Sunday, 31 July 2022

Vasiliki Katsarou : part five

Why is poetry important?

Language and communication is a precious gift. The more language is used and trashed by those who seek to manipulate, the more poets need to be attentive to their words, which give voice to that irreducible part of us that eludes rational explanation. Poetry is not a display of eloquence. It serves another, more sacred purpose.

Jennifer Bartlett : part eight

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

In order: Allen Ginsberg, Jorie Graham, Mei Mei Berssenbrugge, Nathaniel Tarn, Mary Oliver, Lee Bartlett, Charles Bernstein, Charles Olson, Larry Eigner, Lisa Jarnot, Robert Duncan, Kevin Killian, Maryrose Larkin and James Yeary. 

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Lauren Tess : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I suppose it’s finished when nothing or almost nothing about it irks me anymore, or when too much about it irks me to try to revise it. I’m not great at revision; I’m still trying to find a way to make significant changes to poems that I revisit after abandonment and find I like but aren’t quite working. Usually these are left to languish, and I just consider them drafts of the other, working poems. 

Friday, 29 July 2022

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad : part four

How does a poem begin?

With a word, a phrase or a line, a photo, a memory, a conversation with a friend or a stranger, something I saw on my walk that caught my attention. Anything can spark an idea for a poem. I usually sit down to write with a rough idea of what I want, but I don’t fret too much about how it is going to turn out when I am in front of the screen (I save all the fretting for when I am editing!) I just jump in - with a word or a phrase. I then build on it and go from there. 

Carla Sarett : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?  

All great poets in their way change us in some way, but I can name a few who stick out.  Change takes a long time, so these aren’t “new” writers (of whom several might change my thoughts.)  

As a young person, Emily Dickinson changed all my ideas about what writing does and is;  I return to her often, she still feels radical.  I recited one of her poems (Much Madness is Divinest Sense) at my mother’s funeral (from memory.)

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with Wallace Stevens who writes about philosophy with great nuance.  I was so infatuated with “Sunday Morning” that I wrote it out by hand, in a letter to a good friend before emails were de rigeur— it’s such a deep dive into thorny issues, and yet still lyrical (and in blank verse!)

Frank O’Hara’s sophisticated  informal voice, and his ability to write about the visual arts and classical music, wow— Lunch Poems was one of the first books I bought for myself.  He’s a city poet, and I am a city person— nature poetry, while beautiful, rarely moves me. He’s also one of the writers whose “happy love” poems never feel corny. 

Philip Larkin’s acerbic mix of high and low, vulgar and lyrical, gave me a window into how writing can be alienated, and yet moving. His “Whitsun Weddings” remains one of my favorite poems, that ending gets me every time:  “A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower/Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.”     

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Elizabeth Hazen : part two

How did you first engage with poetry? 

During middle school, I was very emotional and felt alienated from my parents and peers. I was spending a lot of time in the library when I should have been in class, and the kind-hearted librarian gave me a copy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. I started to draft my own poems, finding it both therapeutic and deeply engaging in a way nothing else really was for me, and I haven’t stopped since. 

Nolcha Fox : 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?

When I first started writing poetry, I sent drafts to a few close family and friends for approval (they’re all still talking to me, which is quite amazing). 

As I gained confidence and publication credentials, I joined Open Arts Forum, a forum of artists and writers, to get feedback from a more experienced community. I often run poems by them (especially the ones that I think I should bury six feet under), to determine if they’re publication-worthy.

When I’m happy with a poem after I write it, I’ll often submit without running it by anybody.

I also belong to two international group of writers through Twitter:

One group is composed of people who write all sorts of stuff (short stories, poetry, romance, etc.) Every other week, we have an open-mic session, where we each read three works.

The other group is composed of poets only. It’s a casual open-mic setup where we read 3-6 poems each.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Tuur Verheyde : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Yes, hugely. At first I was mainly interested in the expressive side. Sure, I paid attention to sound and imagery, but getting the emotions on the page was really my priority. As my depression waned, the way I read and wrote poetry shifted. I began to pay more and more attention to euphony, effective imagery, thematic coherence etc. In my first couple of years at university, I started to formulate an informal poetics about what attracted me to poetry, why I wanted to write it, and why in English and not my mother tongue. From that point onwards, my poetics shifted from mainly confessional to more diverse and ambiguous literary aims. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Evan Williams : part one


Evan Williams
is a Chicago-based writer thinking about surrealism, masculinity, and the anthropocene. His work has been published in DIAGRAM, Pleiades, Joyland, X-R-A-Y Lit, and The Cleveland Review of Books, among others. He wrote the chapbook Claustrophobia, Surprise! (HAD Chaps, 2022). Along with Ben Nespodziany and Evan Nicholls, he is one-third of the temporary prose poetry braintrust known as Obliterat. He can be found on Twitter.

