Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Nadia Gerassimenko

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.

atthewatersedge

Nadia Gerassimenko (https://legendcitycollective.wordpress.com/)

is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine (https://www.moonchildmag.net/) and proofreader at Red Raven Book Design (https://www.redravenbookdesign.com/). She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade (http://www.tepidautumn.net/editorial-services), a poet and writer by choice, a moonchild and nightdreamer by spirit. Nadia self-published her first chapbook Moonchild Dreams (2015) (https://www.amazon.com/Moonchild-Dreams-Nadia-Gerassimenko/dp/1507592205/) at the water’s edge (https://www.rhythmnbone.com/at-the-waters-edge) is her second chapbook (Rhythm & Bones Press (https://www.rhythmnbone.com/), 2019).
Follow Nadia on Twitter @moonmoonmother

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I honestly don’t remember, but when I used to attend grade school in Kazakhstan and Russian school in Canada afterwards, we would have to memorize poems and recite them in class as our homework. It was part of the curriculum and ingrained in many Russian educational institutions at the time. Then my grandmother would often recite me Pushkin or Lermontov or Mayakovsky and occasionally poetry in German which sounded so musical and fluid even if I didn’t understand anything. I only understood Pushkin because much of his poetry is fable-like and was more relatable to me as a child who liked fairy tales. We would also often sing together Russian ballads and bard songs which in themselves were quite poetic. My mother herself wrote poetry in her youth, very beautiful, lyrical, and contemplative poetry, and that instilled in me even more appreciation for poetry and the desire to write poems myself years later.

2. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I’m very much aware of their presence in the past as well as today and the gatekeeping that existed and still endures. It’s changing slowly in the mainstream, but not enough. It’s refreshing to see and witness more inclusiveness and diversity in the indie lit community even though there is unfairness in it too. So many voices are being left out when they only deserve to speak and sing and be recognized and appreciated by others. As writers, editors, publishers, readers, advocates, and community builders, it is our moral duty as literary citizens to publish, to hold space, to promote, to share work, to offer accessibility to brilliant marginalized writers and artists. Especially those who have more privilege, recognition, and followship can do so much good to break the vicious cycle of gatekeeping.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily writing routine because I have, unfortunately, a chronic illness and also I’m an editor and freelancer on the side, so much of my time is spent either on healing or editing or online community building or household stuff that I can’t seem to sit down and get to writing! However, some of my poems have been written in my head at the most random times like when I’d be showering or about to go to bed or cooking a meal or watching something evocative, then I would have to hurry and type it all out on my computer before the thoughts are lost completely. I suppose the muse just comes when she pleases. Sometimes I can invoke her when I’m working out a poem or a project through deliberate researching and planning, but I would actually have to sit down and not be interrupted by anything else. I try to make more time for writing these days, but I try not to force it either.

4. What motivates you to write?

As mentioned previously If I don’t have a creative outlet for my emotions, like writing, I internalize my feelings and they burn me from within. Lately I have also been focusing on spreading awareness through my writing about things that I care about that aren’t talked about as much or are made light of in the mainstream, like chronic illness and trauma, especially when it’s something I’ve experienced and lived through and wished I could have read about when I felt the aching, the loneliness, and the isolation myself more intensely than today.

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

I don’t feel that the things I read when I was younger influenced me per se, though they certainly nurtured my love for languages and creative writing. However, I was and am constantly inspired by my fellow writers in the indie lit community–their brilliant and brave words, the impressive ways they’re continuously reinventing and revolutionizing the written word, and their exemplary ethos in community building and healing.

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

I’m endlessly inspired and stimulated by a collective I’m part of, The Legend City Collective, comprising the founder C. Aloysius Mariotti and other members Tianna G. Hansen, Paul S. Rowe, Carla Sofia Ferreira, Danielle Rose, Marisa Silva-Dunbar, Kiley Lee, Kari Flickinger, Holly Pelesky, Stuart Buck. The things they write and create, I have no words! They empower me to always strive to be a better writer, supporter of others, and literary citizen myself. I’m constantly blown away by the writing of Dominique Christina, Sweta Srivastava Vikram, Ana P., Thursday Simpson, Sin Ribbon, Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins, Cathy Ulrich, Lydia A. Cyrus, Ashley Miranda, Elisabeth Horan, Sarah Nichols, E. Kristin Anderson, Rehan Qayoom, Daniel Casey, Christopher Iacono, Tiffany Chaney, Kailey Tedesco, Tiffany Sciacca, Sam Jowett, Hannah Cohen, Iskandar Haggarty, Alexis Bates, Cathleen Allyn Conway, Catherine Garbinsky, Joyce Chng, December Lace, Kathryn McMahon, Craig Rodgers, Maura Lee Bee, Effy Winter, Joanna C. Valente, Yael van der Wouden, Cath Barton, Beth Gordon, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Magda Knight, Chloe N. Clark, Chad Musick, Samantha Lamph/Len, Kevin Woodall, Teo Mungaray, Kerry E.B. Black, Trista Edwards, Romey Petite, Gabriel Kunst, Jack Bedell, Logan February, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Patricia Grisafi, Louis Cennamo, Umang Kalra, K.B. Carle, Mary Sims, Monique Quintana, Christine Sloan Stoddard, Arielle Tipa, Miggy Angel, Wanda Deglane, Prince Bush, Angelo Colavita, J.A. Pak, Tijqua Daiker, Catherine Kyle, Sara Pisak, Travis Chi Wing Lau, Todd Dillard, Gabino Iglesias, Kolleen Carney Hoepfner, Marisa Crane and Alana Saltz and so many more! Like everyone I have ever published in Moonchild Magazine. Even though Kate Bush isn’t considered a writer, to me, she is a poet. Spiritually, she has been my muse and guardian angel since ever and will always be.

