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An Interview with Kiriti Sengupta

Global Dimension To Bengali Poetry

Interview by Anit Mukerjea

kiriti 5Kiriti Sengupta, a Dental Surgeon and graduate of the University of North Bengal is also the author of other bestselling titles: My Glass Of Wine, a novelette based on autobiographic poetry, and The Reverse Tree, a nonfictional memoir. His other works include My Dazzling Bards [literary critique], The Reciting Pens [interviews of three published Bengali poets along with translations of their Bengali poems], The Unheard I [literary nonfiction], Desirous Water [contributed as a translator], Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions [contributed as a translator]. Sengupta’s works have received critical acclaim Sengupta has also co-edited three anthologies of poetry; Scaling Heights, Jora Sanko – The Joined Bridge, and Epitaphs. His latest creative venture Healing Waters Floating Lamps is a collection of philosophical verses that delves into the magic of healing, complimented by photographs that are eye-catching. While appreciating the book K. Satchidanandan, the renowned poet has stated, “These poems are different from the run-of-the-mill Indian English poems in being far closer to our humdrum daily experiences and their baffling paradoxes and cruel ironies.” Healing Waters has been a bestselling title in the United States [on Amazon]. Here are excerpts from a personal interaction with the poet and translator, Kiriti Sengupta.

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Anit Mukerjea: What inspired you to base your present anthology of poetry on the theme of Healing Waters Floating Lamps?

Kiriti Sengupta: On a recent trip to Varanasi I observed the devotees of Lord Shiva floated tiny lamps in the Ganges. These lamps floated for a long time without extinguishing, the water having a healing effect and the lamps moved on. My present book of verses was first named Crucifixion Is Christ-Filled. This was inspired by one of my poems titled Namesake. However, I was not happy with the title, and I emailed the entire manuscript to Eileen Register, who is a brilliant writer and a poet, living in Florida. It was Eileen who carefully read my manuscript and came up with the title. You know, the title Healing Waters Floating Lamps perfectly compliments the poems that have been included in the book. Now, if you ask me the inspiration behind this anthology of poetry, it was Gopal Lahiri, one of my reviewers who strongly suggested that I must publish an exclusive collection of my poems, for he thought my other books have quite of a few of them woven in nonfictional memoirs. So, this has been the background score. Spirituality and Philosophy have always been an integral part of poetry. The book is all about the philosophies of my life, the way I look at my being!

Anit: You are a Dental Surgeon by profession. What made you choose poetry as your creative canvas?

Kiriti: Does one really enjoy an option of choosing poetry as his/her kiriti 2creative canvas? I don’t think so. Poetry is one of the most condensed form of literature, and it germinates within one’s existence. You don’t have a choice here. Either you have poetry in you, or you don’t. You can’t write poetry just for the sake of writing it. You may learn crafting, but poetry arrives naturally. I must tell you that a few months back I have interviewed the famous Bengali poet Bibhas Roy Chowdhury, and the article [interview] appeared on “Word Riot,” a well-respected, online literary journal published from the United States. In his interview Roy Chowdhury categorically stated, “Poetry involves eternity … I believe, poetry emerges from our lives quite helplessly…”

Anit: What is your take on the flow of ideas in poetry should be spontaneously backed by a stream of consciousness?

Kiriti: Ah! A relevant question indeed. If you ask me what consciousness is I would tell you that it is a larger perspective of your vision. I told you before, my poetry reflects the ways I envision life and its challenges. There is always a stream of consciousness irrespective of the tone, structure, and nuances of the language I use in writing poetry. You know, during the launch of Healing Waters Floating Lamps poet and academic Sharmila Ray read from the poem Evening Varanasi, and she interpreted the title first. She explained, “One must meditate on the title. Sengupta did not write ‘Evening In Varanasi,’ but he wrote Evening Varanasi. Readers have to comprehend the implications of such a title.” Sharmila is one of the prominent Indian English poets of our times, and she has been pretty quick and apt in identifying the ‘streams of consciousness’ in my poems.

