A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with musician Jennifer Sonntag

with Jennifer Sonntag:

Social media links:

Insta: 

https://www.instagram.com/jennifersonntagmusic/

facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/jennifersonntagmusic

soundcloud:

bandcamp:

https://jennifersonntag.bandcamp.com/releases

twitter:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jennifer: When did I start writing is a deceptively simple question. I’ve been engaged in the process of writing probably since I fell in love with language at around four years old. Certain memories stand out, like finding that different letters could make the same sound or could change their sound when combined with other letters. I very clearly remember marvelling that language held the power of god. The texture and rhythm of language was a revelation. As a kid I wrote poems and then as a teen, piano pieces, then was in a punk band and a band where I was the only girl. My bandmates influenced me, their style, exuberance, dedication. I started playing guitar then, but didn’t sing until later. Aside from classical piano I loved goth and electronica, rock, punk, blues. Orbital, The Cocteau Twins, PJ Harvey, NIN, The Cure, PIL.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Jennifer: I’m an interdisciplinary omnivore. Anyone from Velvet Underground and PJ Harvey to Alice Coltraine, Nina Simone, Fever Ray. Poets: Anne Carson, Basho, Rilke. Usually influence is about inspiration. I find it often outside of music. Writers like Lydia Davis and Garielle Lutz. Directors like Terrence Malick or Guillermo Del Toro or Bi Gan. I find I write from dialogue a lot. An exchange or phrase will stick with me and act like a starter dough for a sonic mood or thought that wants translating and expansion. Also, nothing is better for writing than walking. But I spent a lot of time at Columbia working on a doctorate, so I’ve had to pare down influences in order to find my own voice, too. Listening as un-listening.

Some of my biggest influences are the artists in my life as well as the people around me who, in their demonstrative or quiet way, encourage me to keep making art. We need artists so much right now. Art has vivifying effects on the individual as well as the culture. If the world doesn’t fall into fascism it’ll be in part due to artists’ ability to synthesize forces–i.e. love–successfully, offering an alternative to hate.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/musician?

Jennifer: I first wanted to be an artist probably the first time I performed music with other people in front of an audience, in high school–where I felt the presence of a larger consciousness among the musicians communicating in real time, or even ahead of time, and it was instinctual–we were becoming a new organism. As far as singing goes, that was different, later. I’d made up some terrible song and sang it for someone and it was like a conversion experience. I just broke down in joy.

Q4: Who has helped you most with your career?

Jennifer: I’ve discovered that artists really do have to find the conditions and people that help make the work happen. Sometimes that can take a while. It’s more psychological than anything else, for me. With music, I have a handful of people who have provided unconscious and conscious help. My mother and maternal grandmother had lovely singing voices and sang a lot during my childhood. Barbara Maier Gustern, my vocal coach, is a big wise kid who helps me with architecture and technique. My psychoanalyst Raul Garcia really helps me keep open a space for creative exploration. And Barb Morrison, who produced my recent track, is an all around inspiration and genius. I had wonderful, supportive, brilliant professors in the academy who encouraged and inspired me and taught me how to think critically and slow down as a writer, which can be really important for creative work. John McClure at Rutgers. Edward Said, Gauri Viswanathan, and Ann Douglas at Columbia.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/music & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Jennifer:

I grew up in Washington and NJ. The trees, topography, were a great influence–honestly is there any artist who isn’t in continuous communication with non-human nature? Especially now? The mostly public schools I attended were, thankfully, diverse. I was introduced to a lot of rap, soul, and funk along with the post-punk I adored.

