Interview: Bridget Meeds


Bridget Meeds now lives a block from the banks of Six Mile Creek, which empties into Cayuga Lake, which she chose as her own when she moved to Ithaca in 1987. For a single year in the early 90s, she lived on a cliff above the Irish Sea, and later, a stone’s throw to the banks of the Lagan River in Belfast. She grew up a few miles from Onondaga Lake, a wounded body of water, still her omphalos.

1. When did you start writing?

I was always an avid reader and a dedicated musician in my teens. I moved to Ithaca in 1987 to study music education at Ithaca College, but soon left that program and began writing. Something in me that had been flowing in the channel of music jumped the banks and started to flow into the writing of poetry. I am indebted to my first teachers of poetry, Kevin Murphy and Katharyn Howd Machan, for welcoming me with open arms. And to the many other poets in Ithaca and around the world who have kindly allowed to join their ranks.

2. What draws you to writing poetry, compared to other writing forms?

Poetry allows me to combine ideas and images which might not meet on the tidy sidewalk of prose, and its compression injects urgency and intensifies the music of the words.

3. Do you draw from your own personal experiences in writing poetry? If so, how has this process served as a tool for reflection?

Whenever I write, I am writing about people. Sometimes about my own life, sometimes about others I observe. Reflection, to me, is not the goal of poetry. Poetry does not merely mirror back, but is a lens which transforms.

4. Apart from personal experiences, what especially inspires your work?

As a native upstate New Yorker, I am susceptible to the changing weather. Surely my internal weather is an influence as well. I like to look at art and listen to music to think about how artists in other forms address the problems we all face. 

5. In your poem, “I’m Ulaanbaatar,” you refrain from using punctuation marks to distinguish sentence from sentence. Can you talk about what led you to that decision and the effect that has as opposed to if you were to use punctuation marks in this poem? 

I fight about punctuation in poetry with the poets in my writing group all the time. I see it as musical notation marking the pauses and their lengths for the performer of the poem, as I hear poems first. In this poem, I wanted to convey frantic manic urgency by removing punctuation, making the reader literally breathless with excitement.  

6. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sit still and think. Or walk and think.

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