Vital Stats Follow-up ;-)

Nancy posted these questions in the comments, here's my follow up--

When did you write your first poem?
***Second grade, I think. A lot happened in 2nd grade for me with writing because we had a teacher who would have creative writing sessions for all the 2nd graders (Mrs. Cameron). She always encouraged me and I don't think she ever realized how much impact she had on my life.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
****My mom.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
***In college, me or my prof. I never thought about audience or publishing. For me, I enjoyed poetry and was thrilled with the idea of writing. I didn't start submitting regularly until I was at least 30. I wrote for 10+ years and had only submitted say 5 poems to local college journals. It just wasn't anything that was important to me.

Did your first poems rhyme, or were they formal/free verse?
***They all rhymed, though I did use some slant rhyme in this ditty entitled "Love is..."

Love is my mom, love is my dad,
love is the family that I have.

(thankfully, I did not feel the need to use rhyme there or my ending would be the ominous "love is the family that I had." What parent would like to get that creepy close.

I grew up on formal verse and nursery rhymes. I had no idea poems didn't rhyme (with the exception of a few forms like haiku, acrostics, etc.) until I was a teenager.

In college, none of my poems rhymed. I was very anti-rhyme and much more into telling a story through my poems. I did not have the terms to call it "narrative" yet. At the time, I wanted every poem to be like a specific photograph, with a place, a story, and a character or two.

Who first encouraged your writing?
***My mom and most of my early grade school teachers. In college, Linda Bierds was a major reason I ever submitted or became a poet. I started out in college as a fiction writer. I had taken one poetry class and thought it was fun, but loved fiction more. Linda B. was an incredible teacher and took poetry to a completely different level and place for me.

Who did you show your first poem(s) to?
***My parents & teachers as a child.

The other students in my poetry class at the UW. I still do not show my work to my husband until it is finished (or published). Nowadays, I only to my closest poetry friends.

Do you remember your reaction to your first time being paid for writing?
***Kind of.

Did you spend that money--and on what?
***When Rattapallax paid me, I bought vintage Czech glass Mardi Gras beads and I still wear this necklace. I've also bought a vintage green ceramic vase when I won a grant or received some money (it is the closest thing to a trophy I have).

When I won the Atlantic Monthly prize, I bought a statue of Kwan Yin for my garden. Mostly, I squirrel the money away in a writing acct for myself so I have money when cool opportunities come up--like a retreat, or the Carolyn Forche class I signed up for this spring.

When is the first time you called yourself "a poet"?
****I'm still not too comfortable with this term. I'd rather say writer. I think sometimes when people hear "poet" they imagine me with a beret and bongo drums in a black turtleneck. I think other people called me a poet before I called myself a poet.

I do remember writing "writer" on my form when entering London in 1996. That was a big step for me, esp. because at the time I was working a corporate job and very unhappy with where my life was going. It was when I made a conscious decision to change directions. Within a year, I had quit my job and moved to this small town I'm in today. One of the best things I've ever done.