Tuesday 31 July 2018

Orchid Tierney : part two

2. How does a poem begin?

My focus is usually seeded by an article or even a nugget of an idea that then kickstarts a broader inquiry through research. My Ozone project, for example, really began with some undirected collages, and it wasn’t until I read an article on the recent and persistent increase of ozone depletion chemicals in the atmosphere that I began to tighten my focus into its current trajectory. In other words, much of my work begins first with frivolous play, only to tighten through subsequent research once an idea takes root. 

JC Bouchard : part two

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Just getting the first line or stanza down. Almost everything after that is easy and just comes out. Then you get to the end and want the end to be beautiful, so you get stuck near the last stanza or line. Something has to be resolved or spoken of or given meaning.

Giving meaning to your ideas is difficult. Really you’re always trying to make your poem vindicate yourself and your ideas and your emotions. I think my poems are emotional. They’re hollow if I feel nothing in the act of writing them. The first part is the idea and the last is the emotional breakthrough where you feel like you’ve lived through something in your chair in front of your computer or notebook. Maybe that’s foolish.

Something that’s become difficult as I get older is this unconscious compulsion to compare myself to other writers. Like, that good writer is doing such and such and they get published, so maybe I should try that too in my own way. That’s nonsense though. When I get that thought I remind myself it is nonsense and it doesn’t matter at all what anyone else is doing, even if it’s your favourite writers. Sometimes it can be difficult to be yourself when you lose yourself in others.

Monday 30 July 2018

Jessica Morey-Collins : part two

How did you first engage with poetry? I have a mood disorder, so a lot of my adolescent work was trying to make sense of overwhelming emotional experiences that I couldn’t effectively verbalize yet.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Kelley Jo Burke : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Because I have worked with some of the best poets in Canada, as a literary producer for the CBC, I have come to see the difference between the kind of poetry I write which is written to be heard and the kind of poetry that explores and experiments with the way words exist on the page, which are written to be read. I’m thinking about the kind of in-depth experimentation with syntax and semantics that you find in the work of real stunner poets like Sylvia Legris. That is quite simply outside of my skill set. I write speech. I write to be experienced sonically, and because in my mind my work exists solely in the air, I write to communicate, and whatever wit or complexity that I play with has to be accessible in the moment of hearing, and not require study on the page. I have no expectation of being re-read. What I make has to work in the time is has between utterance and reception.

Jaime Forsythe : part two

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

There are many exciting books out that I want to read right now, and it’s going to take me awhile to catch up. Here’s what’s on or near my nightstand currently, poetry-wise:

No Meeting Without Body, Annick MacAskill
This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt
This Kind of Thinking Does No Good, Alison Smith
Sun in Days, Meghan O’Rourke
Why Are You So Sad?, David W. McFadden
Whereas, Layli Long Soldier
Collected Poems, Emily Dickinson

Saturday 28 July 2018

Allie Marini : part three

3. How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t think they ever really are, because sometimes I’ll think they’re done – sometimes they’re even published – & I’ll come back to them later & find little things to tweak. For me, they can be mostly done, but still evolving depending on whether or not I’m looking at them. Usually when I finish a good first draft or first edited draft, I’ll feel relief, & that’s when I know it’s done for now.

Friday 27 July 2018

Susan Gillis : part four

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

In a sense, yes, in that going back to certain poems and voices is a consistently reliable form of renewal. The specific poems and poets I go back change, though I always find things to confound me in Miłosz and things to waken my sense of mystery in Louise Glück. I went over and over the sonnets of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey for my second book, Volta, trying to imagine what they might be talking about if they were transposed to my time and place. This kind of renewal is also a habit; there’s usually some poet I sit down with over morning coffee, notebook at hand for moments of elation and argument. And there’s always something that isn’t poetry—essays or photographs or paintings or music or a walk or etc—but if I accidentally look at the news or social media, then the opposite of renewal happens: pressure sets in and my writing day is in jeopardy.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda : part five

