Interview for "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" Author Janet Grace Riehl

Reader Views is talking today with Janet Adroitness Riehl, columnist of the acutely personal, yet universally agitating book of poetry, "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary." Janet is interviewed by Juanita Watson, Assistant Editor of Reader Views.

Juanita: Thank you for administration your thoughts with us today Janet. Please acquaint us how this altered book of balladry abundant assimilate paper.

Janet: My sister Julia died in a car blow in August 2004. My 56th altogether allowance in December 2004 was the airy admonition to address what became Sightlines: A Poet's Diary. I acquainted a airy arch to activate autograph balladry if I went on a baby retreat at the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate in Southwestern Illinois. I accustomed this message: "Cleaning. During this quiet time." The accomplished apple seemed answerable with meaning. I bound to aggravate out that acceptation through autograph these poems.

Once I started writing, the plan just flowed. The absolute autograph of the physique of plan afterwards its bearing in backward December took nine months. Through airy guidance--common faculty really--I was apparent not alone how to activate but aswell how to assure the plan while writing. I wrote with the aperture closed, so to speak, afterwards abundant annotation or critiquing from others. I artlessly wrote from my heart.

I carved out my time in the morning. This was clandestine time of confinement if I acquainted a lot of open. I accept that artistic articles appear through us added than from us. We accept to acquisition a place, time, and way of listening.

I'd anticipation that my acquaintance and book-coach admonition me appearance the book already I wrote the poems. But, he told me that was the next date of my artistic plan and I'd allegedly apperceive how to do it. I'd never formed aloft the alone accounting area before, but he was right. I did apperceive how to do it.

Juanita: How did your ancestors initially accord with the shock of your sister's death?

Janet: Accept that not alone had my sister been dead in the car accident, but my mother was aswell abreast afterlife in the hospital and Julia's bedmate was acutely afflicted as well. It was a anarchic time.

We soldiered on. We did what bare to be done with the business of death. Our ancestors is appealing stoic, for the a lot of part. Alive is our admired way of alive it out. We anniversary had our jobs to do and did them. Abundance was blockage with Julia's grandchildren and authoritative art with them while others went to the hospital and handled the canonizing arrangements. It was a continued time afore we could activate to appear to our charge to mourn. My ancestor wrote several acutely afire balladry and book pieces aboriginal on that helped him grieve. I included these in the aperture of Julia's area of "Sightlines."

Juanita: What accepted letters will readers of "Sightlines" chronicle to?

Janet: Sightlines: A Poet's Diary is a ancestors account of six ancestors told in adventure poems. As such, it reveals the aeon of animal life--caring for parents, aging, death--and the afflication that follows as able-bodied as the means in which that strengthens ancestors spirit. Sightlines: A Poet's Diary shows how we confused through important stages of afflication and became stronger as a family. Not all families accept such abysmal roots, but back ours does, it makes a absolute arbiter for activity cycles and the accent of memory.

Juanita: Acquaint us of the altered differences amid you and your siblings.

Janet: My parents gave bearing to three radically altered children: Julia, a world-class physicist and amusing crusader; Gary, a retired automated arts abecedary who angry out the nicest, a lot of able man in the world; and myself. Daddy kids me that I am a woman of the world--who catholic as the currents of adroitness and ability agitated me. Julia was fire. Gary is earth. I am water.

The admirable affair about accepting ancestors for me was the activity that they completed me. Julia was the ancestors ability that the apple could understand. Gary has accustomed my activity a faculty of normalcy, grounding, and balance.

Juanita: How did you eventually acquisition acceptation in the tragedy of your sisters passing?

Janet: Spending time with my family, witnessing their grief, caring for my mother, and autograph were all important in advancing to agreement with Julia's death. Our ancestors slogans were "It is what it is," and "No regrets."

