A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with S. Rupsha Mitra

with S. Rupsha Mitra:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Rupsha: I do not exactly remember when I started writing but I used to scribble some thoughts, in my diary as a kid, and the first poem that I wrote was probably when I was in second or third grade. It was a Bengali poem. I used to mostly write poetry in my mother tongue, Bengali but then as an adolescent, I started developing interest in English poetry after having read the works of Shelley , Keats, Pablo Neruda, Wordsworth. My first influence was definitely the simple, beautiful, lucid works of Rabindranath Tagore, that we were taught as part of the school curriculum.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Rupsha: My biggest influences today are Ocean Vuong, Maya. C. Popa, Rita Dove, Arundhati Subramaniam, Tishani Doshi, and so many other great poets, artists, writers.

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

Rupsha: I do not remember any such pivotal moment but as a child I was always fascinated with the idea of being a writer. I thought I would write a book some day. When I grew older I realised how writing is much more than publications, it is the intense passion, the love for words, I knew then I would be a writer because I just cannot live without it.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Rupsha: Everyone in my family is quite supportive. I had some amazing Bengali teachers in school who always encouraged and appreciated my writing and helped me improve my work. My constant support has always been my grandmother, who herself is an avid reader and loves writing poetry and songs. She is the one who encourages me to continue writing, and guides me unconditionally in my writing.

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

Rupsha: I am born and raised in Kolkata, the city of joy. My city inspires my work to a great extent. 

I am often inspired to write verse about the beauteous emotional bond I share with my otherwise busy city. The lush green maidan, the festive brilliance of my city during Durga Puja are recurrent images in my poems. I travelled to divine destinations like Salim Chisti, Golden Temple in Amritsar and Vaishna Devi Temple that help me to explore the divine, ecumenical and spiritual in my writing. 

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

Rupsha: I feel my most meaningful work to me is the poetry chapbook ‘Soul God’ that I completed writing recently. It was also the Finalist in Poetry Question’s Chapbook Contest. I look forward to publishing it.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Rupsha: My favourite activities to relax are listening to music, singing and having meaningful conversations with my near and dear ones. I have a keen interest in cultural activities and also regular meditation really helps.

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

Rupsha: ‘Remembering is an oceanic plunge into the frame of a vast ocean…’ is one of my favourite lines from my work. The painting Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali is a favourite of mine. 

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


I have work forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Science for the People Magazine, Ekstasis Magazine and Mermaids Monthly. Recently my microchapbook Dandelion Skin was published by Origami poems. 

The link to my website is www.srupshapoetry.com

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Charlene Elsby

with Charlene Elsby:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Charlene: I started writing in high school. My first influences were Nabokov, Dostoevsky, Freud, Nietzsche, Goethe, Sade, and especially August Strindberg.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Charlene: Well, I’m still reading Nabokov, but also Cioran, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty. I was never into Kafka, but now I am.

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

Charlene: No pivotal moments. It was more of a constant burning resentment of people who were already doing these things, because I wanted to do them too.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Charlene: The people who have published me.

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

Charlene: I grew up in southern Ontario and when I started writing, I was living in a trailer, and I got my books used on eBay, because then I could pay for them with money orders from the post office. (I wasn’t old enough to have a credit card.) It was on the edge of town, and there wasn’t much to do, so I read a lot, and that influenced me for sure. When I got an academic job, that gave me a travel budget for conferences and research, which was amazing. I wrote most of Affect in Leuven, Belgium, while researching Husserl’s manuscripts on the phenomenology of time.

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

Charlene: Hexis was really raw, and I didn’t have a concept at the time of what it was like for people to read your work, and I think that made it special. Affect is more intentional, like I wrote that one on purpose; it’s got nuance. Psychros is what happened once Clash enabled me. When they took Hexis, I took that as license to do whatever I want and started writing Psychros

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Charlene: Awful television.

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

Charlene: I don’t know if it’s a favorite, but I think about it a lot–this line from The Misfits by Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe says it in the movie: “Maybe all there really is is just the next thing. The next thing that happens. Maybe you’re not supposed to remember anybody’s promises.”

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


Psychros from Clash Books on October 12, 2021. And I recently published a story called “Agyny” on selffuck.help.

