Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Sarah Cave

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.

Sarah Cave

is a writer and academic living in Cornwall. She is currently working on a practice-based PhD on the Poetics of Prayer at Royal Holloway. Sarah has published two pamphlets and an illustrated chapbook, like fragile clay, published by Guillemot Press. She has published two collections of poetry, An Arbitrary Line (Broken Sleep Books) and Perseverance Valley (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) as well as a third, co-authored, collection A Confusion of Marys (Shearsman), forthcoming in February 2020. Sarah’s poetry and prose has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including Oxford Poetry, Poetry London, The Stand, Shearsman and Datableed.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I started writing poetry while I was studying for an English with Creative Writing degree at Falmouth University. I was a mature student looking for my identity as a writer. I’d been writing notes and fragments toward poetry for years, but it took the degree, and the clearing that enabled, to work it out. While at Falmouth, I had time to develop a writing practice and focus on diversifying my influences. I can’t even begin to stress the importance of this ‘time to write’ and ‘time to discover’ aspect of academic creative writing.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I guess my mum would have been the first to read me poetry. Church & Sunday school would have been an early influence; psalms, hymns, Song of Songs etc. I’ve had lots of helpful input from people, my partner and I are constantly discovering and sharing new writing and my MA tutors and PhD supervisors have helped to diversify my reading. My undergraduate dissertation supervisor, Rupert Loydell, has always been very generous with his time, knowledge & vast book collection. One thing I love about poetry is that there is always more to read!

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I’ve been largely untouched by this, but I think it can be a problem in poetry. I’ve mostly had good experiences with writing mentors and tutors. If you don’t agree with something someone’s suggested, you don’t have to do it; you need to know when to push back. Sometimes this is more of a problem when it comes to gatekeeping but, really, if an editor wants you to change something beyond recognition then that’s not the right place for your writing. Of course, that’s easier said than done when it’s such a touch publishing environment and even more people are writing and wanting to be published.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I usually write & read for at least 6 hours a day, but always after coffee and a stroll with the dog.

5. What motivates you to write?

Honesty, clarity, critical exploration and, most importantly, a need for play.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’m both lazy & relentless. I don’t do much else other than writing, reading & making books, so I manage to be productive, but I do enjoy a good dawdle & a daydream along the way.

7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most & why?

Susan Howe, Cole Swensen, Peter Larkin, Holly Pester, Luke Thompson, Callie Gardner, Thomas A. Clarke, Jen Hadfield & Luke Kennard all do something I consistently enjoy. They all take risks, but I think that list is eclectic in output. I’m constantly reading new people & enjoying poetry, non-fiction & prose. I want to mention more poets like Vahni Capildeo, Daisy Lafarge, Maria Sledmere and Colin Herd. Gosh, there are so many. There’s so much good writing being published, mostly by small presses. As an editor of a small press, I love supporting other presses and I feel like I’m part of a broader writing & publishing community through social media, readings & being on the edge of the creative writing programs at Royal Holloway & Falmouth.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Writing seems urgent to me. It’s an action that has the potential to change things. Also, I’m not sure I’m good at anything else.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Listen to other writers. Always be kind.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’ve just published a book about the Martian Rovers, called Perseverance Valley (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press). My latest book, A Confusion of Marys, is a joint effort with the poet Rupert Loydell. My contribution to the collection is called ‘An Autophagy of Mary’, which means ‘the self-eating of Mary’ & signals some of the regenerative dialogue around Mary.

I’m currently working toward a practice-based PhD on the poetics of prayer & this includes material that will become my third poetry collection.

Unrecognised Martyrs: Red The Strong A Pagan’s Year (Stubborn Sod, The Headpoke And Firewedding, Ghost Holiday) A creative exploration of sources used to create my poetry series, featuring the cracking art of Marcel Herms.

Stubborn

contents plus added text

 

Stubborn Sod Red The Strong

 

Stubborn Sod Red The Strong 2

 

 

Red the Strong

https://shirleytwofeathers.com/The_Blog/pagancalendar/raud-the-strongs-day/

History is written by the victors so the cliché goes. Probably due to my own ignorance, but I never considered that along with Christian Martyrs, whom I was brought up with tales of their violent deaths, there would be pagan martyrs with equally gory deaths. There is something in this about absolute faith. Adherence to a vow, a promise not to give in no matter how much torture is endured. Foolishness or bravery is for you to decide.

.mum.

Felt this.

sonja benskin mesher

when  i squeezed the bits of soap together

to one lump

i thought of you

doing it too and

realised what may be the reason why

besides

saving soap and money obviously

yesterday we talked about the war

the rationing that i with my ignorance

only learned about much later

may have become your way of life

derived from many sources

then we spoke of the amputees

the trouser leg fixed up with

a safety pin

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Venus Davis

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.

