Beth Copeland is the author of three full-length poetry books: Blue Honey, recipient of the 2017 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize; Transcendental Telemarketer (BlazeVox 2012); and Traveling through Glass, recipient of the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. Beth owns and operates Tiny Cabin, Big Ideas™, a residency for writers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. You can find Beth on Facebook here. Beth’s piece, ‘Divorce’, can be found in Epoch Press’ Autumn issue, ‘Transitions’, which you can purchase here.
1. ‘Transitions’ is such an evocative theme, what compelled you to submit for this issue?
I’ve been through major transitions over the last three years: retiring from my job at a university, moving to a new home and community, and getting a divorce. Changes may be challenging and even painful, but they also bring opportunities to reflect and grow on a personal level. My poem reflects mixed emotions about the disintegration of my marriage. The divorce was for the best, but it was also an occasion for grieving.
2. Do you have a routine for writing? If so, what is it and how has it evolved?
As a poet, my process is inspiration-based. I might wake up in the middle of the night with a line or image in my head, something that launches the poem. Or inspiration may come when I’m walking, driving, or just puttering around the house doing chores. I wish I could say that I’m disciplined and have a set time of day when I nail my pants to a chair and write, but that would be a lie. Every Monday I exchange poems with two other poets by email. Knowing that they are expecting a new poem from me motivates me to write when I otherwise might not.
3. What is most challenging and most rewarding about using real life in your poetry?
What’s challenging is to avoid self-indulgence and to find the universal message within the personal experience. What’s rewarding is to have a platform where I can tell my truth and be heard. In real life, people involved in relationships with me don’t always want to hear my side of the story—especially when there’s conflict involved—and may be unwilling to validate my emotions and experiences. When I transform those events into poetry, I find readers who have had similar experiences and are willing to listen.
4. What song is on repeat for you right now?
“Right on Time” by Brandi Carlile