Here is part two of my conversation with the always wonderful Professor Linaya Leaf. Enjoy!
SD: Can you tell me a little about your family?
LL: I have a son named Aaron and a daughter named Danica. I also have two little grandtwins who are the joy of my life and are three-years old. Both of my children went to Rocky. My son taught Spanish at Rocky for a couple years after one of the Professors left on short notice.
SD: Do you have any pets?
LL: I have three and a half cats.
SD: Three and a half? I think you should explain or my readers will be very confused.
LL: When my 23 year old cat died a couple years ago, my daughter gave me two kittens named Daisy and Tommy. These cats then had two kittens. I kept Daisy and the kittens and gave Tommy back to my daughter. So that’s three of my cats. The half comes into play because I have one of my students living in my basement. This student found an abandoned cat named Timmy. He spends half of his time downstairs with the student and the other half upstairs with me. So he is my half cat.
SD: So what do you do for pleasure outside of teaching?
LL: I love playing the piano. I’d like to take more piano classes once I retire. I’d also like to take an art class or two. And as always, I’ll continue writing poetry for my own personal joy.
SD: What inspires you when you write?
LL: Linaya flowers. The color periwinkle. Rhinoceroses because they are magic.
SD: Rhinoceroses are magic?
LL: Yes, when I was young, my parents went to Africa and brought back a carved animal for each of us kids. Mine was a rhino. I pretended that the rhino’s horn had magical powers. I still believe it to this day! Animals are a big inspiration to me. I love writing about the birds who chirp to me and the squirrels who run around on campus. I’ve written sonnets about ducks that I’ve seen playing soccer with crab apples. I once saw a black squirrel sitting on a rock and holding a carrot so he became a poetic subject too!
SD: Where do you like to write?
LL: My son and Scott Severance, the Economics professor at Rocky, built me a poet’s cottage in my back yard. That has to be one of the nicest gifts anybody’s ever given me. I can go there and listen to nature, meditate, and write poetry.
SD: Tell me a bit about Soliloquy. How did you get involved with that project?
LL: The writing competition began in 1989 when English professor Johnathon Thorndyke decided to start a student writing competition on campus. That first year, four students took part and handed in a total of 12 submissions. We started publishing Soliloquy magazine in 1997 and that’s when I took over the process. The contest has slowly grown to include artistic works as well. Last year, we received 260 submissions from 92 writers. It’s hard to believe that this will be the last Soliloquy I ever work on!
SD: One last question. Do you have a favorite course that you’ve taught?
LL: That’s impossible to decide! However, I do really enjoy teaching Creative Drama and Creative Writing. I think that’s what I will miss the most.
How did you enjoy “Professor Profiles”? Be sure to write your opinions in the comments section. Who should I interview next? Next week, I’ll chat about the search for the professor that will take Linaya’s place once she leaves in May.