I do love traveling. Just before covid lockdown I’d been in Berlin, Dublin, London, Amsterdam. I spent much of the last year in Oaxaca. I love Oaxaca–its kindness, humor, the spirit of solidarity, the beautiful formality in conversations, its aesthetic and artisanal traditions. The color and patterns and textures are so alive. I got in touch with my shit, there. I mean that quite literally. You can’t just flush everything away, out of sight. Every morning you haul your rapidly decomposing garbage down the street to chat with your neighbors while waiting for the garbage truck. You get to be in touch with a lot more of the spectrum of experience. For the traveler, everything’s ‘off,’ rearranged or deranged in a new way, with new people, and that makes for a semi-controlled tumult of stimuli. Traveling is a great generator of experience.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Jennifer: After I stopped work on my dissertation and had been writing music for a few years, just experimenting but kind of committed to it, my nephew Kody died of an overdose. He was scheduled to go to rehab the next morning but decided to go out with friends one last time. This was the first year of the Trump regime, everything was already so dark. Losing him was horrible. When I got the call I was out and I just fell onto the sidewalk. When I flew back from his memorial I went to bed for ten hours, woke up talking to him, grabbed some earbuds and recorded the conversation. A few years later, when Barb produced the song, we were able to preserve that initial mood really well. We even used some of the demo vocals that I’d recorded on the cheap earbuds. It was an important part of grieving for me. Details like that matter for historical and artistic integrity. I’m proud of the song, but I’m also proud that I was able to follow my own inner demand to create something while in a very raw state.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Jennifer: Few things are better than a meal with friends at home on my patio or at Rucola in Brooklyn.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?

Jennifer: I keep in mind Blake’s line “expect poison from the standing water.” Being truly alive obliges a certain grace for change. Blake understood this principle of mutability; it feels good to remember it.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Jennifer: I’m working on a video for my recent track, Simple Things, and making new music.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Kitty Donnelly

with Kitty Donnelly:

Bio: Kitty Donnelly’s first collection, ‘The Impact of Limited Time’, was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition and published in 2020. Since then, she has had poetry published in Dear Dylan; The Honest Ulsterman; The Rialto; Ink Sweat and Tears, Mslexia and Interim amongst other magazines and anthologies. She lives in West Yorkshire, works in mental health services and has adopted (too) many animals. My book is available here: Kitty Donnelly – Indigo Dreams

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Kitty: I kept diaries and things when I was very young. When I was around 7, I was actually interested in writing comedy. I was obsessed with The Rutles (Monty Python plus Neil Innes brilliant spoof of the story of The Beatles) and wrote my own version of a fictional female band. My sister is a bit younger than me and I made up jokes and plays to make her laugh. We usually played characters from male bands, for example The Kinks, and would write scripts about what happened to them on tour. We also made-up episodes of Inspector Morse. Our mum had to play Superintendent Strange! In terms of thinking seriously about writing, it was probably when I more or less dropped out of school when I was about 14 or 15. I listened to music and read all day in my room and thought I might grow up to be Oscar Wilde. It was probably more educational than having chewing gum spat in my hair!

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Kitty: When my dad died in 2003, he left us his commuted pension and I saved this for about 16 years until, on a whim, I decided to apply for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and I used this money for it. I was introduced to writers on the course than still inspire me and Carol Ann Duffy’s teaching was the just brilliant. It was worth trekking through a rainy winter’s night for, including being hassled in Manchester City Centre and having to run to catch the train from Victoria when I had a 7am start in a nursing home the following morning. She was generous, but would also tell you when a line didn’t work – that was also kind, although sometimes devastating.

Fiona Benson, Anna Saunders, Katie Farris, Day Mattar – all these poets are inspiring me at the moment.
Song lyrics inspire me as much as poetry. I’m listening to Cohen, The Fontaines DC, Elvis Costello and Nirvana at the moment. They all have a uniqueness with words, a way of bending and twisting them so they sound fresh.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Kitty: I think I’ve said this before, but reading a poem like ‘The Listeners’ by Walter de la Mare when I was at school intrigued me so much. The concept of ‘nobody’ actively listening. I think Salinger uses that in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden makes a phone call:  “Nobody kept answering”. The first poem I remember writing was my own version of ‘The Highwayman’. 

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Kitty: My dad helped me more than anybody else with writing. Perhaps not in a practical sense, as I hadn’t written much when he died, but as a lover of language. He used to quote my Shelley and Nabokov on the way to school. Books were just part of life. He would have a quote for every situation. He was a wonderful writer himself and the last thing he ever said to me referred to his novel. My partner helps me more than I could ever hope for – listening, proof reading. 

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from there influence your work?

