Monday 31 December 2018

Melissa Eleftherion : coda

Why is poetry important? 

Poetry presents new syntaxes with which to reimagine and reshape the world.

Heather Sweeney : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

This is a tough call.  I think it’s finished when the poem stops keeping you up at night.  When it stops being annoying.  When it stops breaking your heart.  When it can live on its own without you.

Sunday 30 December 2018

Eric Schmaltz : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I’ll mention two recent and compelling reads: First, Aditya Bahl’s Name-Amen, a beautifully designed and published chapbook by Malmö-based small press Timglaset Editions. This book of visual poems––in which language is fractured, overlain, magnified, reflected, and refracted––confronts the English modernist tradition and emerges from a “very painful and traumatic breakdown of the language [Bahl] had been working with” (n. pag.). Second, The Awful Truth by Diana Hamilton is part-long poem and part-novella, and navigates the complex relationship between author and self and the problems of exercising control over either of those figurations.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Elizabeth Robinson : part three

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

Poetry can stop time or create various simultaneities.  I feel that one of the great gifts of poetry is that it is an open form of inquiry.  It may include narrative, concrete images, epiphany, resolution—but it may not.  So often, everything in popular culture assumes a conventional narrative patterning, but this differs from the way life really works.  Many of our most important projects (art-making, loving, creating constellations of family or community, for example) are characterized by waxing and waning, by ad hoc patterning, by varying rhythms.  Of course there’s a lot of great literature in fiction and nonfiction that can do this, but I tend to feel that innovation in other genres uses poetic patterning as its model.  Poetry has almost infinite elasticity which makes it an incredibly responsive and resourceful art.

Friday 28 December 2018

Frances Boyle : part two

What are you working on?

I actually am working on a novel, of all things. I signed up for NaNoWriMo with the notion of expanding one of my draft short stories into a longer-form work. I almost certainly won’t reach the 50,000 word target for the month but I’m fine with that, and also fine if I never end up with a novel. My real objective is to get deeper into the world of my story —to know my character(s) better and find out what’s behind my rather sketchy plot. If the pages and pages of back story and internal musing I write in November help me craft a short story that’s ultimately richer, I’ll be more than satisfied with that. And, of course, I continue to germinate poetry, and to work on revisions of both my poems and my other short fiction.

Sacha Archer : part two

How does a poem begin?

How does one write? Over here it’s an emptiness that demands filling—even if that is a pipe dream. How can the empty world be made to speak? It comes out gibberish, mostly. That’s fine. Gibberish is an accurate reproduction of what really goes on. I look for the gibberish that we cling to and cling to it. The gibberish I produce is the product of my failure to believe in the meaninglessness that we are expected to ignore. It is amazing that people can ignore a hammer hitting their head. Am I in shock? Survival is editing. The poem begins, for me, in recognition of those habits that erase us. A poem begins in catching myself off guard, noticing something I always notice but somehow never process—the wealth of the blind spots.

Alina Pleskova : coda

How does a poem begin?

With the light just-so, a change in external or internal weather, or feelings getting fucked with by the state or the state of things. With something a brilliant friend says offhandedly while fiddling with their jacket cuff on the porch. With looking at the moon. I mean, look at her.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Sarah Nichols : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry? 

As I said, I find that attempting to compress a great deal of emotion into a confined space is one of the most difficult things about writing poetry. Another thing, and it is huge, and extra to the process, is the amount of abuse and straight up hatred directed at women, people of color, and LGBTQ people for having a voice and attempting to create spaces where it’s okay to write about the experiences of those identities. I’ve seen so many friends fight endlessly for the good of the poetry community, and they should be supported. This does not stop me from writing, but it does make me ask myself what I am doing to help regarding these issues. Not enough. To get back to the spirit of the question, another difficult thing is asking myself if I’m repeating myself. I have themes that I continue to investigate, but I worry if the material, or my approach, is going stale. It’s not a comfortable place to be. Having patience is also a difficult piece of the process for me. I’ve sent things out almost immediately after writing them, with little thought as to “maybe this should wait until you read it again and see how you feel,” to frustration over response times, but I feel that less than I used to.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Shara Lessley : part two

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Nothing about poetry is easy. I fail constantly. That there is great joy in the failure tells me I’ve found my calling.