What are you working on?

I wrote a novella in 49 days loosely about the idea of motion as a form of love, and love as a kind of motion. It has a rattlesnake that opens itself up into a river of blood, a narrator in conversation with his maximally sad sadness (which takes physical form), and a baby made by two people the narrator once loved. I’m turning it into verse right now, just in case it’s better that way. It’s my favorite project right now.

I’m also drafting another long fiction project tentatively called Nuns Out, Guns Out about a band of bodybuilding nuns who want to stage a coup at the Vatican. I was Catholic growing up, then left the Church and did bodybuilding for a bit (the two aren’t correlated, though wouldn’t it be fun if they were?), so this is an act of superimposing one thing that caused me a lot of pain over another thing that caused me a lot of pain in an effort to create something heartwarmingly absurd that upends the negativity in both.

I often find myself writing what are basically cento poems, but using my own body of work as a source text. I want to publish a book of them one day—I think that as a concept it would be really fun to read, just an author riffing on and reinventing their own work. The poems all have, by nature, a similar tone and rhythm to their original versions, but offer a never ending series of small (and large) surprises. It’s like seeing my body of work in an alternate universe that’s marginally distinct from my own. 

In my spare time I write book reviews. I’m increasingly interested in what I think of as processual reviews, and have written one about Nicholson Baker’s book U and I (coming soon in Hobart). The idea is to read a book in a given number of days, and to each day write something brief about the experience of the particular chunk of reading. It’s been a way for me to legitimize expectations, misinterpretations, and the personal context(s) of reading as forms of criticism. The best part of it is that it often lets me (and leads me to) be wrong, which undercuts in a satisfying way the pretense of the book reviewer’s position of authority.

Joanna Fuhrman : part one

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of six books of poetry, including To a New Era (Hanging Loose Press, 2021), The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press, 2015) and Pageant (Alice James Books, 2009). Her poetry videos have appeared in Triquarterly, Moving Poems Journal, Fence Digital, Posit and other online journals, as well as on her own Vimeo page. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches poetry and multimedia writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. For more see: Joannafuhrman.com

What are you working on?

I’m finishing a book of prose poetry called Data Mind about how it feels to live life online as a non-digital native. My generation entered the internet era with a lot of optimism about what online life might offer us, so it’s been painful to watch how social media has exacerbated the problems in our quasi-democracy/necrocapitalist economy. As someone who loves social media, I am trying to capture my own ambivalence. Some of the poems use the tropes of digital life to look back at pop culture from the past.  

I’m also working on a different book of poetry, mainly about my mom’s death, called The Last Phone Booth in the World. The prose poem manuscript is dense and surreal, while the newer manuscript feels more magical realist and dreamlike. I’m also hoping to get back into making poetry videos. 

Monday, 25 July 2022

Bianca V. Gonzalez : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

Extremely important. I need to listen to music at all times. I’m not much of a podcast person because I know my soul needs lyricism. I love singer/songwriters such as Lorde and Lana Del Rey because they identify themselves as writers first, and it shows through their music. I enjoy hearing singers who are well-read and are not afraid to add references to Edna Millay and Ginsberg in their music!

Grace Evans : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

When, after being typed up and formatted correctly, I feel a sort of click in my mind – as if a heavy iron gate has been gently shut.

Katherine Lawrence : coda

Why is poetry important? 

I chuckle when I hear someone say that they don’t read poetry. Poetry is everywhere! It shows up at the wedding, crosses the street to attend a funeral, dashes downtown to baptize a baby, races across town to plaster itself across a billboard, then slips inside a greeting card on the way home. In the kitchen, it roasts a chicken from a recipe full of savoury, buttery language. It’s the da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, of first language. Is poetry important? Poetry sustains us like daily bread.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Vasiliki Katsarou : part four

How does a poem begin?

A poem begins in earnest ignorance. Or in beauty that overwhelms. Or often in a sense of the texture of time altering, and requiring some elaboration of consciousness. 

Jennifer Bartlett : part seven

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

The fact that no one in the USA will read it or cares if you write it. The rest of the world is different. 

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Fizza Abbas : 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 babies (If I may so) enter into the world spontaneously, without any planning, whatsoever! (I've not heard of birth control pills). At first, their possessive mama holds them close to herself, without letting anybody look at them. But eventually, their mama realises, she can't control their life so she introduces them to new people so they too can feel their presence. Their dad is a big support system. He is a good father and helps their mama to nurture them. 

Lauren Tess : part one

Lauren Tess’s poetry has appeared in a number of journals including Meridian, Salamander, Cimarron Review, Saranac Review, Tar River Poetry, and Atlanta Review. Lauren is the recipient of a 2021 Open Mouth Poetry Residency in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s excited to begin pursuing her MFA at the University of Montana this fall.

