Sincerely Art – Interview Series
Sy Albright interviews Linda Imbler--poet/author
LI: Thank you very much. I appreciate your support. As a young girl, I used to write poetry about what I observed in nature. Back then, everything had to rhyme. I made my own poetry books from paper, cardboard, and shiny wrapping paper. As I went into my teens, I began to hear poetry through music lyrics. This was the ’60’s and responding to societal elements was common then. This is when I began to jot images and thoughts in response to what was happening around me. This influence was huge, and this visceral response to life became and continues to be the impetus for most of my poetry. I also made it a hard and fast rule that the style must fit the poem and not the other way around. This has required me to study different styles, and to learn to appreciate the words of many different poets, as well as the ‘shape’ of my own words. Throughout the days and nights, I record thoughts and images on the closest thing to write on. The sorting and then creating with all the paper scraps, napkins, etc. has been a wonderful, gigantic, frightening, and satisfying adventure. One I plan to continue indefinitely.
SA: “I was there.
I remember quite clearly,
despite all else I have forgotten,
that our lives were not then measured by the ticking of the clock,
but by each spin of 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.”
These lines are from 33 1/3 RPM out of your most recent poetry book “The Sea’s Secret Song.” Can you amplify the message you are sending in this poem?
LI: I believe it was Dick Clark who said music is the soundtrack of our lives. It is possible to identify the generation to which any person belongs to by knowing the popular music that they identified with as children and teens. By popular, I mean the music they heard on the streets, in the cars, the record shops, and on the radios. I listened to a lot of my parents’ old records and so I am familiar with lots of songs from their generation, but I remember a lot of the historical events that happened in my own childhood and teens by remembering what popular music was playing at that particular time.
SA: There are more than a few definitions of Art. How do you define Art?
LI: Art is courageously baring your soul to the entire world through whichever medium suits your strengths. Baring one’s soul or exposing one’s current state of mind or most vivid memories.
SA: I feel it is fair to say women view the world differently than men. Do you think your feminine instincts shape your work?
LI: Not necessarily. I strive to be more universal than that. Several years ago, I wrote a long poem called “Digging The Day” which was a beat poem. The narrator of the poem was a man. I just finished reading a book where the main character was a man and did all manner of ‘manly things’, yet the book was written by a woman. It was brilliant. I believe that poetry can be an excellent vehicle for writing about common concerns, fears, hopes, dreams and constructs that affect all of humanity. And, yes, it may be somewhat filtered through the sieve of a particular gender or a single person’s personal set of experiences, but it benefits us all to spend time looking for how we are alike more than how we are different (another belief I still carry with me from the 60’s).
SA: The publishing world appears to be getting more complex by the day. What does the role of an editor, good or bad, play in your artistic leanings?
LI: I was once asked how I react to rejections. My response was that, as a Taurus, stubbornness is my middle name. For every rejection I receive, I send out two more submissions. I’m aware poetry is subjective. I understand this, as it is for me also. That being said, I have noticed that most editors are very professional both with acceptances and rejections. Beyond professional, a great editor will give writers some feedback. It doesn’t have to be a lot. I’ve received rejections with feedback that helped me refine a piece. The key is professional, respectful, and not overly ‘familiar’ at least not until I’ve published with them a bit.
SA: A number of writers whether by design or accident allow writing to become a primitive form of therapy. Is there any substance to these claims?
LI: As I stated earlier, poetry is very often a visceral response to my own experiences. So, yes, I do at times, by design, “blow off steam” through writing. I wrote a poem called The Moroccan Marvel about someone who is a real blowhard. Rather than telling the person to stifle it, I just wrote about my observations of how much this person’s conversation always reflects the narcissistic banner this person continually flies. However, if all I did was write in response to an experience, I would never show any talent for having an imagination. I have written quite a few poems with mystical connotations since I am interested in many things esoteric and cabalistic. While never having experienced some of these things, I have written about them as if I have. A case in point is “Mysterious Corridor” which describes me in a strange place with creatures who cannot be identified and my feelings about being in their presence.
SA: I noticed a portion of literary publications allow and nearly solicit profanity and graphic sexuality for inclusion. While others feel this crosses a line that dilutes Art. People curse all the time. A number of classic paintings are nude women. Does a line exist between Art and Provocation?
LI: It depends on the audience. When I wrote “Petals”, I knew some of the sensuality, although not outwardly graphic, might make some of my family uncomfortable. One of my closest friends even commented to me that she had no idea I could write about such carnality (there were no cuss words in the poem.) Curse words in writing are only acceptable to me if they are absolutely useful to expressing how that character is feeling or responding and used sparingly to explain a particular circumstance within the writing. In my opinion, foul language in poetry for its own sake is boring, unmelodious, and, if used in excess, lets me know that the writer is lacking on how to write a coherent thought.
SA: Are there writers today who inspire you to be the best artist you can possibly be? If so, please name a few.
LI: In general, I have always been inspired by Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Paul Dunbar, John Donne, William Shakespeare, The Rossettis (any of them,) Emily Dickinson, and Joni Mitchell. More particularly, there are pieces of writing that have touched my soul beyond anything I can describe. I stated earlier that song lyrics were a big influence. Some of the most beautiful poetry I have ever heard is Jerry Jeff Walker’s’ “Mr. Bojangles,” Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” and Paul Simon’s “The Sound of Silence.” There are tons of individual verses that have been written that have moved me. Sometimes, just one line is enough to take my breath away. I am inspired by the above, although my styles are quite different. I love poetry.