Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Laurette Folk: Through Compassion and Her Own Life Journey, She Finds Portals for Her Writing.

Laurette Folk: Through Compassion and Her Own Life Journey, She Finds Portals for Her Writing.

By Doug Holder

Laurette Folk is a poet and novelist who founded the “The Compassion Project: An Anthology,” an online collection of poetry and art that promotes compassionate thought and action through the arts. Through this project , her struggles with depression, the demands of being a wife, mother, teacher, and author, she has found portals for her creative work.

 Folk received a semifinalist nomination and “Noted Writer” award from the Boston Fiction Festival and has been published in upstreet, The Boston Globe Magazine, Literary Mama, Narrative Northeast, Italian Americana, Talking Writing, among others. Ms. Folk is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing program and teaches at North Shore Community College.

I talked with her on my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer

Doug Holder: You are the founder of the “Compassion Anthology.” Do you think the arts today give enough play to compassion?

Laurette Folk: I think it is there. But I don't think it is shown enough. Compassion is ajewel to be displayed. And you realize that when you are suffering. It brings people together. I think it is something we take too lightly in society.

DH: You say you practice mindfulness. Explain.

LF: Well, mindfulness is just being in the present. We are always looking to the future. We feel we have to do this or that. There is compassion in mindfulness. There is compassion in mindfulness. It is a hard thing to stay in the moment.

DH: You suffered from depression. Did depression motivate you to look inward? In a way did it give you inspiration to write?

LF: In a way it did inspire me. It was a portal. My depression was clinical. There is a history of depression in my family. I had an intense experience with it. After college I chose a career that I wasn't suited for, engineering. I was bored. I was alone a lot. I lived in New York City—which can be very lonely. I was overstimulated, and I arrived at a dark place. I would write at night in my small studio in Forest Hills in Queens. I guess that was my portal into writing. I realized that there was an internal world that could be tapped into. I had yet to learn the craft of writing. So, yes, depression was a way in. Hey—when you are a writer you live an inward life. And when you are creative it ain't all daises and roses.

DH: You went to Vermont College. You described yourself as a misfit in a land of misfits. Explain.

LF: When I started my first residency I said to myself,” Wow, people like me really exist.” People really had an intense inner life and cared about writing about fictitious people. Kindred souls. I was very inspired—it was a rich experience. It was great to be put in a rich environment , with all these people who had rich inner lives. The teachers there led me to writing by wonderful writers. I don't know if I would have found them on my own. One writer that comes to mind that influenced me was Margaret Atwood.

DH: There is a lot of spirituality in your poems. What is your source of this?

LF: I am a fan of the poet Mary Oliver. And like her, I see spirituality in nature. When I go into the woods with my dog—that is when the poems come to to me.

DH: What is it about walking that often helps the writing process?

LF: I think it calms the mind. You are doing something with that restless energy. It gives you space.

DH: You worked closely with publisher Robin Stratton of Big Table Books on your novel“ A Portal of Vibrancy.” How was that experience?

LF: She is terrific. She is a generously kind person. I learned a lot. When you run a small press you have to wear a lot of hats. I learned a lot about—there was a whole process of publishing that I was unaware of. I worked closely with her.

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