Welcome to Poetically Speaking. Today’s interview is with the engaging and articulate Elizabeth Snow, author of then there was you.
We discuss the power of poetry in the 21st century, people pleasing, the calling of writing, cats and the importance of never letting your voice be silent.
Elizabeth kindly shares Exodus, from then there was you and links to her website and social media are below as well as some ‘show notes’ from our conversation.
Elizabeth Snow Author, then there was you
About Elizabeth Snow
Elizabeth Snow is a South Australian poet for whom poetry has always been an obsession. Her first anthology of poetry, then there was you, was published by Elephant House Press in 2018.
Her poem then there was you was selected for the 2019 ‘Raining Poetry’ project by the J.M. Coetzee Centre, and several other poems and items of prose have been published in Tabor Adelaide’s annual ‘Tales from the Upper Room‘ anthologies.
She was a judge in the Mayor’s Short Story Competition in 2018 and 2019, and completed her Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing in 2019.
In 2020, she turned her attention to a delightful new diversion – the arrival of Lucy, her fifth child, in February. Elizabeth considers Alex (14), William (13), Daniel (9), Esther (4), and Lucy (5 months) to be the greatest joys of her life.
Elizabeth is currently writing her first radio play and is a senior editor of inScribe, a journal for creative writing.
What kind of poetry do you write and how would you describe your work as a writer to a stranger?
Up until recently, always free verse, with particular emphasis on rhythm, half-rhyme and alliteration. I enjoy the sound of words as well as their definition. More recently, I explored various forms of poetry for a uni assignment, and found the restrictions of conventional metre and rhyme incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding.
Who was the first poet you read that inspired you to write your own poetry and why?
Oh my goodness! Well, I would have been a teenager when I first started taking poetry seriously, so I think Shakespeare, perhaps? The beauty and power of his word choices, the musicality in his poetry, caused me to slow down and pay attention. Lord Byron – ‘She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes;’ – how could I not fall in love with such poetry!
A little later I discovered contemporary poets like Charles Bukowski and William Carlos Williams, whose free verse style I found quite liberating, although not necessarily in a good way – such freedom in style requires personal discipline, which I did not possess, so my poetry became lazy and wild.
What poem are you sharing with us today?
Exodus, which is from then there was you, which is the first piece in the anthology.
They say there are trees that grow where they are planted. And if the environment around them becomes vicious and cannibalistic, they start to die. Then, with a great strength, they peel their shriveled roots from the hard earth, and begin to move. Stretching, searching, seeking safer ground. When at last, near death, they find water, and sunlight, and dark, sweet soil, they stop, sink hungry roots down, and sleep. When they have slept, and recovered their strength, they awake, and thrive, and some even bloom, or bear fruit for the very first time. This, of course, is impossible for a tree. But not for me. No, not for me.
Exodus (c) 2020 Elizabeth Snow. All rights reserved.
If you could tell our readers one thing that you have learned along your journey, what would it be?
Never compare yourself to others. We are all poets in our own way – never let your voice be silenced.Elizabeth Snow
If there was one thing you could share about being a poet in the 21st Century, what would it be?
I don’t know that it matters what century you live in. There is always injustice, always tension, always humanity struggling to rise above our own weaknesses. There is always a need for kindness, and a need for voices to speak above the noise, or perhaps below it, to draw attention to the things that might otherwise be missed or forgotten.
Got any fun tips or best reads for us?
Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled about all things poetical, form and function
Rhymezone – great for finding words that rhyme when you can’t think of a thing!
And anything by Elizabeth Barret Browning… can’t go wrong with her.
Where can we get a copy of then there was you?
then there was you came out in 2018 – my first anthology. It’s a journey from my younger self, full of pain and fear, through the wilds of love and passion, to a more settled place of peace and calm.
Where to find Elizabeth online
Official Website: Elizabeth Snow
Blog: Elizabeth’s Blog
Do you have a poetic story to share? We’d love to hear from you.
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