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Residency Artist - Creative Writing


Paula J. Lambert

Phone: (614) 935-9115

The Residency Experience:
I am actively involved in all stages of writing, publishing, and performing poetry. I am particularly interested in how poetry can connect us to a positive sense of self while also helping us feel connected to our communities. I enjoy being able to bring different kinds of groups together and have worked, for example, on projects involving both school children and veterans. In one community, students wrote Memorial Day-themed poems that were then printed on large posters displayed on a float we put together for the Memorial Day parade. I enjoy finding interesting and unusual ways of publishing and performing work and have been involved in everything from letter press printing to slam poetry competitions.

My Artistic Work:
I am attracted to the idea of writing as a healing process or what is more commonly referred to today as writing toward wellness. I believe that poetry, indeed all art, has the potential to move not only the writer but also the reader. I’ve long thought of this as an individual process: that a single person can write, artfully, through trauma, pain, or loss, and through that work help others who read it or hear it performed. I now think in much bigger terms. I believe artists under the right conditions and with the right motivations have the power to change the world. My current manuscript-in-progress is based in the anatomy of birds. One poem, focusing on the furcula or “wishbone,” has led to a deep and intimate understanding of the resilience of all human beings, and women in particular. “The work of soaring is arduous,” that poem begins. “The fused/and forked clavicle of a bird […] allows her to bear the rigors of flight,/stretching and then recoiling/with each powerful wingbeat.” Birds have become for me a metaphor for the whole of human spirit and experience: that we can all find ways not just to fly, but to soar.

My Training and Professional Experience:
After starting off in art school in the early eighties, I worked my way through college and graduate school, eventually earning my BA and MA in English. From there, I went on to earn my MFA in Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University here in Ohio in 1996. I taught composition and creative writing at the college level for twenty years and published fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction in numerous literary journals. I earned an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in 2004 and the next year was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. In 2009, I published my first chapbook, The Guilt That Gathers, with Pudding House Press. In 2012, my first full-length collection of poems, The Sudden Seduction of Gravity, was published by Full/Crescent Press, an independent, small-press publishing company my husband and I began and which has been a chance for me to draw together all of my past design, writing, editing, and publishing experience. We have one new book slated to publish so far in 2014 and hope to do one to two books per year from now on. I regularly present my work at open mics and featured readings locally, regionally, and nationally, and I co-facilitate Peripatetic Poets, a monthly poetry series in Columbus.

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