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.
Mysti S. Milwee
is an International published Synesthesia artist (whom paints to music), and poetess from Southside, AL. Her art and poetry has widely appeared in numerous magazines, e-zines, anthologies, and tours and has been used in academic studies and ministries across the US and abroad. Her collaborative works have been published in New Delhi, India with International Famous Singer/Songwriter Debasish Parashar to his Borgeet debut song “Pamaru Mana” which has received global recognition and numerous publications in India, Italy, & the US, huge thanks to Dipankar Jyoti Bora who did amazing work in PR/Exposure in India; In collaboration with International acclaimed British Composer Keith Barnard in London, United Kingdom, to his organ music “The Universal Harmony of Light”; In collaboration with Nationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Jonathan Joel Pop Artist from (Nashville, Tennessee) to his debut song “Mascara”. She is a former musician with the gift of musical knowledge, and a former vocalist singer. She is a member of several well known music and art societies, music and writing collaborative teams, and groups including: ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers); Art & Music International Group; Songwriting and Music Production Group; The Stellar Society: Writers, Poets, Filmmakers, and Artists; MADE-The Society of Music, Art, and Drama Education; Arts, Music, Literature & Humanities Group; Music of Other Dimensions Group; Native Music Blessing and Prayer Group; ASPS (Alabama State Poetry Society); Writers Anonymous; Alabama Writers Conclave; and many other groups, societies, and organizations across the US and abroad. More of my awards, publications, interviews, etc. can be found at: http://www.mystismilwee.wordpress.com
I was inspired to start writing poetry since the age of thirteen, when a tragic event affected our nation. My emotional response to this event left me in a state of mind of wanting to write to help effect change in our nation and our world as a whole to give my heart and soul to the people who are hurting and suffering. I wanted to be that messenger to convey an emotion left so deep in someone’s heart and soul that they would remember me and my words, and for them to remember what they felt and somehow be there for them spiritually and soulfully, instilling words of hope and healing to a broken and dark world that needs so much love, light, and healing. It is my heart to give and be there for “the people” through the most powerful tool, my words. I write what I feel, to convey a message through my voice and my vision that breathes life back into the broken world through poetry, painting, and photography. Everything that attaches to my mind inspires me to write freely and expressively.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I was first introduced to poetry at a very young age, reading poetry and books. My librarian first introduced me to the world of rhythm and rhyme, which is where I first fell in love with reading poetry. It was instilled in my veins from that point forward, reading everything I could get my hands on. I fell in love with reading poetry and books, never toys.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I was very aware of the older poets, I started studying Maya Angelou, The Beat Poets, William Wadsworth, Walt Whitman and many others when I was around age 10 at my local library, I was a curious type of person and always wanting to learn and study everything on my own, I have always been a self-disciplined, self-motivated and determined person since a young age. I would research the great minds on the computer, in magazines, etc. and went with what I felt was closest to my heart, because I knew somewhere in their poetry I could either relate, or it was an experience to learn and shape my character with a voice and vision from the depth of my soul.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
As a rule, I generally write at night when it is very quiet and I can focus more, although I tend to have a writers’ burst here and there during the day depending on my mindset, what is going on, my mood, and where I’m at, between the busy daily work schedules. I usually commit to 2 to 3 hours a night that fluctuates. I keep a log to track submissions, publishing’s, etc. It is sometimes a challenging task to keep up with as I write poetry, articles, essays, etc. and my sheet is usually very long and with my background as an internationally published synesthesia artist as well, sending in my paintings to magazines and journals, and also the aesthetics of art and the creative process relating to my synesthesia method of interpretation. The writing process is a very detailed process in which I love to write about my art and in ekphrastic form.I read my poetry friends posts on various social network platforms here and there that often inspire the next poem. Seeing their posts also keeps me motivated to keep writing
5. What motivates you to write?
Music motivates my writing the most, I would be on break from work or at night during quiet time and put my ear buds in and listen to give myself a boost or just to relax and often the music would spark a poem or a song because of its emotion and feeling, it conveys a message of understanding and depth that is usually related to everyday life. Music is a poetic movement in lyrical voice, it is a wonderful aid and tool that really keeps me writing and producing poetry and songs. I write because I am passionate about words, I love it and love to feel and express both in writing and visual art form.