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Anit: You have been known to have undertaken translation work of Bengali poetry into English in The Reciting Pens, Desirous Water, and Poem Continuous. What has been the response of these translated poems abroad?

Kiriti: Both The Reciting Pens, and Poem Continuous have been published by Inner Child Press, Limited. This is a small press situated in New Jersey, U.S.A. On the other hand, Desirous Water has been published by The Poetry Society of India, Gurgaon. Among them Poem Continuous has been widely appreciated and reviewed both nationally as well as internationally. I think, globalization of Bengali poetry can be achieved through translation work, and I have been considerably successful in my attempts.

Anit: Don’t you think translation work becomes difficult when two different languages with their distinct separate nuances and idioms whose meaning and dimension may be lost in translation?

Kiriti: You are right. Translators do suffer from apprehensions of conveying the exact nuances of the original language to the target audience. But you know, translators are primarily readers, and interpretation of poetry differs from one reader to another. Therefore, I consider “translation” as “transition.” My approach is to follow the original piece as closely as possible, and I seldom include my interpretations in the translated version, for a “faithful” translation is believed to be the best approach.  I make sure my translation hits the right chord of the target audience as I get my works edited by an expert poetry-editor. Unfortunately we don’t have many efficient poetry-editors in India, and poets at large refrain from getting their works edited. They fail to understand that an expert editor would not impose changes forcibly, an editor finely polishes the surface roughness of a work rather.

Anit: Until now you have collaborated with three American editors. Stephen L Wilson, Kate Lantry, and Don Martin. They have given the requisite edge to your works. Any plans to work with them again?

Kiriti: I’m eternally grateful to my editors. Both Kate and Stephen have been instrumental in editing The Reciting Pens, a book of translated long interviews of three published Bengali poets from Calcutta along with their translated poems. They taught me to identify “lazy words,” and helped me to get rid of irrelevant portions from the interviews in order to make them compact and sharper. Long interviews often tire the readers, but in The Reciting Pens my editors made sure that the interviews read smooth and fresh. I can remember while translating From The Crossroads, a Bengali poem by Ranadeb Dasgupta, I wrote: “During daytime the shops resemble lover boys, while under the halogen street-lamps they have conspiring eyes.” Kate aptly edited the line that finally read as: “During daytime the shops resemble libertines, while under the halogen street-lamps they have conspiring eyes.” From lover boys to libertines, you see, how a word-change rendered better perspective to my translation!

Don Martin, on the other hand, is not only an efficient editor, he is a bestselling author as well. I have worked with him for most of my books. Whether it is my translated work, nonfiction, memoir, or poetry Don understands my breaths quite well. I have picked quite a few of editorial skills from him, and Don has been extremely supportive to my literary endeavors. He is a nice gentleman, and we are now good friends.

my glass of wine

Anit: Your older books like My Glass Of Wine, and The Reverse Tree have done remarkably well in the market. MGOW has been a national bestseller while TRT has been a bestselling title in the United States. Both of these titles got you critical acclaim in several literary journals. Do you think marketing goes a long way towards the success of a book?

kiriti 4Kiriti: Marketing is indeed important to secure immediate readership, but it is the work that will speak for itself in future. In MGOW my objective was to bring more readers to poetry, and I proved my point. Poetry can be cherished even by the general readers of literature if it is presented with narratives or relevant nonfictional prose pieces. MGOW has essentially been a work that centers around poetry, written by me in English-language. In an article published in The Statesman [Delhi ed.] on 23rd of April, 2014 it was documented that MGOW has been a bestselling title across the online portals in India.

