Friday 31 August 2018

Pamela Mordecai : part four

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

Poetry is formally concise, organic. If rhyme, rhythm, diction, word play combine to make a poem memorable, those same things, knitted together in a relatively small space, make a poem portable in ways that fiction never can be. The best poetry can bind like a spell, a chant, magic and so you remember it and carry it with you, like a talisman.

Jennifer L. Knox : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Absolutely, in almost every way. That may also be a good thing, process-wise.

Thursday 30 August 2018

Kaie Kellough : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

It has cooled into the long poem.  It has also shifted from registering experience on the surface of language, affecting a kind of sonic and linguistic agitation, to a quieter vigilance that observes how language can carry the weight of things in the world.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Jill Mceldowney : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Sarah Elizabeth Johnson’s Bone Map

Claire Wahmanholm’s chapbook Night Vision

William Brewer’s I Know Your Kind

Henry Wei Leung’s Goddess of Democracy

I read a lot of online journals too along with work from very small presses. Small and indie presses like Cotten Xenomorph, Dream Pop, Muzzle, and Tinderbox are truly publishing some of the most daring, innovative, risk taking work out there right now.

I’m always reading my friends' work. We are all either working on a full length, a chapbook, a thesis and are always sending each other poems.

Tracy Hamon : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

Music and the sound of a line are really important to my writing. I’m obsessive about line breaks, the sound of the word at the end of the line, the cadence of the line, the rhythm of it, and so on. The musicality of a poem, to me anyway, is how I hold the poem in my head. Each word has a sound and when you string them together, they create music.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Robin Durnford : part one

Robin Durnford was born in St. John’s and grew up on the west coast of Newfoundland. She is the author of three books of poetry: A Lovely Gutting (McGill-Queen’s 2012), Fog of the Outport (Jackpine 2013), and Half Rock (Gaspereau 2016). She now lives in Montreal.

What are you working on?

A collection called Gap-Toothed Girl about the gaps and spaces in my own identity (I literally have a gap tooth which I’m partly proud of and partly ashamed of). The collection’s about the parts that don’t seem to fit. When I look at other people they always seem so ‘together’ and whole and sure and fully formed. They are who they are. I always feel uncertain. My identity shifts all the time. One day I feel really feminine, the next I’m more masculine. Most days I’m Sam’s mom, but I don’t want that to be my whole identity either. I want to go out to dinner with my husband and have sex afterwards. My commie-pinko politics has mostly stayed the same for the last twenty years, but I don’t like checked box liberalism or leftism. I need to have the power to dissent, to disagree, to be cantankerous, but also to be loveable! The voice, though. I hope my poetic voice holds the poems, and so my self, together.

Micheline Maylor : part two

What do you find the most difficult about writing poetry?

            Self doubt. An author can tinker with a poem endlessly and the second guessing can become paralyzing. The precision of the language and the constructs can over-ride the feel of the poem at times. I can look at the same line and see three or four different ways to re-phrase the line either through language or grammar. At some point, you just have to let it go. There’s that famous quote by Oscar Wilde, “I was working on a proof of one of my poems all morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

Monday 27 August 2018

Jessica Morey-Collins : part six

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t? Line endings and visual caesuras allow poems to use white space and shape to amplify or complicate content and tone. Lyric writing permits absurdity and imagination—this is totally possible in prose, though I think makes strict genre delineation a little less pertinent.       

Sunday 26 August 2018

Puneet Dutt : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Through Elizabeth Ruth’s writing workshop at the Toronto Public Library.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Allie Marini : part seven

7. What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Oh, everything. I’m very much like Dorothy Parker in that “I hate writing, but I love having written.” Ideas. Picking the right words. Form, structure, “Will anyone besides me get this? If they get it, will they care?” – all of it’s hard to me. But sometimes that’s what makes it rewarding, sometimes I feel like I’m holding my breath when I write & then when I’m done I let it out, that same dizzy, heart-pounding sensation. 

Friday 24 August 2018

Pamela Mordecai : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

Music is very important to my poetry: rhythm inevitably drives it. Though I don't always work in traditional forms, my last two collections employ them throughout. Subversive Sonnets (TSAR, 2012) overhauls the sonnet form – subverts it, if you want, for I end up creating my own maverick version. Although it's in Jamaican Creole,  de book of Mary: a performance poem (Mawenzi House, 2015) is written in triplets of anapaests. It works very well, as does the Greek-style Chorus that introduces, comments on and ends the story.

