Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writers Talk with Kat Mortensen

Many Robert Frost’s Banjo regulars are already familiar with poet-blogger Kat Mortensen.  Her various blogging efforts have attracted a wide following, & with good reason.  Not only is Kat a fine poet, but she is a most friendly & engaging presence in the blogosphere.  I’m very honored that Kat was one of the first followers of Robert Frost’s Banjo, & that she still continues to be among its staunchest supporters.  She has also been a booster of my poetry, which I have appreciated greatly.

Kat Mortensen’s blogging efforts include: Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes, Kathus, Kigo of the Kat, shadowstalking & Acadianeire's Heritage.  In addition, she published her first book of poetry, shadowstalking, earlier this year thru her own Hyggehus Publishing venture & which you can purchase here.  You can read a poem from that collection, “Winter’s Wake” on our own Writers Talk blog—Kat discusses the process involved in creating that poem in her interview.

I’m very pleased that Kat Mortensen has agreed to participate in the Writers Talk interview series & I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I have!

When did you first realize your identity as a writer?

Although I have always loved to write and work with the English language, it is only in recent years that I have felt comfortable with thinking of myself truly as a writer/poet.  It still feels a bit strange when people ask me what I do and I say, "I'm a poet."  It is so conventional to believe when you are growing up that you need to find employment in some field that will give you not only a feeling of purpose, but will make you money.  I went through school assuming that I had to be a teacher and when those efforts turned out not to be aligned with who I am as a person, I found myself floundering for years in unsuitable jobs that did indeed make me money, but left me feeling emotionally and spiritually dead at the end of the day.

Being able to say now, that I am a poet, is liberating - still a bit odd, but very freeing.

Describe the creative process involved in any one piece you’ve written—this could be book, a story, a poem, an essay, etc.

There are generally, two methods by which I create a poem; the first is spontaneous and quite random, where an idea strikes me with no warning and the second is far more methodical and deliberate.  Both methods require different amounts of time to foment.  In the first case, I usually work through ideas, lines and words in my head (this often happens when I awake in the middle of the night) and I hope to recall what I've thought, but know that even if I don't, what does result will still be what is "meant to be".

In the second case, I will make notes and work things out before I go to my computer, then I will do a first draft and walk away from it for a while.  When I go back to it, I often have moments of clarity that bring the piece together.  Of course, sometimes it doesn't always go the way I might wish.  I never think of anything as "written in stone".  I believe since I am the creator, I can change what I want, when I want or even scrap entire verses or the whole thing, if I so choose.

I am keenly motivated by what I see and hear, rather than what I think.  I translate what my eye and ear perceives into words that attempt to convey the feeling and the response to the original.

This is not to say that I don't think about things too—I think far too much, if I'm honest, but what I think about has usually been motivated by a visual impression. A poem that comes to mind is "Winter's Wake" which was prompted by the scene outside my kitchen window in late March. My yard was a mess of snow remnants, broken branches, rangy trees and a few creatures.  I was compelled to capture that picture in words for posterity.

Could you describe your relationship to the publishing process (this can be publishing in any form, from traditional book publishing to blogging, etc)?

Blogging has been the best platform for me and in effect, it is blogging that really helped me to develop as a legitimate poet (whatever that means).  On the other hand, blogging is a difficult thing to incorporate into one's life on so many levels.  There is such a need to commit to the online journal if your goal is to have people commit to reading it.  If you're only doing it for yourself, then you won't feel obligated, or impinged upon by what it demands.  I find it hard work to keep the blog up to the level of expectation that I create for my readers.  I am also continuously drawn to find other worlds in the blog-sphere to keep myself stimulated apart from my own writing.  That's just me; I need to have many "irons in the fire".

I'm leaning more and more to keeping my poetry an entity unto itself.  I have recently separated all my extraneous interests from Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes in an effort to distinguish the creative art of my work, from the more mainstream day-to-day experiences.

I have self-published my book, but I've talked about that at length already and those comments can be found through the interviews on my shadowstalking blog.

How has being a writer affected your relationships?

