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Photograph by Kathleen Roberts
Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Ten Questions for Amber Coverdale Sumrall

What do you do for a living?
I am a poet and writer, and am fortunate to work as a creative writing teacher and editor. I lead writing and poetry workshops and retreats in Point Reyes, Big Sur, Jolon at Mission San Antonio, and in Ireland.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing that?
Living in Ireland, writing and tending sheep, or running a B&B in County Clare.

What do you do in your free time?
It all feels like free time. One activity gives way to another: writing, reading, gardening, feeding the birds, visiting with friends, sitting on the deck listening to the creek, a continuous loop.

What brought you to Santa Cruz?
The short version: A desire to escape Los Angeles in 1971. Santa Cruz was going to be a stop along the way to Canada. I was traveling in my VW van with my boyfriend, who had just finished law school, and two cats. We were camping and I decided to stay, with the cats. I dropped him off near Highway 1 so he could hitch a ride north.

  What's your favorite street?
My favorite road is Highway 1 between Jenner and the Lost Coast, and south of Carmel to Morro Bay. Locally, Branciforte Drive, I like the country feel of it. I rarely take the highway if I can find a back road.

Name something you're excited about.
The current poem I'm working on, whichever one it is. And my husband, Steve, always. 

Name a pet peeve.
A lack of patience with myself; I often think I have to do three things at once. People who use the road as if they were at Laguna Seca, heedless of wildlife or some unexpected encounter.

What are you reading?
The Sea by John Banville; A Country Called Home by Kim Barnes; Morning Poems by Robert Bly; Elegy: Poems by Mary Jo Bang, Beauty by John O'Donohue, which I'll never finish because each paragraph is a meditation.

A recent food trend?
Raw kale salad with grated carrot, red onion, pecans, raisins, avocado, tossed with toasted sesame oil, lemon juice and rice vinegar.

What's the most important thing you've learned in the last three years?
To put every plant in a gopher basket. To start each morning with gratitude. 

What's your sign?
The deer and the oak tree--symbols of the O'Connor clan.

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