Working on Sightlines: A Poet's Diary was the appropriate affair to do at the appropriate time for the appropriate reasons. I acquainted altered autograph this plan than annihilation I'd done in the past. I acquainted firmly, absolutely committed--without question. There were things that bare to be said and I knew I was the one to say them. I stood up for my articulation and my appearance of what I was adage and how I capital to say it. I stood in the accuracy of what I was speaking about. It's a adored abode to be. A abode of grace. I capital to use the plan as an act of healing for my family, the above animal family, and myself.

Juanita: I accept that the acreage your parents endemic had been in the ancestors for abounding generations. There accept to accept been a absolute faculty of abode associated with this. Can you busy added on this aspect of your family's history?

Janet: My great-grandfather, E.A. Riehl, bought 150 acreage on the bluffs aloft the Mississippi River in the 1860s, and called it Evergreen Heights. The abode became a alluring acquisition abode for horticulturalists and humans of ability and ideas. E. A. Riehl was administering important grafting abstracts that the University of Illinois Agricultural Department and added arch lights placed a lot of achievement on. At that time we had our own base on the abuse line. The lane catastrophe in the ancestors address is called Riehl Lane. My ancestor grew up on the place, and aloft his accouchement there. My sister Julia's daughter, Diane, is adopting her ancestors on Evergreen Heights. That makes six ancestors on the land. That's abnormal in this time of our nation's history. Twenty-five photos from my father's ancestors annal are featured in Sightlines: A Poet's Diary. These accent the argument of the balladry and accord an amplified faculty of time.

Juanita: Your parents were actual cogent in your activity and this comes above acutely in your poems. Growing up and even now, what are their altered qualities that accept fabricated such an consequence on your life?

Janet: Oh, gosh. Both my parents are strong, artistic individuals, and I wrote acclaim balladry for both of them at the alpha of their sections in Sightlines: A Poet's Diary. My ancestor is the archetypal adaptation of a abrupt beforehand man with a affection of gold. Dickens would accept admired my ancestor as a character. My mother's adulation was angrily careful and abounding with cardinal visions for my welfare. The absolution of my mother's achievement was that it accustomed added affection amplitude amid us. Already she no best acquainted the charge to absolute my life, we could just sit calm and adore the joke.

They aggregate a able band as a couple, parents, and admiral of an continued ancestors and the land. My mother died on May Day this year--such a absolute date for her because she admired flowers and birds so much.

Juanita: How altered was the afflicted action for your assorted ancestors members?

Janet: My belief, based on celebratory our family, is that although affliction is age-old and universal, anniversary person's acquaintance and announcement of affliction is as alone as a fingerprint. The superior and affectionate of anniversary ancestors member's accident is hardly different. For my father, for instance, he was evidently stoic, but inwardly devastated. He had absent his oldest daughter. I cannot activate to brainstorm what that is for him.

What should aswell be fabricated bright is that Julia's afterlife was not just a accident to our family. As a world- chic physicist and amusing activist, a common association acquainted her death. This faculty of added accident helped in some ways, but fabricated the activity of her accident deeper--and tragic.

Perhaps affliction is one of the a lot of affectionate of emotions. We now allocution advisedly about sex in our culture, but aboveboard afflicted and speaking of affliction is something American ability does not apperceive how to support.

Juanita: Janet, I accept apprehend that you were a built-in writer. Where did you go to school, and what has been your writing/teaching history?

Janet: I accelerating from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with a Masters Degree in English. I've formed in both academic and non-formal education. Peace Corps gave me the befalling to advise England as a Second Language and Literature. I've aswell accomplished in association colleges, advised curriculum, and run my own consulting company, Bright Communication.

For twenty years I accurate myself through educational, business, and promotional writing. In 1990 the beheld arts emerged for me forth with achievement and artistic writing. I started broadcast my poems, abbreviate stories, and claimed essays in civic arcane magazines in 2000 and now accept abundant credits to be registered in Poets and Writers. One of my pieces has been anthologized in Belief to Live By: Acumen to Admonition Us Accomplish the A lot of of Every Day (Solas Imprints, 2005) and addition is accessible in the Left Coast Writers Anthology Hot Flashes this fall.

Juanita: What admonition do you accept for ambitious writers and poets?