Book link: https://www.clashbooks.com/new-products-2/charlene-elsby-psychros-preorder

Twitter: @elsbycharlene


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Becki Hawkes

with Becki Hawkes:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Becki: I first started writing poetry as a teenager. The poetry I liked best then was by Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy (especially The World’s Wife) and Jackie Kay (I loved her collection Off Colour). My own poetry probably wasn’t very good back then – I’m in awe of all the younger writers today I read who seem to turn out such stunning, polished work. I also had an eating disorder at the time (anorexia nervosa) and, in all honesty, living with that took priority over everything. In my 20s, I was an arts and culture journalist at a newspaper. It was an amazing experience, but definitely meant all my time and energy was spent on writing articles, rather than anything more personally creative. I actually only started writing poetry “for real” in 2020 – perhaps as a reaction to the feelings of isolation and fear that the pandemic brought out in so many of us. I’ve always been a keen poetry reader, however.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Becki: In addition to the writers above, some of my favourite writers today are the American poet Jericho Brown – his poem Ganymede has blazed in my head ever since I first read it – and the British poet John McCullough (I think Reckless Paper Birds might be one of my favourite-ever poetry collections). I’m not sure they influence my work, exactly: they write stuff that resonates with me, but that is often inspired by things outside of my own experiences, and stylistically very different to how I write myself. But reading perfectly-constructed, emotionally vivid poems can remind you of what poetry can do, and inspire you to keep writing yourself. I’m also a keen Leonard Cohen fan, and listen to his songs almost every day. During a recent relationship breakdown, I kept thinking of these lines from The Stranger Song: “You try the handle of the road/ It opens do not be afraid/ It’s you my love, you who are the stranger”. They can be read in so many ways – and I feel like a lot of the writing I’ve been working on recently is an unintentional reaction to those words, and how I feel when I hear them.

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

Becki: Not really! I think, during all the years I didn’t write creatively, I’d sometimes get lines and images stuck inside my head – ways of reacting to things, or processing things I’d seen or experienced. And then I’d wonder what they were from, and realise they weren’t from anything: they were just my brain, saying it needed a new language; a new way to express its world.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Becki: I had a very nice teacher at school who taught me how to do cryptic crosswords. That helped me appreciate the playfulness of language; it’s inherent deceptiveness, as well as its beauty and power (I’ve written poems directly inspired by crossword clues). Every single editor that has taken a chance and published my work has also helped me: just the reassurance that someone likes your work is so, so encouraging. My sister, Emily, has also read everything I’ve written, and offered valuable thoughts and feedback, as have many of my close friends.

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

Becki: I grew up just outside London, UK, in a town called Bracknell, and London itself has influenced my writing a lot. I also had lovely family holidays as a child to a place called Lyme Regis, which is known for its Jurassic fossil beaches, and my fascination with palaeontology and the natural world is definitely something which influences my writing a lot now. I’m passionate about butterflies, especially UK butterflies, and recently went on an amazing trip to see some of the work the charity Butterfly Conservation are doing in Cumbria, and found that very inspiring. A recent day trip to a site just outside of London, where I went to look at Small Blues and Silver-Washed Fritillaries, is also something that I’ve been trying to write about recently. I was the only person there, just walking among all these tall grasses and ancient woodland, butterflies flying out in front of me, and it truly felt like I was somewhere enchanted. A hidden fairyland. But then, of course, I’m also keenly aware of the fragility of all of this – and the urgent need to protect the natural world and fight climate change. It leads to this kind of combined feeling of awed wonder and desperate, desperate panic.

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

Becki: My favourite poem that I’ve written so far is either Park Run, published by Lunate Fiction (available online here: https://lunate.co.uk/poetry/park-run-by-becki-hawkes) or Peacock, Orange Tip Red Admiral, Holly Blue (https://www.perhappened.com/peacockbeckihawkes.html). I think of both of them as survival poems, and as celebration poems, and as love poems. Like many people, I’ve had some bad times, and some very difficult years and experiences. There was one period in particular where I felt like I was constantly either in a hospital, or at a funeral, or else just anxiously anticipating the next disaster or world-shattering loss. But these poems are about why I want to be here. They are love poems in the most direct sense: in order to love, we need to be alive.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Becki: I like being outside – and, as previously mentioned, looking for different butterfly species and other wildlife! And I love reading – I read quite widely, but I’ve almost always got some kind of thriller/detective novel on the go – and watching horror movies.  I work in central London (although have been working from home a lot recently due to Covid-19) and am lucky enough to be able to walk part of my commute. I always find walking in along the river, coffee in hand, watching the light on the water a very relaxing thing – just grabbing those small moments before the day begins in earnest.

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

Becki: A truly haunting and evocative poem I read recently, which really stayed with me, was published in a magazine called Wrongdoing Magazine (https://www.wrongdoingmag.com ) and was by a poet called Rachael Crosbie. It’s called What kind of vampire are you? I imagine it’s one that might resonate with a lot of people. The last lines in particular linger with me: “You were too young/when he asked to really see you, his body seared/in the next text, grainy and gray like a graveyard when it rained”. I think my favourite-ever poem, if I had to choose, would be Everything is going to be all right, by Derek Mahon, with the amazing lines: “There will be dying, there will be dying/but there is no need to go into that”.