Kara Goughnour : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

When I first began reading poetry, the things I was reading were beautiful, but they were extremely lyrical, with topics which were palatable for any audience. As I grew older, I had this period where I was writing horrible poem after horrible poem because I didn’t know how to write on the topics I needed to. When I first heard “What Did I Love?” by Ellen Bass, there was a chunk of ice in my chest that melted down through each toe. The poem is about a chicken butchering day on a small farm, but Bass makes it ceremonial and loving while simultaneously making it neither of those things. It’s truly just a masterpiece of a work. I’m not a spiritual or religious person, but the religiousness felt toward the cycle of life in that poem just did something for me. Hearing it was a revolutionary moment for my writing. I grew up on a dying farm, and was surrounded by that culture, and I didn’t know that feeling of belonging in a moment so often argued as innately immoral could be expressed. It made everything that I needed to say feel so much more approachable.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

John LaPine : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Saying something that matters, and saying it in an artistic way. On one hand, an image isn’t [always] a poem. But neither are a handful of unresolvable questions. Finding the balance between art and inquiry. Finding the balance between knowing and unknowing.

Monday 24 December 2018

Melissa Eleftherion : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

I’d say it’s very important. The cadences emit meaning of themselves and I try to be awake to what’s inside. Perhaps that’s why I have a hard time writing when I’m in the thick of daily life chaos; it’s too loud for me to hear the music.

Heather Sweeney : part one

Heather Sweeney’s chapbook Just Let Me Have This was published this year by Selcouth Station Press.  Her newest chapbook, Same Bitch, Different Era:  The Real Housewives Poems is forthcoming by above/ground press.  Her poetry appears in recent issues of the tiny, A Velvet Giant and Goat’s Milk.  She lives in San Diego where she writes and teaches.  You can also find her at

What are you working on?

I have a chapbook forthcoming from above/ground press, Same Bitch, Different Era which is based on the reality television show, The Real Housewives of New York; so I am finalizing ideas about the cover design and the acknowledgments.  I am also working a series of prose-ish poems that center around ethereal states of being and ethereal materials—charcoal, mist, clouds.  I have been working closely with slowness and integration.  I am allowing myself to take more time with these poems and not get so hung up on the finished product.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Eric Schmaltz : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I tend to distrust the idea of a “finished poem” since so much of my own work is about process. As someone who occasionally publishes his work, this is a bit of problem since publishing tends to suggest that a poem has been finished. I think of publishing as an act of sharing and an opportunity that privileges the writer to feedback on the work. In other words, publishing, for me, is part of a mode of inquiry and a way of seeing what pings back. I find it generative to continually rework the form, medium, and content of any given poem to see what springs into being through processes of gradual modulation.

Stephen Cain : coda

Why is poetry important? 

As a form that is (nearly) uncommodifiable and is of little interest to hegemonic capitalism, poetry can be the site of liberation and revolutionary expression that works “under the radar” to subvert conventional thinking. A change of expression = a change in cognition = a change in life.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Elizabeth Robinson : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Three things sealed my commitment to (obsession with) poetry:

1. Listening to my father read Victorian novels to me when I was a child.  I often did not understand the content of the novels, but he was a very fluent reader and I absorbed the beauty of language and rhythm from him.

2. Being taught in Sunday School that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh,” which seemed both continuous with my experience of being read to and utterly, transformatively mystical.  The divine in language, language in flesh/enfleshed.  Wow.

3. My mother gave me a book of Emily Dickinson poems when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade.  I still have it.  The poems did everything I needed language to do: feel, speculate about the nature of the world, offer a compelling way of thinking that wasn’t indebted to conventional narrative structure.

Friday 21 December 2018

Frances Boyle : part one

Frances Boyle is the author Light-carved Passages, a collection of poems, and most recently Tower, a novella from Fish Gotta Swim Editions. Her poems and short stories have won local and national awards, and been published in print and online journals throughout Canada and in the U.S. as well as in anthologies with themes as varied as motherhood, Hitchcock films and love poetry. A second poetry collection is due out in 2019. Frances lives in Ottawa, where she is part of the editorial team at Arc Poetry Magazine, and reviews for Canthius. Find her at and @francesboyle19.

