Kenneth P. Gurney. Tells us how you started in poetry? What age?
Tina Carlson. I started in poetry as a child in a vacant field with wild weeds and cottonwood trees and the sounds and tastes and smells of that place became part of me, poems in my body.
KPG. What is your favorite breakfast?
TC. Granola and yoghurt.
KPG. Does your university degree influence your writing of poetry and how?
TC. I studied molecular biology and there was an intense focus on the power of what is small, microscopic. Poetry is like this, the distilled nature of the words, the force they inhabit when they find their right place within the poem, as well as the power of the spaces left open.
KPG. Is there any endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?
TC. I love to hike in the mountains. I am filled up with a sense of what is larger and older than humans and also a sense of comfort from the sounds and smells of the trees.
KPG. Tell about one of your favorite poetry experiences.
TC. When I lived in Seattle years ago I was fortunate to see a poetry and dance performance by Maya Angelou. She not only sang, but moved her body to the poems. It was one of the most inspiring and elevating experiences I have ever had. Her work inhabited her. It was in a small auditorium and the whole place was completely captivated by her presence, her passionate and embodied performance.
KPG. If you could wave a magic wand and place a poetry book into every high school English classroom as required reading, which one would it be and why?
TC. Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. He writes beautifully and powerfully about family, war, sexuality, history, loss and love—so many great themes that adolescents appreciate and with amazing language.
KPG. Where was your last selfie taken? With anyone?
TC. The Borrego trail in Santa Fe national forest with my sweetie Tres.
KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.
TC. The Poetry Foundation.
KPG. What is your favorite National Park? Why?
TC. Rocky Mountain National Park. I grew up in those mountains and learned to trust my connection with the outdoors there. Those peaks send my flying!
KPG. Please tell about a dream that you work toward achieving at this time.
TC. Simplifying my life, honing down what I have to take care of so I have more space, more time to write.
KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and suggest one book of theirs we should purchase?
KPG. If you could be present at any moment in history as a safe observer or unsafe participant, what event would you visit and why?
TC. The dismantling of the Berlin wall. Especially now with all the political hype about walls, I appreciate the impulse to break them down, to build bridges instead.
KPG. What reoccurring themes or personal experience have you noticed in your poetry over the years?
TC. The force of history that lives in us, the redemptive nature of the outdoors.
KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some other sweet?
TC. Dark chocolate with nuts in it!!