Today’s Featured Writer is Loretta Oleck, a psychotherapist, photographer, and poet with a masters in creative writing from New York University. Check out our interview with her:
Fem: Why is poetry your medium of choice?
Loretta Oleck: It is very much about being in the moment, a way for me to process my feelings, a means to release energy, a tool to play, and a portal for me to enter and be with myself in a creative zone. Poetry grounds me amid chaos, or attempts to make sense of personal, political, and societal injustices. Most significantly, poetry offers me a means to express myself in a less linear and more abstract way. It pushes me into the mysterious.
F: How do you infuse feminist ideals into your poetry?
LO: I don’t know what is going to materialize when I write a poem. It writes me and then I edit it into something that hopefully makes some sense. But with that being said, I believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. I work as a psychotherapist with individuals, mostly women, with all sorts of traumas; many that rise out of oppressive situations and relationships. There is a real sacredness in bearing witness to their deep emotional process. My written words are often influenced by their journeys mixed with my own- creating poetry like dreams, where time and boundaries blend, and feminist ideals may or may not be recognizable. Although it’s never been my intent, it would be an added bonus if my words helped others feel less alone.
F: Have your experiences as a woman influenced your poetry?
LO: Yes, definitely. We are all influenced and shaped by who we are and our personal experiences. If we grow up in patriarchal, sexist, or oppressive society, there will be an impact. What we do with it is what matters. Thankfully, some of us are activists who are out in the world trying to dismantle the layers of oppression. My work includes positive celebrations of women in an inclusive way in all their power. But on the flip side, I also write from that place of pain, which certainly includes having felt voiceless, as well as experiencing sexism and objectification.
F: What would you say are some challenges involved in being a feminist poet?
LO: There are always challenges when there are labels. The label of feminist poet can conjure up pre-conceived ideas about the kinds of poetry I write or what kind of person I am. Ironically, that plays right into stereotypes. Although my feminist ideals are inclusive embracing different race, class, culture and gender identity, not everyone interprets the word “feminist” in this light.
F: What is your favorite piece you’ve written and why?
LO: That is always changing. At the moment, I like a poem titled Song From the Black Hole. It’s part of a new series I’m working on exploring outer and inner space. I like this particular poem because it has to do with being part of a whole that is so much greater than our selves. It has to do with the enormity and beauty of the universe, the idea that song and love exists even when we can’t see or hear it.
Loretta Oleck has had work published in in Poetica Literary Magazine, Feminist Studies, So to Speak, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Missing Slate, Mas Tequila, WordRiot, Obsidian, High Coupe, Black Lawrence Press, among numerous others. Her poetry chapbook, “Persephone Dreaming of Cherries,” was published by Hurricane Press, and her work was selected to be included in “The Best of 2013”anthology by Storm Cycle. She has performed and filmed her poetry as part of the Public Poetry Series by Fjords Review. She has also performed work in New York including the Paramount Theater and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art.