You Should Know… Diana Haemer

Diana Haemer (Photo courtesy of Diana Haemer)

“I’d been reading a lot of articles about how pandemics can be a very productive time for creators,” said Diana Haemer, 23, of Alexandria. “So I thought, alright, fine, challenge accepted.”

Cooped up at home during the pandemic, Haemer edited six years’ worth of her poetry into a book, “Sensing,” that was published this month. The 72 poems cover Haemer’s coming of age, her thoughts on current events and her passion for nature. Haemer is a member of Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria. This fall, she will attend graduate school at the University of East Anglia in England to study climate science.

How did you get started writing poetry?

When I was in high school, I took a creative writing class. And instead of having a final exam our teacher let us keep a poetry journal for a month and then turn that in. I was really eager to not have to take a final exam. So I discovered that I really enjoyed it. I kept on writing throughout college.

What do you like about writing poetry?

I like poetry because it’s short and has structure. Even if I feel like I want to go write a rambling poem, I have to keep it within a structure like a sonnet. I like that no matter how messed up your thoughts can be or how confused you are while you’re writing a poem, you have to make it turn out beautiful and succinct, so that really drew me.

How would you describe your poetic style?

I like using normal, more conversational words in my poems. There is a poet that I read in high school, Wisława Szymborska. She writes very clear and very clean poetry. I was really inspired by her because she’s able to tell a thought or a story in a very clean way. And I also like being very direct and having a clear idea of what I’m writing about, even if it takes me a while to get there.

Is there anything you hope people take away from “Sensing”?

I’m really hoping that when people read this book, they come to a greater understanding of what it’s like to grow up nowadays. The poems are written from when I was a teenager until my last year at college. So it’s a pretty significant period of maturing and meeting new people and learning about yourself. And I think that most of the poems I write were efforts by me to learn more about myself. So I’m hoping that it gives people a different perspective about events or feelings that they might have experienced or felt themselves.

How does Judaism influence your writing?

Jews are always taught to question things around them, and to view things with some skepticism, like the four questions at Passover. So I would say that the questioning and introspective aspects of [my poetry] could be influenced by my faith.

Any plans for a third book?

I definitely want to do a third book. At least, I haven’t really stopped writing at all. I think I’m on my sixth notebook. I definitely would like to keep writing poetry no matter what I do with my graduate studies, or with whatever job that I eventually get. I’m going to make sure that I still have time to create poems and express myself in this way.

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