An Interview with Hope Whitby
Hope Whitby is the author of Traveling the River, the upcoming release of the Life in 10 Minutes Press. She is is a poet, fiction writer, and haiku aficionado. She is the creator of Art in the Shop and Books in the Bay book club supporting the local Richmond art scene since 2012. Hope has received awards for her poetry from the Virginia Poetry Society and Richmond magazine. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her Chihuahua, Princess.
How long had you been working on Traveling the River before you started the process of having it published?
Honestly, I was not working on a poetry collection. For years, I have been working on a novel. During that time, I’ve written poetry and haiku as well as creative non-fiction in local writing classes. I have had poems published, and have written poems for a newsletter for an auto-repair place where I worked. Valley contacted me in late July of 2018 and took me by surprise when she told me that she and the press’s other editors would like to publish a volume of my poetry. It was a bombshell - in a good way. Since the call, I’ve gathered my poetry, haiku, tankas, and haibun and have been on such a joyous journey since.
How did you become acquainted with the Life in 10 Minutes Press?
Valley Haggard. I have been a student’s of Valley for the past ten years. As Valley grew as writer and teacher, so did her students. She brought us all on for the ride. Valley’s The Halfway House for Writers and Nine Lives: a Life in 10 Minutes Anthology are tremendous gifts to our community. The birth of this press is her child, but she’s made it so it belongs to anyone who values brave writing. There are so many wonderful things to come with this press and I’m so happy to be here for it.
What are some of the main inspirations for your book?
We all have this one life and within our one life, we live many lives. I feel like I have been reborn many times. I’m inspired by my rural upbringing, my time spent in the military, living in Richmond, and how hard I’ve worked to earn a living, I also drew inspiration from being a not once, but twice, heart attack survivor. I do not have children, which is not by my own design; however, I do have a Chihuahua, Princess. She has been the source of great joy for me.
Throughout this journey of writing and publishing your book, what has been your proudest or most fulfilling moment thus far?
What I found most fulfilling once I saw my work laid out, was how I could see my growth as a writer and as a person. I was able to step back and see where I came from and at the same time see who I am today and where I am going. It was a profound moment.
What has your experience working with the Life in 10 Minutes team been like?
In the “Thank You” page of my book, I call them, “The Dream Team.” Valley and Elizabeth are supportive, caring, and honest. They are both filled with so much light and when I had that light shined upon me, I believed in myself in a way I hadn’t before. Llewellyn and Claire are so talented and they elevated my work to a level that I had no idea was possible. The whole experience has been magnificent. These women, individually, are impressive and as a team, they are glorious
What advice do you have for someone contemplating whether or not they should submit their manuscript to the spring reading period?
Go for it! If you have written a memoir or poetry or fiction that makes you excited and you have shared it with trusted readers who have given you honest feedback, then you’re ready. It is so easy to talk yourself out of taking a leap. Leap! Don't sit on your gift. Your words matter.
Above all, what are the things you hope a reader will take away from reading Traveling the
This is not a play on my name, but what I would like for the reader to come away with after spending time with these poems is a feeling of trust and the ability to hope. Elizabeth did a wonderful job of organizing the poems where each section has a clear beginning and ending and within each part of that journey, even when the subject turns darker, that we trust each other, poet and reader, in a shared experience and because we’re able to relate to each other we know giving up is not an option: there is always hope.