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

I would say just start writing and reading and writing and reading and writing and editing and writing and editing and more editing and then more reading and then more writing and editing and repeat, repeat, repeat.

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

At the moment I’m quite busy promoting my upcoming chapbook with Rhythm & Bones Press entitled “at the water’s edge.” It’s currently at the pre-order stage, it will release in September and there will be a book launch on October 5th in A Novel Idea on Passyunk. Afterwards, I would like to get back to working on my two other projects. One is a collection I’m working on about endangered animals and I hope to someday team up with an artist who would illustrate it. Another is a found poetry collection dedicated to Dylan Farrow and will touch upon childhood sexual abuse and trauma as well as how others support (or don’t) survivors and hold others accountable (or don’t). I’m hoping it will end up being not only an educational collection but also an empowering one to survivors. Actually, four found poems from this collection are included in “at the water’s edge” and have also been published by Yes, Poetry.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jenny Mitchell

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.

her lost language

Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell is joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams) and joint third prize winner of the Ware Open Poetry Competition.

Her poems have been broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC2, and published in several magazines, including ‘The Rialto’ and ‘The New European’.

She also has eight poems in parallel translation in the Italian publication ‘Versodove’.

‘Her Lost Language’ is Jenny’s debut collection.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I write poetry because I love stories. When I was young, I spent a lot of time watching old black and white films. I used to lose myself in classic Hollywood remakes of books like Madame Bovary, Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. They led me to read widely, and from there I started to write stories.

I think poetry was the next step as I got a lot of praise and encouragement from teachers, which was a real spur.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I think I grew to love them because of English lessons at school. One of my teachers was married to George Hartley who published Philip Larkin’s first collection.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Less_Deceived

They took me under their wing as they knew I loved to write. They gave me poetry anthologies and really encouraged me to read widely.

I had another teacher called Ann Taylor who let me show her my poems on an almost daily basis. She was so enthusiastic about my work, I used to leave her office walking on air and keen to write more.

At sixteen, I was one of ten winners in a borough-wide competition for young people. It meant I had a bit of prize money and was published for the first time which was a great incentive to write. My school also paid for me to go to the Arvon Centre in Hebden Bridge for a week-long writing residential course. I was the youngest person there and it really spurred me on to be with so many other writers.

Home

The cottage where I stayed once belonged to Ted Hughes. It felt very windswept and isolated to me as I lived in Kilburn at the time. I finished reading Jane Eyre in front of a roaring fire which added to the sense of romance around writing, and inspired me to do more.

I visited the nearby Bronte Parsonage Museum for the first time and loved the whole story of the sisters and their wayward brother.

https://www.bronte.org.uk/

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

I didn’t feel dominated by older poets on any level. I was more inspired by the song writing of Joni Mitchell because I heard a man say he felt intimidated by her ability to write with such clarity about relationships. I wanted to have the power this seemed to give her!

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I wake up at about six and send emails. Then I go into my poems – I aim to have a few to work on at one time. I go through them quite methodically, trying not to get stuck for too long with any one of them.

I take lots of breaks to read other peoples’ work and waste time – it’s all part of the process.

Then I go for a long walk, sometimes to an event/meeting, and hope to think of new poetry ideas along the way.

4. What motivates you to write?

I can’t imagine doing anything other than write. I spent a long time researching the legacies of British transatlantic enslavement. Coming out of that research, I’ve written two novels-in-progress about a Jamaican-English family that travels from the Caribbean and the UK.

https://www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk/articles/abstract/10.16995/sim.106/

It was only when I finished a good draft of the second novel that I started writing poetry again, and performing for the first time. That was two years ago and since then my life has really changed.

I won a poetry prize and now have a debut collection (see information below). I’ve also been invited to read at a book festival in northern Italy and at a prize-giving ceremony in France.

I’m co-organising a workshop and symposium at Birkbeck on Motherhood and Poetry, and working with a few other organisations/libraries to set up events for my collection.

It’s all really exciting after years of working alone. It also really encourages me to be more daring in my writing and to submit work to more competitions.

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

The poem that sticks out is My Last Duchess by Robert Browning.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43768/my-last-duchess

It may seem like an odd, old fashioned choice but I still think it’s amazing storytelling with a very modern (even feminist?) undercurrent.

It gave me chills as a teenage – the cruelty of the narrator and his arrogance.

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

I tend to love individual poems rather than all of the work of a poet. I think The Sea is History by Derek Walcott is magnificent.

https://poets.org/poem/sea-history

I also love Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah by Patricia Smith.

https://poets.org/poem/shoulda-been-jimi-savannah

There are lots of others from Franny Choi’s to the man who shouted…https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/56850/to-the-man-who-shouted-i-like-pork-fried-rice-at-me-on-the-street

to Deceptions by Philip Larkin: https://allpoetry.com/poem/8495693-Deceptions-by-Philip-Larkin

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

I don’t know if I would understand the question. It might be like asking ‘how do I become a human being?’ – you are or you’re not.

I would say that ‘owning’ the title writer is a good idea; writing something every day; going to as many workshops as possible (there are lots of free ones, especially in libraries/community spaces). Arvon offer subsidised places for anyone on a budget, and writing retreat can be great.

