Category Archives: “10 questions for….” interview series

10 Questions for Robert Milby

Robert Milby 7Robert Milby, of Florida, NY has been reading his poetry in the Hudson Valley and beyond since March, 1995. He hosts 3 Hudson Valley poetry series: Florida Library Poetry Café in Florida, NY, Noble Coffee Roasters in Campbell Hall, NY and Mudd     Poets Poetry series at Mudd Puddle Café, New Paltz, NY. He has been published widely in several dozen magazines and 12 anthologies. He and Carl Welden are the poetry and Theremin duo, Theremin Ghosts! haunting the Hudson Valley each October since 2003. Robert wrote the column Poets Comitatus: Dead Poets of the Hudson Valley, for Heyday Magazine. He was also co-founder and a board member of the Northeast Poetry Center’s College of Poetry workshop series at Seligmann Estate in Sugar Loaf, NY. Robert’s first book of poetry is Ophelia’s Offspring (FoothillsPublishing, 2007). His 2nd book, Victorian House: Ghosts and Gothic Poems—publication…still… pending. He is the author of several chapbooks and cds. Most recent chapbook: Crow Weather (Fierce Grace Press, 2009). http://www.robertmilby.com/

 Interview with g emil reutter 

Robert Milby (1)

The Interview

GER: Will Nixon has said you are the hardest working poet in the Hudson Valley. Tell us about the Hudson Valley poetry scene and how you find the time to host and read at its many venues?

RM: The Hudson Valley poetry scene stretches, from Westchester County, up past Albany, NY. This is excluding the NYC poetry circuit (is far too large and diverse to discuss here).                                                   Albany’s poetry scene is massive as well, but I am more familiar with it.

There is a strange absence of younger poets today.  I began reading my poems and the works of the greats, in public, back in March, 1995, when I was turning 25.  I sought out readings all over the Valley, and found that there was a great variety of poets, yet, there tended to be large and consistent groups of of high school, college, grad students, and in general, young poets in addition to the prevalent middle-aged and elders.

After 6 months of reading at as many poetry open mics as I could(in galleries, coffeehouses, cafes, bookstores, libraries, bars) I began hosting a poetry series with a group of young poets at The Beatnik Hollow in Wappingers Falls, NY. My travelling group (poets I had met around the Valley in spring and summer of ’95), Omniscient Omnibus, gradually became well-known as an official group of poets with aims of publication and featured readings. We decided to look for venues to host readings at.  I found The Beatnik Hollow, having heard about on a radio broadcast.

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The poetry scene itself was rich and exciting in the pre-Internet, and cell phone days. The ‘Net was relatively new back in 1995–many did not have access to it in my region. We drew up fliers by hand; folks did them on computers, and we hung them around the region. There were not as many poetry readings back then in the mid-lower Hudson, but those well-attended readings, were solid. These days, we have more readings in the Hudson Valley–many are excellent, but often, there are no young poets, whatsoever.  This is not only unsettling, but also serving to be a problem now, and a crisis in the future. Without the freshness, innovation, intellect, and passion of the young, poetry readings become too relaxing and dry up. Not to say that older poets are not or can’t be exciting.  But often, in the Hudson Valley region, there is a lack of intensity that is crucial for poetry readings to thrive.  That lack is due to the absence of young poets.

I have hosted 26 poetry series since September, 1995; 27 if I count my current co-hosting of the venerable Calling All Poets series at the Howland Center in Beacon, NY. 4 years ago I was hosting 8 regular series. No young poets were–only middle-aged and geriatric poets. Currently, I host 3, and I co-host the Calling all Poets series. I have the time because I do freelance during the day, and interview people for a small, local arts paper; teach workshops, in addition to hosting readings and setting up readings for myself and many others, all over the Hudson Valley, NYC, and beyond.

I am a grass-roots poet.   I “hold” a library card.  I buy used books at book sales. New books at indie bookstores, when able.    I do not have a Bachelor’s Degree.  Younger poets need to put in their biography which poets have stirred their hearts and minds, taught them how to see the world; venerate Freedom and Love; not where they got the MA, MFA , or PhD, in English.

Why does it matter, when a poet is pouring out her or his heart on stage, which degree they “hold,” or where they went to college to buy the expensive degree(s)? Degrees are more important in secret societies or some job interviews, not to determine a poets’ credibility–only they can do that, by sharing their work in public and with publishers. 

Robert milby 2GER:  You grew up on Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Matthew Arnold and Alfred Lord Tennyson. How have they influenced you?

RM: The Romantics (English, French, German Russian, Italian) and the Victorians, and Pre-Raphaelites are my chief influences for poetry.

I respect the Dadaists, Avant-Guard, Surrealists, the Beats, the New York School, but do not rely on them, nor do I return that often to them.

Modern poets such as Teasdale, Yeats(who was a late Victorian then, a modernist) Millay, Wallace Stevens, Vachel Lindsay, DH Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Maxwell Bodenheim, Amy Lowell, Robinson Jeffers, Hilda Doolittle, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Heaney, McGuckian, Paul Durcan, Michael Longley, Carl Sandburg, Hart Crane, Harry Crosby, Rilke, TS Eliot, Spender, Milosz Frost, Ransom, C. Day-Lewis, MacLeish, Merrill Moore, Anne Sexton, Lorca, Gottfried Benn,  Robert Lowell, Philip Larkin, Fernando Pessoa, Theodore Roethke, Randall Jarrell, WC Williams, Delmore Schwartz,  Maire Brennan, Harry Chapin, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and others.

Novelists: Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, the Brontes, Anthony Trollope, Jane Austen, George Elliot, Victor Hugo, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky,  and others of the late 18th, and entire 19th century are my chief novelist interests.

Modern Novelists:  Ian McEwan, Arturo Perez Reverte, Hesse, Kafka, Umberto Eco, Tracy Chevalier, Steinbeck, Agatha Christie, Caleb Carr.

GER: There was a recent article asking where the poets have gone on social issues. You consider yourself a political and social writer of social consciousness. Where do you fit in the modern poetry scene and are poets addressing social issues ?

RM: I began, when I started writing poetry ( June, 1987)  and remain a political and social-conscious poet. I feel that my political poetry is effective and often a vanguard for younger poets to heed. No. There are not enough poets writing political and socially-relevant work.  Public schooling, main stream mass-media, and electronics are the reason younger people/poets do not engage.  How ironic!

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GER: Your first full book of poetry Ophelia’s Offspring was released in 2007. Share with us how the collection developed?

RM:Ophelia’s Offspring(Foothills Publishing, June 2007) is a sampling of my diverse interests(Literature, politics, social consciousness, ecology, male-female relationships, family, gothic, ghosts, life and death matters.  I did not write specifically for that manuscript, per se; rather, I compiled older and newer poems, such as one written when Clinton was in his 2nd term, several penned as a result of US politics during and after 9/11, Katrina, a near fatal car accident I suffered while rushing to host a poetry reading series back in November, 1995, a few about ex-girlfriends, one about an ex-fiancé, etc.)

GER: You have said you see a decided lack of originality in a lot of modern poetry. Please expand on this?

RM:  I see a lack of originality in modern poetry for one reason and one reason only:  Younger and older poets are not reading the Classics and contemporary poets to the degree that I hoped they would.  A poet needs to study the classics, and explore contemporary poets.to shape their own vox as a writer.

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GER: As a poet who performs frequently in the Hudson Valley scene and who tours other states what value do you place on performance?

RM: I enjoy reading in states outside of my home state, New York. Performance is vital.  To paraphrase the great Harry Chapin:  “You must seduce the audience over and over.” It is important to keep the crowds’ interest.  A poet can connect with his or her audience in many ways. It is up to the novice and/or younger poet to go to readings and study the poet onstage.  Take notes if need be.

GER: Please share with us your experience as a touring poet?

RM:My experiences as a touring poet, whether each October with Thereminist, Carl Welden performing as Theremin Ghosts! Visiting colleges such as Vassar, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oswego, etc.  An alternative community in upstate VT, Boston, Cambridge, Lennox, Mass.  Sites in CT, NJ, NYC, Saratoga Springs, Long Island, Northeastern PA, have all enriched my writing, mind, and purpose as a poet–to show that poetry is crucial to the human condition, now more than ever in America.

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Tell us about the collaboration that brought about the book Ghost Prints?

RM:  Ghost Prints.  I am friends with Hudson Valley horror novelist, Jason Gehlert.  I have had him as a featured reader on several occasions headlining my poetry venues, interviewed him for the Delaware and Hudson CANVAS(Bloomingburg, NY) and he thanked me by inviting me to contribute some of my ghost and gothic poems and prose poems to Ghost Prints(Black Bedsheet Books, Antelope, California, 2010)

GER: You currently lead the Northeast Poetry Center’s College of Poetry Workshop. What do you learn as a workshop leader and what are the benefits to poets who attend?

