Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine their spotlight on Catherine Reed this week! Catherine has read her poetry and done signings at the bookstore before, and she was last week’s featured reader for Worcester Storytellers. Reed’s first collection of poems, Crossing Boundaries, includes her winning poems from the 2012 Dr. A. Barbara Pilon Poetry Contest. Her most recent publication, Sankofa, titled for an Ashanti term concerning the influence of the past on the present, was just published in 2015.
Reverend Catherine Reed is a Protestant chaplain at the College of the Holy Cross and associate minister at John Street Baptist Church, both in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Clark University, Kaleo School of Ministry, and Hartford Seminary BMCP and attended Boston University School of Theology.
Thank you very much for joining us, Catherine! Can you tell us a little about yourself? What can readers expect from Sankofa?
I am a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and minister who loves God and family and people. Hopefully [Sankofa] will encourage someone to stay in the race of life, even in times of trouble.
What kind of research went into your writing?
[My research involved] recalling some of the facts in the lives I write about, reading and asking questions about some of my family’s lives and listening.
What was the inspiration for Sankota? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
It took six years in the making. There were times I put it aside and wondered if I would ever pursue publishing it until I realized the message needs to get out.
What did you love or hate most while writing and why?
The poem “The Journey” was special. The character was a combination of two people—one famous, one struggling. “I heard you call my name” is my favorite. It is my testimony.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have been writing some essays and started a memoir. I’m planning on working on them for publication.
What does your ideal writing space look like? Are there special places that inspire your words?
The rare times that I have been able to spend time at the ocean and write, I bring a lunch and paper and pen and thoughts begin to flow.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
Finding time and not allowing other things to draw you away.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
To trust your first thought and respond on it.
Are there any groups, clubs or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you on your career?
Get in a writers group—or form one to be accountable to write. Some weeks I would write because I had to have a poem when meeting the group. Listening to others read their work inspires me. I have taken classes at Worcester state, the art museum, etc, that have helped. I took my first class at Clark University which changed my outlook and interest in poetry. Attending poetry readings and entering in the open mic was helpful in building my confidence.
Thank you, again, Catherine, for taking time out for our interview and for reading at our store for both your event and the Worcester Storytellers!
Find out more about Catherine and her work at catherinereed.wordpress.com