Kitty: I was born in Oxford, but my parents are both Northern Irish. My dad was from Newry and my mum’s family are from Portaferry one one side and she’s just found out that her father, whom she never knew, was also Irish. From age 11, I lived in West Cumbria. We were just bogged down by poverty. We got the free bus to the supermarket once a week as an outing – that’s actually true. It was Safeway in Workington at the time. I was miserable. People were cruel to each other at school. Outsiders may as well have been from outer space. Since then, I’ve lived in London, Chichester, Swansea, Yorkshire… Visiting Northern Ireland more often and getting back in touch with my roots has made a huge difference to my writing. I did an Ancestry DNA test and I was 86% genetically linked to Ulster province specifically. I thought I’d better find out a bit more about it! 

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Kitty: The poems that mean most to be are those I’ve written for my daughter. We’ve had a rocky road at times, with circumstances and things, and I want to put something in writing for her so she knows I love her absolutely. I’m very excited about my novel, as it brings a voice back from the dead that I wanted to be heard.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Kitty: I find it very difficult to relax. I don’t suppose I can without artificial means. I’m not very good at meditation!

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Kitty: ‘The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.’

These lines by Louis MacNeice are the ones that come into my mind most often.

Or Yeat’s ‘…the falcon cannot hear the falconer…’ from ‘The Second Coming’.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Kitty: I have finished a second collection of poetry, which has been provisionally accepted for publication next year, although I feel I have a lot to do in terms of revision and substituting poems. I am writing a novel. The first draft is done. The story came to me whole in a dream, but – when I think about it -these are subjects I’ve been obsessing over my whole life so it’s no great miracle I was dreaming them into a book. As Jean Rhys said, “All of writing is a huge lake…all that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters.”

https://www.thebeautifulspace.co.uk/poetry/three-poems-by-kitty-donnelly

https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/kitty-donnelly/4594998660

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jamie Beth Cohen

photo courtesy of Michelle Johnson photography

With Jamie Beth Cohen:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jamie Beth:

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in second grade (a long time ago!). That was the year I wrote “Strawberry Seasons: a play in four acts.” I had been given a Strawberry Shortcake board game that I loved, but no one in my family loved it as much as I did. I ended up playing alone a lot and writing down the scenarios I made up for Strawberry Shortcake and her friends (the other game pieces). 

I’m not sure about writing influences when I was 7 years old. I wasn’t actually a huge reader when I was kid. I read slowly, which made it hard to keep up with assignments in school and makes it hard to keep up with my TBR pile now. But I did, and do, watch a lot of TV and my when I was a kid, my family went to the movies a lot, which is why I think my writing is often referred to as cinematic. 

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Jamie Beth: Although I’m known for writing fiction, I’m actually working on a memoir right now, so I’ve been reading a lot of amazing memoirs and creative non-fiction. I love the work of Lilly Dancyger, Emma Copley Eisenberg, Myriam Gurba, T Kira Madden, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and Carmen Maria Machado. 

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Jamie Beth: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but the first time I was paid for words I wrote was a really amazing moment. I don’t think you have to be paid for your writing to be a writer, but when you’ve been writing since you were nine, being paid for the first time for a piece in your forties is a pretty big deal!

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Jamie Beth: I credit my dad with my ability to write a clean narrative with a good arc, my mom for catching all my spelling and comma errors, my brother for ignoring me when we were kids (lol – see above), and my husband for handling the kids and things around the house when I need to carve out writing time. Also, the people I’ve met in the writing community (via Twitter and Facebook and in person in the Lancaster, PA community) push me, support me, hype me, and are always available to answer questions, read a draft, or provide helpful feedback. My community is invaluable.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Jamie Beth:

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and it’s the setting of (and almost a character in) my first novel. I feel fortunate to have grown up in Pittsburgh in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a great city to grow up in — the perfect size to have a lot of cultural opportunities and diversity, but not so big it was overwhelming. 

