Thanks to Maggs for designing our Q9 Logos
with Maggs Vibo
Q1: When did you start writing/art and first influences?
Maggs: My Grandma used to call me an old soul during our conversations. She said that adults enjoyed my stories and songs. For learning, she advised wandering outside and listening to the teachings of nature. My Mom advised burning sage and handed me a paintbrush to deal with problems. My Dad advised defying dogma and looking to the cosmos for purpose. My influencers were artists because my parents loved art. Music filled our home and pondered war, art, feminism, drugs, and the government. Artists provided lyrical inspiration for the big and small questions in life. My childhood was a time of exploration and imagination. I suppose nowadays society calls this a free-range childhood. A sense of freedom is my earliest recollection of poetry and art.
Q2: Who has inspired or helped you the most with writing?
Maggs: All the great crafters of lore… especially Niki de Saint Phalle. I’ve always admired the way she morphed storytelling her trauma into an art triumph.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?
Maggs: My family lived on farms in the Heartland of the United States. It was an excellent opportunity to observe the natural world. Folklore is embedded in art because of oral storytelling traditions. Today we use memes and other technologies, but it is just a continuation of ancient stories told in new ways with new methods. Everything I learned about animals and the countryside, along with old fables and tales, influences my art today.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced work/describe?
Maggs: My first trip abroad was for a Nanny gig in Canberra, Australia. I’ve deployed as a GWOT soldier. Additionally, military assignments took my spouse (a soldier) and me (his spouse) to Europe, Asia and Hawaii. I feel privileged to write about these multicultural experiences. I never take for granted the circumstances (wars) which led to the opportunities.
Q5: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Maggs: My work in the military community over the past two decades is the most meaningful. It started with art I contributed to events commemorating the fallen. Later, I wrote an article about an Army staff sergeant named Daniel A. Bader. In 2004, a college literary journal published a poem I wrote about an experience during one of my convoys near what was known as Tallil Air Base (located in Nasiriyah, Iraq). I created pieces for the Veterans Writing Project (including a journal written by all women and an anthology covering 2012-2017). In 2018, I collaborated with Jerri Bell and Tracy Crow on women warrior history programs for the National Park Service. In 2020, Oxford Brookes University invited me to a poetry workshop facilitated by Niall Munro, Susie Campbell, and Jane Potter. It was an intimate gathering of women veterans from the US and UK which studied war and poetry. From this workshop, and other veterans’ poetry workshops, the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre published ‘My teeth don’t chew on shrapnel’: an anthology of poetry by military veterans (a free pdf available for download at: https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/veterans–poetry-workshops/). This meaningful work led to many collaborative projects outside the military community. Nowadays, I try to engage at least once a quarter in programs which help bridge the civilian and military divide.
Q6: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/poet?
Maggs: All throughout my childhood I was regarded as a nerdy thespian. I sang songs, danced poorly, walked around with paint under my fingernails and boasted my participation in art and drama club. The death of my grandpa had a big impact on my writing. I wrote a short story which discussed his leg amputation and mobility challenges. In the essay, I talked about his alcohol abuse, use of painkillers and how addiction led to his downward health spiral. My short story placed at state competition. I was invited to a soiree where my parents and friends watched me receive a plaque. This was my first recognition for writing. More than anything, I remember how telling my truth helped my family process our collective grief. The essay is stored inside a cedar chest Dad crafted for safekeeping all of my Mom’s favorite things.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Maggs: I like to cycle the Virginia Capital Trail to the marina to have a local brew, catch the sun on the water and cycle back home to spend time with my two dogs. If it involves being outside in nature (or staring lovingly at my dogs) I regard it as true bliss.
Q8: One of your favorite lines from your poem/song, or favorite piece of art of photograph.
Maggs: Favorite line from a poet is Walt Whitman’s “Do I contradict myself?” As a Park Ranger, I gave battlefield interpretive tours out at Petersburg National Battlefield. Each tour discussed the ways contradiction exists in telling the stories of the American Civil War… and all the other conflicts throughout history. Favorite singer: Neil Finn. Favorite book: Black Elk Speaks. Favorite art: ancient art. Favorite movie: Paprika (2006 film). Favorite photograph: NASA image of boot print on the lunar soil.
Q9 Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
I have a visual poetry piece on exhibition until the end of summer in Virginia. I also work forthcoming in 2 pubs from Paris and a journal from South Asia (all before the end of summer, 2021). I am thrilled to have 10 pieces in Experiment-0, Issue 14, Autumn 2021 Release. The rest is listed on Poemythology.com
Margaret Viboolsittiseri (aka Maggs Vibo) works in print, broadcast, special events, glitch media, and online. She is a contributor for Poem Atlas and has experimental art in the winnow
magazine, Coven Poetry, Ice Floe Press, The Babel Tower Notice Board, ang(st), The Wombwell Rainbow. Recent anthologies include Poem Atlas ‘aww-struck’, Steel Incisors, Fevers of the
Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 (January, 2021) and ‘My teeth don’t chew on shrapnel’: an anthology of poetry by military veterans (Oxford Brookes, 2020). She tweets @maggsvibo
and her website is https://www.maggsvibo.com/