5.      How does a poem begin? 

For me it begins with an image, a sound, a line or a picture. I often come up with ideas for poems when I am stuck in traffic. Since I live in LA and this happens almost every day on my way to work, having a notebook and a pen is handy when inspiration strikes you. I’ve always said, when inspiration calls, no matter where you are, you got to accept the charges. So, when a line or an idea comes into my head, I write it down. Usually some of the best poems come to life like this. One poem, “Book Like A Woman,” from my poetry collection Flashes & Verses was actually written in the parking lot of a famous bookstore in Pasadena. “Her only Light in Vegas” was penned during a stay on the strip, passing the slot machines, I spent all weekend crafting that one poem in our hotel room. “Living Next to Henry Miller” was inspired by a Los Angeles Magazine byline that I saw waiting in line at Sprouts while I was buying groceries. I started jotting down a few lines and when I got home I looked up the article and was disappointed on what I read. So, I wrote a poem what I imagined what it would be like living next to Miller. For me a poem is always just around the corner. I don’t ever want to miss the chance of transcribing a poem that will change my life. Eddie Vedder said it best. “I just try to remember where that initial spark came from, and it’s like a pilot light, and I try to make sure that thing doesn’t go out.” As a poet you don’t want to ever let that light go out. Follow any inclination and let that poem begin to come to life on your age.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Krystal Languell : part three

How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?

Since I moved to Chicago a year ago, I’ve been part of more poem-a-day email threads and NaPoWriMo 30/30 challenges than in my entire lifetime previously. Some of those folks are my colleagues at The Poetry Foundation and some are not. Those threads are a really supportive space to try things out in poems, where I feel free to experiment with little pressure to be perfect.  

Emma Bolden : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

Extremely. Poetry is music to me: it exists in a place that’s different than language, where words act more like sounds that, when strung together, create different chords, different kinds of harmony, different kinds of discord. My life has always thrummed with music. My father introduced me to singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell, and I’ve been listening to and learning from them as long as I can remember. I’ve always listened to the way lyrics build around musical structures, how, when working with music, language transcends.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Orchid Tierney : part one

Orchid Tierney is from Aotearoa-New Zealand, currently residing in Philadelphia. Her chapbooks include Brachiation (Dunedin: GumTree Press, 2012), The World in Small Parts (Chicago: Dancing Girl Press, 2012), Gallipoli Diaries (GaussPDF, 2017), and a full-length sound translation of the Book of Margery Kempe, Earsay (TrollThread, 2016). She co-edits Supplement, an annual anthology on Philadelphia writing. Her collection, a year of misreading the wildcats, is forthcoming from The Operating System.

Photo credit: José Alberto De Hoyos

1. What are you working on?

I’ve recently completed my first manuscript, a year of misreading the wildcats (forthcoming from the fabulous Operating System), which is predominately preoccupied with the question of climate change, island disappearance, and oceanic pollution. The plasticity of oceanic violence however isn’t really a question that can be or should be settled easily, so my subsequent work continues to explore these intersections of, and the rifts between, poetic and physical ecologies. I’m currently working on two projects: a collage series, inspired by Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ recent publications, that interrogates Ozone depletion in the Southern Hemisphere, news of which was always in the background when I was growing up in Aotearoa-New Zealand. The second project is a poet’s anti-sentimental novel, blue doors.  I began this particular project ten years ago but I have only recently come to the realisation that I was critiquing the meat industry and neoliberal white veganism. I’m not sure what the endpoint for this last project is, since it has changed considerably over the last ten years, but my poetics is a slow percolation.    

JC Bouchard : part one

JC Bouchard's poetry appears in PRISM international, The Puritan, and Arc. His first book of poems and photographs, Let This Be The End Of Me, was published by Hybrid Heaven Press in spring 2018.

Photo credit: Syd Lazarus.

How did you first engage with poetry?

