Serendipity: Erica Goss

This time the rendezvous was with a poet Erica Goss. She has served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, California from 2013-2016. Her latest poetry collection, Night Court, won the 2016 Lyrebird Prize from Glass Lyre Press. She is the author of Wild Place (2012, Finishing Line Press) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (2014, Pushpen Press). Here is a snippet of the chat with her.

RW: Please tell us what description will fit you in real life?
EG: I'm a poet and writer interested in the the intersections between humans and nature. How do we negotiate our space in a way that does not negatively affect the natural world? What is the emotional impact of living in a world where the environment is changing rapidly due to human activities? These are questions I try to address in my writing, as well as the ongoing process of aging, relationships, and family. I also make short films based on my poems, and I'm working on a memoir about my experience growing up as the daughter of a WWII survivor.

RW: Amazing!! How does it feel to be a published author/writer? What are your preferred genres? Please share the high points and low points in your journey. 
EG: Being published is a wonderful feeling. I would write without publication, and did for many years, but the experience of having my work accessible to others is a great privilege. I'm primarily a poet, but I also write essays, articles, and reviews. I started writing short pieces as a child, which my parents told me were poems, so I accepted that I was writing poetry. I was lucky to grow up in a house filled with books, and I read all kinds of things before I was old enough to understand what they meant. I loved words, not just in English, but in German and Spanish and French. Sometimes my work is the result of a single word, like the poem "Encontrada," which means "found" in Spanish.

RW: I agree with you totally. Books inspire the way nothing else can. What does your writing place look like? Please describe in terms of location, personal comfort, stationery etc.
EG: I just moved into a new house and I'm waiting for my furniture to come, but I now have the luxury of "a room of my own," to quote Virginia Woolf. My previous work space was in a tiny alcove between a hall closet and the kitchen. The advantage was that I could lean to the right and open the refrigerator whenever I got hungry, but the disadvantage was that everyone else in the house did the same thing, and of course I was in the noisiest and most-trafficked part of the house. In spite of that I got a lot of work done in that space. But really, I am most happy in a quiet place where no one will ask me why we're out of milk (!) I often go to the public library when I need a change of scenery.


RW:  It is so important to be at peace and be surrounded with peace while writing. Which theme or cause is closest to your heart? Why?
EG:    The theme I return to over and over is the intricacies of our emotional life. This subject is the foundation of most of my work, no matter the topic - whether it's family, the environment, politics, or nature. I want to know how and what these things make us feel. If I have a goal in my writing, it's to move my reader emotionally.

RW: Wow!!! Emotions are your flavour for writing, that is a vast subject. What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? Please share your positive and negative traits.
EG:  Starting with strengths, I believe that I'm always trying to move in new directions with my work. I don't always succeed at first, but I enjoy trying new forms, new places for inspiration, and I always try to find new audiences. I never take days off, because I don't think of writing as a job, but a calling. Of course, I don't write as much on weekends as I do during the week, but I'm always alert to the possibility of an idea. My number one weakness is distraction. My attention is too easily diverted by bright shiny things, and I have to work hard to concentrate.

RW: I agree. It is difficult when you are distracted. Describe your latest book. Where can we buy it?
EG:    My book is a collection of poems titled Night Court. It won the 2016 Glass Lyre Press Award for Poetry, and is available at the publisher's website: Glass Lyre Press .The poems in the book deal with physical and mental health, loss and grief, the happiness and challenges of a long marriage, nature and spirituality.

RW: Who and/or What inspires you the most? Why? Please bring out the reasons for such inspiration.
EG:    First of all, my husband inspires me every day. His dedication to our family and his support have allowed me to be a full-time writer. His work ethic is humbling. He's incredibly intelligent, and there doesn't seem to be anything he can't fix. I also have a slightly weird inspiration place: parking lots. For some reason, the most ordinary parking lot brings out the poetry. I have many poems that started in parking lots. If I'm low on ideas, attending a poetry reading is a good way to get my brain working again. And I read voraciously, everything from the daily newspaper to poetry and prose in different languages.

RW: What all do you do when you are not writing? Please bring out your hobbies and interests.
EG: My major hobby is gardening. That's not to say I'm a very good gardener, but an ideal day for me is when I can write all morning and spend the afternoon digging in the dirt. I also enjoy making short videos, taking photographs, and being outdoors. I keep visual journals, which I decorate with little pictures that I draw or cut out of magazines. All of my hobbies are related to or contribute to my writing.

RW:  Which writing project are you currently working on? Please provide a blurb, if any.
EG: Right now I'm busy promoting my poetry collection, Night Court. Here's a blurb from Susan G. Wooldridge: 'Night Court leaves us hungry for more of the poet's open, probing, leaping intelligence, her "wild associations" and surprises in the unexpected “shivering” sweetness of a love story where “joy scrambles sadness." We hear "the clatter of souls entering bodies" and experience "spring’s lizard stealth" as sadness, longing and reluctance are transformed by breath-stopping beauty. Like a creature in the forest, the poet will “rub my cheek against the night.” And she reminds us a prince waits, perhaps for centuries, until we wake.' -- Susan G. Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

RW: If you could re-write one book written by another author, which would it be and why?
EG:  I would re-write The Taming of the Shrew with the gender roles reversed.

RW: What a choice! William Shakespeare! Thank you so much for this interview. Wishing you all the best for all your writings and I hope your writings continue to touch lives the way they do now.

lt has been a pleasure getting to know Erica Goss, an amazing poet. Do check out her writings and video poems.

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