How does a poem begin?

For me, it begins with following my mind to a moment or an observation that is lingering with me. Usually this moment has occurred within the past couple of weeks, often the past couple of days. Hopefully in my back pocket I have some deeper questions that will arise and enter the poem as I’m writing it. But I almost always begin with something fairly small and concrete and quotidian.

Kelly Krumrie : part five

What are you working on?

I’m working on trying to say the same thing in as many ways as I can, using a certain set of parameters, themes and locations, ideas and words and sounds, a kind of recursion that generates a moving out, a moving away that’s inherently back, because that’s how recursion works, what repetition can be, a refusal to leave, a folding back, a stuckness driven forward by sentences.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad : part three

What are you working on?

I have several different projects going on at any given point in time. At the moment I have deadlines looming for some open calls that I would love to write for - my poems are all half done and are awaiting the editing process. I just submitted a manuscript for a mini-chapbook of poems dedicated to my mum. I am in the process of editing another mini-chap dedicated to my dad (I know. It’s been all about celebrating family this year). I am also working on my debut collection and am collating and culling poems. (I published three books of poetry as a teenager. Then I went on a long hiatus from poetry and started publishing again only three years ago. Since I don't have a book of poems out as an adult, this will be my “debut” I guess). If all goes well, I hope to have my manuscript ready for submission early next year.

Carla Sarett : part three

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

I think poetry (as opposed to short fiction or essays) brings the reader into the moment — whether it’s a walk down city streets or a recollection of childhood.  The thing about moments in life is they don’t have a point, they don’t need an arc, they’re simply experienced. So I think poetry offers us this immediacy, and is more akin, in certain ways, to music than to prose.  There’s a freedom in getting rid of false endings, whether happy or sad— we do need to end poems, but we don’t end their “story.”  (Many of the novelists I most enjoy don’t really have conventional plots, either— I think of Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House in particular.) 

Also, the compression of language delivers us lines to savor, they become part of us.  My head’s filled with many lines, from Horace to Frost’s “The Master Speed”, they’re just in there, floating around— and if you want to know about me, those lines aren’t a bad place to start.  In fact, I’d say they’re one of the best.  

I’d add that as a compulsive “word cutter”, poetry’s just fun to write— and far more elastic than other forms.  

Jessica Purdy : part five

How does a poem begin?

Images are the source of most poems for me. A heron catching a fish, a kettle of turkey vultures circling, a snapping turtle’s snout emerging from the river. Sometimes phrases or scraps of thoughts occur to me while walking through my town, driving, or taking a shower. Night-long ideas occur too while trying to fall asleep/while sleeping/waking with insomnia. In the morning I have to let those spill. 

With a background as an artist–I majored in both Studio Art and English–I have a combination of interests. Often I write ekphrastic poems, which is poetry in conversation with artwork. I also consider dreams a source of imagery and frequently incorporate them into poems. Nature photography is another hobby of mine and I find those images to be an inspiration. It is easy for me to connect emotions and my family relationships with imagery. Exploration of why the image stands out makes the process of poem-making such a joy.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Elizabeth Hazen : part one

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, and other journals. She has published two collections of poetry with Alan Squire Publishing, Chaos Theories (2016) and Girls Like Us (2020). She lives in Baltimore with her family.

What are you working on? 

A few years ago, I began working on a collection of poems that examine stepmothers. I wrote poems in the voices of the stepmothers from fairy tales and movies, as well as poems exploring my own experiences. That project has evolved into a broader examination of parenting and family life with a focus on the challenges of a second marriage and the “blended” family that comes with it. The poems also address issues of addiction and recovery in the context of complicated family dynamics. 

Nolcha Fox : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I typically finish a poem within 5-10 minutes. If it makes me laugh when I’m done, it’s finished. 

I post it to Open Arts Forum If I read it and think, “what have I done?” The forum community isn’t as hard on me as I am – so far, they’re liked every questionable poem I’ve posted.

I probably rewrite about 7% of my poems because I think they have potential and I can resuscitate them. I’ve written only a couple of poems that turned out to be real clunkers and need to be taken off life support.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Tuur Verheyde : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

There were some small encounters with poetry in primary and early secondary school, mostly for the purpose of recitation and reading comprehension exercises, but these never really stirred a great interest in the form. My first real engagement came from a psychological need to express myself. In secondary school, I was quite depressed and needed a way to excise certain thoughts and emotions. Thanks to the internet, I discovered the poetry of Dorothy Parker and that gave me an idea of how poetry could function as an artistic outlet for one’s most disturbing emotions. That’s how it started, but quickly it turned into something else. 