Jennifer L. Knox : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

Endings are the hardest things for me these days, so I don’t, and the older I get, the more unsure I’ve become of when a poem's finished. That may be a good thing, process-wise.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Kaie Kellough : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

Performance extends the creative timeline of a poem.  If its passages can be rearranged, if it can be recorded or dis-assembled and improvised upon in live sound performance, then the poem avoids becoming a fixed, precious object. It can remain open, can persist in a state of incompletion.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Jill Mceldowney : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I’ve written both prose and poetry so I can say that poetry asks for a different level of vulnerability than prose ever will. Writing to that  vulnerability is something that’s always been really difficult for me and something I have to check every time I go to write.

I’ve been in workshops before where writers just go there—go right to the site of the wound—and it makes the work so much more visceral, captivating, necessary, urgent. I’m working on getting to that point—being less guarded and less emotionally reserved.

Tracy Hamon : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I don’t find writing poetry difficult—I find the process of editing and shaping the language of the poem to be the most challenging. Sometimes it’s a section of a poem that isn’t working, or a line, or worse, one word. The final editing process is always something I procrastinate. As of late, I try to think about the poem as being naked, and I need to try on different words/phrases (or remove them) so that I can change or cloth it. Sometimes I feel there’s nothing wrong with being naked.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Orchid Tierney : part five

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

Where to begin? Cole Swensen, On Walking On; Abigail Child’s Mouth To Mouth, Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, Chris Tysh’s Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic; Craig Santos Perez, from unincorporated territory [lukao]; Lisa Robertson, Three Summers,  Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, Jazzercise is a language. Recordings on PennSound I’ve been listening to: Joan Retallack, James Schulyer, M. NourbeSe Philip, Larissa Lai, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Amiri Baraka. Lately I’ve also been listening and reading to more poetry from Aotearoa—Te Kahu Rolleston, Selina Marsh, Tusiata Avia, Serie Barford to name a few.

Micheline Maylor : part one

Dr. Micheline Maylor is past Poet Laureate of Calgary. Her collection Little Wildheart is with U of A Press (2017) and was longlisted on both the Pat Lowther and the Raymond Souster awards. She teaches creative writing at MRU.

Photo credit: Nikki Reimer

How did you first engage in poetry?

            I was lucky. I grew up in a house full of art and books. My mother was important to my love of reading and learning. We moved to Calgary in 1974 and I remember hoping into her yellow Datsun 510 and heading over the library in the basement of Chinook Centre. Every Saturday I could bring back books and exchange them for new ones. I remember learning to read via Dr. Suess. So, my first experiences with reading were that of poetry. I think this is the case for many kids. The rhythms and cadences of the simple rhyme make for the best ways to teach reading.

JC Bouchard : part five

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

My work enters the world in three ways: literary journals, live readings, and chapbooks or books. Sometimes they happen all at once.

When I feel something is finished I submit it to a literary journal and see what happens. If it’s accepted and a launch happens I’ll sometimes read it there. Recently I was apart of a reading tour with JM Francheteau, Meghan Harrison, and Fawn Parker which we organized ourselves, so sometimes I help create the opportunity with people. More rarely I’ll get lucky and have a collection in a chapbook which I have few of, or I’ll get the opportunity to do a book like I did recently with Hybrid Heaven Press.

I have no steady groups I share my writing with before it sees the light of day. More than a year ago I had a poem in PRISM international which I shared in a poetry workshop and with friends online beforehand. I got amazing feedback, criticism, and support. That’s probably why the poem got published. But that’s rare. I started writing poetry when there was no one else around who cared or knew what poetry was so I’m used to working without anyone laying eyes on it. I’m not in a program like an MFA either and probably never will be.

Sometimes I think about seeking out a writers circle or doing another workshop but never go through with it. I feel better just doing my regular process, whatever that is. That’s not to say I have anything against them—it can be tremendously helpful to have your poems read with fresh eyes and worked on with different perspectives and I know that from experience. If anything I feel safer and freer without anyone because I can just curl up in my head and live there. Maybe that’s terrible, but that’s that.

Monday 20 August 2018

Jessica Morey-Collins : part five

How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with? I try to stay connected to one workshop or another—whether through an academic program or an informal gathering. I’ve been fairly transitory over the last decade, so finding and sustaining these communities can be difficult. In the last year (living in a new state) I’ve been so grateful to my distant poet friends for their willingness to exchange drafts online.

