Wednesday 31 August 2022

Barbara Leonhard : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

The greatest challenge with poetry for me is writing it. I get distracted by my daily life. Cooking, cleaning, interacting with people, keeping up with the news, and all that we do to manage our lives. I need nuggets of inspiration and quiet time to spark poems. The pandemic has helped keep me inside and in touch with my deep self. I think my monastic existence enabled me to write my poetry book, Three Penny-Memories: A Poetic Memoir, which is forth-coming from IEF (Experiments in Fiction) this fall. 

Moreover, once I write a poem, I do a great deal of revising, wordsmithing, and refining of format. You might say that I communicate with the poem. I don’t consider myself prolific as I need time to remaster first drafts. I go for quality, not quantity. 

Another challenge I face is digging in deep for the truth. Sometimes I feel blocked by my topic as I can’t face the truth or fear offending someone. When I was writing Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir, I grappled with the taboo notion that I might not love the woman my mother was becoming due to Alzheimer’s. I was her caregiver. I realized she couldn’t live with me as I had a full-time job. My husband was at home teaching music lessons daily and it would have been unfair to him to make him responsible for her. And we had stairs she couldn’t manage. All through out my care and oversight, I felt incompetent. Maybe this is how she felt raising seven children. Maybe she had to love me regardless. I wanted to share my heartfelt journey with her into her end of days. This required examining our relationship honestly. I tend to be codependent, so my fears of displeasing people blocked me. Once I let go of those fears, I realized how powerful poetry based on authentic truth is. 

Katerina Canyon : part one

Katerina Canyon grew up in Los Angeles and much of her writing reflects that experience. 

She is a 2021, 2020, and 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her stories have been published in The New York Times and The Huffington Post

Her first book, Changing the Lines, was released in August 2017. This work is a conversation between mother and daughter as they examine what it means to operate within the world as black women.

From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started a poetry festival and ran several poetry readings. She has a B.A. in English, International Studies and Creative Writing from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. 

Katerina Canyon currently lives in Seattle. She now works to improve the lives of children. She also helps others by promoting and teaching poetry. 

Readers can connect with Katerina Canyon on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. To learn more, go to   

What are you working on?

I am working on two things. I am currently revising a novel I wrote. I am also working on a new collection of poetry focused on the history of Black people in this country. 

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Heather Haley : part one

Heather Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Her writing has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, she was Poetry Editor for the LA Weekly and publisher of The Edgewise Café, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. Haley has directed numerous videopoems, official selections at dozens of international film festivals. Renowned as an engaging performer, she’s toured Canada, the U.S and Europe in support of two critically acclaimed AURAL Heather CDs of spoken word song, Princess Nut and Surfing Season. She is the author of debut novel, The Town Slut's Daughter, with a stage adaptation in the works, plus poetry collections Sideways, Three Blocks West of Wonderland and Skookum Raven.

What are you working on?

Despite myriad distractions and obligations, a new collection of poems, working title, Ask Alexa. I hope to have the manuscript completed by spring of 2023 and as usual, I’m likely being wildly optimistic.

Jared Povanda : part one

Jared Povanda is a writer, poet, and freelance editor from upstate New York. He has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and Best Microfiction, and his work has been published or is forthcoming in literary journals including Wigleaf, The Citron Review, and Milk Candy Review. You can find him online @JaredPovanda,, and in the Poets & Writers Directory

What are you working on?

Currently, single poems. I find myself getting drawn to a few images I can’t get out of my head: mainly, people alone in nature. People reckoning with nature. This reckoning can result in rebirth or in destruction of some sort, but regardless of where the speakers of my poems end up, I’ve been having a lot of fun writing poems that require people to confront their own smallness within a much bigger world. Sometimes the isolation nature provides is a curse, and sometimes it is a gift, and it’s great to explore both sides of that dichotomy. 

