Aug 16, 2009

Ten Questions With Jolen Whitworth

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Americymru member Jolen Whitworth is a prolific writer of poetry which has won her both publishing and competition successes. She has also worked as an editor on a number of poetry and writing projects. She now lives in England with her husband James. Her book, Every Girl Has Her Limits was published in 2009 by UKA Press.

Americymru: What in your opinion inspires people to write verse?

Jolen: I suppose my first instinct is to say the need to express something in an immediate, creative fashion. People write verse about their everyday lives, social or political issues, art, etc. Regardless of form or subject matter, we all share the need to express ourselves in an artistic fashion. Verse just happens to be the chosen medium.

Americymru: What is your background? How did you come to be interested in poetry?

Jolen: I come from extremely humble beginnings. We were poor, and growing up, art of any kind wasn't appreciated or encouraged at home. However, I've always been in love with words and hungered to read everything I could get my hands on. Which, I did. I even read the dictionary for fun.

I've been writing songs and stories since I could hold a crayon. It was my dream to write for as long as I can recall, but I kept it to myself, since it seemed to be impossible for so long.

I have always found poetry beautiful, although I never foresaw myself writing it with any seriousness. That happened quite by accident. I had some poems hidden away for years and shared them with a long time friend. He finally convinced me to share them publicly. It was very raw and emotional work, but I got an immediate and favorable reaction to it by a poet from New York. Along with his and others encouragement, I began to work on improving and polishing my work. In the process, I discovered that I needed to write poetry as much as I needed to breathe. It was a profound personal revelation.

Americymru: What is your compositional method?

Jolen: That is a difficult question for me to answer effectively. Most often, it will begin with an image or concept I find intriguing. Then I start to put some words down on paper and allow the thoughts to take me on a journey, while I write it out. After that, the real work begins; the task of shaping, sharpening and polishing those thoughts and images into a piece that conveys my message best.

Americymru: The title of your collection "Every Girl has Her Limits" is interesting. How much is it a reaction to the circumstances of your life and how much is it a more general philosophical statement?

Jolen: Thank you. I tend to write in first person, regardless, and while most of the poems in this collection are reflective of my personal journey, I have tried to express those things and others in a broad enough manner to make a general philosophical statement. I try to create something that people will identify with in an emotional, intellectual or spiritual way. Occasionally, I manage all three with one piece, or as a friend calls it, the "Holy Trinity", which is exceptionally fulfilling.

Americymru: The poems in this collection are grouped under various sub-titles (Postulate, Edge, Terminal Side, Opposite Faces, Locus) Care to comment on this grouping? What themes are addressed in these individual sections?

Jolen: I wanted to divide my book into sections and selected geometrical terms because I felt they were appropriate for several reasons. If you think of about it, life is a series of lines, arcs and angles. By viewing the world and my poetry in this fashion, it was quite easy to place particular poems within the relevant section.

Postulate: (A statement assumed to be true without proof) includes poems that I feel deal with elemental ideals which all humans are aware of on some level, but often lose sight of.

Edge: (A segment that helps to make up a face) In this section I have poems that I have written about or for other people

Terminal Side: (The side that the measurement of an angle ends at) In this section I have poems about unhealthy relationships.

Opposite Faces: (Faces that lie between parallel lines) This section has poems dealing with love and life in the same place but coming at it in different or opposite directions.

Locus: (The set that satisfies a given condition) Love poetry or poetry dealing with life-changing events. Positive places, that if we're very fortunate, we get to and remain.

And finally, there is Limit: (The actual area of a region) Which I left blank because I believe that we define our own limits.

Americymru: Do you have a particular favorite in this collection?

Jolen: I would have to say "Sanguine Sea" is my personal favorite in this collection, but there are several that I'm very fond of.

Americymru: You have been described as: "a full-blooded Celtic poetess". What do you think about that characterization? Are there particular Celtic influences in your work?

Jolen: I love it! Out of all the labels people have tried to assign me, that particular one is the most pleasing to me.

Yes, in a great deal of my work you will find Celtic influences. Particularly in poems like "Sanguine Sea" and "In The Shape Of A Hart", which is about a recent spiritual experience I had while on holiday in Scotland.

Americymru: Is there any one work that you're particularly proud of or that you particularly like? What is it and why?

Jolen: I have a poem entitled "Lessons" and I like it because I think that I have managed to come up with some interesting images, my favorite one being, "sharpen saber and wit on each others whet-bones."

Americymru: Do you have future publication plans, if so, what are they?

Jolen: In the immediate future, I have poems which will be featured in Sarasvati, Reach, Dawntreader and Twisted Tongue poetry magazines, as well the following anthologies: "Whispers on the Breeze" by United Press, "Tides of Life" by Forward Press, and "Fields of Green" by First Writer Press

I am currently working on a novel and a book of short stories that I hope to have published in the not too distant future.

I have been compiling a collection of verse, but I don't foresee trying to publish that for a while yet. My work is evolving and I want to be certain that my next book is representative of those changes.

Americymru: Any final message for the members and readers of Americymru?

Jolen:  Besides telling them to rush right out and buy my book, you mean?

Yes, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank UKA Press ( their continued support of my work and excellence in the field.

I would also like to thank both you and the readers for their interest and encourage anyone out there who is interested in poetry or writing in general, to go for it. You're only truly limited by what you allow yourself to be.

You can email Jolen Whitworth at this address:- jolenwhitworth { at } The ISBN number of "Every Girl Has Her Limits" is 978-1-9057-9621-2.

Interview by Ceri Shaw

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