Bex Hainsworth : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

As part of the research for my debut pamphlet, I’ve read two amazing collections of ecopoetry: 100 Poems to Save the Earth (Seren Books) and Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency (Valley Press). This Fruiting Body by Caleb Parkin has also been a huge source of inspiration – his experimentation with form and found poetry is absolutely stunning. I’m currently reading All the Men I Never Married by Kim Moore. It’s a beautiful collection of almost love poems which have both made me laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Andrew Michael Gorin : part five

What are you working on?

With the Aotearoa New Zealand-born environmental artist Amy Howden-Chapman, I’m working on an ongoing project called The Apologies, which draws on our research into the historical form of the public apology to represent imaginary apologies for the climate crisis. Twenty apologies from the project were recently put up in a room installation at the East Quay museum in Watchet, England. We’re researching and writing new apologies, which we hope to publish as a book and exhibit in the US soon. 

I’m also slowly completing a full-length experimental and research-based poetry volume, tentatively titled This Must Be The Place. It has to do with the ways the climate crisis is changing our paradigmatic experiences of emplacement. My chapbook based on this manuscript, Simple Location, will be published by above/ground press, hopefully before the end of this year. Oh, and I’m developing a sequel to my conceptual social-media poetry book Someone Like You (Gauss PDF, 2017). I’m calling it Someone Like Two. But, I ask you, where are the conceptual pdf publishers of yesteryear?

Finally (and most robustly in the immediate present), I’m working on what seems like an infinity of job and grant applications. Isn’t everybody?

Joanne Epp : coda

Why is poetry important?

One thing I’ve come to appreciate about poetry is how it brings so many elements together: the meanings of words, alone and together; their sound and rhythm; emotion and ideas expressed in musical language and sensory images. Because of this, it’s possible to be drawn into a poem without entirely understanding it, and I think that is part of why poetry is important, because it can appeal to our minds (and even our bodies) in so many ways. And poetry is important because of the ways in which it can take us by surprise: by expressing something we didn’t know we were feeling, or by showing us what we didn’t know was there.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Bianca V. Gonzalez : part two

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Allen Ginsberg helped me transform into a more serious, professional poet. After reading Ginsberg’s collection, I was no longer drawn to writing about juvenile heartbreak or mental illness, which is what my first book Pouring Poetry was about. Once I became an English major and was introduced to a new world of literature, I began to slowly shed my old style of writing. I wanted to cut deeper and write about the culture, space, toxic masculinity, and motherhood. Ginsberg’s work is generational because he offered what we were afraid to look at, and that is poetry as a potentially abstract, courageous form that can turn culture on its head. 

Another poet that has given me courage to write about things I normally wouldn’t is Diane Wakoski. I first read her poem “Filling the Boxes of Joseph Cornell”, and read it at least ten times before going to sleep… and another ten times upon waking the next day. I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, she really did it? For the first time at 21 years old, I was reading a female poet who spoke so intelligently about female anger and how it resonates in the most complex parts of women’s lives. Waksoki is unapologetically herself, and I believe that has gotten her to reach the success she has had. Her poem “I have had to learn to live with my face” is uncomfortable, strong, yet relentlessly beautiful. I tend to remember her when I am faced with a topic I wouldn’t normally tell my partner or family. Wakoski teaches me to write about things that are raw and off the edge. The same goes for Sylvia Plath, whose work I did not read until I entered the M.F.A. program at Texas State. I am so heavily influenced by Plath that I try not to read her too often while I write lest I lose my own voice! 

Grace Evans : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

When it comes to reading, I vividly remember my grandmother keeping a small volume of Boleslaw Lesmian’s poems on her nightstand, which has fascinated me whenever I visited her as a child. I was utterly overjoyed and mesmerised when she read some of the poems to me.

As a result, I wrote a few fledgling poems throughout my younger years, however, writing poetry didn’t seem to fully stick with me until my first year at university where I chose to take a poetry module out of sheer curiosity as to whether I can “do it”. Needless to say, that decision completely changed my life.

Katherine Lawrence : part five

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Margaret Atwood. I first read You Are Happy when I wasn’t. It was 1974 and I was 19 years old. I’d been scribbling poems but I remember how her voice, her images, her subjects woke me up. Atwood’s work emboldened me. I began to pay closer attention. Her work taught me how to be an observant writer.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Vasiliki Katsarou : part three

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

The poems of Emily Dickinson are a touchstone.

Jennifer Bartlett : part six

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

Intimacy. 

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Fizza Abbas : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Of course! Earlier, it was all me-me-me! Now I write from the reader's perspective. Is it easy to understand? Will my reader connect with me? Am I being too funky over there? etc. And for some reason, it doesn't limit my creativity but challenges me to simplify complex emotions, and that's where all the fun is for me.

Kelly Krumrie : part four

How do you know when a poem is finished?

Even though I’m interested in scientific and mathematical language and ideas, and I use a lot of this in a way that’s pretty “calculated” and complex, my process is mostly bibliomancy and intuition. I write and fiddle, then I know. 

