Louise Barden is the author of Tea Leaves (NC Writers Network chapbook winner), and poems in Sows Ear, Chattahoochee Review and others. Her peripatetic career wandered from teaching English at three universities to advertising copywriting, marketing management for a major bank and magazine writing. Her home, too, moved from Massachusetts to Arkansas, Maine and Tennessee followed by three years at Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and Acadia National Parks (as a Ranger’s wife) before she settled in Charlotte, NC, for 40 years. A tree-hugger and wilderness camper, she is happy that grandchildren have lured her into an unanticipated move to Corvallis, OR.
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What’s on your nightstand right now?
My reading material isn’t exactly on my nightstand, but it’s strewn around the house. I read what I’m in the mood for, or whichever poetry journal is at hand. I’m in the midst of reading novels Olive Kitteridge (in print) and Lila (ebook). I have print copies of the latest CALYX, Timberline Review, The Best American Poetry 2015, and Yusef Komunyakaa’s Dien Cai Dau. I read a digital subscribtion to Poetry from the Poetry Foundation. I’m embarrassed to say that in our search for a new home, I currently probably spend more time reading new house listings on realtor.com than anything else.
What book made the biggest impression on you as a kid?
My mother read Robert Louis Stevenson to me when I was two. After I discovered The Yearling in the school library in 7th grade, I didn’t want to return it. In high school, I bought a ratty old leather-bound volume of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King at a church rummage sale; it stayed by my bed for several years.
Tell us about your writing routine. Do you have a favorite time or place to write?
I walk around, sometimes for days, writing a new poem in my head before I try to get it on paper. My best poems usually come out “in a piece” that’s pretty close to finished once I do start trying to write. I’m a night owl. The words on paper often happen at night.
Who’s your muse? Who or what inspires you?
Reading and hearing wonderful poems of almost any kind by other poets. I’ve been inspired to try new techniques while hearing unknown poets at a local reading. The first time I attended a reading by Yusef Komunyakaa I was blown away. As he read “Venus Flytrap” an entire auditorium of people held their breath until the whole group exhaled on the last line. Knowing poetry can evoke that powerful a response makes me want to work harder at the craft of writing it.
Besides writing, what’s your passion?
My grandchildren. That’s a surprise. I wasn’t especially anxious to have grandchildren, but once they arrived I fell in love with them. My continuing loves are preserving wilderness (like Canada’s Quetico Canoe Area, where we have gone almost every summer for many years), birding, and being outdoors. Until three years ago, I had not seen Oregon. Now I’ve become passionate about seeing as much of this beautiful state as possible.