Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Poetry a second profession for BCC professor

    Sharon Coleman has been a pillar at Berkeley City College, teaching students how to hone their writing, on the side curates poetry shows as well as contributing her own fiction writing to various periodicals.

    Q: How did your poem Surveillance come about?

    PoetThat poem was based on a 100 percent true story when I was living in Paris studying in 1995, but away in Belgium. When there was a bomb scare in Paris I was sitting on a train and there was this big police state where everyone is wearing blue fatigues and boots carrying their guns and they came in not even looking down the aisles but all they’re looking at is this young women in a bare midriff top and jeans with her baby stroller and so I ask them, in French, do they want the terrorist or to survey the woman… and they laughed. So that was my last line in surveillance.

    Q: Can you talk about the similarities and differences between your creative work, your goals and your approach to writing?

    Both in my composition of poetry and fiction writing I like to teach what I would have like to have gotten and didn’t. I continue to take creative writing classes myself so I bring all kinds of experience and prompts and am influenced and inspired by my students.

    I decided I would always be an intellectual. And working at a community college is so interesting. It reminds me of how when I was a much younger student I had an aunt who made me rely on public transportation all around the Bay Area. On BART, you get to see all kinds of people from different classes intermingling, the cultural juxtaposition we live in is so great and yet people don’t look at each other, they just pretend it’s not happening.

    Q: How does one begin a poem?

    There’s no one way to begin a poem. I will say, sometimes I find myself on a walk coming up with an idea and there’s always sitting alone writing in my house next to my cat.

    Q: Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to announce?

    I’m at a reading at Modern Times in San Francisco and at the Oakland Book Festival on May 22.

    Q: Why poetry and not another art form?

    I love the challenge of it, linguistically, such as getting everything into a 50-word form, I try out new forms I love the discovery of language, the capacity of language.

    Q: What has been published recently of yours?

    I’ve published the chapbook of poetry Half Circle and the book or microfiction Paris Blinks. The list of journal is very long so here are some recent publications: Poetry Flash, Pith, Rivet, Ambush Review, Tule Review, riverbabble, Midway Journal, Paper Nautilus, Blink Ink, Berkeley Poetry Review.

    Q: Any other words about poetry you want to us to think about?

    Yes. Even the VA is using poetry writing as therapy when its the last resort and nothing else has worked for the veterans. I think it should be the first resort.

    Sharon Coleman is a fifth generation northern Californians. Her poems or blink fiction have appeared in Caesura, Criminal Class Review, Sparkle Blink, Blink Ink, Berkeley Poetry Review, Ghost Town/Pacific Review, and online at Poecology, Lily Review, riverbabble, Full of Crow and Dark Sky Magazine. She’s a contributing editor at Poetry Flash and teaches poetry writing at Berkeley City College. She is a co-curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and was recently nominated for a Pushcart and Micro Award for blink fiction.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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