It’s often said that being a writer is one of the loneliest professions. Be that as it may, I have acquired over time a bevy of friends who not only dabble in writing, but who make it their work and passion. I began this blog to showcase my own writing talents, but also to lift up my writing colleagues and learn from their own work. Writing can be a social act, and I have the friends to prove it.
It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Chloe Viner Collins.
Chloe is a poet from rural Vermont, where she lives in a log home with her husband, their two rescue dogs, cat, and a flock of hens. She graduated Vermont Law School in 2012 and works as a case manager in the field of Restorative Justice. She is also the author of three books of poetry with a fourth coming out at the end of 2018. Her books include Naked Under An Umbrella, What the Rain Said Last Night, and 27 Apples.
ME: What personally drives you to write?
CHLOE VINER COLLINS: I use writing as an emotional outlet. When my grief, depression, anxiety or other challenges feel too much to bear, I write. It is really a coping mechanism for me. It is also my hope that by writing about the very real struggles of depression, anxiety, and mental illness in my family I can connect with others experiencing the same thing. Part of the reason I write so candidly about mental illness is to help break the stigma and have the conversation, so to me those are also big parts of why I write.
ME: Who are your influences?
CHLOE VINER COLLINS: I have a lot of influences. As a child, the first poet I fell in love with was E.E. Cummings. I fell in love with how he broke the rules and experimented with his poetic form. Later in life I became enthralled with the Sufi Mystic poets such as Rumi and Hafiz, one of my favorite books of poetry is ‘The Gift’ by Hafiz. A couple of my favorite poems by him are (I’m paraphrasing) “God and I have become like two fat people on a small boat we keep bumping into each other and laughing” and “Even after all this time the sun never says to the Earth you owe me look at what happens with a love like that it lights up the entire sky.”
I also really love Dorothy Parker, Ann Sexton, and Pablo Neruda each for very different reasons. Dorothy Parker is gifted in her ability to use humor and rhyme to talk about severe depression and suicide. Ann Sexton writes more free verse but also tackles the dark side of human nature and experience. Pablo Neruda’s poetry I find is most beautiful in Spanish as I believe there is something that is lost in translation.
In terms of modern poets, my current favorite poet is Tim Seibels, if you are able go watch him recite a poem on Youtube, it is like listening to jazz music.
ME: What’s your technique for escaping Writer’s Block?
CHLOE VINER COLLINS: I feel that I’m lucky to be a poet, because in some ways I think it is less of a time commitment than other types of writing. If I can just force myself to sit down for fifteen minutes I can usually get a poem out. That being said, the main tool I use is forcing myself to write. When I’m doing a good job motivating myself, I’ll write a poem a day, but I’m really not usually so prolific. I have a tendency to just ‘strike when the iron is hot’ and write when emotion hits me.
ME: What’s one must-read book you can recommend?
CHLOE VINER COLLINS: What kind of an evil question is this? One book? Just one? I’ll go with The Giver because it was one of the most formative books of my childhood.
ME: What’s one piece of advice you can give to a new writer?
CHLOE VINER COLLINS: Don’t get discouraged! It can be hard to get your writing published and out there, but don’t get discouraged!! Sometimes a piece of mine will get rejected dozens of times before finding the right home. An Ernest Hemingway quote comes to mind here, “I sit at a typewriter and I bleed” and also Dorothy Parker’s “I hate writing, I love having written.” Commit to writing even if it’s a one hour block a week.
If you’re interested in reading Chloe’s poetry, you can buy her books online HERE.