A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Amanda McLeod

with Amanda McLeod:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Amanda: I started writing when I was very young, and like so many of us pushed it aside to get a ‘proper job’. I didn’t come back to it until well into my thirties. As a young writer, I loved reading Bryce Courtenay, Judy Blume, and classics like Jane Austen.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Amanda: Today I read very diversely. Contemporaries whose work I admire include Melinda Smith, Sarah Wilson, Mark Tredinnick, Robert Macfarlane, Gaynor Jones, and Kathy Fish – and many, many more! I’m also dipping in and out of Wordsworth and Thoreau at the moment.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away home influence your work?

Amanda:

I grew up in Central Queensland in Australia and to be honest, it didn’t have much of an influence beyond encouraging escapism when I was young! I did have two wonderful English teachers in high school who really encouraged my love of books and writing, and I think they had far more influence on me than the environment itself. I think it’s made less than a handful of appearances in my poetry in recent times, mostly as I’ve reflected on change.
Influenced by travels, absolutely yes. I’ve travelled overseas numerous times, but seem to go back to the same places over and over (I think I’ve been to New Zealand four or five times and it never ever gets old!). I’ve also lived in a lot of different places in Australia and those various environments tend to shape my work as I’m in them.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Amanda: That’s a tough one. I think whatever I’m working on at that point in time is the most meaningful thing. I think at this point my flash collection, Animal Behaviour, holds the title. It’s very dear to my heart, and was a labour of love that allowed be to really find my creative self and paved the way for me to develop more as a writer.

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

Amanda: Less a pivotal moment than a slow dawn!

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Amanda: I am an avid hiker and love being outdoors as much as I can, whatever the weather. And of course I paint, and read.

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

Amanda:

My poetry chapbook, Heartbreak Autopsy, is coming out August 30th, 2021. It’s a collection of poems about all the ways relationships don’t work out that aren’t the sobbing-in-the-bathroom or explosion-of-hatred endings. Remember in the movie The Bodyguard, how at the end Kevin and Whitney loved each other but didn’t stay together? These are those kind of stories – the ones where two people part and there’s no big drama, just a kind of quiet grief or even sometimes a sense of relief. https://animalheartpress.net/heartbreak-autopsy/

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

Amanda:

A favourite line from one of my poems:
The world is changing; loss is the only constant.

Favourite art piece? Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Waterlilies.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Amanda: Kelly from Sick Lit Magazine gave me the self belief to really go for it. Eli and Beth from Animal Heart Press have both pushed me hard and made me a much stronger poet. I’m also a member of a fabulous writing group (hi, Canberra Writers!). They’ve definitely helped me strengthen my writing. We meet fortnightly and give each other feedback on our works.

https://amandamcleodwrites.com/

3 Poems by Amanda McLeod from Fevers of the Mind & Avalanches in Poetry Anthologies

Poems from Amanda McLeod in Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 (2019) “Inclimental Anger” “Day With Perfect Storm” “Anchor” “You Are My Sun, Except When I Am Storm”

https://feralpoetry.net/a-mating-pair-by-amanda-mcleod/

https://www.anthropocenepoetry.org/post/2-poems-by-amanda-mcleod

3 Poems by Amanda McLeod from Fevers of the Mind & Avalanches in Poetry Anthologies

Ophelia, Drowned

in madness and sorrow
turn from the depths, child,
and bathe your face in sweet light
let the current be your baptism
instead of your death
emerge clean, shining
know this darkness is not forever
beyond shadow, there is always light
for one does not exist without the other
give the river your sadness
but not your soul
your beauty is needed here
your joy brings joy to others
an ending means a new beginning
but not this kind of end
there is more for you here
than what one man could take away
let another you come forth
stronger
reforged
glistening
make the water your mirror
what do you see,
when you search for yourself there?

