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.
C. Aloysius Mariotti
was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Arizona. He studied creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he listened to a lot of Rush, Radiohead, and PJ Harvey. His poetry been featured in Black Bough Poetry, Marias at Sampaguitas, Boston Accent Lit, and Memoir Mixtapes, among others. He resides in Massachusetts with his wife Kristen and Westie Bella Francine.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I think I was inspired mostly by reading it. I’ve always adored language, the way combined words can make incredible beauty, or tell a staggering story unique to anything else. But there was also a great challenge to writing poems that sucked me in, to find the right combinations of words to evoke the stories I wanted to tell.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
No one in particular. I’m sure it originally came about through my curiosity in the public library, then furthermore in the Mesa Public School system.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
If by older poets, you mean the canon of dead white males, I was very aware. They were in every anthology I read. Some became influences. I admit to loving the British Romantics. Coleridge, specifically. Keats. But, man. What an improving poetry world we live in now, where it’s normal to find poets of color, of all genders, of all creeds and philosophical thoughts. I think poetry was always a voice for marginalized people. It’s awesome to finally see books from that community in the public space. But we always need more.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I’ve never been one to write x-amount of words a day. I don’t use prompts to create on the spot. Generally, for me, writing inspiration best comes with some glasses of whiskey.
5. What motivates you to write?
Language. There are few things as perfect as words, how seeing them on the page can summon something indelible inside you. Either from a memory or common connection, or just the gorgeousness of certain letters strung together. I’m motivated to create such wondrous beauty.
6. What is your work ethic?
According to the novel I’ve been writing since 1997, my work ethic is quite methodical.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
There is always an influence in there on an unconscious level. As a young poet, I was very into rhyme and meter. While at the University of Arizona, I took a writing class taught by the poet Steve Orlen. He read my work and picked a modern poet he felt I resembled, and then had me read a collection and write an essay about it. He chose the British poet Philip Larkin, and his book The Whitsun Weddings. And though I wasn’t familiar with Larkin at the time, I was absolutely unshocked to be paired with him, because how towering an influence on me were the British writers of the past? They were 90% of the poets in the books I read. After that class, I made it paramount to move beyond that influence, and I immersed myself in poets who played with form, like prose and free-verse. And I realized, quickly, that that was my true wheelhouse and passion.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I’ve been fortunate to meet a group of writers who are not just as good as it gets but supportive as well. So, I decided to create the Legend City Collective (a name taken from the novel I’m writing). I’m a firm believer in creative communities, and the selfish person I am, I filled mine with my favorite ones! From the website:
“There is something gorgeous about entwining your artistic sensibilities with others, about being in a spot to encourage, & support, & inspire one another. And to also be pushed to create such fire so you can keep up with the brilliance around you.”
You can read about those writers I most admire here: https://legendcitycollective.wordpress.com
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Truth be told, writing is what I’m best at. I’ve played music since high school, and even recorded an album. But, there is nothing more free to me than language. It lets me be my best me.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I’m of the thought that if you write, you are a writer. It’s as simple as that.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I have a few poems upcoming in publications such as Black Bough Poetry, Dark Marrow, The Failure Bailer, Sub Rosa, and Pink Plastic House. But my all-consuming project is this novel. It’s called Collapse the Light into Earth (title taken from a Porcupine Tree song). I’m about 85% complete, with a goal of having it done by November 1, which is my 45th birthday. The story is in three parts, which intertwine in surprising ways, and follows a non-linear path toward an existential ending. It’s the best work I’ve ever written, and I truly hope readers will connect to it. Oh, and that an agent is reading this interview and wants me to query with them!