Artist Spotlight: Laura Treacy Bentley
From Laura Bentley:
“Many things steal their way into a poem until it starts to breathe on its own. I believe Thomas Wolfe when he said “I am a part of all that I’ve touched and that has touched me,” because if it’s a good day, this happens intuitively. If not, it may take years to get it right. Or never. Although the seeds, the genesis, of my poems are varied, I’ve discovered that if I shut out the world and dive deep enough, I become the poem. And in the becoming, I am transformed.” LTB
I am a poet and fiction writer. Since 2008, I have been honored to serve as writer in residence for the Marshall University Writing Project. I am also the book editor for a beautiful new magazine, WV Living. http://www.wvlivingmagazine.com.
Poetry is my first love, but writing fiction is my newest love. I have completed a contemporary suspense novel set in Ireland and am now working on a second. I was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, and have lived most of my life in Huntington, West Virginia. Today, I divide my time between the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland. I like to tell people that I received my “MFA” from RU (Rogue University) because I belonged to a fabulous fiction writing group called The Rogues. Its members included Zoe Ferraris (http://www.zoeferraris.com/), Marie Manilla (http://www.mariemanilla.com/), Paul Martin, John VanKirk, Mary Sansom, Charles Lloyd (http://palruth.home.comcast.net/~palruth/), Shannon Butler, and former member, Leslie Birdwell.
I attended public schools in Maryland and West Virginia and received my undergraduate degree in Speech and English and a master’s degree in Gifted Education from Marshall University. While at Marshall, I acted in numerous university theatre productions. My fondest childhood memories include carrying home stacks of books to read from the public library, speed-reading comic books at the Greyhound Bus Station, and swimming at the Olympic Pool.
My husband and I have three children and a stray dog named Lucky. I taught gifted students in West Virginia and speech, drama, and English in both West Virginia and Kentucky, often moonlighting as an adjunct professor at Marshall University.
Lake Effect is my first book of poetry, and it was published in 2006. My work has appeared in Ireland and the United States in The New York Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review, Rosebud, The Stinging Fly (Ireland), Antietam Review, Nightsun, Kestrel, ABZ, Now & Then, Wind, blink, Crannog (Ireland), Art Times, Eureka Literary Magazine, Riverwind, Space and Time, Appalachian Journal, Ellipsis: Literature and Art, Small Pond, Controlled Burn, 10X3 plus, and WV Living Magazine, among others, and in fifteen anthologies: Getting The Knack: Twenty Poetry Writing Exercises, co-authored by William Stafford and Stephen Dunning, A Gathering at the Forks, The Guyandotte Poets I, Weeping With Those Who Weep, Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry, Appalachian Love Stories, Crossing Troublesome: 25 Years of the Appalachian Writers Workshop, Tobacco: A Literary Anthology, Family Matters: Poems of Our Families, Coal, Blackbone Mountain Review I and II, Seeking the Swan, and Motif: Writing by Ear.
In 1992 I studied with Irish poets at the Dublin Writing Workshop in Ireland. I was awarded a work/study grant in 1994 from the Vermont Studio Center to study with Carol Frost and received a Fellowship Award for Literature from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. In 1995 I was given a partial scholarship to the Catskill Poetry Workshop in Oneonta, New York, and later studied with Billy Collins at the Galway Poetry Workshop in Galway, Ireland. In May of 1998 I collaborated with a classical guitarist and a photographer to create Passage: a reader’s theatre production which I wrote and performed in the State Theatre in Charleston,West Virginia.
I completed a four-week writing residency in County Clare, Ireland, and read my poetry in Dublin at the Irish Writers Centre in June of 2000. Two of my poems were represented in a touring art exhibit, For Letter and Verse, at the Cultural Center in Charleston, West Virginia. I was a featured writer at a literary symposium, Appalachians: Contemporary Cultural Perspective in September 2003 (Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, Ohio) and co-taught a week of creative writing at Allegheny Echoes (Marlinton, West Virginia) in June 2004.
In 2003 I was privileged to read my poetry with Ray Bradbury in Venice, California. Two of my poems, “For Joel” and “Dowsing” were featured on Poetry Daily, and another, “Drinking Coffee at the Central City Café,” can be found on APrairie Home Companion website. I recently won the 2010 Poetic Arts “Best Collaboration Award” with photographer, Sharon Kennedy at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.