Connie Wasem Scott remembers starting to write as a 12-year-old shortly after her family moved from Colorado to Texas. Leaving her childhood home intensified the general pain of being young that would fuel her attempts at prose and poetry.
“I had all this angst,” she said.
Writing allowed her to emote and process her circumstances then, and it still does today. Her poems have appeared in Citron, Shore Poetry, Streetlight, Minerva Rising, Cathexis Northwest and elsewhere.
Scott teaches creative writing, technical writing and literature at Spokane Falls Community College. During last year’s unexpected but long-awaited sabbatical, she was able to finish compiling her debut collection, “Predictable as Fire.”
A finalist in the Moonstone Press Chapbook contest, “Predictable as Fire” was released on Thursday.
The short collection of poems centers around her experience coming to terms with her brother’s early memory loss.
In “Sorrow Is a Jagged Bone,” she explores the grief of losing a sibling.
“Tears that never escape weaken / the spines of our muscles. At the break / of day when we rise / predictable as fire, our pain returns / to scratch morning’s smooth face. / The sorrow must be rebroken / like a poorly set bone.”
After high school, Scott continued to write through college, deciding to “follow (her) bliss” while waiting for a more concrete plan to emerge.
“I didn’t have any long-term goals,” she said. “But I knew I loved English. I loved reading and writing. I always had.”
In her senior year, she took a course in contemporary American poetry. Contemporary literature is not a common focal point in literature programs, she said.
“It was a rare opportunity, and it changed my life,” she said.
“It’s like when you hear people say they want to be a musician – you know they’re not just listening to the old stuff, things that were written centuries ago, they’re listening to today’s music. Painters will study the classics, but they’re also going to see what’s happening today. It should be the same with poetry.”
Reading the contemporary American poets covered in that course opened up a whole new world of poetry to Scott. It inspired her to travel and experience the world around her in new ways.
She backpacked through Europe and spent six months driving through Mexico, writing travel articles on the various archaeological sites she toured.
After graduating with her master’s, she began writing poetry in earnest.
“I’ve come to learn that all you need is your own backyard, your kitchen even,” she said, mentioning the past year’s restrictions.
Now that her classes have resumed, Scott prefers to write in the morning and tries to limit her critiques until later in the day.
“If you’re critical of yourself as you start the process, that shuts down the creative mind, and the editor’s mind gets in the way,” she said.
If you allow yourself to write freely, you might write a lot of pieces that are “just OK,” she said. But as long as you are actively writing, you are also continuing to learn your craft.
“It’s like learning the violin,” she said. “You pick up the violin and you bring that bow across the strings – it’s not going to be lovely at first. But if you stick with it and continue to practice, eventually it’ll be melodic, to the point where other people will like to hear it.”
To aspiring poets, Scott offered the following advice: “Read, write and revise.”
Scott’s “Predictable as Fire” is available through Moonstone Press’s online bookstore at moonstone-arts-center.square.site.
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