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.
makes poems happen from her perch in the midwestern United States. She has self-published 4 books of poetry in PDF and audiobook formats since 2003. Her poetry has most recently been featured in Writer’s Digest and Memoir Mixtapes, with more forthcoming in 2019. Her photographs have been included in 2 issues of Barren Magazine. K is a contributing writer for the Memoir Mixtapes song recommendations blog as well. More writing credits and projects can be found on her website!
HER ONLINE POETRY BOOKS (PDF AND AUDIO)
cling as ink (2018): https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/cling-as-ink-2018/
i should have changed that stupid lock (2014): https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/i-should-have-changed-that-stupid-lock-2014/
bluest grey (2012): https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/bluest-grey-2012/
midwestern skirt (2003): https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/midwestern-skirt-2003/
A FEW PUBLISHED POEMS
(full publishing credits available at https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/about-k-weber/)
– “…and I guess I just don’t know” https://mockturtlezine.com/past-issues/issue-16-fall-2017/#jp-carousel-2511 – Mock Turtle Zine, Issue 16/Fall 2017
– “When this world is trying its hardest” https://memoirmixtapes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/18.-K-Weber.pdf – Memoir Mixtapes, Vol. 7/2018
– “postural pastoral” https://hornypoetryreview.com/2019/01/03/postural-pastoral/ – horny poetry review, January 3, 2019
– “Unevensong” http://wordsdance.com/2016/06/unevensong-by-k-weber/ – Words Dance, 2016 (includes audio)
1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?
I had interest in writing poetry somewhere around age 8. In general, words interested me and I liked the idea of playing with rhyme. I liked to browse the dictionary and I enjoyed spending rainy days at my grandparents with paper and pencils and singsong ideas. I didn’t always keep poetry in the foreground but would really start finding my niche in high school during those few, short months of my first love. I also enjoyed being a part of literary magazine staff and submitting my work. In college I took advantage of most any creative writing opportunity possible, edited, developed more of my written voice and pushed myself in new directions form-wise and theme-wise. Once I was in the workforce, writing poetry was something I could lean on outside the usual routine and remind myself of myself.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I have been introduced and re-introduced to poetry many times throughout the years. Originally, family, grade school teachers and librarians exposed me to a variety of children’s poetry. In junior high there were more opportunities to write poems for homework and do special projects and book reports involving the research of poets. High school definitely gave me a glimpse into the classic, mainstream poets. At the college level I learned more about contemporary, modern, and experimental poetry and French poetry. Since graduating college I have been reading more independent and small press poets.
3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?
My awareness of poets before my time from John Milton to Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Paul Laurence Dunbar to Dickinson to Gertrude Stein to Keats to Sylvia Plath to Shakespeare to e e cummings to Langston Hughes to Homer and all points in between and all over that map were really all I knew in my earliest education in poetry. When I sang in the chorus from grades 6 through 11, it was not uncommon to perform a choral version of poems by Poe (“Annabelle Lee”) or Frost (“Stopping By Woods…”). Those classics will always remain in my memory. But I treasure that I had the chance to be taught by poets at Miami University (Annie Finch and David Schloss influenced me greatly) and go to readings by contemporary authors (Alice Walker being a highlight) in the craft. Through workshops, online communities, open mic opportunities and more recently, social media, I have become a fan of many who are writing and publishing at a similar level as I am. Our goals and themes may differ but it is incredibly rewarding to have such an eclectic poetry community thriving. I can’t even name one modern poet who I was aware of circa junior high 🙂
4. What is your daily writing routine?
In all honesty, I deal with anxiety and not very well. I have tried numerous ways of setting up a writing schedule but it never seems to click. I utilise prompts when I am not feeling immediate inspiration but want to get ideas down. Otherwise, I try to make lists of ideas that come my way and use those as starting points for new material. It is also so important to sit down with poems that need revision and work on the best and most comfortable ways to approach revising. I like knowing that when I make time to write, I have different aspects I can focus on from brand new poem development to heavy editing and revising or researching and preparing for submitting.
5. What motivates you to write?
I get inspired by other writers – especially my peers who write. Having hobbies beyond writing also motivates me and influences the subjects I incorporate. I enjoy so many subjects, have worked and volunteered in a variety of areas, and relationships and strangers inspire me. I don’t always have an end game with a poem or collection. I like to occasionally submit but I am not prolific there. Sometimes writing is simply free therapy for me or a compilation of works that I may or may not figure out their fate until later. I do like creating audiobooks and recording my poems. I have an upcoming piece that features my voice and sounds I have layered. I get motivated by trying poetry from new vantage points. My recent book, cling as ink, is a collection of poems sharing the titles of work featured in Inklings, a magazine I edited 20 years prior in college. Having a unique project in mind helped me produce not only a new book of my work, but enabled me to reach out to my college professors and the writers, artists and staff involved in the original magazine’s creation. I never regret seeing my unusual or seemingly lofty ideas through when it comes to poetry.
