Poetry News

Blue Ridge Public Radio Features Poet Tina Barr

By Harriet Staff
Tina Barr, Green Target, cover

NPR's Western North Carolina affiliate Blue Ridge Radio shares an interview with Tina Barr, who left city life in Memphis, Tennessee for Western North Carolina. Her most recent book is titled Green Target. In conversation with Matt Peiken, Barr explains, "'I’m trying to make the greatest art I can, so I want to use language that is dense, that is complex, that is going to resonate...I’m always writing to be true to the best art I can make, not to be accessible to an audience.'" From there: 

Barr grew up in a politically liberal family on Long Island, New York. She studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and went on to live in Manhattan, Philadelphia and Paris. She said her five extensive stays in Cairo, Egypt, over a five-year spell are central to much of her poetry.

“I was always real serious, even as a kid,” Barr recalled. “I didn’t come from a healthy family, so I didn’t have a picture of what a happy family can be.”

She taught poetry and started a creative writing program at Rhodes College in Memphis. She met the jazz pianist and composer Michael Jefry Stevens at an artists colony in New Hampshire, and Stevens moved to Memphis so they could marry.

They were living the lives of urban artists, but after Barr’s mother died, 10 years ago, Barr felt called to the mountains of Western North Carolina. She gave up her tenured position at Rhodes and the couple moved to Black Mountain. While Stevens initially struggled to find a community of jazz artists in this region, Barr felt immediately at home.

Read more at NPR.

Originally Published: November 9th, 2018