RM:  The Northeast Poetry Center’s College of Poetry workshop and readings series was founded in early 2009 by poet William Seaton, poet and bookstore owner Steven Calitri, and myself, to further the development and celebration of the written and spoken word in the Hudson Valley, NY. We operated out of Calitri’s then-successful/now defunct indie bookstore, Baby Grand Books in downtown Warwick, NY. One of our Board members and major supporter–was peformance poet, educator, fiction writer (and good friend of Musician/Singer-Songwriter, Patti Smith) Janet Hamill. We had a successful run of workshops, famous guest poets such as Ed Sanders(of the Fugs), academic Robert Kelly, Beat and Beat-influenced poet the late Janine Pommy-Vega, poet and owner of the Bowery Poetry Club, Bob Holman, Irish poet, Eamon Grennan, The NPC/College of Poetry has served its purpose and is coming to an end in early December, 2014, after a 5 year run.

Not every poet would enjoy workshops, but I find, after leading many of them since the late 1990’s, that they can be a great resource, inspiration, and motivation for novice and younger poets to develope their crafts, enjoy supportive feedback, and find their voice as a poet. Older poets who may need some brushing up on skills, outreach, and credibility will find this at good workshops. A successful poetry workshops inspires, teaches, and helps to discover courage and encourage freedom in the young, novice, and older poets.

robert milby 6GER: What current poets have influenced you and why?

RM: Current poets:  Seamus Heaney(recently deceased) WS Merwin, and several others of international reknown. Currrent and former NY state poets who consistently inspire and influence:  Skip Leon, Ken Van Rensselear, Carl Welden, Arthur Joseph Kushner, Steve Hirsch, Bonnie Law, William Seaton, Guy Reed, Janet Hamill,  Christopher Wheeling, Adrianna Delgado, Barbara Adams, Irene O’Garden, Christopher P. Gazeent, Ken Holland, Chris Wood, Rebecca Schumejda, Mona Toscano, Haigan Smith, Dominic Melita, Mauro Parisi, Mike Jurkovic, Jim Kenny, Glen River, Jim Eve, Glenn Werner, Raphael Kosek, Will Nixon, Frank Boyer, Marina Mati, Gordon Riggs, Roberta Gould, Teresa Costa,  Donald Lev(of Home Planet News), David Kime, Walter Worden, Cheryl Rice, Wynn Klosky, Led Klosky, Ted Gill, Franklin Schneider, John Douglas.  These local poets and the aforementioned famous poets inspire me with their humanity and courage.

GER: What projects are you currently working on?

RM: Current projects:  Theremin Ghosts!  Poetry and Theremin performance with Carl Welden, who plays Theremin, to support my ghost poems, and Christopher Wheeling–Geist host. We are on the 12th Annual Hudson Valley, NY Tour, October, 2014.  I read the ghost poems, Welden plays Theremin in front of crowds of all sizes.

Working with Calling All Poets, Inc. as a poetry series co-host and Board Member.  The CAPs poetry series, one of the oldest in the Hudson Valley, meets 8pm on First Fridays at Howland Center, Main St. Beacon, NY.  We are over 15 years old, and host at a popular reading site in the Valley, Howland Center (historic landmark, 1872).

 Also, I am working on a novel about French poet, Baudelaire. Hosting my three, regular poetry series at Mudd Puddle Cafe, in New Paltz, NY, The Florida Public Library in Florida, NY, and Noble Coffee Roasters, in Campbell Hall, NY. And daily writing:  journal, poems, fiction.

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The  poetry of Robert Milby is forthcoming in the Autumn 2014 edition of  The Fox Chase Review 

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2nd-saturday-poets-1-21-12-guarnieri-reutter-readiing-017-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

10 Questions for Vinita Agrawal

va 1Born in Bikaner, India, on August 18th 1965, Vinita Agrawal did her schooling in Kalimpong and Kolkata and college from Baroda. She was is a Gold Medallist in M.A. Political Science from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and earned the UGC scholarship in College. She has worked freelance as a writer and researcher ever since but has remained a poet at heart. Her poetry has been published in print and online journals on countless different occasions so far, the prominent publications among them being Asiancha, Constellations, raedleafpoetry, The Fox Chase Review, Spark, The Taj Mahal Review, Open Road Review, CLRI, Kritya.org, Touch- The Journal of healing, Museindia, Everydaypoets.com, Mahmag World Literature, The Criterion, The Brown Critique, Twenty20journal.com, Sketchbook, Poetry 24, Mandala and others which include several international anthologies. Her poem was nominated for the Best of the Net Awards 2011 by CLRI. She received a prize from MuseIndia in 2010. Her poem Thoughts won a prize in the Wordweavers Contest 2013. Her debut collection of poems titled Words Not Spoken published by Sampark/Brown Critique was released in November 2013. http://www.vinitawords.com/

Interview with g emil reutter

The Interview 

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GER: You are a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. What draws you to each of these forms?

VA: I am first and foremost a writer of poetry. I write so much of it that sometimes I think it’s a malaise with me. It’s my first love across all genres of writing. I write fiction occasionally – because some ideas simply cannot be expressed as a poem. They need a longer narrative and only prose will suffice to portray them adequately. Compared to fiction, I enjoy writing non-fiction more. I enjoy writing about spirituality, culture and travel, enjoy researching my subject and creating something that throws more light on it. That gives me great satisfaction.

GER: How did you come to being a poet?

VA: I’ve been writing poems since I was very young – as far back as five. I think my dad has some of my childhood verses saved up somewhere. I was good at English literature in school and received awards regularly in the subject. I contributed to school and college journals and other in house publications. But most of the poetry that I wrote till my early twenties was an outpouring of the angst of growing up and about teenage crushes. It had no literary worth at all. I made a bonfire of those diaries when I re read them at a later stage in life and realized how atrocious they were. 

Then there was a long phase of remaining a closet poet. I wrote regularly but what I considered as reasonably good poetry was rejected by editors as worthless. It was then I realized writing poetry was not merely the outpouring of emotions, rather it was a serious art of conveying the deepest meanings of life and portraying its most profound perspectives using the bare minimum of words. Because of this realization, I started reading poetry seriously. I concluded that if you didn’t know what the art was all about, how were you going to experiment with it? 

I read the classical poets like Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, Whitman and Eliot. I read works of the newer poets like Neruda, Paz and contemporary Indian poets like Jayanta Mahapatra, Nissim Ezekiel and Kamala Das. I have to confess that Neruda and Mahapatra blew me away! ” God!,” I told myself, “That is how I want to write!” I was officially bitten by the bug; writing poetry became a compulsion, an obsession…a desperate need. For me personally, it took the lid off the pressures of existence.

va 3GER: What poets have had an influence on your writing?

VA: As I mentioned in my previous reply, I’ve been majorly influenced by most great poets. There’s something to learn from each one of them. I learnt extravagance of imagery and emotions from Neruda, learnt pinpointed poignant succinctness from Mahapatra and the art of making guileless womanly confessions from Kamala Das.  I’ve also been very inspired by the works of RUMI, Vikram Seth, Jane Hirshfield and Seamus Heaney. 

I must also acknowledge the vast and varied influence that every good poet has on me. Sometimes I read a great piece of contemporary poetry and I don’t even know who’s written it but I want to treasure the experience of reading it.

Rather than a poet in totality, a poem per se has a greater impact on me. In that sense I get influenced by all good work. Reading a well written poem makes me write something worthwhile too. You could say that epiphany is my taskmaster!.

Words-Not-Spoken-by-Vinita-Agrawal

GER: Tell us about Words Not Spoken and how the collection came about?

VA:  Words Not Spoken is my first collection of poems. It is published by Brown Critique/Sampark  India and was released in November 2013. 

The book is a potpourri of poems written over a considerable stretch of time. Some poems go back as far as 1997. I decided to include them in this collection because I could still relate to them emotionally. Besides, this being my first published collection, I did not want to miss any step of my poetic journey. 

The poems represent my perceptions of life with all its highs and lows, troughs and crests… They trace experiences of loss and grief, pride and joy, betrayal and pain from a very personal perspective. Some poems express my awareness of the injustices I see around me but mostly they centre around the intensely peculiar dimensions of womanhood –  its sentimental treasures and curious travails.  

Over the years I have discovered that pain has a penumbra of numbness attached to it. And that sooner or later, we choose this numbness to the acuteness. It is this invisible fine shift towards a state of stillness that inspires me to write. Endurance, in any form, is at the core of my writing.

GER: Please tell us about your work as a freelance writer and researcher?

vinita01VA:  Yes…I’ve changed many cities in the course of my life and therefore was unable to take up a regular job. So I decided to work freelance and work from home. Writing is a profession that allows you that freedom. I relish being able spend time at home and yet be fruitfully engaged with writing. It has its limitations of course but if you’re seeking to balance your personal and professional life than it really is the best option.

As freelance writer I’ve written development based articles, features on gender issues, penned middles for newspapers, written passionately about the Tibet issue, done interviews with prominent personalities in the spiritual/academic field like Robert Thurman, the Official Oracle of the Dalai Lama and even top Defence personnel! God knows how that happened! 

As a researcher, I presented two papers on Buddhism at international conferences in Sri Lanka and Vaishali under the Sakyadhita Banner. I have karmic leanings towards the Buddha and his teachings and have taken up researching his life and thoughts independently but with expert guidance from Geshes and scholars. I have to confess though, that I’m very slow with all this work that I’m doing. It’s born out of passion and an academic thirst. It has no deadlines or consolidate demands for being in the market so I take things easy with this aspect of my work.

