Writer Joan Becht Willette’s poem “Paradise Found in Socrates Park” was featured in Issue #5 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed her about her writing, and her answers are below. For more of Joan’s work, check out her website.
What is your relationship to Queens?
I have lived and worked in the Astoria/LIC area of Queens for most of my adulthood. Queens is the most diverse lover of NYC! She has the most interesting people from around the world, the best restaurants and food trucks, and an awesome burgeoning Arts scene, and culturally kicks butt! I work, I play, I write and perform, I teach, and I passionately love Queens.
My writing process is multi-sensory and an intuitive process. Nature and rich colorful images inspire me along with mystical lyrics and musings. I taste words, I touch them and roll around in them in order to find the right ones to express my inner voice. People’s lives, stories, and conversations fascinate me and threads of these wind their way into my prose and poetry.
I am active in the local Open Mics and Reading Series in Queens, which keeps my writing fresh, and I get to enjoy other Literary and musical artists’ work. Reading poetry and prose aloud in public stimulates my creative process and builds creative community in my own backyard. There are so many talented to enjoy, learn from, and be inspired by in Queens!
How did you come to writing?
I am a voracious reader since childhood. The library was my sanctuary and books were my best friends. SARK, Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, and Mary Oliver began to beckon me from the written pages – to actively and creatively engage in the process of writing. I began to keep little notebooks filled with images and ideas with me.
Then I would I travel with an inspiration notebook everywhere and in every room in my apartment. Dream binders became filled with rich images, articles, and stories that have traveled with me for the past decade, incubating ideas for creation and writing. I started taking a few courses and went to the fabulous Queens Council of the Arts creative community workshops – where I found my people! Queens has such a supportive and collaborative Arts community!
What inspires you?
Nature inspires me. I love Socrates Park – which directly inspired “Paradise Found in Socrates Park”, published in Issue #5 of Newtown Literary Journal. It was my first published piece of work and a dream come true! It gave me creative confidence and changed the trajectory of my writer’s life! I wrote “Autumn is a Vixen” on my “poet’s perch”!
My “poet’s perch” is on the bench by the water in Socrates Park – where I just held my “The Poet Is In” QAI Grant funded event by RPGA Studios. I was so inspired by the lush imagery! I wrote personal Poetry Portraits for the community. Visionaries, Inventors, mysticism, and the divine feminine also inspires my writing. I am fascinated in magic and miracles. My mantra is “Creativity is the portal to transformation!”
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I am writing and curating a collection of poetry and prose for my “Soul Retrieval” collection. Also I am working on a personal collection of stories and poems for The Enchanted Goddess of Queens book.
A passion project has come to fruition this year – “The Enchanted Goddess: Literary Creative Arts Series.” This is a monthly series which features “The Enchanted Goddess Writing Workshops” for new and emerging writers. “The Enchanted Goddess Reading Series” is a monthly book discussion group. Women create and transform in creative community.
The Enchanted Goddess Lifestyle is another book that is in the planning stages. I will be creating a creative literary arts curriculum guide for “The Enchanted Goddess School of Literary Creative Arts” projected to debut in 2017.
And, finally, my favorite question: What should I be asking you that I didn’t?
“Who is my muse?”
Joan of Arc because she was a visionary and followed her dreams, and the Greek Goddess Demeter, because she is the goddess of the creative harvest and wasn’t afraid of the “Hades” in her life – like Joan of Arc. They transformed through their creative visionary walks in life and beyond.
Readers, mark your calendars:
- Join the Boundless Tales Reading Series at Astoria Bookshop on February 11 at 7 p.m. for a reading featuring Lisa Badner, Richard Fein, Sydney Hartlove, and Vaughn Watson.
- Join the LIC Reading Series on February 9 at 8 p.m. for readings by Rachel Cantor, Dylan Landis, and Douglas Watson, followed by a panel discussion
- Join the Risk of Discovery Reading Series at Astoria Coffee on February 16 at 7:30 p.m. for a writing workshop followed by a poetry open mic and show led by Micah Zevin and featuring Jennifer Harmon, Yi Wu, and Abigail Welhouse.
- Join the Oh, Bernice! Reading Series at Astoria Bookshop on February 20 at 7 p.m. for readings by LaForrest Cope/ Freddy Dugard, Panagiota Lilikaki, and Jason Fishedick, hosted by Ann Podracky.
- Join Poetry and Coffee at Omonia Cafe on February 21 at 5 p.m. for a reading and discussion on “Love and Other Euphemisms.” Tickets are free but required.