JAMIE: Corina, you have been sharing the journey here almost from the beginning. I believe you may be our most long-standing contributor. Your work is always intelligent, well-considered and fresh. You are always supportive of this effort and of other contributors.
I’ve noticed over the years that your interests are broad. In fact what first attracted my attention was your artistic sensibility and your charming love of dragons. These combine well in your hands. Your dragons are beautiful lovable creatures. How and when did your affinity for dragons start?
CORINA: Thanks, Jamie, for inviting me to be a part of such a worthwhile collective. It has been a real pleasure and honor to be among all of The BeZine’s talented, genuine and enlightened writers. As far as when my love for dragons began: growing up, my brother and I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother and sometimes stayed the night with her. I was always up a lot later than my brother, so my Gran used to tell me stories to get me to go to sleep.
Most of the time, they were Aesop’s Fables or Grimm’s fairy tales that she could recite from memory. My favorite of story was one that she completely made up one night when she couldn’t think of a story that I hadn’t heard. It was called A Dragon in the King’s Court and it was about a nice dragon who would rather make children laugh instead of being fierce and fighting knights for the King’s entertainment. She was a marvelous story-teller and the next time I stayed over, that was the story I wanted to hear (much to her chagrin! Haha! She had forgotten a lot of the story!)…but I was able to fill in all the details when she forgot. Later, came Puff, the Magic Dragon, Pete’s Dragon – Elliott, and of course, Tolkien’s Smaug. I was nine years old when I first read The Hobbit …and after Smaug, well…my heart was truly lost to dragons.
JAMIE: Art is apparently a tradition in your family. Your mom is an artist and I think she encouraged you in your art and in writing. I was touched that you shared poetry over lunch for “a poem in my pocket” during poetry month in April. Since our theme this month is parents and parenting: how did your mother nurture the artist and writer in you?
CORINA: My mom has always been my biggest fan and encouraged me in both visual arts and writing. I still have a hard time choosing “one master” to serve creatively, although writing has usually won most of my time. Aside from having just about any kind of art supply available to experiment with and a vast array of books to read, I also had an instant source of honest feedback on works that I attempted. Any artist will tell you that sincere feedback is crucial to exploring and growing in the craft. Mom was there cheering for me any time I succeeded (whether it was ribbons in school art shows or a Young Author’s award) and she was there to dry my tears and give me pep talks when I didn’t win and/or got frustrated. She has provided me with a safe, encouraging space to test my creative wings and learn to soar.
JAMIE: You have expressed a devoted interest in peace, social justice and environmental sustainability, but we all have to pick one or two things on which to focus. You seem to have chosen to focus on homelessness and animal welfare. No doubt the latter is the reason your place is home to several kitties. How did you arrive at your focus?
CORINA: I’ll be the first to admit that I spread myself far too thinly among my chosen causes, but those are certainly two of the most important to me. When you work in libraries, contact with the local homeless population is a given. The library provides a quiet building with running water, restrooms, lots of material to read and comfy places to relax. They are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Over the years, I made friends with homeless people in several cities and learned their stories. Once you talk to them, they become real people that you can’t ignore or pretend don’t exist (not that I ever did that, but it’s easy to do because it’s something that makes most people uncomfortable). I discovered where the local shelters were located and what they were most in need of, and where people went when the shelters were full. I learned the depressing amount of women and children who become homeless in this country every day, and vowed to help as much as I could, whether it was volunteering time, or donating money, items, food or even supplying information to those who need it most.
Animal welfare is another cause that is near and dear to me. We always had various cats and dogs growing up, but I also found a deep respect for wild animals, probably because my step-father was a licensed falconer. He had many hawks, kestrels and owls over the years and taught me the beauty of wild things. My mother had a part to play in my love for wildlife, too, because she had a large “natural objects” collection full of shells, fossils, stones and bones, and she used to take us on hikes through the woods or fields. As I grew older, and read more about the plights of different animals around the world, I couldn’t escape the grim reality that all of them were suffering because of mankind. I decided that I wouldn’t contribute to hurting any of them if I was able, and that I would be a voice for those who couldn’t speak.
JAMIE: By day (now that you are not on the night shift), you work as a college librarian. Tell us about your job. What are the rewards?
CORINA: It’s hard work, but it’s satisfying. I love being able to help people, and my job allows ample opportunity for that. Like most library staff, I wear many hats – I have to know how to find the right information, but I also have to know how to fix computer problems or answer questions about various software programs, give directions (both within the library and on general campus), operate and fix most types of office machinery (printers, copiers, scanners, microfilm machines, etc.) and most importantly, provide informed, smiling customer service the whole time (Mid-terms and Finals weeks can make this last part a little…challenging). One of the biggest perks is that I am surrounded by knowledge, and by people who are learning and want to learn. It helps keep me young. 🙂
JAMIE:What are some of the things you still want to do in life?
CORINA: I’d love to travel and see some of the places on my “Bucket List” (Scotland, Ireland and the Grand Canyon, to name a few). I want to continue to write and perhaps someday publish an anthology of poetry, or maybe write and illustrate my grandmother’s story into a children’s book. Mostly, though, I tend to take life one day at time and make the best of each day. If I can leave this world a little better than I found it, then I will settle for that and be happy