Although I’m a writer, I’m actually not particularly creative. I’m a literal and linear writer, reader, and thinker, so even when I write fiction, I like to set it in real places I’ve been. Luckily, I traveled extensively as a kid thanks to my father’s job, so I have a lot of places and memories to pull from. I also lived in New York City from 1997-2007 (aside from a year in College Park, MD), and I frequently write about my time in the city.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Jamie Beth: I tend to write about dark things, but a piece I wrote about a difficult point in my marriage that had an uncharacteristically happy and hopeful message is one of my favorites, mostly because so many people have reached out to me to tell me that it helped them. 

I knew when I was writing it that it would be meaningful to people beyond my family. I had hoped to place it in a major market, and I imagined it going viral, but that didn’t happen. It found a home in Entropy, a non-paying market, but the editor was lovely, the publication process was easy, and still, a year later, I hear from people who stumble upon it exactly when they need it. That means a lot to me.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Jamie Beth: Relax? What is this “relax” of which you speak? Just kidding! (Sort of.) 

I work a full-time job, have two young kids, and I’m active in social justice work in my community, so I don’t have a lot of downtime, but I do listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, which I find strangely relaxing.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Jamie Beth: Courtney LeBlanc is an amazing poet. Her poem “To My Ex Who Asked If Every Poem Was About Him” from her new book “Exquisite, Bloody, Beating Heart,” cut me to the bone.

“…I wish you a daughter who writes poetry filled
with metaphors about a complicated family relationship. I wish
you a football team that never makes the play-offs and a son
who’s an average soccer player. I wish you this poem popping
up first the next time you Google me.”
https://cabinetofheed.com/2018/08/27/to-my-ex-who-asked-if-every-poem-was-about-him-courtney-leblanc/

I put a pic of the whole poem on my instafeed and a bunch of my friends were knocked out by it, so I bought them all the book. I really encourage people to do this, if they’re able. Buy poetry. Buy it from independent bookstores or directly from small presses. This is the best way to help the presses and the poets.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Jamie Beth: My first novel, WASTED PRETTY, came out in 2019. It follows Alice Burton, a sixteen year old in Pittsburgh, who is managing her own burgeoning sexlife in the aftermath of a sexual assault. It’s heavy — but also realistic and occasionally funny — and though it’s set in the 1990s, it’s sadly timely. Its sequel, LIMINAL SUMMER, comes out in November 2021. It takes place five years later as Alice graduates college and tries to figure out what being an adult actually means. I’ve also been doing some consultations for new writers where I bring them up to speed on everything I’ve learned about writing and publishing in the last decade (including selling book-length projects and placing essays in major markets) and help them come up with actionable next steps on their journey. I also host a podcast called “There’s a Column for That!” about spreadsheets and the people (including many writers!) who love them.

Amazon.com: Wasted Pretty: 9781684332533: Cohen, Jamie Beth: Books

photo courtesy of Mark Pontz Photography

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jamie_Beth_S

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/wastedpretty/

WASTED PRETTY on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45431519-wasted-pretty

Pre-Order LIMINAL SUMMER: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/womens/liminalsummer

Website: http://www.jamiebethcohen.com/

There’s a Column for That! (podcast): https://twitter.com/column_pod 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Mark Robinson

with Mark Robinson:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Mark: I started writing, like most writers, young. I remember really getting into the ‘creative’ writing time in 3rd grade actually. I do not remember who I was reading then, but I do remember reading a lot of Steven King around 12, 13, 14 yrs old—not the horror stuff, the really great stories that were turned into movies like Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption. Probably unusual for a poet, yes? My first poetic influences though…not surprisingly Mary Oliver as I was an undergrad in Iowa City in the 90s and her work was starting to be very well known and taught in universities more, and has a way of speaking to people. Li-Young Lee and Raymond Carver were pretty huge in those years just after my undergrad as well.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Mark: It is hard for me to say who directly influences me today. I read as much poetry as I can and anything you put into your head can and maybe should find its way onto the page, into the work. Most of what I read now is contemporary so I have read all the big new books out and love the work from Diane Seuss, Ada Limon, Maggie Smith but there are so many great poets right now. I really love Keetje Kuipers and Jane Huffman. Older influences are still going to be there– Emily Dickinson, Whitman to an extent. Reading Letters to A Young poet was moving, as well as exploring Rilke’s work after. And I have always love Wallace Stevens too— so while no one can really imitate him, his sound is something to try to learn at least. It can’t hurt.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Mark: Eh….8th grade when my Language Arts teacher made me read my poem about Yankee Stadium to the class about 7 times. I had a solid understanding of the poetic devices we studied. Then, day one in an undergrad poetry class and Mary Szybist opens by not introducing herself or welcoming the class but by reciting Idea of Order at Key West. And Mary has a rather marvelous voice. I do not know if I definitely wanted to be a writer at any of those moments—I remember both distinctly though.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Mark: Jessica Mehta, Kathy Goodkin, Marissa Bell Toffoli and Paula Cisewski. Each of them, in their way, let me know I was worthy…my work is good. That has been the most important “instruction” I have ever received. The other stuff, the prompts and the workshops, suggestions, etc. are very good and interesting to me, but the acknowledgment of the work is much more important. Being a writer is a very fragile thing.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from there influence your work?

