Interview with Poet Bri Bruce by Susan Salluce

While writing my second book, GriefINK, Tattoo as the Language of Grief, I searched for a poem about mourning. I stumbled across many that were familiar, but wanted that something special that will speak to the reader’s soul. A friend recommended that I contact a young female poet in Santa Cruz, California by the name Bri Bruce.

Her book of poems, The Weight of Snow, riveted me. The depth and cadence of her poetry set against the backdrop of nature solidified my choice of a poem for GriefINK. I wanted to know more about this young woman, and how her writing life has taken shape. Through the following interview, Bri shares not only her writing life, but also how her passions embody her work, creating poetry that whispers into the delicate corners of one’s heart.

Bri, thank you for letting me interview you for my blog. Share a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Felton and spent most of my life in and around the Santa Cruz area. I attended UC Santa Cruz to study literature and creative writing. I currently live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, so I haven’t ventured very far (my excuse always being that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!). Some of my hobbies include surfing, photography, and traveling. I’m an avid beachcomber and collect odds and ends, mostly old cameras and books, antique bottles, and the like. I enjoy spending time outdoors and with friends and family.author-photo copy

At what age did you begin writing poetry?

I started writing poetry when I was in junior high. It first became a way for me to express and process my emotions, and I had this consuming urge to create. I have been journaling since I was nine, and poetry seemed like a different, almost more abstract way of dealing with the trials and tribulations of adolescence. My early poetry, of course, while very personal was also disjointed, experimental, and convoluted.  It wasn’t until later that my work really shifted, then began to evolve into the kind of imagistic narrative it is today.

Tell us about the use of nature as your source of inspiration.

I’ve always been fond of the outdoors. I was the kid that, given the choice, would spend all day outside climbing trees, rolling in the grass, getting stuck in the mud up to my knees, and coming home with bugs in my pockets. My parents both had a huge part in raising me to be nature-minded. I grew up camping, fishing, backpacking, surfing, and diving. There really wasn’t any adventure sport or outdoor activity we didn’t do. It has instilled in me a passion to seek the out of doors and immerse myself in the natural. Even at a young age, my upbringing created this profound fondness and appreciation for the natural world that is impossible for me to shake. I’m in love with it, and this shows in my work.

Where do you write? Office or outdoors? Share your writing life.

I would prefer to be outdoors writing longhand rather than indoors on a computer. I still write everything by hand when I’m not using a typewriter (I know, I’m old school). Strangely enough, I also enjoy writing in loud, crowded places. I’m a regular at a few coffee houses around town where I like to hunker down in a corner for a while. I also enjoy writing when I travel and find that some of my best work comes from these instances. I usually keep a travel journal, but I often gather together lines of poetry that I later work into a cohesive whole. 

I guess I could say that all of the processes of nature inspire my writing. Writing is in itself a process, and I believe the two are very closely connected. I love observing the happenings of the natural world, and juxtaposing them against our own lives. I feel a greater truth can be revealed, if only simple and rather instinctual or straightforward. My poems always begin as observations or narratives and evolve from there. I keep a small notebook with me at all times and write down certain words or phrases I like the sound of, or the name of a bird or a place I want to write about. Later, a large part of my writing process is stringing these all together.

Give the reader a peek into your world. What is your idea of a perfect day?

My idea of a perfect day to inspire my writing would be some sort of adventure to somewhere I’ve never been. New experiences always stir something in me. I like to go on these “adventures,” so whenever I get the chance to do this, I am immeasurably happy. I find I enjoy them most alone, which is something that others often find interesting. I’m extremely independent and I like exercising that independence. I would rise at dawn, watch the sunrise, and spend the better part of the morning tromping around. I would, however, want to share my perfect day with friends and family at some point, perhaps after my adventure and over a good meal. At night, I would want to sit at a desk with my typewriter and a glass (or bottle) of wine and write and listen to music, staying up late until I’m too tired to think! Drifting off into a fitful sleep full of consuming dreams is always a great way to end the day.

