Sunday, 24 October 2021

John Elizabeth Stintzi : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Poetry is hard for me because I feel like I’ve got to be reading it to have my brain wired to write it, otherwise it can be quite a long time between writing poems. It’s hard to find time with life and my fiction “career,” particularly because fiction is an easier “day job” in the sense that I can more easily return to it day after day. I also find myself limited—and this is a me problem—by the idea that I need to have some sort of project in mind in order to bother to write poems. Finally, I think I’ve been struggling a lot with being “present,” which makes it harder for me to see poems emerging in my life, which when you are a lyric poet like I currently am, is pretty much the only way you’ll find them. But more than anything I think I just so easily fall out of the habit of reading poetry, which leads to my being unable to find them squirrelling through the world. 

Andy N : part five

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

It tends to vary from piece to piece that really if I am honest whether it is the title or how I finish off the piece. 

My next full length book Changing carriages at Birmingham New Street is a big case in point here. In contrast to my second and third books The End of Summer and Birth of Autumn which was theme linked, my next full length book is story laced  about a man and woman who reconnect after being friends as children only to then get start going out as a couple. 

When I first started really involved with poetry back in 2005 or 2006, the problem was trying to find the voice of each poem, but in the case of this book, it is trying to find the voice of not one poem but a full book of them. 

Over the near three years, this book has being developing I have found almost like the characters have being doing this themselves has changed like a complex novel and has proved one of the most challenging projects I have ever tried, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Katie Schmid : part five

How did you first engage with poetry?

I think I first started writing poetry because it was short and I got praised for it. Being “good” at something was the only time I ever felt safe as a child, so I learned how to highlight beautiful things in my writing so I could keep the praise coming. I didn’t have a sense that I should want to say something in particular, I just liked how it felt and what it got me. 

I remember reading an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem and being “tested” on the meaning of it. Most of the teachers who taught poetry taught it like that: you put a coin in and pulled the lever and meaning came out, hooray! Then Li-Young Lee came to my school and read all these tender poems about bodies, and love, and his feelings about his father. So then for a while I thought about poetry as homage. I think that’s definitely a reductive 16-yr-old’s reading of what Li-Young Lee does in his work, (it’s often far closer to worship/ecstatic communion) but it got me thinking about how I could expand my ideas about what poetry could do. 

I did have a sense that poetry was something that someone did when they were bruised too easily, so I had a sense that it could be for me because I was always being told I was too sensitive. 

In high school I took a drawing class where the teacher told us that it took a really long time to be able to see something accurately, you had to stare for a long time. That was my first introduction to what art asks of you, to dig in and cultivate an angle of approach. That was one of my first lessons in writing, even if I didn’t know it. 

J. D. Nelson : coda

How does a poem begin?

Most of my writing is created through a process which involves the cutting-up and collaging of my own daily freewriting. My process is a combination of the spontaneous prose techniques of Jack Kerouac, and the cut-up technique pioneered by William S. Burroughs. I start by freewriting a section of text, not stopping to punctuate or worrying about whether or not what I’m writing makes any sense. I simply try to empty my brain, usually typing as quickly as I can, following Kerouac’s advice to “blow as deep as you want to blow.” Then I go through what I’ve written and highlight words or phrases that stand out to me. I begin to play with these pieces, putting them together, rearranging them, and looking for unexpected juxtapositions. I keep adding pieces which I’ve taken from my freewriting, collaging things together. This is most often the method I use to create a poem.

Jack Kerouac – Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

Jack Kerouac – Essentials of Spontaneous Prose

William S. Burroughs – Cut-up Technique

Friday, 22 October 2021

Sara Moore Wagner : part one

Sara Moore Wagner is the winner of the 2021 Cider Press Review Editor's Prize for her book Swan Wife (2022), and the 2020 Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize for Hillbilly Madonna (2022). She is also 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Sixth Finch, Waxwing, Nimrod, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. Find her at

What are you working on?

I am working on a full-length manuscript focused on the life of Annie Oakley. Poems I’ve written so far explore the nature of gun worship in America, how guns shaped America, along with America’s deeply embedded patriarchal values—what we expect from our female superstars. I’ve really gone all in with my research of her. I have read pretty much every book with her in it, I’ve visited her museum and her grave, and I even attended the Annie Oakley festival! 

Tim Moder : part four

When you require renewal is there a particular poem or book that you return to? Author?

If I truly require renewal, poetry alone will not do it for me. I have to be in nature somehow. Hiking or camping. Weeks of that will balance out whatever problems prevent me from writing.  But I will return to Eliot over and over. As well as other Imagist poets. Almost as a spiritual exercise. Spiritual as in I can get lost in the rhythm and the sound in the word choices, not in the nature of the poets. I also intend to spend a great deal of time this winter reading the poetry of Denise Levertov. I expect to have a similar experience. 

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Bruce Whiteman : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

Technically, it is the central quality of my work, and one of the aspects of poetry that distinguishes it from prose and makes a poem great rather than good (or lousy). Music is what we mean when we talk about a poet’s ear. I understand that not all or even most poets have actual musical training, but the best, trained or not, have an instinctual ability to find the musical reality of language. I do have musical training, and classical music is, along with poetry, one of the two main passions of my life. So I feel hypersensitive to the music inherent in “the best words in the best order,” to cite that famous Coleridge bon mot. As readers we tend to notice music most when it is overdone, as it is in many of Poe’s poems. But unconsciously it is there at work in any great poem, and usually when a reader comments that a poem is “beautiful” that is what they are responding to.