The good thing that I see in doing it at all, apart from the fact them I read voraciously because of it, is that it puts me in touch with wonderful people and brilliant scholars. I enjoy interacting with them a lot. Sometimes I get to visit awesome ancient places in the course of my self-sponsored research. Anuradhapura, Vaishali and Sarnath are two places that come to my mind in particular.

va 4GER: What are the benefits of meditation to managing stress?

VA: Scientific case studies carried out at the Emory University, USA, indicate that compassionate meditation enhances our mental and physical well-being. It creates greater connectedness amongst members of the society and thereby reduces the stress levels. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership at the university when he was on a visit to Delhi. He pointed out that meditation is an antidote to stress. It does the exact opposite of what stress does to your body. Stress aggravates your adrenalin levels, meditation brings it down, stress shoots up your blood pressure, meditation controls it, stress stretches your nerves and meditation calms them. 

Meditating on compassion that is, love for all, is enormously beneficial in fighting stress.

Indeed compassion is a basic human value and need not be practiced in the context of any particular religion. Meditation helps us to develop this positive emotion within ourselves

All these positive emotions, reared through regular meditation, have great beneficial impact on our health. Becoming kind from within changes our behavior towards others and this in turn makes others around us kinder in return.

GER: You wrote a piece, Women on the Path: The Transnational Sangha’, Awakening Buddhist Women, share with us your thoughts on the awakening? VA: 

“Free am I, oh so free am I
Being freed
By means of the three crooked things:
The mortar, pestle, and my crooked husband! “
                                                Therigatha 11
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This is one of the verses written by a female disciple of the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The lines epitomize the sense of freedom which spiritual awakening brings into women’s lives who otherwise find themselves in the suffocating grind of domestic life 24×7. The message is as relevant today as it was all those years ago because basically, nothing has changed.
 
In the quest for enlightenment, men and women are equal. Emancipation is a matter of the heartso why should it matter whether the individual who seeks it is a man or a woman? In reality however, women face many obstacles in their endeavors towards self-realizationmore, perhaps, than in any other area of their lives.
 
 
My paper on Awakening Buddhist Women took an in-depth view of the worldwide efforts being made by women to seek a quality space for themselves. It included case studies of women on the spiritual path from different socio-economic, cultural and geographical backgrounds.
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GER: Tell us about the poetry scene in your home town and in India at this point in time?

VA: Oh it’s rife with creativity and inspired writing! Of course you have the section of bad poets who write mediocre stuff and pass it off as art! But India does have its share of brilliant poets who’ve been published internationally, whose work has been evaluated by editors of world class journals accepted, published and occasionally even glorified.

That is very heartening to all aspiring and upcoming poets! It sets a benchmark of good writing standards and chisels ambitions to a fine tip. 

Most cities organize poetry readings and literary festivals that provide a good platform for poetic interactions and also a good exposure for one’s writing. So many literary journals have mushroomed in the country! I just wish that the better ones amongst them continue to maintain a good standard of writing. 

I must also mention here the amazing strength and depth of regional literature in India. My country has over 700 languages! So you can imagine the range of literature that sprouts from different corners of the country. It’s quite fascinating.

GER: Do you perform your poetry and if so what are the benefits to reading in front of a live audience?

SAARC Literature Festival at DelhiVA: Yes I do. In fact I love doing live readings. It gives you an opportunity to connect with the pulse of your readers. Gives you instant feedback about your work and the joy of seeing your words settle in people’s hearts. The experience is quite matchless!

I’ve had youngsters approach me with endearing trepidation after my readings asking if they could keep in touch with me…I’ve had older, established poets come forth and comment on what they see as strengths in my poetry. These are all the delightful fall outs of live readings!

Also, when you read live, you portray not just your work but the entire ethos to which you belong. The way you dress, the way you carry yourself and the way you interact with fellow poets also helps to convey your sensibilities as a poet. It’s a wholesome experience that goes beyond the scope of mere words.

GER: What projects are you currently working on?

VA: As a poet, I have two manuscripts ready for publication. A couple of publishers have approached me but I am yet to make up my mind about how to go about it. I also want to bring out my collection of very short poems. You will probably see a lot of me in 2015 – I hope that’s a good thing! 

I’m also helping one of my very dear colleagues to organize a top quality literary fest in the spring of 2015. Hopefully it will turn out to be one of its kind! 

On the research front, I’m in the process of writing a book about Buddha’s journey from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath i.e. from his place of enlightenment to the place where he gave his very first sermon. The book is titled Two Full Moons. But it’s in its nascent stages as of now because it requires immense and intense research and my avenues are limited. 

In general, poetry keeps me in its grip all the time. Like I said earlier, it’s a malaise…but with a sweet, dervish-like sting to it.

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You can read the poetry of Vinita Agrawal in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.foxchasereview.org/12AW/VinitaAgrawal.html http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/s14vagrawal.html

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2nd-saturday-poets-1-21-12-guarnieri-reutter-readiing-017-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

10 Questions for Alice Wootson

alice 3Alice Greenhowe Wootson grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended Cheyney University and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. After graduating, she married and remained in the Philadelphia area. She earned a Masters Degree in Education and Reading Specialist Certification and taught in the public schools. Alice is the award-winning author of ten romance novels and an award-winning poet; she has taught writing workshops for numerous groups. She is also a board member of the Philadelphia Writers Conference. Alice Wootson is an active member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church of Philadelphia. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Isaiah. http://www.alicewootson.net/

Interview with g emil reutter

The Interview 

alice 2GER: You have published a large body of work in the genre of Romance Novels. What drew you to this genre?

AW: I write romance novels because I like happpy endings.

GER: Some have described your novels as realistic romance full of suspense with out of the ordinary plot twists. How does this set you apart from others in the genre?

AW: I add twists to my novels because I don’t want the story to ‘unfold in a straight line’ and I don’t want the reader to reach the end and say ”I knew that’s what was going to happen.”  

BorderLove-2GER: You latest release is Border Love. Please tell us about the book?

AW:  ‘Border Love’ features Border Patrol Agents assigned to Brownsville, Texas located on the Texas/Mexican Border. My husband and I spent several winters in Brownsville and I found many interesting things about it. A highway just outside town has a tall chainlink fence running parallel to the road for miles and miles. Just on the other side of the fence is the Rio Grande River. If your arms  were long enough, you could dip your hand into the water. The river is also shallow along here so the most that would get wet would be your pants legs. No buildings are visible on the Mexican side and ranches are along the road on the US side with no buildings in sight. It would be easy to wade across the river, use the spaces in the fence to climb and be in this country. The fence follows the contours of the river so many areas are out of sight. Also many Mexican students commute to Texas Southernmost University which is within walking distance of the bridge they walk across. You can pay a small toll and walk across into Mexico. With all of this in mind, I let my imagination run wild and thought of various problems that could arise from the close proximity and easy access to and from Mexico. I did extensive research which I do for all of my books. Then I decided what problems to give my agents. Drugs are a bigger problem in Mexico than they are here. Some towns are subjected to nightly battles between rival gangs over turf. A lot of the problems are caused by people from countries to the south of Mexico. I also had to consider that the drug smuggling trade wouldn’t get a foothold here if not for the involvement of US citizens. Unfortunately all of the situations I use in the book are possible.

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GER: You have conducted a number of writing workshops. What are the benefits of workshops to those attending and to you?

AW: I do several writing workshops for groups of interested people. The basic one deals with the three elements necessary to write a story: character, setting and plot. I go into detail about the three and explore various options. If time permits, I have those attending develop the beginning of a story that includes all three elements. I pose questions along the way. (I’m a retired teacher so I can’t help it.  What’s in it for me? I enjoy helping people follow their dreams.)

GER: What advice would you give to emerging writers and poets?

AW: I always tell writers and poets, if you have an idea, write it because it will continue to bug you until you do. You don’t have to worry about forgetting it. It’s not going anywhere until you write it. Remember, the hardest part is starting. 

alice 5GER: Your poetry and short stories range from realism to the surreal. Do you approach these genres differently than your romance novels and does it reflect another side of Alice Wootson?

AW:  I don’t know why my short stories and my poetry are not only different from my novels, but they are different from each other. I think my personality is split three ways. I might read something or see something and an idea pops into my head and I have to get it down.

GER: You are firmly grounded in family and faith. How does this stability assist you in your writing?

AW:   I am blessed in many ways and I am aware of it. I have choices. I do not have drama in my life and I am thankful for it. I live comfortably in a nice house on a quiet street in a quiet, safe neighborhood and I have everything I need. I am aware that too many people aren’t as blessed as I am. I write because I want to, not because I have to. (Although, if I have an idea it will make me write it so it will leave me alone.)

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GER: Some poets shy away from public readings of their work. You have performed your poetry at many venues. Tell us how the interaction with an audience has assisted you in the development of your poetry?

AW: I am still a little uncomfortable reading in public, but I like to think people enjoy hearing my poetry and find much of it thought-provoking. I get positive feedback from those who hear it and I am grateful for that.

GER: Who are your favorite writers and poets?