Monday 29 August 2022

Rachel Mallalieu : part three

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

I’ve always been a solitary writer. I do run things by my husband and dad. When I need a more objective view point, I run them by my mentor and friend Matthew Lippman.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Andrew Williams : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I began reading and writing poetry when I was nearing the completion of my PhD at Bangor University (Wales) in theology. But as soon as I became interested in it, I began reading voraciously. I read William Shakespeare to William Blake to William Wordsworth all the way to reading the contemporary William (Billy) Collins. If I remember correctly, I believe it was Collins’ popular anthology Poetry 180 that introduced me to contemporary poetry. 

Jennifer Bartlett : part twelve

Why is poetry important? 

I don't mean to be grumpy, but in the USA poetry is NOT important. It is important in the since of giving the reader an outlet, but David Lehman is in charge (and others) and they are never going to highlight queer/disabled/experimental poets in the New Yorker. Actually no disability poet has ever been in the New Yorker. the gate keepers keep the gates. After spending time in Iceland, I always say "in the USA" because we are not the world.

Saturday 27 August 2022

Michael Blouin : part three

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

Poetry is as close to an answer that we can find in this world. It is not an answer of course, because there is no such thing, but a good poem (whatever that may be) can make us feel as if this may not be the case, and that’s a useful thing in a world continually pointing us in the opposite direction (a society I should say, as the world is just fine on its own and neither seeks nor needs any answers, certainly none that we can provide, it answered its own question a long time ago by simply being and it certainly does not require us). Writing in general is the only art form that can rather fully place us inside of another’s experience of the world and of life and that is a very precious thing, out of all forms of writing poetry is perhaps best at this.

Friday 26 August 2022

Hannah Kezema : part one

Hannah Kezema is an artist who works across mediums. She is the author of This Conversation is Being Recorded (Game Over Books, 2023) and the chapbook, three (Tea and Tattered Pages, 2017), and her work appears in Black Sun Lit, Grimoire, New Life Quarterly, Full Stop, Spiral Orb, and other places. 

What are you working on?

I’m working on the finishing touches of my full-length debut, This Conversation is Being Recorded, forthcoming from Game Over Books in March of 2023 (available for pre-order here). It’s a collection of poems and erasures of my experiences working as a PI and editor in the insurance fraud industry over the years amidst a global pandemic and healthcare/climate change crisis. I’m also returning as co-editor to a collaboration that was on a brief hiatus, the LATINX/CHICANX/POETX broadside series, with poet Angel Dominguez and book artist/publisher Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press. And always working on the garden, now, it seems.

Lana Crossman : part three

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

The poetry I like best makes a connection but in a non-prescriptive way. It makes you feel but doesn’t tell you how to feel, why you’re feeling that way, or what to do with that feeling.  We’re surrounded by so much “content” and processing it all feels like a bit of a sentence. Poetry feels like freedom – a few, well-chosen words and lots of open windows. 

Thursday 25 August 2022

Michael Goodfellow : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

It takes on the appearance of an old pine blanket box rubbed with beeswax polish.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Barbara Leonhard : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

As a child of eight after recovering from measles encephalitis, I started writing short poems and stories. The encephalitis burned away some memories of my years before age 6 and created challenges with focus and learning. I’m surprised I turned to writing at all because of the after effects of the encephalitis Instinctively, I must have felt that writing poems provided an outlet for my feelings and helped me to construct thoughts. Possibly it helped my neurons create new pathways. Some studies show that writing by hand aids learning and memory. The body knows how to heal. As I related in my answer to another question in this interview, poetry is a healer. 

I used memo pads for the poems and stories, and my parents would ask me to read them to dinner guests. The positive reinforcement kept me writing over the years. I also kept a list just of titles that occurred to me, thinking I could write poems for them. I lost my memo pads long ago. Wish I still had them to look back on that time in my life.

Another impetus for writing poetry at that time of my life was the near-death experience I had while in a month-long coma from the encephalitis. Although I was paralyzed and unable to speak, I found myself with my dying grandfather, who was in the same hospital. I was standing by his bed, and we were laughing and talking (which would have been impossible). There were others in the room, tall figures in white, who said I couldn’t go with grandpa. I argued with them, but they insisted I return to my room. Then I awoke from the coma, able to speak but not to walk. I feel that those beings were a spiritual counsel and that a wager was made to spare my life as it would have been too hard on my father to lose both his father and daughter. His mother had died the year before. I went on to teach myself how to walk again at age 7. This experience was profound, so I see now how creative writing helped me heal from the trauma of childhood illness. It took me years to understand my last visit with my grandfather and the gifts I received from nearly dying. (I address this experience in my poetry collection, Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir, which is forthcoming from IEF-Experiments in Fiction this fall.)

