An Interview with Heather Grace Stewart


Leap, from the author of Where the Butterflies Go, is available for purchase at Lulu.com and Amazon stores worldwide.
It’s also available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and where all fine ebooks are sold. You can also order an autographed copy via Paypal. Contact the author at writer@hgrace.com. Half the proceeds from sales go to Hearts for Change – an Educational Project for orphaned children in Kenya.


Here’s an interview with the author from 2010:

Questions for a Poet, As Put to Seamus Heaney

Q: Some years ago, Seamus Heaney told an English journalist: “My notion was always that, if the poems were good, they would force their way through.” Is this now your experience?

HGS: Absolutely. Sometimes it comes through in a matter of minutes; other times, I write down a few lines, and the rest follows maybe a day or a few weeks later. But if it’s good, it all ends up on the page…and then typed into a document in my “Poetry in the works” file on my computer, and then, if I still like it after I’ve lived with it a couple weeks, I put it into a “Poetry to publish” file.

Q: Over the years, Heaney often quoted Keats’s observation, “If poetry comes not as naturally as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” Is that just a young poet’s perspective?

HGS: I think so. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes I just need to sit down and force myself to write. Stop listening to the whining voice; shut it out, and just “do it.”

Q: Does this mean that a poem essentially begins for you when you find a form?

HGS: A poem essentially begins for me when I’ve found my voice for it; the form takes shape with the voice.

Q: Is there a poetry time of day and a prose time of day?

HGS: Used to be I used my early mornings for poetry and at sunset, and prose anytime, but now that I am a mother, it’s when I have a notepad, pen, and that spare minute when I’m not being asked to wipe a bum or put Barbie’s head back on.

Q: I remember Anne Yeats saying that her father mumbled to himself when he started to write. Would the Stewart household know that a poem was coming on?

HGS: In my household my hubby can usually tell a poem (for kids or adults) is being born if he comes home at 6:30 p.m. and DD is beside me doing a puzzle; a grilled cheese or rice is burning on the stove, and I’m soaking wet; just out of the shower in a towel with a focused look on my face, typing at the computer, “Just a minute, honey I have this idea…” And he’s so cool about that. He’s used to me by now. Now my daughter’s getting in on it, too. She looks at my face sometimes and says, “Mommy, what? Do you have an idea? Tell me, tell me, what is it? ” I try hard to be in the moment with her as often as I can, but the kid is smart, she’s onto me…so I usually end up spilling, because I don’t like to talk down to her, and sometimes, just by explaining it to her, she helps me better formulate the idea. Just wait, you guys are going to love our kids poem, ‘Cats Can’t Cook!’

Q: Do you ever feel burdened by the sheer amount of work you know it will require to do justice to a particular inspiration?

HGS: All the time. All the time. Right now, I’m trying to write a poem that’s going to do justice to this amazing group of people I’ve met online, and become close to over a year and a bit. Some might guffaw that you can make special friendships online. I beg to differ. I don’t know how I’m going to write something that truly speaks to this experience I’ve had. I think maybe they’ll help me somehow, because a lot of them are writers…actually, I’ve dedicated LEAP in part to them.

Q: How can you tell a poem is finished?

When it stops shouting at me. ;-)

Q: Do you keep a notebook of phrases and images for later use?

HGS: I have several notebooks, with penned poems/ ideas to type out later, and my images are saved on the computer by date.

Q: Does the poem come more quickly if there is a form? Would you be offended to be called a formalist?

HGS: I don’t think anyone would call me a formalist, but I definitely use techniques. Just not formally. Okay, seriously now, I’ve written haiku, tanka,
and Villanelles, using proper form. I just don’t like being weighed down by form. As Frank sang, I’ll do it my way ;)

Q: Do you have a preference for pararhymes and half rhymes over full rhymes?

HGS: I only use rhyme when it will only come to me that way, and even then, I hesitate to use it. I have to think about it first. I ask myself, is this form going to help the message or hinder it?

