Interview: Ginny Brannan

A while back, I received my 8000th comment. As many of you know, I find it fun to interview each 1000th commenter and this time Ginny Brannan is my “victim.” I hope you will enjoy getting to know this lovely lady and talented poet as much as I have.

Victoria, Excited to learn that I was your 8,000th commenter. Wow! Congratulations on achieving such a milestone! I just want to say that I am honored to have you interview me and share my answers with your readers. Quite humbled, thank you so much!

Ginny, you live in New England, a region that is home (or has been) to a number of talented and successful writers. What is it about a sense of “place” that generates so much creativity? How does it affect your writing?

New England, home to Emerson, Thoreau, Webster, Hawthorne, Dickenson, Plath, Wharton, Twain, to name a few either born in or settled here. My favorite poet, Robert Frost, was actually born in California, but settled in New England in his teens, and we “claim” him as our own. And Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born and lived in Springfield, MA, close to where I live now.

I can’t speak of what inspired them, but I think have some sense of it—we have the extremes of the four seasons to draw from. Our terrain encompasses woodlands, farmland, mountains, seashore and everything in between. We have a real sense of history and historic pride here–dating back to the pilgrims’ arrival in Plymouth and the Revolutionary War. Though there are some larger cities, N.E. is still mostly small towns, and much life here is still rural country living. This small town/country life gives us strong sense of community, close ties with our families and neighbors. And how it affects my writing? I find that I am most satisfied with the results of what I write when I draw from what I know—nature and seasons, experiences, history, family and all that touches my life in some small way.

On your blog you mention that you come to writing later in life. What was it that kept you busy in your “younger” years?

I say “later” because I see many writers in their early 20s and 30s who are so talented, and here I am in my 50s basically just starting out. I’ve had poetry and creative writing classes in both high school and college, but kept busy for many years juggling my life between my family and work. I envy parents who can eke out “me” time. I was involved in PTO, Scouts, Youth Group, Band Parents. Much of my “me” time was spent volunteering!! My son is now grown, and my life changed dramatically 2-1/2 years ago with loss of my job of 18 years. With job-hunting, applying, interviewing, and all the resulting pressure and stress, I fell into quite a rut. My dearest friend and foster brother, also a writer, encouraged me to write. It helped to carry me through a tough time. (And gratefully I have found another job that I love!)

How have your earlier years influenced the topics you choose to write about?

My very early years were a bit rocky with the loss of very close loved ones, but I always had people around who cared. I think it taught me empathy and to always try to find the positive in any situation, and I hope that it helps to bring an honest, sympathetic, and ‘genuine’ quality to my writing I do tend to write in the “present,” and have only touched on my early youth in very few pieces.

I notice you have a variety of interests: poetry, of course, but also photography, music, gardening and more. I think many of us are like that and find it hard to find time to spend on all of them. Do you have any tricks for juggling your time that might help us? What comes first in your life?

First in my life are always husband and son of course, then family and friends. Writing would be next. I don’t call it a “hobby” as writing is something I must make time for, sometimes obsessively so, where hobbies may wait for my time. My hobbies include photography and scrapbooking– basically journaling one’s life through pictures. I carry my small digital camera everywhere, just in case! Music–well, I don’t actually play, I listen—and I can do that while doing almost anything else. Gardening in New England is seasonal: plant in the spring and water and weed in the summer, and if all goes well, reap the rewards. Tricks for juggling time? Sorry, not the one to ask for that one. While I’m doing one thing, something else is usually suffering for want of attention!

Where do you turn for inspiration? Which poetry communities are you a part of, and how do they help you?

I have been a member of the Facial Expression Poetry Circle headed up by the talents of Luke Prater since shortly after I began writing two years ago. Am honored to be among so many amazing poets and writers in a community that will honestly critique your work, make suggestions, and help hone a rough piece into what it can and should be.

I have shared on One Stop Poetry, d’Verse Poets Pub, Magpie Tales, BlueBell Books Short Story Slam, Thursday Poet’s Rally, Jingle Poetry, Gooseberry Garden, and G-Man’s “Flash 55.” There are many terrific writers I’ve gotten to know over time, and I have several favorites that I always look for, as their writing inspires and ‘speaks’ to me. (You, of course, are one of them!)

Let’s play the desert island game. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have one book, one movie, one CD and one writer (of whatever genre) to keep you company, what would your choices be?

Book would be Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy; movie “Moonstruck” It’s like watching my Italian family, never gets old!! CD—I like a large variety of music and the same for writers– I like so many genres, would be hard pressed to choose a ‘favorite.’

You write in a variety of poetic forms. Do you have a favorite(s)? Can you share a poem with us that you’ve written in that form.

Though I’ve written both structured and Free Verse poetry, I like the structured formats a bit more as I tend to be ‘wordy,’ and structure reigns me in. My favorite structured styles are Octain, for its simplicity and complexity at the same time: 8 lines, 8 syllables per line, and an internal rhyme; Quatern for the repetitive refrain line that moves down a line in each stanza; and the Rondeau, which has a more classic feel (think “In Flanders Fields”). Sharing one of my favorites below:

A Walk in the Woods (Rondeau)

Come walk with me on wooded trail
where nature’s beauty does prevail.
A single step and we begin;
serenity abides within
the crisp clean air we now inhale.

We walk beside abandoned rail,
can hear the ghost train whistles wail–
then path leads back to woods again…
Come walk with me.

We live our lives in urban jail,
away from quiet wooded dale.
To stay entrapped would be a sin
when nature beckons with her grin,
and lifts this gray and smog filled veil–
Come walk with me.

© Copyright Ginny Brannan October 2010

Ginny, thanks so much for giving a a glimpse into your life, your inspiration and your poetry. It’s been a delight to get to know you better…I suspect anyone who reads this will agree!

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