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Evan Williams : part five

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

I should say first that I appreciate the use of the term form over the term genre. I find genre largely pointless—recently a brilliant friend of mine told me, If you want to write poems, write poems. If you want to sell poems, call them stories. I’m getting away from form.

Poetry as a form is fundamentally limber. It is a form that attempts to undermine categories of form. Poetry collects, but it does not horde. It is a form of accumulation which constantly is compelled to let go of itself. 

I have a deep respect for other forms, other disciplines—they are hard. I don’t wish to say that there is anything that they cannot do. Questions of formal capacity do not seem to me like questions related to Can it? but rather questions related to Is it willing? Poetry is willing. Poetry is always willing. 

Joanna Fuhrman : part five

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I am very lucky in that I live in NYC surrounded by other poets, and most of my friends are poets, so they get it. I also am privileged to be able teach poetry/creative writing as a career (which is another way it’s centered in my life), but sometimes writing in a genre that is so obscure does feel a little absurd. I think it’s hard for people who aren’t poets to understand how one could spend hundreds of hours on a single page of writing that no one is ever going to give you money for, and very few people are going to read.  Sometimes I can’t believe that I feel such a strong compulsion for poetry. I have some economic stability in my life now, but until very recently I was always struggling to figure out how to survive and still have time to write. I am not someone who can dash things off and have them be good (at least most of the time). For me, it usually takes a lot of work to write something I feel good about. 

Monday 22 August 2022

Rachel Mallalieu : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I was obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe when I was in high school. I remember reading his poetry and getting chills. I didn’t start personally writing much until my youngest son suffered a near fatal drowning. I needed a way to work through the trauma and began to obsessively write. Because I was a mother of four (at the time) and worked full time, I needed an accessible form. Poetry proved that medium. I realized that so much of what I saw and did as an emergency physician could be expressed via poetry as well. I started to send my work into the world and had some moderate success. 

Sunday 21 August 2022

Andrew Williams : part one

Andrew Williams is a poet from Virginia, USA, and has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Briefly Zine, Fevers of the Mind, Ink Sweat & Tears, among others. He is also the editor of East Ridge Review and can be found on twitter @andrewraywill

What are you working on?

At the moment I am working toward publishing a small collection of poems. Though I have quite a few poems scattered around in various places, I am working toward bringing together some previously published and unpublished work together in a book. I am hoping to have all the poems done in a years’ time. I also edit a poetry review platform East Ridge Review (Twitter: @eastridgereview) which can tend to keep me busy. 

Jennifer Bartlett : part eleven

How important is music to your poetry? 

Not at all. 

Saturday 20 August 2022

Lauren Tess : part five

Why is poetry important?

As a writer, poetry is important to me because I need some outlet of creative expression to have a semblance of inner peace, and poetry is the only creative endeavor I’ve found that is fun and enjoyable for me. As a reader, I’ve found poetry important because nothing else can be as moving in so short a time as a great poem.

Michael Blouin : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

When I write the last line. That sounds facetious but what I mean is that the whole process of writing a poem is for me a high wire act which could go tragically wrong at any given moment causing the audience to gasp and look away in horror, but when I do finish what I consider to be a successful attempt I have a visceral sense of completion and for me that always rests in the last line or two. I also know that without that ending the rest of the poem is a failure and that there’s no way at all for me to save it. Sometimes the last line is the first thing that I write and then it’s just a matter of finding my way to it. Those are usually the quickest poems to form, at other times it will take a week or more to find that last line and sometimes it never does arrive – sadly those poems become orphaned.

Friday 19 August 2022

Lana Crossman : part two

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

I often show my work to my immediate family to be sure I’m being authentic and keeping it real. I also share early drafts with a group of writers I’ve been meeting with for several years. Recently I’ve joined an online community, Front of the Line, hosted by poet George Murray, where I can always count on generous and insightful feedback.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Elizabeth Hazen : part five

How does a poem begin? 