Q: Are you a poet for whom the sound the words make is crucial?

HGS: It’s all about sound for me. I love alliteration. Sometimes a poem starts out with words that sound great together; they just come to me and I have to write them down. For instance, I was walking to a Queen’s University class at 8 a.m. one rainy spring day in Kingston, and couldn’t get this line out of my head: ‘These are the days, quickly melting away,” (from the poem EQUINOX). The poem took off from there.

Q: Would you accept Eliot’s contention that the subject matter is simply a device to keep the reader distracted while the poem performs its real work subliminally?

HGS: To some extent. But I don’t do it on purpose. It must be subliminal. ;)

Q: What role does humor play in your poetry?

HGS: I don’t try to be funny. I don’t try to be anything. I just write the way I think, and I think people find my honesty refreshing and humorous.

Q: What are your thoughts about accessibility and obscurity in poetry?

HGS: Accessibility is probably my trademark: something I’m proud of and at the same time it’s my tragic flaw, if you will, because I’m so accessible, many journals wouldn’t be interested. I’ve managed to get several respected online journals interested, and printed ones in the UK, and even a Canadian textbook company sought me out. I’ve been published in international anthologies, including a very special one memorializing 911–Babylon Burning, edited by the great Canadian poet Todd Swift–and in a few print journals in Canada, but not the most “elite” ones–the ones that have been around almost 100 years. I’ve kind of given up trying because I don’t think it’s that important to me any more. I want to touch real people’s lives; not just the academics. I want to write something that might comfort a stay-at-home mom or a couple struggling with their love/ marriage or a depressed person looking for a glimmer of hope in a fast-paced world. I think the people I’m trying to reach are more likely to happen upon my poetry on the Net, not so much in the special collections rooms of their libraries. I know that people can understand my poetry without having to go look in some reference book (except for the odd references I make to items in the news, and even then I try not to be obscure) and that’s quite odd. But I can’t change the way I write. I guess I’m destined to be a Fridge Poet – the one that makes it to everyone’s fridge beside their kids’ finger paintings. And at the same time, to help a few children in third-world countries get the education they wouldn’t otherwise get. That’s just fine with me.

Q: And the avant-garde?

HGS: I’d love to be avant-garde. I’d love to be Avant anything. Ahead by a Century. That’s cool. I think some of my poems are there (for instance, my collection Leap features the concept of the Status Update as poetry), others, not so much, and I guess we’ll see which ones stand the test of time in 100 years. Well, no, unless I live to be 137, I guess I won’t see that. But whether they’re set in a classic or innovative style, as long as my words can touch a few people’s hearts along the way…for me, that’s really all that matters.

Thanks for reading! —Heather Grace Stewart

About these ads

Another Five Star Review for Three Spaces!

THREE SPACES
5.0 out of 5 stars

A self-contained trilogy of insight in microcosm and macro-wisdom January 16, 2014
By Carl J Dubois

Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

The concept of “Three Spaces” is more genius than appears at first glance. Public Space and Personal Space are prelude and context for Cyberspace, and they set up beautifully the expression of the mixed emotions inspired by the new connectivity we find ourselves navigating in this changing world.

“Dances With My Daughter,” in the Personal Space section, reveals — perhaps more than anywhere else — the poet, the woman, the mother, the wife, the person — the author and thinker coming to terms with all of life’s demands, and the juggling act required by them, but mostly the liver of life who knows where the real stuff resides, and why we juggle.

It is instructive, accessible reflection from someone who finds the time to observe in a briefly detached way before rushing back into all of life’s entanglements, commitments and momentum. So wonderful too how often it feels communal, as if she is expressing what we feel but struggle to say.

Open it to any page and enjoy the simple wisdom and honest revelations of self from a soul whose writing feels like her balancing act — beauty found in the spaces between all of our appointments, and like gifts rather than some obligation we have to read it so we can move on to the next thing on our list. You will want to keep it close by, to see what gifts it reveals next time.

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2013 in Review (THANK YOU READERS for All Your Blog Visits!)

