Inky Interview Special: Poet Karen Wolf from Bowling Green, Ohio

Describe your journey towards becoming a poet.

I wrote my first poem during recess, in first grade, with several classmates of mine. It was entitled “Poor Little Grass Seed” and mourned the fact that grass dies in the winter. I continue to write poetry to celebrate the good things, contemplate what confuses me, and emotionally respond to what moves me.

Tell us about your chapbook, That’s Just The Way It Is, which was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018.

In February of 2016 I sought out an on-line poetry coach for the purpose of getting my poems published. In a matter of months I had 15 poems published and my coach said that’s half of a chapbook, you are ready to get one together and get it published. I entered the Finishing Line Press Chapbook Contest and was lucky enough to have my work chosen by them to be published. The poems in my book concern social justice issues and what we can learn from nature about how everything fits together.

You live in Bowling Green, Ohio. What is the literary scene like?

The literary scene in the Bowling Green/Toledo area is thriving. Every week poets have the opportunity to share their work in open mic formats in four or five different venues.

You have been widely published in literary journals and magazines, including the Smokey Blue Literary and Art Magazine and The Drunken Llama (great names!) Have you any advice for writers about submitting their work?

Before being submitted, a work needs to be edited by another pair of eyes, someone who is knowledgeable about poetry and who can critique the ideas, format, and grammar/punctuation, etc. Also, look at back issues of the magazine you are submitting to in order to be sure that your work is a good fit. And follow all of the Submission Guidelines to the letter.

Describe a typical day in your life.

Every day begins with a morning run. Then I may have a pet sit to do. I am semi-retired from my own pet sitting company. Most days I do some volunteering for Nature’s Nursery, a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Yesterday, I went out and captured an injured Red-Tailed Hawk and brought him to the centre. I also work in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the centre, where I feed orphaned and injured baby bunnies, squirrels, opossums, groundhogs, minks, birds, etc. For the real young ones, we have to stick a tube down their throats into their tummies and give them warmed formula. Most of them fight the tubing procedure, then totally relax and almost smile when the warm formula begins to fill their tummies. So very rewarding. And I spend time with my partner Chris, also a writer, and our 4 cats, and I visit my grandson at least once a week. Oh, and I write. Ideas come during my run and when I am driving sometimes, causing me to stop in a parking lot somewhere and write it down before it vanishes.

Who inspires you and why?

Right now I am inspired by the poetry of Billy Collins and Lynn Emanuel. They both have a way of taking the mundane and linking it with the profound in a breath-taking manner.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to follow your passion for animals in choosing a career. And share your poetry, don’t leave it hidden away for 60 years.

Tell us a story in five words.

Rock thrown, lesson—violent living.

Have you been on a literary pilgrimage?

I’m not quite sure what you are referring to here. Every time I walk along the Maumee River, which is a mile from my home, I become inspired to write.

Why do you think poetry is important?

Poetry is important because it makes everything matter, from the tiny spider mom carrying her white cotton egg sack, to denuclearizing atomic weapons. And poetry links all things together.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you write what is in your heart, you cannot go wrong.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I am reading THE NATURE PRINCIPLE by Richard Louv. He presents the idea that being in nature strengthens one’s mind, soul, and social relations. The book is filled with examples and scientific proof of his thesis, truly a must read.

What is next for you? What plans have you got?

At some point I would like to get a full-length book of poetry published, that would be nice.

Poetry Drawer: Claustrophobia by Karen Wolf

Poetry Drawer: Who She is Not by Karen Wolf

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