Tuesday 30 April 2019

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García : 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 canot workshop. It does not work for me. I just send it out, post it, or read it. I do not even really discuss my ideas with other folks. Writing is a solitary act. I work alone and lonely. Plus, I hate to waste other folks' time by not taking their advice.

Travis Sharp : part one

Travis Sharp is the author of the chapbook Sinister Queer Agenda (above/ground press, 2018) and the artist’s book one plus one is two ones (Recreational Resources, 2018). He's an editor and designer at Essay Press, a teaching artist at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and a PhD student in the SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program.

Why is poetry important?

Poetry, which is not escapism, can distance and make strange the real so that you can actually for the first time see it. Not all poetry does this, but it can do this, and that is why it is important.

Monday 29 April 2019

G. E. Schwartz : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

At about age three into four when my mother, who took me to various evening novenas and weekly and sometimes daily mass would begin to show me how to follow along the prayers on the page which in the missal were shaped like poems--they had line breaks and scansion. It was also most certainly my first introduction to reading, so both were indelibly braided within me.

Alexandre Ferrere : part five

How does a poem begin?

I would be tempted to say that, in my practice, it begins by the end, as it is once a situation or an idea has ended that I try to recreate the invisible path towards a particular sensation. But it sometimes begins like a bull in a china shop—in a logic of chaos, not being able to grasp the idea. In that situation, I tend to focus on forms and colors so as to create a visual narrative, before reinforcing or destroying contents, aiming for an immediate effect on the reader.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Lucas Lejeune : part three

How does a poem begin?

As a post-conceptual writer, I almost never write from scratch. Most of my poems start from one or multiple source texts I find online. Usually neutral or collective content. Some poem however, begin with an idea. I will then look for the appropriate source text. I then edit the raw material using mathematical protocols and constraints, as well as basic operations such as permutation or juxtaposition. The degree of editing I put in the poem usually depends on my state of mind. Sometimes, I might just copy and paste, adding maybe a linebreak or two, letting the original text convey it's information and raw musicality. Some other times, I might turn a raw list of data into long and complex sentences having little resemblance to their original source.

Jennifer Kronovet : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

When I was a teenager, poetry, to me, meant Walt Whitman. There is a certain brain state when I read him—an opening into what the lyric can do—even though I don’t see him as my poetry grandpa.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Candice Wuehle : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Every poet I read changes the way I think about writing a little bit. But the most directly influential would be Lisa Robertson for her unapologetic intelligence, Hannah Weiner for her radical expansion of what a poem is, Carrie Lorig for her ability to create work so raw and sincere that it feels a little religious (in the best way) to read. And Johannes Göransson for completely disrupting the way I thought a poem should (or could) speak, for expanding my notion of voice into something beyond the lyric “I”—beyond human, really.

Friday 26 April 2019

Juliet Cook : part five

What are you working on?

I'm always working on a variety of different poetic projects, ranging from writing to revising to reading to submitting to publishing, but one ongoing project that I've been working on in fits and starts for over a year now that I think might be finally approaching fruition is a longish poem, with various sections, that I'm going to turn into a chapbook. It's tentative title is PURPLE SUBSECTIONS (or INTERSTICES or INTERVALS).  I'm also still submitting another poetry chapbook that has existed for several years now, entitled red circles into nothing. I'm also still promoting my most recently published poetry chapbook, From One Ruined Human to Another (published by Cringe-Worthy Poets Collective in the middle of 2018) and my second individual full-length poetry book, Malformed Confetti (published by Crisis Chronicles Press, near the end of 2018). In addition to my own individual poetry, I'm regularly working on collaborative poems with j/j hastain.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Fern G. Z. Carr : part four

How do you know when a poem is finished? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?

I don't believe that a poem is ever finished.  Instead, I would say that while a poem might appear to be complete at a certain point in time, given some distance, there is always room for change. 

On average, I typically do at least seven different "final" drafts of a poem before I'd even consider it done.  I sometimes will share it with friends and family because I enjoy hearing their interpretation.  Often, their take on what I've written isn't necessarily what I intended.  That subjectivity though is a fundamental part of the beauty and pleasure of poetry.