Through music and naive rebellion. I started when I was really young, about 13 or 14, around the same I became obsessed with metal, punk, and any music that subverted the norm or what I thought was the norm. It was all I cared about on any visceral level. I hated regular music and the people around me who liked it. I didn’t want anything to do with the world as I thought it was so I retreated into music. It justified my worldview and depression and warped perspective on things, such as they were.

My childhood was violent and sad and I was sad too. Music and lyrics expressed that in ways I didn’t know how. I couldn’t play an instrument because I couldn’t afford one so I wrote lyrics. A lot. All the time. I filled notebooks. One time when I was 15 or 16 my grandmother found one of them. I wasn’t hiding it. She was shocked by the things I wrote. I didn’t care. It was wonderful. As I grew older and a little smarter I discovered books and poetry and saw that writing was a thing and I could do it too, that I was actually doing it already, and maybe even one day I could make money from it and do it all the time as a job. That was 17 years ago and I haven’t stopped since.

Monday 23 July 2018

Billeh Nickerson : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

This question can be interpreted in so many ways! I am a firm believer/practitioner of reading my poems out loud during the writing process. Like hundreds and hundreds of times. That’s where the musicality plays out. In terms of writing, I’ve often listened to favourite music when writing, and lately I’ve been experimenting with listening to songs on repeat. Like the same song for an hour. I find it helps me to zone out everything else and just focus on the poem.  

Jessica Morey-Collins : part one

Jessica Morey-Collins received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she won an Academy of American Poets award, and worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. She studies hazard mitigation in the University of Oregon's Masters of Community and Regional Planning program. Find her at www.jessicamoreycollins.com

What are you working on? I’m currently working on a second masters degree, studying hazard mitigation planning... so lately my poems address risk and safety. What risks do people and communities face? What are the risks of playing it safe?

Sunday 22 July 2018

Kelley Jo Burke : part two

How does a poem begin?

I am almost entirely sound dominant (which is unusual in the general population but very common with radio producers). Poems always begin for me with a phrase, said aloud. Not an image. Not an idea. A phrase that I say out loud, that seems true. When I am trying to work something out, because I am sound dominant and because I am an extroverted thinker—I really do not know what I think until I say it. I will hear myself say something, and there will be a sort of psychic “ping” like tapping good crystal if the phrase is true, and opens up a train of thought. And then I start to chase it. One of my favorite examples of this is a poem that starts “fat girls love to swim.”

I said that out loud—and ping—I had the poem quite quickly after that.

Jaime Forsythe : part one

Jaime Forsythe’s first collection of poetry, Sympathy Loophole, was published by Mansfield Press in 2012, and her second, I Heard Something, was released in 2018 by Anvil Press' A Feed Dog Book imprint. Her poems have appeared in The Rusty Toque, Lemon Hound, Public Pool, Minola Review, This Magazine and more. She lives in Halifax.

Photo credit: Alvero Wiggins

How did you first engage with poetry?

I think probably first through nursery rhymes (the dark versions), which my grandfather used to recite with me and then quiz me on. He would also pretend to mistake me for the various characters: Miss Muffet or Mary Mary Quite Contrary. The children’s author Jean Little was a favourite of mine when I was young, and in her novels she wrote about a teenaged character named Kate who was a writer. Little published a book of poems entirely in the voice of Kate, and I remember this having an impact: that character felt very real to me and here were all her poems collected together in one place, in a real book you could order from the Scholastic catalogue. I’ve been writing things down in notebooks for as long as I can remember.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Allie Marini : part two

2. How did you first engage with poetry?

I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. My mom was a Latin teacher, so she used to read Bulfinch’s mythology to me, & Shel Silverstein in rotation as a child – I went through a creepy-girl obligatory Poe phase when I was around 12, but the first poetry I remember buying for myself in middle school was a collection called Ain’t I a Woman?, then I found Margaret Atwood’s Collected Poems I & II at a library yard sale. In 8th grade when I was having problems with bullying & self-harm, my English teacher noticed & gave me a blank notebook & a copy of Ariel.

