Meet Barbara Lisette
Tell us a little about yourself
Hello! My name is Barbara, I am 31 and still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I have decided to fulfill my lifelong dream of getting my pilots license during this decade, so we shall see where that takes me. I love spending time with family, making time for close friends, and always reminding myself that life is an adventure and it is better to not ask too many questions!
Tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? How does it influence your writing?
I was born and raised in the shadow of our nation’s Capitol, and thus ideas of freedom, justice, patriotism, and America’s responsibility to the world were always present. I saw the effect of 9/11 on my hometown. Growing up D.C. was also a study in contrasts. For various reasons, the most powerful city in America also had some of the highest homeless rates. I would walk by men and women huddled on the sidewalks over the steam grates in the winter to stay warm. I remember being startled once when I realized a man was among what I had thought was a pile of trash bags. I remember asking my Mother why some people slept on the streets. This memory never left me and I later wrote a poem. Perhaps because of this early childhood exposure to homelessness, has caused me to want to explore our relationship and responsibility to the poor. To ask ourselves the hard questions.
How did you get started writing?
I always have loved to write. The earliest poems I remember writing were for a 3rd grade contest. I never considered writing poetry seriously, I went into college wanting to write children’s books. And a long series of events led me to taking a poetry class my sophomore year and college and I was hooked.
What does your writing routine look like?
Honestly, I don’t have much of one currently. My work as a Proposal Writer for SAIC takes a lot of energy. However even when I was in school and I was writing more regularly...I was writing more for assignments...so deadlines drove my productivity. For me poetry is so much about engaging in the moment, whether it’s going back in time and entering into a past moment, or the present. A poet must refine his eye to see what others fail too...too see the world reflected in the ordinary. To capture human consciousness.
What are some things you do to get yourself in creative thinking mode?
For me, much of it is mental and environmental. My one professor used to tell use to put on our poet glasses...what he meant was to observe and listen to what we saw. Just like a musician may begin by playing scales, if I feel rusty I find an object and I begin by describing that obj as clearly and specifically as I can taking into account all of the senses. Take a walk...and truly observer everything, down to the details, the flower growing in the sidewalk missing a petal, the shadow of a cactus, the deflated bicycle tire...there is a poem in there. The best advice I can give is for a poem to be universal, it must first be personal.
Which authors inspire you and your writing? What about them particularly moves you?
I fell in love with Sylvia Plath in grad school. Get her complete works and read from beginning to end. You’ll see how she begins with metaphors and similes. And you will see how as the end her bold claims are merely when she drops the “like” or “as”. I also love Theodore Roethke, and his “Green House” poems...look up “The Greenhouse”. I love the lyricism of Kate Chopin in describing the ocean. How Neruda illustrates “The Artichoke”. Read Brian Turners, “Here, Bullet” which is fascinating in looking at Point of View. And of course Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was my childhood favorite.
What was the inspiration for the piece included in our issue?
My poem “The Blind Will See” in the Summer Issue captures an interaction I had on my evening commute home with a blind man, we appeared to be close in age. I wanted to capture the moment, as it struck me that he, the blind man, was a light in the darkness. And to realize that maybe we, the ones who could see, were the blind ones.
I also wanted to show how love can break through barriers, how hope can spark a flame, how an innocent question... could remind me... remind the reader of hope. How often are we in the middle of a crowd, yet all alone? Do we have faith?
Let Barbara know you love her work by heading to her website