Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?
B.L.: I started writing when I was nine. I kept daily journals into my twenties, and self-published my first collection of poetry at fourteen. It really started as a form of therapy, a way to try and understand the world around me and work through what I now know to be a mix of anxiety and depression and the darker days of adolescence and early adulthood. My early work was heavily autobiographical, deeply influenced by Laurie Lico Albanese’s Blue Suburbia I picked out of a bookstore’s “free” pile. I also read a lot of Ellen Hopkins, which followed a similar vein.
Currently, my work is much different, more influenced by the natural world and our place in it. Mary Oliver has been a huge influence, as has my upbringing.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
B.L.: I think that the joy in creating something from an experience or idea, and the certain personal fulfillment I feel when I write, is what pushed me. Moreso, eventually having it read by others and it being well-received is when I knew I was on the path to being a writer. I was no longer writing entirely for myself, but for an audience. When my work began getting published more and more is when it really sank in that writing was something I wanted to continue to do and dedicate time to. I’ve now been writing for most of my life, and consider myself a bonafide writer, even if I don’t make a living of it.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
B.L.: My personal writing endeavors and my career are somewhat unrelated. I currently work as a Marketing Director in the renewable energy industry, and while I do quite a bit of writing (press releases, case studies, white papers, and the like), it’s very different from the more creative, poetic work I pursue. In high school and in college I had several teachers that were very encouraging and supportive, and for me that was formative in solidifying the hopes I had of becoming a writer later on. I originally intended to study marine biology in college, but that quickly changed when my English teacher in my senior year of high school and my poetry professor of freshman year in college saw potential in me. I pivoted, and decided to follow my heart and study literature and poetry, something I don’t regret.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
B.L.: Where I grew up in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains and how I was raised have entirely influenced my work. My parents both had a huge part in raising me to be nature-minded. I grew up camping, fishing, backpacking, surfing, and diving. There really wasn’t any adventure sport or outdoor activity we didn’t do. It has instilled in me a passion to seek the out of doors and immerse myself in the natural. Even at a young age, my upbringing created this profound fondness and appreciation for the natural world that is impossible for me to shake. I’m in love with it, and this shows in my work.
Traveling also gets the creative juices flowing, so to speak. So much of my work is based on my experiences, so going new places, putting myself in front of a new backdrop, is fruitful in my writing pursuits.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
B.L.: It seems like each new book I work on is a new height for me. Having published my latest collection of poetry, Measures, was a recent highlight. I am currently working on my next two books, a collection of haiku and a prose poem chapbook, which I’m very excited about.
I’m really enjoying curating Humana Obscura, a lit mag I started during the pandemic. I get to work with writers and artist from all over the world and have created a community of incredibly talented people. Seeing its wide reach and receiving positive feedback has been really meaningful as of late.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
B.L.: There’s nothing better than spending time outdoors—hiking, walking, gardening. I enjoy practicing yoga when I can and cozying up with a good book.
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
B.L.: I’m not able to recall the collection or poem easily, but I do remember a favorite comparison I made of blue jays being “blue as bruises.”
In my poem “Cachagua Road” from my collection Measures, I especially like the below part of the second stanza:
“I’ve learned the voices/of the robin, the towhee,/thrasher—useless except for/the way I decipher/what sounds escape from you,/which ones signal displeasure.”
And the first stanza from “White Lilies” in the same collection:
“Love me, I ask of you./Press your mouth to mine,/I want to say./The contours of our limbs/are restless.”
I’ve been diving back into the poetic artform of haiku and enjoying my journey thus far. Dozens of works have been published in the last several months in an array of haiku-centric publications. What I particularly enjoy about haiku is the distillation of a single moment into a few short lines, and there are many I’ve enjoyed writing and going back and reading.
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
B.L.: There aren’t any particular songs that influence my writing, but I definitely enjoy writing to classical music. I feel it helps to get me in “the zone.”
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you would like to promote?
B.L.: The fifth issue, the Fall/Winter 2022 edition, of Humana Obscura was just released at the beginning of September. It is available online digitally and in print from Amazon and is receiving some fantastic feedback from both readers and contributors. With two books in the works, there will be some exciting news on the horizon. Give me a follow on Instagram @thepoesis and Twitter @the_poesis to stay tuned.
Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?
B.L.: In college, all my writing professors always advised students to “Keep your day job.” Meaning, there’s no money in writing. I think it’s funny because while it’s mostly true, it shouldn’t matter. Whether you make money from your writing shouldn’t be what defines you as a writer or whether you’re good or bad at it. What’s important is following that passion to write, continuing to read and learn, and remembering why you started writing in the first place.
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BIO: B. L. Bruce is an award-winning poet and Pushcart Prize nominee living and writing along California’s Central Coast. Her work has appeared most recently in The Remnant Archive, Emerge Literary Journal, Le Merle, Visitant, Blood Moon, Feral, and The Lakeshore Review, with haiku in the American Haiku Society’s Frogpond Journal, Akitsu Quarterly, hedgerow, Wales Haiku Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Cold Moon Journal, and others. Bruce is the author of four books, The Weight of Snow, 28 Days of Solitude, The Starling’s Song, and Measures, and is the editor-in-chief of the nature-centric literary magazine Humana Obscura.