Sometimes a poem will begin with an image for me – a scene from a dream or a memory or something I witness while I'm walking around the city or driving in my car. Or it might begin with a phrase that sticks in my head. Place is also important in my work, and I have many poems that begin as meditations on a particular location. Most often, my poems emerge out of my anxiety and my desire to make sense of complicated emotions. I try to write my way out of whatever is particularly troubling or difficult in my life at that moment. Form is a way for me to explore those emotions in a controlled space – within the confines of meter or rhyme, I feel free to go to scary places in my heart and mind. 

Michael Goodfellow : part one

Michael Goodfellow is the author of the poetry collection Naturalism, an Annotated Bibliography, published by Gaspereau Press, and of a collection in draft titled Folklore of Lunenburg County, which is supported by a Research & Creation Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, The Dalhousie Review, The Cortland Review, Reliquiae and elsewhere. He lives in Nova Scotia.

How does a poem begin?

A poem begins by turning over a stone, hearing a brook far in the underbrush, finding a clearing pile.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Barbara Leonhard : part one

Barbara Leonhard’s work appears in Spillwords, Anti-Heroin Chic, Free Verse Revolution, October Hill Magazine, Vita Brevis, Silver Birch Press, Amethyst Review, anthologies Well-Versed, Prometheus Amok and Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women. Her poetry collection, Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir, will be published in the fall of 2022 by IEF (Experiments in Fiction). Barbara enjoys bringing writers together and has been sponsoring informal open mics on Zoom during the pandemic. You can follow her on

What are you working on? 

I’m currently polishing a manuscript to submit to my publisher, EIF (Experiments in Fiction, a company in England owned by Ingrid Wilson). It’s called Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir. The poetry collection is about my mother and me. Our lives were interwoven in many ways. We each suffered from conditions that affected memory. Hers was Alzheimer’s and mine was encephalitis. Also, she was able to have seven children, but I was infertile because she was prescribed diethylstilbesterol (DES) when I was in utero. As I was the eldest daughter, she chose to move close to me so that I could help her in her senior years. 

The trigger for this collection of poetry was my uncle’s question, “Do you love her?” The very thought that my love for my mother was questioned sent me into grief counseling. Throughout my care for her as her case of Alzheimer’s developed, I doubted my worth. To understand our relationship, I reviewed the ways my mother’s life and mine intersected. Could I grow to love the stranger my mother was becoming? 

The book title is based on an experience I had in Mom’s last few days. My brothers and I were going to grab lunch. When I was stepping out of the car, I saw three shiny new pennies lined up perfectly on the hot asphalt parking lot. Mom would always pick up pennies and insist that I do the same. However, I would refuse, which caused some conflict. I knew these pennies were a message, and indeed, she died on April 3, 2016. 

The book is a poetic memoir, so it has an arc. I set the book up in three sections: Light (my years with Mom before she moved close to me; Dust (her time in an independent living facility and her decline due to Alzheimer’s); and Echo (her move to assisted living and death, and the resolution of the existential dilemma about my love for my her). 

Some of the poems have won recognition in Spillwords. “Cooking a Life with a Wire Spine” was nominated Publication of the Month in August 2021. “Marie Kondo Cleans My Purse at Starbucks” won Publication of the Month in Jan/Feb 2022. Also, I was nominated Author of the Year 2021.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Evan Williams : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Mostly contemporary writers. The state of poetry in the last couple of decades is an innovative explosion. I’ve learned so much from poets like M. NourbeSe Philip, Sabrina Orah Mark, Zachary Schomburg, Ben Lerner, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Suzanne Buffam, Nathan Hoks, Srikanth Reddy, Carsten René Nielsen, Mark Leidner, Kirsten Ihns, and so, so many more. 

When I made a turn toward prose poetry, I looked to a lot of writers who blew up the idea of genre for me in so many ways, like Joanna Ruocco, Lydia Davis, Mary Ruefle, Anne Carson, and Mark Baumer. 

