece “Daughter, Home” is a lovely commentary about a child growing up from a parent’s perspective. To what extent have you seen your work impacted by different stages of your child’s/children’s lives?

My daughter has always been inspiring to me, particularly when she was very young, and then when she was approaching college. My poem here tries to speak to that. Travel is another enormous inspiration to me, and pilgrimages to the homes of writers that I love. Some of the “results” of this love can be see in my books We Lit the Lamps Ourselves and An Ink Like Early Twilight, where I write about some of my literary loves: the Brontës, Emily Dickinson, and John Keats.

Can you talk a bit about your writing process? How do you prepare to write? Is there a consistent environment you like to write in, or do you prefer to utilize spur of the moment inspiration?

My writing process has been consistent for nearly thirty years now—I write in the mornings, preferably with a cup of tea or an espresso beside me (or two). I need to leave my house and find a cozy cafe space to work. I start by reading the poetry of others; I usually bring two or three books with me. And then I freewrite and let whatever wants to come just come. I’ll usually know when a poem is finished when I have that inner sense of satisfaction. I may return to the poem and tweak a few things, but I can’t say I spend a lot of time on revision. I like to get to the next poem.

Are there any authors or pieces you consider to be most important/influential to your work?

Early on in my work, William Stafford was a big influence to me, with his ideas of accepting whatever comes as you write. I loved that he claimed there is no such thing as “writer’s block,” you simply have to “lower your standards.” And there is so much truth to that. Allowing your thoughts to simply come, without trying to control what comes onto the page. Every day I am reminded of this. It is always a lesson for me.

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