Judith Harway’s most recent collection of poetry, All That is Left, will be published by Turning Point Books in March, 2009. Her work has earned a 2007 fellowship in literature from the Wisconsin Arts Board, as well as support from the Hambidge Center and the MacDowell Colony. In addition to her chapbook, The Memory Box(2002), her poems have been published in dozens of literary journals. She is Associate Professor of Writing at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and holds an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. With her husband and two children, she makes her home in the Milwaukee area.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
Poetry has always been there for me. My parents said that I used to wake them in the night to write down rhymes and stories that occurred to me before I could write for myself. Had they yelled at me and gone back to sleep instead of rising groggily out of bed and fumbling for pen and paper, I wonder if my love of language would have bloomed quite so early.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
I wrote almost compulsively through my high school years. Perhaps, in truth, I was writing my life more fully than I was living it. Fortunately, there was one wise teacher who pushed me to read as much as I wrote; reading poetry drew me out of myself and into the universal. It made me face the fact that the making of art is a lot more complicated than mere self-expression.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
My top two recommendations for young writers are: 1) READ as much poetry as you possibly can, and remember that all cultures and time periods can nourish you. 2) Check out Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, a tiny and timeless book.
I firmly believe that the best way anyone can learn to write is to read the work of great writers. A poet has to listen to the voices of others in order to find his/her own voice. As John Haines wrote, “If you do not have good models, you will have bad ones.”