A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Melinda Smith, Ph.D. (Iambic Beats)

with Melinda Smith:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Melinda: I wrote from the time I could construct sentences, though I don’t think I realized I was a writer until a few years ago. I wrote a few songs for a musical when I was 11 and then moved on to angsty poetry as a teenager (spoiler alert: nothing every came of either). Then, in graduate school (I studied neuroscience), I had this idea for brain tech that I thought would make a cool backdrop for a novel. Like a total naïve idiot, I began writing the novel with no thought or training. It was terrible. Not the idea, but the writing. I am working on rewriting it entirely and I think it’ll be great in a decade when I finally finish it. Some of my early influences were Rudyard Kipling, Dr. Seuss, and Roald Dahl.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Melinda: My biggest influences today are Ray Bradbury, Ted Chiang, and Ken Liu. All three of these writers marry speculative/science fiction with beautiful writing and philosophy so well. In a more practical sense, I am very inspired by a wonderful writing group who have shaped my growth in the most challenging and supportive of ways. Finally, I credit the Twitter writing community and the #vss365 challenges for really kicking my game into high gear. The prompts challenge me and have taught me to economize with my prose.

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

Melinda: I grew up in Southern California but have travelled to many countries. I lived in Italy for a year. Being immersed in centuries old art, architecture, and music definitely wakes the senses. I don’t know if it’s true, but an Italian there told me that to Italians, the sounds of the sentences were more important than the content, unlike how Americans write. I also spent time volunteering in orphanages in Haiti and Ghana. I learned that where abundance was not an everyday concept, you still see art, song, dance, and laughter spilling through everything. So even without all the riches that commissioned cathedrals and frescoes, art perseveres. It has to. Overall, travel has showed me that much of the world sees things in very different and magnificent ways.

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

Melinda: I think my latest venture (putting spoken word poetry to original music) has really been an awakening for me. I love to write, read poetry, and arrange chillwave electronic music, so this project has really put to use all creative parts of my brain. My artist name is Iambic Beats. It seems to have gotten good reception and I’m excited to see where it goes! One of the best parts about it is getting to collaborate with other poets. Some of my Iambic Beats songs are from my own poetry, but I’ve also worked with 9 or 10 poets to make songs from their work. Every collaboration has been unique and fun for (I think) both parties.

Q5: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?

Melinda: When I was young, I longed to be an opera singer. But I also loved science and felt very torn about which I would pursue in college. I have always had a very difficult time going in one direction. I love to write poetry and prose, sing, paint, and compose music. While parts of me still feel that this gives me too much breadth and not enough depth, I remind myself that combining different hobbies can create new and exciting angles. And the science fits in too! I have acquired a real love for science fiction and my training helps me construct (somewhat) plausible technology and scenarios. My music also incorporates science concepts.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Melinda: What does relax mean? I have two little girls and a job as a science writer, so there is very little down time. But my creative outlets really do feel like a decompression for me at the end of the day. I’ll pick up my guitar and sing a little, paint something, or write, and I’m a happy camper.

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

Melinda: So the major undertaking I’ve been working on is the Iambic Beats project I mentioned above. My first two albums, Chiasm and Dark Matter, are out now. I have plans for at least two more in the works. The next album will be called AlgoRhythms, and it combines all sorts of cool math concepts. While a lot of my work is influenced by science (as you can tell by these titles), I don’t consider it at all “sciencey.” It’s all about relaxation and enjoying spoken word. My albums can be found on my BandCamp page or on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, or YouTube music

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

Melinda: One of the lines on my upcoming album Mathematica is currently making me very happy: The equations exist whether we solve them or not. It was inspired by the idea that some people don’t “believe” in science. To me it’s like, ok, believe or not, but it’s there anyway, you know? Here are some of my recent paintings.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Melinda: I have always been my own worst critic, but the tender and constructive criticism given by my writing community friends on Twitter has really taken my work to a higher level. More specifically, a couple of close friends who I have hired to edit my work (have taught me a lot about where I specifically need to grow. It’s been humbling and wonderful to see that the process is never done. You never learn it and say “I’m done; I’m a writer now.” You just have to keep examining your work, trying new things, and reading different styles of writing. The alternative is stagnation. And who wants that?


