Karen Elizabeth is a writer and artist currently living in Montana. Though a poet and painter on the side, her foremost passion is writing novels. Karen is currently in undergraduate study for English Writing, Psychology, and Japan Studies. She is currently querying her novel PHOENIX.
Why did you start writing poetry?
Truthfully, it’s hard to say. I started writing poetry so long ago that I can’t really recall the initial reason.
What impact has poetry had on your life?
Being a poet has opened my eyes to a more empathetic and honest way of life. I’m more attentive to my emotional well-being and mental state whenever I write a poem. I study poetry because it is intimate and vulnerable and human, and in turn, it teaches me more about what it means to be alive. I’ve met with poets that have inspired me, given me a sense of community, and guided me ever-onwards. I would not be who I am today without them!
What inspires you to write poetry?
When I first started to really get into writing poems, it was emotion that inspired my creativity. Any intense feelings I had—be they positive or negative—became fuel for my writing. As I’ve shifted and grown as a person, I’ve started to pay attention more to specific, fleeting moments. A bird watching me read. Ants scuttling along next to my tires. I think about how I feel in those moments and a poem begins to form.
If you could bottle up one emotion and give it to people to experience, what would it be? Why?
Peace. So much of my life has been centralized around trying to find a sense of peace that I cannot imagine picking a different emotion for this question. It’s self-love and stability. Health and liveliness. Exactly what we need in times like these.
What are you looking forward to improving this year?
I’d love to improve my life experiences and my creative sense of self. So much of me has been devoted to healing and to stabilizing; two years ago my resolution was to devote the year to my mental health, and this year it was to focus on my physical health. I’m proud of my progress and want to reward myself by allowing the next year to be about doing what I love! I want to write more, read more, and paint more. The world will be my oyster once again!
What is one big dream you have?
It’s certainly no secret, but I’d love to see my books on shelves one day. In years prior I used to sprint as fast as I could towards that milestone: now I’m content to wait a bit, to give myself space to breathe. Those kinds of goals are ones worth being patient for, so in the meantime, my mini-goals are my focus!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in writing poetry?
Write with an ear towards your own head. You can present yourself however you like to the whole world, but when it comes to poetry, give yourself permission to be honest. If you’re sincere to your thoughts and emotions, your craft will benefit from it, even if your style evolves in a different direction in the future.
Selected Poem from Karen Elizabeth
I’m reading a book of poems
With more thoughts than focus
Pondering how I may best
Improve amongst the autumn crocus
The blooms in my head offer
No answer, nonetheless
I must find one soon
Or else surrender to stress
I’ve returned from conference
To my bed of writerly solitude
Yet my visit has accompanied me
And now alters how I’m viewed
I think not of the pages
Poised in my pinched fingers
And think only of the impression made—
The only trace that lingers
I’ve compliments of my passion:
My enthused fervor for life
How ashamed I am to confess
My poetry stems from strife
Let me ask you this, gentle reader:
How does the wounded poet sing?
How does the jaded become joyful,
A Vincent painting spring?
I know not how to do it
I’ve only done it once
As I read these poet’s lovely poems
I feel myself more like a dunce
Pushing back from the pages,
And escaping to look outside—
There, at my eye’s level, a magpie
Standing still, eyes wide
How long have I been observed?
When did the bird arrive?
How jarring to be reminded, so simply
That I am in fact alive!
The bird ruffles its feathers
And hops now away
I follow its escape, riveted
And proceed about my day
Only when I look back down
A smile flits upon my face
For though the book is now closed—
Next to it rests the bookmark, unplaced
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