Tag Archives: Diane Frank

A Virtual Interview with Lisha Adela Garcia


Thursday, June 8, 2023 7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bookwoman-2nd-thursday-poetry-reading-and-open-mic-lisha-adela-garcia-tickets-600654954137

Feature Lisha Adela García has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently resides in Texas with her beloved four-legged children. Her books, A Rope of Luna and Blood Rivers, were published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco. Her chapbook, This Stone Will Speak was published by Pudding House Press. In addition, she is widely published in various journals including the Boston ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewBorder SensesMuse and Mom Egg Review.

García leads the Wyrdd Writers, a writing group based in San Antonio with participants from Kerrville and San Marcos and co-facilitates a Poetic Medicine group named Poetry Exile Group founded by Jungian analyst, Dr. James Brandenburg. She also facilitates Poetic Medicine classes in Social Justice, Archetypes and other topics, and is a candidate for certification from the Institute of Poetic Medicine.

García has served as a judge for various poetry prizes, most recently the Chicago Poetry Prize of Chicago’s Poetry Society, and has given workshops for a variety of colleges and universities. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart and was a recipient of the San Antonio Tri-Centennial Poetry Prize. 

The Interview

CH: How did poetry and the music of language figure in your childhood? What is your first memory of poetry?

LAG: Poetry has always brought solace. My mother loved poetry and shared the poetry greats like Neruda, Machado, and Mistral in Spanish. My mother gave me Sonnets of the Portuguese for my eighth birthday when I was confident enough in my English to be able to enjoy it.  The love for poetry in both languages has embraced me ever since.

CH: When did you first begin to think of yourself as a poet?

LAG: I’ve written poetry since I was a young child.  I however, had a large inner critic and didn’t like sharing what I had written.  It wasn’t until I completed my MFA and had a large number of publications that I was confident enough to call myself a poet.  My self-esteem needed to rise and meet the duende.  It needed to rise consistently, until I found my distinct voice in the human sea.

CH: I understand you have an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. What prompted you to enter this MFA program? How did participating in this program change you as a writer?

LAG: We are very fortunate to have Gemini Ink, a literary non-profit, in San Antonio.  They sponsored a mentorship program with known poets. I applied and mentored under Martha Rhodes, publisher of Four Way Press.  Founder and then Executive Director, Nan Cuba and Martha saw enough promise to encourage me to apply for an MFA.  They were kind enough to write letters of recommendation and modeled the magic of why an investment in a creative life was imperative.  I chose a low residency MFA as I was a single mom and working full time.  My life has bloomed with poetry and its healing balm ever since.  I am forever grateful to both of these ladies.  

CH: Blue Light Press published your first full-length collection, Blood Rivers, in 2009. Tell us a little about the book.

LAG: Blood Rivers was my learning book.  I’d written hundreds of poems by then and had never worked on a collection.  The book began as my creative thesis for the MFA and then was refined many more times.  I had discovered Diane Frank, publisher of Blue Light Press as a muse and worked with her individually when she asked to publish the book. 

CH: Over what period of time were the poems written? How did you go about sequencing the collection, and how did you connect with the publisher?

LAG: The final poems selected for this book were written over 10 years and revised and reordered many times.  I had trusted readers and editors help in the process. I believe that you always need an outsider to assist you with final edits and ordering because they can be a much more critical audience.  I am too close to my work and words to be completely objective about the experience I want my readers to have. I need help!

CH: You followed up in 2016 with the publication of A Rope of Luna, also with Blue Light Press. The cover design for A Rope of Luna suggests to me nested identities both bound and breaking free of constraints, an image well-suited to a collection whose title mixes English and Spanish. Please tell us a little about this book as well.

LAG: This book indeed broke me free of many labels.  Poems refer to the extreme losses in my life and the need to grieve but not placate the victim archetype within me. The premise of a rope coming down from Luna and leaving messages, frames the book’s sections.  It attempts to answer the question of who you are and what parts of you remain when all your reference points are gone.  I was extremely fortunate that Blue Light Press wanted to publish this second book as well. 

CH: How did your experience with Blood Rivers shape your work with A Rope of Luna? What was different for you as you put together this book? In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of a long-term relationship with a single publisher?

LAG: The benefits so far of having a single publisher is the cherished relationship one forms over time.  A deep bond of respect. Blood Rivers was a journey to Rope of Luna five years later.  I continued to write consistently and chronicle the world through my bilingual, bicultural filter. My poetry world expanded with more readings and regional activities. I’ve almost completed a third book entitled: Prayers to the Saint of Impossible Situations. In the interregnum between book two and three, the world changed with COVID and the increased intolerance for the most vulnerable among us. As a result, I chose to pursue a certification in Poetic Medicine with the Institute of Poetic Medicine and learn how to effectively use poetry as a healing modality.  Work on the third book stalled while I studied.  Book three needs a home and I promised myself to revisit it soon as a much larger endeavor.