Sunday 19 August 2018

Puneet Dutt : part one

Puneet Dutt’s debut collection of poetry, The Better Monsters (Mansfield Press, 2017), was a Finalist for the 2018 Trillium Book Award For Poetry (English Language) and was Shortlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster Award and was named one of “Ontario’s Best Books” in 2018 by NOW Magazine. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals, such as Canadian Literature, Event and World Literature Today, and in the anthology Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, with an introduction by Margaret Atwood. Her chapbook, PTSD south beach (Grey Borders Books), was a Finalist for the Breitling Chapbook Prize (Phantom Books). She holds a MA in English from Ryerson University and is an editorial board member at Canthius and a creative writing workshop facilitator with the Toronto Writers Collective. Dutt was born in India and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, and currently lives in Toronto with her husband and son. To reach out, follow her on Twitter @puneet_dutt.

What are you working on?

I am fiddling with fiction.

Jaime Forsythe : part five

What are you working on?

I expect that what I’m working on now will eventually disintegrate, collapse, or shift into something else entirely, but I find it steadying to have something new to wrestle with in the background while reading from and promoting a new book. Right now all my newer material is still handwritten, prose poems and fragments, and writing it feels like trying to transcribe a distant and hazy visual: like trying to reel something in. Recurring words include: commotion, celebration, tender, limit.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Allie Marini : part six

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

Poetry can tell a whole story in a few lines – it doesn’t need to waste time on characters or exposition, it’s like a microcosm of the world. It’s one of the few forms where it doesn’t need to rely on a scene or a structure even – sometimes all it needs is a mood or a word that hits in just the right way. I think the brevity of most poetry is something that any prose writer can learn from – the perfect words chosen in just the right order can pack more punch than pages of neat prose.

Friday 17 August 2018

Pamela Mordecai : part two

How does a poem begin?

A poem begins anywhere, with any prompt: an image; a location; the weather; a picture, photograph, phrase; a feeling, an impulse to bless or curse, rejoice or lament. Writing a poem is a kind of hunt. The prompt, whatever it is, alerts the poet to a poem lurking and after that the poet stalks the poem, sniffing, searching for  paw prints, for droppings, for the territory it has marked out – all the clues to its identity.  The poem arrives when the poet has caught her prey. She doesn't kill it though, and that's the joy. It's a new creature that lives forever.

Jennifer L. Knox : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I wrote poems to accompany visual art pieces I made.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Kaie Kellough : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

One early engagement: In about 1990, in a high school anthology, I stumbled upon the poets of the Harlem Renaissance. The poem “Incident” by Countee Cullen, first published in 1925, confirmed my exact relationship to my city.  It was an extraordinary moment of surprise and recognition.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Jill Mceldowney : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I think there are varying degrees of ‘finished’ when it comes to poetry. A poem will ask to be finished, or ask you to leave it alone.

I hold the (probably unpopular) opinion that there comes a definitive point when a poem is finished or is as close to complete as it will ever be. I find the idea that ‘a poem is never finished’ too sentimental, too romantic. There is definitely such a thing as ‘overworking’ the poem and there is definitely a point where the only thing the poem needs from the poet is for the poet to step away.

Tracy Hamon : part two

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

For the most part, my work enters the world without much supervision. I work on my poetry in retreats settings (the SWG Writers/Artists Retreats), and have attended Sage Hill Poetry Colloquium. I used to belong to numerous writing groups but kind of worked my way out of them until recently. Now I belong to the Poets out of the Vault and we meet on a regular basis to discuss our work. Most of the poets in the group are established poets, so this helps give me perspective on my writing, but mainly the group motivates me to keep bringing new work to meetings.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Orchid Tierney : part four

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

I think my poet’s syllabus is constantly expanding so this list is by no means exclusive, but the writers who have most informed by practice include Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Caroline Bergvall, Barbara Guest, Charles Bernstein, Robin Hyde, Robert Creeley, Bob Perelman, Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, and Jennifer Scappettone. Robin Hyde as a NZer is likely the odd one out in this otherwise American list of poets, but The Book of Nadath, in my opinion, is one of the greatest examples of the feminist epics in the 20th century. 

JC Bouchard : part four

How does a poem begin?

Thinking about the same thing over and over and over until it won’t go away. You think about something every day, usually a feeling, and at some point the feeling latches onto some kind of reality—something you saw or did or a person or an event. It could be anything. Then you feel and think about that for a long time—sometimes it’s weeks or months—then one day you just lie down or sit down and try to write it. If it doesn’t feel right you abandon it and go back to thinking about it again until you try to write again and learn how it feels. You do that until it feels right.

