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.
(she/her), a queer Detroiter, often says while some write like a turtleneck sweater, she writes like a Hawaiian shirt. A finalist for the 2019/2020 Glass Chapbook Series and semifinalist for the Button Poetry 2018 Chapbook Contest, she is usually working on new chapbook ideas, or, when desperate, on her neglected YA novel. Works are published/forthcoming in Entropy, Pidgeonholes, Glass Poetry, 8 Poems, Okay Donkey, Honey & Lime, and more. Lannie currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Barren Magazine and is a member of the MMPR Collective. She was thrice nominated for Best of the Net 2019.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I started writing (fiction) in 3rd grade, but I didn’t try my hand at poetry until 6th. A student teacher had us all write poems on whatever topic, and I chose a lion. It was called “Long Live the King.” I didn’t think it was anything special, but everyone seemed impressed. So, I thought, “Huh, maybe there’s something to this.” From there, I wrote such number one hits as “Russian Spy” and “1-800-DOG-BITE.” As they say, a legend was born.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon Shel Silverstein, and his was the first poetry I ever read. Shout out to “Hector the Collector.” But when I was 11 or 12, our teacher had us read and interpret “Ode to La Tortilla” by Gary Soto. I can still remember the dripping butter.
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
I wasn’t aware in the least. At the time, I was writing simply to write. The politics of the genre didn’t actually come into play until about a year ago, when I started submitting. I saw the same names over and over being published, and I wanted to be one of them. But then it dawned on me to ask why I was seeing the same names over and over again. Nepotism? Talent? Influence and reach? A combination? Breaking it down is too much hassle, to be honest. Ultimately, I’ve decided it’s a numbers game. Just keep writing and submitting. I mostly pay attention to “established” writers to read them or to learn from them. I don’t have the energy to feel inferior.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
It’s more like a daily reading routine. At any given time, I’m balancing 2-3 (maybe more) books. To write well, you must read well. I don’t force myself to write. I mean, sometimes I do, if I’ve committed to a 30/30, weekly prompt, or some other challenge. But, typically, I only write when inspiration strikes, and that’s more likely to happen if I’m immersed in others’ creativity. Curiously, I tend to read more fiction than poetry.
4.1. What inspiration does fiction give , that poetry doesn’t?
What comes to mind is when writers create unique characters, with complexities and idiosyncrasies. A girl obsessed with a Red Sox pitcher, a boy with a lightning scar, a teenager with a collection of Air Jordans. I love the minutiae. Because poetry tends to be snapshots of emotion, we don’t often get to develop the characters.
5. What motivates you to write?
Emotions. Misheard lyrics. Misread phrases. Writing challenges with poet friends. Knowing this is the one thing in my goddamn life that I am unequivocally and irrevocably in love with.
6. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
When I was a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on: V.C. Andrews, Stephen King, Pat Conroy, Michael Crichton, and a lot of trashy romances. I would say most of it was “age-inappropriate,” if I believed in that sort of thing. So, basically, I was always reading above my level, subconsciously striving to grow. That definitely comes out in my writing. The way I play with new forms, experiment with new topics, challenge myself to be vulnerable. Mellencamp would be happy to know I’m young and improving.
7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Poetry: Sabrina Benaim, Dorianne Laux, and Chen Chen really strike a chord. They write about the human condition the way I wish I could. It’s unapologetic, vulnerable, raw, and somehow still kind of fun. Fiction: Sarah Waters, James, Baldwin (can he count as today?), and Tim O’Brien. Really, when I think about it, they have the same qualities as the poets I admire. They can take every day trauma and explain it beautifully. I also love Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, but for a different reason. Her characters are well-developed and unforgettable. In fact, the princess, Amari, is one of my all-time favorite characters.
8. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
That’s an easy one. Write.
9. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I’m always working on something. To date, I have completed two chapbooks and two micro-chaps. In fact, one of the micro-chaps was recently picked up by Wild Pressed Books, so I’m really looking forward to its publication. But ideas are, at this very moment, floating around my head, and I plan on finishing another chapbook by the end of the year. I also have one-third of a YA novel written that I carefully avoid writing, but I imagine one day I’ll finish it.