Venus_Cover (1)

Venus Davis

is a 21-year-old queer writer from Cleveland, Ohio. She is the editor in chief of the Periwinkle Literary Magazine. She is also a former poetry reader for Random Sample Review and a podcaster for Prismatica Magazine. Her work has been featured in Marias at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose Magazine, Ayaskala, Dream Noir, Crepe and Penn, and many other publications. She is the author of Sensitive Divination, an astrology microchapbook as well as the microchapbooks, Blue and @ngel number(s).

You can find her on social media

@venusbeanus.

 

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I was inspired by the works of Maya Angelou, Shel Silverstein, and Edgar Allan Poe. I was also inspired by those around me and frankly, the feelings that came from having many undiagnosed mental illnesses.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was introduced to poetry by Cynthia Larsen, of Lake Erie Ink. She is my best friend’s mother and a teacher in the Cleveland area. When I was in the third grade, she taught my class about poetry. After years of writing fiction, I was intrigued by this new form that I’d never heard of or dabbled in.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Very aware. There was a sense of the youth poetry scene blooming in my hometown but at the time there weren’t many opportunities for us younger poets. Lake Erie Ink was pretty much the only resource available and it was amazing, don’t get me wrong. However, I wish that there were more opportunities available for young writers to succeed.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Usually I work on as much as I can per day. Currently, I’ve been primarily freelancing as I look for a full time job. So, my entire day is dedicated to writing. I wake up at around ten a.m and I start working on editorials and then after I write about 2,000 words, I start working on my WIP, which is a full length of sad poetry.  I’m currently in the editing phase. So, I edit about three poems per day from my WIP.

5. What motivates you to write?

My writing heals me and it’s the only thing that has ever helped me grow as a person. Writing down my thoughts, feelings, and desires has changed the way that I look at the world. It’s almost like everything I write is a diary entry and the only difference between my poetry and my actual journal, is what I will allow others to read. So, writing for me is a chance to grow and a chance for others to relate to my work and grow as well. I also love the research that comes writing. Being able to learn new things while creating something new is a feeling unlike any other. The thought of it motivates me secondarily to growth.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’d say my philosophy behind work is that I try to work as hard as I can and do as much as I can per day. That’s what happens when you’re a capricorn, you just have no off button when it comes to work. I’m a complete workaholic when it comes to writing. Back when I worked first shift at a fast food place, I’d get home around four p.m. and just write and talk to other writers on twitter until around two or three a.m. Though, I definitely do not condone this behavior! A lot of this is also due to my ADHD diagnosis in that doing work immediately enhances the chances of it getting done whereas if I put my work off until later, I am likely to get overwhelmed and procrastinate even more.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I find myself wanting to write little bits of humor in my poetry like Shel Silverstein had. I’m often drawn to darker imagery like Edgar Allan Poe. In fact, I had an entire phase where I tried to write gothic lit just to be like him. When I write about my body in my poems, I always channel a bit of Maya Angelou’s energy in Still I Rise – that kind of confident, black girl magic, no fucks given attitude.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Franny Choi! Not only is she a woman of color and amazingly talented, a wildly iconic duo. She is queer and she writes like she has no fears. I also love the amount of research that went into her collection, Soft Science. I want to be a writer that is unapologetically me and writes like so. Someone who can implement research in their writing without it being confusing or read like an eighth grade research paper. She also wears many hats which I greatly admire because I know how difficult it can be to work many jobs as a writer. Yet, she just seems fueled by her love for writing and that is so important. I come from a long line of people who hate their jobs and that’s all they say about work. So, to see a writer be so immersed and so in love with her craft, it’s admirable and I can only hope to continue to love my craft as much as Franny Choi does.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Writing is literally all I can do. I used to play Violin and Viola as a kid and it never once crossed my mind to be an instrumentalist. I tried to be a singer and I tried to be an actress but they just felt wrong. I absolutely loved performing but there was just something missing for me. I took about a two year break from taking my writing seriously and during that break, I felt like I had broken up with a partner of ten years. Literally because I had been writing since I was about nine, I basically had broken up with a partner of ten years. When I came back to writing, I worked harder than I ever had before. I started to pursue writing as a career other than what i thought it was at the time – a commitment to a quiet life backstage. Working on my first book really brought me back into the writing world in a way that I had never experienced before. It was so necessary for me, like a spiritual awakening but with my writing career. So, in short, I write because it’s what feels right. I write because it’s my calling.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I would say that you work hard to find your corner of the community, you write as much as you can, submit to journals, and don’t forget to make friends along the way! Take part in as many opportunities as you feel comfortable with because learning opportunities are the most valuable. Even if you don’t submit your writing anywhere, just continuing to write as often as possible is extremely important. Any opportunity to further your craft is one that you should take.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