Colin Dardis : part five

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

Any good piece of writing can be the starting point for a poem; even an interesting word or phrase can give off sparks. If anything, it’s more a writer’s work ethic that I find inspiring. Complacency and procrastination can creep in easily for a writer, as it’s usually a solitary experience. You don’t have a boss to check your targets, or a team performance to satisfy. I’m a big fan of Samuel Beckett’s prose and stage writing (oddly enough, not so much his poetry). I just read two books about him, and as with his own writing, I came away replenished. There is still so much to say against the void, against the cruelty of life, and of finding one’s little joys within. Beckett is who I most seek to emulate – perhaps a cliché for an Irish writer, but I could have worse role models.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Kim Trainor : part five

How important is music to your poetry? 

"Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness..." It is central and technical. It is crucial.

Jules Arita Koostachin : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

• I started writing when I was a young child because I was facing many challenges at home and at school, and writing was a way for me to escape my world; I found refuge in my imagination. Also, writing is a type of meditation for me, I almost feel like it is a way for me to channel stories from another time and place. In school a classmate gifted me with an old book of poetry by William Wordsworth and I immediately fell in love with his words. I read it over and over again.... I could not only see his words in my minds eye, but I could also feel his love and pain. Then later, I was introduced to Chrystos, an Indigenous poet; her writing resonated with me immediately, and I was soon inspired to write from my own lived experience. More so, I really engage with poets who can paint landscapes with their words, and I believe this is because InNiNiMoWin (Swampy Cree language) is a very animated and descriptive language and a way of understanding the world we live with.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Certainly. I am not a poet anymore. I am an antipoet. I feel more akin to diarists than I do poets even if I still break my lines sometimes. I am erasing a sense of artistry and focusing more on thoughts and ideas. I am working out an approach to cognitive literature which attempts to convey thoughts more so than communicate.

Monday 22 April 2019

G. E. Schwartz : part one

G. E. Schwartz, born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, 1958, lives in Upstate New York. He is the author of Only Others Are, World, Odd Fish, Thinking In Tongues and the upcoming Murmurations.

Photo credit: Caylin Schwartz

What are you working on?

I most always have three or even four projects on three or four burners at once. Right now: a long poem about the first Dutch exploration from Albany, New York (then Fort Orange), west to about the Mohawk River, Little Faust Goes to Hell, a multimedia work, which is being written to be produced and performed at an upcoming fringe festival, a novella about a small western New York rust-belt town in Trump's America, and a cycle of poems written as a calendar and inspired by the seasonal paintings of the painter Charles Burchfield.

Alexandre Ferrere : part four

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

There is a poem, perhaps the one which haunts me the most, by Robert Creeley entitled “I Know a Man”. I often come back to this poem, and especially to his own rendition of it, recorded for the Library of Congress.  There is an aura of mystery as well as an urgency in this wonderful recording that always transports me to an unknown place, in which I am nothing but thoughts. I also have on my nightstand an incredible (and famous) book by Hugh Kenner, “The Pound Era” which I am often returning to, and it never fails to inspire me. I also like to dive into anthologies, like Alan Kaufman’s The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry in which I have discovered d.a. levy, or, into the well-known Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry 1945-1960. Among novelists and short-stories writers, I often reread books or passages by Jack Kerouac or John Fante.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Lucas Lejeune : part two

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Kenneth Goldsmith, and all the conceptual poets he represents, completely changed my view on writing in general. The way he formulates the ideas behind uncreative writing is very compelling to me. It seems perfectly relevant to this day and age. These ideas are pretty old and omnipresent nowadays, but he's first to articulate and illustrate them in such a radical way. To me, retyping every weather broadcast for a year or every word he said for a week are powerful poetic gestures. Many of my own are an extension of this peculiar, loving yet disrespectful attitude towards language itself. I, however, aspire to voluntarily add an element of lyricism in my work, which is why I would consider myself a post-conceptual writer. Goerges Perec and Oulipo in general are also great sources of inspiration for me.

