Saturday, August 3, 2013

Virginia Poet Laureate 2006-2008 Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda: "The Education of the Poet."

Chris Cooper – 869 Words
Facebook at Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Feature on Virginia Poet Laureate 2006-2008 Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda:
“The Education of the Poet”

Kreiter-Foronda wrote her first poem when she was only four and continues to write poetry, finding it to be therapeutic, especially during the tough times. 
       “I nearly died when I was sixteen and soon suffered the loss of our family doctor, who had saved my life.  My dear mother passed away the summer of my sophomore year in college.  And then a close friend died.  It is not an exaggeration to say that I wrote my way out of grief.”
       She was a prolific poetry writer but kept most of her writing hidden, and she never sought publication for it. 
For 24 years she taught Creative Writing and English at the high school level for the Fairfax County Public School system in Northern Virginia.  For seven additional years she worked as an English Specialist and Writing Resource Teacher.

It wasn’t until she was 27, working on her Master’s degree at George Mason University, that her first poems were published.  One of her professors submitted fifteen of Kreiter-Foronda’s children’s poems to The Quarterly Journal of Education.  The poems appear in the January 1973 issue. 

       She continued to write poetry but still didn’t pursue publication until she enrolled in Peter Klappert’s creative writing class as a graduate student at George Mason University.  Klappert broadened her knowledge of contemporary poetry by introducing her to an array of forms, including the dramatic monologue.  As a result of his influence, she decided to make poetry her focus in her doctoral program.
 Peter is one of the most brilliant professors I’ve ever encountered.  He accepted nothing less than a student’s best.  I revised, revised, and revised poems to ensure that the drafts I handed in for critique sessions were the best I could offer at the time.”
   Klappert also encouraged Kreiter-Foronda to no longer hide her work, but to submit widely for publication.  Kreiter-Foronda took his advice and started submitting her poems to nationwide publications in her early 30s.
Since then she’s published several hundred poems in numerous magazines, six books of poetry, a poetry anthology, and a Virginia Poet Laureate teaching guide.

       Kreiter-Forondo defines a poet this way:  A poet is a creative thinker who sculpts well-chiseled, lyrical poems.
       She believes that a poet’s education is never over – a poet is always learning, and a huge process of learning is to voraciously and religiously read poets from all ages and all parts of the world.  
       “We need to be readers of others’ poetry to inform ourselves about subjects that intrigue a variety of writers and to familiarize ourselves with stylistic possibilities.   As opposed to imitating these writers, we need to discover our own unique voices.”
       The poets and poems that have influenced Kreiter-Foronda the most are Elizabeth Bishop (“The Fish”), James Wright (“A Blessing”), Peter Klappert (“Gun, White Castle”), and Ai (“The Woman Who Knew Too Much”). 

       “Bishop’s keen eye for detail taught me how to look closely at a subject and to zero in on every aspect in order to ‘really see’ the undercurrents.  Wright taught me how to use concrete images with lyrical intensity.  Peter and Ai introduced me to the dramatic monologue form and inspired me to use my research skills to create poems written convincingly in the voices of such eminent figures as Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo.” 
       Kreiter-Foronda usually writes her poems from start to finish on her computer but will always have a notepad and pen on hand to take notes.  She can write poems day or night; the only requirement is a quiet environment, which she can usually find at her home. 

I write most of my poems in the Morning Room, which overlooks a private cove, or in my office, a room with a view of hickories, pines, hollies, and dogwood trees.  I produce my best work when I’m home alone or taking a solitary walk.  Usually, I move quickly ‘into the zone,’ either by reading or by participating in a field experience, such as a kayaking trip.”

       It usually takes her several years to complete a book of poetry, but sometimes this can depend on what life’s commitments demand of her at the time, such as workshops, poetry readings, art exhibits, and family chores.
       I’m not one to isolate myself and work on only one project at a time.  That would bore me terribly.  If I multitask, I’m far more prolific.”
         Since retiring from teaching, Kreiter-Foronda leads art-inspired poetry workshops for teachers and students at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and its partners throughout the state of Virginia.  

       What an enriching experience it is to combine my love of art, education, and poetry!  Basically, I use selected pieces from the VMFA’s collection, as well as on-site art at a partner museum, to inspire poems or short prose writings.  I’ve also led workshops at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.”  

She offers three workshops every month and gives on average two poetry readings per month at a variety of locations:  art galleries, art museums, schools, universities, retirement homes, hospitals, libraries, bookstores, nursing homes, and homeless shelters.

Contact Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda at or Kreiter-Foronda for more information.

Photo description and copyright information.

Photo 1.  Carolyn giving a reading at The Writer's Center.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 2.   Carolyn with one of her students.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 3.   Carolyn.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 4 to Photo 11.  Jacket covers of Carolyn's books.

Photo 12.   Elizabeth Bishop.  Fair Use under the United States Copyright law.

Photo 13.   James Wright.  Fair Use under the United States Copyright law.

Photo 14.  Peter Klappart.  Fair Use under the United States Copyright law.

Photo 15.  Ai.  Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0.

Photo 16.  Morning Room.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 17.  Windows of the Morning Room with Mama Kitty appreciating the view.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 18.  The Morning Room view of the private cove.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 19.  View of the trees. Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 20.  Carolyn's workshops.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 21.  Carolyn conducting a workshop.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 22.  Carolyn giving a poetry reading at The Webb School in Tennessee.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda. 


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