Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Chani Zwibel

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Chani Zwibel

Chani Zwibel is the author of Cave Dreams to Star Portals, published by Alien Buddha Press. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming.

and a link to my book:

https://www.amazon.com/Cave-Dreams-Portals-Chani-Zwibel/dp/1724353128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538061241&sr=1-1&keywords=Chani+Zwibel+Cave+Dreams+to+Star+Portals

The Interview
1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I’ve always told stories, since I could talk, and when I learned to write, I wrote them. Poetry came to me one day when I was outside . I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and it was a windy day, but not so bad that I had to go inside. The wind was blowing through the tree branches, making them dance. We had these huge willow trees in the yard and it reminded me of women with long hair swaying. I was in fifth grade. I wrote a poem about the wind. Nature still strongly inspires me.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Does Dr. Seuss count as poetry? If so, then my parents and grandparents. Everyone read to me and encouraged me to read. My babysitter always read me Shel Silverstein.  I don’t think we touched on poetry much until fifth grade in school, which may have been why I wrote the wind one in that form. My cousin introduced me to Charles Bukowski when I was 13, and that opened a door. Everything I’d read until then had been Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. Also around that time we studied Langston Hughes in school. His words were a revelation, also. All good poetry is like that. It opens something in the heart, some unknown corner in the mind. Poetry can be beautiful images and poetry can be horrible scenes, and everything from here to there.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I think poets are mostly solitary hunters and don’t really run into each other unless accidentally crossing another’s territory searching for food. Literally any conversation with “established” or “successful” older poets in formal or informal settings has sent the message: “don’t do this, you won’t make any money, you will go insane…..but if you REALLY WANT TO and you just CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT, then, ok…chase your dreams kid. Good.Luck.”

4. What is your daily writing routine?

It’s very eclectic. I keep a notebook stashed in every possible place: the desk, the bedside table drawer, the purse. If I’m “sitting down to write”, it’s usually morning, after the coffee, when I’m alone in the house.

5. What motivates you to write?

Because when I write, I don’t feel like checking the clock, or wondering what’s coming next. I am fully immersed in the moment and feel completely in tune with the universe. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Also, if I don’t do it, I’ll feel miserable.

6. What is your work ethic?

I might procrastinate for days, but I’ll get it done. Once I get down to business, I’m in the zone. When I’m on a project, and I’m in that space of work, I don’t ever dare stop the flow.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

All that Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein put a dictionary of rhymes in my brain I can’t erase, along with a sensibility for the abstract, the weird. Sometimes I hearken back to the Frost and the Dickinson for their form. I’m always dancing between the Romantics and the Modernists. Formal, beautiful, structural work vs abstract, bizarre, guttural resonances.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Warsan Shire and Claudia Rankine are amazing. Read them, and you’ll know why.

9. Why do you write?

I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I can’t see myself doing anything else. My identity and purpose for living are bound up in writing. It’s who I am, and can’t be untangled from my spirit, mind, and body.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Keep your passion for it alive. Stay curious.  Learn the technical aspects of your craft, because you can only break the rules once you know them. Know that not everyone is going to appreciate your voice, but remember someone will. Don’t.ever.give.up.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’ve recently had my first chapbook, Cave Dreams to Star Portals published by Alien Buddha Press. Hopefully next year I can follow that up. I’m working on a set of narrative poems about my childhood and adolescence in Pennsylvania, also.

I’m an associate editor with Madness Muse Press, and we are always accepting work for our blog, as well as our anthologies. You can find more information at https://madnessmusepress.com/

I’m also working with two friends,  putting together a project for art and writing called Narwhal, which focuses on environmental issues and living on a planet in crisis. For more information on that project, I can be reached at Chani Zwibel on facebook, or by email at clzwibel@gmail.com.

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