Jennifer Kronovet : part one

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of two poetry collections, most recently The Wug Test (Ecco). She is the editor of Circumference Books, a press for poetry in translation. She co-translated two books of poetry, Empty Chairs by Chinese poet Liu Xia (with Ming Di) and The Acrobat by Yiddish writer Celia Dropkin (with Faith Jones and Samuel Solomon). She lives in Berlin, Germany.

What are you working on?

I’m writing a series of poems about an island here in Berlin called Peacock Island. I’m hoping that writing into this place can lead me deeper into a knot I’m stuck in—a knot of history. I’m also working on bringing a book I love into the world as the editor of Circumference Books, a new press for poetry in translation. This book is Camouflage, by Galician poet Lupe Gómez, translated by the amazing poet Erín Moure. Working with Érin, and with Dan Visel, the designer/programmer/developer with whom I run the press, has been a joy through and through. I’m so excited to hold this fantastic book in my hands. It’s at the printer now!

Saturday 20 April 2019

Candice Wuehle : part three

Why is poetry important?

It makes room for slowness. I think most of the forces we get exposed to on a minute-by-minute basis encourage (or insist) on completion and product. We’re encouraged by the structure (most of us) live in to produce something packable, comprehensible, digestible. We’re always working towards the “end,” but poetry refuses that. First, because a poem is always evolving in relationship to the reader and the reader is always evolving in relationship to…everything. Second, because to even move towards comprehensibility, it’s necessary to think very slowly. I think the reason people resist engaging with poetry is the same reason poetry is important: it's practice in resisting perfection.

Friday 19 April 2019

Juliet Cook : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Knowing when to end a poem.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Fern G. Z. Carr : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

Music is exceptionally important to me as a poet.  Writing and music are all parts of a whole.  Poetry is music and music is poetry – rhythm, tone, dynamics, etc. They are just different means of expression.

As a long-time pianist and chorister, some of my work definitely has been influenced by music.  I was very honoured to have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Worcester Review for my poem, "Cool Jazz".  I wrote that poem on a music staff so as to mimic a page of sheet music. 

Colin Dardis : part four

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

I play guitar and drums as well as write, and I’ve dabbled in pencil sketches and other visual arts. But I can’t really convey a viewpoint or experience with these. I might be able to suggest a general mood or emotion, put poetry allows precision. The poet’s continual struggle is to precisely relay how they feel. The more you know of language and craft, the better you get. I can’t see myself truly developing that through any other medium.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Kim Trainor : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

Jennifer Zilm, The Missing Field; Catherine Owen, Designated Mourner; Jorie Graham, The Dream of the Unified Field; Phil Hall, Killdeer; Dionne Brand, The Blue Clerk; and some poetics: Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry? (I want to write a book called Why Not Poetry?) and Ben Lerner's The Hatred of Poetry (or maybe I'll call it Lyric Poetry as Whipping Girl).

Nicky Beer : part five

How does a poem begin?

As a tumbleweed stuck between gravestones. As a confession written in the margin of a library book. As the stifled belch of a polite ghost. As a duck-shaped rock in the middle of a pond. As a serendipitous typo. As the faint smell of jasmine inside an old boot. As a beer can flattered to the shape of a heart.

Jules Arita Koostachin : part one

Born in Moose Factory Ontario, Jules Arita Koostachin was raised by her Cree speaking grandparents in Moosonee, and also with her mother in Ottawa, a survivor of the Canadian Residential school system.  Jules is a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation, Moshkekowok territory, and she currently resides in Vancouver where she is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at UBC – her research focus is Indigenous documentary. In 2010, she completed graduate school at Ryerson University in Documentary Media where she was awarded the Award of Distinction for her thesis work, as well as the Graduate Ryerson Gold Medal for highest academic achievement.  While pursuing her Masters, Jules finished her first feature length documentary film, Remembering Inninimowin about her journey of remembering Cree.  After graduation, Jules was one of six women selected for the Women in the Directors Chair program at the Banff Center in Alberta, where she directed a scene from her feature script Broken Angel, currently in development. Jules’ television series AskiBOYZ (2016) co-produced with Big Soul Production about two urban Cree youth reconnecting with the land is currently being aired on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