CH: I understand that you practice literary translation of poetry, from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Translation inevitably involves trade-offs; how do you approach the translation of a poem? What does the practice of translation bring to your poetry?

LAG: The challenge of translation is not just the translation of words from one language to another but also, to unearth the cultural context of the world of the poet. A second challenge requires a re-creation of the poem as another poem in the translated language worthy of its original song. When you are fluent in more than one language, you realize that you inhabit a bridge in a world that always needs translating.

Discovering voices that need to belong to a broader world is such an honor.  My life and poetry practice are enriched beyond my immediate context when a translated voice is allowed to enter my consciousness.  Although I can read the great Spanish language poets in their original language, where would we be as a people, as poets, without access to the voices of Rumi or Szymborska? I would not feel totally human without poems from all over the world.

CH: In addition to your MFA in Writing, I understand you also hold a Master’s in International Business from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, now part of Arizona State University. What synergies do you find between these left- and right-brained arenas?

LAG: During my undergraduate years my choices were to lead a life of academia and a PhD or to risk something entirely new and understand how money moves in the world.  In those days, not many women were encouraged to enter the world of business.  I wanted to be prepared to never have to depend on a man for money.  At that time, Thunderbird was recruiting liberal arts graduates because they were more well-rounded than someone who chose a strictly business focus. I wanted to have that balance in my brain and in my life. I wanted to be able to support myself and future children AND honor that creative side.  I am so glad that I made those choices because now I have two vocabularies, can support myself and live a creative life.

CH: How do you find and create balance in your professional and writing lives?

LAG: I find myself always working on either a client business issue or jotting lines for a poem.  It seems I never really have enough time as I would like for either.  I love my job as a business advisor as much as I love poetry.  I am always trying to find the right balance and some weeks I succeed but some I do not.  I’m just grateful that my life is so full. 

CH: What is the most recent book of poetry that you’ve read?

LAG: I’ve just finished reading, The Well Speaks of its Own Poison by Maggie Smith, Spirit of Wild by KB Ballentine and Anorexorcism by E.D. Watson.  Learned so much from each of these.  My recent Poetic Medicine classes, with E.D. Watson, were on Social Justice and Women with Rage. Our third online class this year is forthcoming.  

Thank you, Cindy, and Book Woman for this great sharing and reading opportunity.

A Virtual Interview with Loretta Diane Walker

Loretta Diane Walker will be the featured reader for the 2nd Thursday Poetry Reading and Open Mic at BookWoman (5501 N. Lamar) on Thursday, July 14, 2016  from 7:15 to 9:00 p.m.


Loretta Diane Walker is a three-time Pushcart nominee. She has published three collections of poetry, including Word Ghetto, which won the 2011 Blue Light Press Book Award, and In This House, released by Blue Light Press in 2015.  Loretta was recently named “Statesman in the Arts” by the Heritage Council of Odessa.  Walker’s work has appeared in numerous publications, most recently Her Texas, Texas Poetry Calendar 2015, Pushing Out the Boat International Journal, San Pedro River Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Diversity: Austin International Poetry Festival, Boundless Poetry: Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems,  Perception Literary Magazine, Connecticut River Review, The Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, The Houston Poetry Festival, Siblings: Our First Macrocosm, and is fort coming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VIII: Texas.

Loretta is a member of the Poetry Society of Texas, Pennsylvania Poetry Society, The National Federation of State Poetry Societies and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. She teaches music in Odessa, Texas.  Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.    http://lorettadianewalker.weebly.com/.

The Interview

CH: What first inspired you to write? When did you begin to identify as a writer?

LDW: I have been fascinated with words since I was four or five years old. I was intrigued with Dr. Seuss’ books. He is still one of my favorite authors. Of course, I did not understand then what I do now. I was/am intrigued with the “power” of words. I used to scribble stories in my red Big Chief tablet. I did this before I could read or write.  I started to identify myself as a writer about twelve years ago. At the time, I had been teaching music for twenty years. I was visiting my youngest brother and his family. On the way from the airport, he and I had a heartfelt conversation. He said, “You have only loved two things in your life, music and writing. You have spent twenty years focusing on music. Don’t you think it’s time you concentration writing?”  I answered his challenge and started focusing more on writing. An aside, in the mid-nineties I took a writing class at our community college. The instructor returned my first writing assignment with a note. It read: You have no talent for writing. You should give it up. I was crippled by those words and I could not write for a while. I had lost all my confidence.

CH: You’ve had many successes with poetry, including your three collections of poetry, three Pushcart nominations, and numerous journal acceptances in addition to three collections of poetry. How have you gone about developing your writing talents?

LDW: I have an incredible mentor, Diane Frank. I started taking her workshops via email about nine years ago. I still take them. I attend other poetry workshops when possible, each summer I attend a poetry conference, I read heaps of poetry by various poets, and I read texts about writing poetry. My two favorites are Wingbeats I and Wingbeats II: Exercises & Practice in Poetry. I have a ten-one rule. I read ten poems for each poem I write.