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

I’m currently promoting my debut collection Her Lost Language which was joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams Publishers).

https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/jenny-mitchell/4594685475

I’m also working on poems for either another collection or, more likely, a series of pamphlets. I’m also getting ready to perform in France and Italy which is extremely exciting. I’m even more excited because in Italy there will be parallel translations of my work which is a first for me.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Angelo Colavita

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.

Angelo Flowersonnets

Angelo Colavita

lives and writes in Philadelphia, where he serves as Founding Editor or Empty Set Press and Associate Editor at Occulum Journal. He is the author of Flowersonnets (2018), Heroines (2017), and Nazareth, forthcoming from Apep Publications in 2020. Angelo’s work has appeared in Mookychick, Prolit Magazine, Metatron, Dream Pop Journal, South Broadway Ghost Society, Yes Poetry, Luna Luna Magazine, and elsewhere online and in print. For more information, follow him on Instagram @angelocolavita and on Twitter @angeloremipsum, or visit his website angelocolavita.com

Website: www.angelocolavita.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/angeloremipsum

Instagram: www.instagram.com/angelocolavita

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing when I was around 9 or 10 years old. Mostly stories at that point. Poetry came to me when I was about 13 or so. I wrote poetry and fiction for a while until my mid twenties, and then everything started coming out as poems. I think for what I like to do with language, poetry is the most suitable medium. Although I do still write fiction every once in a while. My new book, Nazareth, is an epic poem—so I suppose that counts as both. That’ll be out sometime next year with Apep Publications.

I’m not sure if I can answer the “why”. It’s just a compulsion. I don’t really question it. There’s no, um… motive.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Oh, I don’t know. I guess my mother. But it’s not like she sat me down and said “this is poetry.” I grew up with books, so I remember reading Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings when I was really young. They were the first, I guess, legit poets I ever read. Cummings was profound for me. Some of his stuff still blows me away. It’s mystifying, beautiful. I like challenging work. Dickinson was challenging too, but in a different sense. I also grew up listening to punk and metal, so I’ve always considered song lyrics as poetry. Music and poetry are kind of inseparable. Hip Hop influenced me a lot in that way too, obviously. Poets really just want to be rock stars. Some probably even think they are.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

Very. I find myself reading older and older poetry more and more often. I try to learn from whoever I can. I’m also fascinated by artistic lineage. I’ll read someone I like and then read the poets they’ve read. I’m just generally into history too, so love it when I’m able to talk literary history with other writers. To be honest, it wasn’t always like that. I used to just read, like, postmodernists and beat writers (and I still do, of course), and thought anything that wasn’t super-contemporary, or whatever, was bullshit. But as I matured as an artist I was able to see just how avant garde, say, Beowulf is. I don’t know how dominating older poets are anymore, though. It seems like the canon is being reconsidered. It’s a shame how few contemporary poets haven’t read Ovid. A lot of poets nowadays just seem to want to read their friends’ poetry, if any. Which is good, but also hinders your own development as an artist. While I’m all for smashing the system and reconsidering the canon, I still believe a writer should know as much about what came before them as possible. I guess that’s what I mean by “artistic lineage.” Like, knowing what led up to your work reading the way it does. Your influences and your influences’ influences, and so on.

I have a few people I’d call mentors, too. Pattie McCarthy has said things to me like “your poems reek of cigarettes,” and I know exactly what she means. She’s turned me on to Harryette Mullen and Ted Berrigan. She lets me know when I write “beyond the poem,” which I definitely do in my first few drafts. Jim Cory and Chris McCreary are also great to talk to. We’ll get coffee and trade work and talk poetry and poets and I really value their feedback. I also occasionally share a correspondence with artist Marianne Holm Hansen, whose visual and typographic poetry I just love. She’s sent me some of the sweetest and most encouraging messages.

As far as others go, I’d say maybe Claudia Rankine and Susan Howe are two older contemporary poets who just consistently produce what I consider flawless work. There’s also Myung Mi Kim, Douglas Kearny, CA Conrad… Not to mention the writers my age and younger who I think are phenomenal. But that’s another thing altogether.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

That depends on what I’m writing and when I’m writing. Under ideal conditions, I like to sit, meditate, daydream, waste time… just getting lost in the piece. I typically sit down to write at night, around 9 or 10pm. I’ll have about ten to twenty tabs open on my browser (I always do research), and I’ll bounce around between them and the open doc. Other times, especially during the semester, I have to make time to write whenever possible, since I’m so busy. I always carry around a notebook. I’ll write fragments, images, little bursts of alliteration… whatever comes to mind. Then when I can sit down, piece them all together. But either way, the real craft comes during the editing/revision process. Whether a piece starts at scattered notes or floods of thought, my more conscious and deliberate decisions are made in revisions. I’ll usually have several drafts of several versions of a poem before I settle on one presentable draft. I also like to read new work aloud, at poetry readings or to myself, so I can hear how the words play together. Sometimes a thing seems like a good idea on paper, but doesn’t work when you actually read it. I meticulously scrutinize. Is the alliteration timed well? Is this internal rhyme necessary? Is this cliché and can I use it? Where do I need to soften and what needs sharpening? I nix any and all unnecessary language. I have to be able to justify every letter. If not, it’s gone. Most of all though, I do a lot of listening. The poem will tell you what it needs and it’s my job to make that happen. Sometimes it’s totally different than what I’d set out to write, but I just have to suspend my ego temporarily and do right by the piece. I have to be willing to do that or else it’ll all come out forced or belligerently sentimental. Emotion is important, but emotion alone isn’t what makes a poem successful. Or fun. People forget sometimes that art should be fun first. If it’s not fun to write, it won’t be fun to read, and you’ve essentially wasted the reader’s time and your own. That said, I don’t shy away from writing garbage. A lot of the time you just have to write bad poetry and clear it all out to get to the good stuff. A thing that helps me in that case is sitting with a poem for a bit after I think it’s finished. I’ll write, revise, read it half a million times, revise, then step away for a few days, a few weeks, start another poem, read something, and come back to it with a clear head and most likely revise it again. Maybe it’s overkill but I think the care and attention shows in the work once I say it’s finished. I’ll never just write something one night and submit it the next morning.