Mark: I grew up in Central Iowa, and this is my home again now. I think travel and moving around in general has been good for me. I have lived in many cities—Des Moines, Iowa City, Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Twin Cities, Kansas City—and that ability to be move in and out of that kind of change is something. However, I remind myself pretty regularly about Emily Dickinson’s life and that she accomplished so much without really going anywhere but outside.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Mark: My most meaningful work is definitely my chapbook, Just Last Days. This is a project that I was able to put all together, so there is that, and I have a really beautiful book to show for it. And in addition I think those poems represented a real breakthrough for me in terms of voice. I think I started to recognize my voice in those poems, my first published in journals and my first collection.

Just Last Days: Robinson, Mark: 9781625493385: Amazon.com: Books

Q7: What are your favorite activities to relax?

Mark: My first favorite is to read. Boring, right? I am a big sports fan too though. In the fall I will definitely watch football on weekends, which is both relaxing and stressful (in a relaxing way). I like travelling very much too. I tend to want to be outside more when I am travelling—especially love the ocean, and mountains/different landscapes are interesting… and I feel like I am truly away from everyday life so that is relaxing.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Mark: —“She sang beyond the genius of the sea”; first line of Wallace Stevens’ Idea of Order at Key West.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Mark: I am really enjoying my work as reader for a couple of great journals—Frontier Poetry and Mud Season Review. I’d love to grow these experiences into something more in the writing community. I have a good number of unpublished poems that I had hoped by now would be more together and in book-length manuscript. The progress has been slower than I want but that is my next project—a new book. I have some title ideas, so the hard part is done, right?

Book link– Just Last Days: Robinson, Mark: 9781625493385: Amazon.com: Books

Twitter– @MarkRobPoet

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Deb Ewing

with Deb Ewing:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Deb: I’ve got my first-ever short story framed and hanging on my wall. It’s from 1971, I think, Kindergarten or first grade. Somebody printed it with letterpress and taped it to a piece of orange construction paper. It’s called Gus the Ghost. It stabs my heart a little to realize that this piece of paper was created before computers, when typewriter font wasn’t that big. Teachers noting my work is what fueled me.

Ray Bradbury was the first written influence on me – the way he strung together sentences felt right in my mind. Later, I learned that Agatha Christie is the master of drawing a scene in dialogue alone, or without defining the thing. She describes the pomp of an estate by saying, “I don’t need to tell you. You know what it looks like. It’s in all the tourist brochures.” And with just that, you do know.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Deb: Gabriel Garcia Marquez still teaches me how to string a very long sentence in a satisfying way; Salman Rushdie, too. I’m always surprised to learn that other people actually love what I love. Salman was like that for me. Otherwise, my biggest influences are contemporary writers who are not famous yet: Melinda Smith, Barlow Adams for storytelling; Lisa Alletson, Mark H. Fitzpatrick, and Jonathan Roman for poetry. Discover them. Reading them, working with them, I’m always provoked to do more. That’s what’s really important in creativity: more.