“When it comes to art, watch out for thinking.”—Clement Greenberg quoted in Richard Shiff’s Doubt.

Friday, 15 July 2022

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad : part two

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Editing! Editing my poems is hands down the hardest part for me. I find that the first draft comes easy. I open Google docs with the poem bursting to be born, and I usually have the scaffold down pretty quickly, usually in one sitting. It's after that that things get tricky. Editing, for me, takes days. Sometimes I leave a poem alone for weeks before returning to prune it, with a fresh pair of eyes. I like to write three or four versions of a poem, playing around with lineation and with the shape of the poem on the page, before deciding on its final avatar. 

Carla Sarett : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?  

I assume we’re talking about writing poetry.  I had been writing novels and short stories until my husband’s unexpected death in 2018,.  After that, I began a serious practice of meditation that led me to poetry, or that’s how it feels.  The first poems I wrote arose from meditations and so-called automatic writing, and some of those appear (refined a good deal from their original) appear in my collection, She Has Visions.  There is something about grief that demands poetry: I think that’s why elegies are one of the oldest forms. Also, there’s a welcoming community in poetry that I really enjoy — I’ve made several great friends in the world of poetry.  .

But as a reader, I came to poetry as a “child actress” who memorized many Shakespearean sonnets and was, yes, Puck in Midsummer’s Nights Dream.  So I grew up with the rhythm of poetry in my head.  I think memorizing poetry gives us a more visceral connection with it.   I still enjoy reciting poems aloud when no one’s around, it’s a secret comfort.

Jessica Purdy : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I know I’ll forget some, but this is a recent list: 

Dialogues with Rising Tides by Kelli Russell Agodon 

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry, edited by Robert Alexander & Dennis Maloney 

Tender the River by Matt Miller

Liminal by Bill Burtis 

Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar 

The Damage Done by Susana Case

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

And I’m always reading Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop!

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Magus Magnus : coda

 


Nolcha Fox : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I fell in love with poetry as a child, reading Alice in Wonderland and the Dr. Suess books. While the rhymes were engaging, what settled into my bones was the rhythm, the pulse, the heartbeat, the drumming that made me want to dance. Most of my poetry has a very rhythmic feel.

Those books also taught me to love the outlandish, the improbable, the unexpected. My poems reflect that, much to the dismay of my husband, who is still waiting for me to write conventional poetry.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Tuur Verheyde : part one

Tuur Verheyde is a twenty-five year old Belgian poet. His work endeavours to capture the illusive, the oppressive and transgressive. Tuur’s poetry interrogates topics like spirituality, politics, philosophy and mystery, and works to engage readers’ curiosity, empathy and imagination. 

Website: https://tuurverheyde.com

What are you working on?

My priority right now is trying to find a publisher for my first collection. Apart from that, I have a handful of other projects that are in the works. Most of them revolve around further exploring themes of spirituality, folklore, mystery and so on. 

Bex Hainsworth : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing? 

I have to thank Michael Symmons Roberts for encouraging me to experiment with imagery and figurative language. In particular, his collection Corpus, is full of the most intricate images of light, nature, humanity and faith. Sharon Olds, whom I discovered during the UK’s first lockdown in 2020, certainly blurs the line between the poetic and the personal. I was staggered by her candor, the way she writes about her relationships, her own body and women’s bodies in general. It gave me the confidence to write more openly about my own issues with body image and intimacy. These poems have proven particularly cathartic and I haven’t looked back! 

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Andrew Michael Gorin : part four

Why is poetry important? 

Poetry is important because it has sparked critical and creative thought about the language and rhetorical conventions that shape our thinking. For instance, I argue in my work on Amiri Baraka’s “Black Communications Project” that Baraka often used poetry to anatomize and critique liberal aesthetic norms which have historically invalidated necessary expressions of anger or racially-specific political convictions within art and public discourse. Poetry plays with and calls into question the social uses of verbal materials that, putting aside more profound material (economic) considerations, I believe most determine our thoughts, interpersonal relationships, and cultural attitudes. Because poetry is so often self-reflexively engaged with its own powers of representation and communication, it's the medium that is closest to what remains the primary substrate of our social experience: words.

The effects that poems actually have in the world/word, of course, vary. I agree with Erica Hunt’s conclusion to her excellent and important “Notes for an Oppositional Poetics” (1988), in which Hunt writes that “writing itself cannot enlarge the body of opposition to the New Wars, it only enhances our capacity to strategically read our condition more critically and creatively in order to interrupt and to join.” Then again, if enhancing our “capacity” to interrupt and to join isn’t enough to qualify as enlarging opposition to the New Wars (by which Hunt means the post-WWII era of neoliberal colonial violence and social control), I don’t know what is. 

