Catherine Arra lives in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Her poetry and prose have appeared in various journals online and in print. Her first chapbook, Slamming & Splitting, won the 2013 Red Ochre Lit. Poetry Competition. Flutter Press recently published her second chapbook, Loving from the Backbone. A retired classroom teacher of English and writing, Catherine now teaches part time, facilitates a local writers’ group and migrates south during winters. She enjoys hiking, biking, wildlife preservation, photography and yoga.
What is your creative process? Early bird or night owl? Writing group or lone wolf?
I prefer early mornings for drafts of new work. I love the empty space and new day crispness when I’m fresh from sleep and as yet unfettered by daily demands. This was especially true while I was a full-time teacher. Now retired, I still cherish the solitude of dawn, though I find I can write anytime, anywhere. It’s more a matter of structure and discipline.
I work with two writing groups, one that is mixed genre, the other that is a poetry and flash fiction group.
What are you reading right now?
I recently finished reading all of the work of the Italian author, Elena Ferrante. I’m anxiously awaiting the September release of the last Neapolitan novel. Lately, I’m reading various literary journals and magazines.
What are some of your favorite books of all time?
A difficult question to answer. I’ve loved so many books in so many stages of my life, I can’t choose a select few. I tend to find an author I like and then read everything that writer has written. Having spent 34 years as a classroom English teacher, I’ve studied, taught and loved the work of many English and American poets and novelists. Now I tend to read foreign writers.
To offer some names rather than specific titles I’d say: Shakespeare, DH Lawrence, Zora Neale Hurston, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Isabelle Allende, E.E. Cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Gluck, Sharon Olds…. See what I mean?