A Poet You Should Know: Samantha Lazar

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #8

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Samantha Lazar

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.


I am excited to bring you another issue of the Through the Eyes of a Poet series; a series I hope you are enjoying. It is a true blessing to me to bring you the stories of these creative spirits. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a poet friend of mine, Samantha Lazar.

Samantha is originally from Madison, Wisconsin but now lives in my home state, North Carolina. We toss around the idea of having coffee together sometime when I am out her way–and if the poetic stars align, we shall.

Samantha was a born storyteller.

Her family reports that she has been telling stories since she first learned to talk. Today, she tells stories through poetry. Her poetic spirit came alive very early in her life. She spent a lot of time alongside the feed corn fields in Wisconsin, dreaming she was a doctor to the faeries, making dandelion chains, and making up stories in her head. Her love for this time in nature has brought her to poetry. What began as an escape for her from childhood trauma, the dissension in her parents’ relationship, and her father’s recurring illnesses, became a way to express herself through creativity.

Samantha’s education has prepared her for a successful writing life. She has a Bachelor of Science in English and Education with a concentration in creative writing from Appalachian State University, as well as a Masters in Education, with major in Academically, Intellectually Gifted Education (AIG). She’s been teaching writing, English, and Language Arts to students of all ages since 1998.

Samantha is a Top Writer in Poetry on the Medium platform. For those of you unfamiliar with exactly what that is; Medium has Top Writer status in many of their tags and only 50 of their writers obtain this status for each tag. To be one of them is an honor, especially in the highly competitive Poetry tag. Samantha publishes her work on Medium as well as on Samantha’s personal website. She’s currently working on 2 projects for publication so be sure to follow her (links at the bottom) to stay informed!

Without further adieu, here’s an interview with Samantha on her body of work, her vision, and her thoughts on the poetic genre:

Describe the vision / style / content / etc of your poetry?:

I write mostly free verse poetry about a variety of topics.  I write often about nature and my observations during daily life.  I tend to write emotional pieces about life, motherhood, healing from childhood trauma, the state of the world.  I also enjoy rhyme and rhythm.

Tell me about your writing process with regards to writing poetry, specifically.

Any time I think of an idea for a poem, I write it down. I will grab a scrap of paper, if my notebooks are not with me, or I will use the notes app on my phone. I do not want to let amazing details slip by.

My students (I teach 5th grade) say remarkable things. Their wisdom sparks curiosity in me. I write questions and words and make a million lists.  Then I sit down to write my poem. I combine thoughts together. If I feel something while I am writing (usually this comes in the form of jitters in my solar plexus) then I know I am on to something.  

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

One poem that is very special to me is titled Yom Hashoah.

Yom Hashoah is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Hebrew, “shoah” means “whirlwind”or the catastrophe. One of the traditions on this day is to read aloud the list of names of people who perished.  People take turns reading the names all day. A few years ago, I wrote this poem after spending 20 minutes reading names from the children’s list.

(excerpt)

Their names slip from the list
to my lips
and they are the flame

the uprising
the hope
of the forgotten

Not even a whirlwind cyclone of
hate sprayed
fear epidemics
could un-light these flames

Read this poem in full at: Yom Hashoah


This poem can also be listened to, as recorded by the poet:

Listen to Yom Hashoah

If you had a piece of advice for other poets, what would that be?

Poets need sacred pauses. Stop to notice your life. Recognize yourself for a moment.  It is important to allow your senses to find the words.

What would you say to people who may not consider poetry to be “their thing?”

I would ask them, What is your thing? When they tell me what their thing is, I would ask them to describe why their thing is their thing. Then I would ask them to tell me how their thing looks, tastes, smells, feels, sounds and any of their favorite memories associated with their thing. Then I would tell them that they just wrote a poem.

One last question, do you define your poetry or does your poetry define you? Why?

I do not want anything to really define me. If my poetry defines me, then it is up to the reader to say who I am. That is limiting. My poetry can help piece together the parts of me that I share. So in that essence, I suppose I define my poetry.


I am sad to report that Samantha lost her father due to illness this past week. She wrote the following poem about her experience.

in the rough
you recognized me
your blue eyes, blazing
searched the surface
for the mouth that tried
to sing to you
to help you sink back
away from the pain
impatient hearts
are still strong
broken bodies still heal
if they take a chance
to live

Hearts
by Samantha Lazar (written for her father who passed away this past week)

Thank you Samantha for taking some time to share your beautiful work with us. The poetry community also reaches out with empathy in this difficult time for you and your family. I know that writing can be very healing, cathartic, and can get us through the most turbulent times. May poetry be there for you when you need it most, my friend.

Christina

Follow Samantha’s body of work or connect with her on social media:

Personal website: Samantha Lazar Writing

Medium link: Samantha Lazar on Medium

Medium poetry publications: Sky Collection Project by Samantha Lazar

Newsletter:  Subscribe to my newsletter. Other:  Twitter




Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
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