CH: How has your career as a music educator influenced your poetry?

LDW: I have over six hundred little muses in my face Monday through Friday. Like my family, their lives are intertwined in my poetry. I get inspiration from the exchanges I have with my students and with the exchanges they have among themselves. I am often inspired by one of their expressions, a response to a class activity or question. In my book Word Ghetto, I have a section devoted entirely to my students. Those poems are based on conversations I had with students while doing lunch duty.

CH: As someone who works full-time, how do you make room for your writing? What is your writing practice like?

LDW: I write during my lunch time, after school, and on the weekends. If I eat out alone, which I do quite a bit, I will write while I am having dinner. I have written some of my most successful pieces in a restaurant.  When school is in session, my goal is to write collectively at least an hour a day. When possible, I will write for a longer period of time. Sometimes I get twenty minutes here, thirty minutes there.  I do the bulk of my writing during holidays and the summer. At those times, my goal is to write three hours daily. My writing time also involves my reading time. I have a ten one rule. For every one poem I write, I read ten. This has been my practice for the last several years.

CH: As long as I’ve known you, you’ve lived in Odessa. How has its various landscapes—geographic, vegetal, social—influenced your work? Have you lived elsewhere?

LDW: Although flat, open, barren and nestled in the breast of distance, Odessa poses characteristics of beauty resembling no other place. It’s a type of rugged beauty the natives  have learned to appreciate. The landscape is a banner of fortitude, a reflection of many of the people here. Strength is important to me. I am fascinated with our sky. The sunrises and sunsets are stunning. The night sky is beautiful as well. In many of my poems, I make a reference to our sky. Usually, the reference is a segue to an unveiling or revelation in the poem.  I lived in Terrell, Texas for one year and Lubbock, Texas while I attended Texas Tech. I was born in Dawson, Texas, but was very young when we moved away from there.

CH: Your first book, Word Ghetto, won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award from 1st World Publishing. How did you find out about the award? How did you select the poems that would go into that book?

LDW: After taking Diane Frank’s online workshops for four years, she encouraged me to submit to the Bluelight Press Book Award competition. Many of the poems included in the manuscript, I wrote in her workshops. If I received a poem from her with this message, “This should be in a book,” I put it in a file labeled Book. The remaining poems I selected based on these criteria: if it won first place in various state sponsored poetry contests, or if it was published in an anthology or literary journal. Over the course of four years, I discovered various themes and grouped the poems accordingly. Ironically, many of these poems were written using words or stanzas taken from my “word ghetto.” Hence the title. My word ghetto is a rather large file of hoarded words, stanzas and phrases that do not fit in one poem but work well or are seed ideas for others.

CH: Your most recent book, In This House, addresses a rich variety of topics—everything from desire for the ultimate steam iron to struggles with illness, including your own cancer diagnosis. How did you arrive at the vision for this book? How did you decide on its title?

LDW: Initially, this book was going to be about my mother. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I shifted gears and started writing about what I was experiencing. While writing those poems, I shifted gears yet again. I was battling depression; I had to focus outwards. I remember the day I said aloud, you’re not the only person “going through something.” After that meeting with myself, I reverted to writing about landscapes and other topics. I chose the title “In This House” because of the varied meanings of the word house. Its multiplicity allowed me to encompass all of the poems in the book.

CH: Writing poems of intimacy, especially about relationship with family, is a difficult task—one you handle with aplomb in In This House. How has your family received your writing, especially the work in which they appear?

LDW: My family has received my writing about them quite well. They are extremely supportive of me. I wrote about them in my other books. More than likely, one or more of them will show up in my next book.  In In This House, I give voice to some of the emotions they were experiencing. They gracefully allowed me to do so.

CH: With so much success with your poetry, I would imagine you would identify primarily as a poet. But your website (http://lorettadianewalker.weebly.com) hints at an interest in writing a novel. How would you describe your identity as a writer? In what direction do you see your writing going now?

LDW: Yes, I primarily identify myself as a poet. I have published some short stories and essays; however, I feel at home writing poetry; it’s my passion. The reference on my website is based on a conversation I had with a friend. We were discussing an idea I have had stirring inside of me for several years. Actually, I already have a title for the novel. I want to write it after I retire.

CH: Please name a few poets whose work has influenced yours. What is the most recent book of poetry you’ve read?

Wow, this is a difficult task. There are so many! Some of my influences are Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Diane Frank, Lucille Clifton, Jonas Zdanys, Gwendolyn Brooks, Larry D. Thomas, Karla K. Morton, Alan Birkelbach, Ted Kooser, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Katharine Coles, Natasha Trethewey, Robert Frost and several poets published by Bluelight Press and many other Texas poets.  The most recent book of poetry I read is I Watched You Disappear by Anya Krugovoy Silver.