The Reverse Tree has been a work of nonfictional memoir that included a few poems. It got several interesting chapters on transgender/transsexual issues, scriptural verses and their influences in my life, racism, mimicry, among others. In a nutshell, TRT projected my journey towards understanding the quest of life. It has been appreciated in international journals like Red Fez Magazine, Word Riot, and I am expecting a review in Muse India, one of the most significant literary journals published in India. I’m thankful to my reviewers who have appreciated my works. Having said that I must add I have my share of negative or not-so-positive reviews, but they only made me alert of my limitations as an author.  

Anit: Tell me something about the anthology Jora Sanko – The Joined Bridge.

Kiriti: Jora Sanko has been a diligent effort of compiling and editing English-language poems by the Bengali poets across the globe. I co-edited the anthology along with Dr. Madan Gandhi, President of The Poetry Society of India, Gurgaon. In this book I have had collaborated with the big names and some extremely talented poets like Debjani Chatterjee, Sudeep Sen, Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sharmila Ray, Ranadeb Dasgupta, Ananya S Guha, Gopal Lahiri, Bishnupada Ray, Jaydeep Sarangi, Debasish Lahiri, Sutapa Chaudhuri, Sujan Bhattacharya, among others. Our effort received appreciations in The Hindu Literary Review, Muse India, among other places. Another exciting achievement is Jora Sanko has been placed in the Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall, London. I’m planning to bring out the second edition of Jora Sanko in order to include other Bengali poets who write in English-language.

Anit: What is the response of your present book of poems Healing Waters Floating Lamps? Your reviewers must have been happy with those spectacular verses.

Kiriti: HWFL got published only a few weeks ago. I’m yet to receive reviews, but I’m sure my work would be appreciated by the critics, poets and readers. Let me share the trade facts here: HWFL has been a best-selling poetry title in the United States in Indian Literature, and you know, it ranked first among the “Hot New Releases” in Indian Literature on Amazon [United States].

I don’t know if my verses are “spectacular,” I’ll rather term them “subtle,” or “humble.” You are perhaps aware that I am a spiritual person, and spirituality centers around one’s journey towards realization of the “self.” Spirituality has nothing to do with the so-called “religions.” Religions divide while true spirituality unites. My poems are to deliver certain messages to the readers. Above all, my poems speak about “simple living.”

Anit: When you are penning a Bengali or an English poem is there a subtle difference in the thought processes of those two languages?

Kiriti: Certainly yes. Languages have their characteristic nuances. The way I think when I write a Bengali poem is quite different from the way when I think in English. This is indeed a challenging task for any bilingual poet, but poetry in itself is a cardio-cerebral affair.

Anit: What are the projects you are currently working on?

poem continuous us edition

Kiriti: I’m trying to bring out the second edition of Poem Continuous. The first edition bore only thirty translated poems by Bibhas Roy Chowdhury. And now I would translate another thirty poems of Roy Chowdhury, so the target readers can read more works of this noted Bengali poet. I’m also planning for another book of my verses. I’m yet to finalize the manuscript, though.

– Anit Mukerjea is a poet, writer, and a painter based in Calcutta. He is a columnist with The Statesman for nearly three decades. He has extensively written in other journals and magazines published from Delhi and Mumbai.

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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!.

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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 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.

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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 Rebecca Schumejda

Rebecca Schumejda 2Rebecca Schumejda is the author of Falling Forward, a full-length collection of poems (sunnyoutside, 2009); The Map of Our Garden (verve bath, 2009); Dream Big Work Harder (sunnyoutside press 2006); The Tear Duct of the Storm (Green Bean Press,2001); Cadillac Men (NYQ Books 2013) and the poem “Logic” on a postcard (sunnyoutside). She received her MA in Poetics and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and her BA in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. She lives with her husband and daughter in New York’s Hudson Valley.  http://www.rebeccaschumejda.com/

Interview by: g emil reutter 

Rebecca Schumejda courtesy of words dance

GER: You often speak of your father and his influence in your life. Could you share with us his impact on you and on your poetry?