Over the years, Jules has established herself within the film and television community, her company VisJuelles Productions Inc. has a number of films and other media works in development. In 2017, she released her short documentary NiiSoTeWak with CBC Short Docs and also Butterfly Monument with her co-director/producer Rick Miller.  Jules was also the 2017 Aboriginal Storyteller in Residence with the Vancouver Public Library.  Planet In Focus invited Jules as the lead filmmaker to work with Cree youth in Attawapiskat First Nation where they made over twenty films. In the fall of 2018, Jules’ latest short film OChiSkwaCho premiered at ImagineNative, and she is also in development with two (2) television series Threshold with Jules Koostachin and SACRED.  Her first book of poetry Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths was also recently released. She will be writing her first manuscript Moccasin Souls in 2019, regarding intergenerational resilience.  Jules is lead editor and contributor of her upcoming collection Children of Survivors with the University of Regina Press.  Jules was a selected filmmaker for the TIFF Filmmakers Lab 2018, and releasing her second CBC short documentary OshKiKiShiKaw: A New Day in 2019.

Jules carries extensive knowledge working in Indigenous community in several different capacities providing support to Indigenous women and children who face barriers; these community experiences continue to feed her advocacy and her arts practice.

Photo Credit: Karolina Turek

What are you working on?

• I am a writer, a PhD candidate at UBC, as well as a filmmaker.  I have a few projects on the go right now, but in terms of writing, I will be working towards writing my first novel memoir entitled Moccasin Souls with Kegedonce Press this spring.  I am also releasing my second CBC short documentary OshKiKiShiKaw: A New Day in February 2019.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Sometimes I wonder if I ever did engage with poetry. I feel as if there has always been a disconnect between myself and poetry. I have always felt a bit at odds with what I am reading. I guess we could say perhaps my first engagement was with Cullen and Hughes back in high school. I have always been more of a Cullen fan even though he was much more traditional. But, that inspired me to understand what I did not want to do. I am not trying to do what other folks have done much better before and alongside myself.

Monday 15 April 2019

Samuel Guest : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Rumi was the first poet that I fell in love with.  I thought that poetry was a waste of time until his words moved me.  From there, I wen ton to read Mary Oliver, Ono No Komachi, and Pablo Neruda who taught me a lot about love, and loving life.  There are also a slew of modern poets like Rebecca Salazar and R.R. Noall who astound me.

Alexandre Ferrere : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I have recently read a lot of poetry books by Ed Dorn, Ted Berrigan, Gilbert Sorrentino and others as part of my thesis, which overlaps my own pleasure. But I have also been reading and listening Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters again, which always sounds as fresh as dew, and as affecting as a punch in the face. I have also been reading poetry books by Michel Houellebecq (who is a great poet before being a novelist) and by Alphonse de Lamartine.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Lucas Lejeune : part one

Lucas Lejeune: I am a French male artist. Born in 1991, I got an art degree in Strasbourg and a master in digital arts in Brussels. My main focus is video art, as I'm also a motion-designer and VJ. Most of my personal and experimental works are visual installations and performance, but I have been ever more engaged in writing for a handful of years. In this regard, I  might describe myself as a post-conceptual and digital poet. My work speaks of technology, individuality, freedom, addiction and belief systems.

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is not important. Are dreams that important ? Like dreams, poetry is not essential to our survival. But like dreams, poetry is a mysterious, living algorithm through which a sufficiently sensitive mind can slowly reprogram itself. It can help one build its own individuality, thus avoiding the trap of collective uniformity. Dreams are the inward, subconscious part of this process and poetry its outward, conscious counterpart. Both of these algorithms are, of course, deeply interlaced into one another.

Amanda Stovicek : part five

What are you working on?

Right now I am submitting my manuscript, titled STAR FACTORY, to various prizes. I am also working on a microchapbook that concerns fairytales, taking inspiration from many of the Grimms’ stories (The Juniper Tree, Ascheputtel, etc.) and from the structure of etiquette primers. Other poems ebb and flow into existence, and hopefully I will be submitting a few of those this spring. I have a collaborative project in the works with two lovely poets who are my inspiration. I cannot say very much about it now, except that you should all stay tuned for a poetic, visual, collective emergency.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Mark Antony Owen : coda

I’ll pose then answer two questions by way of a coda to this interview: ‘How did you develop your poetic forms?’ and ‘Why don’t you submit to journals/publishers or enter competitions?’

