Ask the Author: Helen Vitoria

We are not supposed to have favorites, but Helen Vitoria’s remarkable We Were Horses holds a special place in our minds and hearts. Read further to see Helen discuss the power of concise writing, her favorite short poems and her guiltiest of pleasures.

1. “We Were Horses” is an amazing, compact piece of verse.   Do you struggle when creating such concise work or does it come naturally?

I struggle more with longer poems; I spend lots of time tweaking them.   The shorter, concise pieces, are a more powerful work for me, they require little tweaking, if any at all.   Tweaking would change the poem almost in its entirety. I would definately say they come naturally for me.

2. How has your cultural background affected or influenced your writing style?

When I was a teenager I read George Seferis in Greek (Mythistorema) and from that moment on, I knew I loved poetry.   I read everything in Greek that I could get my hands on.   When I discovered the Greek poets in translation it was amazing for me, that was years later when I came to this country.

To read a poem in two languages is   to discover it all over again.   Many times my process begins in writing my poems in Greek and then getting them on paper in English.

3. What are some of your favorite short poems (poems at or under 14 lines)?

I think William Carlos Williams is  a master of short, powerful, poems (Epitaph, The Gentle Man). Another master –  Rainer Maria Rilke (Evening Love Song, Initial). Frederico Garcia Lorca (Gacela of Unforseen Love) another.   I could go on for some time!

4. What is your guiltiest pleasure outside of writing?

Tattoos and piercings!

5. What are your favorite songs that play for two minutes or less?

That is a difficult question since the majority of the music I love seems SO much longer than two mintues. But since you insist …a great SHORT song is “Dig It”

(The Beatles, Let It Be)…I think it runs at 50 seconds!