I hold all of the above work very close to my heart. In fact, I have these authors’ books arranged in my apartment such that, if there were a fire, I would be able to grab them in one hand on the way out the door with my cat. 

Joanna Fuhrman : part four

How does a poem begin?

Some of my poems begin with images I get from dreams. I often wake up in the middle of the night and write some lines on my phone. When I wake up, I try to follow through on the dream logic and develop them more. Other poems start in classes I am teaching. I often ask my students to write in response to published poems. These in-class exercises involve various constraints. A lot of my work comes out of doing these exercises with my students or by trying out ideas/poetic strategies that I plan on teaching. Usually, I will get one or two lines from the exercise and then develop the fragments into finished poems later. 

Monday 15 August 2022

Rachel Mallalieu : part one

Rachel Mallalieu is an emergency physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. She is the author of A History of Resurrection (Alien Buddha Press 2022).  Some of her recent poetry is featured in Nelle, A Gathering of the Tribes, Dialogist and Rattle. More of her work can be found at

What are you working on?

I am admittedly in a dry spell. I published my first book in April and had a number of poems published back to back in journals. I think I slacked off after that. This summer, I’ve been taking the time to go back and edit and rework old poems that are still unpublished. I am intermittently working on a difficult poem that I began to write after a young mother in our community died.

Sunday 14 August 2022

Jennifer Bartlett : part ten

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

I know it's sad, but Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. Also, Girly man by Charles Bernstien, particularly the 9/11 poem. Also, Covidity by Bernstein.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Lauren Tess : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

My first response was that it’s not very important at all, since I don’t often listen to music. But then I realized that whenever my inner monologue is briefly silent, a tune is playing in my mind. So the only respite I have from words is music, and vice versa. I should meditate I guess. I also really enjoy the musicality of words, their sound and rhythm. I like to push against indulging that enjoyment when I’m writing.

Michael Blouin : part one

Michael Blouin has been a finalist for the Amazon First Novel Award, the bpNichol Award, the CBC Literary Award and his first novel won the 2009 ReLit Award. He has been the recipient of the Lilian I. Found Award, the Diana Brebner Award and the Lampman Award. His 2019 novel Skin House won the 2020 ReLit Award for Best Novel and has been included on the NASA/Astrobotics Peregrine Mission to the Moon as well as the upcoming SpaceX lunar landing. His most recent novel is the 2022 revisionist history I am Billy the Kid which will also go to the moon with NASA in 2024. He is represented internationally by Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists.

Photo credit: Paulina Hrebacka

What are you working on?

As opposed to thinking of myself as a poet I tend to think of myself as a novelist who writes poetry. In spite of the fact that I have published books of poetry which have won awards, I am aware through my work as an adjudicator for the Canada Council just what the scope and breadth of current poetic practice encompasses and so when I publish poetry in magazines or books I just try to not get in anyone’s way. So, what I’m working on at the moment is a novel encompassing Elvis Presley, the bombing of Dresden, carnival life in Florida, John Glenn’s orbital flight, and other events. It spans about fifty years and several continents. It’s a natural progression from my other novels, several of which involve the imagined lives of historic figures. I do have a long book of poetry being published in the next year or so entitled “Southbound”, and even though it is made up of hundreds of individual poems I think of it as one continuous narrative, I suppose because that’s what it is.

Friday 12 August 2022

Lana Crossman : part one

Lana Crossman grew up in rural New Brunswick and now lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Her debut chapbook, Buoyant, at last, will be published by Rose Garden Press in fall 2022. Lana's poetry has appeared in untethered magazine, FEED, FERAL, flo., The Light Ekphrastic, Bywords, G U E S T, and Apt613. She won Carleton University’s Lilian I. Found Award for Poetry (2020), and was on the shortlist for the John Newlove Poetry Award (2018). 

How did you first engage with poetry?

Like many people I studied poetry in high school and the loved the idea of the Romantic poets wandering the English countryside. But I think my earliest appreciation of poetry came through song lyrics. Growing up in rural New Brunswick, I was mostly exposed to folk, country – and even Baptist gospel music. So often the songs evoke feeling through a simple story - and that’s something I carry into my work today.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Elizabeth Hazen : part four

How important is music to your poetry? 

