We're honored to feature new poetry by Paulette Guerin in Issue Three of Orson's Review. Issue Three of Orson's Review was published on September 24th, 2019.
We're also very fortunate for the time Paulette took to chat with us about the poet’s journey. Check out the discussion below.
*The following interview involves Orson's Publishing (OP) and Paulette Guerin (PG).
OP: How did your journey with the written word begin?
PG: A pink diary with kittens at age six.
OP: Is being a poet your primary occupation?
PG: That is the dream. But right now being a college professor is pretty great.
OP: What about this these poems are you most proud?
PG: I liked the way the sounds add to the emotional effect.
OP: Tell us about your writing process. Do you approach all pieces of writing in the same way?
PG: I’m a morning writer, working best just after I wake. I’ll scrawl a poem on a scrap of paper if something hits me, so most first drafts begin by hand. I type them in a file with other poems in progress, many of which are experiments that will never graduate to the finished-poem file. I spend the rest of the day working in as much reading as possible and jotting down notes in a Moleskine.
OP: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that impacted your writing?
PG: An archaeologist, thanks to Indiana Jones. Poems are little excavation sites where the past is uncovered and ghosts are released. Best of all, you get to keep the fragments you discover and sometimes they are meaningful enough that others want to view them as well.
OP: Tell us about the biggest sacrifice you’ve made while pursuing writing.
PG: Sleep. Getting up at 5am isn’t so bad once you get used to it, but since my toddler still nurses at night I don’t always get enough quality sleep.
OP: How many books do you read in a year?
PG: Since having a kid? Around 25, though I wish it were more. Still, I read promiscuously, with multiple books in multiple genres going at once.
OP: Do you attend poetry readings? If so, tell us about the best one you’ve ever attended -- what made it so good?
PG: I have been so lucky to see many fabulous writers read their work, but I’d have to say that the best reading ever was Yusef Komunyakaa at a writers festival in Paris near Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. During the reading, the bells of Notre Dame interrupted his poem, but he went with it, and the bells became part of the poem’s cadence.
OP: What do you want most out of your literary community?
PG: I want to keep discovering writers who speak to the world in ways I would have never imagined. I also appreciate the camaraderie.
OP: Do you believe that an MFA is crucial to success as a poet today?
PG: No. But an MFA can give you time to write, a supportive community, and mentors. If you want to teach, it can be a stepping stone to that.
OP: What do you cross your fingers for as a poet?
PG: That I’ll discover something new as I’m writing and surprise myself.
OP: Where do you see your journey with the written word going?
PG: I see it as an essential part of how I live my life, a guidepost for where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
Paulette Guerin is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida. She lives in Arkansas and teaches English and writing at Harding University. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2018, ep;phany, Concho River Review, The Tishman Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and others. She also has a chapbook, Polishing Silver.
Be sure to check out Paulette’s poetry in Issue Three of Orson’s Review.