Mary Rose Fair, a young poet, student, and lover of dance, is our featured poet for her winning poem, “Elephants.” Following her award for winning our Open Community Poetry Contest, I sat down with Fair and tried to talk with her more about elephants, love, and memory. 

What drew you to the subject matter? What is it about elephants?

I was drawn to the subject matter of the memory of an elephant rather than the elephant itself. When I was young, I remember my father telling me an elephant never forgets… coincidentally I always remembered this fact and I found myself drawn to it poetically.

Tell us a little bit about your background. What type of education did you get? How did you get into poetry? Do you have any mentors?

I am the 5th child in a family of 6 children. We were raised on a farm with little else around us than each other; we were and we remain very close to one another! I am currently a Junior at Central College in Pella, IA studying English Lit and this is the very thing that got me to start officially writing poetry. I say “officially” because I've always liked to write but it took a professor and a school desk to show me that what I was writing could be poetry. I think I owe that and so much more to my poetry professor, Sara Perez.

If you could have dinner with any poet or writer or any historical figure, alive or dead—who would it be? What would you say?

If I were to be able to have dinner with any writer I think I'd like to have it with Mary Oliver. I would ask her how she picks a topic to write about and what it is about nature that is so inspiring to her. I have always loved the way she writes about this subject; everything seems to flow so seamlessly.

Beyond poetry, what else do you do? Do you have any current projects you'd like to share with our audience?

Beyond poetry I am a dancer and I like to think this is another way I can live an art form. I think a lot of my poetry is written the way it is because I like the way it sounds and the ways a line break can flow or halt a lyric. I am currently working on my own manuscript with the high hopes of publishing in the near future. I mostly write on my typewriter to have my own physical copies but sometimes I post my pieces to my Wordpress page or other social media platforms to receive much appreciated feedback from others!

What 3 things inspire you the most? 

If I were to pick only three things that inspire me to write I would say the thought of Love largely impacts my writing. I think it is an emotion that is stronger than words but when a writer can effectively transform his words into something beautiful enough to depict it, it is something to behold. I would consider myself a romantic poet in that way! I think the ocean and the sea are very big inspirations to me not only as a writer but as a person in general and I have always been drawn to it. In “Elephants” I say I am “nourished by mystery” and I think that line was born from the idea that we know nothing about the ocean and that might be why I love it so much. I think thirdly I am inspired by anything wild; flowers, animals, trees, the sky, the ocean. Anything that lives in its own time without paying any mind to the world around it is so inspiring to me.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I am so thankful for the world of poetry for existing at all because it has opened so many windows of perspective for me in the way that I quite literally see the world differently since I have made it a part of my life and I think that is a wonderful feeling that I wish everyone could have!