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

Becki: I’ve just finished putting together my first-ever poetry pamphlet/chapbook, which is called The naming of wings, and am currently thinking about places to send it to. So watch this space!

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jason M. Thornberry

with Jason M. Thornberry

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jason: My earliest influence was my grandmother, Nancy. She taught me to read as a little boy. I grew up in Southern California, but I lived with my grandparents in Newport, Oregon, during the summertime. I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was with them. I was about ten.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Jason: Today? Probably still Dostoevsky. Definitely Rilke. Verlyn Klinkenborg, John Gardner, and William H. Gass’s works (both fiction and nonfiction) taught me so much about writing. I love Joy Williams, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and James Salter too. Gwendolyn Brooks, Rebecca Solnit, Billy Collins, Marlon James, John Ashbery, Kent Haruf, Tobias Wolff. I could keep going.

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

Jason: Not really. I couldn’t say I had a “moment.” But, as I said, I became conscious of wanting to write as a boy. I started my first novel when I was in high school. But at sixteen, I joined a garage band, and music became my focus for quite a long time. I studied jazz, and I performed with various bands. But I still wrote. Do you remember fanzines? Before the Internet? I had a fanzine, and I mostly wrote about music—music reviews, music essays, and so forth.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Jason: My professors were hugely influential—not only because I got to sit and discuss books and writing with them, but because I realized they were my tribe. They were my people. That was what I wanted to do—not just write. I also wanted to teach. To teach writing. Doug Thorpe, Suzanne Wolfe, Jim Blaylock, Mildred Lewis, Richard Bausch, Anna Leahy—I owe so much to them. Joining an MFA program was extremely helpful because it forced me to write every single day. I was expected to produce fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. To produce work for my classmates to discuss—in front of me. In class. To tell me what worked about a particular story or poem. To tell me what didn’t work. I can’t overemphasize the significance of my professors’ role, helping me hone my voice as a writer.

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

Jason: I grew up in San Bernardino, California. It’s about an hour south of Los Angeles. My hometown informs my work because I want to write about people and human nature’s contradictory, conflicting qualities. I’m not at all interested in genre-bound work. I want to write about the real world—the world we navigate every day. I want to write about things that people can relate to because they’ve experienced them. I particularly want to write about the erosion of the American family—from divorce, drug addiction, and violence. And yes, traveling also informs my work. When I was twenty-three, I went to London for music. I returned to San Bernardino. But the wheels were in motion for me to escape, and I left my hometown for good the following year. Now I live in Seattle with my wife. But I still have family back in my hometown. It pulls me back down there from time to time. My first novel takes place there.

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

Jason: Probably the novel I’m currently working on. It began as my MFA thesis, and while it isn’t my first book (it’s my third), I feel like the others were a rehearsal for it.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Jason: Reading, listening to music.

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

Jason: I’m attracted to poems with a strong narrative quality—poems that could easily be stories—like Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift” or James Wright’s “St. Judas.” I carry “St. Judas” in my wallet. I really loved Victoria Chang’s recent book, Obit, for that very reason. Obit feels like a collection of stories living inside a book of poetry.

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

Jason: My personal essay, “The New Gary,” will appear in the Broadkill Review in October, and my poem “Drive Safe” will appear soon in the North Dakota Quarterly. I’ve also got two poems set to appear in Abstract: Creative Expressions.

Bio & more:

BIO: Jason M. Thornberry’s work appears in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Soundings East, Harbor Review, and elsewhere. Jason spent twelve years playing the drums in various post-punk and alternative bands before suffering a traumatic brain injury. He returned to school, getting his MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University.

Website: jmthornberry.wordpress.com

Twitter: @thornberryjm

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Anneka Chambers

with Anneka Chambers:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Anneka: I am an 80’s baby raised in the 90’s, so I grew up in an era where books heavily fed my knowledge and the internet was completely inaccessible. I had a beloved thick brown book of Victorian nursery rhymes with traditional, mosaic illustrations. I immersed in this book time and time again, because I loved the musicality and use of ‘old English’ Language. My mum gifted me a set of Child Craft Encyclopedias around the age of 6 and of my most cherished was Volume 1: Stories and Poems. Again, I connected to the rhythm, form and flair of the poems. These two books were my very first influences and as a young child, I’d often make cards with little poetic messages written inside.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Anneka: My two favourite social poets right now are Blake Auden and John Mark Green. Their ability to craft micro poems that questions, solves and/or validates in such a ‘gutsy’ manner, is really appealing to me. Blake in particular, has a unique way in delivering his poetry and engaging with his followers; he uses his platform very creatively. I am still moved by past poets such as William Wordsworth and of course the beautiful delight that was Louise Bennett-Coverley.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?

