Interview with Alaina Goodrich
John Berbrich: Greetings, Alaina. Let’s talk poetry. Who are a few of your
favorite poets, ancient or modern?
Alaina Goodrich: My absolute favorites are Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Mary
Oliver, and a poet I’ve recently discovered and been enjoying is Jaiya John;
I’m looking forward to his upcoming book, Fragrance after Rain. I also love
your poetry and would love a collection of that if you have one!!
John (smiles): Thanks, Alaina. I’ll send you something. I’m not familiar w/
Jaiya John. Please tell me about his work.
Alaina: I often feel like he’s speaking right to me, reminding me about how
to live my best life, in peace and love. He writes in a sort of poetic prose
comparing the wonders of the human experience to the small and large
miracles of nature; it’s nourishing and soul cleansing.
John: Reminds me of some of your work, which often contains small & large
miracles of nature as well as plenty of wonder. Feel like sharing one w/ us
Alaina: Aw, thanks! Sure!
I light a fire in my heart
I am looking for something
listening for something
the songlines of my ancestors
of who I am
and where I belong in the world.
Anger and hurt in my heart
for the break in the chain
who left the wisdom behind
in this shallow culture…
It is 2am
and I cannot sleep
I am like a child
for the lullaby that I can’t hear.
I clear my mind
awareness on my heart
but all I can hear are the crickets
and the bullfrogs
singing their songs
but simple creatures
who know their place perfectly
where they belong in the world
living in harmony with all of life
taking only what they need
not trying to change the world
for their own good.
those small beings
singing through the night
their songlines for all to hear
let’s hope we listen
Amidst this harmony I hear lyrics
in my mother’s voice:
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you”
and in the voice of my father:
“You are always on my mind”
and my grandmother:
“you’ll never know dear, how much I love you,
so please don’t take my sunshine away”
the common thread
though so unraveled
not all is lost
pass it on
John: Beautiful. Thank you. Tell me a little about your ancestry.
Alaina: Good question. I don’t know a lot about my ancestry, sadly. I have
always admired the people who do, who feel connected to ancient traditions
and stories. Though I certainly do in some ways! I did the ancestry DNA
thing a few years back and was surprised by some of the results; the majority
was from northern Europe and France, and I learned of some eastern
European heritage. Some of my ancestors, from both sides, emigrated from
France to Quebec and eventually from Canada to Vermont and Northern New
York. When I mention my ancestors in the poem, I am also thinking of very
distant ancestors who I imagine were more in tune with their intuition and
lived simpler lives more connected to nature.
John: You ever feel poetic inspiration from those unknown ancestors?
Alaina: That is a good idea and something I would definitely like to pay
more attention to. I have gotten inspiration from my late grandmothers for
sure, the unknown ancestors I’m not so sure, sometimes yes but oftentimes
it’s hard to say. I do try to be an open channel to let wisdom flow through,
and my writing process usually involves a simple but longingful & “what can I
know?” and lots of gratitude for the words and wisdom that I have faith will
come to me. I’m excited to get to it! Commune with my ancestors in poetry
John: Great idea for an epic poetry project! As you investigate those
shadowy ancestors, write poems about them, to them, & by them—imagining
all of it. Reminds me of the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.
Alaina: Yes! I will. That inspires nervous excitement. What if I come up
with something terrifying, or unexpected, am I going to be open to it? We
I love the word epic. I hadn’t heard it in a while, as slang, maybe it was
out of style or just not used by people my age, ha! But my 7-year-old son
recently came home from a friend’s house saying it with the absolute best
expression, I just loved it. I would ask what is the Spoon River Anthology but
I just looked it up and it looks really cool. It makes me think of the novel I’m
currently reading: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin
John: I’m not familiar w/ Abbott Abbott, although I do like the name. I’m
doing some genealogical work these days & might write my own poems to
my forebears. I know a bit about their history, but not very far back.
Imagine crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a leaky boat in mid-19 th century.
You’ve heard vague stories of the USA, but now you’re on your way there.
Excitement? Suspense? Fear? Probably a chaotic mix.
Alaina: That is an intense scene, of crossing the ocean, props to my
forebears. My 7th grade students started a conversation yesterday about
being grateful for our ancestors and all they endured, the chances they took,
the discoveries they made; it was serendipitous and quite beautiful. One
student mentioned his gratitude for our country, as his parents were from two
different countries and met in the US.
I saw the Flatland book by Abbott recommended by someone online for
imagining what life could be like in worlds of fewer or more dimensions; it’s
fascinating and a fun but sort of slow read; but it’s only about 100 pages so
I’m happy to read it slowly.
John: I’ve often thought that all the best things should be done slowly. Well,
Alaina, we’re running out of time. Any parting words of ancient wisdom or
poetic advice for our readers?
Alaina: Oh boy. Let’s see. You have to open your heart wide if it is going to
give birth to big dreams. Turn that thing inside out. You are a miracle,
surrounded by miracles.
*also published in Up North Magazine
Alaina Goodrich, is a barefoot walking, wonder seeking, lover of all things
wild. Those loves include her two children, her husband TJ, her 7th graders,
nature, poetry, playing music, and extreme sports. She absolutely loves her
North Country communities where she was born and raised and still resides.
She finds it amazing to travel and meet amazing people and see breathtaking
sites, and to come home to find the same is here. Feel free to contact her at