Spotlight on the Poetry Question & Chris Margolin

If you’re a poet or writer, you need exposure.  Especially, if you’re an independent writer, or work or run a small press.  Luckily, for us, there is a website that has been expanding exponentially the last few years giving us more exposure to the best independent poets and writers out there today.   The Poetry Question provides the concept of asking “How will you Poetry today?”  The man behind the beginnings of the Poetry Question is Chris Margolin.

He shares a passion for visualizing the future of poetry and giving a voice to poets.  Whether it would be the unique interview in which you answer the poetry questions on influences, favorite books, authors, influences.  Detailed info on why these works or writers have deemed such an influence on a writer. The site has been excellent and expanding their team on reviewing Poetry Chapbooks and novels & novellas.  

Within the last year, Chris has worked hard on adding a small press to give another avenue for writers to put out chapbooks.    So, with that introduction, we shall ask a few questions to Chris Margolin of “the Poetry Question”   http://thepoetryquestion.com

Hi Chris, thanks for giving us at Fevers of the Mind the opportunity to learn more about The Poetry Question and the exciting future of the site.

Thank you for having me! I’m a fan of Fevers of the Mind, so this is an exciting opportunity for me. I’m honored.

  1.  First off Chris, when did you come up with the idea of the Poetry Question? The original concept?  When was the moment that hit you and said “Hey I need to help small press poets and self-published poets”?

I’ve written a lot about the foundation of The Poetry Question, but I appreciate that your question focuses on Small Press Poetry and Self-Published Poetry. The site went through so many different iterations. It was an educational site – I’ve taught for almost 20 years – in the early days. Then it was a music review site. Then it was a general book review site. Then I started going to The Portland Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. My first night there was like finding a new religion. My introduction couldn’t have been more epic: Clementine von Radics, Alex Dang, Brenna Twohey, and the legendary Andrea Gibson. I bought every book on the table that night. That was it. These were stapled together like the zines I used to buy in high school. They were beautiful. And they needed to be seen. There wasn’t much of a choice at that point. Voices needed to be heard, and I couldn’t find a website that focused solely on small press or self-published poetry. So, it seemed like the obvious choice and direction.

  •  I know that you have decided to put out a few chapbooks, how has that experience been like that for you? What about going into the Press business has been rewarding, and what has been more challenging?

This is one of the most rewarding, important, and scary accomplishments in my life. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve always just been on the review side of things. I had dreamt about putting out other people’s poetry, but never thought it made sense until last year. Our daily readership went up faster than I could have ever imagined, and it just felt right. Holding a submission period, and knowing that people – without the use of Submittable – were actually sending me their words was jaw-dropping. I never expected to get submissions. I had over 75 in a month. It was such a validation of what I’d been working toward, and so humbling to know that so many would trust us with their manuscripts. We are just a few weeks from the release date (Jan 15) for both Jennifer Roche and Van G. Garrett’s respective books, The Synonym Tables, and SCRAP. They have been so kind as I stumble through this process. Can’t wait to see what happens!          

  •  I’d like to know more about the Power of Poetry section of the site. What about this section really has been a huge help with especially younger writers to understand how to be an effective writer, and how you can work at your craft to expand even when it seems the writing world is against you?

Isn’t the writing world always against us? Look, the reality is that we a lot of us started as bedroom poets and writers. We wrote middle school novels and song lyrics and poetry and tried to either hide it from everyone or share it with the world. But those words meant everything to us. They were our therapy. Fortunately, it is still our therapy. But that looks so different for everyone, and I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted everyone to hear their stories. I don’t really know if there’s an “effective writer.” I think there is an effectiveness in everything we put down on paper. It might not resonate with everyone, but it may change someone’s life.

  •  This has been a challenging year for everyone, and I’m sure for you this hasn’t been an exception. During such a year of darkness, where have you found the small beams of light that has given you a creative uplift for your ideas with TPQ?

This is a softball question. I sign into my twitter account every day, and I get to read the works of hundreds of poets each week. I get to ask “How will you Poetry today” and hope that maybe that will remind someone to write or submit or edit or read or share or whatever they can do to spread the word of Small Press Poetry. I get to be the bullhorn for poets who might not have an outlet to share their work. That’s one hell of a beam of light.

  •  Please give us more info on how to reach your site, your social media, what one needs to do to submit to the Poetry Question for a review of their new book & more. Also, when do you expect your first chapbooks to be released, any hints on what to expect from these?

Everyone can find us at thepoetryquestion.com. If you’re interested in submitting a book for review, there is a link provided on the site. We don’t get through everything that comes our way, but we work hard to review all that we can. The first two chapbooks will be released on January 15th, 2021. Jennifer Roche’s The Synonym Tables tackles the changing of language over the last 75 years. With a deep focus on our current world issues, this one feels more poignant now more than ever. Van G. Garrett’s SCRAP takes you round by round through perseverance and the art of survival. He is a legend, and I am blown away that he was ever interested in submitting to TPQ.

  • Any shout outs you’d like to give to any poets, small press, co-workers with TPQ?

This is a tricky one for me as there are so many poets and presses I’d love to shout out. Here are a few poets to keep in your sights: Chris Butler, Taylor Byas, Beth Gordon, Danielle Rose, and Jason Crawford are all beyond inspiring right now.

