Interview With Traci Brimhall

Sometimes I still have dry spells, but I always find my way back to it.

 What advice do you wish you had gotten as a teen?

       Dream bigger. I thought the only dreams I was really allowed to have were marriage, babies, a house, and matching bath towels. There's nothing wrong with those dreams, but it turns out a lot more than that is possible. I've traveled to almost every continent in the world, written books, climbed mountains, had great friendships, and gotten my PhD. I've even gotten married and had a child, though my bath towels still don't match. I didn't know I could be this person or have this life. I'm glad I learned to dream bigger along the way, but it might have been nice to know just how much was possible earlier in life.

Tell us about a time when you were brave, or bravery was required of you, or you saw someone else being brave.

       I think the bravest thing I ever do is when I'm honest with myself or when I face what I'm afraid of. Knowing who you are and what you want is one of the toughest things in the world, and then you have to work really hard to make that a reality. One time, quitting my job was the bravest thing I could do. One time, it was living in my car. One day, it was learning how to climb down a mountain, which was way harder than getting up it. I think one of the other most radically brave things to do is to love yourself. I still work on that all the time.

 How do you start a poem? Give us a window into your process.

       I think I fall in love with each new poem differently. Sometimes I fall for an image. Other times it's a scrap of music. And sometimes it's a question or idea that gets my heart racing. But it's always messy and a little surprising, just like love.

What is your motto for getting through the tough times?

 

       I always feel the need to be brave and strong, but that means I forget to make room for feeling other things--sorrow, vulnerability, grief. When things get hard and I get sad, I give myself permission to feel that, too. We can't be all courage and toughness. Sometimes it's braver to let yourself be vulnerable to your own sadness and be really, really patient with it.