RS: When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher asked the class to write poems and I eagerly complied. A few days later, my parents were called into a meeting at the school where my teacher, the principal, the Vice-Principal, and the social worker discussed how my assignment was unacceptable and how they were worried about my mental state. After reading my poem, my father sat quiet for what seemed like forever before he looked right at me and said, “This is a great poem, Rebecca!” Then he looked at the teacher and said, “Don’t ask your students to write poetry if you don’t want to hear their truths.” My father, a hardworking roofer, has always been my inspiration.

GER: What poets have influenced your poetry and why?

RS: There are so many, but the one that stands out most is Raymond Carver because of his narrative approach to writing. I love some of the poems that he wrote to his daughter. Lines like, “You’re a beautiful drunk, daughter, but you’re a drunk,” and “She serves me a piece of it a few minutes out of the oven. A little steam rises from the slits on top. Sugar and spice -cinnamon – burned into the crust. But she’s wearing these dark glasses in the kitchen at ten o’clock the morning – everything nice as she watches me break off a piece, bring it to my mouth, and blow on it.” Poems like “To My Daughter” and “My Daughter and Apple Pie” helped shape my earlier work.

 

from seed to sin

dream_big_180map of garden

GER:  You’ve worked with several presses: Bottle of Smoke, Words Dance, sunnyoustide, New York Quarterly, and Bottom Dog Press. Could you share with us the development of the collections and what is like to work with the small press?

RS: I have been very fortunate as I have worked with some really great small press publishers and have grown and learned from each experience. Bill Roberts, from Bottle of Smoke, is an amazing craftsman, who is well-known for his letterpress printing and hand-binding. The quality of his books are phenomenal. Bill published a limited edition chapbook of mine, From Seed to Sin, which includes artwork by Hosho McCreesh. I love what Bill is doing and highly recommend his books. 

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Words Dance published a handmade, limited-edition chapbook for me, The Map of Our Garden. Amanda Oaks did an amazing job and the whole process was intimate. There were so many cool features included such as a map I drew, a picture of me drawn by Hosho McCreesh, glow-in-the-dark fireflies in a jar on the cover and a handmade bookmark that had an actual petal from the sunflowers in my garden. The book sold  out, but Amanda recently released a kindle version. In addition, I still collaborate with Amanda on projects at Words Dance. 

sunnyoutside published my first full-length collection, Falling Forward as well as my chapbook Dream Big, Work Harder and a poem of mine on a postcard. I really enjoyed working with David McNamara, he actually did some editing for my second full-length book, Cadillac Men, published NYQ Books. Most recently, I had the pleasure of working with Bottom Dog Press and being part of their working class series. Larry Smith’s vision for Waiting at the Dead End Diner paralleled with mine and he helped me fine-tune the collection  

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GER: Your collection Cadillac Men was influenced by a pool hall you and your husband owned. Tell us of the people who inspired this collection?

RS: Well, pool players, a dying breed, men like Mikey Meatballs who convinced a kid that he shot like shit because he was using a left-handed pool cue, Dee who went out to buy ice cream for his pregnant wife and came back empty handed and in debt, and Wally the Whale who was once a well-known circuit player who now his toughest opponent is his failing vision.

John Dorsey and Rebecca Schumejda in Fox Chase

GER: You tour in support of your poetry collections. Traveling can be rigorous, can you share with us any stories relating to touring?

RS: I read here and there, but I don’t tour. I work full time and have a young daughter, so I don’t have the ability to go anywhere for more than a day or so. I will be doing some reading this summer for my new book and will be reading in Cleveland, Ohio in October for LevyFest. As far as stories, I read at the Dire Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Nathan Graziano and Daniel Crocker and because we are friends and don’t get together that often, we began drinking very early in the day. Somehow, I thought it was alright to take over for the host and introduce Nate, and then all hell broke loose. Dan and Nate, who could barely stand, had people in the audience read parts of their work and it was pretty chaotic. The moral: I don’t drink heavily until after reading.

waiting at the dead end diner

GER: Waiting at the Dead End Diner was recently released. Can you share with us the inspiration behind the development of the book and any reactions you are receiving concerning the collection?

