Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most?
Marie: I began writing poetry in high school when I was in a class on the Romance Poets. I was deeply inspired and consoled by John Keats. I was experiencing depression at the time and found myself captivated by “Ode to a Nightingale.” The honest wrestling with despair in that poem—and the beauty that emerged from language—resonated with me and really helped me get through that time. That was over 30 years ago. Since that time, so many poets have inspired and influenced me, including Mary Oliver, Eavan Boland, Paul Celan, Michael Ondaatje, and Li-Young Lee.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Marie: When in that class and studying Keats, I realized “I am a poet.” This knowledge has acted like a compass throughout my life.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Marie: My friends Ellen and Melody, along with my husband Steve, have all been tremendous encouragers over the years. It’s hard to get people to read your poetry. These lovely souls are always offering supportive comments.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Marie: I was born in Staten Island, NY, but grew up mostly in Loveland, CO, in a community called Paradise Acres at the base of the foothills. I was immersed in nature and I have carried that wonder with me throughout my life. My love of nature is definitely a theme in my poetry.
I never had the opportunity to travel the world. Not yet, anyhow. My dream is to visit Ireland someday. I’m sure that seeing Benbulbin in County Sligo and walking where Yeats walked would impact my writing.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Marie: When a poem I write for someone really impacts them. If it inspires or consoles a person, then I feel I’ve done my job as a poet and good human. There are a few poems like this. For example, two young men were lost on a mountain near where I lived. I wrote a poem for their family and posted it on a Facebook thread. The father of one of the young men read it and left a comment that indicated he’d received some solace from the words. Sometimes I write poems for people who inspire me. For example, I wrote poems for musician Paul Barton and composer Ola Gjeilo.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Marie: Walking in fields, looking at mountains, writing poetry beside the great Columbia River in Washington State.
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
Marie: This stanza is from my poem “Sense,” written in 2002.
Q8:What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
Marie: I enjoy jazz and classical music, especially choral music. I love a good singer-songwriter like David Gray. I’m a child of the 80s, so I love U2.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?
Marie: My poetry collection Gifts to the Attentive was released in May 2022 from Winter Goose Publishing, and is available on Amazon. In the spring, I started Maitri Poetry, a collaborative poetry space. Maitri Poetry’s first project is a chapbook called Night Sweats of the Spirit: An anthology of lived experience that I curated with poet Joseph Fasano. The book will be released on World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2022. It will be available for purchase at maitripoetry.com.
Marie Marchand is the Poet Laureate of Ellensburg, WA. Her poetry has been published in Catamaran Literary Reader, California Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, and Tiny Seed Journal. She has poems forthcoming this fall in Crannóg Magazine and The Awakenings Review. She has two books of poetry: Pink Sunset Luminaries (2018) and Gifts to the Attentive (Winter Goose Publishing, 2022). Read her work at mishiepoet.com and follow her @mishiepoet.