April 8, 2013

Celebrating National Poetry Month with Claudia Serea

Claudia Serea
In celebration of National Poetry Month the PCCC Writing Center blog will host one interview a week with an established poet. To start, I'd like to introduce Claudia Serea a Romanian-born poet whose poems and translations have appeared in 5 a.m., Meridian, Harpur Palate, Word Riot, The Red Wheelbarrow, Green Mountains Review, and many others. A two-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada) and The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand). More at http://cserea.tumblr.com/.

PCCC: How did you know or when did you know you were a poet?

Claudia Serea (CS):I never planned to be a poet, it sort of happened. I started writing when I was in my early teens, I think I was in seventh grade. I first wrote a sci-fi novel trilogy about kids my age who had a series of adventures in space. Poetry came later, when I was sixteen or so, and it was always something I did on the side, not really my main focus until 2006, I think. Someone else first referred to me as a poet after I joined The Red Wheelbarrow Poets group and started writing consistently every week.

PCCC: What topics do you most like to explore in your poetry?

CS: I write a lot about growing up in communist Romania, about my family who is still there, but also about my immigration experience, and my current life in New Jersey and New York. There are also myths, Romanian folk tales, dreams, my daughter, many different things. I change styles and themes frequently to get myself out of a comfort zone.

PCCC: What other types of writing do you also focus on? Genre?

CS: I wrote some memoir non-fiction pieces about the Romanian revolution from December 1989 and a couple of articles on the process of writing. I continue to translate Romanian contemporary poetry. I would very much like to write more prose, but I don't have enough time to dedicate to it. For now, just the occasional flash-fiction, prose poems, short forms that can be written during my daily bus commute.

PCCC: What do you most struggle with during the revision process?

CS: Word choice is important. Musicality. Throwing out parts of the poem that don't work and keeping what is good. Line breaks, commas, lots of things. My notebooks are a mess.

PCCC: Talk about your latest book? What's next?

CS: My latest title is The System, a chapbook published by Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, and inspired by my father's experience as a political prisoner in Romania in the late fifties/early sixties. It's a little book that speaks against repression systems everywhere in the world. I feel strongly that my father's and grandmother's stories are important to tell. It's my way to honor the victims of the communist genocide. You can find the book HERE.

I have two other books forthcoming: To Part Is to Die a Little from Cervena Barva Press, and A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky, from 8th House Publishing in Montreal, Canada. I am looking forward to their release in the near future. I also collaborated recently with four other Romanian-American writers and now we are actively looking for a publisher for our collection. Poetry has been very kind to me and I made many friends through it. I can't wait to see what else it has in store.

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