April 12, 2016

Friday, June 11, 2010

5 Questions for Ellen Hopkins, Part 2

Nevada may not have a state poet laureate, but they do have best-selling verse novelist Ellen Hopkins. Ellen is spending Poetry Friday with us today!

Let's continue the 5 questions.

3) Ellen, there are a handful of poems in your YA book Burned which describe Nevada's landscape ("Halfway," "Aunt Jeanette Lived"). Pattyn, the main character, falls in love with rural Nevada. How has living there affected your poetry?

Immensely! After 20 years here, Nevada is such a huge part of me.

The landscape is incredibly beautiful, (it's a unique palette -- evergreen and gold and a kind of lavender, from the vegetation) and the view outside my windows inspires me greatly.

I spent time teaching in eastern Nevada, where much of Burned is set. [I] have driven those highways and back roads, which seem endless and often empty. There is wildlife specific to our area (and a lot of it is currently chewing up my garden). I encourage the wildlife, something my husband doesn't understand. I write poetry about it, too. It's life. Poetry should live.

4) Nevada doesn't have a state poet laureate, but I'm guessing there's a thriving poetry scene. Who are some regional poets we should be reading? What do you admire about their work?

Northern Nevada especially has a thriving arts community, including some amazing poets. The late Bill Cowee was a mentor of mine.  He has one book, Bones Set Against the Drift. And two other Nevada poets are exceptional -- Shaun Griffin and Gary Short. Shaun writes a lot about life and death. Gary is just a real celebration of living.

I've been a member of Ash Canyon Poets here in Carson City for a decade. It's a great group... everything from raw beginners to award-winning poets. I used to be more active (time is always an issue now).

5) Gary Snyder has a beautiful poem called, "How Poetry Comes to Me." How does poetry come to you?

Poetry comes to me in the way dawn reveals its face over muted eastern hills. It shines, silver light, scattered across the winter-fed valley. It hums along with the brass song of saxophones. It rises in a mist of rain-splattered sage. It says goodnight, paw prints in the sand.

Thanks for spending Poetry Friday with us, Ellen. And thanks for being a voice for those teens who really need someone to tell their stories.


jama said...

Thanks for more from Ellen. Her answer to #5 is simply beautiful!

Author Amok said...

Jama -- that's exactly what I said. What a lyrical response to the question. She's amazing.

Naomi Canale said...

What a great interview! I sucked up every word, thanks for this! Ellen's AMAZING!!!

Author Amok said...

Naomi -- thanks for visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. It was an honor to talk poetry with Ellen.

Kelly Polark said...

I enjoyed reading Ellen's interview and poem!!

all things poetry said...


Thanks for asking such great questions that lead to insights about poetry. Enjoyed the Hopkin's Part 1 and Part 2 very much!

Laura Evans

Toby Speed said...

Laura, I just read your wonderful interview with Ellen and am now eager to read her books in verse. I love how she described how poetry comes to her, and how she says that the white space on the page is comforting for teen readers.

Author Amok said...

Ellen is a singular voice in YA literature. Her use of poetic form gives balance to the very, very tough subjects she writes about. My favorite novel (so far) is "Identical" -- horrifying, sad and with an amazing plot twist at the end!

Jeannine Atkins said...

Love the comments about landscape, and how poetry comes to her. Even if on the latter I'm kind of jealous. I always find some wrestling involved. I've got to get up my nerve now to read the Gary Snyder, who I adore, poem.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jeannine! The Snyder poem is deceptively simple and very rich, which you probably guessed from Ellen's response.

I've asked several poets on the tour about how their region affects their writing. For some, it doesn't. Other have a deep relationship with the landscape and people they live with. It's been an interesting discussion.