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National Poetry Month: Meet Our Poets

In honor of National Poetry Writing Month, we wanted to spotlight our poets! We asked them some questions about poetry and their personal experience with it. Here's what they had to say!

Mark Richards

What kind of poetry do you write? Getting through struggles with Jesus

How did you begin writing poetry? As therapy and an outlet for feelings.

What does poetry mean to you? It's a way to make hard trials easy and express all ranges of emotion in any way you choose.

Why do you write poetry? I feel pulled to do it or kind of a calling.

What’s the last poem or poet you read that inspired you and why? Glory in the Flower by William Wordsworth, it focuses on what to do if you have a loss and gives a great way to look at it.

Anything else you'd like to add about poetry, writing, or the importance/value of poetry in our lives? I believe if more people wrote and read poetry that empathy could spread freely.

Jessica Shirey

Christie Beckwith

What kind of poetry do you write?

I write general observations of life around me or thoughts that life inspires. I love repetition, turns, and enjambment so I pay attention as much to the form of the poem to drive my point home as the actual words.

How did you begin writing poetry?

My grandmother used to teach me these vocabulary words and she read me poetry as a child which I fell in love with. I continue to write now as somewhat of a homage to what she instilled in me. 

What does poetry mean to you?

I look for poetry to find the shortest path to enlighten me on a topic or thought process I haven’t considered. I also look to it for inspiration as many poems have been written by others who have gone through problems I face and offers comfort and connection.

Why do you write poetry?

It’s a medium I connect with. I love words, I love the dance of expressing yourself in words and form. I love the rhythms and patterns and how some of its rules can be broken while some really help to shape a story in a way you haven’t considered. It can be very playful and very serious. 

What’s the last poem or poet you read that inspired you and why?

Andrea Gibson is an absolute force and the type of poet and human I aspire to emulate. Their book “You Better Be Lightning” should be classic literature. 

Anything else you'd like to add about poetry, writing, or the importance/value of poetry in our lives?

Many people find poetry stuffy, boring, elitist, and unnecessary. When you really dig in, it’s actually a blooming space where revolutionary concepts surrounding liberation and community happen. 

Kirke Wise

Greg Clary

What kind of poetry do I write?

My poetry is rooted in my personal experiences and observations of the people, events, and locales around me. Sometimes it takes years before I am in a position to examine something in any type of meaningful way. My poems serve as a catalyst for self-reflection and when it is working, I may discover hidden truths, unresolved emotions, and a newfound perspective on past events.

How did you begin writing poetry?

I began writing poetry only after I had retired as a college professor, a career

characterized by a steady stream of academic writing such as objective reports, critical evaluations, course syllabi, research documents, and persuasive grant proposals. Soon after retiring, I participated in an incredible 6-week Creative Nonfiction workshop in Pittsburgh that inspired me to continue writing creatively for my own enjoyment. I then became involved with the Watershed Journal Literary Group in Brookville, and began writing poetry for the first time. I interacted with many talented writers and poets in our region who, in turn, have been tremendous sources of encouragement and guidance for me. Some of my pieces were published in regional and national literary journals and now my first book of poetry is on the horizon with Meraki Press.

What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is a portal into my identity. A means by which emotions, thoughts, and

experiences may be distilled into subtle, sometimes enlightened, expressions of our lives.

What’s the last poem or poet you read that inspired you and why?

I am currently reading The Trouble with Poetry, by Billy Collins. His work is quite

accessible to me and infused with humor and insightful observations of the mundane aspects of life. He has a knack for transforming the familiar into the extraordinary. In the poem, Monday, Collins writes:

The birds are in their trees,

the toast is in the toaster,

and the poets are at their windows.

That captures the essence of my approach as a poet: an observer gazing out trying to make sense of it all.

Anything else you'd like to add about poetry, writing, or the importance/value of poetry in our lives?

This new book will also include a number of my photographs that will be arranged

thematically with various poems. Some will be wildlife and landscape images from western Pennsylvania and my West Virginia home place while others focus on ordinary scenes and unremarkable objects.

Poets and photographers seek to authentically frame their own perspectives. My poetry and photography share the common theme of seeing beauty among the mundane and infusing them with a sense of significance.

Happy Poetry Month!

Need help bringing your book to life? Meraki Press exists to serve first-time authors as they grow and launch their passion projects!

We offer complete packages or a la carte services for every step from drafting to publishing!

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