For me personally, poetry is also important because writing it momentarily takes me out of the temporality and mindset of self-commodification demanded by my daily efforts to continue to have an income, let alone a career, in academia. Without this alternative, I think I would be even more deformed by the soul-sucking requirements of the academic job market. I feel that, at its best, poetry provides this sort of respite for others, too.
 

Joanne Epp : part five

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

A couple of things: getting from that initial impulse, the image that sparks the poem, to a form of expression that will truly communicate something to a reader. Or, wanting to write about an idea or theme, despite this not being my natural way of approaching poetry, and having to write pages of crossed-out lines in order to find the concrete image that will help me find my way into the poem.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Bianca V. Gonzalez : part one

Bianca V. Gonzalez is an M.F.A. Poetry candidate at Texas State University. Her non-fiction and poetry pieces have been published in Juke Joint Magazine, Harness Magazine, and Poets Garden Alchemist. Her debut book, Pouring Poetry was published in May 2020 by Austin Macauley Ltd. You can find her on Twitter @BiancaVGonz and Instagram @biancavanessa_poet.

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Waiting for creative inspiration. Poetry is difficult because it is unlike fiction, where you can have a concrete outline and work upon it. Poetic language has a divine source and you must do what you can to create that space in the mind. It’s about patience and continuing to identify yourself as a poet, even when the poetry is slow to show itself.

Grace Evans : part one


Grace Evans (they/them) is a non-binary poet and spoken word artist.

What are you working on?

I am currently working on gathering material and making notes in preparation for some new work which includes more experimental and visual pieces, following a rather intense few months during which I completed a chapbook manuscript and wrote a large number of new poems. 

In my case, the material-gathering process involves lots of exploration, introspection and automatic writing, resulting in whole lot of frantic scribbling and typing! Another thing I am working on is engaging further with spoken word. I have a few online and in-person open-mics scheduled over the course of the following month, all for which I am incredibly excited for.

Katherine Lawrence : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I love writing. Yes, it’s difficult but I feel like I’m exploring, learning, on a quest when I sit with my journal and later open my laptop. I take pleasure in every step of the process. 

My truth is that the hardest, most challenging part of writing poetry is getting the work out there. The marketing. I’m grateful to my publishers for all their efforts on my behalf yet the marketplace is crowded and noisy. It’s for this reason that I’m happy for bloggers like Thomas Whyte. Thanks Thomas! Thanks for adding my voice to your mini interviews.

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Vasiliki Katsarou : part two

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I've been reading D. Nurkse's magnificent A Country of Strangers: New and Selected Poems. I've also been rereading Charles Simic's The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks. I'm almost shocked at how much more these aphoristic fragments resonate, a decade after I first read this book.

Jennifer Bartlett : 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?

Nope. 

Saturday, 9 July 2022

Fizza Abbas : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

It's a tough question. Umm, I guess, you just know it! For me, it's often when I often see a poem revealing its ending to me. Might sound odd. Let me explain it a bit. So, I have got this weird habit of personifying inanimate things; oftentimes, my poems talk to me, and wherever I feel my poem is too exhausted now, doesn't have much to convey to me, I know that's the end.

Kelly Krumrie : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I recently (re)read Asiya Wadud’s books—I especially love Syncope (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019) and No Knowledge is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body (Nightboat Books, 2021). Syncope is a long, documentary poem about migrants on the “Left-to-Die” boat in the Mediterranean, and I loved its choral qualities, repetition, and use of numbers and counting that reminded me of a long, drawn out—really a drowning in—Langston Hughes’ “Johannesburg Mines” where the number is what gets you. The title of No Knowledge has been rattling in my brain for what feels like an eternity. See especially her essay there (and here) “Straight Lines, Knots, Quarter Turns – Repeat.” 

Friday, 8 July 2022

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad : part one

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist and poet, who serves as an editor for Authora Australis. She is a member of Sydney's North Shore Poetry Project. Her poetry has been published in various print and online journals and anthologies including Cordite Poetry Review, Bracken Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, and Eunoia Review. Her art has been featured on the covers of several journals including Amsterdam Quarterly yearbook, Pithead Chapel, and Stonecoast Review. She won the 66th Moon Prize awarded by Writing in a Woman’s Voice Journal. She was shortlisted for the Glass House Poetry awards, and nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. Her art has been nominated multiple times for the Best of the Net.  She is the author of two micro-chapbooks published by Origami Poems Project. She lives and works in Sydney on the traditional lands of The Eora Nation. Find her @oormilaprahlad and www.instagram.com/oormila_paintings

How important is music to your poetry?