6. What is your work ethic?
I consider any writing I do to be good practice. If I dislike something I wrote I try to keep it and focus on some descriptions or lines that might be salvageable later and used in a new poem or revision. I try not to have assumptions or put restrictions on my writing except that my rough drafts should never be final drafts. Also I try not to compare my writing schedule or awards (or lack of) or number of poems or especially my work ethic to others. Everyone’s ability is so unique but having many or few writing credits should not be a measurement of poetic prowess or a deterrent from taking your writing as far as you’d like it to go.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Such a fantastic question! As a child, I read a lot of Beverly Cleary books. I also was endlessly fascinated with a set of science encyclopaedias I had. Shel Silverstein’s poems felt so brilliant and unusual. I guess if you add these together it sort of represents my underlying aesthetic which seems to involve accessing the variety of ideas and experiences I have lived and let them engage inside my poetry. I still have the mischievous Ramona Quimby peeking over my shoulder as I write. Silverstein’s absurd-yet-profound poems still inspire me to stretch through my go-to images and themes and explore wildly. Those science encyclopaedias took my mind to so many places I still haven’t and may never see in this lifetime. I often struggle with unknowns in my writing but rather than give up I treat those uncovered territories as an important mission. I feel very fortunate to have remained curious and a quiet observer all these years!
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Jenny Lawson’s nonfiction writing resonates deeply on both personal and comedic levels. While not a poetry writer, her personal writing on mental illness is tinged with sadness but mostly the fight to persevere by laughing through the reality of life’s battles. “Furiously Happy” is such a stand-out book about holding the very best parts of yourself together when it feels impossible. I also really admire Pema Chodron for her ability to write on such difficult topics so beautifully and easily for everyday understanding. The mindfulness components and applications can be life-changing. I realise I haven’t mentioned poets here and honestly I am not extremely versed in the more well-known modern-day poets and the ones I am thinking of do not resonate as much with me. A major exception here is a fairly recent book of prose poetry I have read more than once. “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson is such a masterful, often emotionally overwhelming book. It is a YA book filled with reality. No sugar-coating. Life in this story is presented in its joys and tragedy; carefully but also as close to real life as we can touch. All the glimmers of good feel exceptional. Some of the more indie poets I enjoy reading and watching their writing grow are many but include Kristin Garth, Barton Smock, Robert Lee Brewer, Tzynya L. Pinchback, Noah Falck, Darren C. Demaree, and Allie Marini. So many more…
9. Why do you write?
While I don’t feel the urge to write every day or even every week, poetry does not judge my timeline. I write because it feels just right to get the words down when they come to me or more often, as I fit them together from thin air into the start of something. I love the feeling of a good line or line break… it feels like a new invention. I enjoy the challenge of constructing poems that really fit my voice and the subjects and imagery I want to portray. I enjoy wordplay (the first time I discovered Heather McHugh, Bernadette Mayer and Jean Cocteau set this appreciation in immediate motion!) and working with prompts to keep my writing fresh and examining new territory. Writing poetry has lead to writing my books, editing projects, being published, has forged many friendships and romances… and good or bad I can still write about these things 🙂
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Although I started writing fairly young with poetry and writing and have a degree in creative writing, I have found that the best advice came much later. “Write what you know” transcends genre or education in the craft. It doesn’t mean to forget what you’ve been taught or deny your assumptions about writing. It also doesn’t mean you must bare your soul on the page. The idea is for a writer to avoid grasping at overused ideas and dig deeper to begin recognising the practice, style, and time commitment that works best for them. I like to share this advice as much as possible because new writers sometimes think they need to write in the style of well-known poets or they have to write in a particular form or that writing has a formula or rules in general. Write what you know and the logistics and structure will fall into place in time.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
For the first and probably the last time, I wrote over 300 poems in 2018. I am selecting some of the pieces I like most and revising them. Hoping to submit to a few more journals this year. I continue to contribute song recommendations to Memoir Mixtapes. I have a poem, an audio poem/sound collage, and some other writing coming soon in a few online literary magazines. I am mostly just very happy to be here and writing, submitting, revising, and enjoying these opportunities as someone who once thought I would not enjoy writing after a few years of not writing much!