member spotlight: cynthia short

by Nathan Moore

How long have you been writing poetry?

I started writing as a child. There are still several wrinkled scribbles on lined paper around here somewhere from those days. By the time I was 12 or so, I actually attempted to write poems that others would enjoy reading. (And not embarrass me!)

I did go for many years only writing very occasionally, but over the past year something inside of me “clicked” and now I just can’t seem to turn it off. I hope it continues … .

I have always had a very large creative “monkey” on my back that I have to humor, and writing poetry keeps him satisfied, and is much cheaper than some of my other creative endeavors!

Do you schedule time for writing or do you write when inspiration strikes?

I try to write a bit every day, usually very early in the morning when the house is quiet. Just me, my laptop, and a cup of coffee. When I can’t do that for one reason or another, I feel as though I am forgetting something important, like my vitamins!

When wild inspiration strikes, it is, “Quick, drop everything and get it down before you lose it!” I have been known to burn dinner when that happens.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I just make myself sit down and start typing. I will sometimes have a very vague idea so I just brainstorm on the computer, typing like mad anything that comes into my head for about a half hour, then I look back and see if one or more lines jump out at me. I like to take a simple idea about something and try to turn it on it’s ear or inside out. I also love the prompts on Read Write Poem. They give me something to write about when the well feels dry.

What is your process for revising a poem?

I read the darn thing over and over (usually aloud), making changes along the way but always keeping the original. (Sometimes the original is better than my revisions!) Then I put it all away for a day or two and when I get it out, I start the whole process over again until I feel it is either “good enough” or am so sick of it I never want to look at it again!

Has blogging changed your writing or the way that you write?

Unfortunately, I don’t think anything can change me! My writing just IS, and very determined to be it’s own boss. Blogging does however, guilt me into writing something down when I may want to play hooky. Right now my goal is to put something new on the blog twice a week. I would love to be able to post a fabulous poem every day, but as of yet, that is just not happening.

Have you ever collaborated with another poet or artist? What did you think of that experience?

No, I haven’t had the opportunity as of yet, but it is something that I would really love to do. I think it would be such an enjoyable learning experience and may help me grow as a writer.

What line of poetry do you love the most?

I know this is a bit trite as it’s such a popular line, but when I first read Robert Frost at about age 10, I just kept coming back to the line, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” That one line has stayed with me always. I even wrote an autobiographical poem a few months ago entitled, “Robert Frost” that references this line. It’s on my blog. (A shameless bit of self-promotion.)

What line of your own poetry do you love the most?

Oh, I get favorites all the time and then I write something new and develop a different “crush.” One line that I put in a poem recently has always been my mantra to help get through hard times, so that might be the line. “I will never be broken.”

Name your three favorite poets.

I have to preface this by saying that I spent my entire childhood reading over and over from a VERY old and tattered poetry book. I drove my siblings insane with my orations. The poets in this book are like my old cherished friends, and when I re-read them I feel such nostalgia and joy. Limiting is impossible, but Emerson, Wordsworth, Longfellow and all the gang. Frost of course.

Part of the reason I have trouble writing in a more modern style is that those old poems have seeped so deeply into my subconscious and they are always trying to “escape.”

What’s the most important thing a poem does?

In my mind, the very best poetry speaks to the reader and opens their hearts and minds to new ideas, thoughts and beliefs.

What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written a poem?

It’s not really weird, but this summer while on vacation. I know I should have been out just having fun, but I still made time every morning to write. My husband thinks I have a slight touch of insanity.

What interests you about participating in Read Write Poem?

I don’t feel alone anymore. In the small town where I have always lived, there is really no outlet or community of writers, poets, etc. so I have been operating on my own little desert island. I also have no formal education; the last writing class I took was in High School! (About the time Noah was building the Ark). Since joining this group, I have made some wonderful friends and have been mentored by them. To read their work really makes me want to be a better poet. To have someone actually read my work and find some merit in it is just the most amazing thing. Before RWP, when someone read my words I felt like they were just humoring a poor, half-witted child. I still feel that way at times, but to have these much more talented and experienced poets tell me that I CAN write is just indescribable to me.

Can poetry save the world?

Well, not in itself. But the truth, honesty and beauty of poetry can uplift humanity from it’s basic struggle and transport all of us into the hope of something better, something finer. When someone who has never been interested in poetry or artistic expression through words reads one of my pieces and it causes them to develop an interest in poetry in general, I feel that is why I write, and that can be part of how poetry can “save the world.”

Have a question or thought to share? Let us know in the comments section of this post.

nathan mooreCommunity director Nathan Moore found The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and left the academy. He once lived in a house with three walls. Nathan shares his writing at Exhaust Fumes and French Fries.

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8 comments to member spotlight: cynthia short

  • Thank you so much for this honor…and to come at my birthday is about the best gift I have ever been given. This last year has been an amazing one for me, in great part to my new friends here at RWP! Blessings to all…

  • Thank you for spotlighting Cynthia! She is such an humble person that sometimes I think she doesn’t realize how powerful her poetry is.

  • jmcneely

    I think this is a great feature, and as short (har har har) a time as I’ve been on here, Cynthia’s poems have really stood out for me. Congrats to Cynthia for being chosen for this and thanks to rwp for being such a great site for poets to share their work and get challenged to write.

  • Great to get to know you a little better, Cynthia!

  • derrick

    Well done, Cynthia!

  • Well deserved spotlight for you Cynthia, and great job.

  • Cynthia is so fluent in her expression–oral and written. One gets the feeling her life runs smoothly, and easily fixed when there are rocks in the road. Her roots in the traditions serve her well and she’s skilled in adapting them to contemporary situations and messages. I just love her spirit–that’s that. One resourceful person, yeah! Let her burn dinner once in awhile.

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