with Ariel K. Moniz
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Ariel: I started writing when I was in elementary school. I enjoyed writing short stories and other vignettes or ideas and loved every writing project assigned to me in school.When I was in middle school we were assigned to write an ode. This is how an ode to Artemis became my first real poem and how I unlocked my love for poetry.
In the early years of writing my biggest influences were fantasy novels and mythology. Reading was and continues to be an integral part of writing to me, and the sanctuary that fantasy and mythology provided me was an endless source of inspiration.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Ariel: I am inspired by so many creators at this point in my creative journey. Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, James Baldwin, Neil Gaiman, and Ray Bradbury—as well as the works of André Aciman and Madeleine Miller— are some of the greatest influences on my thinking and writing.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home help influence your work?
I grew up in Hawaii, which made my life so different from the majority of what I read, heard, and saw in media. As someone who wants to be a writer I was often told to “write what I know”, but I struggled with the isolation and “exoticism” of my lived experience. There was too much that needed context, too much to explain to a reader. It was also largely due to this that I turned towards poetry as my primary art form. Poetry allowed me to get to the heart of thoughts and emotions in a theoretical and sincere way, to connect to people across experiences by tapping into the universal truths of humanity.
Travel has been one of my greatest writing inspirations, because it has granted me access to the world. There is nothing that inspires me as much as being in a new place, having fresh experiences, hearing a different language, and learning about the world through a new perspective.
The most moving travel experiences for me were my trips to Ireland and Italy, due to the immediate feeling of belonging that I experienced there. Much of my writing tries to make sense of self, belonging, home, and the search for those core values. Arriving in these places that I had never been and feeling embraced by all of those things I had been searching for is something that I am still trying to capture in my work.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Poetry has always been a source of expression and healing for me. It has allowed me to process and accept things in my life that I may not have been able to otherwise. The poems that I wrote during my darkest times— while they may not be theoretically the “best”— have a special place with me because of how they helped me survive.
The project that I feel I have put the most of myself into is the chapbook that I am currently working on, and the full-length poetry collection that I hope will grow out of it in time. In this project I am trying to capture the bloom and decay of love and analyze how we often mythologize our experiences with romance. I want to discuss what that does to us, what it means for us when we outlive the life or the myth that we have created for ourselves. This is a theme near and dear to my heart, and many of the poems are based on my lived experiences, which I think that many others share.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Ariel: There is no single moment in which I knew I wanted to be a creator. It was a feeling that was always with me. I knew from a young age that creating was a part of my purpose, but it wasn’t until elementary school that I came to fall so deeply in love with books, and that’s when I realized that writing was the best way for me to connect with the world.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Ariel: Some of my favorite activities are reading, drawing, painting, singing, cooking, attempting to learn a new skill (most recently knitting, guitar, and American Sign Language), or spending time in nature, especially near the water.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Ariel: I am currently working on what I hope will become my first published book, but I have several online and zine publications of my poetry. Anyone who is interested can find the list of my publications on my website at kissoftheseventhstar.home.blog.
I also work with the teams of The Lumiere Review and Liminal Transit Review on their publications, and would love for anyone interested in submitting to send their work!
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Ariel: This is such a great and difficult question! It’s nearly impossible for me to choose one line or even one poem as a favorite because each one contains a moment or a feeling and therefor a larger context that is difficult to value. That being said, I wrote a line recently that felt true to me in the moment and has informed much of my current project, so I’ll share that.
We become myths somewhere between love and grief, alone.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Ariel: Those who have helped me most with my writing have been other writers, whether I know them personally or only peripherally. Every time someone has written the truth of something and shared it with the world, it has reminded me how much we all need creators and their work.