5. What do you write about?

Oh, all sorts of things. I always draw from my own life and my perspective of course, but I try not to write about “myself.” There are way more interesting things to write about. My first chapbook, Heroines, was about my experience with addiction and early recovery. Flowersonnets is a book of visual poems about death and regeneration. My new book, Nazareth, deals with Hellenistic and Gnostic mythology and astrology in the form of an ancient epic poem. I just write about what interests me. I’m really into magick and the occult, so I guess that shows up frequently in my work. But regardless of the imagery, I write about love, anxiety, death, confusion, god, capitalism, animals… Anything is really fair game. I’m aware of the, um, esoteric thread that runs through most of my stuff though. It’s almost always been that way. But I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole myself and make all my work just about one thing. The “about” in poetry is secondary, at best. I’m more interested in what a poem is doing than what it is saying.

5.1. “what a poem is doing than what it is saying.” Please can you elaborate on this?

Oh sure. I mean how the poem functions psychologically/emotionally/spiritually the way it’s crafted. I’m thinking of a few examples. Well since I brought up cummings earlier, his Grasshopper poem stands out as something that “does” more than it says. The text, on a subconscious level—to read it just feels like a grasshopper. You just kind of take it in. Something about the movement of the eyes as you scan across what’s there feels like the movement of a grasshopper, the personality maybe of a grasshopper. It’s a fun poem but also really smart. And cummings doesn’t just throw syntax out the window. He actually really just manipulates it within the rules. He takes into consideration how letters and punctuation look. Considers placement in relation to other letters. It’s really fantastic. When I was a kid this was the most amazing thing I’d read and I’m so glad I read it when I was young. If I were older, I probably would not have been able to suspend my analytical brain enough to really appreciate it. [I’ll attach an image of it to this email if you want to include that]. Another example is H.D.’s “Trilogy”. There is an eerie sense that, while she’s talking about war, there are two times quite distant from each other, and two different locations, which she (for lack of a better word) superimposes upon one another. The collection is written predominantly in couplets, and there are double entendres throughout. So here is where a poem’s form serves the content masterfully and subtly. Also, I will say again, that this is another reason why knowing literary history and traditions comes in handy—the rhyming couplet form, being used heavy in Greek war epics. That’s another tip-off from H.D., too. And the emotional impact in either case is not hindered, but magnified.

On the other hand, with a book like James Merrill’s “The Changing Light at Sandover,” the piece doesn’t “do” as much. It’s a great idea for a book. You know, the description on the back cover promises everything I want in a poem: involves spirits, an ouija board, it nods to Dante’s Comedy… but the book itself doesn’t do much. He drops the ball completely. It meanders for long stretches and never lands. He explains spooky things more than the poem itself is spooky. And for such a massive tome, it doesn’t deviate or do anything dynamic structurally, syntactically, linguistically. Basically it just bores you and by page 50 (of it’s 700 or so pages), you just put it down and move on to more interesting shit.

So, that’s really what matters most to me. There are only so many things we can write about, and even fewer things we can read about. So what a poem does, how it works, is definitely more important than what it says. And I don’t at all mean to imply that what a poem says isn’t important. But I always ask myself, “is this interesting?” and “what is this doing?” rather than “am I explaining myself clearly?” or “is this relatable?” Sometimes—most of the time—we have to step outside of the linearity of reality and fact in order to get to the real truth honestly and accurately.

Attached here is the cummings poem mentioned above:

ee cummings

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

Well I definitely draw from writing I dislike as much as I do from the writing I love. I love breaking syntax, which some poor writing does accidentally. But I read that stuff like “oh god I’m using this.” And I manage to find away to make it intentional—give it purpose and heart. There’s a lot of heart in bad writing where perhaps craft and skill are lacking. It’s not like everything I was ever into was always amazing. I’ve been into some bad writers before. I just take what I need from them and move on. I’m also influenced a lot by visual art and music. The metalhead in me just loves dark imagery. That, combined with being raised Catholic, kinda led me to explore the occult. So I’m really interested in that and the practice of magick and that inevitably shows up often in my work. But my favorite writers are all very intentional with their deliberate use of language. That’s kind of my barometer when evaluating my own writing. If there are any frayed edges, it’s because they need to be there that way.

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

That list can go on endlessly. And it’s constantly changing, too. I admire a lot of writers for a lot of different reasons. Too many to name right here, right now. I’d be too afraid to forget anyone.

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

I’d tell them to write as often as you possibly can. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. Even if you don’t finish anything. Even if you don’t submit work. Even if you don’t know what to write. I’d say to constantly challenge yourself, your skill. Write what isn’t comfortable—in every sense of the word. Experiment with style and form. Read your work out loud, to yourself and at open mics. Write even when you aren’t writing—in your head while at work or walking down the street or wherever. And read other writers’ work as much as you can.

Don’t worry about what kind of bylines you have or style or genre or followers you have. None of that matters if what you want to be is a writer.

