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Author interview: Cherie Burbach, My Soul Is From a Different Place

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What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions poetry? For some, poetry is something studied and recited in school, a relic of the past that was forgotten far more quickly than it was memorized. But for others, poetry is an essential part of daily life. Cherie Burbach falls into that second category.

How did you first discover that you loved poetry?

In second grade, my teacher suggested I start writing poetry. I knew nothing about it, but was writing a lot of short stories that she said had a “poetic” vibe about them. From them I start writing what I thought poetry should be (rhyming and silly) but then one day I wrote what I felt and it was like a whole new world opened up for me. I fell in love with poetry and it has stayed with me ever since.

Which poets were you first drawn to?

I went about poetry backwards, I think. I wrote it for years without studying it, but then one day I was getting ready for work and Maya Angelou was reading “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s Inauguration. I was mesmerized… her voice, the words… they were so alluring that I stopped what I was doing and just listened. By the end, I had tears in my eyes. Angelou is high on my list of favorites. Since then I’ve gotten into Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and my other favorite, Mary Oliver.

How often do you find yourself writing poetry? Are there moments or moods that draw you to poetry more than others?

I write poetry several times a week and have since I was about eight. I think it helps me figure out the world and work through my emotions, all of them (happy, sad, and everything in between) so I wouldn’t say there is just one or two moods that draw me to that space. Poetry is a practice for me more than a process of creative expression.

What is your process for writing poetry? Is this process different than for other types of writing you may do?

I have always written poetry in a notebook or journal. Penning the words by hand seems like a calmer, quieter way to approach it, and I need that when writing poetry. The words are carefully selected and need more attention, somehow.

This process is different than other things I write. I use the computer for everything else, although I do create an outline by hand for my nonfiction.

Which three words would you use to describe your poetry?

Accessible. Faith-filled. Female-centric.

Have you published your poems anywhere?

My Soul Is From a Different Place is my sixth poetry book. I published my first book, The Difference Now, ten years ago.

How would you respond to people who claim they don't like poetry?

It pains me to hear when people don’t like poetry. I think everyone should have at least one poem or poet that speaks to them, and if they haven’t found that yet, keep looking! One day you’ll read a poem and it will open up a new world to you.

Also, don’t listen to what others say about poetry. People get very snobbish about it sometimes, especially if you say you don’t “get it.” That’s okay. Each poem is written from a different person’s perspective so you’re not going to love everything out there. Just keep reading until you find the right poem for you and go from there.

Where can we find out more about you?

The best place is my website: cherieburbach.com. It has links to the places I write online, my other books, and some of my artwork.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my words. Many blessings to you!

Bio: Cherie Burbach is a writer, poet, and mixed media artist. Her latest poetry book is My Soul Is From a Different Place. She's written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Happen Magazine, Philips Lifeline, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.

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