Barbara Crooker’s next big thing


Today I’m happy to host Barbara Crooker’s next big thing:

What is your working title of your book (or story, or project)?  Gold

Where did the idea come from for the book? I’d been writing poems all along during my mother’s illness and death, and when I started looking at them, I realized I had enough for a collection.

What genre does your book fall under?  I’d call this a hybrid, lyric-narrative poetry.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Helen Mirren, because she can do no wrong.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  It’s a journey along the shores of grief:  my mother’s long illness, her death, its aftermath, but there are also poems about Ireland, aging and the body, the loss of friends, the difficulties and joys of love in a long-term marriage, plus ekphrastic work, poems on the paintings of Gorky, Manet, Matisse, and others.

Who will publish this book?  Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock, in their Poeima Poetry Series. D. S. Martin is the poetry editor, and it’s been a pleasure working with him. We’re about halfway through right now.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  The fresh answer is “all my life,” because it takes everything I’ve got to write every poem. The oldest poem in the manuscript is about fifteen years old; others are  more recent. I wish I could say I “wrote” the manuscript, but really, I  wrote the poems. Then I had to struggle to find a container, a shape, something to put them in. I know it would be much easier to come up with an idea, then write the book, but I don’t seem to be able to work that way. So, for me, constructing a manuscript is like doing a giant unwieldy puzzle, one where you’ve lost the box cover, and don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  There are so many poets who inspire me, too many to name, but here are a few (who are also writing in this genre):  Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin, Sharon Olds. . . .

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s sad, but not depressing. There are also poems about pistachios, flannel sheets, marshmallow Peeps, and Dunkin Donuts. . . .

You can read some of the poems in this collection here:

Barbara Crooker’s fourth poetry collection is Gold (Cascade Books).  Awards include the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, the 2007 Pen and Brush Poetry Prize, the 2006 Ekphrastic Poetry Award from Rosebud, 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist, the 2005 Word Press First Book Award, the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the 2004 Pennsylvania Center for the Book Poetry in Public Places Poster Competition, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2003 “April Is the Cruelest Month” Award from Poets & Writers, the 2000 New Millenium Writing’s Y2K competition, the 1997 Karamu Poetry Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships.  She lives and writes in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, where she occasionally leads writing workshops.

Visit her website,

Barbara tags the following writers: Marilyn Taylor, Kathryn Levy, Leslie McGrath, April Lindner, Penelope Scambly Schott. Thanks, Barbara, for sharing your next big thing!

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