I invited Diane to answer a few questions especially for ‘Pen Me A Poem’ and I am most grateful for her acceptance and enlightening responses.
Welcome Diane. When did you start writing poetry?
It’s very interesting to me how I started writing poetry because I knew nothing about poetry and did not even read poetry at the time. About 15 years ago I was going through a very traumatic time in my life and poetry just started coming out of a place in my subconscious. It was mostly raw and angry and full of emotions and questions. A few of those poems I would actually still consider pretty good, although I have learned what “good” (acceptable) poetry is through a lot of classes, workshops and critiques over the years.
Who have been the greatest literary influences in your life?
I have no influences in poetry because I wrote poems before I read any contemporary poets. In my fiction writing however, I think I’ve been influenced by every novel I’ve ever read. I can’t choose one particular author, but over the years I just felt that I could express myself in writing fiction as they had. Hopefully I have a style all my own.
What was the process you went through when getting your poetry published and the resulting thoughts and feelings?
I have published individual poems in a number of journals at this point, but I am working on a book collection to publish soon, I hope. A poem is like one of your babies- you work on it and nurture it over a period of time and you come to love it. It’s part of you. When a poem is accepted for publication is very satisfying, even thrilling. You will see all your efforts come to fruition and your work is validated. Publishing is a long and tedious process. The markets for fiction and poetry are competitive and your chances of publication are slim, but you’ll never be published if you don’t try. Another poet advised me that when a rejection comes in, just refold the poem, stuff it in another envelope and send to the next place!
‘Flying Over Midnight‘ was your first novel. What is it about?
To be honest it is about that traumatic time in my life that I mentioned earlier. It is about a woman with two children whose life is turned upside down and the emotional and spiritual crises she goes through. I wrote the book I would have liked to have read at that time in my life in hopes that it would touch someone else and give them hope. I call it my learning book – instead of studying writing I actually did it.
You write a blog called “Coexist” How important is religion in your life and the issues that face the world today?
I saw “Coexist” on a bumper sticker one day and thought that one word provided the solutions to all the world’s problems. Just think if we all knew how to coexist peacefully! We’d have no need for newspapers and news programs! While I am a churchgoer, I find the word religious somewhat confining. Religion is a set of man-made traditions and rituals for the most part. I find many of those rituals meaningful and important, but I also believe that religion is not always Godly. I am a very spiritual person and I believe that we all are spiritual – it’s just that the world we live in pushes out the opportunities to know our spiritual sides unless we make concerted efforts to know ourselves and have a relationship with God.
Who is Anais Nin?
She was a writer of the 1930′s who was ahead of her time as a female writer and a bit of a feminist. Her most famous work is her seven published diaries, which I admire for her honestly and her beautiful writing.
You are a special education teacher. What does your job mean to you?
I love kids and have always been proud to be an advocate for special needs children. The job is thankless and often stressful, but most of that comes from government and administrative decisions and not the children.
Tell us more about your family and how they have influenced your writing.
I think being a mother has had the biggest influence on my life and my writing. The focus of my new book is really a young unwed mother’s struggles to raise her daughter. I didn’t plan this story , it sort of wrote itself. I was not an unwed mother, but the sacrifice and love that mother’s have for their children is universal. I have a son and daughter both in their twenties now and I can’t imagine my life with out them.
Diane Vogel Ferri, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for ‘Pen Me A Poem’. I appreciate it greatly. Below is one of your poems which you very generously agreed to share.
The blue heron has been at the edge
of the pond all morning stalking fish
with surreal patience, with the stillness
of a lawn ornament or my unmoving
body lying next to yours at night.
He makes no sound, just like us.
The fish does not know that the heron
is there, even though surely it could look up
and see what is so close.
The heron crouches low, just as I am
sometimes, as we are,
half of what could be.
Then the great bird sees what it wants,
its mouth plunges into the water and pulls
out the prize that will sustain its life.
The fish does not fight the inevitable.
The heron stands proudly upright to savor
the moment before swallowing the fish whole.
© Diane Vogel Ferri