SDP: Why any medium? I have always been drawn to written mediums that create a rhythmic dialogue between or among humans. Communication, exploration of language, the senses and sentiment. I am a poet and playwright by nature also a narrative writer. Italian was also my first language and as a passionate, artistic personality I have always been drawn to poetic expressions since childhood.
BCP: What is your process?
SDP: I tend to write stream of conscious first or write according to sense upon getting inspiration. I am someone who tends to write lyric and uses a title as a reference point. Untitled poetry doesn’t always appeal to me. It is a bias but that’s how I work.
BCP: How long have you been writing poetry?
SDP: Over twenty years.
BCP: Who are your influences?
SDP: It started out with Renaissance English and Italian playwrights and poets as well as confessional female poets. Over the past ten years I’ve expanded my knowledge base substantially to include just about everyone. I tend to like the traditional pieces of the renaissance and romantic era: I’m a huge fan of John Keats, Patti Smith, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Dante, Shakespeare, Petrarch, Auden, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath. These were the earlier influences.
BCP: Is there a collection of poetry that you read over and over again? If so, which one and why?
SDP: Shakespeare’s sonnets. Gwendolyn MacEwen. John Keats. Dante. I tend to re-read these because they are truly spiritual and the lyric/music in the language works for me.
BCP: Your poetry is emotional and honest. What do you try to convey to your readers?
SDP: Who I am. I try to convey something ethereal and mystical as well.
BCP: There are critiques of biblical events in your poetry? How and why did that come about?
SDP: I’ve always felt an innate desire to critique the bible as well as relive and retell it in my poetry as if I some part of my soul/spirit/person has been there. I like my work to transcend time and space to be both present and timeless.
BCP: The poetry in Vulva Magic is feminist based. Is a lot of your poetry like that?
SDP: My poetry started out that way; it was most important for me at the time that I wrote Vulva Magic to reveal aspects of myself in relationship to my sexuality and my gender as well as this experience universally. I don’t believe one can write enough about sexuality, gender, one’s experience of it. In many ways Vulva Magic is anti-feminist as well. It reveals a lot about what it is to be locked into a ‘way’ or kind of communing through language and sense and sound. My poetry will always have some aspect of ‘feminism’ in it because I am female. However, I don’t see myself as only feminist. I see myself as containing multitudes.
BCP: Do you see poetry as a form of activism?
SDP: Yes, poetry can be interpreted or created or used to that means to an end.
BCP: You are currently doing an MFA in Creative Writing. Have you found that your poetry has improved since being in the program? Would you recommend that other poets do an MFA in Creative Writing?
SDP: I have always felt that as any sort of artist or writer, one requires three essential habits in order to excel:
1. The practice of writing regularly
2. A Consistent schedule for writing.
3. Consistent reading.
This is why I encourage MFA programs. Also, I believe you can equate the MFA forum of creative writing to a symposium of sorts where people can exchange thoughts and ideas. I believe this is important. It also fosters a community of writers to share, learn, grow, communicate and explore. This is also essential. Of course, anything that offers practice of the above improves one’s work as a writer, an artist or a poet.
BCP: There has been a recent bashings of MFA programs in The New Yorker, The London Times and other newspapers and magazines. One of the main critiques is “You can’t teach writing”. What do you think of that critique?
SDP: I agree with it. If one wants to learn, one’s motivation can lead to the expression of wondrous things. However, I also feel and believe it can be taught with good mentors, just as meditation can be taught. One’s voice cannot be taught; that comes naturally but creative writing professors/teachers can assist in the process towards a young or inexperienced poet/writer finding his/her innate self-expression. It’s kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion or the blooming of a lotus flower.
BCP: What are you working on now?
SDP: I am currently working with an editor for my first non-chap book of poetry that will be launched next year.
BCP: When do you expect to have your own collection of poetry published?
SDP: Between March and September of 2012.
BCP: What advice do you have for other writers out there who are having difficulties with their writing, or who have yet to see their work in print, or who are afraid to perform their poetry?
SDP: Keep going. Don’t stop. Take breaks. Be patient with yourself. Make sure you are doing it for yourself first and what it means to the self. There’s a lot of pressure to be part of a scene or fit into a style or a way/manner of expression in any medium, not just poetry; that’s not what being a poet or an artist, for that matter, is about. It should be fun but also spiritually fulfilling. To me, poetry assists with purpose and peaceful being.
Tune in to Black Coffee Poet March 25, 2011 for a video of Sonia Di Placido reading her poems.