At Colby, Jennifer Barber developed “ a good work ethic” and a love of poetry, working with Peter Harris and Ira Sadoff who shared “ their own poetry and their knowledge of the writing process, with all of its joys and vicissitudes.” Since then, she has published Rigging the Wind, a poetry collection that won the 2002 Kore Press First Book Award, founded the literary magazine Salamander, and taught at various universities.
“ I love those moments when I’m immersed in a draft of a poem and can see that the individual lines are cohering, taking on a shape. The feeling is that anything is possible: I don’t know exactly where the poem is heading, but I can tell it’ s heading somewhere. At such times, the poem is the thing that seems real, and all of life’ s other aspects hover conveniently out of sight,” says Barber. She is inspired to write by what she sees, like “ the architecture of a city, clothes hanging on a line, a box of kitchen matches,” or sometimes a simple phrase “ rattling around in [her] mind” on the trolley that transmutes into an entire poem. Other times, it is the work of other poets that provides “ a strong gravitational pull” of inspiration and “ enlarges [her] sense of what is possible in a poem.” Barber finds revision enjoyable and revises often. “ At times, though, I can get into loops where I’ m making numerous tiny changes when I know I’ d be better off taking a complete break, in order to look at the poem later with fresh eyes,” she admits.