I’m thrilled to learn that my blog had 21,000 views this year, because I have to admit, I haven’t been focusing my time on creating many blog posts or links to my blog. I’ve been focusing my time on WRITING, and then when I have free time, I’ve created Facebook page posts, because so many of you have joined me there. Thanks again!

I haven’t posted a lot to the blog this year because I’ve been occupied writing my novel. So, thanks for your patience, regular blog readers, and I promise you’ll be rewarded for it in 2014!

All the best for 2014!

xox Heather

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Day You Looked Me In The Eyes

from the collection Three Spaces

The Day You Looked Me in the Eyes

 

I was walking and texting, looking down,

People talking on smart phones.

Heading to opposite sides of town,

A polluted sea of white, black, brown

drones carrying plastic clones.

 

Suddenly, our worlds collided.

We stopped buying into lies.

At first, our chat was one-sided,

Then talk lived where text presided.

And you looked me in the eyes.

 

We tossed out laptops, tablets, phones.

Left to our own devices.

How long had we lived like drones?

Wireless, yet lifeless, down to our bones?

We’d become our vices.

 

A carriage ride through Central Park,

We lay in the grass, looked to the skies,

All day long we felt that spark:

Fire on the beach, stars lighting the dark.

The day you looked me in the eyes.

 

But face to face tired us out.

It’s work to connect, we soon recalled.

ALL CAPS, less energy than a shout.

A Smiley, simpler than working it out.

So, back to our gadget clones we crawled.

 

I’m walking and texting, looking down,

People talking on their smart phones.

Heading to opposite sides of town,

A polluted sea of white, black, brown

drones carrying plastic clones.

 

 

Heather Grace Stewart

 

Ask the Twitterverse

Quote

Miley Cryus does some kinda twerk;
Twitterverse says that she’s a jerk. Image

PM Harper “twerks occasionally,” or so he thinks,
Twitterverse shares, with knowing winks.

Much ado about nothing
could be everything — who knew?

It depends what
the Twitterverse
thinks about you.

No E-Readers In The Tub!

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Three Spaces

It’s now in stock, so get back in the tub, with your paperback Three Spaces, Rub-a-dub-dub!

NEW! CANADA  – paperback and Kindle  (or contact me to sign & ship you a copy using Paypal)

USA http://amzn.com/0986945897
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0986945897
Germany, Denmark: http://www.amazon.de/dp/0986945897
Italy: http://www.amazon.it/dp/0986945897
Japan: http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00BG2EJ9Y

Thanks for reading and for sharing these links with anyone you think may enjoy my poetry, and prose and photography.

Heather

Bet You Didn’t Know!

My talented author pal Elisa Lorello tagged me in a blog hop, and I thought it would be a fun way for you to learn more about her, more about me (in the interview below), and to ‘meet’ some of my other talented author friends.

Elisa Lorello is a best-selling novelist and the author of four books: Faking It, Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and her latest, Adulation. Currently on sabbatical from teaching, Elisa recently returned to the northeast from North Carolina, where she is busy developing new projects (she’s superstitious and never talks about her works in progress!) and getting re-acquainted with snow. Elisa’s blog post will be about Adulation–perfect for Oscar season! Please visit Elisa at I’ll Have What She’s Having.

I am tagging the following authors in this ‘blog hop.’ Could you please visit them this week? I think you’ll love getting to know them and their work.

Arianna Merritt: Author, M.Ed., Learning and Development Specialist

Website: http://ariannasrandomthoughts.com

Nate Hendley: Author & Freelance Writer

Blog: http://crimestory.wordpress.com/  Website: www.natehendley.com

Mark Stratton: Poet/writer – poetry collection “Tender Mercies” available here: (http://radio-nowhere.org/nb/?page_id=766) and website here: http://radio-nowhere.org/nb

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW…

AN INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER GRACE STEWART

Tell me about your writing process. Do you plan out what you’re writing  or sit down and do it? What was the greatest surprise about this writing process for you?

