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.