AW:  A few of my favorite poets are old: Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, but I read whoever I have access to. I’m only going to name two authors: Beverly Jenkins and Catherine Coulter although I read many, many others. I’m on a romantic suspense kick right now and there’s a lot of authors out there.

GER: What is next for Alice Wootson?

AW: My next book released will probably be “Border Danger” because my editor already has it. “Border Danger” also features Border Partol agents stationed in Brownsville, but they are different agents facing different dangers. The two books aren’t part of a series, just wiith the same setting. I also have to get back to Nate, a secondary character from ‘Aloha Love” who tried to take over every scene he was in. He finally backed off when I promised him his own story. I started it and have to get back to it soon, but I’ve been working on submitting 4 other finished novels. I have to get back to Nate, though. I have a feeling he’s losing patience with me. I’m serious about this..

Alice Wootson at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Wootson/e/B001JRUHYM

You can read the poetry and fiction of Alice Wootson in The Fox Chase Review: http://www.foxchasereview.org/2008/22-AliceWootson.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/10WS/WootsonA.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/13WS/Wootson.html

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2nd-saturday-poets-1-21-12-guarnieri-reutter-readiing-017-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

10 Questions for Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon

DSC_0577 (1)Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, PhD  (Cultural Anthropology), M.A. (Anthropology), MFA (Theater), Graduate Certificate) Women’s Studies, B.A. (Journalism); is an Associate Professor of Urban Theater and Community Engagement in the Theater Department at Temple University. The author of Through Smiles and Tears: The History of African American Theater (From Kemet to the Americas) (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011); The Secret Messages in African American Theater: Hidden Meaning Embedded in Public Discourse” (Edwin Mellen Publishing, 2006) She is a recipient of the 2013 Associate Provosts Arts Grant; 2008 Seed Grant, 2003 Provost’s Arts Grant; 2001 Independence Foundation Grant, the 2000 PEW fellowship, and 1999, DaimlerChrysler National Poetry Competition. Williams-Witherspoon is a contributing poet to 26 anthologies and recipient of a host of awards and citations.

Interview with g emil reutter

Kimmika on the Porch

GER: You instruct a course at Temple University, Poetry as Performance. Please share with us the development of the course, student reaction and the benefits they receive from the course?

KWW: Poetry As Performance (TH1008) was one of the first courses that I wrote for the Theater Department at Temple. I think I started teaching the course in 1996. I had always called what I did as a performance artist Performance Poetry—combing spectacle and the theatricality of theater with original poetry recitation. By that time, Spoken Word was just coming into being, but the Spoken Word genre was a completely different performance style limited to Slam competitions and three (3) minute “spits” constructed to solicit the most audience response.  My work as a Performance Poet was more akin to poetic monologues and dramatic vignettes. So I convinced my colleagues in the Theater Department at Temple that a class like Poetry As Performance would get actors away from notions of the Hallmark-card style of performing poetry and could capitalize on the youth Rap/Hip Hop/Spoken Word movement that was emerging, while still training students in the elements of theater and performance studies.

In 2006, in addition to my course at Temple, I got special permission from my Dean (then Concetta  Stewart) to  pilot the course at Bryn Mawr College when they wanted to begin a similar course offering there. Each class teaches poetry style, performance technique and community-based learning culminating in free performances each semester on WRTI- radio, now TUTV and in Randall Theater for the university and North Philadelphia community.

My classes, first Performance Poetry and then Poetic Ethnography, TH 2008 have been wildly popular with the student body and not limited to just theater students. In any given semester, at least two thirds of the class come from English/Creative Writing programs, Dance, Tyler school of Art, biology, communications and the like. Alumni students and senior scholars have even come back to audit the course when they couldn’t fit it in to their schedule before graduating. I have former students replicating what I’ve taught them in public schools and community programs across the nation—keeping young people engaged in theater, poetry and the written word—even at time when so much of k thru 12 access to the arts is consistently (and strategically) being cut back and curtailed.

new_photo_AIPF_2_Kameka_WilliamsGER: Your history in the theater and poetry are somewhat entwined. Have the different art forms interacted for you and if so how have they impacted each form?

KWW:  I have been very fortunate, Although I fell in love with words and started writing poetry when I was about 8 years old (really corny stuff like: Dear Lord God above/bless my boyfriend/and preserve our love…) I had no idea what love was and my father would have killed me if I really had a boyfriend at eight years old but you get the point. A library aide all through my public school career (Gompers Elementary, Beeber Junior High and the Philadelphia High School for Girls) I had unlimited access to books and I read all the time. I feel in love with rhyme, and rhythm and meter and because I grew up watching my mother reciting religious prose pieces in church, I knew the value in authors performing original work.  I stumbled onto theater quite by accident. I was living in Houston and couldn’t find work in my field as a journalist but because I had won a bunch of awards  at the Barbara Jordan Debate and Forensics Competition in Houston the year before, I could get a job in theater. Acting and directing in other people’s plays made me want to write my own…and the performance poetry morphed into playwriting.

I tell people that poetry is the language I am most comfortable in and playwriting is my method of social activism. I am no August Wilson, but like Wilson, I think my plays have a poetic quality and I know that playwriting has greatly enhanced my ability to capture character in my performance work. Couple all that with my doctoral training as a Cultural Anthropologist and I bring a unique skill set to theater and performance studies as a hybrid researcher, scholar, performance artist,, playwright, poet.

GER: Over the years you have received numerous honors and grants in the arts. How have these impacted your career in poetry and theater?

KWW: That’s a little tricky. You’re right, I’ve won some major awards in writing over the years for my work as a Performance Poet and as a playwright…the Venture Lifetime Achievement Award. (2014); The Miriam Maat Ka Re Award for Scholarly research (2013); The Spoken Soul 215 Award. (2013); “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the National Black Arts Spoken Word Tour; (2011); 2010 the Kennedy Center “Distinguished Achievement” Award for Project Co-Conception, Playwriting and Performance. of “SHOT” at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival; the 2000 PEW Charitable Trusts Arts Grant for scriptwriting; the 1999 Winner of the DaimlerCrysler National Poetry Competition; the 1999 Winner of the DaimlerChrysler Regional Poetry Competition (Philadelphia); 1996 PEW Exchange Residency Grant; 1995-96 Scholars Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society; the 1993-94 PEW Playwright Residency Exchange Grant; the 1991 American Poetry Center Performance Poet Residency Grant; the 1990 American Poetry Center Residency Grant; the 1990 “Playwriting Fellowship” from the Theater Association of Pennsylvania; and the 1987 Award in Literature from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. And that’s just a few of them. 

You would think that having won as many awards as I have over the years that my position as a Performance Poet and Playwright in the city would be secure but that didn’t happen.  Like everybody else, I struggle to get my work performed and published and have had to resort to sometimes, producing my own work. Even when I won the PEW in 2000, I thought…now, the theater community has to recognize me and my work; but that didn’t happen! Now, some people might  say that it’s because I am an African American female…I don’t know…perhaps! We don’t really talk about the inequity of arts production and access to resources in this city so I don’t know if my career trajectory would have been different if I wasn’t a woman of color who writes about her community? But I do wonder sometimes if a white male had done the amount and variety of things that I have done, what would have been different?….Hmmm.

 

kimmikpose

GER: You have been active in the poetry community of Philadelphia for many years. What changes have you seen in poetry in the city and what advice would you give to emerging poets?

KWW: Oh so much has changed. On any given night but particularly on Monday nights at the Bacchanal you could hear Will Perkins, Eugene Howard, Lamont Steptoe, Bob Small, Rosemary Cappello, Gerome Robinson, Etheridge Knight, Mbali Umoja, Rikki Lights and so many more. Now, there are only a few of us left.

Those poets didn’t sound alike like–they do now. Each poem and each poet was different! There was a vibrancy and an urgency to record what was happening in the world around us poetically. Now when I’m asked to judge competitions, so many of the young people sound the same—there’s so little nuance. With slam competitions, moneymaking has become a motivating force in the work and after awhile, some of the work can seem formulaic.

We didn’t make money with poetry when I first started. We all had day jobs. That wasn’t the goal. Sure some of us made a little money along the way; but that wasn’t the end all, be all of why we wrote and performed. We wrote because we had to…we were called to…we needed to—even if no one else heard us but one another. There was no YouTube or SLAM winner-take-all-purses. We wrote and performed together each week because the muse demanded that we capture that moment, that feeling, that character or that event so it wouldn’t be lost to forgotten memory.

secret messagesGER: The Secret Messages in African American Theater: Hidden Meanings Embedded in Public Discourse was released in 2006. Please share with us the development of the book?

KWW: Secret Messages is the published version of my dissertation. I did my field research at Freedom Theater during Walter Dallas’ tenure as Artistic Director. That work is all about the development of African American Theater, the inequity of African American arts production and their limited access to resources—unless, of course, those Black arts organizations produce work that appears benign or reinforces social stereotypes.  That work also talks about the necessity for most artists of color to develop a hidden transcript or seemingly playing out the expectation of blackness in their public performance while infusing their art with code words, African retentions and cultural references that still have meaning to their community. In this way writers, actors and musicians can infuse their work with dignity—even when forced to play out notions of the Black coon, thug, “gangsta”, mammy or angry Black woman.