Broken 

Broken
Brother night, take me -
Let me feel the coolness
Of your hands on my fevered skin
Sweet darkness -
Drop your midnight veil
The harsh light of the sun
Burns my eyes Sears my lungs Scalds my heart
Pour on me the countless raindrops
That become the flood
Let darkmoon silence
Hum in my ears a mute ritual
Float me womblike in
Comfortable ebony air
My lacquered bones holding
No weight
Glass splinters
Prickle my stomach
Pierce my skin
I pull them out one by one
Careful not to spill my own blood; watch
The glitter spread on towels
Mind my step
Crushed hearts are sharp when
Only stars light the way

Each shard wet with the broken promise
Of an empty vessel

For Leonard; You Freed Me

Someone else brought your words to me,
but I was mesmerized from the start.
Who was this stranger who seemed to know
all my secrets? Where had you been, 
on those endless nights I needed to feel
less alone?
Where were you when everything I wanted
to say was choking me, and the wellspring
threatened to drown the flame
that burned behind the bushel
of my heart?
No matter. A rare gift, pulled
from a shelf with a quiet hallelujah
and my life was never the same again.
The world needed beauty and dignity
and quiet strength, and so did I.
You gave me hope; showed me
the beauty in my cracks and taught me
how to love my damage.

Poems from Amanda McLeod in Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 (2019) “Inclimental Anger” “Day With Perfect Storm” “Anchor” “You Are My Sun, Except When I Am Storm”

Poems from Amanda McLeod in Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 (2019) “Inclimental Anger” “Day With Perfect Storm” “Anchor” “You Are My Sun, Except When I Am Storm”

Flash, Thunderstorm, A Thunderstorm Cell

Inclimental Anger

The storm comes in hard and fast and angry, just like you did so many times.
I can still see the rainclouds in your face
and I knew back then to make myself scarce
when you blew in thunderheaded and fierce fisted.
Most nights I let you blow yourself out over whiskey and television.
I learned to avoid the violent soaking.
I duck and shy from the windows when the weather turns quarrelsome.
Thunderclaps still make me jump, even when I know its just nature,
with a sweeter temper than yours ever was.
I slide the deadbolts across the door, just in case,
and watch the towels I left on the clothesline flap thickly as sheets of rain
slap them into submission.

Day With Perfect Storm

The tornado swirls turgid
with terror and I can't run
fast enough to prevent
your escape and secure my own

The door shakes
thunderous, bowed
beneath violence;
Thor's hammer, a weapon
of anger, wielded fiercely

Until the storm drops---
blown out, a candle
extinguished
as quickly as was lit

The breath of prevailing
wind becomes a sea breeze---

It cools anger's heat
I turn from leeward,
eyes closed, to feel
the sweet lift of my hair---

Anchor

Acid burn
salt licks, my cheeks
dry sticky with downward
pressure. The Vacuum
ebbs and flows
the rush a tidal wave
of stripped oxygen.
I drown in the air
as my heartbeat thrums
in my ears, a rhythm
tapping out my
self-destruction

I'm frozen in the roar; the
searing deprivation takes
all reason from me, leaving me
lost... until steady hands
anchor me by my shoulders,
make me feel
my feet - heavy on the
earth again,
remind me ---
there are reasons
not to
get washed away.

You Are My Sun, Except When I Am Storm

When you come out,
           all saccharine and sun

I rest against the moment of relief.

Today  might be one filled with goodness,
             as long as everyone's on their toes---

I am not a ballerina;  I stumble along,
          unsteady - the spinning, the wobble:

A tornado of unbridled terror.
Yet no witch am I;

I can't convince the weather
             which fills your mind
             with all this thunder

Nor do I know how
             to steady the ballerina toe ---

My only chance is to batten down buttons
            until the tempest does exhaust;
             sky clears at last

The wind drops
          the clouds wisp
                        and finally

           The light behind your eyes comes
                             into focus


Bio from 2019 in Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 & from twitter info:
Amanda McLeod is an Australian creative. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Elephants Never, Ghost Parachute, and other places.  She is also the  managing editor at Animal Heart Press. When she's not playing with words, she's usually looking for wild quiet places or good coffee. Find her on twitter @AmandaMwrites
amandamcleodwrites.com
link to her book "Animal Behaviour" on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Animal-Behaviour-Amanda-McLeod/dp/1838104127/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=amanda+mcleod&qid=1621520925&sr=8-1