Would you be willing to share a specific experience that inspired you to write?

Sure. Last summer I spent a month alone in a small cabin in the remote forests of Northern California to devote myself to writing my novel and to work on a few collections of poetry. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. I was visited by bears on a regular basis and surrounded by wildlife. The nearest town was a 45-minute drive, and the nearest neighbors were a quarter-mile away. Among many of my experiences, one particular event comes to mind. I had just returned one evening from town to find that the porch light had attracted thousands of flying termites. Needless to say, the small cabin was infested. There wasn’t much I could do but turn the light off, and one by one pick up the termites that had managed to make it inside the cabin and put them outside. I was struck by how, all at once it seemed, they shed their wings and crawled away. In a matter of minutes, I was left with hundreds of pairs of these papery, ash-colored wings. I sat down right then and wrote a poem about it. I think this is a good example of the connection between processes of nature and the processes of a writer, the first step in the process of writing being observation.

I find your poetry to be very deep…beautiful…open to interpretation and it allows for the projection of one’s own experience. At Henry Cowell State Park stood out for me, and I have chosen it for my book GriefINK. What is the back-story behind that poem?

This piece was based loosely on an experience I shared with my mother on a hike through the park. My parents took me there as a kid to feed the ducks on the millponds and watch the trains. After not visiting for a while, I decided to take my mom up on her offer to go with her one day.

What spurred the poem is the sobering acknowledgement of the passing of time. On that day, not only did I realize how much I had changed since I last visited (I was no longer the little girl crouching in the reeds, holding out handfuls of chicken feed to the mallards), but it was really one of the first times that I was completely taken aback by that sense of realizing that someone you love has aged. I suppose parents feel this when watching their children grow, but it was as if I hadn’t been paying attention all these years, so busy and wrapped up in my own life that seeing, actually seeing, my mother looking older to me was like waking up one morning to see your yard covered in snow.

This realization of a person’s aging, and the inevitability of death, was foundational to this poem. The emotions captured in the poem are very raw and human, relatable. It was almost as if I was yearning for the years I had missed, but it was too late. I was facing for the first time the reality of a pending grief I knew would follow in the wake of my mother’s future passing.

When did you know that you wanted to put your poems out to the world in the form of a book? Talk about the experience of writing The Weight of Snow.

The Weight of Snow started out as a collection under a different title that I compiled while finishing my degree at UC Santa Cruz. For my poetry concentration, as a sort of thesis project, I was required to write a chapbook of poems. Many of these original poems ended up in more refined stages in The Weight of Snow, including the poem from which my book gets its title. The original manuscript was titled Middlestate, the commonality between all the poems being that they all took place or centered around the middle part of the State of California, i.e., where I live in Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas.

While I had been published long before that (my poems were first published when I was still in middle school), the response I received from my peers and my instructors was overwhelmingly supportive, and I never looked at my writing the same after that. My instructors, namely Gary Young (Santa Cruz’s first poet laureate), played pivotal roles in supporting and encouraging me to pursue my writing further. 

I knew that I wanted to share my work and sending out my poems to be individually published by various journals and online publications wasn’t what I wanted. After working briefly for a small publisher in Santa Cruz where I learned a great deal more about the publishing industry, I officially started my own publishing company, building upon my graphic design and layout skills. It was through this publishing company (Black Swift Press) that I published The Weight of Snow. Since its release last February, it has garnered very positive reviews from a number of esteemed authors, including Gary Young, and is the 2014 International Book Awards Finalist in the Poetry Category, the2014 San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention Recipient in the Poetry Category, and is a 2014 USA Best Book Awards “Poetry” Category Finalist.

What are some of your current projects?

There are always projects in the works and ideas floating around! Aside from the plethora of notes I have lying around for novel ideas or lines for poems, I am currently working on transcribing a journal I kept on a typewriter during a residency I took last September. It’s kind of a look into the psyche of a writer, as well as an account of my experiences of and thoughts on the craft and my journey.