Submissions for the 2nd Leonard Cohen Anthology ends on September 1st

900+ Leonard cohen ideas in 2021 | leonard cohen, leonard, adam cohen

Send in poetry, essays, artwork, articles, emotions, inspired creative ideas that came from reading or listening to Leonard Cohen. This is a follow up to Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen in 2019. “Before I Turn Into Gold” will include a few pieces from the original anthology, revised work from me from the first anthology, artwork by Geoffrey Wren, submissions from our blog & through our e-mail at feversofthemind@davidlonan1

Send today!

4 poems by Pasithea Chan : Daily Revelations, Empty Words, Skylark of the Dark, Aloof

Daily Revelations

Deprived of affection and a sense of belonging
one retires to a sanctuary of isolation.
Arraigned by the acute pain of rejection
the walls become his or her world.
Indicted with selfishness and antisocial behavior
sleep is the best defense and life sentence.
Levied with incessant worries about tomorrow
sense falls to numbness like a baby lulled to sleep.
Yearning for warmth and the need to be heard
one contemplates talking to inanimate objects.
Reprehended for vocalizing one’s outlook
of the world, silence becomes the decorum.
Encapsulated with grief, mobility
is running errands for survival only.
Vilified for one’s depressive state
smiles are just an anti wrinkle cream.
Engrossed with sadness from one’s state
causes palpitation with the slightest change.
Larking with dark thoughts of an early exit
becomes one’s favorite pass-time.
Adjourned from engaging in sweet nothings
estranges one around so many happy faces.
Truncated moments of free expression
becomes the only method of communication.
Incapacitated with anger and denial
one falters to bitterness and dismay.
Obliterated from the lives of close ones
confines one to being minuscule.
Neap tide for once is just a moment of rebellion
against reality’s gravity pulling one down.
Susceptibility to darkness is a daily revelation
only experienced by ones who face mishaps alone.

Author’s Notes:
Genre: Acrostic Couplet spelling “Daily Revelations”.
This piece is centralized around: depression, loneliness, hurt, and emotional demise.

Empty Words

I’ve been drunk all my life
on disappointment’s wine,
A wine I poured in a glass
of empty words,
I fine with smiles empty of words.

I don’t know what’s worse:
drinking from that glass
or drowning the burning
sensation without words.
All I know is that it hurts.

See disappointment comes
in bottles of all sizes
from empty promises
to fill in the blanks
and even life size pranks.

Many times, I receive these bottles
as parting gifts
in baskets of what ifs-
often laced with fibs;
I undo with no thank you
tearing the note: only for you.

I used to drink to forget
But now I do to remember that:
Empty words can’t
hold promises just as smiles
empty words into spaces
I never thought I had.

So yes I graduated
from being a chronic drunkard
to social drinking as I shifted
from disappointment to sadcasm
filtered with realism.

I have my drink with time’s
lemony twist in a clear glass
of empty words empty of words.
There’s nothing worse
than being lied to for a curse.

Author’s Notes:

There’s quite a difference between empty words and smiles empty of words. It’s like the chasm between what’s been said and what’s been left unsaid. Those who care and are deep can realize how strikingly different are shades of pains from these two aspects of life. People are deviant creatures in their lying mechanisms, their resilience, and endeavors to keep up with their lies. I find their efforts fascinating.

Skylark of the Dark

Words trickle down my mind
playing sentiment’s broken chord
Like a child I slide down
its rails, who says I’m too old
to hope for the best to unfold?

Trouble is my staircase
I live for its thrill, what a race?
I hide my face in the shadows
but expose my back to its lashes.
After all, what are clothes for?

Sometimes dreams tumble
down with a thud and dribble
my memories like a pain so cruel
from a candle that’s lost its kindle.
Never mind, that I can handle!

I turn my tears like a pillow
fluffed for a better tomorrow
but there’s no escape from today.
Like a pendulum I continue to sway.
I am a bell that tolls all the way.

My heart is a harp with a crack
made to cut chords with a knack
My days walk me like a plank
straight into a bad prank!
I’m not perfect so cut me some slack!

Now my spine is arched
like a stairway larked
with sorrow and hatred.
I am the skylark of the dark-
with a quill for a bill and blood for ink!


Too angry to believe, too distraught to perceive
I fell into depression’s peeve like a sheave
threaded with disbelief with a broken greave
until I tore my sleeve on sorrows that won’t leave.
I banked on time for solace but all it did was cleave
grief from hope for things I can’t forgive or reprieve.

And as the fires swallowed my cries
I opened my eyes to face life’s lies.
I closed my heart and gave up tries for a prize:
to accept failures without whys and be wise
to break ties and move in smaller gyres
to avoid fires and flat tires caused by familiar mires.