Photo credit: John W. MacDonald

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 have several fantastic writers’ groups who I rely on heavily. Two of them focus on poetry, and the third is for fiction. The Ruby Tuesday group has been meeting weekly for more than 10 years (!). It is not only the place where my work first enters the world, it is most often where poems are first generated since we do a 10-20 minute free-write each week, either a specific exercise / prompt or simply writing in response to a published poem. I very often go back (sometimes a very long time later) to find phrases or images from these timed writing sessions that I can use in shaping a poem. We also critique work that’s been brought to the group. The phrase “you’ve seen this poem before” is commonly heard and always welcome, since looking at revisions generates further discussion and new energy. Because we are a sizeable group, and we meet so frequently, there is no pressure to bring work every week. But most of us rarely let more than a couple of weeks go by without the urge to get feedback on new (or revised) poems. My other poetry group, sometimes known as the Other Tongues, meets monthly and we workshop one poem by each person. In all of my groups, we are not only first readers for each other, but also a support network and a source of close and continuing friendships.

Sacha Archer : part one

Sacha Archer is a writer that works in numerous mediums as well as being the editor of Simulacrum Press ( His work has been published in journals such as filling Station, Nod, Utsanga, Otoliths, Matrix, FIVE:2:ONE, Sonic Boom, Futures Trading, Timglaset, Touch the Donkey and Politics/Letters Live. Archer has two full-length collections of poetry, Detour (gradient books, 2017) and Zoning Cycle (Simulacrum Press, 2017), as well as a number of chapbooks, the most recent being TSK oomph (Inspiritus Press, 2018) and Contemporary Meat (The Blasted Tree, 2018). His visual poetry has been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Canada. Some of that work, among other things, can be found on his website, Archer lives in Ontario, Canada.

Why is poetry important?

I’ve been wearing a scarf during the cold months for as long as I can remember. A few days ago my wife gave me a neck warmer. Now every time I come inside I take off my coat and then my hand goes up to the cloth around my neck and pulls to unwind the scarf—which isn’t there. It’s been only a couple days of this, but I’m still trying to unwind the scarf and instead yanking my neck sideways as the neck warmer fails to yield. I love this.

It is one thing to tell this story and an altogether different thing to revel in the experience of it. Poetry, I think, is an (always failing) attempt to surpass the relation of experience and somehow submerge the reader in the less than logical shapes of impact. Why is that important? You have to open the window sometimes.

Alina Pleskova : part five

Why is poetry important?

To mark where we are, each of us, even if we aren't sure how we got there.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Sarah Nichols : part three

How did you first engage with poetry? 

For all of my childhood, and some of my adolescence, I disliked poetry. I didn’t understand what I was given to read in school; in Fifth grade I was given an assignment: write a haiku for homework and come back tomorrow and share what you wrote. That terrified me, trying to get the correct number of syllables, and to this day I still don’t write haikus. I was 16 or 17 when I discovered Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton’s works, and that’s when I saw that I did have a connection to poetry, and that it mattered. I did not, however, see myself as a poet. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was intimidated by poetry: there are so many opportunities to get it wrong; you have to, I think, compress a great deal of emotion into a small space and make it resonate, and I thought there’s no way I could do that. I made some small attempts but threw them away. In 1998, I entered a writing contest that my college was sponsoring, with a cash prize for the winners. I wrote an ekphrastic poem about Edward Hopper’s painting, Nighthawks, and it took first prize. I was stunned, and I consider that the beginning of becoming a poet.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Shara Lessley : part one

Shara Lessley is the author of The Explosive Expert’s Wife and Two-Headed Nightingale, and coeditor of The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, her awards include an National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Mary Wood Fellowship from Washington College, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, an Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship from Colgate University, and a “Discovery”/The Nation prize, among others. Shara was the inaugural Anne Spencer Poet-in-Residence at Randolph College and currently serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Acre Books. She lives in Oxford, England.

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

Bruce Snider has been my primary reader for more than a decade and a half. He sees every draft I write, whether it’s poetry, creative nonfiction, or criticism. Together, we dreamed up and coedited The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice, an anthology of essays. I couldn’t ask for a better collaborator or friend. Robin Ekiss, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Danielle Cadena Deulen, David Roderick, Rachel Richardson, and Sara Michas-Martin are also important readers and sources of great support.

Courtney Bates-Hardy : part five

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

It depends on what kind of renewal I need. When I feel sad or discouraged, I open up a poetry app on my phone and listen to Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” or Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata.” I have Matthea Harvey’s mermaid poems from If the Tabloids are True What Are You? sticky-tacked to my desk so I can read them often. I tend to return a lot to Anne Simpson’s Is and Lorna Crozier in general. But sometimes you don't know what you need until you pick up a new book of poetry and begin to read.

