Saturday, 15 April 2017

Writer Interview: Pamela G. Herron

It's that time of the week again, and we're joined by poet, writer and educator Pamela G. Herron! Learn about her labours of love, and how she hopes to bring people healing and harmony with her words.


When and why did you first start writing?

Sometimes it feels like I was always a writer with stories and songs in my head. I was always a lover of stories and a storyteller. My mother sang folksongs to me and my father loved to tell funny stories and ghost stories. I learned to read and write before I turned three years old, thanks to my older sister who always knew she would be a teacher! I had amazing teachers in school who encouraged me and exposed me to writers who inspired me. My first published writing was work-for-hire as a free-lance writer in Louisville, Kentucky where I wrote a bit of everything. My first collection of poetry was published in 2013.

Who is most supportive about your writing?

My son, my husband, and my mother are my biggest supporters. My son is my first reader and I can count on him to catch me when I ramble, my work is muddy and unclear, or when it’s just not quite right. We’ve been reading each other’s work for years. My husband leaves me alone and keeps me fed when I am trying to meet a deadline. Too many times I am grateful that he calls me to the table when food is ready, I wolf it down, and then back to writing. I think I might have starved or wasted away without him! My mother has been gone for over 20 years but she always, always believed in me. In truth, everything I write probably has a little bit of Elizabeth Herron somewhere inside. 

What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?

My poetry is my passion and comes from my heart. Concerns about our planet, our connections with our non-human neighbors, and a deep appreciation of the astounding beauty of nature weave in and out of my poems and prose. Chinese culture, Confucianism, and Daoism form the other side of my writing, but to me all of it connects. My explorations into Daoism and the Daodejing view it through the lens of environmentalism and our inseparable connections with the natural world surrounding us.   

Where do you write? Do you have a writing space or a particular process/routine?

Everywhere! I always have paper and a pen to scribble down words. I do write at a desk in an office/library in my home, but I can never predict when the flash of idea might come. So many of my early poems were scratched on an airline napkin, or a scrap of paper, or the back of an envelope. My desk is used for “proper” writing, and indeed most of my editing and revising, but that germ of a new poem or article or book might appear out of nowhere at the least expected time!

What’s your favourite word?

Sustainability, the concept of living a sustainable life in harmony with others permeates all of my writing.

What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?

Editing, editing, editing. The ideas sprout easily; the hard work begins with honing, polishing, and refining. That’s the real work of writing! And it only begins after you have typed “the end” which is really just the beginning!

Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are most proud of.

This is most difficult to answer because, in a way, the piece I am working on is my favorite piece of the moment. I am understandably proud of my poetry collection En l’air published by Unsolicited Press. An incredibly gifted editor there helped me craft my work into the resulting book. Truth be told, the writing accomplishment that stands out for me the most is my novel which is not yet published. In 2004, I began a novel for young adults, working title Border Passages: Growing up in Chinatown of El Paso at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. It involved extensive historic research and I am forever grateful to every source which helped inform the book. The novel was finished in 2010 but I have been turned down by several publishers. Like my poems, this is a work of my heart. Half my family is Chinese and the history of Chinese immigrants is undervalued and unknown in so much of the world. Considering the political climate of today and the rearing of the ugliness of racism yet again, I feel the book is still timely and significant. I WILL find the right publisher and this book will be published! 

What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?

I have a second poetry collection I hope to publish soon. The title is Stone Letters and Dream Catchers. The poems are mostly nature poems and many were written while I traveled in New Mexico also known as the “Land of Enchantment.” I am also editing a collection of poems mostly written while traveling in China. Upcoming I have four chapters in various academic books on Confucian or Daoism topics which will be published probably later this year. Most of those are an examination of the relevance of ancient Chinese spiritual or philosophical thought to today’s chaotic society. I have a picture book in the works and two other young adult novels in progress, one of which is a novel in poems. A dream for me would be to write a book that could become widely enough known to make people, all people, sit up and pay attention to what we are Some may know the saying: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” My goal is to present words that bring to everyone healing, peace, and harmony.


Bio

Pamela G. Herron is a poet, writer, and educator for the University of Texas at El Paso in Texas teaching for Humanities, Asian Studies, Religious Studies and English. Her areas of research include Confucianism and Daoism and how they apply in the modern world; China and Chinese immigration particularly in the El Paso/Cuidad Juarez area; the importance and diversity of cultural identity; sustainability; and writing and teaching literature for young readers. She regularly presents in both the US and China, particularly on Confucianism and gender along with multicultural issues. She is committed to a multicultural approach in all aspects of learning. She coordinates the Chinese Language Program at the university. Her book of poetry En l’air: A collection of poems created in the air was published in 2013.  Her poems and flash fiction have appeared in various journals as have her reviews of poetry and films. Her work has also appeared in several poetry anthologies from Lost Tower Publications. Border Passage: Growing up in Chinatown of El Paso, Texas at the turn of the Twentieth Century is her first historic fiction for young readers. She is currently working on a new collection of poetry written while traveling in China and a collection of nature poetry. When she isn’t writing, you may find her reading or gardening in her El Paso desert home.

Find out more about Pamela on her website.
Would you like to take part in an interview for the Peeking Cat blog? Email editor@peekingcatpoetry.co.uk

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