By feel right, I mean it doesn’t make you hate writing it. Or there is a sense of elation. I don’t really know. I can write something and say, This feels like a good poem because I’ve intellectually tackled this subject using what I believe is decent poetic craft. But that’s so unsatisfying, like eating a half-eaten meal.

If you begin a poem and it feels unsatisfying it’s probably because it is, and if it’s unsatisfying to you it will probably be to everyone else, and so you have to go back to thinking about it and trying to write it.

Monday 13 August 2018

Jessica Morey-Collins : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began? Yes. Initially, poetry was a means of self-expression. Over the past decade or so, poetry has shifted into a mechanism for organizing my understanding of the world around me.

Sunday 12 August 2018

Kelley Jo Burke : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

I think all speech is music, and I am constantly aware of the musicality of whatever I am writing. I find I involuntarily score my life—waking up with songs that speak directly to what I need to be writing blaring in my inner ear—relentless until I get to the keyboard and address them. They are often obvious to the point of absurdity—during a current writing crisis, I had “Chasing Cars” (if you haven’t heard it, you should) on such relentless replay that I had to stop everything that I was doing, and write a prose poem that lived entirely in the emotion and respite of the song. I think I am music’s bitch.

Jaime Forsythe : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Always my own limitations, whether physical, mental, or creative. Over the years I’ve encountered several different beasts of chronic illness, and experience a lot of frustration when I can’t express, produce, or engage in the ways that I want to because my mind or my body seem to stand in the way. However, writing & publishing have forced me to reckon with imperfection and vulnerability in ways that I might not have otherwise. I’ve also learned to let go of certain expectations and prescribed timelines.

Also difficult: the patriarchy, etc.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Allie Marini : part five

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

I used to, but in the past few years that’s narrowed. Most of my first drafts & edited drafts are only seen by my partner (Brennan DeFrisco), who is also a poet. Then when I feel like pieces are ready, I send them out to editors. Most of the time no one sees my work until & if it’s published. I do have a social group of writers on Twitter, but not one I share drafts with. I have a fiction partner (Emma Burcart) who I met in my MFA program, & we exchange work, but my poetry is often created in a little bubble of my own. I had a few bad experiences with trusting my work with some beta readers & it’s been hard for me to trust my drafts with others. It’s one of precious few things I miss about the MFA experience.

Friday 10 August 2018

Susan Gillis : coda

Why is poetry important?

The world needs—people need—the work of the imagination, in all forms. There’s no other way to adequately understand our lives; certainly not through financial market values, the dominant mode of the times I find myself in. The language of poetry invites us to think openly, to allow uncertainty, to accept multiplicity. It asks us to bring attention instead of to pay attention, to give (it, ourselves, ideas) time instead of to spend it. Matthew Zapruder writes about poetry as a “constructed conversation on the frontier of dreaming” in his great essay on, among other things, a John Ashbery poem, in Why Poetry. He notes that poetry can deepen not only our understanding of our lives but our very experience of life, and I think he’s right.

Pamela Mordecai : part one

Pamela Mordecai's recent books of poetry are Subversive Sonnets (TSAR, 2012) and de book of Mary: a performance poem (Mawenzi House, 2015). de book of Mary is the second in a trilogy in Jamaican Creole on the life and death of Jesus that she is writing backwards, the last book, de Man: a
performance poem, having  appeared in 1993. She is presently working on de book of Joseph. Pamela writes long and sort fiction as well. Her debut novel, Red Jacket was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize in 2016. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario.

How did you first engage with poetry?

My father read us a poem every night before we went to sleep – ironically enough, from The Best Loved Poems of the American People.  I'm looking at the book as I type. When he was dying, I read him his favourite poems from the very same book. I also fell in love with the patwa poetry of the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley when I was a child. I learned the poems by heart and would recite them as I roamed the house...Finally I took to Shakespeare early. I played Cobweb in Midsummer Night's Dream in a school [lay when I was quite young. So, Louise, Shakespeare and my pops.

Jennifer L. Knox : part one

Jennifer L. Knox is the author of four books of poems. Her poetry has appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series as well as in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and American Poetry Review. The New York Times said her most recent book, Days of Shame & Failure, “hits, with deceptive ease, all the poetic marks a reader could want: intellectual curiosity, emotional impact, beautiful language, surprising revelation and arresting imagery.” Her non-fiction writing has recently appeared in The Washington Post and American Poetry Review. She teaches writing at Iowa State University.