Kara Goughnour : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

In sixth grade, my English instructor created a month-long poetry curriculum for us, and we began by listening to spoken word poets. This became an obsession for me, and I spent countless hours after class on the library computers listening to it. I hadn’t ever heard words used the way they were in poems, and nothing had ever moved me as much as these sounds did. After this, I started looking for poetry in every sound. Now, there is poetry in everything for me — in the squeal of the train on its tracks as it takes me to work, the pigeon-purr of my cat once I arrive home. I also hold so many actual songs close and believe that they too helped me understand how sound would be portrayed in my writing. There are a lot of lyrically skilled musicians, especially in rap. Any poet who isn’t listening to rap could benefit from it; the time put into the rhyme scheme and literary devices of well-written rap bars is often impressive.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

John LaPine : part three

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

Poetry does what other genres do, but in an impossibly small package. If you want to devastate, you have to do it in 6 lines, instead of 6 pages. Poetry also lends itself to being a little more cryptic and experimental than other genres. When you know your reader can devote more time, each syllable and punctuation symbol becomes important. Poetry is very intricate.

Monday 17 December 2018

Melissa Eleftherion : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

Whereas by Layli Long Soldier; Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar; New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuna; at sea by Melissa Benham.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Eric Schmaltz : part one

Eric Schmaltz is a poet, artist, and critic who works across a variety of genres and media, including print, sound, performance, and video. His work has been published in Jacket2, The Capilano Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Poetry is Dead, Lemon Hound, and Trinity Review. His first book of poetry and text-art, Surfaces, is available from Invisible Publishing.

What are you working on?

At the moment, my new work is focused on the various ways material environments are written and how they also write themselves. I’m particularly interested in investigating the poetic potential afforded by “communication graphics” and the use of graphic signification as an extension of language.

Stephen Cain : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

John Clare: Selected Poetry and Prose (eds. Merryn & Raymond Williams); Voodoo Hypothesis (Canisia Lubrin); Drift (Caroline Bergvall); Full-Metal Indigiqueer (Joshua Whitehead).

Saturday 15 December 2018

Elizabeth Robinson : part one

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Apprehend, a winner of the Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Pure Descent, a winner of the National Poetry Series (and the late Sun & Moon book).  Her mixed genre meditation On Ghosts (Solid Objects) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.  Ahsahta Press will publish Vulnerability Index in 2019.  With Jennifer Phelps, Robinson co-edited the critical anthology Quo Anima: spirituality and innovation in contemporary women’s poetry, forthcoming any day from University of Akron Press.

What are you working on?

For a long time, I felt I wasn’t writing very much, maybe not writing effectively.

I’ve been going through many life transitions and also working very hard at my day job with homeless individuals.   At a moment when things settled a bit, I found that I had actually been writing quite a lot and I suddenly have four complete manuscripts and a bunch of nonfiction.  So it is a time of taking stock: looking at what I’ve written to see who I’ve become and where that might be taking me.  One manuscript, Vulnerability Index (which will be published in the coming year by Ahsahta), is about my work with people who are living on the street and it feels very different from my previous writing—much more narrative and very often comprised of direct quotation.  I’m nervous that I might not be honoring my conversation partners fully enough, that I’m clumsy with this more direct kind of writing.  And I am trying to learn how to translate my way of thinking from poetry to prose in the nonfiction work, which is also about people experiencing homelessness.  Somewhere in there I’m also trying to get back to writing reviews, partly because reviewing feels like such a good mode of participation in community and also because I learn so much when I review a book.

Erin Bedford : part five

How does a poem begin?

With yearning.

