Contributor Spotlight: Tara Ballard

Tara Ballard’s poem “Plot” is featured in Issue 75 of the Bellingham Review

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

“Plot” was written when my husband and I lived in the Levant, in particular, a region that is often in conflict. Snippets of what we saw, what we heard, what our students’ families experienced, among various elements of culture and story—everything seemed to merge together for me as I tried to grapple with the city’s complexities, and that’s where this poem developed.

Tell us about your writing life.

I’ve been actively writing since undergrad, but I didn’t take it too seriously until graduate school, when I was a student in the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s MFA Program. The professors there made an undeniable impact. Of course, reading other poets has been incredibly helpful, as has the feedback received from a poetry group I participate in. My husband, and best friend, is my foundation; he has helped encourage and challenge me through every draft and hiccup.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

My husband and I work overseas, so we cannot help but be influenced by the people and places around us. Land is important to me, as is history and language.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writer(s)?

Ah, it is incredibly hard to choose a favorite book or poem (I’m sure if I answered this question tomorrow, I’d have a different answer). T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” was the first poem that changed my world. Carolyn Forche’s collection The Country Between Us amazed me when I first read it and has continued to do so every time since.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading Lee Sharkey’s Walking Backwards and Aracelis Girmay’s the black maria. They are both wonderful.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

My next project is very much in its pre-infancy stage (can I call it that?). I am working on my second manuscript, but I am unsure of its direction. We’ll see what happens.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I am excited to share that my first book, House of the Night Watch, has been chosen as the winner of this year’s Many Voices Project competition, and it will be published in 2018 through New Rivers Press.

Where can our readers connect with you online?

You are welcome to contact me on my website: Many, many thanks!

TARA BALLARD is from Alaska. For seven years now, she and her husband have been living in the Middle East. Her first book, House of the Night Watch, is the winner of the 2017 Many Voices Project through New Rivers Press and is set to be published in 2018. Her poems have been published by The Southampton ReviewSalamanderHEArt OnlineOne, and other literary magazines.

Featured Image: “Globe” by Kieran Lynam