GER: Her praying knees: my mother believed that prayer held the world together was published in the Other Side. Tell us about your mother, her impact on you and the belief that prayer can hold the world together?

KWW: Well Mommy got it from her mother, Mama Curry—Beatrice Charlow Curry. Every day at 12 o’clock, no matter what you were doing, every body had to come in, kneel down and pray—and after the prayer, old to young (even the mailman if happened to be there at the time) we all had to recite the Lord’s prayer in unison. As a result, my mother was a praying woman. I still recite the prayer that she taught us, that her mother taught her and all of my children know it as well.  Prayer was a very important component of my upbringing knowing how to pray has gotten me through more difficult times and situations than I care to think about. Prayer taught me to have faith. We all need to believe in something–some higher power. I wouldn’t presume to tell people what that higher power should be; but for me, I value the time that I can talk to God and the ancestors.

Now,  as an adult, as a wordsmith and as an anthropologist, I also recognize that prayer is a component of word power—some West African cultures call it Nommo (power of the word). Praying, the repetition of the words in your prayer becomes a power in of itself. The repetition of the prayer becomes a mechanism for actualization—the word, the prayer can eventually call the thing into being. Just like incantation or prescription, the doctor tells the patient to take this medicine and it will make you fell better. The patient re-reads the prescription each time they take the medication and believes. Pretty soon the patient feels better—even when the medication is a placebo!

Not only did my mother Lillian Curry Hawes, teach me about prayer and faith and words and believing; but she also taught me to love books and learning and she is the reason why I perform. Both my parents grew up in the segregated south. While my father had to quit school after the sixth grade because he was the oldest son of nine children and had to go to work to help his parents, my mother loved school and learning. One of eleven children herself, in order to go from one grade to the next in the segregated schools of Dade County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 1920’s, each child had to be able to recite a body of literature appropriate to that grade—the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the books of the Bible. Mommy knew so much history and literature committed to memory—she made you want to learn it too.

She knew almost all of the Harlem Renaissance Writer’s work by heart and she would recite poems and prose as she worked around the house. You could not come downstairs for breakfast on Sunday morning, while Mommy cooked both Breakfast and dinner at the same time (so that dinner would be ready when we got home from church)  and hear Mommy reciting James Weldon Johnson’s The Creation, stirring grits at the stove and not be affected. She also wrote these wonderfully profound Christian prose pieces that she would preform at church for Women’s Day, the pastor’s anniversary and conventions and I would watch the congregation sitting on the edge of their sits, listening to her recitation, enthralled with every word—and I wanted to be able to do that! Not only was my mother an incredibly warm and godly individual but also she was a phenomenal orator and performer all on her on. Mommy has been gone since 1992. I miss her every day and I still perform one of her pieces called The Bible that she wrote when she was a little girl.

smiles and tears

GER: Through Smiles And Tears: The History of African American Theater was a follow up to The Secret Messages in African American Theater. How does this book differ from the first?

KWW:  Through Smiles and Tears is an expanded history of African American Theater beginning with a discussion of performance traditions in Ancient Kemet (Egypt) , southern and West Africa through to the Americas. The book covers plantation performance, African American contributions to dance, minstrelsy, serious drama in the early 1900’s, the anti-lynching plays and African American women playwrights of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, the Little Theater Movement, the Black Arts Movement (BAM) through to the millennium and August Wilson.

KWillams-Witherspoon 1GER: What poets do you read and what poets have inspired you?

KWW: Again, because I was a library aide all through my public school years, I worked in the school libraries before school, during lunch and free periods and sometimes after school. Books were my friends growing up so I read all the classic writers but were drawn to narrative story poets like Clement Clarke Moore; Edgar Albert Guest and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But my favorite poets were Paul Lawrence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Robert Haydon. The people who have inspired me were the women who let me be part of their circle here in Philly—Sonia Sanchez, Toni Cade Bambara, Kristen Hunter Lattany, and Sharon Goodman. Etheridge Knight was wonderful, E. Ethelbert Miller encouraged me when I would give him rides to 30th Street Station when Sonia had him  come up every week to teach a workshop to us all. As a playwright, Al Simpkin taught me a lot. John Allen was a warm and wonderful man, Ed Shockley recommended me for the MFA program and then my mentors Robert Hedley and Tom Patterson have been so instrumental to me in my career in the academy. I have been very fortunate!
boom

GER: Please tell us about Countdown to Boom?

KWW: Count Down to Boom was a dance drama that I wrote and co-directed which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, where four little Black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Denise McNair and Cynthia Wesley were killed in one of the most horrific acts of domestic terrorism perpetrated against Blacks during the Civil Rights Movement. Count Down to Boom: We All Fall Down was the second collaboration with another Temple mentor, Dr. Kariamu Welsh, that premiered  in April 2013 at Temple University’s Performing Arts Center, as part of the second Philadelphia International Arts Festival (PIFA) thanks to the generous support of Dean Robert Stroker of the Center for the Arts, a Vice Provosts’ Arts Grant, and the departments of Dance and Theater. Count Down to Boom was subsequently remounted at the State Museum in Harrisburg, in February 2014 for Black History Month sponsored by Life Esteem, Inc., The City of Harrisburg Office of Arts, Culture and Tourism; “Some One to Tell It To”, the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts; the State of Museum of Pennsylvania, the American Literacy Corporation, Penn State Harrisburg Outreach, the Subcommittee of the Diversity Education Equity Committee, The Nathaniel Gadsden Writer’s Workshop and Giant Foods. 

facfellows_kimmikaGER: You perform in theater and you perform your poetry at various venues. Do you have favorite venues and what benefits do you receive when interacting with audiences during your performance?

KWW: I have had favorite moments performing. Performing  on the stage of the Majestic Theater in Detroit in front of 4000 audience members was a rush that I’ll never forget. Performing in London in a bookstore in Covent Gardens and at the base of the Washington Monument during the National Black Family Reunion was one for the record books.  When my play, A Woman’s Choice opened at the Cannon Theater in Beverly Hills I thought I had made it! You know…big or small, I love what I do. There have been some monetary benefits along the way but in real life I perform because I have to! The poetry keeps me alive. It demands to be written and it demands to be heard…I’m just the vehicle. I’ve always said, if I couldn’t be a poet, I would probably be a preacher. I don’t know. I see the world this way…as poetry, and songs and stories. My first language is poetry. I write because if I didn’t I don’t know if I would be able to breathe. And I guess I perform for the same reason I still pray…everybody has got to have something to believe in!

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You can read the poetry of Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/s14-kwilliamswitherspoon.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/11June/KimmikaWilliams-Witherspoon.html

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Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Kimmika+Williams-witherspoon&search-alias=books&text=Kimmika+Williams-witherspoon&sort=relevancerank

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gg emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadlephia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

10 Questions for Kristina Moriconi

Kristina 124 (1)Kristina Moriconi is a poet and essayist. She received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Her work has appeared most recently in Cobalt Review, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Prick of the Spindle and Blue Heron Review. She is the author of a chapbook, No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Kristina is currently the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Her website is: http://www.kristinamoriconi.com/

Interview with g emil reutter 

mont

GER: You were recently selected as the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. What are the duties of the office and what goals have you set for yourself as Laureate?

KM: As Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, I am reading at various venues, and I have also started The Traveling Poets Project that will bring art-inspired poetry writing workshops to places throughout the county. On September 27th, I will be participating in the One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change event at the Souderton Arts Jam. I’m very excited about this. I’ll be reading with J.C. Todd and Laren McClung, and I will be offering art-inspired poetry workshops throughout the day.

no suchGER: No Such Place was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. Judith Baumel said of this collection, “These wise poems portray the terror and menace built into the architecture of the world”. Tell us about the collection and your journey to publication?

KM: No Such Place is an important collection of poems for me, because it is my first chapbook and I was filled with excitement to know it was being published. And I am thrilled by the words of praise from poets whose work I admire. But I am also continuously learning from that collection. As I work on two different projects now, I am striving to let in more light, to see “the architecture of the world” through eyes less clouded by fear and pessimism. 

I keep asking myself: Is it even possible to write a happy poem? But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the poem is not so simple as to be defined by a single emotion. It is a many-layered thing, and the voice of the speaker in my most recent poems is one that both sees and responds to all of those layers. It is important to me to continue to learn and grow as a writer, to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me, and to never stop thinking there is room for improvement.

 

Moriconi at Elkins Park

GER: You currently host the “Arthur Krasnow Poets and Poetry Series’, at Elkins Park Library in Pennsylvania. Please share with us how this came about and the interactions between poet and audience and the open mic?

KM: At some point, after Arthur Krasnow passed away, someone from the Elkins Park Library contacted me to ask if I would be interested in hosting the reading series. I was, of course, honored, and I still am. I want to keep these readings going in Arthur’s memory, with his vision always in mind. So, the format of the evenings has stayed the same; there is a featured poet who reads and that is followed by an open mic. I hope to continue fostering this sense of a poetry community. I think it’s so necessary for poets to have a place to read, to be inspired, and to join together in conversation.

GER: In addition to poetry you conduct workshops on memoir, familial, and other non-fiction writing. How did this come about and share with us your passion for teaching?