The answer to the first question is rather unimpressive – it was entirely arbitrary! I imposed some syllabic patterning on the first nine poems I plucked from a pile (all of which had been free from form previously), and nine forms duly emerged. I’ve been wedded to these, with a little variation, throughout all of my work ever since.

As to why I don’t submit my poems or go in for gongs, the answer’s two-fold. While I write poems that can, of course, be read in isolation from one another, I prefer to think of these as individual details on a large canvas; one that can only be properly apprehended once you step back. That stepping back reveals the construct behind Subruria. To submit single poems to journals or group various poems into traditional collections seems to me to dilute the concept lying back of my writing. When it comes to art competitions, I dislike the fact that these produce clear winners and losers – as though it’s simply a question of crossing some finish line ahead of others in your field. It’s meaningless to argue, beyond a certain quality threshold, as to whether or not one work of art is objectively ‘better’ than another of equal standing. If it were up to me, I’d recognise or commend all those on an award’s shortlist, but never declare an overall winner.

Candice Wuehle : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I think I first began writing poetry in part because it doesn’t ever have to be finished. (I wanted to be a poet as a teenager, quit and studied literature, and then came back to it after a neurosurgery that made it hard for me to sustain concentration during the months I was recovering. That was 10 years ago, but the sense that the most difficult expression is not sustainable in any linear manner has not left me.) Since poems don’t have the burden of narrative/exact meaning/sense-making, they can expand into indeterminate, unqualified, unclassified areas in order to deal/cope/consider the spaces where narrative/exact meaning/sense-making fail. For me, the supernatural thing about poetry is its ability to address fissure, breakage, excess, lack, interstitial space. That said, I don’t ever wonder if a poem is finished; it isn’t. It shouldn’t and can’t be. 

Friday 12 April 2019

gc cohen : part five

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

Poetry always feels so raw and emotional to me – in a way that no other form of writing does. It allows me to contemplate tough subjects or emotions in a succinct, short manner. I appreciate that with poetry, I can say so much with so little. That’s just something I’ve never been able to successfully pull off with other forms.

Poetry also continues to teach me vulnerability in the absolute best way. There’s this quote by David Mitchell that goes, “If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready.’” That’s what writing poetry accomplishes (for me) that I don’t experience with any other genre of writing. It keeps me vulnerable. It forces me to keep putting myself out there. It keeps me on my toes.

Juliet Cook : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

Sometimes it's hard to know and even when I know, it's hard to describe how I know. I suppose this knowing tends to be intuitive, subjective, and feeling based.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Siân Griffiths : coda

Coda: At a reading once, a reader asked me the following question: “We’re always told how poetry will help our fiction writing, but how do you think fiction writing improves your poetry?” I’ve thought about this question a lot in the years since. Honestly, I think it helps in so many ways, but perhaps the top three are these: 1) fiction reminds me that I get to make up things and that my allegiance is not to facts but to larger truths, 2) writing character reminds me that voice and personality come from language and cadence and that these things are infinitely malleable, and 3) working with plot and tension asks me to remember the reader, reminding me that the work isn’t about me but rather is about their reading experience. That is, if I expect anyone to be interested, then I had better make things interesting and make interesting things.

Fern G. Z. Carr : part two

How does your work first enter the world? 

An idea will pop into my mind at any time of day or night and demand to be transformed into a poem.  Some poems are more tenacious than others and will keep nagging me until I write them.  Others are content to reside in my notebook of ideas until the mood is right and I'm able to do them justice. 

Colin Dardis : 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?

My wife, Geraldine O’Kane, and I run a monthly open mic night in Belfast, Purely Poetry. A lot of our new work might receive its first airing there. I feel your mood can change from reading it on the page to expressing it on a stage. Sometimes the audience reaction might impact on the poem, but ultimately it depends on yourself. It is wasn’t a good reading, if you felt you could have done better, usually, it’s down to weak writing rather than how you read. Otherwise, I’m a bit of a loner with my writing. My wife is a poet too, so I’m getting better with sharing new pieces with her, but she only hears the semi-decent stuff, not the tripe!