If they were asking me how to become a writer in a “professional” sense, I’d say to read as much as you can. Familiarize yourself with current journals. Know the type of work different small presses are publishing. Get involved in a literary community of some kind. If there isn’t one near you, then start one—a reading series, a zine, whatever. Bring that to the general public, not just other writers. People will notice. You can make space for yourself and others. That is most important. Whatever you do, do it as much for others as yourself.

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

Right now I’m working on a new book entitled Nazareth, which is going to be published by Apep Publications sometime in 2020. In the meantime Apep is releasing a gorgeous broadside of the opening poem “Invocation of Urania” within the next few weeks. Nazareth is a heretical book-length epic poem based on the mythologies of astrology, paganism, and abrahamic religions. It’s actually 33 individual poems which bleed into each other to tell the story of my main character, so basically, it’s read as one poem in 33 parts. Kind of tipping my hat to classical epics like Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and John Keats’s Endymion, but, of course many occult and other sacred texts I’ve read. But still, it’s super modern and weird and I’ve been experimenting with old conventions like kennings, epithets, alliteration, and circumlocution, within the epic form. It’s kind of a bigger project now than when I started it. I always want to produce something that hasn’t quite been done yet. Jeremy Gaulke, Apep’s Editor in Chief, will be illustrating it. He and Cara make such beautiful books. They really have an extraordinary eye for design and layout and know how to really compliment the writing. The synthesis of poetry, illustration, and design are going to make this thing one beautiful work of art. That’s all I can really say about it right now, though. I wouldn’t want to spill my popcorn in the lobby.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Hasan Namir

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.

War-Torn-by-Hasan-Namir-book-cover-510

Hasan Namir

Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Shaw TV, Airbnb, and in the film God in Pink: A Documentary. He was recently named a writer to watch by CBC books.  Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband. War/Torn (2019, Book*Hug) is his latest poetry book.

Twitter – @hnamir

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hasannamir

Book cover by Malcolm Sutton

http://bookhugpress.ca/shop/books/war-torn-by-hasan-namir/

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry since I was 12 years old. I used to write a lot of lyrical poems, and the act of writing poetry itself helped me stabilize my emotions. Poetry became an outlet for my emotions. I was writing poems when I felt sad, lonely. Or if I saw something sad on tv, I felt the need to write about it. After writing it, and regardless of whether or not I was satisfied with the poem, I would feel better emotionally.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

When I was younger, I used to read Nizar Qabbani, a well known Syrian poet growing up in Iraq. His words inspired me. I knew I wanted to be a poet.

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

Quite aware because as much as I enjoyed writing poems, I enjoyed reading them. When I was living in Iraq, I was reading Arabic poetry. When I moved to Canada at the age of 11, I used to read a lot of books, however not so much poetry books. I would say, I read a lot more poetry during my high school and university years.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I can’t say I have a specific writing routine, but I do try to write at least 3 days a week, and only in the evenings. I’m not a morning person so I’m most active and creative in the evening. I don’t have specific days that I write, it depends… one day, all of a sudden, I’ll have an idea to write a poem, so I start writing it. Other days, I’m revisiting current manuscripts I’m working on, such as fiction or poetry. If I have a deadline of some sort, then I’ll be working on that project first. I tend to prioritize deadlines always first. Or if I’m in the middle of writing a novel, then my focus tends to be mostly on finishing that novel.

5. What motivates you to write?

Writing keeps me sane and happy. So I’m always writing.

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

As a poet, I am inspired by many poets. One of my favourite poets is Fred Wah and when I read his work, I learned of the word languageless, without language and I connected a lot with that because I felt languageless myself, I still feel that sometimes because I am always trying to reconcile between both English and Arabic. Writing my poetry book War/Torn, the process was of me to trying to find my language while searching for my own identity.

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

I have a lot of writers who are my colleagues that I admire and look up to so much. Also, I love reading books by different authors. But if I have to name one person, the person would be Jordan Scott, who is not only one of the most incredible poets I know personally, but also, he has been my mentor and friend all these years since 2012. My poetry book War/Torn started off as my English 472 final writing project. Jordan Scott was teaching that course. I admire him a lot because I learned so much from him and I look up to him so much.

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

I knew I wanted to write since I was 6 or 7. It’s always been my passion, the vessel of my dreams and creativity. I could have been a doctor if I wanted to, but no I wanted to be a writer and I’m so thankful that I get to do what I love the most.

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

If you are passionate about writing, then you should write. It’s as simple as that…write, write, write. You can take courses or do MFA, as that’s an option. It’s not mandatory, though. I’d say keep reading and writing. Also, attend writing events such as readings of authors, build a network, workshop with authors who share the same passion. Most importantly, don’t give up if you received rejections. Keep writing.

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

I have just recently finished two novels, Son of Sodom and Felicity Island, which I hope to get published in the near future. I’m also working on a new poetry manuscript called Umbilical Cord and I have a children’s book entitled The Name I Call Myself, which will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2020.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ted Jonathan

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.

9781630450236_cover.ai

Ted Jonathan

is a poet and short story writer. Born and raised in the Bronx, he currently lives in New Jersey. His poems and stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, most recently: Paterson Literary Review, Hiram Poetry Review, and Open Minds Quarterly. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. His chapbook Spiked Libido was published by Neukeia Press. His full-length collection of poems and short stories, Bones & Jokes, was published by NYQ Books (2009). His poetry collection RUN was published by NYQ Books (2016). Books are available on SPD and Amazon. Link provided is to SPD where one can click “Peek Inside” (below image cover), and read a few of the poems. Contact: theodorejon@yahoo.com

https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781630450236/run.aspx

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

Feeling sure I had something to say. And the hope I’d be able to do so distinctively. Mostly though, I was looking for redemption.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

In sixth-grade we read “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” then the teacher, Miss Pakula, read it aloud, and I was drawn into the mystic. Decades of a life derailed followed, during which a friend introduced me to Bukowski. Later in life, I decided to pursue night classes. My search for a serious teacher led me to the great writer/scholar/editor William Packard, who also provided sorely needed validation.

