Thursday, February 1, 2018

Getting to Know Poet Catherine Flynn

Happy Poetry Friday! seemed to take forever to get to. I'm so glad it's here. Please stop by and say Hey to Donna at Mainly Write. She's graciously hosting this week's round-up. 

One of my goals this year as a poet is to learn poetry from lots of angles. I thought I'd ask some of my favorite Teacher-Writer poets if I could interview them. Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core is my brave test case! I'm starting out with just five questions I sent to her via e-mail that she answered.

I love learning with and from writer friends...don't you?  Join our conversation...

A WORD EDGEWISE (AWE): Why poetry? Do you write in other genres?

CatherineNaomi Shihab Nye has said, “For me, poetry has always been a way of paying attention to the world.”
lillaby . “Picture Frame, Retro, Background.” Pixabay - 3050245, Pixabay, 2018, 

This captures the essence of poetry for me. Much of my poetry is inspired by nature and I hope that my poems make others see and appreciate the beauty found everywhere in the world. Playing with language, finding just the right words, expressing an intangible feeling in a way that makes others say, “Of course!” all make the process of writing anything, not just poetry, deeply satisfying.

AWE: How do you balance reading and writing time?

Catherine: This is the trick, isn’t it?

We all know Jane Yolen’s classic advice: “keep [your] BIC (butt in chair),” but with a full-time job, it isn’t always that simple.

AWE: What can you say about Poetry Friday?

Catherine: Not enough! The poets and teachers who participate in Poetry Friday have to be the kindest, most supportive people on the planet! The encouragement I’ve received from many poets whose work I love and admire has driven me to stretch myself as a poet in ways I couldn’t have imagined five years ago. I can honestly say I would never have written half the poems I’ve written if not for Poetry Friday.

(These resources) have all inspired and encouraged me to try new forms and write about topics I wouldn’t have otherwise. Reading PF posts each week has filled in gaps in my knowledge of poems, poets, and poetic forms and techniques. And PF posts are full of inspiration! I always come away from my weekly reading with at least one idea for a new poem. I’m also thankful to Poetry Friday for bringing me together with my the newest members of my critique group.

AWETell me about revision...

Catherine: Sometimes a fix is simple, like a subject-verb agreement error. Other times it may be more complicated, such as the rhythm being off. Thanks to two Highlights Foundation Workshops with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, I’m very aware of using “and” and “the” very sparingly, so those are the next to go.

When I’m really stumped by an elusive word or rhythm, I run the troublesome line (or lines) through my head on my way to work or while I’m doing the dishes. More often than not, I’m able to figure out a solution. Of course, there are times when whole lines have to be cut, but I’ve always found it better to get all my ideas out, then cut and shape what I have. Sometimes when a poem isn’t working, finding a new form for the idea is the answer.

AWE: What’s next for you?

Catherine: I’ve been working on a project for a couple of years that I am determined to finish this year!

Thank you, Catherine Flynn, for being my first poet-to-poet interview. I so enjoy learning about how you approach poetry and where you go to for support.

If you have follow-up questions for Catherine, please add them to the comments section. I'll bet Catherine peeks in on A Word Edgewise at some point over the weekend. But, I'm also happy to send them on to her.

Happy Poetry Friday everyone!


  1. What a fantastic interview! Poetry Friday has absolutely inspired me to look at poetry in a new way!

  2. Poetry Friday has been instrumental in lighting fires under me! Great interview today!

  3. nice and wonderful tips,i really like this,thank you so much dear for sharing very useful details,keep up dear....

  4. Great idea, and lovely interview. So nice to get to know Catherine (and her process) better, through this.

  5. This looks terrific, Linda! Thank you for inviting me to be part of your blog!

  6. I love Catherine's answers. LOVE them. From paying attention to cutting those ands and thes... I have one of Catherine's poems on my desk this very moment and am inspired by it everyday! Thank you Linda for the time and care you took to do this interview... two fabulous poet-people! xo

  7. How wonderful to read your questions and Catherine's answers, Linda. I had the pleasure of being with Catherine at a Highlights retreat, a very wonderful experience! Yes, Poetry Friday is a wonder - sharing, learning, enjoying every bit. Your post idea is terrific! Thanks, Linda and Catherine!

  8. I love your goal for this year, Linda! It's going to serve you well, no doubt about it. I also love that you're beginning your research by talking to a variety of teacher-writers. Catherine is ideal to start with. Like you, she's equally devoted to students, craft, and the art of learning. I enjoyed hearing about her writing process and how she is able to make time for poetry despite all the other things in her life that demand time and attention. I'm also extremely proud to be on her list of go-to resources! Like Irene, I have one of Catherine's poems on my desk too. :)

  9. Fabulous interview by both host and guest! Thank you to you both for being willing to stretch yourselves and your poetry writing and share with us along the way. I continue to learn and grow as I take part in this community. It definitely motivates me to keep going and keep growing!

  10. Wonderful interview, thanks to both of you! Love your idea of poet-to-poet interviews, Linda. Looking forward to more. :)

  11. A lovely beginning to a nourishing series, Linda.
    And I'm so happy to meet Catherine. Perhaps we will scribbling at the same
    workshop some time . . .

    My questions are:

    tea, or coffee?
    cat or dog?
    caramel or chocolate?

  12. What a great idea and a great interview! I love that you're both stretching yourselves to learn and grow.

  13. Always inspiring to hear about how another poet works, thank you both Linda and Catherine! I look forward to hearing more of your interviews Linda.

  14. It is invigorating to know that an accomplished poet such as Catherine Flynn
    finds clunkers in her drafts. I use that term myself when crossing out lines on
    paper pages. This is a nourishing visit with you two.
    And my prediction is that your poem-making will be a meditation that leads to more publication.

  15. How wonderful to start a new venture, Linda. Catherine was a great choice to start with. Her responses were thoughtful and enlightening. Congratulations to the both of you.

  16. I can already tell I'm going to enjoy this series, Linda. Catherine, thank you for sharing these insights into your process. I agree -- we are lucky to be part of such an encouraging community through Poetry Friday.

  17. This is your first interview? You're a natural! Keep going, I look forward to reading more.

  18. What an awesome interview - great advice about writing in the morning and reading in the evening. Most of my lengthy reads happen in the evenings too, before I fall asleep. :)

  19. This interview was such a treat! I love Catherine's pomes, and the fearlessness with which she crafts her poetry.

  20. Great interview. I love Catherine's reminder to watch for "the" and "and" as I am revising right now. Keep going with more interviews, please!

  21. Bravo, Linda! I love that One of my favorite people interviewing one of my favorite people. It's a win-win! More, please! :-) -- Christie @

  22. Nice job, Linda. I like the questions and Catherine's answers. I am in awe of teacher-writers.

  23. Hats off to you both! (You'll still accept accolades a week late, right?) I sure enjoyed getting to meet Catherine in person at one of those aforementioned Highlights workshops. Thanks for these thoughtful questions and responses!

  24. Even after working with you both regularly for weeks now, I still learned from these questions and answers about process. I'm so lucky to have you in my corner! (and sorry it took me so long to come around to this)


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!