What are you working on?

A new book of poems and a culinary memoir.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Kaie Kellough : part one

Kaie Kellough is a poet, novelist, and sound performer. His next book of poems, Magnetic Equator, hovers between South America and Western Canada, and will appear in 2019 with McClelland and Stewart.  

What are you working on?

Whether I’m working on poetry, fiction, or a sound performance, I try to address the way personal narratives multiply into collective ones, or conversely, how history narrows to a single life.  I am fascinated by those moments when obscure individual lives appear to shimmer with a broader pattern.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Krystal Languell : part five

Why is poetry important?
I struggle with this question sometimes. At its best, poetry is about connection through imagination, and can also give readers the experience of recognition—what today we call “feeling seen.” I think Muriel Rukeyser’s “(I lived in the first century of world wars)” nails it, though: “We would try by any means / To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves, / To let go the means, to wake.”

Jill Mceldowney : part one

Jill Mceldowney is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Airs Above Ground (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press 2016). She is a cofounder and editor for Madhouse Press. Her previously published work can be found in journals such as Vinyl, Fugue, Half Mystic, Whiskey Island, and other notable publications.

What are you working on?

At the moment, I’m finishing what ended up being a very difficult, emotionally draining project. Part of the project is forthcoming this Fall from Finishing Line Press in a chapbook entitled “Airs Above Ground” which is very exciting.

In this chapbook, I occupy a space that directly encounters familial abuse, violence, and its direct implications on the female psyche, body, spirit, and relationships with the Divine. In truth, it is poetry I never saw myself writing, never really wanted to write, and I spent most of Fall 2017/Spring 2018 paralyzed with anxiety over it.

In finishing this manuscript, and seeing this chapbook through to publication, I’m just trying to have fun with writing again, enjoying the process, exiting ‘revision mode’, and trying to figure out what I want to write about next.

Tracy Hamon : part one

Tracy Hamon was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and holds an MA in English from the University of Regina. She is a poet and an arts administrator with the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. Her first book of poetry This Is Not Eden was released in April 2005 and was a finalist for two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her second book Interruptions in Glass was shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2010 and, prior to being published, the manuscript won the 2005 City of Regina Writing Award. Her third collection Red Curls won the Drs. Morris and Jacqui Shumiatcher Regina Book Award in 2015.

Photo credit: Shelley Banks

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

When I was first writing, I read and wrote as much poetry as I could. I used to attend almost every book launch I could and every writing event/workshop. Now that I work for a writing organization, I don’t have so much time or energy to do any of those things. I have slowed in my consumption of books and events, but I still try to keep abreast with the poetry world and what’s happening. When I reread books that inspired me at the start of my writing, I understand them from a different perspective (or I just finally understand them) and I find I’m encouraged in my own work, again.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Orchid Tierney : part three

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

Poetry is neither precious nor unique. It’s simply another form of scholarship, of interrogating crisis and complacency, and—for this reason—it always supposes another a question. Put another way, poetry is a kind of honest failure if we consider how other forms of scholarship, like the academic essay, take the appearance of authenticity and validity. Poetry, in my opinion, is rather honest in its dishonesty in that we can never fully surpass the ambiguity of language because the act of writing always precludes knowability. 

JC Bouchard : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

Probably more important than I realize. Like I said, it was how I discovered poetry and creative expression. I might even be a music fan more than a poetry fan. At least sometimes it feels that way. Almost every time I write there’s music playing, all kinds of different music, and I think that at the very least there’s some influence there in the rhythm, diction, imagery, and feeling at the centre of a poem.

It’s also a big part of how I read and perform poetry. Live music can be soft, loud, energetic, atmospheric—why can’t a poetry reading be like that? I try to treat poems like songs and use my voice and body to perform them (at least the best I can). It feels better to do it that way.

When a person is reading alone they can let the book grow in their imagination because they take their time with it and pay attention. Live readings aren’t really like that, so music helps me think of different ways to engage an audience. Maybe it’s a failure but I’m going to keep doing that.

Monday 6 August 2018

Jessica Morey-Collins : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished? Once a year or so I feel a “click” when ideas and images sync up and whirr... but otherwise I’m not sure. I fiddle until I feel impatient and either workshop it or send it out. For the most part, I’m ok with my language being in flux.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Kelley Jo Burke : part four

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

I work in theatre, which is a collaborative form. I also work in documentary, which again means steady interaction with others. So in my writing I am solitary to the point of misanthropy.