KM: The focus of my MFA at the Rainier Writing Workshop was creative nonfiction. I attended many of the poetry workshops in the program as well, but my thesis was a collection of short nonfiction essays. Once I completed it, though, I knew almost immediately that I wanted it to be something else. So, I put it aside and I started writing more and more poems. It helped so much that I had worked with mentors at RWW who were both poets and essayists—writers such as Judith Kitchen and Rebecca McClanahan and Lia Purpura. I came to realize that switching back and forth between the two genres was critical to the language and the structure of my writing. My work continues to evolve, pushing the boundaries of genres and focusing in more and more on the lyric quality of language.

kristinamoriconi-1

GER: What poets do you read for inspiration and how important is it for poets to read other poets, both major and minor?

KM: When I am writing poetry, I often like to read brief nonfiction pieces. The short lyrical essays online at Brevity help me to think about the sound and the cadence of what I write. And when I am writing essays, I turn to poetry for inspiration. Reading poems as I write prose reminds me how critical it is to think about every single word. Lately, I have been reading the work of Jenny Boully and Carol Guess. And the writers I return to again and again, for both inspiration and craft, are Brenda Miller, Lia Purpura and Judith Kitchen. They are my constant mentors. 

Moriconi at Fox ChaseGER: You have read your poetry at a number of venue. How important is it to your development as a poet to read in public and is there a difference between a page poem and performance poem?

KM: I have been writing since I was a young girl. Reading my work aloud, however, is something I have only done in the last eight to ten years. At first, I was very reluctant to stand up in front of an audience and read. I prefer the quiet, solitary process of writing. But, at some point, I realized that my poems needed to be heard. I had something to say and, even if it only reached one person, I needed to say it.  

GER: Many poets become disillusioned with the submission process, particularly if they submit to major publications. Bukowski is said to have stated if the biggies don’t want your work submit to the little’s.   Do you agree and why?

KM: I can honestly say that I have never been disillusioned by the submission process. I send my work out into the world knowing I have revised it and read it aloud (to myself) over and over until I am confident it is my best work. I do my research ahead of time, trying to find a literary journal that is a good match. And, then, off it goes. I look at rejection in one of two ways. Either the journal was not the right match for a particular piece or I need to think about further revision. I’ve been writing and submitting long enough to usually know the difference. So, there are times when I will hold onto a piece after it’s rejected, really scrutinize it, blow it up, turn it into something else entirely. But most often I will send rejected work right back out there.  

KristinaMoriconiWP4

GER: Tell us of your passion for graphic design and how it has impacted your poetry?

KM: My background in art and graphic design has impacted my writing in many ways. Foremost, it has intensified my interest in form. Art of any kind is composed of elements that become integrated or unified, and I am very fascinated by the process of discovery one goes through in finding the right form for whatever they are creating, whether it be a painting, a poster, a piece of music, or a poem.

Visual art also serves as inspiration for many of my poems. I often look at paintings and photographs to trigger memories or to prompt words or phrases that I will use in my poems.

GER: You have written several book reviews. How is this process different for you and after writing a review does the process have an impact on your own writing?

KM: Writing book reviews is an entirely different process for me. My creative writing engages one side of my brain while my critical writing relies entirely on the other side, the more analytical half. I am a voracious reader, so writing reviews is a logical next step for me. From reading so much, I have the vocabulary I need to express what I think works and what I think doesn’t work. I read every book twice—first for content, then for craft—and I take notes only on that second read. Compiling my notes and writing the actual review feels like a conversation I get to have with other readers out there.

KristinaMoriconi4

GER: Do you have another manuscript in the works and what other projects are you working on?

KM: I have one complete manuscript of prose poems right now. I have been working on it for years; it is actually the “something else” I wanted my MFA thesis to be. It just took a lot of time, a lot of patience, and many rounds of revision for me to finally know that. I am ready to send it out into the world, but I’m in the research phase now, trying to find a small press that is a good match for it.

I love to travel, so I am also working on some poems inspired by place. When I write, I prefer to have a specific project in mind, rather than just writing individual poems, so I am trying to figure out what these place poems will become in terms of a larger collection. But, for now, I’m just letting them sit beside one another. They look a lot like a map. A journey.

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You can read the poetry of Kristina Moriconi in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/s14-kmoriconi.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/KristinaMoriconi.html

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g emil reutter 2g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)  http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

 

10 Questions for Joshua Gray

josh 4Joshua Gray was born in the mountains of rural Northern Virginia, outside Washington DC. He grew up in Alexandria VA, two miles from the nation’s capital and spent most of his adult life in the suburbs of the city. He attended Warren Wilson College in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he also spent the first few years of married life. Always in love with the mountains, he spent two years in  Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India from 2012-2014.  He now lives in the DC area with his wife and two sons. He can be found at: http://joshuagray.co/

Interviewed by: g emil reutter 

GER: You recently returned to the United States from Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India. What was your experience in India and how has it influenced your writing?

JG: I moved from Washington DC to a rural part of India, and while the town I lived in could be noisy and unpleasant, especially during tourist season, for much of the year it was relatively quiet. I also lived in a wooded and more secluded area. Indian Bison and monkeys were common in my yard. I was 7000 feet up in the mountains. There were calls to prayers several times a day. The quiet beauty, the wildlife and the culture were a collective means to be more creative. During this time I published a chapbook on living in India as well as a book-length poem that I had been working on for a couple decades.

be

GER: Tell us about the development of the collection, Beowulf: A Verse adaptation With Young Readers In Mind, how it came about and why?

JG: I first wrote my Beowulf adaptation when my older son was six – he is now almost 18. He was into dragons, knights, monsters and heroes – the Beowulf story was an obvious read; however, I looked everywhere to find not only a children’s adaptation of the epic, but one in verse. I felt this was a crucial piece. The story loses a lot when read as prose. The epic was written in Anglo-Saxon verse, and I felt I needed to read it to him in the same manner. When I found no children’s adaptation written in verse, I decided I had to write one myself. The problem was I had never written in Anglo-Saxon, so I had to research the form as I wrote. I boiled everything down to the action, and was able to come away with a ten-stanza poem.

After the encouragement of family and friends, I decided to try and get it published. The problem was the Internet was still in its infancy, so making connections wasn’t easy, and the children’s publishing industry didn’t like violence in children’s stories, so I had a difficult time finding it a home. But as the Internet became more the force it is today, the poem was accepted in an e-zine, and the e-zine’s guest editor, Alex Cigale, made a bunch of line edits to the poem to better reflect the form.

But I can’t really end this story without mentioning that once I was more confident in looking for a publisher (thanks to its initial publication), the children’s book needed an artist who could turn the stanzas into visual life. I was very lucky to have found the artist I did, Sean Yates, and would not have asked for a better set of images. His art really helped with the publication of the book. 

GER: You grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. and attended Warren Wilson College in the hills of North Carolina. How did this effect your view of the world?

JG: Immensely. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and the entire Washington DC area was a blue state. My mother, my step-father and everyone else I knew were Democrats. It was the Reagan era and everyone was pissed off, politically, all the time. I felt a need to understand the conservative point of view, just so I could make educated decisions, but when I joined a Republican group in high school, everyone there was pissed off at all the Democrats. And in Washington DC, people talk politics and little else. When I went to Warren Wilson College in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, a big town but not yet a city, it opened up an entire other world. Warren Wilson College is known as a hippie school, and Asheville is known to be liberal, but outside of Asheville, the area was red.

Asheville had a huge flea market every weekend, and I remember how the hippies and the rednecks walked side by side. You could go to one stall and get incense and peace earrings, then go to the next stall over and buy a hunting jacket and a confederate flag. Nobody seemed to care; nobody looked down on anyone else. It was the first time I really saw the people who disagree can still live harmoniously.

I had to move away from Asheville, but one can say I have been searching for that kind of harmonious living ever since.

josh 2GER: What poets have influenced you?

JG: This is actually a hard question to answer. I prefer the term “admire” over the term “influenced by”, but some of the poets I’d put in this list include Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, Ezra Pound’s translations, Homer, and ancient Chinese poetry.

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GER: Your collection, Principles of Belonging, is a mix between modern and ancient poetic forms. How did you come with this unusual concept?

JG: Principles of Belonging started out as a short story, then became a novella, then was scraped altogether, and was finally brought back to life when I thought about writing it as poetry. After I decided to write a book-length poem, my next task was to read book-length poems and get an idea of the style. What I discovered was that there is no set standard of what defines a book-length poem. Each one I read was different from all the others. This allowed me to get creative.

One thing I don’t like about books of poetry is that the poet tends to write in the same style for all the poems in the collection. This structure tends to bore me. I like variety. This was the first reason for the varying forms. Second, when I sit down to write I find the form is often defined by the subject. I was writing four very different characters; to use the same form for all of them didn’t feel right to me, so in the beginning of the book I assigned them each an ancient form. Then for the last part I wanted to highlight some similarities between them, so I employed the sympoe (as well as sonnets), a form I created myself. The middle part was merely a break from the structure of formal verse, a way to take a break so to speak, so I played with free verse.

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GER: Tell us how the Gaiapoetopia Project came about and what direction do you see the project going?

