Interview: Linda Crate  

PPP Ezine: Who are your favorite poets, if possible, also tell us what makes them your favorite?


LC: Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite poets because I loved how he could construct mournful, dark matters and form them into beautiful lyrics that haunt and linger.


Emily Dickinson is another of my favorites because I love the simplicity of her poems because I feel sometimes the simplicity of her poems makes them more complex and profound in a way.


Adrienne Rich is another poet whose works have really affected me deeply. I love the way she slings words like bullets. Each word, each line has meaning and I love the musicality of her words.


There are many other poets whose works I admire. I just haven’t read all of their works widely as I have an ever growing reading list that never really seems to end.


PPP Ezine:  This one is a direct descendant of Matthew Arnold’s Touchstone Method: ‘They say that there are lines in a poem that make its heart. You may call them the poetry of poetry. Do you remember some such lines of yours or from some of your favorite poets that will help us understand your vision of poetry? If yes, please do give us some of those lines.


LC: April is the cruelest month has always stuck with me from T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. I think often of the hyacinth girl because I love the imagery in the piece. A poem without imagery and vision to me is just words strung together meaninglessly. I think abstract poems are harder for me to enjoy because poems that have a heartbeat generally have verses that touch my soul and refuse to let go.


When I think of Adrienne Rich’s Poem “Into The Wreck” the line “I am she/I am he” sticks with me. Because I believe we all have qualities in us that could be considered male and female, but that doesn’t mean that we have to identify as masculine or feminine. It’s just the duplicity and complex paradox of mankind.


In my own poem “Broken Elevator” published in the Summer 2013 issue of The Milo Review the lines “i’ve burnt too many wax wings / tying to reach the sun / your heart won’t be conquered” are very important to me because it conveys that I’ve tried to help but too many times I have hurt myself so I’m no longer going to continue to try to fight for someone who won’t hear me out or love me as I love them. I think we must remember to spend our time and energy wisely as we have a limited time on this Earth.


PPP Ezine: There has been a debate raging among the lovers of free verse and formal verse. Where do you stand in this debate? Why?


LC: I think they’ve both got merit. I highly admire those who can write formal verse, but I often find formal verse too stuffy and very hard for me to write. I prefer writing free verse because I can make it musical whilst following my own rules. I don’t really think one is better than the other, though. They are both important to culture, I think, as they both exist widely today. To say one is better than the other, I think, is rather moot because I feel that you can learn as much from a free verse poem as you can from a sonnet.


PPP Ezine:   You have been writing for a long time. If you could tell us something about what inspired you to write poems in the first place, and then, what kept you going, it’d be inspiring for the new poets.


LC: I have always enjoyed writing. Even as a girl. What sparked my love for writing was actually first my love for stories. I loved the way you could create worlds from words where there was once nothing. I decided that was something that I wanted to do, too. I thought if I could tell others stories and poems that they loved that perhaps I could challenge their point of view or make them consider another’s perspective. If I could heal someone? All the better. I wanted to touch the world in words because books were the one thing that saved my life when I was a young girl. They were the friends I was too shy to make at school, they were the friends that never judged me or stabbed me in the back.


PPP Ezine: Give our new poets a few tips (3 or more) for composing well.


LC: a) Read what’s currently popular and take what you like and discard what you don’t like to form your own sort of style.


  1. b) Try to think of topics and subject matter that are personal and matter to you and then think of an inventive, creative spin to it so that you can reach other readers.


  1. c) Use your own voice. Don’t try too hard to emulate other poets and writers. Each of us has a unique voice, and you should and can use that to your own advantage.


PPP Ezine:  Rejection is a life-long friend or enemy of a poet. Please tell us how you responded/respond to your rejections in the past, and now?


LC: Rejections are always hard. Some hurt more than others – I think the rejections that have hurt me the most are the ones where a publisher has told me they will take my work and then decide that they cannot or do not want the pieces. There have been some tears and some frustrations, but I remain professional. I use my pain and my sorrow to drive me and push me to write and make works that are worth being read, and if I really like a piece I will keep sending it to different publishers because taste is really a subjective thing.


I used to feel dejected about rejections and wonder if I was good enough to continue. While sometimes I still get this feeling, I try to push it away. I remind myself of all that I have accomplished, what I wish to accomplish, and tell myself I have gone too far to start turning back now. Writing is my dream, and I’m not willing to give up.


I remember, too, that great authors and writers have been turned away several times yet kept going and this fuels me, too. The world would be a very different place without the talents of writers like Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others whose work was not appreciated by all the publishers they sent their poems to. Persistence and the ability to go on are key after rejection if you are really willing and ready to accomplish your dream.


PPP Ezine:   A poet has a cultivated mind. Give us some pointers to cultivate the poetic faculties/genius.


LC: I think it’s important to read a lot of books. Even ones that generally aren’t your fancy. Read poems and things that challenge you and your points of view. Try to understand the way another person feels, be friends with people who aren’t like you, be willing to accept that everyone has something to offer the world and never be too quick to dismiss advice given by others. Maybe you agree or disagree, but I think listening to people; learning about different cultures, and simply living help to cultivate the mind and make it grow.


PPP Ezine:  You have been published and read widely. Please give some tips on submission that increases the chances for selection.


LC: Be brave. Write the stories that need to be told. Also you have to face rejection so prepare for it, but don’t let your fear dismantle you from beginning. Go for it, anyway. Anything worth having can be hard to achieve. Accept that everyone has their own personal preferences and styles, and just because one press doesn’t like something you’ve written doesn’t mean another one won’t love it. Find your niche, find the places that love you, and never stop growing in your writing. Write every day. Even on the days where the writing is hard to get out. It’s important to make it a habit if you want to do it consistently. Like anything else, you have to train yourself and make time for it, if you want to accomplish it.



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