This Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, VoiceCatcher Kristin Roedell is the featured reader at the Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic, held at the Angst Gallery, 1015 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660, 7:00 p.m. Meanwhile, fellow VoiceCatcher Tammy Robacker caught up with Kristin last month to talk about her newly released collection of poetry, Downriver; her creative writing process; and what is on her horizon.
Kristin Roedell graduated from Whitman College with a bachelor’s in English in 1984, and from the University of Washington Law School in 1987. She practiced family law for 13 years in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry has been published in more than 50 journals and books since 2009, including The Journal of the American Medical Association, Switched on Gutenberg, Ginosko, CHEST, Tacoma City Arts, Soundings Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Sierra Nevada Review. She is the author of a chapbook (Girls with Gardenias, 2012, Flutter Press), and a full-length poetry collection (Downriver, Aldrich Press, 2015.) She has been nominated for Best of the Web and the Pushcart Prize, was the 2013 winner of NISA’s 11th Annual Brainstorm Poetry Contest, and was a finalist in the Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest. She lives in Lakewood, Washington with her husband and daughter, and she enjoys traveling overseas.
Tammy Robacker: In Downriver, you write a lot about family – your mother and daughters, in particular. Why do they feature so prominently in the poems?
Kirstin Roedell: I’ve been called a “woman’s poet,” and although I do try to write poems that relate to the human experience as a whole, my poems come from a very deep, female place. I write my poems in the quiet, when I am alone, and I write to process the past. One day a friend of mine suggested that I share my story. I sent out some of my work, and found that it speaks to other women. I learned that a simple but powerful commonality exists between mothers and daughters, and that we are a community. It takes courage to love, and that courage can arise from the knowledge that we are not alone.
TR: Many of the poems in Downriver incorporate the natural realm as your metaphor to speak about life, loss or courage. Why is that?
KR: As a child I spent a great deal of time reading; I took my books outdoors, where a peace existed that was not present in my home. I found comfort in the natural rhythms around us; at heart our experiences are not so unusual. They echo the simplicity of our surroundings. It comforts me to think that nothing is so new that it does not resonate and reverberate with the natural realm.
TR: As a VoiceCatcher poet, how does sense of place and the geography of Washington and Oregon figure into your poetry?
KR: I live in the Northwest, and believe that the place where we are born creates a lasting connection. I feel a kinship with the Northwest tides and shores. The animals here speak to me, the whales and seals and shellfish. I love the sound of the gulls and the salt spray that exists only here, in this green place we call home.
TR: Would you tell us about your personal poetry-writing process?
KR: I write in the silence, wherever I can find it. Sometimes this is late at night while my husband and daughter are asleep, and often it is when they are both out, busy with their own pursuits.
TR: What is next on the horizon for you and your poetry? Are there any new book ideas in the hopper for you?
KR: Right now I’m trying to accumulate a newer body of work; most of the work I’ve written in the past has been based on the growth of my young family, but now that my daughters have left home, I am learning what it is to be an older woman. There are challenges that come with this new place that I now inhabit, and I want to express that.