Most poetry I write starts as a part of my pre-writing for a larger project—a play or a documentary. It is an incredibly useful way to walk into the metaphorical language that the project will be rooted in—it also tells me a lot about setting, aural landscape and the dialect of characters.

I start with the phrase, I write ‘til I lose steam. Then I go back and start challenging what I’ve got down. When it seems to have living if by no means complete form, I share it with my one trusted reader. Who has made an art out of giving feedback without triggering my (endless) neuroses.

Jaime Forsythe : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

I sometimes play music (I played flute in a band called Moon) and while that and writing poetry don’t really overlap in practice, they can stem from some of the same impulses. In both cases, maybe I just wish I could sing? I like the precision of recording, and find a similar satisfaction in the process of rewriting and editing. I like the act of making one part of music blend with and speak to the other parts, which I also like about writing poems, but in playing music with others there is this relief: I only have to control one of the parts! I don’t usually listen to music when I write, but lately I’ve been writing to Grouper, which has an oceanic, continuous quality that works for me.

Saturday 4 August 2018

Allie Marini : part four

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

I would hope so – I think if my consideration of it hadn’t changed, I’d still be stuck where I was as a teen or early 20s writer, which would mean my work hadn’t grown, evolved, or improved. I’m not embarrassed by my old work – it was necessary to get me to where I am now – but I’m also glad that I’ve evolved past it. That has less to do with academia or my MFA degree & more to do with active engagement with poetry peers, reading what they’re writing, how they’re doing it, & the constant influence of ideas that you can achieve through poets + social media.

Friday 3 August 2018

Susan Gillis : part five

How does a poem begin?

In mystery, in observation, and in words. If I’m lucky, if I don’t try to pin it down too soon, if I’ve slept well, or badly, if I’m a little hungry, a little curious, a little patient, it may continue to emerge—it’s like we work together, poem and me, to coax it into being. So much can go wrong!

Thursday 2 August 2018

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda : coda

6.      CODA: The importance of reading poetry aloud in front of an audience. 

Because I stutter, I feel like I have a duty to go out into the world and share my poems by showing promising poets that if I can do it, stand up here read my verses and stuttering through each one, you can succeed to. I was speaking to a poet a few days ago and she is a published poet who had never read her poems aloud. Going out and reading your poems is so important. Yes, it’s frightening but its also empowering for yourself and the audience. I am lucky to be able to spend the valuable hours I have left on the planet doing the thing that I love. Crafting, Writing, Revising and Reading my poetry. My advice to any young poet, go to readings and read your poems on stage in front of a crowd. It is life changing. 

I remember the moment, in the middle of a poetry reading in Burbank, as I read the poem “She Pours Me With Her Eyes” included in my poetry book Flashes & Verses, I felt my voice becoming one with my words. Even though I was terrified, the moment changed everything for me. I discovered my calling in life. A few years later I was accepted into the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. And five years after acquiring my MFA, after having over a hundred poems published, my first full-length poetry collection was published this year. All this happened because I faced my fears and went up behind the microphone and read that poem. My future changed the moment I spoke up and read my poem. For those that have the nerve to question the power of poetry. Poetry saved me and changed my life. What are you waiting for? That poem you are scared to read might just change your life. Step up and let your voice be heard on and off the page. On the stage is where I found my voice. And I am loving the sound.   

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Krystal Languell : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

I am so resistant to change that the impact of certain poets and teachers takes years for me to absorb. It’s a slow process. Workshops I’ve taken with Hoa Nguyen, Ronaldo V. Wilson, and Evie Shockley (all through The Millay Colony) have had a lasting impact on me. Most fundamentally, Ronaldo’s engagement with video loosened my grip on the page in a way I’m still reckoning with. I have some footage of a rollerblading flash mob in Paris I have yet to do something with, and I’m interested in the consequences of the disruption when poets cross genre boundaries or mix media.


Emma Bolden : part five

Why is poetry important?

Poetry allows us to speak to each other in a language that’s different and deeper than the ones we use every day. It creates a shared space in which we can not just see but experience the world the way another person sees it. By allowing us to see and hear and feel and experience what others experience in the way that they experience it, poetry reminds us that we are not alone, that we are all human. Perhaps that’s why poetry is most important: it teaches us, and insistently, that other people are people – and, in a time of such unthinkable cruelty, there are few things more important than remembering that.