Our first Author Spotlight, Maggie Westvold, is a published poet and memoirist. She is a founding member of Third Stanza Poets in Ames, Iowa and secretary of the Iowa Poets Association (IPA).
What inspired you to become a writer?
I can’t remember not liking to write; it seemed to come naturally. My high school English teachers were all very encouraging. My junior year, my English teacher read poetry aloud to us. I was hooked, though I did not realize it at the time. Twenty years later, Deb Marquart & others who published ‘Iowa Woman’ offered poetry workshops around Iowa. They were wonderful. Third Stanza Poets, Ames, is a spinoff from a night poetry class at Ames High taught by masters students from ISU’s creative writing program. We’ve existed since the mid 90’s & the poets in the group have been very helpful in my growth as a writer. Omega Poets, Des Moines, & the IA Poetry Association have also influenced my skills & continue to do so.
What author do you admire and how have they inspired your writing?
Michael Carey, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, Seamus Heaney & others. I strive to write anything even close to their masterful poetry.
Name three of your favorite books and their authors
- “Let Evening Come,” Jane Kenyon
- “Shelterbelt,” Ted Kooser
- “Lull In The Fields,” M. Carey
- “Digging,” Seamus Heaney
What’s one thing readers should know about you?
I was a chronically shy country-kid kindergartner. In adulthood, reading my poems aloud to others, even in small groups, initially sent my voice into tremolo mode! Public poetry readings, one after the other, helped. KHOI Community Radio, Ames, helped me get past mic fright. It is a thing. Not easy. I can attest to that and would be more than willing to help anyone with their fear of public speaking.
What one piece of advice would you give to a budding writer?
Read a lot of other’s poetry. Read all the how-to books you can find. Write, write, write. Daily challenges are wonderful for the muse!
Maggie Westvold was born in the hospital one block from where she lives today. Some might say she hasn’t gotten far in life, but she truly feels she is exactly where she needs to be in this 3/4-century year of her good life. Writing, reading, woodcarving, volunteering on community radio, and enjoying retirement life with husband Steve, all round out her days as a wife, mom, grandma and friend. Maggie retired twenty years ago from a career with the state of IA writing government documents. She much prefers writing poems.