Poet Interview Series: Nancy Shiffrin
Today we chat to the talented poet Nancy Shiffrin from Santa Monica, California. Nancy is a retired teacher who has published various poetry books and collections on Lulu (see links below to purchase). Her new poetry book “Flight” has recently been accepted by the publisher Finishing Line Press. See below for the very interesting interview with this extraordinary word artist.
Where do you live and how does it influence your writing?
I live in Santa Monica, a city in Southern California, in Los Angeles County. This is one of the most exciting places in the world to develop as a poet.
When did you first become passionate about poetry and what attracted you to it?
I can't remember not loving poetry, though I came late to the academic study of poetry.I read poetry with my mother as a child. My father loved Shakespeare. My great uncle Abe Shiffrin was a published poet. His collection of children's verse, Dimple Diggers is still a favorite.
What inspires you to write?
The world around me is full of surprises, as is my inner life. As I free write to get started, the language itself takes me where I need to go. Sometimes I experience a voice from beyond. I have a passion for justice – so I hope my work contributes to compassion in the world.
Do you publish your Poetry on other channels but Instagram?
Lulu.com is an interesting self-publishing site. I haven't really been good at social media.
Tell us a bit about your personal style.
Whatever the subject requires. I've written sonnets and haiku. Mostly I write free verse which has a structure if you look.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? How do you come up with poems and how do you edit them?
I free write in my journal every day. Sometimes I experience a moment of transformation, a kind of “high”, a voice from the beyond which tells me a poem is on the way. Then I eliminate that which is NOT the poem. A lot of this is trust in a process that has been a long time evolving.
Do you support yourself through writing financially, or do you have a day job and what is it?
I have supported myself through free-lance writing and community college instruction. I'm retired from teaching and open to more part-time work.
How many hours a day do you spend writing and what helps you to get into the writing mood?
I start the day writing and see where it takes me. ”I wake to dream and take my waking slow/I learn by going where I have to go.” Theodore Roethke.
And what’s the best moment you’ve had with your poetry so far?
The everyday small revelations are countless.
Tell us about your book. How long did it take to write? What inspired you to write it?
The Vast Unknowing is a collection of work begun in the late sixties and concluding around 2012. Writing is just what I do every day – I think I live in a state of inspiration. These are essentially, poems that illuminate the creative life.
How do you respond to writer’s block or not knowing what to write?
I take a break. Clean house. Take a walk. Plan a dinner. Take a ride up the California coast. Enjoy the world outside my head until I'm rejuvenated. Play.
What are you working on next?
One chore is collecting what's best of my prose. I've posted this work to lulu.com. I'm always writing and collecting new poems.
Where would you like to see yourself in three years time?
I'd like to travel more. Perhaps do social service work.
What is your strategy you to grow your audience?
Persistence. Learning more and more about this wondrous new digital media.
What advice would you give young poets just starting out?
Be your own unique wondrous self. Never give up on yourself. Keep learning.
Do you think poetry has a greater purpose?
Maybe. All the great spiritual literature is essentially poetry and has not been exceeded. Poetry certainly is a very special hard to define kind of writing.
Nancy’s creative work is available as follows:
OUT OF THE GARDEN/novel/INVOKING ANAIS NIN essay
MY JEWISH NAME Heritage and Creativity creative prose
GAME WITH VARIATIONS
ALLISON'S WAR script
POETS and POETRY essays, articles, reviews
TOWARDS WHOLENESS essays, articles, reviews
THE VAST UNKNOWING poetry book published by Infinity Publishing
Many thanks to Nancy Shiffrin for this very insightful interview on her writing. For enquiries please contact Nancy Shiffrin 1112 Montana Avenue #636 Santa Monica CA 90403 310.463.6722 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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