Musicality in my writing is very important to me. I like to experiment with word pairings and rhythms, and I always read my work aloud to hear how the words and phrases sound. I play improv piano and I have written many poems about the music that has inspired me at different points in my life. That said, I like to write in complete silence. Absolutely no music when I write. I have to literally hear myself think and I cannot do that with background music on. I was at a pub once with some poet friends and someone came up with a writing prompt for all of us to work on, and I had to plug my ears with tissue so that I could write. This is not the same process when I paint though - music doesn't interfere with my creative process there. I always have classic rock playing in my studio when I paint. Really loud too!

Carla Sarett : part one

Carla Sarett is a poet and fiction writer based in San Francisco. Her debut poetry collection, She Has Visions, will be published by Main Street Rag Press in Fall 2022.  Her poems have appeared in Pithead Chapel, Neologism, Naugatuck River Review, Hamilton Stone Review, Prole, Gyroscope and elsewhere; and her novels include A Closet Feminist (Unsolicited Press) and The Looking Glass (Propertius Press.) Carla has a PhD from University of Pennsylvania.  

photo credit: Shana Sarett 

What are you working on? 

I am working two poetry projects.  

One is a small chapbook of poems about my family, and my older brother (who died when I was twenty)— they’re tinged with TV, film and song influences, from The Twilight Zone to Dylan.    Several of these poems have appeared in literary journals, but together, they will create (or so I hope) a different story.

The other is a series of poems about the 18th century artist, Thomas Gainsborough and his two daughters. I’m drawn to stories of sisters (these two ended up living together in isolation) It’s an interesting case, since Gainsborough wanted his daughters to have “careers” in painting.  The poems has required a good deal of research (reading his letters, etc.), and of course, looking at paintings of the once-joyful girls turning into rather disappointed women.  

Jessica Purdy : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Revision! I love when poems come fully formed and need very little revision. This doesn’t always happen and of course some poems take years to come to their final form. I have many abandoned poems because of this, but also have had recent success publishing a poem that just needed to let go of its original form/pretense. 

Also, I find it hard to focus on writing and submitting while also keeping up with family responsibilities and working as an instructor of Creative Writing/Poetry workshops myself.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Magus Magnus : part five

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

For perceptual refreshment (when I find myself dulled in habitual ways of seeing, perceiving), I return to Malcom de Chazal’s Sens-Plastique. Ex.: “The sun’s slowest reflexes are the shadows it casts. Shadows are restless echo-lights whose rate of travel depends on the air’s lubricity and the smoothness of surfaces. Shadows run on the plains, walk in the valleys, gallop in summer, and trot in winter.”

For spiritual refreshment, I relied on Emerson in youth. Now, rarely does reading help revive my zest. I meditate, I write, I get some sun. Sometimes I have a cannoli.

Nolcha Fox : part one

Nolcha Fox has written all her life, starting with poop and crayons on the walls. Her poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, The Red Lemon Review, Gone Lawn, Dark Entries, Duck Head Journal, Medusa’s Kitchen and others. Her chapbook, My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats, is available on Amazon.

Website: https://nolchafox2.wixsite.com/blog

What are you working on?

This morning, I finished two poems for a Bigfoot anthology (an editor who just accepted two of my more outrageous poems ask me to submit to the anthology). I could probably write about anything, even dust bunnies under the couch. Now I’m working on a third cup of coffee.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Bex Hainsworth : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished? 

I handwrite the first drafts of my poems into a notebook. Some leave the notebook faster than others, often depending on how easy I found the drafting process. I then wrestle my poems onto a Word document, focusing first on getting down the language and what I think it needs to say. I’ll often leave poems to ‘marinate’ at this point, before returning, usually a day or so later, to look at form and structure, building the words into something which works. I read poems aloud to get a sense of sound-patterning and rhythm and then I give the language another look. I’m very lucky that my partner, another English Literature graduate, serves as my live-in editor. I wait anxiously whilst he goes through the poem, then we decide on a final edit together – it’s at this point that I feel the poem is finished and ready to be sent out into the world. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Andrew Michael Gorin : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Liz Willis was a very influential teacher who opened me up to linguistic abstraction and verbal play. Anselm Berrigan taught me (semi-successfully) to chill out and (more successfully) to “love speech,” or the sublime accumulation of things people say or might say. Ben Lerner, whose poetry I admired before I became his student and assistant for a brief period in my twenties, taught me to how to make conceptual use of invented experimental forms, and also that poetry—for better and for worse—is frequently about using patterns of closure and anti-closure to create a formal and temporal experience (Ben would call this “prosody”) that moves us simply because it seems to do so. 

But other poets have taught me that poetry can be pleasurable, formally impactful, mind-bendingly experimental, and committed to more than just an aesthetic experience or diagnosis of the bankruptcy of aestheticism. Claudia Rankine, Amiri Baraka, Frank O’Hara, Juliana Spahr, Rodrigo Toscano, Bernadette Mayer, Lyn Hejinian, and Mark Nowak are among the more important influences. There are plenty of younger poets writing today about whom I feel similarly. I recently reviewed Wendy Xu’s book The Past, which I think is fantastic. You can find my review in the next issue of Chicago Review

Joanne Epp : part four

How does a poem begin?

