Diana Raab: “Develop a good vocabulary”

Develop a good vocabulary: be able to express ordinary feelings, emotions, and images in a creative way without using clichés. Poetry is growing in popularity and millions of people spanning the globe have a renewed passion for embracing the creativity, beauty, and art of poetry. Poetry has the power to heal and we make sense of […]

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Develop a good vocabulary: be able to express ordinary feelings, emotions, and images in a creative way without using clichés.

Poetry is growing in popularity and millions of people spanning the globe have a renewed passion for embracing the creativity, beauty, and art of poetry. Poetry has the power to heal and we make sense of the world through the human expression of writing and reading. Are you wondering: What does it take to become a successful poet? What is the best medium and venue to release your poetry? What are some techniques to improve or sharpen your skills? In this interview series about how to write powerful and evocative poetry, we are interviewing people who have a love for poetry and want to share their insights, and we will speak with emerging poets who want to learn more about poetry either to improve their own skills or learn how to read and interpret better. Here, we will also meet rising and successful poets who want to share their work or broaden their audience, as well as poetry and literature instructors.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Raab.

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a poet, memoirist, blogger, and award-winning author of ten books numerous articles and poems. She blogs for Psychology Today, The Wisdom Daily, Thrive Global, and many others. She frequently speaks and facilitates workshops on writing for healing and transformation. Her latest book is Writing for Bliss, and her most recent poetry book is called, Lust. Her poetry chapbook, “An Imaginary Affair,” is due out in 2022 with Finishing Line Press. For more information, visit: dianaraab.com.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what first drew you to poetry?

I am an only child of two immigrant parents. When I was a young girl, my mother took me to the library every week, and I always chose biographies and poetry books. I spent a lot of time in my childhood during the 1950s and 1960s reading and writing in my journal. I loved how poets said things that I was feeling but had difficulty expressing. I appreciated the succinct language and how their words got to the heart of emotion, image, or feeling. After reading a lot of poetry, I was inspired to jot down some poems in my journal, which I’ve always carried with me.

Can you tell us a bit about the interesting or exciting projects you are working on or wish to create? What are your goals for these projects?

I love inspiring my readers and students with my words. People have told me that my last collection of poetry, Lust, moved them in ways they were never moved before. That’s because I was able to express what goes on inside of a woman’s psyche when she feels loved. I’m considering writing a follow-up to that book or work having to do with our collective consciousness. Outside of the political and scientific realms, I believe that the pandemic brought the universe closer. Nobody is immune to the virus.

Wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What is your definition of poetry? Can you please share with us what poetry means to you?

In my book Writing for Bliss, I say that “poetry is the voice of the soul. Poets help us see a slice of the world in a way in which we might not have observed it before. They highlight details to cast a light on a feeling, an image, or an event. Poetry also offers insight into both the human psyche and human behavior, and it is a place where the imagination can roam free.”

What can writing poetry teach us about ourselves?

It can put us in touch with our inner voice and feelings. It also helps us tap into our subconscious mind. The best poetry shares vivid images and offers powerful emotions and desires. Writing with passion helps pave the way to the emotional truth we all seek. Poetry cuts to the heart of the matter and elicits emotions in both the poet and the reader.

Who are your favorite poets? Is it their style, the content, or something else that resonates with you?

My favorite poets depend upon my mood. I think every poet has something to offer. Poets whom I read on a regular basis include Rumi, Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Anne Sexton, and Charles Baudelaire, to name a few.

If you could ask your favorite poet a question, what would it be?

“What inspires or feeds your poems?”

Poetry can be transformational. Is there a particular poem that spoke to you and changed your life or altered a perspective you held in some way? Can you share the story?

Every poem transforms me in one way or another. It depends on my stage in life. I love Neruda’s “Odes” because he puts items under a microscope in a way we would not have seen before. Rumi’s “The Guest House” is one poem I’ve read over and over again and often share with my students. The poem is about the challenges of being human and how it’s important to greet the good and bad times in the same way and honor them, because every experience or encounter is meant to teach us something.

Today’s world needs so much healing. Can you help articulate how poetry can help us heal?

As I mentioned earlier, poetry is the voice of the soul, and when we allow our soul to speak, we become healed. Healing is often done as a path to wholeness. As Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” One way to release the wounds of our past is to write them down in the form of a poem. When we write poetry, we have to be in the moment and identify what’s important. Sculpting our feelings and thoughts into a poem can take us on a journey where the conscious mind actually takes a little holiday. Poetry helps us tap into our authentic voice, which can lead to self-realization and healing.

We’d like to learn more about your poetry and writing. How would you describe yourself as a poet? Can you please share a specific passage that you think exemplifies your style or main message?

When I write poetry, I enter an indescribable dimension. I transcend to another universe, which makes emotions erupt in a way that no other artform does for me. It’s almost as if I go into a trance. I’m able to speak truths about myself, express what’s in my imagination, and reveal my sensibilities and fantasies. I am in touch with my entire self — my body, mind, and spirit.

What do you hope to achieve with your poetry?

I want to create more of the same type of poetry that I’ve been writing, and I want to teach others to do the same.

In your opinion and from your experience, what are 3 things everyone can learn from poetry?

It helps us tap into our emotions.

It helps us understand others.

It helps increase self-awareness.

Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things a poet needs to know to create beautiful and evocative poetry”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Be concise: every word matters in a poem.

Be observant: poets need to be good noticers and to provide specific details.

Develop a good vocabulary: be able to express ordinary feelings, emotions, and images in a creative way without using clichés.

How to use a thesaurus: these volumes help poets become diverse and use fresh words.

Read and listen to great poetry: good poets are our best teachers.

If you were to encourage others to write poetry, what would you tell them?

All of the above, plus . . . keep writing even when the process seems challenging.

How would you finish these three sentences:

Poetry teaches us to be good listeners, noticers, and how to be succinct.

Poetry heals by tapping into our subconscious mind.

To be a poet, you need to read a lot of poetry and be observant.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Entertainment, Business, VC funding, and Sports read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Unfortunately, many are deceased ☹

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website: dianaraab.com

Get my monthly newsletter. Click here

Instagram: @dianaraab

Twitter: @dianaraab

LinkedIn: Diana Raab

Facebook: Diana Raab

Facebook: DianaMarquiseRaab

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success.

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