6. What is your work ethic?
My work ethic is to just be me and do my best to achieve good results by setting reasonable goals that I can meet, maintaining a balance of communication, effort in a positive way, and dedication.Evolution and the world of change is the only way to embrace an “open mind”, the world is an open gate towards success. We must first not be our own enemy, but to spare ourselves to live in a world that is always changing at a fast pace, as the millennials become our future. Not just writers have to embrace it but all creatives and we seek that acceptance and learn from harsh criticism. If we don’t keep an “open mind” we set ourselves up for frequent disappointments and we give up our dreams. Being a visual artist since age three has been a course of change and challenge, in the beginning it frequented some failures but I learned from them, won some lost some it is what it is, and learned to accept and learn from it. Those failures were the bumps I climbed upon, it made me more determined and dedicated to never give up, learning from my experiences and criticism.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
The writers I have read have influenced me to have courage, be optimistic and never give up hope trying, they have encouraged me to find myself and my self-worth. The journey a lot of writers have embraced either a lonely life or had spent half their life in depression trying to find themselves, their identity and being a “people watcher” in society. How they influenced me to find myself, but I wanted to take that insight of what I read and turn it into something beautiful between the light and darkness and convey an emotion. It gave me the ability to learn, to experience the depth of understanding emotions and what people were actually writing, and what they were thinking. Learning from writers at an early age was a measure of wisdom, courage, adversity, strength, and perseverance and it helped me deal with the challenges and things that I was dealing with at an early age, they encouraged me to “think perspective” and be a transparent writer with my feelings in order to help the people and creatives who may be going through the same thing the older writers dealt with in their lifetime.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
The writers who I admire the most right now are the contemporary poets such as Scott Thomas Outlar, Debasish Parashar, Danijela Trajkovic, Keith Barnard,Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Don Beukes, Linda Imbler, Christine Tabaka, Mike Griffith, Michael Lee Johnson, Ken Dronsfield, Urainah Glidewell, Sue Brannan Walker, and several others.. I admire them because I can relate well to their poetry, and they have been of great influence in who I am today as a writer. Their writings, and the emotion felt that touches my heart in a way that is also healing. I say this because we all have been there at some point of our life, needing healing in certain areas of our life. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and the longer we keep it in and don’t write what we feel, the longer it stays bottled up inside. I admire them because they make me a stronger writer, to improve to be better. There is always room for improvement and they have been a huge influence not only in my life, but also as a writer.
9. Why do you write?
I write because it is my passion to give back to the world with words. Directly, giving the people hope, healing, encouragement, spiritual enlightenment, and love. Writing is my way of giving my heart and soul to others because its who I am, and what this world needs for writing is my calling, I will never give up who I am, and the words will never stop when my heart has so much to give. Writing has also been my sense of healing, curiosity for words, and finding out who I am and having the ability to see the imagery in my mind to convey thought of words and pictures to paint in my mind. As an grapheme-color-imagery synesthesia writer/poet, in which I write to and refer to poetic and artistic devices in my memory which aid to express a linkage between the senses. Writing from multi-sensory experiences has driven my mind, seeing a phenomenal height of illusion projected through words envisioned from interpretation of dreams; emotions; sensations and vibes; and spiritual depth of dimension and aura ( a three dimensional feeling and effect). This technique is a useful way to heighten and highlight a specific image or description that can be used to demonstrate confusion and excitement, adding an extra layer of meaning and can make imagery more complex and detailed, while also using mnemonic devices to write which is a memory device that also aids in my writing.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer”?