RS: I had to wait tables while putting myself through college, and when I was in graduate school I actually worked in the college cafeteria’s dish room and dining hall. My life was very different from many of my fellow classmates because I did not have the luxury of just being a student. On the flipside, I lived in the real world which greatly impacted my writing. An early version of Waiting at the Dead End Diner was actually my thesis for SFSU that was rejected by my graduate advisor. My advisor told me that no one wanted to read about waiting tables, ha ha. So, I went back to the drawing board and the waitressing poems just played out in my mind for decades. Then after writing Cadillac Men, I decided it was time to go back and explore the restaurant world that consumed a decade of my life. I even went back and waited tables when I was working on the collection

 

Rebecca Schumejda by Keith SpencerGER: Where does the voice of Rebecca Schumejda fit in the poetry world?

RS: I don’t know. I kind of hope it does not fit in. I want to write work for people, everyday people. I hope I can do that.

 

GER: Could you share with us your thoughts on the submission process for publication?

RS: It is a little like gambling, the odds aren’t really on your side unless you pick your game wisely. I would not play money games against Wally the Whale or Mikey Meatballs and I would not submit to The New Yorker. I think you have to really read what is out there and see who may be interested in what you are writing. I also think you have to be persistent if you really want to get into a specific publication. I am a huge fan of Rattle and they rejected my work for over a decade before accepting my work. And for what it is worth, they actually nominated my poem “How to Classify a Reptile” for a pushcart. Ha ha. I did not take the decade of rejections personally and I did not stop being a fan of Rattle. I think that it is important not to lose sight of why you are writing.

Rebecca Schumejda by Dan Wilcox

GER: Do you have any favorite venues to read your poetry and any publications you would recommend to others?

RS: There are so many. I usually enjoy the reading because of group dynamics. I loved the Fox Chase reading because I got to read with John Dorsey and because the audience was receptive and fun. I love reading at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, New York because of the acoustics and The Social Justice Center in Albany because of the crowd.

P4171330GER: What are you currently working on and tell us something about Rebecca Schumejda we didn’t already know?

RS: I am working on a collection of poems about a working-class neighborhood, characters from Cadillac Men and Waiting at the Dead End Diner make appearances.

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You can read the poetry of Rebecca Schumejda in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/w14schumejda.html  http://www.foxchasereview.org/11AW/RSchumejda.html  http://www.foxchasereview.org/10AW/RSchumejda.html

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g emil reutter 2– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa.

http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Wendell Berry – Poet & Prophet

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An interview with Bill Moyers on Oct 4, 2013

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-wendell-berry-poet-prophet/

10 Questions for Adrian Manning

Adrian 3Adrian Manning is a poet from Leicester, England. He has published 13 chapbooks and broadsides over the last few years and is the editor of Concrete Meat Press.  His poetry has been published in numerous electronic and print publications in Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.  You can visit with him at Concrete Meat Press at this link:  http://concretemeatpress.co.uk/index.htm.

Interview by: g emil reutter

GER: What drew you to the Meat Poetry movement and do you find there is still an active audience for this school of poetry?

AM: I became an avid reader of Charles Bukowski about 25 years ago through his novels and then his poetry. I was really attracted by his direct approach to writing – putting down the words in a way that anyone could understand and writing about the real things that happened in his life. Through Bukowski I got into reading poetry by William Wantling and Steve Richmond amongst others. I feel that Meat Poetry is about these real experiences and responses that these poets wrote about no matter how ugly or uncomfortable they may be. Because of this I think there is still a valid place for this type of poetry and I feel that in the poets and publications I read there is definitely an active audience still. There must always be a poetry that deals with this, in my opinion – straight, real and having meaning to the non – academic poetry reader.

GER: As an artist can you tell us of the interaction between your poetry and art and how they may influence one another?

