This week, we would like you to meet poet Lee Woodman, winner of the 2020 William Meredith Prize for Poetry. Please see below for Lee’s full biography.
What was the inspiration behind becoming a poet? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
There are several sources of inspiration I had for becoming a creator. I grew up in France and India, two countries where theater, art, music, dance and language are held in high esteem. In addition, my parents were very into the arts. My Mom was a dancer and set up a ballet school in India, where we lived for ten years. My Dad, who worked as a State Department cultural attaché in Chennai (now Madras), and educational expert for the Ford Foundation in New Delhi, was an avid photographer and filmmaker, who recorded important life experiences, often related to the arts. Lastly, I majored in Art (History and Studio) in college, minored in French, and then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Art Education. After a career in radio, television, and multimedia production and senior-level museum management (twenty years at the Smithsonian), I retired and rewired to become a full-time poet. The rest is history … two books, the 2020 William Meredith Prize in Poetry. And much joy!
Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
My creative process is surprisingly regular. I start writing everyday about 9 a.m. either in the library of my apartment building or at the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress where I have a research card. Midday, I often have lunch with a friend and then go to my gym or swimming pool for a good workout. In the afternoon, I do the “clerical” work of poetry – organizing files for each poem, keeping excel sheets to record where and when I’ve sent submissions and so forth. Once a book is accepted or published, there is a lot of marketing work involved, including writing press releases, sending inquiries about review possibilities, designing and ordering post cards and bookmarks as hand-outs.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
The biggest misconception is that poets get inspiration from an unknown source and simply sit down and write. Actually, I do an enormous amount of study, take many classes, and practice writing in various forms (there are at least 300 poetic forms in the English repertory alone.) I enjoy the research into topics I tackle (nature, geography, culture, the arts), and that knowledge adds a tremendous amount to the language that I use in poems. Writing poetry is a lot of consistent hard work!
Have you experienced copyright infringement and, if so, how has it affected you personally and financially?
I have not encountered copyright infringement but have had quite a bit of experience in dealing with copyright through my career. As a television, film, and multimedia producer, I have had to research copyright law, write hundreds of letters for permission to use various clips, phrases, lyrics and mechanical rights. I am now a member of the Authors Guild in New York City. It is an amazing resource. I have had help from them with book contracts, music lyric rights and more. I am on constant alert and know how complicated copyright issues can be.
What is the best piece of advice you would give fellow creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
The best piece of advice I can give to other artists about protecting themselves from copyright infringement is to consult the proper experts. It is not enough to go online and google for responses about what is legitimate. For example, one can put up a query about use of song lyrics and get many different and conflicting answers. Get advice from a knowledgeable copyright expert in your particular field. The rules vary from visual arts to literature to music.
It is always a good thing to request permission from the true owner of copyright for use of their work. Check everything out carefully!
Lee Woodman’s essays and poems have been published in Tiferet Journal, Zócalo Public Square, Grey Sparrow Press, The Ekphrastic Review, vox poetica, The New Guard Review, The Concord Monitor, The Hill Rag, and forthcoming in Naugatuck River Review. A Pushcart nominee, she received an Individual Poetry Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2019 and 2020. Her poetry collection, Mindscapes, was published by Poets’ Choice Publishing in February 2020. Lee’s second collection, Homescapes, will be published by Finishing Line Press in May 2020.
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