We trust those we love like a hand fits a glove
perceive them like a dove, hold them like a trove
but they break us like a foxglove that cuts with love
and hurts that shove us down until we cough
the very blood of that love as waters that buff
purpose’s rough luff away from joy like a bluff. Too cold to find warmth, too aloof to belong
I stand with indifference to face loss with acceptance.
Too broken to be pieced up, too lost to be found
I sit down with aimlessness and wander in endlessness.
Too drunk on despair, too angry to be kind or fair
I talk bold and look old yet refuse to be told who to hold.
Aloof is proof that love and passion can too go in a poof
even for love that’s over the roof, nothing’s bulletproof!

Author’s Notes:
Fear of anchoring, belonging, trusting, and letting go is the result of broken relationships and betrayal. This is a fear that haunts through all one holds dear and wants to endear. It is a chain that remands a heart into seclusion, a mind into isolation, a soul into desolation, and a life into destruction.

Inspired by: Blood Wedding – Lorca 1932
To be silent and consumed by fire is the worst punishment on earth, of those we inflict on ourselves. What use was pride to me, not seeing you, and you alone, lying there night after night? None at all! It served to stoke the flames higher! Because one thinks time is a cure, and the walls will shut things out, and it’s not true, it’s not true. When flames reach the heart, they can’t be quenched!

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Sarika Jaswani (artincrochet)

with Sarika Jaswani:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Sarika: -I believe writing must do more with listening than it has ever been emphasized. A writer listens to the stories that speak to his/her mind. If I’ve to say when I started writing, then indisputably I will roll back time to my childhood when dad narrated his bed-time stories in his classic commentary style and lulled us to sleep. He has to date been my biggest influences in story writing. I have been a blogger for a while now but since few years I have delved into writing and have few self-published and illustrated children’s stories up my sleeve. Poetry became a tantivy follow. https://spinayarntellatale.wordpress.com

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Sarika: -With a bachelor’s degree in medical field and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical and Community Psychology my interest has naturally been inclined towards theoretical/metaphysical studies. My philosophical upbringing has had influence on my choice of reading. I really enjoy Steve Hagen, founder, and head teacher of Zen Center in Minneapolis. Steve’s writing is a marriage of science and spirituality, which I find fascinating. He has been my greatest influence in all ort of my personal story writes that I’ve whipped out on my Blogspot. http://sarikajaswani.blogspot.com

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

Sarika: My country of origin is India. The plus side of growing in a diverse country is getting enriched in art and knowledge of languages. Born in a country that identifies itself with nativity of 60 different languages and several cultures, I am bound to know five or more languages by default. I might be fluent in writing English, but I speak my mother tongue more fluently. I enjoy listening to Hindi poetry and I understand Gujarati equally well. With being fluent in variety of languages you are gifted with a broader brush stroke to paint an emotive picture and create an evocative art. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088QNZ8C3/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_eTAWEb0A3FGKP

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


Doctor by profession. I am a Crochet Artist, Art Tutor Writer of Children’s Stories, Philanthropist. Poet. Published. Passionately reads & writes poetry. Art Lover. Bird lover. Dreamer and blogger.

Published on 

-‘Tide Rises Tide Falls’

-On Medium with A Cornered Gurl @ACG @Scrittura

-Fever Of Mind Poetry on WordPress

-Silver Birch Press

-a frequent vss prompt writer on twitter. 

My poems run on themes of love, reflection, and philosophy of life. 

My most meaningful work is non-profit ArtInCrochet

ArtInCrochet is a decade old non-profit, donating hats & scarfs to orphanages & shelter homes. Fundraising since 2016-2020 through sale of handmade crochet items has raised more than $3000 & counting for kids in need.

Donation have been done to:

@ Camphill Village – New York 

@ Jars of Clay – Atlanta 

@ Knit for Sewa – India 

@ Children’s Hospital Atlanta 

@ Kids In Need Foundation

@Access Life America

@ Orphanages around Atlanta 

@ Hanuman Temple – Atlanta

@ VHPA- Atlanta Chapter

@ Shiv Temple of Atlanta

@ Oklahoma City Health Department 

@ American Heart Institute

@ St. Jude Children’s Research Institute 

@ Autism Speaks

@ World Food Program 

@ Warm Up America

@ Walter Reed Military Medical Center

@ Atlanta Women’s Shelters 

@ Lion Brand Hat no Hate Campaign

@ Children’s Miracle Network of Atlanta 

@ Focus & Fragile 

@ Grenada Alumni

@ PureHearts.org

Sarika Jaswani is a certified crochet instructor from American Craft Council. She has conducted classes at Alpharetta Main Branch Library, Art Center Alpharetta & Michael’s Community Classroom Alpharetta Georgia. She has authored Original Children’s Stories for her toy with stories series and are available as nook book on BN.com & Amazon Kindle read.