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Kim Trainor : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

When I first began to write poetry (an overnight conversion) it was like falling in love. Now I despair and give it up every month or so. I text my poetry wife, and say, "Lucie, I'm giving up poetry." And she texts back, "No you're not."

Nicky Beer : part four

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

I never plan on this, but I seem to pick up Charles Simic’s Dismantling the Silence every few years, and I always feel like I’m reading it for the first time. I think it’s a quintessential representation of the tension in his work: the push and pull between the beautiful and the grotesque, idealism and cynicism. It always does an excellent job of clearing the bullshit from my brain.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García : part one

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García is the author of So This Is Story (Shirt Pocket Press), Slow Living (West Vine Press), and ROBOT the Waste Land Reimaged. Kenning is an editor, humorist, diarist and antipoet living in Albany, NY. JP has degrees in English and linguistics from SUNY Albany and has studied several living and dead languages.

What are you working on?

I am working on several things but what is most important to me right now are my centos. I am creating sonnets or sonnetesque centos sorted by zodiac signs. Then they are posted on Instagram and Facebook. They are meant to be both public but also in a certain sense, kind of temporary. Of the moment.

Chuqiao Yang : part five

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

I always go back and read The City in Which I Loved You by Li-Young Lee, Meditation at Lagunitas by Robert Hass, “Poem Read at Joan Mitchell’s” by Frank O’Hara, Natalie Diaz’s collection When My Brother Was an Aztec, and anything I can get my hands on by Ocean Vuong.

Monday 8 April 2019

Samuel Guest : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

One book that is worth mentioning is Tim Bowling’s The Witness Ghost which talks a lot about family and grief.  It makes me scared to think about how much strength Mr. Bowling had to muster to write everything that he wrote in that book.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to lose a parent.   

Alexandre Ferrere : part two

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

There are so many! But other than Robert Creeley, to whom I will be returning to in another question, Allen Ginsberg is definitely a major influence in my attitude towards poetry. He taught me about poetic energy, offered me the opportunity to study poets as different as Blake, Whitman, Williams, Mayakosky and so on. In his poems, every subject and every person are likely to be poetry and I sincerely think that this is the heart of poetry. He also developed a very interesting personal conception of poetic lineage: only time and space could work as dividing walls—but poetry acts on another level, which is transcendence and which units de facto.

I have also been interested a lot by Jacques Prévert’s poetry, and not only because he is taught early in schools, here in France. I had the chance to work in his last home near where I live (now a museum) and was engulfed with emotions in that place. I have always been drawn to his poetry, which is thoughtful and popular at the same time, but it has now a personal and singular echo in my life.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Amanda Stovicek : 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?

Most of my poetry is frantic when I first write. Anything I write in a notebook, a line or a word, usually is translated into something else when I go to type it up. I find that writing out my words doesn’t feel as complete or productive other than for first drafts. I know this is probably a unique outlook in terms of poetry, as a notebook is a writer’s best friend. But when I start to type my work and I see the words in black and white, in the right font (Garamond!), and the lines and breaks are crisp, the poem really begins.

I have a small writer’s group and we exchange prompts every month or so. Right now they consist of five randomly generated words that we must incorporate into a poem and title. We don’t really critique each other's work, but the act of sharing and the deadline we give ourselves helps the creative process tremendously.

Saturday 6 April 2019

Mark Antony Owen : part five

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

I’m going to cheat a little in answering this. Technically, Jeanette Winterson is a poet. But it’s for her novels that she’s better known. And it was her Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit that hit me like a truck when I first came to writing. More – it made me a writer. In her debut, Winterson fed autobiographical detail through fable and flights of imagination. She could easily have told her story straight. She didn’t. This blew my fucking mind. In fact, it was because of this novel that I came to understand (after several failed attempts at a novel of my own) that even though my poetry is always rooted in truth, it’s okay to incorporate some fiction.