For me, poems almost always begin with something concrete, an image or sensory detail, as opposed to an idea or theme. I find poems emerging when I spend a sustained period of time in one place, just soaking it in, accumulating impressions and observations. 

Monday, 4 July 2022

Katherine Lawrence : part three

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

I don’t believe that poetry sets out to accomplish, succeed, complete or finish anything. Perhaps that’s why I love poetry. It lives in the margins. Poetry is never sure of itself, yet a good poem will suggest an opening, a way to hold what cannot be said in the speech of common hours. 

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Vasiliki Katsarou : part one

A poet, editor, filmmaker, and publisher, Vasiliki Katsarou was raised in Massachusetts by Greek-born parents. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Memento Tsunami (2011) and two chapbooks, Three Sea Stones (2020) and The Second Home (forthcoming). Honored as a Geraldine R. Dodge Poet in New Jersey, her poetry has been published widely, and internationally, including in Poetry Daily, Otoliths, Tiferet, Literary Mama, La Vague, NOON (Japan), Corbel Stone Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series and Reliquiae (U.K.), Regime Journal (Australia), Mediterranean Poetry (Denmark), and Mandragoras (in Greek translation). She is co-editor of two contemporary poetry anthologies: Eating Her Wedding Dress and Dark as a Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems. She is currently poetry curator at Frenchtown Bookshop and a Teaching Artist at Hunterdon Art Museum in New Jersey. More at solitudehill.com.

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

The poet Gustaf Sobin, whom I was fortunate to get to know in person while I was living in France. His spare, image-driven and linguistically attentive lines, that are both fragmented and fluid, impressionistic and philosophical, forever marked my own approach. When I returned to the US from France in the mid-1990's, it was Anne Carson's poems that turned my head. I had worked in film production in France, and I happened to pick up a copy of the "The Movie Issue" of Parnassus in 1997. Carson's abstract and vulnerable voice, and the combination of Greek mythology and filmmaking tropes, made a big impression on me. So many more poets, too: Mina Loy, Philippe Jaccottet, Lucille Clifton, Stephen Dunn, George Oppen.

Jennifer Bartlett : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began? 

I think I addressed that before, but as a young woman, I loved Ginsberg, then Graham, now me favorite poet is Charles Olson. My perception has changed in the since that I don't know why I am writing. I'm not going to be "famous" at least not in the USA, and I'm not going to be a professor... so should I write? 

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Fizza Abbas : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Ah, so many memories! I don't know how my first interaction with poetry happened or when it happened. But as I take a walk down memory lane, I see my mother, who was a huge fan of legendary singers like Mohammed Rafi and Lata, listening to some of their old Hindi songs, accompanying me. And since lyrics of those songs had been penned down by some of the most brilliant Urdu poets of that time like Sahir Ludhianwi, Majhrooh Sultanpuri, Anjaan and Hasrat Julpuri, some words of those songs would often stay with me.  

Kelly Krumrie : part two

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

Oh, Marianne Moore. I go straight to her and flip around. Rereading her, drawing my finger across a line, is like gulping water in a way that kind of hurts. I never know what she’s up to, but I also do, I very much do, and I’m consistently dazzled and confused by her. Simply, her extra texts and facts and exquisite digging into something so deeply that she leaves it entirely—you forget what the hell it is she’s even talking about because she’s left it for an encyclopedic elsewhere… oof. Secretly, my favorite poem of hers is a short, early one: “To a Stiff-winged Grasshopper.” In April I read Natalia Cecire’s Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge which includes a chapter on Moore and the idea of “precision,” touching on the perception of Moore’s “coldness” or lack of feeling as it relates to her poetry’s precision, particularly her appeal to scientific fact. Cecire writes, “The subterranean feelings that presumably underlie precision thus seem only to reverse the direction of causality and reveal precision to be the source of the feelings that are the source of precision”—and I could live in that ouroboros forever.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Jessica Purdy : 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?

Yes, writers groups are essential to my process. I belong to a local one called City Hall Poets because we used to meet at City Hall in Portsmouth, NH. Now we are meeting on zoom. Once a month we workshop poems. It is so important to share what I am working on with others. I respect these poets and highly value their feedback. Their poems inspire and influence me as well.

The other is The Poetry Salon facilitated by the fabulous Tresha Faye Haefner over zoom. I attend her generative workshops at least twice a week and often more frequently than that. I also attend her Structure & Surprise workshop once a week which uses the book of the same name edited by Michael Thune. I am overjoyed to have found her workshops and sometimes I lead them as well. Her students are incredible poets! I am a perpetual student of poetry and hope to always be learning and growing as a poet.