I think music is an essential part of poetry. I always read my work aloud as I am writing to hear the music -- I have no idea whether a poem is working until I hear it spoken. I frequently use meter, as well – or at least a loose syllabic count – to create music in my verses, and many of my poems employ rhyme or slant rhyme. I think the way form interplays with content is one of the reasons I fell in love with poetry – the way the sound can either reinforce or create tension with the meaning of a poem. I try to take advantage of this relationship in my own work, and I seek it out in the poems I read.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Tuur Verheyde : part five

Why is poetry important?

It is a deep sigh in a breathless world. Poetry, at its best, exemplifies all the things that mainstream culture seeks avoid: ambiguity, complexity and unanswerability. While most mainstream culture works to provide simple comforts and straightforward answers, poetry is more resistant to that kind of passive consumption. Sure, as mentioned before, there is a very popular kind of aphoristic poetry that plays into that sort of thing, that advertises relatability above anything else. However, if you look at the poetry that stands the test of time, the poetry that lives beyond social media communities, I think you’ll find the less superficial kind still wins out. 

In my opinion, the most affective or interesting works of poetry do not utilise nice-sounding platitudes in a transparent attempt to court universal appeal. Instead, they dig deep into a unique universe of personal symbols, references, memories etc. They force us to engage our empathy and curiosity. They force us to tolerate the unresolved, the polysemous, the unmitigated other. They renew our imagination with distinct imagery and meaningful themes. 

Consequently, reading and writing poetry is a pastime that eludes the purpose-driven, productivity-obsessed reality of modern life and instead speaks of an alterative way of viewing the world and our place in it.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Evan Williams : part three

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

I usually draft my poems by doing fifteen to thirty minutes of timed, nonstop writing. Then I pare them back until I think to myself, Oh, there’s the thing that’s cool. Then I take a screenshot and send four separate messages to a total of five people: My mom (who usually says something like, Oh wow, I love it), my dad (who recently told me that, You have to be able to think like a child in order to understand your poetry), my partner Ruby (who is herself a skilled poet and whose thoughts constantly expand the world(s) of my work and the world in which I live), and finally a groupchat with my dear friends and sometimes-collaborators, Ben Niespodziany and Evan Nicholls (who hype me up with expertly chosen gifs and fire emojis (and precise feedback, usually on pacing)). I’ll often exchange large chunks of poems with Reuben Gelley Newman, who has an ear for music and the musicality of language unlike any I’ve known. These folks see the entirety of my projects well before I send them anywhere, and are integral to my writing and personal lives alike. I feel quite lucky. 

Joanna Fuhrman : part three

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

I often return to the work of David Shapiro and Elaine Equi. David used to say about something he liked, “so fresh as if it were made tomorrow.” I feel that about their work. 

Monday 8 August 2022

Bianca V. Gonzalez : part five

How does a poem begin?

Since I was in elementary school, a poem has always begun as a bodily sensation. I tend to feel it in my calves and arms, this transcendental itch that carries my focus into the mind, and uses my hands to gather words, lines, and thoughts and write them down quickly. It is messy and difficult and can really make a poet cringe. If you’re lucky, you might have the poem completed in your first draft. I live for those poems, I will wait on them for the rest of my life.

Sunday 7 August 2022

Jennifer Bartlett : part nine

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I feel bad, but I don't read a lot of poetry at this moment. I read Icelandic Mysteries and novels. Just finished Braggi's "the pets." Before that, I read Summer light and then comes the night - my favorite book. 

Saturday 6 August 2022

Lauren Tess : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

What I probably find most difficult is, when sitting down to write, overcoming the thought of the reader and the inhibitions and desire to please that come with that. I also have endless trouble with titles!