Candice Wuehle : part one

Candice Wuehle is the author of BOUND (Inside the Castle Press, 2018) and the chapbooks VIBE CHECK (Garden-door Press, 2017), EARTH*AIR*FIRE*WATER*ÆTHER (Grey Books Press, 2015) and curse words: a guide in 19 steps for aspiring transmographs, (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, Black Warrior Review, Berkeley Review, The Bennington Review, The New Delta Review, and Fugue. She is originally from Iowa City, Iowa and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Candice currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where she is a Chancellor’s Fellow at The University of Kansas.

What are you working on?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my first novel, The Creature’s Creature, so I’m in the revision process. When I first began the novel, I thought it was going to be very hybrid—a mix of poetry, flash fiction, dreams, transcripts from the episodes of Unsolved Mysteries that terrified me when I was a child. But I only got about a 1000 words in before I realized that what the novel really wanted to do was hybridize genre (as opposed to form) and so I’ve ended up with a manuscript that's equal parts Stieg Larsson, Clueless, and The Hour of the Star. The impulse to write the novel was prompted by a conspiracy theory I heard and couldn’t get out of my head. In short, the theory is that the CIA recruits assets for behaviour modification programs (like MK Ultra) from beauty pageants because pageant contestants display personality traits that lend themselves to programming (they’re good at memorization, dealing with authority, conforming to their environment, are physically fit, have a capacity for rapport building, and are overall intelligent). My research for the novel was a disturbing mixture of Toddlers in Tiaras, YouTube testimonies from women who believed they were CIA sleeper cells, the Errol Morris documentary Wormwood, spy movies, and just a lot of podcasts interviewing conspiracy theorists. The main idea that I kept coming back to in response to all these sources was the sense that trauma is the estrangement of the body from identity. Also, that there is a huge profit for any force that can successfully separate the two. Of course, this is a subject that poetry is well-suited to address but it felt really satisfying to me to subvert the genres themselves that had originally delivered messages about the body (everything from teen movies to YM magazine to Calvin Klein ads, etc.). So, ultimately, it’s a novel that asks questions about how we learn to construct identity; how does our sense of “beauty,” sexuality, gender, etc. become a sort of possession; how do we learn to see ourselves without a frame?

Friday 5 April 2019

gc cohen : 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?

My work usually enters the world at the most inopportune moment – I’m driving, I’m in the shower, I’m in the middle of a work-related phone call, whilst on a hike. Usually when I’m a bazillion miles away from a pen and consumed with something else. My poems usually end up scribbled on a scrap piece of paper, or in my journal. I then type the poems, just because my handwriting is atrocious. My wife is kind and patient enough to read my work and offer her input, although I usually don’t reveal anything to a beta reader until I feel confident about the work.

Juliet Cook : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Yes, because my tastes have changed over time and with experience and my personal poetic style has changed over time and with experience. In my teenage years and early twenties, I tended towards writing over the top story poems based on characters who weren't really me (and who seemed more interesting than me) and fairy tale like horror poems and melodrama that wasn't based on my own real life experience, so much as me wanting to express my strong dramatic feelings in a strong dramatic way. As I became a more experienced writer, with more of my own life experience in addition to developing my own genuine feeling artistic style, I became increasingly able to express myself on a more uniquely personal poetic level. Also, my poetry reading style and tastes have changed over time, although I've always liked a variety of different styles.

Thursday 4 April 2019

Siân Griffiths : 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?

When I first began writing poetry, I write for my university workshops, but as time went on, many of my workshop friends stopped writing or moved cities. It felt really isolating at first, but I realized that I needed to be more reliant on myself, which ended up being a good thing. I remember workshopping poems that my friends weren’t really into, and it made me doubt the work unfairly—but some of those poems found really great homes. I’m a multi-genre writer, and oddly, I will always try to find a fellow novelist to trade manuscripts when I’m ready for feedback on one of those, but with poetry, it’s usually just me and the poem. For instance, I have a poem coming out in Epoch and the only people who have read it are the journal editors who accepted it for publication. I’m really excited for it to get out into the world. I have no idea what anyone will think, which is wild.

Fern G. Z. Carr : part one

Fern G. Z. Carr is a former lawyer, teacher and past President of both the local branch of the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Project Literacy Kelowna Society.  She is a Full Member of the League of Canadian Poets and has served as the League's Poet-in-Residence mentoring young writers.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Carr composes and translates poetry in six languages including Mandarin.  She has been published extensively worldwide from Finland to Mauritius.