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

I’ve long been aware, have read many of the late greats. As for older “dominating” poets, I have next to no interest in academic poetry. I like work that cuts to the bone, and sounds good aloud (or in my head). I especially appreciate organic black humour, something that’s not ordinarily associated with poetry.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Mornings are always best.

5. What motivates you to write?

Ego.

6. What is your work ethic?

I might write all day, or not at all.

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

Not at all.

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

Tony Gloeggler, Rebecca Shumejda, Angelo Verga … Poets with unusual, or at least, musical, names. Seriously though, there are lots of real good small press poets, Michael Flanagan, Bunkong Tuon … Narrative poets who are frank, truly in touch with their own humanity, and have mastered their craft.

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

It’s a solitary activity.

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

I can only speak for myself. I don’t feel qualified to answer that question.

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

I’m getting closer to getting a manuscript together for a third book, including poems, stories, and possibly, other assorted pearls of wisdom. I hope to again work with editor/publisher Raymond Hammond, who published my two full length collections, Bones & Jokes (NYQ Books, 2009), and RUN  (NYQ Books, 2016).

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins

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.

Ingrid

Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins

is an immigrant from El Salvador. She studied journalism at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. Her work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, Rabid Oak, and Rhythm & Bones Lit, among others. She is also the author of five volumes of poetry, Things Outside, Wayward, Zenith, Ablution and El Destino de Abril. She lives in Historic Filipinotown, CA with her husband, painter, and poet, John Collins.

Instagram

Twitter

blog

portfolio

A Second Birth

The Interview

1.) When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started to write in a general journal-esque way at age nine after a motorcycle accident left me bedridden. But writing poetry in a ritualistic way began at age 33.

2.) What inspired you  to write poetry?

My inspiration to write poetry is my way of trying to make sense of the human condition and the circumstances in and around me in a succinct and powerful way.

3.) Who introduced you to poetry?

My 6th grade teacher Mr. Guy introduced me to poetry by making every single person in his class recite a poem in front of the class. I chose “My Shadow,” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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

I never felt a poet’s presence as a child I suppose, but I did always have a great affinity to songwriting which I would argue is some of the best poetry if done with fervor and soul.

5.) What is your daily writing routine?

Usually, I write better at night but I try to write notes to myself throughout the day so that when night comes, I can remember the things that fluttered through my mind. Key words put me back to the time and place I thought of it.

6.) What motivates you to write?

Motivation is iffy because we are not usually able to turn it on when we want, so I mostly prefer the mundane act of being motivated by everyday life and everyday ups and downs.

7.) What is your work ethic?

I write everyday. Be it a poem, a journal entry or a recorded rant that I can later transcribe, I try to stay focused on the fact that writing is what brings me joy even if I am not particularly joyful through my day.

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

I absolutely carry around the writers I read in my youth as apparitions in my writing. I don’t mimic, I use them as guidelines and examples of how to tap into a part of myself that I sometimes neglect.

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

I don’t like to dabble. Not in writing, love or friendships. I do things because I feel them, enjoy them or want them. Otherwise, I don’t even bother.

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

You don’t just become a writer, although honing is indeed part of the process, you just have to commit yourself to it like you would a marriage. Till death do you part.

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

I have a recently released collaboration with Katie Doherty from Black Opium Press entitled, “A Second Birth.” It is a collection of essays that touch on childhood, creativity, love, and identity. I also have a novelette coming out next year with APEP Publications entitled, “my ministry,” that I wrote while I was detoxing from cigarettes in February of this year. It is a meditation and lullaby spoken through prose and poetry between the protagonist, Christ and Satan. A peril into the dichotomy of the human condition as a background to discovering and finding love in a world lacking it. Lastly, a poetry and prose memoir entitled, “Let the Buzzards Eat Me Whole,” will be published by Arkay Artists and due out this December. It is a memoir summoned in poetic prose and poems. An out of body experience told by the child turned woman protagonist. It is a story of emigration, perversion, culture shock, and mending. It is the shattering of ideals put upon by society and the eventual perpetual ripening of self.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Sage Ravenwood

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.

Sage

 

Sage Ravenwood

is a deaf Cherokee woman living in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry Press – Poets Resist. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence. 

Social media links:

https://twitter.com/SageRavenwood 

https://www.facebook.com/sage.ravenwood 

Link to Glass Poetry – Poets Resist poem Bullet Tithe 

http://www.glass-poetry.com/poets-resist/ravenwood-bullet.html

The Interview

1..What inspired you to write poetry?

This may seem like a blasé answer, initially I found poetry constricting; which of course, was my own limited knowledge at the time. I started following poets on Twitter – Devin Gael Kelly, Kaveh Akbar, Ada Limón, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Chris Campanioni, Brandon Melendez, just to name a few and started really paying attention to poetic nuance. Two years ago, during October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wrote my first poem ‘I Only Know After’. I realized at that time; I could pen my trauma in short burst without having to remain within my visceral memory bank for long.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My introduction to poetry isn’t awe inspiring. Required reading, lesson plans – this is also where I found my love of all things Edgar Allen Poe. Poe wrote dark from a broken place. Coming from a broken home, I found myself drawn to his poetry. Although required reading, my mother wouldn’t allow me to bring a book home she considered sinful. I had to hide my books, read in the library, and during lunch.