I plan to write, but I don’t always plan what I’m going to write. Unless I have a magazine deadline or I’m writing a presentation, I set aside time, usually 7:30 in the morning to noon, to write creatively. I try to avoid distractions like the Net and the phone until noon. As far as plot, poems just come to me and I go with the feel of the poem and then edit later. I’m working on a novella right now, and I did plot a little down on paper, including character sketches, but I find what works better for me is to just sit and write for a few weeks without any rules. Just stream of consciousness, every morning.

That’s been the biggest surprise to me. I didn’t realize plotting out can sometimes strain my writing. The Friends I’ve Never Met. was a story that just woke me up like an alarm clock at 4 a.m. every morning for several weeks, without fail, and I found I just had to go write this story down. After a few weeks I went back and made sure the plot and characters were working, and then I fattened everything up, and did many, many edits.

Ideas come to me in the shower, and especially while I’m driving alone, so I have learned to use a small tape recorder whenever I go on a road trip. I used to try to write on a yellow sticky note at the stop lights, but I could never read my writing later. I’m going to try texting myself, too!
What was your worst job ever? (doesn’t have to be about writing) and why? What did you learn from it?

When I was 16 I worked at a Rifle Range. I had to sweep up barracks and clean the toilets. That wasn’t so bad, but the army officer in charge was weird and made me put up heavy tents in the blazing July heat, and then take them down as soon as they’d been put up, as if I were in the army too. I experienced a lot of harassment and sexism that summer. I think it made me ballsier. I didn’t take crap from a boss ever again after that. Ha ha, maybe that’s why I work for myself!
If you knew tonight was your last meal for a week, what would you eat?

Probably many many slices of pineapple cheese pizza with green olives. And a pint of beer – Heineken or Tsing Tao- mabye even a Hoegaarden. And vanilla ice cream for dessert, with Smucker’s hot fudge on top. Okay this interview is making me hungry.


How do you feel about frogs?

 I have a special relationship with frogs. I truly love them! Besides being fascinated by the biology, like how they get oxygen through their skin, since I was very young, I’ve been able to catch them easily ( the other kids coined me the Green Lake Frog Catcher) and get them to stay on my palm for over 10 minutes with out hopping off. I rub their temples and pat them and they stay. I’m the Frog Whisperer.
Where’s your favourite place to chill out, and why?

There’s a private beach on Cape Cod ~ it’s actually the cover of my latest book, Three Spaces, and it’s so quiet and full of fascinating aquatic life. My daughter and husband love exploring it after the tide goes out late afternoon. We try to save crabs and starfish by throwing them in deeper. The private beach belongs to a small motel, and compared to other places we’ve vacationed, it isn’t expensive to stay there, but if I tell you any more it won’t be my favourite place to chill out any more.  :-)

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YOU MADE SPACE FOR IT! THANKS!

Thank you for reaching out and making space on your Kindles for THREE SPACES. I has been out two weeks tomorrow. And guess what? In two weeks, I’ve sold more Kindle copies of THREE SPACES than any of my other poetry ebooks. In fact, it has already outsold the Kindle copies I sold of Carry On Dancing (mind you, as of end of December 2012 –  I’ve just learned from my publisher – I have sold 242 copies of that book, print and ebook totaled, realizing my goal to sell 200 copies before its 1st anniversary mid-March! I am SO thankful to my publisher, several Chapters bookstores, Kingston’s Novel Idea, and The League of Canadian Poets for your help selling those copies. And of course to you readers for buying & telling others about my work. Please keep spreading the word…

Still haven’t sold as many ebook copies of THREE SPACES as THE FRIENDS I’VE NEVER MET  – that one blew me away! I keep thinking about writing another screenplay, because I never imagined I’d sell so many copies of a SCREENPLAY on the Kindle! (don’t forget it’s also on many other ereaders like Kobo, Nook, Sony, and iBooks).

