We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Sheila Henry, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of October 2020.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
I feel honored. It’s a great compliment to be selected from amongst one’s peers. I believe, from now on, it will have a tremendous impact on how I view my work. And I expect it would lend an incredible boost to my confidence as well. I am excited about future writing projects.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
My friends are amazing. They were the first to believe in my writing. They encouraged me to pursue the craft and to seek to have my work published. In fact, they practically pushed me forward into doing so. I received incredible support and guidance, without which, I may not have sought to publish. Those of you reading this interview, you know who you are, and you know what you did. I appreciate it.
What inspires you to write?
My inspiration comes from situations that move me. It could be a news report about an incident that caused pain to a human(s), the devastation of earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, etc. Most of my writings deals with emotions. I would prefer to be inspired by heavy rainfalls, because I love to hear the sound of rain pounding loudly on the roof or at the window pane. I feel the same about hearing the tinkling sounds of an early morning snowfall when it’s quiet out, or the beginning of Spring when the first green appears, sometimes, peeking out from under lingered snow. But it seems I don’t have a choice as to where my inspiration comes from, because I am not inspired to write about these things.
What was your writing catalyst?
I don’t think it’s anything in particular. For years, I’ve filled notebooks with ideas that woke me up at night, usually around 3:00 a.m. It is imperative to keep a pen and notebook on my nightstand.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
My writing process is undisciplined, I capture ideas that show up in my head. If I’m satisfied with the first raw draft, I leave it as is. One such example, is 2020 Plague published at Spillwords. I wrote that piece in about five minutes, left it in its original draft and submitted it. Whereas, there are others that just don’t feel right. They may feel incomplete. I set them aside, and they sit around forever. When I think of a metaphor, a word or phrase that fits, I add to those pieces. I don’t have a set writing schedule, at least, not yet, but soon.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
The most fulfilling thing about writing for me is when my work moves the reader to tears, or it affects some sort of change. I am inspired when a reader feels the words.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Totally, I think it’s the only way to tell a story. I try to paint a picture with words that would allow the reader to feel what they are reading.
What is your favorite reading genre?
Hmmm! I don’t think I have a favorite. I read anything to do with a healthy and spiritual lifestyle, biographies/memoirs, books on the writing process. My walls are stacked with such books.
What human being has inspired you the most?
My Aunt Ethel, who raised me, has inspired me the most on the principles of living a fulfilled life. She was my unwinged angel. In writing, I was highly inspired by the spiritual and beautiful nature of Rumi’s Poetry, as well as, the work of Derek Walcott. Walcott’s poem, Love After Love is one of my favorite poems.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
Wow, I am grateful to the Spillwords Press community for their belief in my work and for their overall support. You guys have given me the boost of confidence I needed to grow as a writer. Thank you!
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
Recently I was looking through an old journal I kept in 2011. I wrote this comment about my writing “I would like to create a book of poems, a body of work that would inspire and heal those who need it, and I hope I may have the courage to share this work with the world.” I think this vision still stands. I would also like my work to serve as an example for my offsprings. I would like them to see that they too can accomplish anything they focus on because I did before them.
12. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I appreciate the work that the Spillwords Publishing team does in supporting new writers. I am grateful for the platform they provide. It means so much. Thank you!
OCTOBER 2020 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords Press
On Trinidad, the larger island of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is where Sheila was born. After a rewarding childhood, she migrated to the United States in the summer of 1969. Soon thereafter she became a Naturalized Citizen. Though she never took a Poetry class, her passion for poetry compelled her to a prolific self scholarship. Perhaps it is the reason her writing style can best be categorized as Visual Poetry, blending emotion and vision into a poem of color. Sheila resides in New Jersey where she spends her time enjoying her grandchildren and preparing her collection of poetry for publication. Her poems are featured at Spillwords publications.