Currently, I am working on a full length book tentatively called, Human Waterfall. It’s a bunch of sad girl poetry about being a twenty something year old navigating the scary adult world. I’m also working on releasing an extended version of my astrology chapbook, Sensitive Divination. In the extended version, I plan to explain the process behind writing each poem and the astrological references/meanings in certain lines. I’m also working on releasing a chapbook of poems about the phases of the moon and gemstones. So, be on the lookout for that!

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael H. Brownstein

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.

Michael H. Brownstein

has had his work appear in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011). His book, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, is published by Cholla Needles Press (2018). He presently resides in Jefferson City, Missouri where he lives with enough animals to open a shelter.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

In elementary school, I began writing silly rhymes for no reason at all—mostly around the holidays, but in high school a Ms. Perkins—my history teacher—encouraged me to write because she liked the way I experimented with the essay form. At one point every sentence in any essay I handed in could not be more than five words. She thought it would be interesting to see if I could write poetry. I did, thought my stuff was OK—it really wasn’t—but I found I actually liked writing—so I kept on and on and now it’s many years later and I’m still writing.

  1. Who introduced you to poetry?

I don’t remember, but I do remember Ms. Perkins and Archie Lieberman who thought I was creative enough with my short stories—in retrospect were not very creative or very good—to write poetry—and he liked my work enough to take them around with him when he was doing high profile photojournalism stories for magazines such as Look, Life, and Playboy. Of course, those editors knew my work was not that good, but I kept on writing mostly for myself until I fell playing hockey in my thirties, found myself in traction and then in bed rest bored out of my mind. That’s when I became serious, started writing better and began sending stuff out. FactSheet 5, (a magazine that listed hundreds and hundreds of zines, journals, and books with simple one to two paragraph reviews) was around back then and I used it as my go to reference to submit work.

  1. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I always liked Mary Oliver. Read everything she wrote. Rita Dove is another poet I admire very much. Carolyn Forche because, well, because she’s Carolyn Forche. I always admired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Louis Stevenson.

  1. What is your daily writing routine?

I write every day for about an hour, usually in the morning, and then come back to poems I wrote earlier in the day, months, even years, and make revisions in the evening.

  1. What motivates you to write?

I feel I have something to offer. Sometimes I write just to write, other times I have a particular audience in mind, other times I feel I have something important to say and so I say it with poetry. I have a series coming out, for example, on the blog of Moristotle (https://moristotle.blogspot.com/), for example on reparations. I wrote it for African-American history month. Here’s a sample stanza:

If we go another thirty miles over, we arrive in Columbia,
a lynching–there were more in Missouri, many more–
and this one was no different–James Scott was lynched
as more than a thousand white bystanders looked on–
and he was innocent–the real rapist discovered after the fact–
too late again–and no whites paid for the crime–
Do we not owe Scott’s family reparations? A sincere apology?

  1. What is your work ethic?

I submit to a publication every other day throughout the year. I never miss a day. I go to two poetry programs to workshop my poetry—and I am the co-host of the local library’s poetry program.

I spend every day with some writing exercise. No exceptions. I also carry around a notebook if an image hits my fancy.

Here’s an image that came to me when I saw the sunlight come out behind gray clouds and light up a field along the highway:
We knew each other by the spotlight on wild flowers,

the bath of prairie sage and the colors blue and green,

Later, I turned it into a longer poem utilizing the first line at the beginning of each stanza.

  1. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I don’t rhyme too often, but when I do I look back to the work of Longfellow. He is still stuck in my mind. I even have one of his volumes in one of my boxes in the attic to this day—along with more than a hundred other poets—but he’s the one I remember.

  1. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Safia Elhillo. She writes with a power that is incredible. Her poem “Girls That Never Die” is so brilliant, when I reread it—and I do reread it—I have to take deep breaths because this poem, for example, is that deep.

Martin Espada is another contemporary poet. When he wrote about the hurricane that took out Puerto Rico, you were there. You felt the pain of the people. You became one of them. He has a way with line and image that is just magnificent.

Then there’s June Jordan whose political poetry is made of magic.

Then there’s Carolyn Forche who’s book, Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, inspired me to write an e-book, Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (http://booksonblog35.blogspot.com/).

And, of course, Mary Oliver who recently passed away and Rita Dove.

