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.
is originally from Argentina and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana at a young age. She recently participated 100,000 Poets for Change (2018) and served as part of a panel of poets in The Jane Austen Festival (2017 & 2018). You can find her work online at The Horror Zine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and The Sirens Call Ezine. She is Eliana Vanessa on Facebook at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/eliana.vanessa.7758.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I started writing poetry as a challenge. As a child, I equated it to song writing. The nursery rhymes and songs that I was exposed to ( both in English and Spanish) sparked my interest in the lyrical aspects of what i came to later recognize as another form of poetry.
Later, at about age 13, my English teacher at the time decided she was going to skip teaching “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” to the class. I was appalled! She was happy to see that someone cared and explained that most of the students had gotten bored with it in the past. She said she too loved Coleridge and said that if I wanted to, I could teach it. She gave me two full days, and I couldn’t have been happier. Looking back, I wonder if this wasn’t her way of prodding me towards my passion, as she already knew I loved poetry. She introduced me to all the classics, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Poe,Keats, Blake, and, of course, Shakespeare. When i started to share my poetry with her, she took it very seriously and gave me great advice/critique as well as encouragement.
So, I continued to write, simply because I enjoyed it!
Also, my dad was and is a poet, but I didn’t know it Lol He did not share his work with me until I was considerably older, but he provided a great environment for creativity.
2. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
Very aware them, then and now. I lean towards the classics, so many more to mention, Emerson, Thoreau, for example.
Certain things I will never forget being introduced to, for example, stream of consciousness in the style of Faulkner. Those were things that directly affected, and still affect my writing.
Also, because of my Spanish heritage, I grew up with lots of exposure to Borges, Neruda, and whomever else my father might’ve been reading at the time. I was interested in reading whatever he was reading! He also introduced me to Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, which I couldn’t put down.
It’s important, I think, to honor those who came before us, whomever we look up to, those poets who paved the way. Keeping them alive in conversation, and as guides, in my own work is comforting to me.
As far as contemporary writers, there are so many I enjoy, just having fairly recently joined Facebook, it is a joy to have so many talented acquaintances! Because of this, I am truly inspired even more, on a daily basis!
3. What is your daily writing routine?
I just write whenever I have a minute to stop! Sporadically, I guess, is the best way to answer that! No routine, I trust it will happen. My problem is not waiting for the muse, it’s turning the muse off lol. Sometimes it’s a phrase, a short poem, whatever comes to mind. That’s not to say that I don’t admire discipline, bc I do. I love sharing my work, having it critiqued by others, taking in suggestions for changes, seeing things from other people’s points of view, honing the craft so to speak.
I’ve always kept journals and I am a full pencil, pen, & paper freak!! I have always been intrigued with good penmanship as well. I love the feel of different textures of ink or graphite on various weight/ types of paper. I consider the actual act of writing an artistic act, if that makes sense. Also, the placement of the words of poetry on the page—-all of that has meaning. It is a process which unfolds aesthetically from the mind to its final presentation, and for me, I don’t stop until that vision looks, sounds, and “feels” right. I think this is probably the case for many writers.
4. What motivates your writing?
Everything and anything. whether it’s a commentary or observation about an everyday occurrence, or emotion, or a passionate stance, in favor or against something.
I love that poetry serves as a lens by which we learn about ourselves and others, the micro/macro attributes of it.
Poets bend and flex words, find their unique rhythm, in the hopes that the whole spectrum of human feeling and experience is expressed and shared, through countless sources of inspiration!
5. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Those writers I mentioned earlier (i.e. Coleridge, Wordsworth, Poe, Thoreau),
and the idea of a “Romantic Era” fascinated me as teenager. I spent hours upon hours reading, not only the works, but the biographies of so many authors. The fact that some of them came from such troubled backgrounds, and, how their epic works reflected the inner struggles they faced, impacted me greatly, no matter the genre, or form of art. Their works inform my writing now in that I tap into that inner intuitiveness and sense of wonder to express my thoughts about inner and outer emotional struggle, a theme that will always be relevant, the theme of human suffering at the core of everything.
Also, introduced to me through those same writers, was a deep sense of awe towards life, the perseverance of it, despite an inevitable sense of destruction. This attitude strongly influences my work today.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that, as a student of both psychology and cultural anthropology, I was influenced, in addition, in my twenties and up, by countless ethnographies and theoretical constructs on human behavior, stories that focused on culture—and the various psychological, sociological, genetic and spiritual factors—that accompany all of us, in one way or another, through life.
When I write, some of my poems are not at all autobiographical, but rather, the recounting of a story that may have occurred in a different place or time.
6. Which of today’s writers do admire and why?
As far as writers that I admire, everyone of my writer friends I’ve made on Facebook is inspiring to me. There are too many to name, but they know who they are. We read and encourage each other on a regular basis, and I love them for that!
When it comes to flash fiction, or longer works, I’ve recently enjoyed reading Jefferey Deaver and Charles Gramlich. They both have the unique talent of combining suspense and poetry in a way I have never experienced before, and that’s just it, reading their stories is an experience, a fully captivating one!
Where poetry is concerned, I am currently reading Billy Collins and Ocean Vuong.
How they weave life experiences with just the right balance of gentleness, wit and grit amazes me, always. Also, I do admire other styles of poetry, equally as gripping, writers like Bruce Boston, Diego Quiros, and Dionne Cherie Baker who transport me, effortlessly, into imaginative settings or situations, sometimes into other dimensions, weaving human emotion with a sense of otherworldliness.
7. Why do you write?
I write because of my muse.(eye roll)
8. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I really believe that someone is just inherently a writer because he/she loves doing it, especially if they endeavor to keep doing it with any measure of longevity. To those who catch the bug, I would say, keep at it! Do it whenever you get a chance, whenever your heart and soul desire it, or, you can try to set a specific time of day to write, if that works best for you. Whatever you want, just keep at it, listen to others, but also, listen to yourself, keep a good balance between the two as you move forward, and your voice will find its place among other fellow writers.
9. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I am currently working on several projects: mainly my first collection of poems as well as participation in an upcoming anthology. I look forward to future participation with 100,000 Poets For Change and encourage all poets to be a part of this great movement. This past year, we focused on the Read A Poem To A Child initiative, headed by Michael Rothenberg, and every year there are new themes and issues, brought to the forefront through the art of poetry. Every voice does in fact matter, and it’s a great opportunity to band together and speak up towards social/ political/ environmental injustices. I do have poems coming out in The Sirens Call Ezine as well as in Fearless, a literary mag & ezine.