Since you are my most loyal readers, my dear blog-following friends, you can be the first to know I’m working on a romantic-comedy novella. I say novella because the thought of coming up with 60,000 words when I have 1,000 so far frightens me to death. But I am not giving up! The plan is to write it as a novella, see if it has promise as a novel, and then write it as a screenplay too! Ask me again about this in 2014, because for me, this is a huge project and I’m taking baby steps with it for now.

Amid all this writing, I’m going to be giving a workshop on the wild new world of e-publishing (There’s An App for That: YOU!) at Queen’s University next week, March 9th, and I’ll be the panel of journalists on March 10th.  I’m also going to be signing books & reading at Chapters Pointe Claire Quebec on Sunday, April 14th, to celebrate National Poetry Month, and I’m planning a reading & signing at a beautiful garden in Hudson, Quebec this July.

THREE SPACES will be available on Kobo , Nook and iBooks shortly. Sorry for the delay, hang in there !

Limited First Edition, signed, printed colour copies of THREE SPACES are available for $36 plus shipping. (Yeah, it’s not cheap, but they are in full-eye-popping colour). Just contact me via this page for details. At this point there are nine copies left up for grabs. Second edition copies with a colour cover and black and white interior  will be for sale online (at Amazon stores around the world)  at $14.99 by the end of April.

Speaking of April – here is a little inspiration for those of you living anywhere with snow and sleet in your line of vision every day (like me). These purple tulips are $6 of bliss that keep me going when it’s miserable outside. Hang in there!

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Review of ‘Three Spaces’ by Best-selling Author Elisa Lorello

Full disclosure: Heather Grace Stewart is my friend. She also happens to be one of my favorite poets. And her poetry collections only get better over time. Her latest, Three Spaces, is proof.

Stewart introduces the collection by informing us: “We are living in an age of three spaces: public space, personal space, and cyberspace. This book is my attempt to connect, take apart, and examine those three spaces that co-exist in our society.” That she does, and more. As always, Heather Grace Stewart integrates verbal and visual by using photographs that splash simplicity and delicate beauty and partnering them with words that evoke the same. Every poem, every picture, every part of this book tells a story.

She also intersperses poems with short prose chock full of depth and introspection. “Everyday Heroes” is an intimate portrait of an early male figure in her life. “To Infinity, and the Bus” is a slice of childhood; and although the child is hers, we can’t help but re-live a moment from our own. Additionally, Stewart uses dialogue and lyrics to tell her stories, and we’re more than happy to join the conversation.

“Cyberspace” offers the most humor, I think. “A Twittertine” is a 25-word love letter that would’ve melted me on the spot, had I been the recipient. Stewart also examines the silent personal connections authors make with readers, one that can’t be measured or detected by analytics or metadata. As an author, I could relate, and it reminded me of just how important those face-to-face interactions still are.

Above all, this collection is a reflection of Heather Grace Stewart’s radiant spirit. She is both a witness and a participant of life. She embraces her inner child as much as she does her daughter. She appreciates and celebrates the little things. She loves and lives out loud.

Buy this book. Get hooked. Add it to your space. You won’t be disappointed.

~ ~ ~

Elisa Lorello is the author of the Amazon best-selling books  Faking It, Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood and Adulation. Find her books here

Three Spaces is available in Kindle stores worldwide and coming soon to Kobo, iBooks, Nook, & Sony Reader.

Network of Two

We’re running in circles on Google Plus,
We’re passing like ships, and what’s the fuss?
I miss conversations that lasted all day,
And privacy, and building on trust.

We share this home, these kids, the WiFi,
At the end of the day we have to try;

To pour some wine, not check our Klout;
To share our stories, not tweet them out.

The connections can thrill;
The Plus 1’s gratify;
But nothing compares
To you and I.

How you read my mind;
How I know what to do—
You and I,
In our network of two.

'Network for Two' copyright 2011 by Heather Grace Stewart


I’m posting this for the fantastic dVerse Poets Tuesday Open Link Night http://dversepoets.com
Please join us!