Friday 20 July 2018

Susan Gillis : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

This is tricky! So often I think a poem is finished, or I’m finished with it, when really it’s just beginning. It’s very easy to know when a poem isn’t finished: reading it makes me itchy. Or maybe that’s when it is finished? One thing for sure, I know when a thing I hope might become a poem is spent, when it just fizzles out to nothing, like realizing suddenly I’m not obsessed anymore by some ordinary thing I’d been obsessing about, because it just doesn’t matter. But for a poem, knowing when it’s finished is almost as hard as knowing when it’s a poem.

Thursday 19 July 2018

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda : part four

4.      What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

So many, I live my life like Erasmus, “When I get a little money, I buy [poetry] books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” I am reading Pink Plastic House personally annotated by FLA poet Kristin Garth. I feel like as a poet you need to support your fellow poets who are friends, in and out of social media. Buy their books and spread the word on their books. Also, when a poet you know admire and respect recommends a book to you, you better buy it. Tiana Clark recommended Brown by Kevin Young and when she recommends a poet, I immediately am ordering it online.  Hanif Willis Abdurraqib wrote a fantastic blub, endorsing Olivia Gatwood’s New American Best Friend. I am also reading Kendra DeColo’s My Dinner with Ron Jeremy and loving Texan poet’s Analicica Sotelo’s inspiringly revealing collection Virgin

And as a reward for the publication of my first full-length collection Flashes & Verses…Becoming Attractions by Unsolicited Press, I treated myself to Lou Reed’s posthumous poetry book Do Angels Need Haircuts? Reed’s book includes a 7inch vinyl of Lou reciting his poems at a 1971 reading in NYC. 

I believe it’s always important to treat yourself as a poet. Writing is a solitary act and what I’ve done, and works for me, for years I’ve “Pavlov my poetry.” Whenever I finish a draft of a poem, receive notice that a poem of mine has been published or experience a breakthrough on the page, I reward myself. And the best reward is poetry books. It’s like fueling your creative soul with future inspiration. The more you read, the better poet you will become. It’s so true. I am proof of this.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Krystal Languell : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

I began a long time ago. In the early days, I used poetry as a place to envision utopian thinking, how things should be, the future I wanted. Then I shifted more into documenting injustices large and small, systemic failures and limits, and I think I am still writing in this vein. Recently, I’ve challenged myself to read and write love poetry, which is not easy.

Emma Bolden : part three

How does a poem begin?

A moment of electricity. A need I can’t explain. A chord I keep hearing, struck deep within me. A question I can’t answer. A question I can’t ask. An answer to a question I haven’t begun to ask. A necessity. A lightning storm in the body. A lightning storm in the soul. A moment in which I believe in the body and the soul. A moment of total understanding I can’t seem to understand in any other language, any other way.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

M. Stone : part five

How does a poem begin?

Sometimes it’s as simple as a single verse that pops into my head. In that case, I’ll work to build an entire poem around the original line that caught my attention. Sometimes I’ll see something beautiful in nature that will inspire me, or a memory will prompt me to jot down a first draft. Other times, I have an issue I’m dealing with in my life, and poetry serves as a form of catharsis or a way for me to work through the problem. In literal terms, my poems often begin as scribbles on scrap paper.

Monday 16 July 2018

Billeh Nickerson : part four

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

I’m probably a bad poet for saying/doing this, but I find that reading a novel and/or binge watching movies most brings out my poetry muse. Maybe it’s the word “renewal” that’s tricky here. I will read favourite poems to ground me or affirm my life, though I don’t consider that renewal. I need to leave poetry and escape to something else before I can return.

