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Interview with Loreen de Kort

She is an author, wife, mother of four wonderful women, and a grandmother to three teenagers. She developed a love of poetry writing in her teens and has been writing ever since. She has lived in a suburb north of Seattle for the past 18 years. 

Living in the Pacific Northwest is rather like living in a land of Christmas trees and mountains filled with natural beauty and she loves every day of it. The winter mountains covered with snow she finds especially breathtaking.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I love creating greeting cards for family and friends. I have my own YouTube channel that has about 600 card-making videos on it now. I’ve been making cards for about 12 years now. During this pandemic, I have sent out cards to my mailing list once a month. I wanted people to have something to brighten their day during these two years. One month became two, next thing I know I’ve sent out about 2000 cards.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
I am writing a fantasy novel currently. It is about a girl, a dragon, and a prophecy. I do not have a timeline for completion. I have been taking my time with the story. I wouldn’t say it’s writer’s block because I know where the story is going to end up. I am at a crossroads of a character’s fate and have not decided yet.

Q.3 When did you decide to write Notes on the Train? What sparked your initial love of poetry?
A. Notes on the Train
is a series of poems and short stories I wrote during therapy. My therapist suggested I write my thoughts because I was having problems speaking up during sessions, and things I wanted to say came to me on my way home afterward. That’s where I got the title from, actual notes on the train.

I started writing as a teen. When I was in high school, I had a job working on our school magazine as a photographer. I got the job through my English teacher. I had a writing assignment due for class and I had that friend we all love to hate, writer’s block. I had procrastinated to the point it was the day before it was due. I remember sitting in our dining room staring into space when I looked at a candlestick and a ceramic figurine of a rooster. A poem just sprung in my mind and I jotted it down. It won a young adult award and was featured in a city magazine. That started me on the path of writing.

Q.4 How do you develop your poems? Please guide us through the stages of it.
Usually, I have a spark of inspiration. It encompasses a feeling or a thought and develops from there. I open myself to what I am feeling and the imagery those feelings engender and let it flow from there.

Q.5 According to you, what is the state of contemporary poetry in the USA?
I think our poets are more creative than ever. I think the prevalence of musical poetry has been sparked in the youth and is taking off from there. The popularity of the musical Hamilton shows that people are drawn to riveting poetry still.

Q.6 What do you see as the role of a poet in modern-day society?
I see the role to be the same as it always has been, to tell a story. Storytelling is the backbone of civilizations and societies. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a well-written poem can reach into your imagination and let your mind draw a more flowing and fulfilling picture.

Q.7 How does one even begin to judge poetry? Are there some yardsticks that help you define a “good” poem from a not-so-great one?
I do not have an answer for this. I believe a poem should reach into a person and move you in such a way your mind opens and your heart spills forth. I am not certain how such a thing can be judged without becoming an exercise in subjectivity. I believe a good poem is one you will remember and look back upon the feelings it brings up for a long time after you reach the end of it.

Q.8 Do you have any particular audience in mind when you write, an ideal reader?
An ideal writer would be someone that needs to hear the message I’ve written. Someone that might feel lost and alone and think their burdens are overpowering. The feedback I have received from those that reached out to me tends to say the same thing. They are saying my poetry put a voice to the feelings they were having and they found the experience moving. That’s the person I’m trying to reach.

Q.9 What is your stand on translating poetry? Can a translated work truly do justice to the original poem?
Speaking as a person married to a Dutch person, I know from experience that translations can oftentimes lose a lot of the meat and potatoes of a message. I think it can be risky to translate from one language to another unless one has a firm understanding of both languages and the nuances of the culture the poem is drawn from.

Q.10 In what important ways does poetry differ from fiction?
I believe fiction uses your thoughts and imagination to exist. The narrative slowly builds as you turn the pages of the story. Poetry talks to your soul through feelings. The narrative is often one you know already, just the words move to bring it forward into your consciousness.

Q.11 What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Don’t take criticism as gospel. Allow yourself to be misunderstood.

Q.12 What role should a title play for a poem? For beginning writers, what’s important to consider when titling a poem?
A title of a poem is a doorway to the story. If the door doesn’t appear interesting, it may never be opened. It should be eye-catching without being trite.

Q.13 Has your idea of what poetry has been changed since you began writing poems?
I had always considered poetry to be rhyming verse with a rigid structure. I try to not let that define my poetry. There is a feeling of something coming next, but not necessarily the locked-in structure one might anticipate.

Q.14 Can you work anywhere or is there a certain space and quietude required to write?
This book was written primarily on my commute back and forth to work. If you can write on a city subway with all the hustle and bustle of the unwashed masses, you can probably write anywhere.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
My family was very supportive of my decision. During the process of publishing and editing, I’m sure I could not have done it without their continued presence and support as I traversed the processes which were completely new to me. They have been endlessly patient with me and very proud of my successes as I ventured into this.

Q.16 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad ones?
I read all of them, good and bad. I beam with pride at the good ones and hold my breath on the bad ones. So far, I’m doing very good. I’ve only had one review that wasn’t 100% positive, but even that one was mostly positive and constructive.

Q.17 Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish poetry?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. For every ten people that think your poems are the life-changing sonnets you think they are, you will find one person that thinks they are not. Don’t be afraid to be you. Remember criticism of your work is to be expected, but not feared. The publishing process can be straightforward or it can be as tricky as a box of cats. Keep focused on why you are doing it and have confidence in yourself.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would love the opportunity to meet Barack Obama. From the time I watched his keynote address at the Democratic convention, I knew he was going to be influential and he proved me right. I have admired his courage, his wisdom, and his passion for helping our country. His office helped me during a crisis in my life that I had been 5 years trying to resolve.

Q.19 What books/poets have most influenced your life?
I believe I would say I have been most influenced by Maya Angelou. Her passionate writing style I found to be uplifting and moving. A book that influenced me would have to be All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek by Dave Marinaccio.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
My experiences thus far have been a tapestry of sorrows, joys, laughs, and wonders. I have lived on two continents, visited three, and found myself somewhere in between. My journey as a mother has been the most fulfilling so far. I wrote about this in my poem Hitting and Missing. Right now, I’m just observing this mad spinning blue marble as it goes around the sun as I work on trying not to become too jaded and cynical.

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