I would tell them to first write what you feel and get use to writing for others. See how it feels, start by joining poetry groups, or posting on social media and retain feedback, see how the people react and learn from it, and learn from the positive and negative comments (Yes there are critics, but let it shape you not break you. Learn from it). Learn from all perspectives they are your stepping stones. Set reasonable goals and keep a log of your submissions to journals, magazines, etc.. Set deadlines and stick to them. Be dedicated with discipline and focus, but learn to pace yourself and don’t put more on yourself that you can’t handle. Be consistent and choosy, learn your market before you submit to journals, mags, etc. Write something that has meaning to you, that is of importance, something that people can relate to. You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a writer, and what do I want to accomplish as a writer”? That is your identity, your starting point in an outreach from your heart from your POV (Point of View) but in relation to writing for the people. Write through the mess, the rough drafts, revise and edit, edit, edit those imperfections but don’t forget to put “Your heart into it”.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
At the moment I am working with the team in writing and marketing with Advaitam Media & Entertainment- New Delhi, India on our ongoing Project Shillong. We are all collaborating together as a team whether in the making the music video and or writing various articles, essays, etc. for international acclaimed singer/songwriter Debasish Parashar on his debut song “Shillong” which is an “emotion”. His lyrics is a lyrical poetic romantic song. We are a team of powerful creators and collaborators. (Follow us on Facebook for updates; links; links to articles, magazines, etc.; YouTube link to Debasish’s music video “Shillong” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P9clKk-TC0 )Besides that I have been writing poetry for several ministries across the US and abroad this year, so far this year to date I have written over 40 poems for ministry teams to be used as part of their sermons, biblical studies, and for various other projects and children’s programs. I am currently working on my first book of poetry, which I plan to have out next year along with works in translation (Cherokee/Tsalagi/Sequoyah language) and working on writing and illustrating my first children’s book. I am a writer and illustrator listed on the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writer’s & Illustrators) website that I am affiliated with. Other recent writing projects and publishing’s include (Short List Version):*The Kolkata Review -Kolkata/Bengal, India (November 2018-Inaugural Issue-Issue 1) *Hidden Constellation -USA (TBA- December 2018) *SETU Magazine (October 2018 Edition Issue) *International Poetry Anthology: Love as Universal Religion-TBA November 2018 *International Multidisciplinary Journal – (India)-Article: “The Creative Process: Interpretation of the Mind from Divine Inspiration” *Asian Literary Society’s -World Peace Anthology-Contributor-November-2018 (New Delhi, India) *Moonchild Magazine (USA)– Shillong (Project Shillong)- Essay by Rajarshee Chakraborty (and in collaborative efforts with the Shillong team)-November 2018 *GloMag Magazine (Chennai, India)-In ekphrastic collaboration with Don Beukes (October 2018) -Don wrote a poem “Song of the Sunali Wagalvladiya” in response to my painting, in which we both collaborated in the poem as well with presenting my cultural heritage in the Cherokee Tsalagi language. *News Folder (New Delhi, India)- My English poem “The Path of Life” was translated in Hindi and published in News Folder-newspaper -(October-2018); “Waiting for a Lovely Soul”-August 2018 *Campionatul Modial de Poesia World Championship of Poetry- my English poem was translated into Romanian and published in the Romanian Anthology of World Poetry. (Romania-October-2018) *The 13 Alphabet Magazine -Bangladesh-October 2018-Issue #4-Short Story-contributor- “The Shillong Song.” *Northeast Feed (Rajarshee Chakraborty)- “The Shillong Song” -Collaborative Team efforts September 2018 *Siege Now (Ashrujit Basu) Kolkata, India – “The Making of the Song Shillong”, penned by Mysti S. Milwee (and in collaboration with the team).- September 2018 *Asian Literary Society’s-Petals of Love Anthology-Contributor-August 2018 *Siege Now (Ashrujit Basu) Kolkata, India – Article- “Art & Poetry from the Heart”-August 2018 *Cover Art for GloMag Magazine (Chennai, India)-July 2018 *Warriors With Wings-The Best of Contemporary Poetry- (Editor: Michael Lee Johnson & Co-editor: Ken Dronsfield- “Finding Faith & Freedom” & “Pushing through the Pain” poems published. *Interview with editor Vatsala Radhakeesoon- Creativity from the Heart- Mauritus – July 2018……….and many other publications leading back to January 2018