JG: I wish I could say. It came about out of the cultural and global lack of understanding for poetry. Talk shows don’t have poets on as guests ever. Poetry books are seldom if ever reviewed in mainstream media. Poets in oppressive cultures are imprisoned, and no one knows about them. Poetry is added on at the end of the school year as a one or two week unit, rather than teaching it throughout the year. If teachers marginalize poetry, why wouldn’t students? And remember, those teachers were also once students – so they don’t really know how to teach it themselves. On more than one occasion I have been asked to come in and be a guest during poetry units because, in the end, teachers don’t understand poetry either.

There are other sites out there, but their focus is usually more specific, such as geared to local poets, or as only a resource; furthermore, I have an issue with some of them, because they take on a sort of elitist tone.

Gaiapoetopia was founded as a way to change all that. The problem is, I don’t have the time to devote to it. I want it to be a huge resource, a political eye opener, and a cultural game-changer. Gaiapoetopia exists for the masses, for the Everyperson.

 

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GER: Mera Bharat was released in 2014 and was developed from a visit to India in 1994 and your later move to the area 18 years later. Tell us of your inspirations for the collection?

JG: This was another collection of poems I have been working on for years. I’ve always felt I had a lot of unique or uncommon experiences in India, and wanted to share them. I married into a family that is Indian on the father’s side, I have done a lot of traveling in India, and I have lived there for a couple years. It was only natural for me to write about them. India is such an intense place. I tell people who go to visit that they will either love it or hate it – there is no in-between.

pots and sticksGER: You were the editor of Pot And Sticks, a collection of poems by Charles A. Poole. How did this project come about?

JG:  My uncle by marriage was a recluse. He was outgoing, but awkwardly so. He used to tell me that he wrote poems, and I would nod, but never really was as interested as I should have been. When he passed away, his friend typed up all his poems in a single document, and when I read them, I was really kind of taken aback. No, he wasn’t a Robert Frost, but he had a style that was at once both humorous and full of pathos. As a tribute to him, I decided to give the works a collective shape and publish them.

GER: After two years in India how are you and your family adapting to your return to the U.S. ?

JG: It’s been difficult. We never intended to come back to the US, at least not so soon, but had to because of medical reasons. We never had a bill to pay, never had a single piece of junk mail, never got caught up in the mass consumerism that exists here. But at the same time, we are American, and there have been some things about coming back that are well-received. We’ve been back for two months now and the power hasn’t gone out once.

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GER: What projects are you currently working on?

JG:  In 2015 I have a chapbook coming out called Steel Cut Oats, which is more or less about food. Half of the book is a collection of short poems, what I like to call ditties, based on the memoir/recipe book Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection (http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/full_moon) by Jessica Prentice. When I first started the project my poems were far too didactic, and I had a hard time writing them, but I wanted to write a sort of poetic companion guide to Prentice’s book. So I stuck with it, and realized that what I needed to do was honor the chapters, not reiterate them. Once I figured that out, the writing was easier. Secondly, food originally played a big part in the story that became Principles Of Belonging, but never really made it into the final manuscript, except in the epilogue. So there was a missing for me, which made me that much more determined to finish Steel Cut Oats.

Right now I am working on my first full-length collection. It will be more autobiographical, or memoire-like, in the sense that it will be poems about me as a child, then as a parent, and as a Melanoma survivor.

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You can read the poetry of Joshua Gray in The Fox Chase Review at these links:     http://www.foxchasereview.org/11June/JoshuaGray.html and http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/w14jgray.html

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g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadlephia, Pa. (USA)

http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

 

10 Questions for Stephen Page

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Stephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan. He is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from Bennington College. His critical essays have appeared regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald and the Fox Chase Review. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. . You can find him at: http://stephenmpage.wordpress.com/.  His poetry appears in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.foxchasereview.org/12SU/StephenPage.html  and http://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/StephenPage.html

Interview with g emil reutter

The Interview 

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GER: So how does a guy from Detroit end up becoming a cattle rancher in Argentina?

SP: Well, I’m not ranching anymore. I was. Loved it. That part of my life is temporarily over.  I will tell you, however, how I came to Argentina.  The story started when I was a child. Some of my earliest happy memories are of my family vacations. Several times, all summer long, my family would pile in the station wagon and head out on the road.  We would take about twenty short vacations a year.  Sometimes just for the weekend.  We would head up north in Michigan, or down to Florida, or Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina.  Mostly visiting family.  I loved the feeling of being on the road.  Nothing behind you, only that which is ahead of you—Kerouac said something like that.  I loved looking at the scenery as it passed by.  Most of my extended family lived in rural or sparsely populated nature-filled areas. I remember farmland, lakes, rivers, large patches of woodlands. I loved walking for miles on dirt roads, along animal trails, trudging through swamps, crossing rivers, swimming across lakes. My parents were good caretakers, and I feel lucky that they gave me such an adventurous childhood. I also had two good-natured sisters who were easy-going travelling companions.

            When I was fifteen or so, I ran away from home (not to escape anything in particular, at least nothing I could conceive at that age).  I was walking home after visiting a friend’s house and I got this idea in my head to go somewhere, anywhere . . . no definite destination in mind, just go.  As the sun was setting I was standing on the side of I-75, watching the smokestacks of factories turn yellow then orange then red, and I stuck out my thumb.  I didn’t get very far, only down to Cincinnati, when I realized I was hungry.  I crossed the highway divider and hitchhiked back home.  I slipped the key into the lock on the front door of my home as the sun was rising.

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As a young man, with my driver’s license, every Friday when I had my weekly cash pay stuffed in my pocket, I would jump in my car and drive, sometimes to visit family, sometime just to be “out there.” Away.  Gone.  Free.  Traveling is like having wings, even in a car. I really found my wings when I bought my Harley. Riding a Harley has no other feeling like it in this world. It has a distinct vibration and rumble. On an open road, with no traffic, there is just you, the bike, the wind, and the scenery around you. You have a panoramic view of your surroundings—especially if you ride without a helmet (kids, please don’t do that!). 

Once, I had a union job, cutting steel, and after I worked there for one year, the foreman came up to me on a Friday afternoon, and said, “You,” he paused, looking me in the eye, then pointing at me with a greasy finger, “are on vacation.” “What?” I asked, thinking I was fired. “You get a week’s paid vacation for your first year on this job. We need you to take the time now while the work is slow.”  “Thanks,” I muttered, thinking ‘where will I go, what will I do?’  That night I fell asleep watching a movie called Easy Rider. I woke up early the next morning and packed a sleeping bag and some clothes in a sea bag my cousin J had given me, threw the bag over my shoulder, and headed out the door. As I was stepping off the front porch, my cousin T (who was sharing rent with me in an old farm house on the edges of Detroit) asked, “where are you going?”  “To New Orleans.” “How will you get there?” “I don’t know, I guess I’ll hitchhike (I was in-between owning vehicles at the time) . . . Or maybe I’ll go downtown to the bus terminal and take a bus.” She looked at me and smiled, then said, “At least let me drive you to the station.”  So, I ended up hanging out on Bourbon Street for a couple of nights, seeing the Rolling Stones play live, taking a train up to Jackson, Mississippi, then hitchhiking though Arkansas, Texas, north to Colorado, onto North Dakota, then turning east to back towards Detroit.  I arrived home Sunday evening, eight and a half days later, just in time to eat dinner, sleep a bit, wake up early the next morning and go back to work.  I took a lot of trips like that, either hitchhiking, in my car, or on my bike—I was always travelling, going somewhere, anywhere, just away, on my way to “There. There. Somewhere. Anywhere but here.”

After a few years of factory jobs, 7-11 midnight shifts, gas-station jobs, bowling-alley jobs, landscaping jobs, restaurant jobs—I decided I had to leave the Detroit scene.  Get away. Far, far away.  I landed a job that allowed me globe-circling travel. Out of seven years in this occupation, I spent fifty-two months overseas. Man, I saw a lot of the world. I ended up one day in Kenya, on a photo safari, and inside the same tour bus I was in was this exotic green-eyed goddess of a women. I noticed that every time I looked at her, she was looking at me, and every time she looked at me, I was looking at her.  We fell in love. She was, and is, Argentine.  Here I am.

GER: You have said that teaching is a passion of yours. Tell us why and how the interaction with students contributes to your own development as a writer?

SP:  I love teaching because it is a way of sharing, sharing knowledge, a way of helping others.  The best way teaching literature helped my development as a writer was that I was able to restudy the masters, analyze good writing and show others how to read well. To read carefully. To “read,” not just read. To understand the techniques of literature the masters use and/or used well—i.e. foreshadowing, metaphor, symbolism . . . saying something without saying something. 

stephen-out-reading-on-ranchGER: Many have said writing is a lonely art. You have said you have experienced bouts of isolation.  How do you break out from these bouts?

SP:  Most writers write in a room with the door closed, the phone turned off. I do. If a writer has to write in a room with family around, the writer usually has a spouse, family member, friend, or an employee take care of the family while he or she writes. Some writers write in a café. I also do that often. I know a few cafés that have vibrant creative energy and when I sit down at a table and lean over my journal or computer to write, the conversations of the other patrons just become white noise. In a sense, all writing is done in isolation. A writer has to know this, be ready for it, and, in some cases, have a disposition that does not mind being alone with itself for a while. I break out of my bouts of isolation by having an understanding wife, a circle of friends, and an extended family who understand my need to be alone a while and are always there for me when I open my (metaphorical and literal) door to socialize.  

stilldandelionsbookcoverphotosmall-copytimbreGER: You have published two collections, Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. Share with us the development of the collections?