AM: I am an artist in a very amateur way! I am totally untrained and some may say of limited skill – I would not disagree. The type of art I like to create is simple, direct and to the point – just like the poetry in many ways, so I guess there is a link there. I also like abstract, collage and mail art – juxtaposing random and unusual bedfellows. In a sense that has a link to my poetry where I like to find interesting uses of description or metaphor – something that would not be the obvious thought. In this way the poems and art may influence each other.

GER: You are the Editor of Concrete Meat Press that publishes chapbooks and broadsides. What do you look for in submissions and do you have a set list of contributors?

AM: The only criteria I look for is that I like the work. I like a poem to hit me and make me think. I like a good turn of phrase and interesting ways of getting a point across that stay with me for a while after I’ve read the poem. I don’t go for rhyming or cliché and I often pass on work that is ‘clever’ for the sake of being ‘clever’. Going back to the idea of Meat Poetry – something that is direct, straight and honest but written in an interesting way will usually be considered for publication. When considering submissions I look at the work. I know a number of poets who always send high quality work consistently and it is always a pleasure to publish something by them. I do also very much enjoy publishing work by poets who may be new or unknown to me. I send out invites to a number of poets I am familiar with, but am always happy to receive submissions from others who I don’t know of.

AdrianManning

GER: As a poet your work has been published widely in print and electronically. The submission process is sometimes daunting, what advice would you give to new poets regarding the process?

AM: First of all, be happy with what you are submitting – be confident that you think it is a good poem. Don’t send it if you aren’t happy with it. Follow submission guidelines! Read what the editor says! If you can, read issues of the publications and consider whether you feel your work fits the publication. Most importantly, be prepared for a knockback or two. It may take a while to be published, but don’t give up! Also if you get accepted, don’t expect to be accepted every time! Keep writing, keep submitting and keep working at it.

these-hands-of-mine-coverGER: Kendra Steiner Editions recently released These Hands of Mine. Share with us the development of the collection and what it is about.

AM: I wrote a poem which was a meditation on my hand – something that I noticed about it. I found myself focusing on my hands and going into this thought process about how important my hands were, what they have been a part of  and what they are capable or incapable of. I then began a process of writing a number of poems about these things – accidents, work, art, love – all aspects of life and eventually thought I had a short collection of poems which I entitled These Hands of Mine. I contacted Bill Shute, the amazing poet and editor at KSE and he liked the so he put the chapbook together.

Wretched Songs For Out of Tune Musicians

GER: Bottle of Smoke Press published three of your chapbooks, Wretched Songs for Out of Tune Musicians, A Tourist a Pilgrim, A Truth, and Repeating The Mantra. What was it like working with Bill Roberts and having the books published on a letter press?

AM: Bill Roberts is incredible! I had published a number of poems in different places when I sent Bill some poems for his consideration having read his first short collection by A D Winans. He wrote back with such enthusiasm and he had a plan including a cover artist, Henry Denander and he was such a professional! I was living in Spain at the time and he was in the USA, but it was a dream. Bill has since published chapbooks and broadsides of my poems and I admire him and his press so much – everything he does is amazing. The letterpress publications have always looked amazing and he is so creative and continues to be so. One of the best presses around!

buk_cover_ericksonGER: Silver Birch Press included your poem, Religion, in their Bukowski Anthology. How did this come about and what can you tell us about the anthology?

AM: I heard that Silver Birch Press were putting together a Bukowski themed anthology with writing  about or influenced by Bukowski so I decided to send them a number of poems I had written. Bukowski is my favourite writer and I have written a number of linked poems and luckily they accepted five poems to go into the anthology. I was very happy when they put Religion up on their blog. I haven’t seen the finished publication yet, as I believe it is out in the very near future. I am looking forward to it as I hear there are going to be some great writers in there including the wonderful David Barker, I believe.