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

No idea. Although, the more time I spend with the poetry/writing community it’s becoming more apparent. I wouldn’t say dominating, rather strong voices which stand out. I’m more likely to pay attention to poets who encourage and build up those around them. At times there’s a sense of politics, a hierarchy of knowledge and popularity. High School drama is an apt description. I don’t feed into this and wouldn’t say it’s only this community, you find the same things within a group of co-workers, family, among friends. What I am seeing are poets who write bravely, forage their own path and are changing the face of history, poets daring the world to look outside ethnicity, gender, language barriers, opening doors for poetic voices previously overlooked.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Routine sounds forced. The old adage is words on a page every single day. For me that amounts to reading for pleasure or to study form. Writing a single line or idea counts for words on a page. Editing – not necessarily new words, counts. I don’t believe in forcing words to say I’ve written every day. I’m also out there living. I think the latter is the most important one – a routine in itself.

5.What motivates you to write?

Is motivation need? For me it’s evicting my demons, writing my trauma out of my head. It’s living fully in each moment. I believe poets are emotional historians, cartographers mapping out the heart in words. Keeping my finger on the pulse of life around me. Perhaps, my motivation stems from want, wanting to give my silence a voice. I’m not deaf when I write, I’m loud and challenging. Writing is a bravery in itself, if not motivation – courage in the face of boxed assumptions. To answer this question, I’ll say need. A need to be heard.

6.What is your work ethic?

Insatiable. I drive myself hard. As I’ve said, I’m fairly new on the poetry scene. There is so much I don’t know about form, nuance, line breaks…I’m learning as I go. I write, rewrite, rewrite again, constantly practicing/studying art form. I’m my own worst critic, which drives me to write better. Every single rejection turns into a challenge where I ask myself, can you do better?

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

Poe was instrumental in teaching me there can be light inside the darkness. Helen Keller taught me nothing is impossible, if there is a will – there’s a way. Anne Frank let the child me know, we all fear, we’re all facing impossible things that corrode our innocence. She also taught me sometimes our stories keep us alive long after we die.

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

Ilya Kaminsky. Deaf Republic wasn’t about his/my deafness and our silence, rather how silence can be the loudest scream or the most profound reckoning. In a sense when he writes deaf becomes something other than a disability locked inside a box of assumptions. Brandon Melendez is another poet I admire. I can’t think of any other way to describe that admiration but to say his words punch through life. He gives substance to the every day. There’s so many more – the poets who have garnered recognition, yet remain approachable, encouraging, paving the way for other marginalized voices. Joy Harjo, on becoming the first Native American poet laureate. My respect and admiration belong to every single poet who sat down and penned a poem – all the emotional historians.

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

I can give my silence a voice. Writing is therapy, an outlet in which trauma is shared. Words feel natural to me, I’m at home inside my writing. When I write I’m not deaf, I’m ageless, I’m you and I’m not – I can breathe. More importantly, writing is a gift of words shared with one another. Writing is resistance, a call for change, a catalog of raw truths exposed in mere words.

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

You have to want it, put in the work and time. Anyone can write, we’re all taught the basics; but if you really want to write, do it from a place inside – keep your finger on the pulse of life around you. Never stop studying, reading, keep word interest in your every day.

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

None. Honestly, I’m submitting poems to various Lit magazines and I’m gathering a file of rejections and working toward far more acceptances. Eventually I would love to have a chapbook or book of my poems out in the world. Right now, it’s all about enjoying the journey and becoming a better writer.

Wombwell Rainbow Interview: Catherine Garbinsky

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.

Even Curses End Front Cover

Catherine Garbinsky

is a writer living in Northern California. She holds a degree in The Poetics of Transformation: Creative Writing, Religion, and Social Justice from the University of Redlands. Catherine is the author of All Spells Are Strong (Ghost City Press, 2018) and Even Curses End (Animal Heart Press, 2019). Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Coffin Bell Journal, Flypaper Magazine, Occulum Journal, and others.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

My mother was an English professor and I grew up playing writing games with her from the time that I could write (around 4 or 5 I think). I was probably 10 or so when I went to a writing summer camp, and that was my first most formal attempt at writing poetry. I wrote a persona poem about a toilet who was in love with the janitor! Later that same year my mother came and guest taught creative writing at my school, and introduced us to e.e. cummings. I remember being a little angry with her that she hadn’t introduced him to me sooner, like she’d been hiding all this beauty from me. It was the first time I realized you could break the rules I had learned about poetry and form. That was a turning point for me.

I still love exploring all of the different things that poetry can do, from erasure to sonnets to visual poetry to new forms being invented all of the time. There is incredible freedom when approaching the page, and it’s a different muscle from the careful plotting and world building of fiction (which I also love).

The simple why of it is that nothing else brings me the same ecstatic joy I feel when I read and write and listen to poetry. It celebrates, explores, and challenges language in such a unique way. By its very nature, it asks us to look differently at the world. Some poems and forms do this more than others, but I believe poetry is this incredible vehicle for change partly for this reason. To read poetry well, we must be open.

I’m speaking in generalities here, but it is the possibility that I see in poetry that makes it feel so alive in me.

2. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

My house was full of poetry growing up, mostly older and mostly men: William Blake, John Keats, William Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Theodore Roethke, and so on. At the school I went to we also memorized a lot of poetry. I was reciting William Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, and others.

