Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: We love the interplay of images in “Eclipsed,” which combines medical scans, scars, and geography with the view of an eclipse. How do you approach connecting such different ideas and images?
Summer Hardinge: My poem “Eclipsed” came at a time when certain family members faced serious health challenges, around the time of the eclipse in August 2107. I thought about what a delicate balance there is between light and darkness—of how what happens in the whelm of the sky and cosmos often reflects this delicate thing of our being human. Some things are just beyond control, but we still hope. I was drawn to the parallels between the actual surgical process and the process of an eclipse and attempts to see one. I suppose these ideas collided in imagery.
RR: Since we’re in Virginia, we have to ask: do you have any personal connection to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are mentioned in the poem?
SH: The Blue Ridge Mountains are my spiritual home. I grew up in the Roanoke Valley, surrounded by the mountains. My bedroom window looked out to a small peak, Sugarloaf, and from the kitchen I could see Peaks of Otter. Thinking of the Blue Ridge carries me to a safe and inspirational place.
RR: We understand you lead writing workshops at Amherst Writers & Artists. Do you teach poetry or do you also teach other genres? What kind of workshops have you led?
SH: The workshops I lead with Amherst Writers and Artists are varied, but all build on craft, community, and with the idea everyone is a creative being who writes. The workshops encourage all genres. I’ve led themed workshops focusing on Ekphrastic Writing, Memoir, Slow Writing, Food, Nature, The Creative Habit, and Love. In April, I focus on National Poetry Month with special prompts geared toward poetry, but not exclusively. I’ve also collaborated with other leaders for special events around holidays, teamed up with a yoga teacher to combine writing with the practice, and traveled to local museums to write with others.
RR: What time of day is you favorite time to write? How often to do you write?
SH: I don’t have a favorite time to write. It’s more a time when I feel cleared in my head with plenty of space to write. Every day I spend time writing, revising, thinking about writing. The time could be several hours, shorter durations, or all day. Sometimes an idea will snatch me away and I must put it down right away. Other times, it’s a slower process.
RR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
SH: My favorite writers are varied. When I want to return to ones who always enrich or guide me, I read Seamus Heaney, William Stafford, W.H. Auden, Flannery O’Conner, Ruth Stone, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, William Faulkner, Walt Whitman. Lately I’ve been reading Natasha Tretheway, Ron Rash, Eavan Boland, and Liz Berry. I also love the writers in the VA/MD/DC area such as Linda Pastan, Kim Roberts, Stanley Plumly, Rita Dove, Rose Solari.
Summer Hardinge’s work in Issue 5.3: