Thursday 30 March 2023

Sanjeev Sethi : part four

How does a poem begin?

Sometimes it is a thought, an opening line, or a hook that can be employed in the poem. One begins tentatively, but soon, a certain force overtakes one, and the poem takes a form of its own, many times far away from the original idea.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Emma Rhodes : part five

How does a poem begin?

With a word or phrase that sticks in my brain for days. I know I need to get it out, and often it’s as the opening line of a poem — then I let the poem grow from there ☺.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Lynne Jensen Lampe : part five

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

Recently, we felt out of hope at our house and pulled out a couple of Mary Oliver books to soak in her nature poems. She’s not a poet I read very much, but we definitely needed her poems then. One of my favorite poems is from Dorianne Laux’s Facts About the Moon. I love the simplicity and grace of the language as well as the varied sentence length. I’m drawn to it because I see myself in every line, especially “I never wondered. I read.”

Moon in the Window

I wish I could say I was the kind of child
who watched the moon from her window,
would turn to it and wonder.
I never wondered. I read. Dark signs
that crawled toward the edge of the page.
It took me years to grow a heart
from paper and glue. All I had
was a flashlight, bright as the moon,
a white hole blazing beneath the sheets.

Monday 27 March 2023

Jay Passer : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Yes. Less people should consider themselves poets. It's a slush avalanche of meaninglessness. Poetry is a trifle; it's "poets" that feel they must be important. It's self-serving and egocentric. Poetry is something you read when you sit on the toilet. Leave importance to shaman, and their little adjuncts, doctors. I remember in my youth submitting by post and waiting three months or more for any response. Spoiled kids, these days. And really, who gives a damn? In the long run, it just doesn't pay. Unless you're Shel Silver-stein. 

Thursday 23 March 2023

Sanjeev Sethi : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

In a forty-year writing career, I have written in various genres: journalistic pieces, interviews, reviews, etc.,  but inditing comes the most naturally to me. I can work on a poem for twelve hours and more without it exhausting myself. No other kind of writing does that to me.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Emma Rhodes : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Many poets have influenced me a lot over the years. Some particularly influential poets for me have been Olivia Gatwood, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Rebecca Salazar, Conyer Clayton, John Elizabeth Stinzi, Adele Barclay, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Kyla Jamieson, Ashley-Elizabeth Best, and Theresa Estacion. Some of the most important things I have learned from these poets (a non-extensive list) have been that women’s stories are worth telling; painful experiences are worth exploring with kindness and a gentle touch; it’s okay (in fact often encouraged!) to sit in the places that make you feel weird/uncomfortable/gross because you might find the best things in those places; poetry has incredible political and social power; and that poetry does not to be left-centred — you’re free to move over the page in whatever ways feel right.  

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Lynne Jensen Lampe : part four

Why is poetry important?

It’s important to me personally because it’s the only place I am completely honest about who I am and what I’ve experienced—I have a contract with the poem to be forthright and unapologetic. In a larger sense, a poem links poet and reader; the writing and reading both lead to connections that resonate in a way that feels unexpected yet universal. With details (whether real or imagined), a poem can convey the intricacies of current events or personal histories—and a good poem will keep the reader from shutting down or rejecting the truth. Poetry invites us to challenge convention by raising questions no one’s thought to ask and by reveling in new forms, unusual sounds and syntax, and various visual formats. No matter where a poem lands on the narrative-lyric continuum, its storytelling, word play, and emotion link us to previous generations, to our humanity. 

Monday 20 March 2023

Jay Passer : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I never know. I either lose steam, get bored, or something more important comes up, like a drink, or a woman, or an earthquake. But I save everything, so all that unfinished or abandoned stuff can always find new life. Much of what I consider my best work has been reconditioned from previous states where I initially thought all was lost.

Thursday 16 March 2023

Sanjeev Sethi : part two

Why is poetry important?

