1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
I have had some wonderful teachers on my poetic journey, including Afaa Michael Weaver, Jeffrey Perkins, and Jennifer Fleischer. Jeffrey Perkins encouraged me to try traditional poetic forms, such as the ghazal and the sestina. The use of repetition in these forms has impacted me greatly. I enjoy using internal rhyme, repetition, and enjambment. I use line breaks to punctuate and pierce the reader’s consciousness.
I notice that I like to give the reader a great deal of space and make my lines sparse, so that the images are more arresting.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
What a wonderful question! I think poetry breathes and lives — and I can feel my poems inhaling and exhaling. One of the wonders of poetry is how the poem is often ahead of me. Sometimes it takes me a long time to fully catch up to the poem, which seems further along in its consciousness that I am.
My poetry is very sensual. My love poems are amphorae that hold memory, both sensual and romantic.
One of my favorite poems is “Written on Skin” which is about these very connections between the body and poetry and between our bodies and our histories. I have attached it here.
Sometimes I feel like sharing poems is like a kind of undressing, which can leave the poet feeling naked and exposed.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
To me, feeling inspired to write is a gift and cause for celebration. I love getting the words down on paper. The need to write is part of my DNA, it’s how I think and process.
However, I hate the look on some people’s faces when they learn that I am a poet or when I am introduced as a poet. Some people actually get a very odd look on their faces as if a poet is some kind of obscure and esoteric hermit who lives in isolation. I am very social and very active in the world — travelling, lecturing, consulting, and teaching.
I work in the area of human rights and sustainability.
4. Is there any advice you would give to other poets?
I recommend finding a community of poets. I have been extremely fortunate to have terrific mentors and role models, including Janice Silverman Rebibo, Jennifer Barber, and Judith Steinbergh. These poets inspire and encourage me, as have the Bagel Bards, a group of Boston-based poets who meet every week for coffee.
My other advice is to become a poet entrepreneur. Create your own vehicles for poetry. I helped to co-found Soul-Lit, an on-line poetry magazine. http://soul-lit.com/
I also have created a Poetry Festival at my Temple, which is now in its sixth year. And I have hosted panels at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival two years in a row.
Social media is a wonderful tool for poets. I have developed a Facebook page for Flower Map and a Twitter account, FlowerMapPoem. My website is http://flowermap.net/
Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, consultant, and professor. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press, http://flowermap.net/ (June, 2013). Her poems have been featured in Salamander, Ibbetson Street, and Muddy River Poetry Review, as well as in the following anthologies: Voices Israel and Bagels with the Bards. Ms. Leipziger is the co-editor and co-founder of Soul-Lit, an online journal for spiritual poetry. http://soul-lit.com/
In November, 2014, Ms. Leipziger’s poem “Written on Skin” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
She is the author of several books in the area of business and human rights. Ms. Leipziger is a Senior Fellow at the Lewis Institute at Babson. A Professor at Hult International Business School and Bard, Ms. Leipziger teaches sustainability and human rights to MBA students. Her books on sustainability and human rights have been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Deborah was born in Brazil and resides in Brookline, MA.