Chris Margolin is the founder and EiC of The Poetry Question, the only site in the world to focus solely on small press and self-published poetry reviews. Beyond his work in poetry he has taught high school and middle school English for almost 20 years. He lives in Vancouver,Washington with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and seven chickens

Books to Read in 2021: Spectrum of Flight by David Hanlon

This review was in the Anthology Fevers of the Mind Presents the Poets of 2020 available on Amazon in Deluxe Edition, Split Editions Vol 1 & 2, and on Kindle.

When opening up David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” you immediately notice David’s very diverse, quaint, very knowledgable on poetry style and themes. Every word, every sentence, line, and stanzas are thought out.  Every word is read to you by the writer’s voice.  You feel trapped for awhile in the soul of the writer. What he felt, what he has had to persevere through, the depression, the loneliness, the questions, to truly begin to feel a whole self.  You are on a long walk listening to the pouring rain in a cool Autumn month, You can do nothing but think.  This is the book.  All of those cold rain walks on your own, what does the thunder mean for me?  Is this the same thunder heard by others? Is it even raining where they are?  The distancing of others that miscast you. Severs you into their ideal.  Why doesn’t it rain on them?  Why are they exempt? And why can’t they see me?  “A Taste of Showmanship” reflecting toxic masculinity that overcomes, a societal stamp.  To wash away that ink.   The imagery of poems such as “Dream in Which My Teeth Rot and Fall Out” gives you a ride in the circles and to obtain the answers within the spin.  As like in dreams we sometimes find the answer to our being, our true self, the hope to be whole, to change, and conquer the storm. David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” is brilliant both in style, imagery, and a must read for someone in search of themself.

David Hanlon is a welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Mineral Lit Mag. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press.

Books to read for 2021: Things My Mother Left Behind by Susan Richardson (Potter’s Grove Press)

The first thing I noticed when reading Susan’s writing is the descriptive imagery, she makes you feel every emotion she feels.  This is a trait in writing that I admire and her telling of loss and depression at times returns me back on imagery I rarely see outside of Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath.  The poetry reads like the story of her life through the love, loss, grief, the screaming pinches in the soul that losing a parent, child, or sibling staples-in forever.  She also hauntingly describes the progress of losing her sight as she has gone from a sky full of stars both sentient and still to the ones who blink out erratically til there is nothing left to burn.  These are not just some poems.  These are her life.  Emotions are hers.  When you read this collection of poetry the Emotions are yours too.  “Between Sight and Blindness” “Stitching Bones” the loves that got away “Cactus Garden” the pains that diseases bring, the people they take away, the hearts that feels like a car puttering out over the rainy bridge with nowhere to go, these poems will “scatter into the sky” scratching at the stars looking for the brightest one yet receiving in return a turning off the lights inside of Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, in demure breath wanting the world see the pain. A wonderful read.  A wonderful trip into the mind. We need more of her poetic vision.

Susan Richardson is an award winning, internationally published poet. She is the author of “Things My Mother Left Behind”, from Potter’s Grove Press, and also writes the blog, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness

”. She lives in Ireland with her husband, two pugs and two cats.  You can find her on Twitter @floweringink, listen to her on YouTube , and read more of her work on her website

BOOKS to Read in 2021: Mutants by Norb Aikin

Norb Aikin’s poetry has a rhythmic flow to it. You feel Norb is leading you to a crescendo. In Mutants the poetry is all leading up to that ultimate crescendo.  You are absorbed in questions: of existence, of falling apart, of caring, of wandering if one little change could have changed it all.  But this is just the opening verses.  Your emotions are pulled into the song.  This is how the mind flips when the anxieties of the world becomes flippant.  How you become headstrong to arbitrary as the world is described from the intro in “Matador Rose”  How cumbersome every day’s monotonous tasks and rituals become. Reflections, the unsures, the never was’s, the what cans, or can’t even fathoms. Norb’s work truly will make you think.  Mutants is a great collection of poetry that lets you escape your mind or furthers you deeper into the paths of endless clouds to count and dream them up a name.  Poems like “I Melt Sugar” & “I Said Maybe But I Never Said Forever” “Thinking About Suicide Takes Years Off Your Life” hits your brain like a rocket into the dunes of ponderings amassed in loneliness, fear, the wonder years that never really go away, and then we reach the crescendo that is Norb Aikin’s Mutants.

Norb Aikin is the author of Mutants and 100 (Eliezer Tristan Publishing). He is a Mental Health activist originally from Buffalo, NY and now lives in Cortland, NY. His work has appeared in various online publications, including Pink Plastic House and Fevers of the Mind. You can find him on Twitter at @Fivesixer.

This review is also in the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology available now on Amazon. Check recent posts for links.

Books to Read in 2021: On Becoming(Aesthetic Evolution of the Rising Ancestor) by Hokis

Full title: OnBecoming (Aesthetic Evolution of the Rising Ancestor)

A poetic memoir by Hokis. 

Imagine being a child (a young girl) adopted, unsure about yourself

Because you don’t have all the answers.   Where did my ancestors come from?

Why do I react the way I do?  Where does my perseverance come from to get through? When traumatic adversities come into play as a teenager into womanhood, where do I turn to?

This collection of personal poetry tells the reader through the wonders of imagery on how realizations, finding the reasons, fighting the stresses, and knowing when to persevere & not give in when it is easiest to do so.  

Hokis’ OnBecoming is a wonderful read of linkable poems that connects thematically the traumas (political, familial, toxic masculinity & sexual violence) and turns to feminism & ancestral guidance to help overcome these detours in life.   You will feel shattered with her as you turn through the pages, but in the end you become whole.  Ultimately to feel resilient to the monsters we all face daily.