Adrian 2

GER: Who are your favorite poets writing today and how do they influence you?

AM: I constantly find myself to be impressed by and in awe of so many talented and brilliant poets – it could be a long list! The way they influence me is that they write such fine poetry that I just have to sit up, take notice and think – I need to work to achieve something like that. I think I enjoy their poetry because they write in their own unique voice and they address the issues that affect me or those around me. They are also masters of their craft and the way they write their poems, use their words and know when enough is enough is something that continues to be an influence. To name some names I have read over a long period of time – A D Winans, Ronald Baatz, David Barker, John Dorsey, Robert L Penick and Hosho McCreesh have always delivered. Wolf Carstens is someone I happen to be reading at the moment and he is great. If you look at the contributors to Concrete Meat Sheet at the Concrete Meat Press website, you will see so many great poets who I have had the pleasure to be able to read and publish.

adrian-1GER:There has been some debate concerning electronic verse print publication. Do you see a difference or not and why?

AM: If I am totally honest, I prefer print publication. There is nothing to match holding a beautiful piece of work in your hands and being able to feel it between your fingers. The incredible work that so many small press publishers create is so breathtaking that I just want to see it. The aforementioned letter press or signed, illustrated copies of items that I get are a wonder and to see your own work in something like that is fantastic. However, often these are limited in number and it can be a costly business so I see why electronic publication is favourable to many. I had the same dilemma with my Concrete Meat Sheet, which started as a print publication. Due to costs and wanting to be able to share the work more widely, I took the decision to publish it online, but as I say, ideally I prefer print.

GER: What projects are you currently working on?

AM: I have just put Concrete Meat Sheet 15 up on line which is a short fiction issue and I’ll be working on issue 16 shortly which will be a poetry issue. I am hoping to publish a small chapbook in the near future which will collect some poems by one of my favourite poets, James Quinton, who sadly passed away last year. My chapbook These Hands of Mine, mentioned in a previous question is no longer available from KSE, but I am going to republish it through Concrete Meat Press. It will have a hand painted cover and will include the poems from the KSE publication plus These Hands of Mine in Dub – a stripped back version of each poem which is how each poem originally started before they were fleshed out. I like the idea of doing something musical, such as a dub version – hey I might even do a remix of some of my poems someday! I would love to put together a publication of a collection of the best poems from all my previous chapbooks, broadsides and magazine publications. If anyone is interested, I’d love to hear from them!

You can read the poetry of Adrian Manning in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/AdrianManning.html  and

http://www.foxchasereview.org/13AW/Manning.html

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

http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

10 Questions for Michelle Cahill

michellecahill-copyMichelle Cahill is a Sydney poet who was born in Kenya and spent her childhood in the UK. Her most recent collection Vishvarūpa was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. She received the Val Vallis Award and was highly commended in the Blake Poetry Prize. In 2013 she is the CAL/UOW Poetry Fellow at Kingston University, London. She is a co-editor of Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (Puncher and Wattmann) and she edits Mascara Literary Review

Interview by: g emil reutter

The Interview:

michelle cahill 3

GER: You have written, “Poetry and poetics are being shaped increasingly by theoretical perspectives, tutored by academia. This signals a potential for innovation and transgression of established conventions.”  Can you expand on this statement?

MC: I guess I mean that theoretical approaches to writing poetry are frequently informed by philosophical and discursive awareness that shapes the poetics and complicates the poet’s natural voice. This can be dense and awkward; little more than a series of writing exercises that feels as if it’s tutored by curriculum and derivative. But at its best the poetry can be beautifully challenging of conventions, undoing the poet’s own previously held assumptions and voicing intrepid manifestos.

So I guess I am referencing the potential for intersections between poetic practice and philosophical or ethical discourses.

ACCov (1)GER: Your first poetry collection, The Accidental Cage, was written over a ten year period.  Share with us the journey from its inception to publication.

