Marilyn is a published poet, living in Saratoga Springs. Her main creative outlet is poetry, sometimes making videos that blend her words with images and sound. She offers writing workshops in conjunction with the Hyde Collection and writes book reviews for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
In this interview, Marilyn offers insight on what it means to be “an individual and largely unknown poet” during these unique times.
How did poetry become your main creative medium?
I have tried just about everything else — fiction, essay, plays — but it’s poetry that stuck. As an editor, it’s part of my make-up to get to the point and be concise. I love rhythm and silence, both of which are essential to the craft. Poetry suits me.
Marilyn, you’ve recently published an Award-Winning Chapbook, Being Many Seeds. Congratulations! What has that experience been like?
Ordinarily I’d throw it a little book party, do some readings and open mics. But I’m reliant now on the virtual networking. I’ve got an extensive email list of friends and acquaintances, as well as Facebook posts both to my own page and group pages such as NY Writers’ Compendium, and I also have a blog.
I created a video project using poems in the collection, so I can use this as a book trailer. I may also record myself reading a few of the poems. People enjoy poets reading their work aloud; it offers insight that words on the page may not. I enjoy readings, but I don’t enjoy the schlepping around. I often spend more in gas than I can recoup in books sales, so I confess I don’t wildly miss the reading shuffle. But I do miss the interaction with listeners and other poetry fans.
Do you feel like your creativity has been flourishing or diminished by being in isolation due to the quarantine?
My life has not changed all that much under quarantine. I do miss seeing my friends, casually stopping somewhere to meet up, and particularly I miss the library — but my creative work continues in its usual fits and starts. My “practice” is haphazard anyway, and I’m fairly distractible at the best of times.
How have you seen the creative community band together during this time?
It’s amazing to see how arts organizations are sharing information and creating new platforms. Virtual readings, gallery tours, fundraising for artist relief funds, virtual concerts — the outpouring has been tremendous. I think people around the world are grateful, and are perhaps newly aware of how art feeds us.
I enjoy ACE’s profiles. The Hyde Collection has invited local artists to post work. Jacob’s Pillow has brought dance to my computer screen, and innumerable other ways in which the arts have gone viral… If anything, the proliferation of arts online has made it a bit more difficult for a largely unknown poet like me to get “heard.”
Are there any specific resources/tools, etc. you’ve been using regularly that you can share with our readers?
Several Facebook groups of women writers, such as Binders Full of Women and Non-binary Poets, help me find publishing opportunities and discover new writers. The members have been great cheerleaders for each other, which is so encouraging. New York Foundation for the Arts has tons of resources on its webpage about funding and opportunities. The Adirondack Center for Writing has been great in engaging the already isolated community of writers across the Adirondack region. The Creative Writers Opportunities blog is regularly updated with calls for work from literary magazines, etc.
Are you thinking about ways that you’ll change the way you create/do business in the future due to this experience?
I’ll reach out more globally both in terms of promoting my own work and engaging with the work of others. The online world is small, and it’s rich to reach across geographic, cultural, and national boundaries. Ironically, social distancing has spurred me to bring the world closer.
Any last words of positivity for our readers?
The best of art and science has come out of active use of our imaginations, out of joyous play. Let’s use some of this wonderful quiet to dance around with wild abandon, figuratively and literally.
Marilyn is the winner of the Grayson Books Poetry Chapbook Contest: Being Many Seeds. She has two full-length collections of poems — Glass Factory, and Perpetual Motion — and another chapbook, Rugged Means of Grace. Her themes include science, spirit, memory and identity, and how people connect to each other and the earth.