I didn’t know about many living poets until I was older. My high school poetry teacher introduced me to slam poetry and spoken word, literary magazines like Tin House and Poetry, and helped me feel involved in the contemporary poetry world in some small way. I attended my first poetry reading with living poets when I was 16 years old. I was in love! It also made me realize how much I’d been missing. I’ve made a point since then to read women writers, LGBTQ writers, writers or color, disabled writers, and other voices outside of the Western literary canon.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I currently work 8-5 every day, so I write in my notebook during lunch breaks and then at home in the evenings after dinner. It’s my favorite part of my day, setting everything else aside to focus on writing. I have some rituals to help ground myself before beginning: lighting a candle, preparing tea or snacks, making sure everything is in its right place before I begin. I’d like to say that it goes uninterrupted from there, but inevitably it gets very broken up hour by hour. That’s hard for me. I’m very phlegmatic, so I love to sit with one thing for a long time, and I don’t like to stop until it is complete.

My work goes in waves, writing for several weeks and then revising for several weeks. I love revision, the process of helping a poem to become its best self. It is incredibly satisfying. I have to stop myself eventually, though, or I could go on revising forever.

5. What motivates you to write?

The little voice inside of me that insists, even (or especially) when the world might tell me otherwise, that I have important things to say.

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

I was raised on fairytale and fantasy, and magic is a thread through all of my work, whether implicit or explicit. Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my greatest influences, in her poems and stories but also in her approach to language and the power of words. From her I learned that the true names of things are deeply sacred, that they hold a magic all of their own and that speaking them has power. After she passed away, I processed my grief through erasure poems of her books. Grief and remembering can be a lot like erasure in some ways, as memories shift and fade specific words or moments stay with you. Pouring through Le Guin’s work after her passing, I knew I wanted to work with her words. It was a lesson on loss, it was a celebration, it was the deepest honor. My small chapbook All Spells Are Strong Here (Ghost City Press) was the result.

Francesca Lia Block was another huge influence on me growing up, the way that she wove magic so completely into everyday life. It helped me look at the world around me with different eyes. She always acknowledged the messiness of life, the pain, the weirdos, — fairies, mermaids, magic, yes, but also the punks, & goths. I didn’t always feel like those parts of myself could coexist and her work made me see how beautifully they belonged together. Her prose style is also very lyrical, and I loved that. I’d never read books like that before, and it was thrilling to me to think that prose could be so poetic.

Mary Oliver’s words live deeply in me as well. Her love for the natural world, for wild things. She was one of the first living poets I truly loved, and the way she shared her heart so openly is an example I try to follow.

There are so many others — I could go on and on! The wonderful thing about reading is that those influences become so deeply rooted in you.

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

Oh, the list feels endless. I am always discovering new work and new writers to love! I am trying to be braver in my work, and the courage of Natalie Eilbert, Maggie Smith, Rachel McKibbens, Tiana Clark, Emilia Phillips, Kristin Garth, and Chelsea Dingman makes me feel braver, too. I am thrilled by the creativity and imagination of Paige Lewis, Chen Chen, Kailey Tedesco, E.K. Anderson, Chase Berggrun, Angelo Colavita, torrin a. greathouse, Sonya Vatomsky, Logan February, and Ilya Kaminsky. I’ve been sitting for a long time with poems that really sang to me by Ariel Francisco, Julia Beach, Jessie Lynn McMains, Ansel Elkins, Adrienne Novy, Sam Herschel Wein, Todd Dillard, and Christina Xiong. The more time I spend with the poems, the more they teach me. I am always looking to the incredible world building and plot weaving of Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Terri Windling, Hiromi Goto, Nnedi Okorafor, and Jy Yang. So many others!

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

Oh, I think we are always becoming. Writing is a practice, like any art, and I think we are writers as soon as we begin (publishing and/or making it your profession is a different question altogether).

The best way that I know to begin is through observation: in this case, close reading and attention to writing done well. What constitutes well is really for you to find, as art can be incredibly subjective. Find the work that calls to you and examine what it is doing and how. What words, what punctuation, what format did they choose and how did it affect your reading?

My other advice is to play — give yourself the freedom to ignore rules, or to make up arbitrary ones. Try some writing exercises (I love “poemcrazy” by Susan Goldsmith Wooldrige and “Sing Me the Creation” by Paul Matthews which are both full of fun exercises and games to play on your own or with a group). Your writing, especially in early drafts, doesn’t have to be flawless to be good, to be meaningful. Giving yourself permission to play can also help loosen your expectations and help you forgive the inevitable blunders. Learning to accept or even embrace my mistakes has been one of the biggest lessons in my own writing.

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

Oh, I always have a few too many projects going on at once: I’ve got a YA novel, several children’s stories, a full length book of poetry, and two poetry chapbooks in the works right now. I’m getting new ideas all of the time, and need to stop myself from taking on more than I can handle!

Re-Connecting With Nature (and cows)

Wendy Pratt is always a great read

WendyPratt

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Yesterday, as I was coming back from a nine mile hike, foot sore, weary and head emptied, I almost walked into a sparrow hawk which was perched on a gate I was about to open. I’m not sure who was more surprised. He/she had its back to me and was scanning the field for prey. I was crossing a railway line at the time and wouldn’t have been able to stop, but as I slowed down and quickly fumbled for my camera, which had conveniently gone into sleep mode, I was awed by her (let’s call her a she) simple grace and perfection. I did not get a good photo of her. I’d seen her at the beginning of my walk, when I had again surprised her hunting  on the other side of the railway. I managed to get this Nat. Geo. quality photograph that time:

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But it didn’t matter…

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