Friday 5 August 2022

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad : part five

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

Poetry can be so many things at the same time - a story, a song, a painting. This protean quality is what distinguishes it from other forms of art. Poetry is also interactive - it is an invitation to the reader to bring a part of themselves into the universe of the poem, to find fragments of themselves in it.  My students often say that analyzing poetry is like solving a puzzle, or looking into a kaleidoscope - where so many levels of meaning and patterns emerge with different readings/turns. I think one of the most fascinating aspects of poetry is how totally unrelated images and concepts can be yoked together, juxtaposed, to forge new links, and create unexpectedly beautiful montages. 

Carla Sarett : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

—Diane Seuss’s Frank Sonnets, which reads like a noir novel.  I couldn’t put it down.

—Boris Dralyuck’s stylish and confident My Hollywood and Other Poems (Paul Dry Books)   This book also includes some fabulous translations, including poems by Vernon Duke. 

Radio Static (Green Linden Press) by James Hoch, such a moving tribute to a brother who fought in Afghanistan.  

—Polina Barskova’s This Lamentable City, (various translators, including Ilya Kaminsky) (Tupelo Press)— I want more from this highly original poet.  

—returning to Thomas Gunn’s The Man with the Night Sweats.  Gunn’s just a wonder, and I am glad to see other poets “rediscovering” him.  

Ella’s Plan by Jeffrey Bean (Contest Winner, The Poet’s Corner). These enchanting poems about a little girl won my heart. 

Thursday 4 August 2022

Elizabeth Hazen : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry? 

For me the greatest difficulty has always been taking myself seriously enough to justify the time and effort required to make strong poems. I sometimes feel guilty for spending time writing – it feels like such a privilege – so I need to remind myself that I am doing meaningful work. Then, of course, there is the writing itself, which requires commitment and discipline. Some days it feels impossible, but I keep coming back.

Nolcha Fox : part five

How does a poem begin?

I read poetry all the time. All the time. If I find a phrase that really strikes me, I write it in a notebook of prompts. When I’m running low on ideas, I check my notebook for inspiration.

I bookmark websites with poetry prompts (the April NaPoWriMo sites are the best!). If the prompts in my notebook don’t excite me, I’ll go to the poetry prompt websites.

One of the international group of writers I belong to has a generative writing session every other week, where we write to three prompts. Most of my poems that come out of those sessions have been published.

If all else fails, I use the Dave Birss creativity exercises. I’ve found them to be very helpful. I especially recommend:

This ‘N’ That

Story Dice

Writing Ideas

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Tuur Verheyde : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Dorothy Parker was the first poet to really get me into poetry. Allen Ginsberg convinced me to let go of faux-formalism and solemnity. His poetry really got me experimenting with register, poetic voice, sound and imagery. Then Anne Sexton, in particular her work Transformations, made me fully appreciate the potential of narrative poetry. Finally, reading Audre Lorde lead to the fermentation of my personal poetics. In particular, her work revealed to me the value of writing shamelessly idiosyncratic work that is infused with a unique sense of personality, spirituality, symbolism and so on. Basically, the poetry of Audre Lorde showed me why the most popular model of contemporary poetry, mainly the aphoristic (often generic), purposefully relatable type is one that does not appeal to me, and why I am instead drawn to poetry that is distinct, ambiguous and deeply personal. For those who are interested, I wrote a more detailed essay on this topic, which you can find here:

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Evan Williams : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

If it had not, I would still be taking myself seriously. 

Joanna Fuhrman : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

In elementary school, I remember being obsessed with Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody, who are you?” And then in fifth grade, we had to memorize Blake’s “The Tyger,” which I loved. In both cases, poetry was something that I would say to myself as I walked around the playground. I also remember being in middle school and writing a poem in front of a pizza shop that would later burn down and feeling like I was struck by lightning. It was a terrible poem, but it got me to go to the library and look for poetry books to read. At the school library and at the library near my parents’ office, I found Rich’s book Leaflets and Orr’s Gathering the Bones together, both of which spoke to me.

Monday 1 August 2022

Bianca V. Gonzalez : part four

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is important because it is an extension of the soul. What our minds and hearts cannot say, poetry can expel in seconds. When we use language as an extension of the body to produce cosmic dynamism, we are left feeling satisfied, elated, and in turn, have the courage to talk about what is not being said, and hope that others can do the same.