Margaret Sampson is a local poet and lyricist.

Margaret Sampson is a local poet and lyricist.

1. Margaret, you've had a wide range of occupations, including writer, music lyricist and nurse. Has writing been your favorite area and how did you transition from one area to another?
I was not able to make a living as a writer. I had a creative writing scholarship to school and went into being an RN and never had a lack of materal. Writing poems is not fun to me, it's a gift I didn't ask for. Thinking is hard and sad.
Lyrics were fun because I had met the blues artists that needed "words" as they said. The subject matter was often out of my area of thought - bawdy, brawling, broken hearts, sex.

2. Can you tell us about having one of your poems included in an anthology which also included the poetry of the famous poet Gwendolyn Brooks?
Thrill of a life but just luck. A local group wrote a small poetry journal called Chicago Literati. I was in the first volume. I won a poetry contest at Northwestern University and second runner-up for a short story, Amazing Adventures. The journalism department was snooty and I was an RN with a psychology major.

3. You write a poem a day. What sort of events inspire your work and what have you been focusing on recently?
I started writing again in Leavenworth because of the Carroll House Museum Everhardt glass negative photo collection. It literally moved my soul. They published it in their historical society newsletter, then I could not, not write poetry.
I wrote one a day for six months, then stopped for a while as I was reporting too many rivers, too many Kansas stars, too many Border Wars, so much.
Now I've had to write when my heart is broken - on Sui Kei from Burma, being freed and elected to office, Syria, genocide and more. Life is full of material, too full, not always dark and deep. I send these to publishers.

4. Was the segue into song lyrics a natural extension of your love of writing poetry and what sort of lyrics were you most interested in exploring?
Lyrics are part of another form melded to music. Without an arranger or an artist, I don't exist.
Poetry is all mine and the last stand in individual expression.
There is no success in poetry, only do it if you can't help it.

5. What would be your best advice for a young person who hopes to be a successful poet?
Our culture doesn't support art. Move to Europe, get a grant, write screenplays, etc., use your poetry in other forms.
Dream a broader dream.

— Rimsie McConiga