Sunday 15 July 2018

Kelley Jo Burke : part one

Kelley Jo Burke is an award-winning playwright, creative nonfiction writer, poet and documentarian, a professor of theatre and creative-writing, and was for many years host of CBC Radio’s SoundXchange. She was the 2017 winner (with composer Jeffery Straker) of Playwrights Guild of Canada’s l Best New Musical in Development Award for Us, which premiered at the Globe Theatre Feb 28 of this year, as well as the Sask. Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts, the 2008 Saskatoon and Area Theatre Award for Playwriting, and three City of Regina Writing Awards.

How did you first engage with poetry?

Shakespeare. My mother was an English teacher, who had attended a posh East Coast American college, and the house was full of what was English canon at the time. First and foremost was Shakespeare. Her gigantic volume of the collected works was held in significantly higher regard in our house than the Bible. I could recite passages from Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet when I was six. I fell in love with iambic pentameter. It is dead easy to memorize verse that is in iambic pentameter, because it is the natural rhythm of speech. It came to me so naturally that the first real writing I did for theatre was actually poetry; Shakespearean-style verse, in iambic pentameter, that I wrote for a production by my young company. Everyone thought it was a little freaky that I could write verse, in Shakespearean dialect, and in that rhythm. I thought it was weird they couldn’t. 

Megan Burns : part five

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

Poetry is more akin to mantra or prayer than other written forms. A poem is a practice of love.

Saturday 14 July 2018

Allie Marini : part one

Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer holding degrees from both Antioch University of Los Angeles & New College of Florida. She was a 2018 Shitty Women in Literature nominee, and has been a finalist for Best of the Net and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her masthead credits include Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary Journal & Mojave River Review. She has published a number of chapbooks, including Pictures from the Center of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize) and Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press, finalist for the SFPA’s Elgin Award) In addition to her work on the page, Allie was a member of Oakland’s 2017 National Slam Team. A native Floridian now freezing to death in the Bay Area, Allie writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Find her online: www.alliemarini.com

Photo: Brennan DeFrisco

1. What are you working on?

Always a few things at once – Right now I have about 2 short story collections, 4 poetry manuscripts, & 2 novels in some stage of completion. I’m 4 poems shy of completing a linked new poetry manuscript that started as my April 30/30 month, & I’m struggling with 2 short stories that I’ve gotten about half-done & then tapped out on.

Conyer Clayton : part five

How does a poem begin?

With the intention to dig.

Friday 13 July 2018

Susan Gillis : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I’m told that as a baby I gurgled to the figures on the toile-covered sofa in the house I grew up in, probably re-telling the legends and folk tales that were read to me by my mother and aunties and grandmothers. My mother saved an early document, “Mrs. Gillis’s Birthday Poem”—so formal!—and in high school and college I would hand in “essays” that were written as poem sequences. (I could only get away with this once in each class, though.) Being accused of plagiarism in high school when I wrote a decent-enough actual essay on The Rape of the Lock, because my essays up to then, on short stories, had been very middling, forced me to recognize (and articulate) that there was something I really, really liked about poetry, even if I didn’t love certain poems. The key that unlocked poetry as something I might write myself was my tenth-grade teacher Tony Johnstone’s mid-term note on my “daily creative writing” assignment: “I think you need a bigger notebook.”

Thursday 12 July 2018

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda : part three

3.      What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

The poets that truly have influenced and made me see that poetry is an artform are Pablo Neruda. His 100 Love Sonnets was a revelation that a poet can pen his desires, his longings, his amor on the page and it could connect with some so close to your corazon. Poets like Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Anais Nin, these poets and writers have opened a new world, of honest, body, spirit and mind poetry that cuts deep and truly resonates with me. Even modern erotic love poets like Kim Addonizio, Dylan Krieger, Alexis Rhone Fancher and Amber Decker inspire me with their timeless carnal verses. They make me realize that it’s not just about skin to skin, not just the act but the movement, the touches, the voice, the body of the poem that reflects the cravings that connect with the reader on the page. 

