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.
A collection of front cover images of her books heads Kristin’s website.
is a Pushcart & Best of the Net nominated sonnet stalker. Her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Yes, Five:2: One, Anti-Heroin Chic, Former Cactus, Occulum, Luna Luna, & many more. She has a chapbook Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), three forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Lit March 2019) Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press). Follow her on Twitter: (
@lolaandjolie), her weekly poetry column (https://www.rhythmnbone.com/sonnetarium)
rhythmnbone.com/sonnetarium) and her website (http://kristingarth.wordpress.com)
- When and why did you start to write poetry?
I started writing poetry when I was a little girl, free verse. It was mostly to deal with abuse issues and a traumatic homelife. I wrote my first sonnet as a high school assignment. In college I continued doing that and got a partial creative writing scholarship based on them. I dropped out of grad school to establish my financial independence and became a stripper. Even in that milieu I wrote some sonnets. I’ve always married modern themes with the form.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I read poetry as a child from the childish stuff Silverstein to Poe. They had a huge effect on me but the biggest influence was a poet from the Ozarks who came to speak at my school. He was the first living poet I met. He read from his book, and he was from a small town like me.Even as a child I think I associated poetry as a thing people from big places did — professors and such. It was when i realized someone from a small place could be charismatic and own a room.
2.1 When did you realise you could own a room?
I don’t think I have realized that reading in person. I know I haven’t because I have never successfully done it. In grad school, we were forced to do it but I couldn’t make it through my poem. And I dropped out so I never won that battle.
I only recently started recording audios of poems. I love that, and people seem to enjoy them. At first I was terrified and thought my voice was too babyish and quiet and not professional. I’ve learned though there is a power in all of that.
I recently got asked to be the voice of Rhythm & Bones Lit Which records their editor’s picks of the best pieces in the magazine. I will be recording those. It’s crazy to me to think only a year ago I was battling my insecurity about my voice and now I’m being asked to read other people’s work. Maybe I will conquer the public readings one day too.
3. How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
Well as a girl who writes Shakespearean sonnets primarily, I am totally dominated in a sense by a 400 year old poet. I try to follow his form though I’m a rebel and I play loosely at times. It obviously doesn’t bother me to have buses and influences. I feel like my content is a beast and it requires a time-tested, solid cage. The cage frees me so I can release my rage and passion.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Right now I’m at a Starbucks with earphones in. I just finished a sonnet and sent it to a magazine that was expecting it. Since it was one I wrote from an alternate POV, I sent it to a couple of female poet friends I respect to read it. Sometimes I do that when I feel out of my comfort zone or unsure.
I write every day. I was attempting for the first time in two years to take a week off of writing. I just finished a chapbook on my sexual assault at a Christian college, and it was grueling. It’s called Puritan U, and it is being published by Rhythm & Bones Lit in March next year. It is an important but grueling book. And it’s my fourth solo chapbook in two years, so even for a Capricorn I though I earned a break. I made it two whole days, and here I am back in the Starbucks, doing the thing.
5. What motivates your writing?
I am definitely motivated by my own need to extricate a poison from my body. I write about traumas, power imbalances I have experienced or seen that shaped me. I carry these things inside like burdens, and the physical act of putting them on paper is like an exorcism of a darkness — or at least a layer of it.
As a person who was abused, who was expected to keep secrets, to keep up appearances, owning the ugliness of life and experience is extremely empowering to me. Putting my name to a piece of paper telling a shameful story, it says I am in a whole different world than I was as a child. The first poem I published was a fetish poem, for example, and it’s the only one I ever used an alias because I lived at home. I was not safe. The act of writing provocative things and owning them is such a celebration of the free state of my soul these days.
6. What is your work ethic?
My work ethic is pretty intense. I’m a Capricorn, and work is intrinsic to our nature. One of my best writing friends Tianna Hansen who is the editor of Rhythm & Bones is a Capricorn too, and it’s why her magazine is such a force of nature. Capricorns live to work. When we take breaks, it is only for the sake of the work.
I had to have this pep talk with my self to force myself to take a week Writing break: it will make you come back so strong. I only made it two days. I do feel stronger though. I live to write. Everything in my life supports that. That is my purpose.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I feel Poe’s influence in a lot of my gothic sonnets. On his birthday last year I wrote a sonnet that was published in Moonchild Magazine called A Geography of Loneliness. You can read it here:
moonchildmag.net/kristingarth3.… — it was a tribute to Poe, using the language of horror to describe a mental landscape I felt. I latched on to dark writing in my youth because it spoke to my troubled soul, and I think it’s ambience reflects the dim geography of my past that I carry around still in my heart.
I also read about the Salem witch trials. I have a huge attraction to that period in American History when Puritans really controlled things, women were so constricted to very limited, rigid roles and completely without power. Sadly, though women have a lot more rights, in our current political climate, I feel a lot of resonance with this time period.
Also having attended a Christian college in a state (Utah) where the division between church and state is maybe the most clouded of any I have ever experienced, I personally relate to this. It’s why I named my fourth solo chapbook Puritan U.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I love so many poets like Chen Chen, Justin Karcher, Joanna Valente, Kailey Tedesco. I love vivid images and fearless writing. I also love novelists like Joyce Carol Oates, Chuck Palahniuk, Caroline Kepnes, Bret Easton Ellis, Dave Eggers, I love writing that uses darkness, gothic horror themes even to illustrate power imbalances and stark truths. I’m reading a book right now Dietland by Sarai Walker that is another awesome social commentary in a great page turner of a novel.
9. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I know people who went the school route to writing — as I did for part of my journey. I don’t regret it at all. I’m very glad for my education even if I didn’t fully complete my Master’s degree. It taught me a lot about reader reaction to my work and exposed me to so many styles of writing.
I would say to find an experience where you can workshop your work and gain critique from others. If that is school great, if that is a website — I personally when I returned to writing used the website Scribophile. It toughens you up as a writer to have your work critiqued by others.
Even if you don’t change things based on the critiques it causes you to sharpen things about your writing, if only to clarify your objectives. It teaches you about your writing, even just defending it. Sometimes you learn things too – crutches you don’t know you have. It prepares you for the world of editors which can be intimidating and harrowing and such an education.
I personally don’t critique anymore but I use friends who are poets as sounding boards when I’m unsure.
10. Tell me more about the writing projects you are involved in.
As I’ve stated before about writing projects, I just finished my fourth solo book, Puritan U. It wlll come out in March. I have a chapbook out currently available at Maverick Duck (my publisher) and my website
kristingarth.com. I have another one that is all Shakespearean sonnets on sociopaths called Shakespeare for Sociopaths that will be released in January from The Hedgehog Poetry Press. In April that press will also release my full length poetic memoir on stripping in the Deep South in pigtails and cheerleading uniforms called Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir. So having said all this week I am just writing poems and not thinking of the next big project. If you interview me in a week though I’ll probably be contemplating my next big book — Capricorn problems.