Jeanne Shannon | Interview

Kenneth P. Gurney. What got you started into poetry? What age?

Jeanne Shannon: My parents read poetry and had poetry books in the house.  I read some of them and started writing my own poems at age eleven.  The poetry book that influenced me the most was The Lyric South, an anthology of southern poets published in 1924.

KPG. How much influence does your university degree(s) has on your writing of poetry and how?

JS:  Going back to school in middle age and getting a master’s degree in English with a creative writing emphasis stimulated my creativity and helped me to write better poems.  One of my teachers was Gene Frumkin, and he was an important influence and mentor.

KPG. Tell us about one of your favorite poetry experiences.

JS:  Discovering the poetry of Charles Wright in the mid-1980’s.  He became and remains my favorite poet.

KPG. Do you have a connection to the American Civil War? Relative who served? Visited a battlefield and have a story?

JS:  My paternal great-grandfather in Virginia served for a few months in the Confederate army, but was discharged because of illness. My great-grandmother was still drawing a Confederate widow’s pension in the early years of the 20th century.

KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.

JS:  The website of the Academy of American Poets.  Also, the website of Poets & Writers.

KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and which book of theirs should we seek?

JSMargaret J. Hoehn.  Her book is The Trajectory of Sunflowers. Also Beth Grindstaff.  Beth’s book is This Fragile Husk, published by Finishing Line Press.

KPG. What reoccurring themes have you noticed in your poetry over the years?  Is there a point of personal experience you revisit often?

JS:  The natural world, particularly the vegetable kingdom, appears consistently in my poems.  Often I revisit various moments in my childhood.


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