Prior to self-publishing my volume of poetry, shadowstalking, the people in my life had an interesting reaction to learning that my sole occupation is writing.  Words like, "cute", "interesting" and questions such as, "Where have you been published?" were commonplace.  Since releasing my book, and having it read by these same people, I have had genuine approbation and support that has actually surprised me.  Extended family members and friends have all been very encouraging and have said they are proud of me, which certainly feels good.

I must state firmly, that both my husband and my mother have shown nothing but love and support every step of the way.

I have also noticed that people in the blog community seem more interested and loyal even when I can't reciprocate that same commitment to them.

How would you describe the community of writers you belong to—if any?  This may be a “real” or “virtual” (in more than one sense) community.

I feel honoured to be an accepted and acknowledged part of the online community of writers the world over.  It is so creatively invigorating to be boosted by others of such great talent and inspiration.  It feels like I am part of a global family from North America to the UK and points all over the world.  I am moved when someone who has my book in their possession shares a photo with me. I have to pinch myself when I think that my work is in the hands of an appreciative fellow-poet in a far-off place.  It's just the ultimate high on top of the actual creation of the work.

What are your future goals in terms of writing?

I'm getting the itch to put another book together.  I have no idea at this point in which direction I'm going to take my work, but I trust that will evolve naturally.  Deep down, I have fears that if I produce one too soon, no one will be interested, but the actual process of constructing a book is so absorbing and fulfilling that when I'm not doing it, I feel like something is missing.  I suppose that's a good thing; I don't think I will ever tire of finding the best of me and putting it in book form.

With everything that's going on with me transitionally - moving from one home to another and losing a beloved pet, I really feel like I need a break from the blog world, but we'll see.

Bonus Question: If your writing were a musical instrument, what would it be?

If my writing were a musical instrument, I think it would have to be a fiddle.  The beauty of this instrument is that it can be lighthearted and whimsical.  So too, it can be mournful and reflective. I feel that my poetry is a bit of everything, like me.  I had thought perhaps, the violin, but the fiddle also represents from where I am descended.  My work is all the things a fiddle can be and besides, the sound of a fiddle moves me to dance, sing and create.


  1. Great interview : that's the Kat we know and love.

  2. Hi Alan: Yes, that's Kat! Glad you enjoyed her interview & thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thanks for the wonderful interview with Kat! (I think her choice of fiddle was right on!)

  4. Hi Willow: Thanks! I think the fiddle was a good choice, too.

  5. Kat, it is good to hear that you had a positive experience with self-publishing. Both Jessica and I are looking to self-publish work this year or next. Thank you for sharing, and it is good to hear that you claim Poet as a title and occupation.

  6. Thanks, John. It's been a pleasure to respond to your interview questions and I hope anything I've said is of help to fellow-writers.

    Thanks also to those who have commented thus far.

  7. Hi Aaron & Kat

    Aaron: Thanks for stopping by & thanks again for the Twitter RTs on this post!

    Kat: Thanks for doing such a marvelous job.

  8. wow Kathleen I have just read your interview and now I really do understand how we are family related, even if it is distantly related, because apart from a few Obvious points in the interview it could well have been me answering those questions, jeez its so uncanny and very spooky indeed, as you well know I write poetry and children's stories myself and often get asked the same or similar questions to what were asked in this very interview our reasons and thinking of our poetry and what it means to us in our lives are vertically identical, a fantastic interview kat well done and I am so proud to have you as a distant cousin, oh and I am also glad you enjoyed the wee poem I sent you for Christmas.

    poem for kat

    The tracing paper was gently wrapped around the globe
    like a delicate crumpled satin robe

    As both you and I creatively pushed pen
    hoping in some way to be noticed but never knowing when

    Our pens simultaneously drift over the crumpled satin in one single motion
    Both searching for the perfect poem, that special gemcical magic potion.

    poem for kat

    John leneghan 2011

    by the way the word gemcical does not exist, or does it, that's the writers choice.

  9. Thanks so much, John Leneghan for reading the interview and taking the time to express how you feel about our familial/poetic connection.

    I do get feel a kinship with your pen, simultaneously working to find that "gemcical" piece. We are indeed, cut from the same cloth in many ways.

    I thank you from my heart.


  10. Thanks kat, we are indeed cut from the same cloth chat soon x


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