SP:  My first collection of poems, The Timbre of Sand, was inspired by the exotic green-eyed woman, and started with my first love letters to her, after the safari was over.  I wrote those letters while I was still traveling around for my employers and she was living in Argentina.  About a year after the safari, I resigned from my travel-required occupation, moved to Argentina, and started to attend college. At university, I realized I loved literature and writing so much I made that my major, and I started to write short stories and poems.  Then, one day, I was skimming over some of the early letters I wrote my wife (by then we were living together and shared rings) and I realized the epistolaries had poetic potential. I started a collection of poems dedicated to her, and as I began it I thought, ‘what better love poem is there than a sonnet.’  So I started a collection of sonnets. But being a bit of an originally minded rebellious person, I decided to contemporize the sonnet. I kept the line relations, the stanzas, the meter, the assonance, alliteration, and internal rhyme that Shakespearian and Petrarchan sonnets have, but I eliminated the end rhyme (or at least freed my self of having to end rhyme).  I had a few of them published separately in small presses, and then a small publisher in NY picked them up and printed them as a book.

My second collection of poems, Still Dandelions, was inspired by my love for nature. Even as a child, on my vacations and short trips with my family, I felt a oneness with nature, a connection to it all, a passageway through nature to the beyond, the Universe, the Everything, the One.  I lived in New York for a while and was lucky enough to live near a park that was spread out over hundreds of square acres. It had trails leading through the trees, up and down hills, down to the Hudson.  There was a garden in the center of the park that was tended year-round by city employees, so if there was a mild winter, some plant or another was in bloom all year round. If there was a harsh winter, something was in bloom at least ten months of the year. The garden attracted bees, other insects, birds.  And the woodland always had some miracle of life happening, even in winter—lichen growing, moss, early tree buds, cardinals and sparrows gathering in groups on the snow, a squirrel leaping about to dig where it hid a nut last autumn, a hawk or eagle gliding around then swooping low, looking for a meal.  There was the bite of the cold, the rush of a snow flurry, the pelting of hail on my face. There was also the singing of birds in spring, the green-skied vortex of an approaching storm, the stinging rain, the wilting heat of summer, the sawing of the cicada, the myriad-color leaves of autumn. I started a collection of poems about nature, the oneness I felt with it, and I thought, ‘what better way to share this oneness I feel than to honor Bash­o and write a collection of haiku.’ I took some liberties with the form to make it my own, but in doing so, as I did with the sonnets, I realized that writing in form is an act of discipline that all writers should learn in order to become original later. A good haiku is not an easy thing to master and takes a bit of practice.  A great haiku is even harder to master.  “A haiku is, or a haiku isn’t,” I think Kerouac or Snyder said.  A haiku is not just a 5-7-5 syllabic poem (the English version of a haiku).  If anyone would like to acquire a better understanding of haiku, I recommend reading Haiku Moment, edited by Bruce Ross.  A haiku captures the Oneness, the feeling of connection to the natural world . . . it could happen while hearing a flap of a birdwing, a bee buzzing by.  A haiku captures this moment of oneness with the world, the loss of the self—and this usually happens in a second, or even less.  The epiphany comes immediately afterwards—and if the experiencer of the Oneness is a writer, he or she writes the experience down in a concise form (to coincide with the briefness of the “moment”) in order to remember it and share it with readers. There again, like my first book, I had many of the poems published separately in lit mags, then another small publisher in NY printed the collection as a book.

GER: Your literary criticisms have appeared in many publications, including here at FCR. What inspired you on this course and what are the benefits to you as a writer?

SP:  That goes back to when I was child again. Another one of my earliest memories is that of reading. I read a lot while I was growing up. I would often share books, Dr. Seuss and such, with friends and family. We would discuss the passages and rhymes and meaning (I didn’t realize this was analysis at the time).  As a teenager I was always deciphering Rock-and-Roll lyrics with friends—what does that object in that song signify, what is the double meaning in this word, how does the title coincide with the content, how many symbols are in that that stanza and why are they there? Then as a literature/writing student at Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College, I was able to employ my love of analysis and set my thoughts on paper. This love of analysis benefited me as a writer because I was again, like in teaching later, able to understand how the great writers used, and use, techniques of literature. 

GER: You have read your poetry at various venues in Argentina. How important is it for you to read your work in public and what affect does it have on your writing?

SP:  I stared a writing group almost as soon as I arrived in Argentina. I thought it would be a good way to help writers help each other. We read our stuff aloud to each other.  Later I started a poetry reading group, as a means of sharing literature with others.  Once I was invited to read my poems aloud at an annual Buenos Aires International Book Fair.  Reading a book alone is a solitary pleasure, a gift from the writer to the reader one book at a time.  Reading aloud to an audience is a public event, a gift shared with more than one person in linear time.  I discovered by reading my own stuff aloud, especially while I practiced reading aloud to myself, I caught the glitches in the lines, the skips in the meter, the loss of the music I thought was there.  Thus, by reading aloud, or preparing to read aloud, I was better able to edit my work.

Stephen Page reading at the Ernesto Sabato Foundation  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b-5YrHXe-U

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GER: Your fiction and poetry have appeared widely in the small and electronic press. How do you deal with the submission process and how important is to you as a writer to be published?

SP:  Writing and submitting are two completely different processes. They use different halves of the brain, different sections of the cortex. Synapses fire differently.  In one process you are a creator—in the other you are a publicist, a promoter, a hand shaker, a delver, a researcher. Every writer should be able to have a secretary edit, another to submit, a publisher, and a promoter to get the work known.  That way the writer could spend all of his or her time on his or her writing.  Use the cerebrum only for creating.  Anyone in any one of the arts may draw parallels with this. Currently, with the revolution of eBooks, many writers need not only to be a creator, they need to be their own editor, their own publicist, and in many cases, their own publisher.  In any event, I handle the submission process by dividing part of my “writing” time each day into parts—part for creating, part for editing, and part for submitting.

Writing is immensely more important to me than publishing. Writing is the part I love, the fun part, the part I want to do—the part I need to do.  Publishing, however, is a pat on my back, and it is one way I can share with others.  I do love sharing.

StephenPage (1)GER: You have said you turn to Gary Snyder for inspiration. Tell us why and what other writers inspire your work?

SP:  Yes, I turn to Gary Snyder because of his love of travel and his love of nature, (which I can relate to). I also admire his ability to write well. Snyder spent years meditating in Asia and studying Oriental forms of poetry. Judging by his writing, I think he felt the Oneness, the losing of the self that I feel. I often turn to Mary Oliver and Louise Glück for that same reason—for their apparent awareness of the Oneness (and for their quality of writing). I also turn to other writers and reread their books once in a while because they write well and capture the drama of human interaction, the strife of life, the struggles of relations and love—like Neruda, Cross, Hemingway, Machado, Vallejo, Borges, Plath.

GER: You have quoted Matthew Arnold, “Life is not having or getting, but of being and becoming”. Why this quote and can you expand upon it?

SP:  It is easy to become a materialist.  Materialism is something innate in all of us and is developed one way or the other depending on our socialization. Historically, we humans—modern Homo sapiens and early humanoids—especially in societies or groups, have almost always measured success by what we own, be it property, possessions, exchange (or even worse, other human beings). What we have or what we are getting—even when we were hunter-gatherers and vying over territory (not just for survival but to feel that a section of land is ours).

Today, we are brought up in a consumeristic world. We are driven, from the time we are children, to want to have things, to get more, to buy a new football, a new jump rope, a new car every year, a superfluous piece of jewelry . . . to be rich, to live in a big house, to own land, to wear new clothes styled in the latest fashion. More often than not we are striving to own more than what we need to survive healthily.  I think Sixto Rodriguez said it best when he sang, “You measure your wealth by the things that you hold . . .”

Very few people are taught to seek spirituality, and not just religion, which is societally subjectivized (and there is nothing wrong with religion)—I mean pureness of the soul (if that is what you want to call it, a “soul”—this experience we all have of existence). Not the egotistical sense of existence—the I—but the Oneness. Not many people are taught too meditate, to walk alone in the woods—or participate in any other method that allows zoning into the Oneness.  We, as adults, should work harder at teaching children how to be One with the Universe (the universe as we currently imagine it).  We need to teach our children respect for land and nature, not only for their spiritual health, but also for their physical health.  We also need to teach the kids how to be better people, how to share, how to be good to others, how to be calm in stressful situations.  We need teach them to be rich in spirit, generosity, and kindness.

As for each of ourselves, we need to make conscious efforts every day to become a better person than we were the day before, a better human being, a more humane entity that functions well in society and becomes one with the One.

StephenPage

GER: What projects are you currently working on?

SP: Oh, I have at least 10 projects I am working on.  Some are stories and some are poems I am compiling or fitting together into meaningful, coherent collections. Some are separate pieces of writing I am editing. Also, I am writing a new book

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April 12, 2014 007-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

http://gereutter.wordpress.com/