“Poetry,” wrote John Keats, “should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts and appear almost a remembrance.” In her new collection of poetry, Bright Pink Ink, Laura DiNovis Berry embraces this very idea of connectivity and relatability by penning poetic reflections that celebrate the pitfalls and joys of simply being alive through odes to rugby, ruminations on being a military spouse and falling in love.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Tell us about your journey as a writer and when you first knew this was what you wanted to do for a living.
A: I think I truly invested my time into writing once I ran out of new books to read in the little library of the elementary school I attended. I later went to West Chester University of Pennsylvania as an English Composition major, but it was only in my junior year that I rediscovered my adoration of poetry.
Q: Are there any other writers in your family?
A: Yes! My oldest sister, Christine Leonard, is also a published writer; she wrote an adorable children’s book, “Zebra Beeba,” a few years ago and is now working on a suspenseful Young Adult piece.
Q: Do you remember the first thing you ever had published?
A: If I remember correctly it was a poem I wrote when I was about eight years old or so. It was called “Sleepy Head” and encouraged laziness to the tenth degree. I think it was published in a collection called Young Poets of America – something to that effect anyway.
Q: Who are some of the authors and poets that had an influence on your writing style and your view of the world?
A: When I was young, the fantasy greats J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, held me in their thrall. Once I reached high school, John Updike was one the first writers who truly impacted how I approached my own work. His romanticism of the mundane struck a chord with me.
Q: Teachers often discourage poetry as a viable avenue for building a writing career. Agree or disagree?
A: It is extremely hard to make a living from simply producing a book of poetry. In addition to crafting poetry, I write book reviews which not only act as a form of income but serve as a platform for modern poets struggling to bring their work to the public’s attention.
Q: Did you choose poetry or did poetry choose you?
A: Poetry chose me. I only began writing verse when I felt teenage hormones first sink their hooks into me. In an attempt to translate how I was feeling, I started writing poetry. It served as a conduit for emotions I didn’t understand or quite knew how to express.
Q: Favorite poem by a famous author?
A: “Marriage Year 43” by Betsey Cullen. Cullen isn’t famous yet but she should be. Her chapbook, Our Place in Line, is an utter joy to read.
Q: What is it about this form of expression that particularly resonates with you?
A: It is fluid. Poetry does not want to become contained, and if you, the poet, find yourself trapped mentally then no good poetry can come of your efforts. Writing a good poem is like finding a four leaf clover. The harder you look, the harder it is to find.
Q: Describe what a typical writing day is like for you.
A: I’ll be honest – I don’t have a set writing schedule or a typical formula I follow; however, I have found my most productive writing sessions occur while I am flying. There is nothing else to do except sit and write and so, I sit and I write.
Q: Do you let anyone read your works in progress or do you make them wait until you’re finished?
A: I am a big believer in letting people view my work before I bring it to its completion. Different eyes can find treasures in a piece that the original poet couldn’t even have dreamed existed!
Q: You chose self-publishing rather than going the traditional route. What did you learn from the DIY experience that you didn’t know when you started?
A: I learned how to create a book cover which resulted in a fun (at times frustrating) little series of experiments!
Q: What are you doing to promote your work?
A: I am seeking out anyone willing to talk to me and was very happy to see my local library purchased a copy of my book! I’ve also sent free copies to some souls willing to read and review my work.
Q: Best advice to aspiring poets?
A: First, edit. Next, allow a friendly, but discerning, editor to survey your piece. Then edit and edit again.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: I have two works in progress currently. One is a memoir about achieving my lifelong dream of owning a dog, and the second is a poetry collection dedicated to those fascinating animals.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: I am on twitter @rightoffthevine and my book reviews can be read on Vocal.Media at https://vocal.media/authors/laura-dinovis-berry