Because it gives us hope, while reading a poem, one can get lost in its paresthesia. Poetry hones our humanity, turning us into finer beings.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Emma Rhodes : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Moving past the impulse to write too narrative or too obvious, and not writing only sad poetry haha. I am personally a huge fan of narrative and sad poetry, but I am trying to write happier poems and to really dive into images with less direct/narrative language. It is hard! But it’s fun ☺.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Lynne Jensen Lampe : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

There are so many good ones! Three-Penny Memories by Barbara Harris Leonhard and A Map of Every Undoing by Alicia Elkort (both books are debuts). Outskirts by Heathen, Partial Genius by Mary Biddinger, River Inside the River by Gregory Orr, Wiregrass by Moira J. Saucer.

Monday 13 March 2023

Jay Passer : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I randomly found a book by e.e. cummings on the street when I was 14 years old. 100 poems. I was already a reader but this was a different species. e.e. didn't title his poems. e.e. ignored punctuation rules. e.e. played games with the universe. I was almost as fascinated with this new world as I was with girls. Almost.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Emma Rhodes : 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! A group of writer friends from my undergrad. We call ourselves the Egg Poets Society. My poetry would absolutely not be where it is today without them. I consistently look forward to sharing with them and workshopping with them! 

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Lynne Jensen Lampe : part two

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

One of the first poets I studied with was Larry Levis. He taught me that it’s not enough for a poem to set a scene—it needs to take the reader on a journey of emotion, realization, recognition. From Dorianne Laux I learned that the process of writing can be playful and saw the depth conveyed when a poet writes about ordinary things. Gregory Orr, through his craft book A Primer for Poets & Readers of Poetry, taught me about order and disorder in poetry, our natural desire for balance between these opposites, and how each person has a different threshold for the shift from one to the other. (That teaching greatly affected the poems in Talk Smack to a Hurricane, my book about my mother’s mental illness—the more chaotic the content, the more I considered what and how much structure was needed.) As a result of Kim Addonizio’s poetry and her craft book Ordinary Genius, I realized there’s freedom in candor, regardless of the topic. I’ve learned new ways to start a poem. I now search for energy and emotional truth as it unfolds. Richard Hugo, in Triggering Town, his book of lectures and essays, taught me that the inspiration (trigger) for a poem is only sometimes what the poem is really about. Ed Skoog taught a whole class on taking the “side door” into poems—I learned to open myself to unexpected topcs and odd juxtapositions. He offered a new revision strategy: Alphabetize a poem’s lines according to the first word of each, then look for new connections or directions (I find this works best with poems of 20–30 lines or so). Rosebud ben Oni, in workshop and through her poetry, taught me that my purpose in writing is to tell my story and no one else’s—if someone’s missing from the conversation, I need to work to make space for their words, not speak for them. There’s too much I’ll never understand even though I want to. Through her book Odes to Lithium, Shira Ehrlichman showed me the power of a full poetry collection on psychiatric issues; it gave me the courage to build a manuscript of poems I’d written about my mother’s mental illness, our relationship, and psychiatry. 

Monday 6 March 2023

Jay Passer : part one

Jay Passer's work has appeared in print and online since 1988. He is the author of 13 collections of poetry and prose; his first novel, Squirrel, was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2022. Passer lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

What are you working on?

A collection of poems scribbled over the last two years. Getting ready to publish. In two documents there's about 150 pieces. Half of these pieces have already seen the world in various online circumstances. Some tough work, some pathetic work, some sympathetic work, some ecstatic work.

Sunday 5 March 2023

Jamie Evan Kitts : coda

Since I’ve started this poetry career I’ve been able to develop my own style and voice, and I encourage other poets to do the same. Don’t feel beholden to Poet Voice in your writing or your performance. Cut a promo. Growl and scream. Let the weight of every word break as it must.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Emma Rhodes : part one

Emma Rhodes (she/her) is an emerging queer writer currently living on the unceded territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island people. Her work has been published in places such as Prism International, Plenitude, Riddle Fence, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, Razor Burn, is forthcoming with Anstruther Press. You can find her at

Photo credit: Connor Price-Kelleher

What are you working on?

I am close to seeing my first chapbook out in the world, which is very exciting! Other than that, I am trying to foster a writing practice that is compatible with my relatively new job working in publishing. I am working to be gentle on myself as my relationship with my writing changes, and to be very intentional about making time to write and submit work for publication ☺.