Friday 14 December 2018

Alina Pleskova : part four

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

Sometimes I do a sort of brain-jogging bibliomancy with Frank O'Hara or June Jordan or Jack Spicer's collected works. They're pretty hefty volumes, & because none of them were capable of writing a single bad line, let alone a bad poem, they’re revivifying. I also return to Anne Boyer, for proof of how the personal & the political are inextricably linked & how it's okay to write about crushes, too. Kathy Acker for fucking—not sex— in all its viscerality & corporeality. Hanif Abdurraqib for how to notice everything like, everything, & turn it into a song that no one can forget. Roberto Bolaño, for reminders of how to be both playful & deadly serious. CAConrad for how to write poetry with my entire body. Tommy Pico for a reminder of how internet slang & unadorned, everyday vernacular, when wielded just-so, can be incredibly powerful. Jenny Zhang for messy & precise immigrant feelings. Larissa Pham for gorgeous lyricism that cuts. Mary Ruefle for quite literally anything else. Okay, also, I've given away & replaced my copy of Anne Carson's Short Talks so often, it's comical. That'll do it.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Sarah Nichols : part two

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

I tend to be almost secretive about what I’m currently working on, but I have moments where I tell writer friends ideas, or scraps of ideas, about things. I’ve noticed since I started writing more essays, I am more open about the subjects of those than I am about poems. How does my work first enter the world ? I frequently ask myself what’s the one thing that I feel that I must work out of my system, even if it’s a painful subject that I might find hard to reveal. I write a lot of found poetry, and so I am frequently looking at books not just as a reader, but as material for poems. I should also say that I am always looking at other art, as well. Movies, music, other forms of visual art. My second chapbook, Edie (Whispering): Poems from Grey Gardens, came directly from watching the documentary Grey Gardens, and turning the transcripts from that into poems. I was obsessed, and I wrote the book very fast.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that yes, I do have one friend, Cat Conway, who is a poet and a Plath scholar, that I regularly share my ideas and poems with. We read each other’s work; she’s designed two of my chapbook covers, we edited a journal together; we’ve written blurbs for each other’s books. I am so grateful to have her as a friend and colleague. Not everyone who works in this lonely business gets to have that one person (or several) to make it less lonely. While I write alone, it’s important to know that a community is there.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Courtney Bates-Hardy : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Amber Dawn, where the words end and my body begins (also her memoir, How Poetry Saved My Life)
Sina Queyras, My Ariel
Rachel Rose, Marry and Burn
Matthea Harvey, If the Tabloids are True What Are You?

Kara Goughnour : part two

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

Poet John P. Maurer once said to me that poetry is like staring at something, and I think that sums it up well. Poetry is an experience, both in its style and brevity. You’re right there in the middle of it, the poem all around you with its emotion and power, then all at once it’s over — you’ve blinked.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

John LaPine : 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?

I’m relatively new to poetry, so I’m working on building my first readers group. This summer, I met a group of fabulous poets at the Open Mouth Poetry Retreat workshop in the foothills of the Ozarks, and I would trust any of them with my work.

Monday 10 December 2018

Melissa Eleftherion : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry? 

Finding time to write. Having time to revisit half-finished poems that got interrupted by daily life & being able to get back in touch with their meanings and musics.

Sunday 9 December 2018

Stephen Cain : part four

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

Maximum density of signification. 

Saturday 8 December 2018

Erin Bedford : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

Very. I started paying close attention to phrasing and wordplay when I listened to music as a teenager and the singer-songwriters I usually listened to made me realize words didn’t have to be put together logically or rationally to make very real statements. Now, I almost always use music as assisted-entry into the particular emotions I need to write poetry.

Friday 7 December 2018

Andrea Blythe : part five

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I go through a few points of “completion” while composing a poem — when each stage of drafting is finished and when the poem itself is ready to share with others. I call drafting a completion, because as I’m loosing words onto a page I will inevitably reach a point of emptying. Everything I needed to say at that moment has been said and the poem in its rough, ungainly state is good enough for now.

Sometimes all a poem will need is a single draft along with some minor tinkering, sometimes this process of emptying myself is repeated multiple times as I figure out what the poem is meant to be (in some cases over a matter of years). Eventually, the poem will reach a stage at which I’m willing to send it out into the world, the point at which I suppose it could be called complete. This is governed in part by trust in my gut feeling cultivated through years of trying, failing, and trying again. Though, if I were to sum up what this feeling means, I would say that a “completed” poem has a kind of smooth roundness to it — the words, lines, imagery, beginning, and end all sitting comfortably within the curve of the whole.

Alina Pleskova : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry? 

Because my poems are entirely written w/ a first-person speaker, & very feelings-driven, it's difficult convincing myself that anyone else might care, or be interested. It's difficult to forget the word 'myopic'. Workshop experiences with [stodgy older white male] professors did a number on me, & the effects still linger.

