For all the percolating that goes on in the Portland scene with young-buck upstarts, it sure is nice to throw some questions at a tenured veteran of the stage who leads with poise and soft confidence.

Anni Clark has a couple-decade love affair with performing her intimate folk tunes, finding her muse in far-flung places like Texas but keeping her roots here in Maine. As a buffer against burning out, she carved out a space in her life for a second career in teaching, and the breathing room has made all the difference when summoning her creativity.

Catch Clark and her honest, beautiful show on Tuesday night at One Longfellow Square — you might learn something. 

What are some of your favorite, most visceral memories from your early performing days?

There are so many, how does one choose? My first Old Port Festival gig stands out, 1982. I played in Boothby Square, and a shot of me on the corner of the street became the cover for a double album CD re-release of my first two records (yes, on vinyl in 1985 and ’89). I look so happy there, like I was on fire and it was cold enough for me to have on a winter sweater! I can still feel like that sometimes, and I strive for it. 

You recently became a teacher, which made more room for love of the music craft. How can pursuit corrode a passion? Can the passion come back?

There came a day after years of touring when I had to stop living off music so I could keep loving it. The noise in my head about the business of music was far outweighing the joy of the music itself. My muse stopped visiting, and I needed to make room for it to come back. For me, the answer was to put my eggs in two baskets: teaching and performing complement one another, and the logistics of the two together have absolutely allowed my passion to resurface in a big way. 

How do you know when a good idea will yield a worthwhile song?

Most times, I know immediately if I’m onto something. I’ll have a physical reaction while the ideas start forming, and everything else around me begins to fade away. Often, the best songs come to me as if I’m a vessel, like I’m watching the idea spill through me from someplace else. I’ve written songs in my sleep. I wake up, and they’re just there. Those are always keepers. 

Who are your favorite Maine artists to share the stage with?

I’ve been blessed to share the stage with so many. I had a fabulous five-year run with Dan Merrill and Lynn Deeves in our trio Under the Song Tree. We recorded a live CD together here in Portland that still makes the hair go up on my arms.

I often play shows with Robby Coffin, Scott Elliot and Ronnie Bouffard. They do studio sessions with me, so we have a bond through bringing my songs to life as a band. I do a lot of split bills or showcases with songwriters like Kate Schrock, Ellen Tipper, Marie Moreshead, Emilia Dahlin and Rachel Griffin — always an opportunity for some spontaneous combustion there. 

When and how did you learn that you wanted to make music for life?

I always knew. If you ask my mom, she’ll probably tell you my first words were sung. I used to walk down the street on the way home from kindergarten tapping out the beat of words with my feet and changing them if they didn’t make the correct rhythm and rhyme scheme. Funny thing is, I didn’t really start digging in until after college. I figured it would happen when it was supposed to happen, and it did. 

Why do you so love Texas?

Everything’s timing, isn’t it? I started playing in Texas in 1993, right about the time I started to write and perform with a confidence that only comes from having done it with a passion for a while. The people of Texas can tell you almost every time who wrote that song; the origin of a song is as important (if not more so) than the performance of it. They embraced me in a big way, and I went back every year for three weeks or more at a time until I started to teach school. I am still in touch with most of those folks. They’re like family to me. 

When will we get to hear a new Anni Clark record, and what will it sound like?

It’s taken me a bit of time to balance these two baskets, school and music. I have only recently begun to think about getting back into the studio to flush out some of the songs I’ve written since my most recent release, recorded live at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison. I like to think that things happen when they’re meant to happen. When it does, it’ll sound like me — a blend of folk, pop and blues with a dash of Maine “huemah,” seasoned with age, a bit more street-smart.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.