I’d like to take another residency to focus solely on my novel. If anyone ever has the opportunity to participate in one, I highly, highly suggest it. It’s such an enriching experience. Not only do you learn a lot about your craft, but you also get to know yourself as a writer much better.

My biggest goal right now is to publish five books before I turn thirty. I have four to go, but my second, third, and fourth are almost completely mapped out. I just have to find the time to edit, design, and publish (and hopefully promote beforehand). It’s that fifth book I’ve got my sights on. I have four years to write it!

What are some other aspirations that you have?

My biggest passion besides writing is helping other writers in realizing their dreams of publishing their work. I bring an author’s vision to fruition, whether through designing a book cover or actually helping them publish and print their book. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing an author’s elation at holding their book in their hands or seeing it listed on Amazon. I know this feeling well, and to be able to pass that on to others is very rewarding.

My biggest aspiration of all is to have not only my work but my words to have an impact, even if it’s small. I always hope others can feel through my poems and relate to them, even if it strikes a chord in them for an unrelated reason or makes them think about something else. I want my work to speak to my readers. If I’m able to achieve this, and feel satisfied with my own writing, then I’ve been successful. 

Thank you so much, Bri. I wish you much success, and am so inspired by your writing, passion, love of nature, and free spirit. 

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The Weight of Snow is available through Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Weight-Snow-New-Selected-Poems-ebook/dp/B00I5VVBDQ/


If you are a writer who is looking for direction and/or assistance with publishing, you can reach Bri Bruce at:

http://www.bribruceproductions.squarespace.com or bribruceproductions@gmail.com

Learn more about Bri Bruce:

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/bri-bruce/79/9a6/110

“Forbearance” published in issue 30 of Damselfly Press

Below is an excerpt from my latest publication in Damselfly Press‘s issue 30

My poem titled “Forbearance” is set to appear in my next collection, The Starling’s Song (Black Swift Press, 2015)

FORBEARANCE

When the morning is darkest
we are roused by the birds
in the plum tree. I pull him
from the bed, beg him accompany
me to watch the egrets wake
in the cypress from the mist-veiled
cliff. I want to teach him forbearance,
point to the flowers that have appeared
along the path to the cove—
new irises have broken through
the soil, having burst from winter
hiding. I picture him leaning over
a shallow pool at ebb tide to touch
a slimed blade of kelp, his earlier
stubbornness dispelled. I imagine
I would not feel victory. I’d have
been impassioned by the way he
delicately gathered a fingerling
in his palm to show me forgiveness.
He sees things for what they are,
and nothing more. I’d have given
my hands that he might recognize
humility standing beside the sea,
the enormity of it before him.

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BRI BRUCE is an editor, graphic designer, and publisher from Santa Cruz, California. With a bachelor’s degree in writing from UC Santa Cruz, her work has previously appeared in The Sun Magazine, The Soundings Review, and The Monterey Poetry Review, among others. Bruce is the award-winning author of The Weight of Snow

Award-Winning ‘Adventure Inward: A Risk Taker’s Book of Quotes’ by Climber, Adventurer, and Author Jonathan Wunrow

A wonderful book. Adventure Inward does a great job of explaining many existential issues concerning life, death, and one’s purpose.
– Avery Griffin, Author of The Demon Rolmar

An excellent compilation of inspiring, humorous, and thought-provoking quotes sure to get anyone, no matter their hobbies, pastimes, or interests, thinking deeply about their world and what it means for us, as humans, to look inside ourselves. Each chapter is adorned with Wunrow’s clear voice and unfailing insight into the human psyche in the presence of “risk” and the many ways this can be interpreted.
– Bri Bruce, Publisher and Author of The Weight of Snow

Inspiring reading! Wunrow has written a wonderful gem for all those who appreciate, or want to better understand, the human urge to adventure. 
– Logan, Amazon Customer Review

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2014 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
2014 PINNACLE BOOK ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER
2014 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS FINALIST