Q3: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Deb: No. I was raised by two artists: my mother, who abandoned it to raise a family, and my grandmother, who painted portraits of barns in rural Michiana where she was raised. I was with my grandma when she burned a stack of paintings. I asked if I could keep one, and she said no.
We stood side by side watching spark and flame rise from a rusty burning barrel – do people have those anymore? It occurred to me that I was the only family member who understood that moment, and I’m glad I could be there with her. Can I explain it? No, I don’t think I can. Sometimes it feels right to take out of the world what you’ve brought into it. We can kill our poetic babies, in a way, if they aren’t going to flourish. The art world is brutal. You have to protect your human children in a way you can’t with creative work.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Deb: The Twitter writing community has helped me the most. It’s where I found you! I mentioned Melinda Smith and Lisa Alletson; we have two others in our cadre: Shannon Mastromonico and Leslie Almberg. They found me at a time when I was really questioning myself. Our gestalt supports, encourages, and even goads one another to keep going.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from there influence your work?

Deb: I grew up in Southwest Michigan, a giant swamp between Chicago and Detroit. I had important encouragement from teachers, but was harrassed by the bully culture of my peers. When my family moved to East Texas I learned that sunshine is real and people don’t have to be like that, but I also learned about deeply rooted racism. I learned to feel like moving was normal and I did so every few years for a long time. It wasn’t until I married, living in Washington, DC, that I learned how to go on vacation and come home instead of just moving somewhere. I’m really ready to move somewhere now.

So, yes, travels away from there definitely influenced my work. Everything I do is for the story, and every story I tell – in words or in paint – is true.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Deb: Sundogs is what I’d call my best painting to date, though I recently did a classical portrait that I can’t release right now. I want to build a series on each style. Most meaningful, though – I don’t feel I’ve hit it yet. I’ve started a few experiments, and even as I finish them I realize they are steps on a pathway to something else. Something more. I keep using that word.

(c) Deb Ewing

I felt like I lost myself at times. I wanted a list of three things I really love. I finally came up with writing, art, and in a more tangible context, letterpress print. So I designed a tattoo – an elaborate ampersand – to remind me what I am in case I come close to forgetting again. Ampersand literally indicates more. I strive to be more me than I already am.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Deb: Relax? I like to get all wound up and combust in a creative frenzy. Live music makes me want to dance. What I’d do with my free time if I had the choice would be to disappear down the wormhole of focus until I emerge with something magical on the other end. If I really need to meditate, I mow the lawn or pull weeds.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Deb: I have some favorite songwriters that inspire me with great lines like:


“We love with conviction/and some sleight of hand” – Dan Navarro
“Unencumbered by the tedium of other men’s ways/our path was our own” – William Elliott Whitmore


I quote my own poetry often in conversation, knowing full well nobody recognizes it. ‘I am calm in the face of maybe’ is a favorite. The one I use the most is:


suddenly I realise all my words already have been written
giving them that much less impact
this page feels like such a waste


I first wrote those words in 1996, in what was probably a love poem to a friend, a writing partner, who moved away. I can’t recall anything else from that poem, so I recycled the stanza into ‘clock-hours’. It’s in the book mycelium..

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Deb: Please keep an eye on Igneus Press. It’s a small press started in New England by my mentor, Peter Kidd, operated now by his daughter Dr. Sophia Kidd. Sophia is dedicated to honoring her father’s legacy, and enjoys drawing poetry into the world of performance art. I sent her this scratchboard piece, White Skunk, inspired by her father’s poem ‘Autumn Afternoon Reflection.’ I can provide the entire poem if you’d like to see them together.

 I’m working on a 2nd and 3rd companion piece to my sci-fi supershort ‘FRIEND’, which won first place in the 2019 Loudoun County Write On! Adult Short Story Writing Contest. It’s also serialized on my blog, debnation.com.

I’m continuing to make prints of my art available through American Frame. I’ll be releasing The Zorya soon – I need to clean up the digital file so it will print well for us. The original art is in a private collection now.

Bio: debora Ewing is a poet, artist, off-the-cuff author and editor. Her poetry and artwork are featured around the globe: from Plainsongs by Hastings College Press (in hard copy only) to Beyond Words, Creative Nonfiction, Dodging the Rain, and Shot Glass Journal, to name a few. Her hub is a pool hall in Annandale, Virginia, but she’s probably traveling to somewhere right now.

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