Honours include: being cited as a contributor to India's Prakalpana Literary Movement; having had her work taught at West Virginia University; having a Juno-nominated musician set her poetry to music and perform it; and an online feature in The Globe and Mail.  Her poem, “I Am”, was chosen by the former Parliamentary Poet Laureate as Poem of the Month for Canada. 

Carr's debut poetry collection, Shards of Crystal (Silver Bow Publishing, 2018) is available on Amazon. 

Carr is thrilled to have one of her poems currently orbiting the planet Mars aboard NASA’S MAVEN spacecraft. www.ferngzcarr.com

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Keith Levit Photography

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is an intrinsic part of our culture. That said, its definition is somewhat elusive.  What strikes one person as "poetry" or "poetic" can mean something entirely different to someone else.  Yet, despite the form or interpretation, I have always maintained that poetry is compact story-telling.  As such, it is an integral part of who we are as a people. 

Colin Dardis : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t think a poem is ever really finished. I’ve revisited poems from ten or twelve years ago and amended them or rewritten them completely. Even poems that have been previously, published, I changed when putting together my last book, the x of y (Eyewear Publishing, 2018). You’re always growing and changing as a person, learning new things, gaining perspectives, fighting with new regrets. So your relationship with a poem is constantly evolving too. Any poem could feasibly change or continue from where they stand now. A poem only becomes definite by default once the poet dies.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Kim Trainor : part two

How did you first engage with poetry? 

"Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead." In the nave of an Anglican church every Sunday morning: the language of the King James Version of the bible; Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. But my conversion came much later.

Nicky Beer : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Right now, I’m making my leisurely way through Gerald Stern’s This Time: New and Selected Poems—it’s very bolstering stuff to read first thing in the morning. And I taught a queer lit class last semester, which gave me the opportunity to read and reread books by some wonderful contemporary poets: Donika Kelly’s Bestiary, Alicia Mountain’s High Ground Coward, Stephanie Burt’s Advice from the Lights, Stacey Waite’s Butch Geography, Aaron Smith’s Primer, Sam Sax’s Madness, Hieu Minh Nguyen’s Not Here, and Cameron Awkward-Rich’s Sympathetic Little Monster.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Chuqiao Yang : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I think it is so hard to pare down an image, an experience, a thought, or anything, down to its most simple form. Sculpting away the excess. To write about things everyone has at one point written about and to do it in a way that honours and challenges your own unique voice.

Monday 1 April 2019

Samuel Guest : part two

What are you working on?

I finished writing my second poetry book about a month ago.  My poems “Wing Envy” and “Easy to Tell” were published in Half a Grapefruit Magazine back in December of 2018.  My poem “No Promises Required” was also published in December of 2018 by Montreal Writes.  Three more of my poems will become available to the public by the middle of next month.  Stay tuned.

Alexandre Ferrere : part one

Alexandre Ferrere is 28 and lives in France. After a Master's degree in Library Sciences and a Master's degree in English Literature, he is now working on a PhD. on American poetry.

His essays and poems appeared or are forthcoming in Beatdom, Empty Mirror, Rust+Moth, 8poems Journal, Riggwelter Press, Barren Magazine, armarolla, Lucent Dreaming and more.

What are you working on?

I am working on poems focusing on the interactions between forms and contents, like in what could be called simultaneous poems or like in poems with challenging physical structures. In my writing, this has to do with the notion of time and the confusion it often induces—to uncoil meaning through the form/content interaction is one of my aims. In other words, I am trying to zoom on and to extend intersections so that it is easier to approach them, under different but complementary lightings. The visual work in my poems is equally based on the sensation I want to convey as on the indetermination of language we all depend on. As a consequence, the poems I am working on tend towards building up a potential of different and subjective evocations, yet anchored in a language that is naturally objective—poetry therefore deconstructs an organic system in order to reach specificity. I often find myself thinking about what Robert Creeley wrote: “content is never more than an extension of form and form is never more than an extension of content”.  I am just experimenting around this idea, and hope that I will be able to gather my poems into a book in the future.