Amber Flora Thomas Interview Part-Two 3-2-15

2015 Pamlico Writers Conference and Competition

March 21, 2015 8:30am to 6pm

The Turnage Theatre

150 W. Main Street, Washington, NC 27889

Hello again. In today’s post we have part two of our interview with ECU, Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing, Amber Flora Thomas.

Ms. Thomas will present an afternoon workshop called, “Gathering Pearls: How to Put Together a Book of Poems.” Register early.

Now for our interview:

Amber Flora Thomas - 2015

Amber Flora Thomas
Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing, ECU


Q. Have you ever written anything that you absolutely hated? If so, what did you do with the piece?

   A. I have never written anything I hated, or if I hate it, it immediately goes in the trash. I’ve definitely written poems and essays that I’m embarrassed about because the writing was poorly executed or needed a lot more work. It took me eight years to finish my first book because I didn’t want to regret any of the poems later in life. We evolve and change, and so does our understanding of the past. I appreciate the mistakes in my earlier work because they show my evolution of mind and understanding.

Q. Who are your favorite classic and modern poets?

    A. Here are some of my go-to poets, meaning I go to their poems (the same ones) over and over again (no particular order): T. S. Eliot, Audre Lorde, Yusef Komuyakaa, Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, D. H. Lawrence, May Swenson, Pablo Neruda, Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Carl Phillips, Charles Wright, James Wright, Wislawa Szymborska, and Ann Carson.

Q. Which do you believe have had the greatest influence on you as a writer?

    A. I studied the early and mid-20th century poets in graduate school, so they have the greatest impact on my writing, probably because I have been thinking critically about their lives and writing the longest, so Dickinson, Moore, Bishop, Roethke, Eliot, Lawrence, and Neruda.

Q. What avenues do you use to market your work? (Social media, on-line sales, bookstores, etc.?) Which have you found to work best?

    A. I struggle to market my writing. I am not good a telling people about my accomplishments because it feels like bragging. Of course, this has impacted my success because I’ve noticed that succeeding as a writer is all about self-promotion these days. Most writers have dedicated websites, Facebook pages, blogs, and aren’t afraid to send out notices and reminders (lots and lots of them) about their events, publications, and awards. I am still working on developing a plan for promoting my writing in such a way that it is less distasteful to me. First, I need to set aside time to develop a website and blog. Then perhaps I’ll hire someone for a few hours each month to update these sites and post announcements. Is this the best approach? I still don’t know.

Q. If you were to write a poem of your life, what would the title be?

    A. Gosh, good question. Woman in the Fur Coat: An Autobiography of a Crazy Cat Lady. The Brown Girl’s Burning Truth: An Autobiography of a Writer and Her Secrets. This Time Tomorrow: One Woman’s Story of Unrest as Captured in Her Writing. These are terrible. Next question.

Q. What is one thing that most people don’t know about you? (Maybe a personal quirk, something like that).

    A. I lived in one house during my childhood, for about six months. Other than this brief period of time, I lived in trailers, tents, cars, and under the stars with my hippie parents and four siblings. In fact, we frequently did not have electricity and running water. Yup, I had a wild childhood. Book coming soon.

By Kaylene Wilson

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