Adventure Inward: A Risk Taker’s Book of Quotes
Jonathan Wunrow
Life is Twisted Press
Paperback published April 1, 2014
$3.99 (eBook), $10.95 (Trade Paperback)

Written for adventurers and non-adventurers alike, Adventure Inward’s collection of quotes and insights will inspire thrill seekers and risk takers of all sorts, encouraging personal exploration and offering insights into the ultimate adventure: inward. Through his own experiences as an avid mountain climber, the author uses quotes to explore the nature of why extreme sports enthusiasts do what they do, and how their risk taking impacts them and those around them. The fifteen topics explored in Adventure Inward offer perspectives on life, death, purpose, and meaning, not just for risk takers and extreme sports enthusiasts, but for people of all walks of life.

JON WUNROW is a parent, husband, adventurer, grant writer, cabin builder, Tribal consultant, adolescent therapist, and Green Bay Packer fanatic who occasionally finds time to plan and enjoy extreme adventures all over the world. In addition to pursuing his current goal of climbing the highest peak in every country in North, Central, and South America with his Australian climbing partner, he has also hiked the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, completed a two-month canoe trip in Northern Canada, climbed Kilimanjaro with his son Seth, and has had adventures in dozens of countries around the world. Some of his country high points include Denali (Alaska), Sajama (Bolivia), Aconcagua (Argentina), Orizaba (Mexico), and Julianna Top (Suriname). After living and raising his son in Sitka, Alaska for sixteen years, the author now resides in Bloomington, Indiana with his amazing and supportive wife, Leslie. Jon Wunrow is also the author of High Points: A Climber’s Guide to Central America (2012).

Check out the author’s website at www.jonathanwunrow.com

eBOOK AND PAPERBACK NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZON!

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Praise for Award-Winning Poetry Collection “The Weight of Snow”

2014 International Book Awards Finalist in the Poetry Category
2014 San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention, Poetry Category
2014 USA Best Book Awards “Poetry” Category Finalist

Featured on the USA Book News’s 2014 USA Best Book Awards Website 

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PAPERBACK AVAILABLE ON AMAZON  $8.99

eBOOK AVAILABLE ON AMAZONGOOGLE PLAY, iTUNES, BARNES & NOBLEOMNILIT, AND KOBO  $2.99

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Praise for The Weight of Snow

“The poems in The Weight of Snow are heartfelt, skillfully written, and keenly observed fragments of the natural world and our lives there. Bravo.” 

 – Gary Young, Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, Award-Winning Author of PleasureNo Other Life, and Braver Deeds

“[Bruce] is the worthy heiress of Mary Oliver.”

– John Gilchrist

There is nothing to say that would be as lyrical and eloquent as this poet’s language. She writes as a daughter of California’s wild places. . . . Make space, Gary Snyder, Jane Hirshfield, and Ellen Bass, there is a new poet climbing and swimming her way up to claim her place among you. 

– Karen K LewisAuthor and Executive Director at Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference

READ MORE REVIEWS HERE

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In The Weight of Snow, author B. L. Bruce explores the many plights of the human species, from the mysteries of the heart and the inescapability of death, to the depths of human emotion. Told from the perspective of a poetic naturalist, Bruce shares her appreciation of the wild, illuminating the profound in the mundane while chronicling the natural world as both an observer and as an irrefutable part of it. Her poems focus strongly on image and locality, conjuring the imaginations of readers and celebrating the beauty in the follies of the human condition and its capacity to grip the soul.

AUTHOR SPECIAL: Custom Book Cover Design starting at $99

Custom eBook Covers $99
Custom Print Covers $135

When you supply your own image or graphic.
Service includes 3 mockups and 2 changes.

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TO VIEW COMPLETE DESIGN PORTFOLIO, PLEASE DOWNLOAD HERE

Please email bribruceproductions (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.