Anneka: I was born and raised in London England by my mother, who is of Jamaican heritage. Her cultural values were instilled in me from a young age, and even though we lived in a predominantly White British area, I always had a strong sense of my cultural identity. However in terms of books, the media and the arts, there was very little Afro-Caribbean representation at the time. English poets such as William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer and Ursula Fanthorpe formed much of the English Literature curriculum in Secondary education. Therefore, these poets would have had an impact on my writing at the time.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Anneka: As a child I often travelled to Jamaica with my mum, to spend time with my great grandfather. He lived in the countryside of Jamaica which was so different to my life in East London. My fondest memories of my childhood are largely the times we spent in Jamaica and most recently, I have started to write poetry about these precious moments.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?

Anneka: 2020 was a very challenging year for many in regards to the Covid 19 Pandemic and social and political responses to racism, following the killing of George Floyd. It was at this point in May 2020 that I was riddled with emotions, having watched the scenes of George Floyd’s public murder. The only way to express and release my feelings was to write poetry. ‘N I N E’ was therefore one of the first poems I wrote, after years of poetry laying asleep within me.

Aside from Covid 19, 2020 also brought about an unexpected personal challenge that really changed the direction of my life. In order to help manage the changes, writing poetry has really been my solace and it feels as though I have returned home to the comfort of my true source.

Q6: Favourite activities to relax?

Anneka: I’m an Aquarian and true to my nature and spirit, I love to learn and experience different things. When time allows, I will happily sit and make beaded jewellery or get my sewing machine out. I really have a keen interest in beauty and learnt the art of Ayurvedic Anti-Aging Facial Massage a few years ago. Give me a day or weekend at the Spa and i’m a happy girl!

Simple things like taking pictures of nature or architecture whilst in the city, or green spaces really gives me joy. I try to take walks as a means of keeping my mind in the present moment. More recently I’ve been doing meditation which has helped me to relax and take a moment out for myself.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Anneka: I started to submit my work to poetry magazines back in December 2020. Since then, I have been blessed to be in a number of publications including: Southbank Poetry, Isa Magazine, Brave Voices, Superfroots Magazine, Vine Leaves Press, Dwelling Literary, Poetry and Covid, The Skinny Poetry Journal and the lovely Fevers of the Mind.

Moving forward, I would love to reach the highs of winning renowned poetry competitions and writing books with my poetry collections.

I publish some of my poetry on my Instagram page @22poetrystreet. Readers can also find me on Twitter @annekachambers. I love to engage with many people so please stop by!

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

Anneka: I wrote a short poem entitled ‘Couture’ that speaks of us removing negative weight we carry and showing the world our authentic selves. A line that I love is:
“Close Pockets of Doubt, Extend the Hem of Freedom”.

Unbutton Fear                                                                                                                                      Unzip Worry                                                                                                                                         Close Pockets of Doubt                                                                                                                                   Extend the Hem of Freedom

Remove the Label                                                                                                                                Replace it with your Name                                                                                                          Step Out                                                                                                                                                 Show the World

The New You.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing? 

Anneka: I have to say, since joining Twitter I have had a really warm embrace from the poetry community who I largely follow. It has been a pleasure to read and learn from the vast array of poetry magazines, their editors and view the works of established and emerging poets, all of whom have helped me to navigate the poetry scene and improve my writing.

I have also engaged in online poetry classes and workshops which have been invaluable to me. From my first course on ‘How to Submit to Poetry Magazines’ run by poet Katherine Lockton through CityLit, to my most recent workshop by poet Malika Booker (July 21), entitled ‘Apart Together’ which was so informative and run through The Poetry Business. 

To be in a space with other poets, to read and take heed of the knowledge shared by others, has really helped me with my writing journey as a whole.  

Bio: Anneka Chambers (she/her) is a Black British Born Londoner. She is a Poet & Social Justice advocate, currently campaigning for the rights of the Windrush Generation in the UK. Anneka’s poetry can be found in South Bank Poetry Magazine, Isa Magazine, Brave Voices and Dwelling Literary amongst forthcoming publications. Insta: @22poetrystreet   Twitter: @annekachambers 

#stopthehate challenge by Anneka Chambers : NINE Poem by Anneka Chambers : Play On