MC: It was about living my life, responding to nature, experience,whilst being quite remote from a poetry ‘scene’ as such although a few conferences that I attended did inspire and shape the poems in their later stages.  It was partly about my experience of Buddhism, which shifted my perspectives on understanding death, suffering, freedom. There are several poems about asylum which respond to the repressive politics Australia holds towards refugees and more generally misplaced people. There are also poems about motherhood and the difficult negotiation of domestic spaces that women frequently experience.

 I received quite a lot of editorial support from the publishers Interactive Press  and that helped to refine the book. I love that it is an unmediated response to these concerns and experiences, confident with its free verse forms.

GER: You have received a number of grants and residencies over the years. How important have they been to your development as a writer/poet?

MC: I’ve felt privileged to receive grants for writing; they have enabled me to take time out from the routine of a day job and fall into deeper rhythms of writing. Residencies are also marvellous opportunities to focus on writing and less on daily interruptions. The best residencies provide meals and room cleaning or laundry services so that you don’t need to waste precious time on the mundane tasks.

The other vital aspect is taking that journey elsewhere, meeting other artists/writers and being inspired by those conversations. Residencies may become a starting point for creative collaborations, for lasting friendships; a residency tends to open up my imagination to new possibilities and challenges. Sometimes it alters the direction of my work.

Vishvarupa

GER: Your second collection of poetry, Vishvarupa is a more recent full length collection. How does this collection differ from the The Accidental Cage?

MC: It’s less experiential and more deeply embedded in mythic and imaginative space where arguments about identity, power,  love, death, and representation take place. The poems are more formal in structure, though I don’t necessarily think they are more disciplined. The poems in Vishvarupa concern a partially real and partially imagined self, and the multiple layers are satisfying in deeper ways.

But even still, there is something fresh and unrehearsed about a poet’s first collection and nothing can quite replace that quality.

GER: As a writer of short fiction and poetry do you use different methods in the development of the two genres?

MC: Mostly it’s trial and error as with all writing. The more you write the more skilled you become in using language to achieve sometimes tricky outcomes. Fiction is painstaking and complex; it’s technically the most challenging genre to write , I think.

But the outstanding poems require one to live an uncompromising, often difficult life. Poetry is a way of life, really.

mascara

GER: You are the editor of The Mascara Literary Review. As an editor what do you look for in work submitted to the review that inclines you to publish the work?

MC: Good writing is what I look for, meaning that the poem, story or essay is confident, of a high quality, and risk-taking in terms of content or style. As editor of a journal  one can shape it to not merely reflect but also investigate one’s perspectives on diversity, on cultural and literary representation. It’s a two way process: I mediate MascaraMascara mediates me.

michelle cahill 2GER: How valuable has internet publishing been to your development as a writer/poet?

MC: It’s been hugely valuable and has far exceeded my expectations. It connects me to an international community. The ability to read and cross-reference writing over the internet is in my view, marvellous.

GER: What poets have inspired you over the years and how important is it for a poet to be well read regarding the work of other poets?

MC: Brigit Pegeen-Kelly, Robin Robertson, Dîpti Saravanamuttu, Judith Beveridge, Peter Boyle, Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Lucy Brock-Broido,  Sujatta Bhatt, Meena Kandasamy—

These are just about my favourite contemporary poets writing in English.

michelle cahill - steve sharpe

GER: You have lived on several continents during your lifetime.  How has this affected your writing and sense of place?

MC: It deepened my inner life and made me very independent as a writer since there was little external stability. It familiarised me with losses at an early age since leaving a country is a huge upheaval. It made the Australian landscape at first seem strange and hostile, though now I love it. There is a vivid connection to place in my writing, (often more than one place), and a sense of the journeys between them.

GER: How would you describe Michelle Cahill?

MC: Private. Sensitive. A lover of words.

You can read the poetry of Michelle Cahill in The Fox Chase Review at 2011 SU and vist her on the net at http://michellecahill.com/

*photographs from various internet publications