When I see other poems that seem comfortable in/with their interiority, I relax, too. I think, "Hello, I'm waving to you from inside this poem."

Thursday 6 December 2018

Nancy Jo Cullen : part five

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t think there’s a specific answer to that. Sometimes I know a poem finished and I’m right. Sometimes I think a poem is finished and then I come back to it and it still wants some more work. Sometimes I stop even though the poem’s not finished because I don’t know where to go next. In that case it may be years before I come back to that poem.

Sarah Nichols : part one

Sarah Nichols lives and writes in Connecticut, and is the author of seven chapbooks, including This is Not a Redemption Story (Dancing Girl Press, 2018), Little Sister  (Grey Book Press, 2018), Dreamland for Keeps (Porkbelly Press, 2018), and How Darkness Enters a Body (Porkbelly Press, 2018.) Her poems and essays have also appeared in White Stag Journal, Dream Pop, Memoir Mixtapes, and the RS 500.

How Important is Music to Your Poetry?

Music plays an enormous role in my work, and I think that that influence has grown deeper within the past few years. I read song lyrics of my favorite artists, and I write about my connections (or obsessions) with the music that I’ve listened to for over thirty years. Since 2016, I have written, and published, an elegy for David Bowie, and my experience with the Post-punk band Joy Division. I have also had the opportunity to write micro-cnf essays on specific albums for the RS 500 project and the journal Memoir Mixtapes. I can’t play music, or read it, but I think that this is another way into it. Along with reading and writing, the music I love has been there, working as a balm or asking me to explore it on a deeper level.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Courtney Bates-Hardy : 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?

I just started another writer's group after a year or two without one. There was a while when I was being very protective of my new work, in an attempt to get it down on paper before I scared it off, but I'm at the point now in the manuscript where I feel confident sharing it with others.

Kara Goughnour : part one

Kara Goughnour is a queer writer and documentarian living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the 2018 winner of the Gerald Stern Poetry Award and has work published or forthcoming in Third Point Press, Riggwelter Journal, The Southampton Review, and others. Follow her on Twitter @kara_goughnour or read her collected and exclusive works at

How does a poem begin? 

A poem begins in the body. Sometimes I wake up with a whole poem in my mouth and immediately spit it out. Sometimes it’s a stuck thing, and I yank at it for hours before it finally loosens. Sometimes I have to coax it, give it time and edit after edit. Regardless of how it leaves me, it begins as a bodily urge. It’s a moment that I need to snowglobe on a page. 

Tuesday 4 December 2018

John LaPine : part one

John LaPine earned his MA in creative writing & pedagogy from Northern Michigan University (NMU), where he volunteered as an associate editor of creative nonfiction & poetry for the literary journal Passages North. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: The Rising Phoenix Review, Hot Metal Bridge, The /Temz/ Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Under the Gum Tree, Rhythm & Bones, Midwestern Gothic, & elsewhere. He teaches English at Butte College.

What are you working on?

I’m currently sending out my first poetry chapbook which is derived from pieces I composed while writing my thesis (a creative nonfiction/poetry hybrid genre work). Many of the poems have been published individually, but it’s time to see if they can work as a collection.

Connie Voisine : part five

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

I used to think I knew things that I should tell people about: where I came from, what my experiences in the world were, etc. Now I think it’s more about what I don’t know. Now I am moving towards something else. This from Layli Long Soldier: "And whereas one of my students asks a visiting poet about education vaguely getting at what is worth practicing? The poet suggests looking at whatever is/was missing in one's life and begin there."

Monday 3 December 2018

Catherine Graham : coda

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

What to leave in. No, what to take out. No, what to leave in … endless.

Melissa Eleftherion : 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? 

I often get my best ideas in the shower. When I was commuting an hour and a half to work everyday, I also got ideas while riding trains or buses. Perhaps its the combination of movement and stream-of-consciousness thinking that help me catalyze creative concepts. Sometimes it’s a line, sometimes just a word that leads somewhere, perhaps a poem. Sometimes it feels like words move through me, and if I’m lucky enough to stop and write them down, I might have something. 

Sunday 2 December 2018

Saturday 1 December 2018

Erin Bedford : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

The feelings that inspired it go slack. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it is publishable, or even complete. Which does mean some of my completed/published poems will probably never seem “finished” to me because I do feel like I could climb back into that exact emotional place and write differently or more.