Barbara Schweitzer is the author of 33 1/3: Soap Opera Sonnets, cited in The Providence Journal as a favorite book for 2008. She has twice been the recipient of Merit Fellowships from the RI State Council on the Arts for poetry and has won numerous other national prizes including the Galway Kinnell Poetry Prize and Midwest Writer’s Center Prize. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and on WRNI’s “This I Believe” program as well as in literary journals and anthologies, print and online. Her plays have been produced locally in RI and MA and have been finalists or semi-finalists in national competitions including the Louisville Ten Minute Play Contest. Her play Sub-Zero was published in The Writer’s Circle Anthology. She is co-founder of the Origami Poems Project, a Johnny Appleseed approach to distributing free poetry in pocket-size origami books throughout RI. She lives in northern RI and maintains a private practice in psychotherapy in Providence.
Can you tell me about your latest body of work? Lately I’ve been engaged in our Origami Poems Project. Begun as a prompt I gave to the poets in a poetry workshop, the origami books caught fire. They are a full volume of poetry printed on a single sheet of paper then folded, origami style, into a book perfect to carry around in your pocket and read all day. Forty five volumes are now being distributed in plexiglass boxes and ziplock bags on telephone poles throughout RI. Lynnie Gobeille and Jan Keough orchestrate the distribution, and the books are free for the taking. Free poetry! For real. And the books surely will win the Guinness Book of World records as The Book With The Smallest Carbon Footprint.
What inspires you the most lately? Lately, I’ve adapted the origami poems style to Cyjoe Barker detective stories. Cyjoe Barker solves her murder mysteries in five chapters only, a feat only an origami detective can accomplish!
What was your first memory? The smell of a root cellar at my great grandparents’ house in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Earth. Onions. Potatoes. Grass. I am still dizzy from it as I write these words.
Can you describe the best thing you saw on your last walk? (run) A pair of cardinals flinging themselves with rapture into the bare arms of forsythia. One bright red male. One tempered female.
What are five things that would happen in the perfect day of work for you? 1. The sound of the keyboard steadily click, click, click. My fingers would feel the command of my thoughts. 2. Fragrant breezes (sweet spring morning) would waft from the open window beside me. 3. The room would sparkle. The air would wave with sunbeams. The tables would be dusted. 4. Birdsong. 5. The sculpture of words on the page would thrill me.
Can you describe the best pair of shoes you've ever owned? Oh, shoes! Why love shoes so much? My favorite pair of shoes must be the red sandals I put on in NYC when I was 25 years old. They had wooden high heels, and I walked the streets day and night that day and night with them on. I still remember the way the city looked and felt under them. The feel of wooden heels. (But then there have been so many more I’ve loved as well.)
What are you doing this weekend? (March 13-14) My entire weekend is focused on the Towers’ All You Need is Love II Sunday, March 14, 1-5PM, a love fest for poetry and the arts at the historic Narragansett Towers in Narragansett, RI. On the ocean. The Origami Poems Project poets will be there along with featured reader Tom Chandler. Poets, artists, musicians, actors will gather to celebrate their work. Wine and chocolate galore, thanks to the generous merchants of the area who believe in LOVE and ART. Is there any difference between the two?
- Photo of Fresh Origami Poetry Books on the Line, courtesy of Origami Poems