10 Questions for Maureen Seaton
- By Edward Clifford
Stand on a bridge
There, in the center, facing north.
Feel the whole bridge
Collapse beneath you: Goodbye, bridge.
—from "Rondelet for the Terminally Ill," Volume 63, Issue 4 (Winter 2022)
Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first thing I wrote as an adult was a short story I intended to send to a favorite magazine (REDBOOK, I believe, a long time ago). But the story kept getting shorter and shorter. And shorter. Then one day I showed it to a writer friend and he said: Sorry, Maureen, but that’s a poem. And I knew I was in trouble.
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Ntozake Shange, Robert Hass, Marilyn Hacker, Ginsberg, O’Hara, all the beats and the NY School. Kimiko Hahn. Charles Simic. And my collaborators have been huge influences. Denise Duhamel, Samuel Ace, Neil de la Flor, Aaron Smith, Kristine Snodgrass, and Nicole Tallman.
What other professions have you worked in?
Mostly teaching—highschool language arts in New York, adjunct poetry and Artist-in-Residence in Chicago, professor in Florida. In-between, I was often a secretary and sometimes an energy practitioner. Always a mother, and now grandmother, which easily ties with poet.
What did you want to be when you were young?
A ballerina and a monk.
What inspired you to write this piece?
Well, I was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer in 2017. One day I came across the rondelet form and I started writing a lot of rondelets to drive myself crazy. My good old weekly poetry group made fun of me and my rondelets. It spurred me on. For “Rondelet for the Terminally Ill,” I had an experience on a small bridge near my house that was pretty cool. It turned into a rondelet.
Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
Wherever I am influences me. I love city and ocean and mountain and solo drives across the country. It’s all incredible. Place inspires me deeply.
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
For the past few years I try to write a new poem every week for my little group. They keep me working. And I love to collaborate. Maybe more than anything else.
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
Definitely, composing music.
What are you working on currently?
I’m trying to keep my current book of poems on the light side but honest. Quite a challenge under the circumstances.
What are you reading right now?
Paul Tran and Carolina Hospital. I just reserved Robert Duncan’s selected and Sharon Olds’ new collection from the local library.
MAUREEN SEATON has authored two dozen poetry collections, both solo and collaborative—recently, Undersea (JackLeg) and Sweet World (CavanKerry), winner of the 2019 Florida Book Award for poetry. Her honors include Lambda Literary Awards for both Lesbian Poetry and Lesbian Memoir, the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award, an NEA, and the Pushcart. She was voted Miami’s Best Poet 2020 by The Miami New Times and is professor emerita of English and creative writing at the University of Miami.