Funds raised through her teaching crochet art are used to donate books to various underprivileged schools around the world. Etsy page www.etsy.com/shop/ArtInCrochet

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/poet?


Love drives art. It is an ultimate fuel for an artist. Gain and loss, both are the biggest inspiration for a        writer/poet. Poetry is the child birthed with labor of emotions that an artist endures. I do believe we all need a way of expressing and reaching out to others. Being a recluse hermit myself, writing always has been a creative and a salubrious way for pronouncing my emotions.

Reading stories to my kids has been an inspiration to write illustrative stories for children. Story telling has been my favorite part of parenting. I have volunteered at schools to make puppet theaters and have phrased stories to go along.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Sarika: I enjoy reading/audible a lot of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose. I enjoy watching tv shows, movies. I also enjoy listening to all kinds of music and karaoke. Other than that my day is filled with activities that revolve around my two kids. Charity fundraisers and making crochet inventory for sale are the major highlights of my activities to occupy my planner.

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

Sarika: I am stoked for acceptance of my manuscript by New York based Austin Macauley Publishers.

I am still debating publishing my work, but I definitely am looking forward to writing more inspiring poetry for acceptance and publication in main stream media and establish myself as a poetess.

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


Too Many Names -By Pablo Neruda

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Sarika: I love vss365 community on twitter. They are the creme de la creme of kindness. They motivate, inspire and uplift. My best way to stay inspired is to open my twitter app and take in beautiful poetry with a cup of tea each morning😊 https://www.twitter.com/sarikajaswani

#stopthehate challenge poem by Sarika Jaswani

A Book Review of Pen Muses a compilation of 60 poems by Sarika Jaswani (reviewed by Mashaal Sajid)

New poetry by Sarika Jaswani (artincrochet) : Since You’ve been gone…

Untitled micropoem by Sarika Jaswani

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Sarika Jaswani

2 poems by Sarika Jaswani /ArtInCrochet


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with M.S. Evans

with M.S. Evans

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

M.S.: I started writing when I was very young, but didn’t share any of it. In 2019 I gave myself permission to finally go for it.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

M.S.: I’m currently diving into work by Bukowski, Louise Gluck and Franz Wright. Tom Waits is a musical constant

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

M.S.: I grew up in in Seattle, in an old farmhouse. It’d been a speakeasy during the Prohibition era and strange things happened to everyone that stayed there.
Nature in the Pacific NW influenced me deeply. I became involved in environmental activism at a young age, which led me to the labor movement.
Nature, ghosts, and activism are definitely recurring topics in my writing.

Apparently Gary Snyder grew up in the same neighborhood. I like to think there’s a rebellious nature spirit there that drops in on kids’ dreams.

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

M.S.: In 2010 I traveled to Wales to meet my penpal. I married him, poor bloke. His belief in me has been invaluable.

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

M.S.: I’ve always had a drive to capture what I witness. Before I owned a camera or started really writing, this desire to capture a moment was like a physical pain.
I knew I had a unique perspective, but I’ve not always been sure how to share it, or if anyone would appreciate it. I’m still not sure, but that doesn’t seem to matter now.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

M.S.: Making art: linocuts, dolls, jewelry, painting. Walking, taking photographs. daydreaming. Sometimes all at once.

(Some pins I made getting a little extra UV curing: Mary MacLane, James Joyce, Linton Kwesi Johnson.)

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

M.S.: I’m currently working on my first poetry collection, and also cooking up a project with Ice Floe Press where I’ll be a guest reader.

My first exhibit, “Permanent Migrant” is now wrapping up here in Butte.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from one of your poem/writings or others?


“Roll rough Yiddish,
like bone dice
against a home’s foundation.”

-from “Red Shadows”, Ice Floe Press, 2020.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

M.S.: I’m indebted to Matthew M C Smith of Black Bough Poetry for his mentorship. Through Matthew I also met Robert Frede Kenter, a gentle, intuitive editor. They’ve both shown me so much kindness. I hope to pay it forward someday


Wolfpack Contributor Bio: M.S. Evans

Photography Art by M.S. Evans

3 poems from M.S. Evans from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthology

Twitter: @SeaNettleink