Sandra Cisneros and Juan Felipe Herrera have also influenced me, as their poems have inspired me to reconnect with my Latino culture. Some of my new poems code switch and use both Spanish and English. I feel like I am finding new shades of myself writing these new Spanish flavored poemas and this is thanks to poets like Cisneros and Herrera. I know that Cisneros is know for her prose but her poems, to me, reflect not just her own experiences but are like a mirror into my own life.   

Tiana Clark, Leila Chatti and Kaveh Akbar. These three are champions of modern American verse as they pen the most dynamically inspiring poems reflecting own unique cultural voice. Clark, Chatti and Akbar are the three poets these days that are lighting the spark and inspiring me to go deeper and reflect my own story. Every time I read one of their poems it’s like a creative eruption occurs inside me as their lines, stanzas, breaks and themes inspire me to go deeper by challenging me to create and craft poems that show more of a piece of myself and my own universe. What poets like Tiana, Leila and Kaveh have taught me is that the personal is universal, no matter what your story, your voice you craft in your poem, the more personal, the more it will reflect and connect with reader on and off the page.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Krystal Languell : part one

Krystal Languell lives in Chicago, where she works for the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of three books: Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011), Gray Market (1913 Press, 2016), and Quite Apart (University of Akron Press, forthcoming 2019). She has also published six chapbooks. Since 2010, she has helped coordinate the activities of Belladonna* Collaborative while publishing the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet. New and forthcoming work can be found in Colorado ReviewBlack Warrior Review, Fence, and elsewhere.

What are you working on?

My third book of poetry is forthcoming in early 2019 from University of Akron Press, and I’m finalizing the manuscript this minute and thinking about cover art. But in terms of writing new stuff, I have a handful of poems in a thus-far short series of sonnets in iambic pentameter after significant pop songs from my childhood. They double as elegies since thus far most of the folks whose work I’m writing after are no longer with us. I can’t mention this without acknowledging the influence of Hanif Abdurraqib’s music writing on me to more directly engage the soundtrack of my life.


Emma Bolden : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Almost as soon as I became aware of words, I became aware of their magic. Our local PBS station aired re-runs of an old show called The Letter People when I was a kid, and I was totally obsessed with it. That show instilled in me the idea of language as a living, breathing thing as exciting and vivid as any 1970’s-era puppet show. I loved playing around with language but didn’t really recognize that as poetry until I was in 2nd grade. I wasn’t the most popular kid in my school (as you might have guessed, seeing as how I was obsessed with TV literacy program) and I was also often bored. One day, I read ahead in my English book while the rest of the class played a game. I came across Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” and it was as if I’d been struck by lightning. I felt seen and understood in a way that I’d never felt, as if I wasn’t, after all, alone in feeling so completely alone. Even then, I understood that something about the way Dickinson used language made me feel that way. The way she chose and arranged words on the page felt strange and electric. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was all I wanted to do and read and live, from that day on.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

M. Stone : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I recently read Kasey Jueds’s Keeper, which is absolutely beautiful. I was very moved by Chloe Honum’s Then Winter, and the imagery in Analicia Sotelo’s Virgin is amazing. Right now I’m reading Jenny George’s The Dream of Reason, and it’s already one of my favorites.

Monday 9 July 2018

Billeh Nickerson : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Frank O’Hara and David Trinidad – for their queering and pop culture possibilities

Jordan Scott – for making me rethink and reconsider each syllable

Jordan Abel – for magnifying and isolating beyond simple narrative

Lorna Crozier – for craft and humour as well as her take on the confessional

I also remember quitting my job at McDonald’s and buying a copy of Margaret Atwood’s selected poems with my last pay cheque. I told her this once, but I don’t think she could get past the fact that I worked at McDonald’s. Lol. We were/are very different writers, but my younger self loved the way she acknowledged devastation and oddness.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Megan Burns : part four

Why is poetry important?

