Featured Poet Amy Barry talks to Clara Burghelea

Clara Burghelea in conversation with poet, Amy Barry

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Amy Barry writes poems and short stories. She is published in anthologies, journals, and press and e-zines globally, including Southword, A New Uslter, Live Encounter, Galway Review, Amy was recipient of the Westmeath County Council Bursary 2017. She took 1st and 2nd prize in the English Poetry at PAU World Poetry Day in 2017 and 2018. Recipient of Neruda Award 2017 (Poetry) Crispiano, Italy. Highly Commended (Poetry) in SiarSceal International Literary Festival in 2017 and 2019. Highly Commended in the Francis Ledwidge Award 2019. She was featured in the RTE Radio One Extra in Reverberations Series 2, Nov. 2019.

Clara Burghelea
Let’s start at the beginning. Can you talk about how you came to do what you do?

Amy Barry:
Ten years ago I took a 7 weeks creative writing class with the intention of writing a novel. However, time had been constrained, as a mother with two very young children at that time. I stopped writing at about 40, 000 words. I wrote a few short stories, published in a Texan journal. My writing group then, ‘Splinters’ had encouraged me to write poems. It took me awhile to figure out the poetry writing process. I began to find my own voice. Gradually, I am becoming more aware of what writing poetry is all about. To be honest I have no interest in poetry before. In school I hated the idea of having to memorize and recite poems in front of the classroom. (I often organize poetry class to the local national school and try to make it as interesting as possible. I introduce different styles/voices of poets. For instance, via Skype, students will have the opportunity to have a two-way communication with the poets).

Clara Burghelea:
Do you think of yourself a poet/writer of the world?

Amy Barry:
I am comfortable to be called a global poet.

Clara Burghelea:
As a well-travelled person, how do different destinations inform your writing?

Amy Barry:
Each destination conveys unique, different, vivid images and sensory stimulation to my mind, body and soul. The passionate portrayal of people, places (museums, palaces, crafts etc.) food cultures are often reflected in my work. I am a slow writer. Places I visited stay in my mind for a long while, and sometimes I take years to hone the poetry.

Clara Burghelea
We were both part of the Where Are You From? 2017 Anthology. I loved your poem ‘When Nudity Becomes a Uniform’. It addresses motherhood and femininity under the lens of war in a delicate, yet powerful voice. Do you see the poet as a voice for the under-represented? 

Amy Barry:
Yes, I believe so. I notice more poets are making their voices more visible in many platforms, open mics in universities, libraries, government offices, public places etc. Voices are communicated via the social media, electronic media, print media; Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp etc. Publicity/press releases to the media.

Often when invited as a guest poet overseas, I read in universities and I had the opportunity to mingle/reach out to students and share the passion in poetry.

Clara Burghelea
What does your curiosity look like? How do you explore things? How do you interpolate new influences into your work?

Amy Barry
I have worked in the media industry, so curiosity is vital – 

you need get all of the facts and working out what’s important. I love to ask questions. Boldness and persistence are also required. It makes me pay attention to detail.  I try as much as possible to have my ears tune to the poetry world. I am always open to new ideas and inspirations. 

Clara Burghelea
Do you keep in touch with your readership in any way?

Amy Barry:
I do. As a writer I used multiple media to communicate with my readers. These include social media, print media, electronic media and via the poetry events I attend or organize.

Clara Burghelea:
What is your relationship with digital space? Is it an impediment to your creative process or a trigger?

Amy Barry:
I find more positive views than an impediment in my creative process. Within the digital space one can develop platforms other people can use and interact with other things others have developed. For example, via Google I can easily look up for words, their meanings, synonyms, spell checks etc. My work can be better reached in the digital space and build an audience, share/discuss ideas via FB, Twitter or blogs. Books can be ordered via PayPal etc. On the negative side there are common questions posed by writers:  How can I stop people from copying and illegally distributing my work? With more media and more stories, is there more work for creative writers? Can my existing work find new life as interactive content? And what will I find at the end of this journey?

Clara Burghelea:
Your poem ‘Mother’ won 1st prize in English Poetry (Versification & Recitation) at PAU World Poetry Day 2017. Is recitation still a manner of bringing the audience inside the poem?  

Amy Barry:
Recitation gives poems more life. And this is especially true for certain “difficult poems” that need to be spoken aloud and makes them more powerful. The understanding of an image/multiple layers in a poem could create a better connection with the audience. Audience gets a sense of tone, rhythm, a nuance of your voice, and often sees a poem quite differently after hearing an author read it. This also gives the audience a sense of inclusion.

Clara Burghelea:
The Blue Nib publishes emerging, as well as established poets. For the former, what advice do you have?

Amy Barry:
I write phrases and words in my phone or little notebook. Great writing requires patience. Be ready to push yourself. Work and work to improve your poetry. Think of it like a work of art. Read, read, read. Edit, edit, edit. Remember LESS IS MORE. SHOW, don’t TELL.

Clara Burghelea
Writing is a solitary business. How important is mental and physical health for creating the work?

Amy Barry:
I make time for things that are important to me. Exercise: I spend time at the gym three or four times a week. At times, drafts are created in my head while “spinning” or while in the Jacuzzi. Listening and dancing to MTV music, family movie evenings on Netflix, meeting friends for coffee. I talk to my indoor and outdoor plants, and to Pablo (my one year old cat).

Now that you're here

The Blue Nib believes in the power of the written word, the well-structured sentence and the crafted poetic phrase. Since 2016 we have published, supported and promoted the work of both established and emerging voices in poetry, fiction, essay and journalism. Times are difficult for publishers, and The Blue Nib is no exception. It survives on subscription income only. If you also believe in the power of the written word, then please consider supporting The Blue Nib and our contributors by subscribing to either our print or digital issue.

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