Roberta Beary was born and raised in New York City. In 1990 she moved to Japan for five years of haiku study. Her The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007) was a William Carlos Williams Book Award finalist (Poetry Society of America) and a Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award prize winner. She and her husband, writer Frank Stella, live near Washington, DC.


1. What is your writing process?

I write in the early morning hours before my day job starts and late at night before going to sleep. I get about 5 hours of sleep on a good night. I write a lot on weekends too. Sunday is my “full writing day.”

2 a.m.
purple ink stains
my left hand


2. What’s some writing advice you’ve received, that works for you?

Write for 90 minutes at a time, then take a half hour break. You do not have to write anything during that 90 minutes, but you cannot do anything else with your time except sit (or stand) there. In other words, writing time is not for checking email, answering phone calls, etc. These things will just eat up my writing time, especially in a family-of-origin like mine. I have certain close relatives who seem to live from crisis to crisis and they usually contact me late at night when I am writing. It can be hard not to get pulled into the drama.

rambling phone call
i count the drinks
in her voice


3. Can you say a little bit about the genesis of your book?

When my first husband left I made a list of things I would accomplish on my own. Number 1 was having a collection of my short poems published by a small press.This goal took exactly 10 years to achieve. My book, The Unworn Necklace, is a collection of short poems set forth as semi-autobiography. I entered my poetry manuscript in a small press contest (Snapshot Press , UK) and it won first prize. The hardest part was figuring out an order to the poems that would work, and the next hardest part was getting the editor to agree to my title, The Unworn Necklace.

all day long
i feel its weight
the unworn necklace


4. Have you had to sacrifice anything in the rest of your life to write?

Yes, many things, including time with my children, because when not writing, I was working to support my family as a single parent.

halloween twilight
again this year my son waits
alone at the door


5. Do you think writing helps you to understand more about yourself and the world, or is advancing as a writer more about learning how to communicate the things you already know?

I believe at this point in my life it is about communicating things I already know or am learning on a deeper level. For instance, I take care of my mother who has dementia. I am very interested in using my poems to share what I have learned about this disease with others, especially family care-givers.

from here
to there
mother’s silence

winter solitude
no spark of recognition
in mother’s brown eyes

cheshire moon
mother no better
no worse


This interview is part of Intermittent Visitors: a multi-author blog tour.

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