I think it’s similar to why belief in something outside the smallness of yourself is important or why meditation is important. Poetry teaches us how to be and how to be in the world and how to see the world clearly. It teaches our bodies and minds how to hear and speak truth and that is powerful. And empowered beings are able to shift experience from suffering to joy. It is a healing modality both in practice and in performance.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Conyer Clayton : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

Music is poetry unfettered by language and voice. So yeah, it's important.

Friday 6 July 2018

Susan Gillis : part one

Recent work by Susan Gillis includes Yellow Crane (Brick Books, 2018), Obelisk (Gaspereau, 2017) and The Rapids (Brick Books, 2012). She is a member of the collaborative poetry group Yoko’s Dogs and publishes a poetry blog, Concrete & River. Susan divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario.

Photo credit: John Steffler

What are you working on?

Right now I’m in that strange yet familiar space of betweenness: waiting for a book that’s finished to come out (Yellow Crane, due Fall 2018 from Brick) and a thin folder of scratchings, false starts, chopped up nothing salad, and a few outtakes that may or may not lead somewhere. It’s uncomfortable space, and whatever I say about it -- “I want to write the distant haze!” or “I’m writing about childhood friendships” or “I’m trying to turn words into acrobats” – is a lie. So basically I’m working on being attentively receptive.

Darren C. Demaree : part five

How does a poem begin?

It depends on the kind of poem.  I do big research projects that require a lot of work before I write the first poem.  There are abstract sequences that really just need that first phrase or image to get going.  Sometimes it’s just listening to the right music.  If you can begin the poem with a burst of energy it can carry you deep into the work.  You might have to cut the lines that come with the energy in the editing process, but their value is undeniable in the process.  My favorite poems begin and hold on to the energy all the way through.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda : part two

2.      Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

When I first started writing poems I would write when inspiration came to me. Now I realize, for me, being a true poet is to always be ready and not wait. My philosophy is akin to people who workout every day. The first thing I do in the morning is write poetry. I need to flex my creative muscle. My morning poems are not always a success but that one poem usually always leads to breakthrough a day or week later. Poetry for me is more than just a career, it is my calling, whenever I am stressed out or something seriously is troubles me, every time I pen a verse poetry gives me answers when I needed it most. It’s more than just writing. Poetry is my calling, my reason for living, every day on the page.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Emma Bolden : part one

Emma Bolden is the author of three full-length collections of poetry – House Is An Enigma (forthcoming from Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books) – and four chapbooks. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Conduit, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Journal, The Pinch, and Guernica. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.

What are you working on?

I actually just realized a few weeks ago that I’m apparently deep into two projects: one is a collection of poems about life in the deep, dirty south. The other started out as a series of found poems from true crime shows and has (apparently) developed an examination of the way our culture fetishes the female body in distress, danger, and death.

MLA Chernoff : part five

How does a poem begin?

With a shid n a fard, a whimper n a bang. But in all deliriousness, it begins with someone giving me a dang deadline. Hi: please Paypal me ur deadlines n let’s have some fun xo  

Tuesday 3 July 2018

M. Stone : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I have to be careful that I’m not too overt with a poem’s meaning. When I’m revising, I find quite a few lines that are unnecessary restatements of what came before, and so I try to be diligent in omitting those. I don’t want to write a poem so opaque that the reader can’t relate to it in any way, but I also don’t want to dictate just how a reader will connect with its meaning.

Monday 2 July 2018

Billeh Nickerson : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

It’s funny how folks use “music” to cover all types of music, though they have a very limited view when they say “poetry”. I’ve taken to saying “poetries” to remind folks of the multitudes of poetries and poetics out there.

While I may not write in all styles, I read widely and engage with orality and interdisciplinary works. I don’t think I’m as precious in my view of what can be a poem, though I’m not sure I was all that precious to begin with. I believe the earlier generations of poets, often my mentors, were more entrenched by poetics and poetic camps. The younger generations are much more fluid and open to hybridity.

Sunday 1 July 2018

Megan Burns : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

That I have to work to make money and do other things that are not writing poetry.