  1. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I write because it makes me happy; it’s the most satisfying thing I do now. I used to teach in the inner city of Chicago. That was the most satisfying thing I did. I’m retired now. Writing has taken its place as most satisfying.

  1. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Write. Write what you know. Write what you want to know. Just write.

Put it in a drawer. Take it out days, weeks, even months later and read it again.

Revise. Revise. Revise.

I tell individuals who want to become writers to worry about audience and publication after you have what you feel is a completed work. Even then I invite them to workshop it with one of the groups I am in.

I also tell them it doesn’t hurt to read a lot of poetry.

  1. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m working on a book of prose poems and poems, The Tattoo Garden of Capella. So far I’ve revised it twenty times or more, but I keep coming back to it. It’s about a place that is magical and safe, a place full of color and love. At one point, dangerous people enter the garden only to have poetry destroy their weapons.

I’m also hard at work on a prose poem that’s rather long. In it, a poet with writer’s block gets help from a very eccentric man who sounds more like as tuba than a human being:

The odd looking man looked at him as if he had never seen him before—and perhaps he had not—and answered with soft moans, climatic yelps, silence, the sound of a tuba, and then an oomph. Ahh, he said, and then ohh. He paused. The rent is paid up, you know, but a long time ago I lost my way in…

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Cat Woodbury

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.

Blessed be the butterfly knives

Catrice Reverie

Cat Woodbury

is a poet living in Charlotte, NC. She is 26 years old. She released her debut spoken word album, “The Patron Saint of Eating in Bed”, in 2018 on Bandcamp. When she’s not writing and performing, she can be found avidly reading young adult fantasy novels, listening to pop-punk, or crying about raccoons and how cute they are. She tweets from @quokka_flocka

SITES:

Facebook page where I promote my work/performances:

More formal site (I use this less): https://reveriethepoet.wixsite.com/reverie
Latest released publications:

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I am inspired by things and experiences in life that are often overlooked at best, and silenced and hidden at worst. This includes mental health related issues, trauma, abuse, injustices, and pain that people feel like they can’t talk about. I believe that it is important to bring these things to light. Letting them remain in the dark can give them further power, which can be very dangerous.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

In my sophomore year of high school, my student teacher for my English class ran our poetry unit where we started to learn about poetry more in depth than I had in previous years and had opportunities to write poems of our own. She was both enthusiastic and encouraging to the class. While I had great teachers before and after that class, I consider her to be the one who introduced me to poetry.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I wouldn’t say this is something I give much thought, aside from the fact that more prestigious poetry circles seem to choose to have older poets who are no longer alive be a dominating presence. While I respect many writers who have passed on, I am excited when I see any press, but especially small presses, champion the many diverse voices that exist among living poets today and look forward to seeing how things develop to be even more inclusive.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I try not to force myself to write, unless I’m doing a National Poetry Writing Month challenge. When I feel inspired, I write. When I don’t feel inspired, but crave creative works, I read poems through online journals or my favorite books. I also follow many poets on social media so I can easily see what they’re working on. Sometimes I write several poems a day, many days I write one or even none. I go easy on myself no matter what because I would never want to resent the writing process.

5. What motivates you to write?

I live with chronic mental illness and often have a hard time verbally expressing how I feel. Writing is very cathartic for me. I hope to help inspire others to feel a similar release and ease, even if it’s just for a minute of their day. When I read other people’s poems, it’s a magical moment to feel seen and understood by them through their words.

6. What is your work ethic?

I try to be my authentic self as best I can, even if it means writing about something that I’m scared to share.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

My writing tends to lean toward the melancholier side of things, and one of the first poems I really loved was the one called “Absolutely Nothing”, popularized by the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. It was dark, especially reading it as a young teenager. However, I was in a dark place at the time, so it helped me feel less alone.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Neil Hilborn is one of my favorite writers today. Any time I read or hear one of his poems, I feel like his words touch a part of my soul that I often try to keep hidden, and the words help remind me that I don’t have to hide any part of myself. I can be me.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I often feel overwhelmed and need to get that feeling out to get through the day.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

You decide to show up authentically through written and/or spoken word, whatever that looks like for you as an individual. You allow yourself to feel, whether it be joy, pain, or somewhere in-between. You don’t have to write every day. You don’t have to do anything in particular at all, aside from write SOMETHING.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I was blessed to be put in the running of the longlist for Nightingale & Sparrow’s 2020 Microchapbook longlist, so I’m waiting to see if I make the shortlist with “My Friend, Grief”.

I recently finished a werewolf inspired chapbook that has to do with traumatic and abusive relationships.
Additionally, I’m currently working on a sapphic love poem collection.