Janet: It's a accident to adjudge to put your plan out there. That's the plan of authoritative art: award the adventuresomeness and acceptance to yield that risk. Creating and administration any physique of plan brings its own astronomic gifts.

One of these ability is aperture up a acumen approach aural yourself. Afterwards you actualize your work, it's basic to abstraction and reflect on your own work--charting the themes-- to apprentice added about what is absolutely there. What is your wisdom-self absolute to you?

Most importantly, I ambition writers to apperceive that the dream of publishing a book--or any dream, really--is alone as acceptable as you are. Whatever weaknesses you had before, you will still have. Publishing a book will change your life, but you will accept to be able to acquiesce those changes to advance through you. Our lives are bigger than our books.

Juanita: Who has been the better access on your autograph career?

Janet: The better access on me as a biographer was my father, Erwin Thompson. He is the greatest archetype of a alive biographer who showed me that autograph was as all-important and accustomed as breathing, bistro and sleeping. If I was growing up, he'd appear home from work, bark off his addled overalls, and achieve down for a comfortable black of account his latest chapter on his atypical by the fire. I address about his access and how he fabricated us aboriginal collaborators in my poem, "Scribbler."

As I mentioned earlier, several of his pieces are appear in Sightlines: A Poet's Diary--including a letter Pop wrote to his mother if he was a boy. This became the composition "String Bridles."

When my ancestor aboriginal apprehend Sightlines, he sat in mother's armchair and apprehend the absolute book, with a breach artifice actuality and a cackle artifice there. I acquainted at that moment that all my harder plan had been repaid.

Juanita: Janet, you formed for years with the Peace Corps and the British Apple Friends. Can you acquaint us what drew you to this blazon of advance plan and the aberration these adventures fabricated in your life?

Janet: I accept that Africa chose me and pulled me to her. Activity affairs beatific me into Peace Corps and over to Africa. I had no abstraction what I was accepting into nor any accurate faculty of what accessible me. My action was appealing abstruse and idealized. I was alone 23. My grandparents had been Methodist Missionaries in Korea; their acquaintance was allotment of ancestors belief and apparently allotment of my abiogenetic memory, too.

Once I was teaching, and alive on arcane and association development projects in Africa, I did accept that abstemious and that plan whole-heartedly. My affection could blossom berserk there and the humans alive with me watered it. I begin my beam in Africa, abstruse to play violin by ear, and fell acutely in adulation with the earth.

Juanita: Thank you for demography the time to allocution with us today Janet. Please let your readers apperceive how they can get added advice about you and your endeavors?

Janet: To apprentice added about Sightlines: A Poet's Diary, readers can go to my website www. to apprehend called poems, talks, reviews, accomplishments information, and appearance photos. The artefact page for Sightlines: A Poet's Diary on Amazon is developing into a miniature website, too, with photos, my blog, and reviews. Readers ability like to apperceive that if they announce reviews are helpful, it helps the baronial of books on Amazon.

Juanita: What do you ambition readers to yield abroad afterwards account your accumulating of poems?

Janet: Juanita, I've been affected by the acknowledgment of readers to Sightlines: A Poet's Diary. Their acknowledgment is aloft annihilation I could accept dreamed of. Readers accept said that it has helped them with their own bereavement. Addition woman told me that my affirmation and about-face of anamnesis has afflicted her life. Here's what she says in her letter:

"The a lot of important affair I yield abroad with me afterwards account your book is how affluent you are in memories. Knowing that . . . makes me appropriately rich--not through your memories, but my own. My memories are altered . . . but they're abundance and they're an important allotment of what makes me who I am. You, your memories, your book opened that aperture for me . . . This has been one of the a lot of absolute elements of my developed life, and I will consistently bethink it as authoritative bright to me that anniversary day is 'radiant with new meaning' and new memories."

I could ambition annihilation added than that. I achievement that added readers can accomplish the aforementioned blazon of artistic alteration to their own experiences. Isn't that what the reader's appearance is all about?


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