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OTHER DESIGN & PUBLISHING SERVICES:

– Editing
– Book interior layout design & formatting for both traditional printers & print on demand providers
– Book Printing through CreateSpace or other traditional printers or print-on-demand platforms
– eBook conversion
– ISBNbarcode, and Cataloging-in-Publication block set up & assignment
– Book reviews
– Account set up with all major eBook retailers, including Apple, Google, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo & more.
– Social media marketing, book promotions, and creation of marketing collateral, such as magazine ads, media kits, & more.
– Publishing consultation services

Other services include:

– photo manipulation/editing for events, products, portraits, & more
– basic website design
– marketing materials (press kits, flyers, etc.)
– magazine & newspaper advertisements
– wedding & special event invitations & announcements
– CD/Album covers
– website banners
– posters
– logos
– buisness cards

Please visit http://www.bribruceproductions.squarespace.com
for more information and samples of my work.

CLICK HERE FOR TESTIMONIALS

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eBook Giveaway!

FREE eBook edition of author and outdoorsman Todd Bruce’s Nine Passes: Fly Fishing through the Past and Present of the High Sierra (published February 2015 by Black Swift Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

Nine Passes, Todd Bruce’s deeply personal account of his 300-mile backpacking expedition through the Sierra Nevada, is informed by the author’s vivid sense of history and enduring love of the land. Retracing the route of Charles McDermand, an outdoorsman and writer whose landmark 1946 travelogue The Waters of the Golden Trout Country sparked a national interest in the region, Bruce draws upon his fly fishing expertise and his keen familiarity with the land to illuminate the subtleties of the Sierra Nevada’s flora, fauna, and topography.

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Bruce’s five-week trek took him along McDermand’s seventy-year-old route, where he hiked the back country, fished the lakes and streams, and climbed the high mountain passes of trailblazers past—one of whom was Bruce’s great grandfather, George R. Goldman.

The trout waters he explores are those of McDermand, of George Goldman, and of Bruce’s kin: Bruce’s mother, father, and siblings, as well as his own young self, who fished those same glinting pools in the previous decades. Nine Passes is a collation of more than six decades of change in the Sierra fisheries, the story of a family, their bonds, and their memories, the techniques and practices of the fly fishing artistry, and the shifting human attitudes that have sculpted these granite-laden mountains.

Learn more at www.ninepasses.com or on Amazon

IF INTERESTED, PLEASE SEND QUERY TO:
BLACKSWIFTPRESS (at) GMAIL (dot) COM

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BOOK REVIEWERS WANTED: “Nine Passes: Fly Fishing through the Past and Present of the High Sierra” by Author and Outdoorsman Todd Bruce

BOOK REVIEWERS WANTED!

FREE eBook edition of author and outdoorsman Todd Bruce’s
Nine Passes: Fly Fishing through the Past and Present of the High Sierra (published February 2015 by Black Swift Press)
in exchange for an honest review. 

Nine Passes, Todd Bruce’s deeply personal account of his 300-mile backpacking expedition through the Sierra Nevada, is informed by the author’s vivid sense of history and enduring love of the land. Retracing the route of Charles McDermand, an outdoorsman and writer whose landmark 1946 travelogue The Waters of the Golden Trout Country sparked a national interest in the region, Bruce draws upon his fly fishing expertise and his keen familiarity with the land to illuminate the subtleties of the Sierra Nevada’s flora, fauna, and topography.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00070]

Bruce’s five-week trek took him along McDermand’s seventy-year-old route, where he hiked the back country, fished the lakes and streams, and climbed the high mountain passes of trailblazers past—one of whom was Bruce’s great grandfather, George R. Goldman.

The trout waters he explores are those of McDermand, of George Goldman, and of Bruce’s kin: Bruce’s mother, father, and siblings, as well as his own young self, who fished those same glinting pools in the previous decades. Nine Passes is a collation of more than six decades of change in the Sierra fisheries, the story of a family, their bonds, and their memories, the techniques and practices of the fly fishing artistry, and the shifting human attitudes that have sculpted these granite-laden mountains.

Learn more at www.ninepasses.com or on Amazon

IF INTERESTED, PLEASE SEND QUERY TO:
BLACKSWIFTPRESS (at) GMAIL (dot) COM

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