Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Margaret Fieland

Today's guest is Margaret Fieland, a prolific poet whose work has appeared in a myriad of publications. Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Daughter of a painter, she is the mother of three grown sons and an accomplished flute and piccolo player. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. She lives in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and seven dogs. Her poems, articles and  stories have appeared in journals and anthologies such as  Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. In spite of making her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to format the initial version of her website, a clear illustration of the computer generation gap. You may visit her website,  Margaret was good enough to drop by and answer  a few questions for us.

Tell us about what you write: I'm a professional Computer Software engineer – BA in mathematics, MS in computer science, but I've written poetry as far back as I can remember, though not with publication in mind and not with any level of dedication.

What got you writing for publication?  What really propelled me into writing for publication was organizing my poetry. I used to keep the poems, when I kept them, in notebooks. They were totally unorganized, and I could never find anything. Then I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, so I got off the stick and put them up, first on my computer, and after that online, originally in Yahoo briefcase, and later in Google Documents.

Why was the organization such a key factor in moving your writing forward? Once I had the poems organized and findable, I could finally submit, and I could look them over and gain perspective on how I was doing. What ended up happening was that I submitted a poem to a contest on a whim and ended up a finalist. This was so encouraging that I started writing more, working more seriously on growing as a writer, joined critique groups, etc.

What are you working on now? Well, there's my chapter book, The Ugly Little Boy. I'm also working on a rhymed picture book and a series of math poems.

Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you? Lewis Carroll. My all time favorite book is “Alice in Wonderland,” which I reread every exam time when I was in college, as I made it a habit to avoid the library during exams. I'm also very fond of Carroll's poetry. I've got several stanzas of Jabberwocky and You Are Old, Father William memorized.

How long have you been writing? I've been writing poetry since my teens, but only with publication in mind for the past three or four years. As a story writer I'm pretty much of a novice, as I only started writing stories after I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson after the first Muse online writer's conference three years ago and joined her writing forums.  I'm 62 now, so that's a lot of years of writing.

What made you want to start writing? Good question – I started and became addicted. I really love writing -- and I just plain enjoy writing poetry, rhymed and unrhymed. I've developed my own algorithm for generating rhymes, which means that I often don't have to use a rhyming dictionary at all.  Besides, if I don't write it down it stays stuck in my head.

When did you start writing? Like many teens, I started writing (bad) poetry in my teens as an outlet for my teenage angst. Then later on I started writing poetry for the people I was dating, and after that for family birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, -- basically everything.

What's the strangest thing you've ever written? I don't think anything I write is strange {looks innocently up at ceiling}. I have written several surreal poems, and I have one I really like called “Machine A Ecrire” (French for typewriter), unpublished, in the shape of a typewriter. The sentences are “variations” on the stuff they had us all typing when we were in school.

Where do you get your ideas? Darned if I know. Some of the poetry is “inspired,” some is in response to exercises or prompts I dig up, some is from lines that come to me as I'm falling asleep, some from events in my life. Lots of places. One poem I wrote this week was inspired by some words in the comments in the "spam" folder on my website {grin}.

When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you? Since I have a full time job, whenever the spirit moves me, and I have (or can make) the time. The nice thing about poetry is that a lot of it is short and taking a couple of minutes to jot down poetry is pretty easy to do. Waiting for appointments is a favorite time to write. I've had good luck being "inspired" by those articles you find in waiting rooms.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do? Read, listen to music, play my flute and my piccolo, walk our dogs, do crossword puzzles.

Tour with VBT-Writers on the Move through April. New and famous authors, plus useful information.


  1. Even though I had some teenage angst poems published in an anthology years ago (no, I'm not going to tell you how many), I take my hat off to poets. I wouldn't even know how to go about it or how to discover if what I did write had any merit. Good luck with your poetry!

  2. I think a writer has to be open to finding ideas anywhere. It's a good practice to write "out of the box." Sometimes my best pieces come from these sessions. That's how I started my first tween chapter book, "After Patty Killed Her Daddy."
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer
    Children's picture Book Klutzy Kantor
    Coming Soon Marta Gargantuan Wings

  3. Maggie,thanks for hosting me.

    Margaret Fieland

  4. Margaret,
    I'm with Katie, My hat off to poets. I love to read poetry but don't have that gift of poetry writing.
    Martha Swirzinski

  5. Margaret, I love that you have 7 dogs!
    Congratulations on your writing accomplishements! I wish you tons of success.

  6. I love hearing about Margaret. I think writing poetry is very difficult. I admire anyone who does it well.

  7. What a great interview! I love what you said about publication as a way of organizing your poetry. I feel the same way about my fiction! It's neat to have a goal to work towards.

  8. A computer-engineer and poet--that's a wonderful combination. More power to you!

  9. Great interview! I used to write poetry back in grade and high school. I haven't tried it in a while. I'd rather read the poetry of those who are truly good at it, like you Margaret.

  10. It was so nice to getting to know more about Margaret. I've read some of her poems and really love them. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more in the future.

  11. Margaret, I've done one rhyming pb, but really haven't tried another. I like to write early chapter books and non-rhyming pbs.

    It's always great to learn more about how authors work.